Simon’s Birth Story – St. Joseph’s Hospital, Phoenix, AZ

The first trimester of pregnancy I was nauseous, almost constantly.  I lost over 15 lbs in those first few months because of a complete aversion to food. The best remedy I found was the sick bands you wear on your wrists before a boating adventure. The day my second trimester began, like a light switch, the nausea went away. Next came PUPPS, a skin rash I would not wish on anyone. The rash took over my legs and itched constantly. By this point it was the beginning of summer in Phoenix. Relief from PUPPS and the triple digit temperature only came at night when I could jump in the pool. My OB had little to recommend for the rash except topical ointments. It was my chiropractor/doula who recommended black tar soap and liver cleansing supplements and teas.  I would try and shower two to three times a day using the back tar soap and take 2-3 herbal pills in the mornings, within two weeks the rash also went the way of nausea. When I became pregnant I was concerned about back pain and began to see a chiropractor/doula for the duration of my pregnancy. She alleviated many aches and concerns, mentally and physically. My baby boy had his head down almost the entire time and kicked constantly. Rib jabs, laying on the bladder, sitting snuggly on my pelvic bone, sending sharp pains through my vagina. These are all said to be normal but without an explanation seemed alarming. My chiropractor helped keep my hips loose allowing for better, more free movement for the little guy. 

My third trimester was smooth sailing! Except for gestational diabetes, daily sugar level checks, controlled by diet. As week 40 approached my OB said that if he did not arrive on the due date they would induce. They thought he was getting too big and with the gestational diabetes they don’t recommend a baby stay very far past full term.  After a full week of work I could feel he was getting ready to arrive. I had been walking around the neighborhood every night after work. The contractions came two to three days before my water broke. Very far apart, maybe once a day, probably Braxton-Hicks. I had been working that day and was feeling less and less mobile as my belly stretched and stretched (leaving deep purple stretch marks) and dropped lower and lower. At 2AM on Friday September 25th I woke up wet, my water had broken. I got up to go to the bathroom and it continued. The color was an olive tint so I knew it was my water breaking and not urine but I searched on my phone right away: Water broke brown color. Meconium they said, or my boy had pooped and it was mixed with the amniotic fluid. We had been ready for this moment, hospital bag packed, my husband dressed in minutes and we were off. We had taken a tour of the hospital months before to meet the NICU nurses and see the labor and delivery area so we knew right where to go. We were so excited, contractions were coming but I was all smiles. We pulled up to the drop off area they had pointed out to us in our earlier visit, we get out of the car, I waddle to the doors, locked. It was 2:30AM and no one was around, it seemed a mile back to the car or to the hospital front entrance. A nurse, just getting off her shift was walking in the hallway that we could see from the outside and we stood banging on the door. She heard us and rushed over. From there we knew to take the elevator up, check in and wait for the nurses. 
I was 3 or 4 inches dilated when I got to the hospital and the nurses got me to a room almost immediately because of the potential effects of the meconium. Before I was moved to the labor and delivery room I was asked if I would like to use pain medication. I had wanted to make that decision in the moment and when they said it would take about 30 minutes to kick in after the anhestesologist arrived I felt like I wanted the help. The contractions at that point were deep and long and painful and very close together. A heart monitor was put around my belly to track the baby’s heart rate. His heart rate had been low (around 115) throughout my pregnancy but my doctor assured me that it was his normal and should not be a problem during labor.  Thankfully, it was my doctor who was on call that weekend at the hospital and it was she who arrived later in the morning to check on me and continue to check my progress over the next 12 hours. Because I had gestational diabetes the nurse took my blood sugar levels every 2 hours. The readings stayed well below a dangerous level and we found out later she had’t needed to check as often as she did, but the two hour intervals of time made the day feel like it was flying by. 10 hours after we arrived in the hospital my doctor let me know that the baby was beginning to move down and in an hour or so she would check back to see if we were ready to start pushing! My epidural was starting to wear off, the tips of my fingers were bruised and sore and the heart rate monitor slipped off my belly with every movement, I was ready to meet this little boy!
When the doctor returned we prepared for active labor. My contractions were coming every 5 minutes and I was told to push every other contraction and rest on the others. The nurse held one leg and my husband the other and for two hours we worked in rhythm to bring Simon into the world. His heart rate dipped (80-90) during the pushes and they gave me oxygen to keep him and myself alert. Out of sheer exhaustion I fell asleep in between breaks from the contractions, a quick 5 minutes. At no point did the doctor raise concern, reassuring me that this was ‘our normal’. After 2 hours of pushes Simon was born. NICU nurses were on site as well as a cord donor, nurses, nurses in training, my husband and my mom. I had told my doctor in our many months of appointments together that I would like to do skin-to-skin and try to feed him right away. They made sure the meconium had not been a problem, weighed him, checked his vitals and then was placed on my chest for 10 minutes or so before he went with the NICU doctors for tests. 
Simon’s Dad has a genetic heart disease called WPW  (Wolff-Parkinson-White) which causes electrical conduction issues in the heart. He has had a pace maker since the age of 12 and lost his oldest brother to it. We knew the risk of the gene carrying on to Simon so we tested him in a few different ways. Before I was pregnant we had done genetic testing on Michael to see if he carried the gene, which he does. Next, during pregnancy we had a fetal echo cardiogram done which is an ultrasound that focuses on only the heart. And an EKG. At that time they noticed rhythmic abnormalities and the possibility of a structural defect. These are both common findings with this particular gene. At birth Simon was sent to the NICU to run all of these tests again. They found nothing at birth that caused alarm and during labor he had a strong healthy heartbeat, slightly low but not worrisome. 
He spent two days in the NICU waiting for test results. I slept in the recovery wing of  maternity while he stayed one floor down. Breastfeeding was a challenge in those early days. When the NICU thought he was hungry they would call me to come down. They gave him small bottles of formula on the first day and we tried nursing as much as we could in between. With our separation, my stress and the ease of formula I feel my supply suffered. I pumped and nursed as much as I could. 
On our third day we were both discharged. The nurses let us go after we could prove Simon would eat. If not on the breast than with a formula bottle. He chugged his 35 mL, we passed our car seat check and went home. And the post-partum healing began. 
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