Parker’s Early Arrival

Parker’s Early Arrival

Mama: Amanda P.

Stats: 7 lbs., 9 oz.

Type of Birth: Cesarean

Birth Location: Hospital

Primary Care: Obstetrician

The first several months of my pregnancy with Parker were pretty uneventful. I had found out I was pregnant on Christmas morning in 2009, and was due the weekend of labor day of 2010.

I live in Arkansas, so being hot and miserable while pregnant in the summer is a given, but other than that, I had no real issues. I had gained more weight than I wanted, and was experiencing some swelling, but nothing that had me or my doctor worried.

Image by Wendy White Photography

That all changed at my regular bi-weekly checkup at 32 weeks— my blood pressure was higher than normal. Although I had no protein in my urine, I did have two major symptoms of pre-eclampsia with swelling and now high blood pressure, so my doctor changed my appointments to weekly instead of bi-weekly going forward.

When I went for my 33-week checkup, I had gained seven pounds since my last visit, had increased swelling, had protein in my urine, and my blood pressure had skyrocketed to around 200/115: all classic symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

As a result, I was hospitalized so I could be monitored. The hospital performed a 24-hour urine collection to measure my protein level. It was just under the level that indicated pre-eclampsia. So after being monitored for three days, I was sent home with instructions to rest and scheduled a follow-up visit.

Four days later, on Tuesday, July 27, I had what would be my final prenatal check-up. Once again, my blood pressure was too high, and I was, once again, hospitalized.

This time, however, the protein level in my urine was 10 times the level that indicates pre-eclampsia, so my doctor told me I’d be in the hospital until baby Parker was born.

I was also placed on a magnesium sulfate IV to reduce the risk of stroke, one of the dangers associated with pre-eclampsia.

I had hoped I would be able to make it to at least 37 or 38 weeks, but unfortunately, by Thursday evening, I was having severe headaches and heartburn that couldn’t be controlled with medicines: symptoms that my pre-eclampsia was worsening.

Just after breakfast on Friday morning, my doctor came in for his daily rounds. He asked how I was feeling. I won’t repeat my exact words to him, but I certainly let him know I was feeling pretty rotten.

He and I discussed the pros and cons of waiting until the following Monday versus my giving birth that day. We decided that based on my symptoms, I may not be able to wait until Monday, and he wasn’t on-call that weekend. We discussed induction, but Parker hadn’t dropped into a birthing position yet, so I was scheduled for a cesarean section at noon that same day.

I was 34 weeks and 5 days.

I called my husband, my mother and my mother-in-law and let them know we would be having a baby in just a couple of hours. I showered (with a nurses help), and was given one last ultrasound.

According to the ultrasound, Parker was estimated at 9.5 pounds, a very large baby at just under 35 weeks. Because of estimate, the doctor was afraid I had gestational diabetes and my blood sugar levels were tested several times over the next couple of hours. Thankfully all testing showed normal levels.

Next, the nurse and anesthesiologist came in a talked me through the surgery process. I filled out some paperwork, the nurse started my IV, and I picked music for the operating room. The hospital I delivered at plays music and dim the lights in the operating room until the actual procedure begins.

My husband suited up so he would be able to join me.

 

The nurses had decorated a board in the delivery room with my son’s name and the doctors’ names to make the experience a little more personal.

I was given a spinal block, and after that was done, my husband was allowed to come in the room for the delivery.

Because I had eaten breakfast before the surgery was scheduled, I was very nauseous and had to be given anti-nausea medicine three times during the procedure.

The doctor started the c-section at 12:30 p.m. and at 12:37 p.m., Parker was born.

He weighed 7 lbs 9 oz, and was 19 1/2” long: he was a large baby for just over 5 weeks early. Because he was not full term, he was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for evaluation.

He had to be on oxygen for about a half hour and was put in a closed crib to help keep his body temperature regulated. The NICU doctor called him a “super-sized” baby because he was so large compared to the other babies in the NICU.

The next few hours are pretty blurry because of the pain medicine I received after the c-section. I spent a couple of hours in recovery and then was taken to a room. Because of my blood pressure, I was still on the magnesium IV, and wasn’t allowed out of bed until Saturday afternoon.

My husband took some of our family and friends back to the NICU to see Parker, but I wasn’t able to see him for more than 24 hours. It was heartbreaking.

The NICU staff didn’t let anyone else hold him until I was able to see him, so even though family saw him first, I was the first person other than my husband and the nurses to hold him.

He was the most precious thing I had ever seen, and I couldn’t believe he was finally in my arms.

Having a baby in the NICU is a struggle. I was only able to hold him for a limited amount of time each visit because he developed jaundice and had to be under a special light.

I tried breastfeeding, but he wasn’t a very hearty eater.

At 35 weeks, one of the main concerns with babies is that their sucking mechanism isn’t completely developed, and they have problems eating. I tried pumping, but because of how early I gave birth, I didn’t get even colostrum for a few days. He ended up receiving a mix of formula and breast milk.

I was released from the hospital after a couple of days, but stayed in a family room near the NICU until Parker was released. He was released on Thursday when he was six days old.

Although my birth experience isn’t exactly what I would have planned, I am very thankful that I had a healthy baby boy.

Image by Wendy White Photography

Parker’s Early Arrival

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