Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lena Hamilton: The Adventure Begins, Part 1 of 2

P1020405_edited-1.JPG by gkhamilton
P1020405_edited-1.JPG, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.

HAPPY ONE MONTH BIRTHDAY, LENA!!! These first four weeks of your life have felt like a few short days.

In a comment on one of my previous Blogspot posts, my cousin Holly suggested that Kathy and I becoming parents would play right into our love for adventure. Taking a look back at the events that led up to her birth on Saturday, 9-10-11, it was apparent even back then that this was going to be one rip-roaring adventure story indeed. Here’s how it all went down last month:

It was Friday, September 9, and Kathy and I were already two days past our due date. We were scheduled to induce labor exactly one week later.

My lunch break that morning at the PDX airport food court was interrupted by a call from Kathy at around 9 a.m. Before she even had a chance to finish explaining about her inexplicable bleeding and strange contractions that morning, my legs had already started sprinting for the elevator. I burst back into my Delta work area downstairs and strung together a couple of coworkers to drive me across the ramp to grab my bag, and then out to the employee parking lot.

Thanks to some “efficient” driving, I was able to get home in no time flat (although leaving the soft top off of my Jeep Wrangler at that speed may have inadvertently jettisoned a couple of loose items from the back seat—my apologies to the environment). Kathy and I threw together some light overnight bags (just in case, right?) at the house and headed for St. Vincent hospital.

The doctor had established over the phone that Kathy was not in labor, so we didn’t sense much urgency in the friendly receptionist who checked us into the maternity ward. After all, Kathy wasn’t even dilated, and her contractions were infrequent.
IMAG0903.jpg After being shown to our triage room, we listened to our baby’s heartbeat and were treated to a bonus sonogram of Lena. The baby seemed to be healthy, with one mysterious exception: every time Kathy had a contraction, the baby’s heartbeat would drop into double-digit lows. The doctor seemed concerned about this phenomenon, yet assured us that her heartbeat was otherwise strong. Her tone grew grimmer, however, after seeing the amount of blood that Kathy had lost.

You won’t be going home today. We’re gonna keep you here for the next few days… until your baby is born,” she calmly but sternly informed us after stepping out of the triage room for a moment.

The gravity of those words had little time to sink in. As if on cue, a parade of 3-4 nurses filed into the room and began hurriedly unhooking Kathy from the various instruments and preparing her for an immediate room transfer.

IMAG0940.jpg Minutes later, nurses Amanda (in training) and Susan had us set up in a roomy birthing suite with a comfy couch, recliner, private bath, and a beautiful view of the scenery outside. In the hours that followed, the nursing staff began to be less concerned with Kathy’s bleeding and more fixated on baby Lena’s heart’s increasingly erratic reactions to the contractions.

DSC_0684.JPG At random moments throughout the night, a team of nurses would unexpectedly storm into our birthing suite and frantically adjust Kathy’s position, tubing, and Pitocin levels (to encourage dilation). At one point in the wee hours of the morning, nurses Jen, Shawna, and company charged in and ordered Kathy to roll over onto her hands and knees to raise our baby’s heartbeat back up from a dangerously low rate.

It was a long, traumatic night for us, to say the least. Fortunately, we felt comfort knowing that God was in control… and that the competent, attentive hospital staff was monitoring our situation from the central nursing station right outside our door.

The tension increased on September 10, the next day.
DSC_0692.JPGDSC_0700.JPGP1020366_edited-1.JPG Day 2 was peppered with health scares, visits to the birthing suite from our families to offer us encouragement and prayer support, and rare moments of rest.

Kathy’s low dose of Pitocin had been temporarily discontinued overnight due to the stress of the contractions on baby Lena’s heart. In some cases, her heartbeat would spike to an insanely fast 205 BPM, only to drop as low as 60 BPM… while sometimes not registering at all. Lena’s heart could only take so much.

DSC_0696.JPG Rather than risk Lena’s life by waiting for Kathy to dilate, the doctor on staff made the decision to accelerate the process by manually breaking Kathy’s water (moments after this photo was taken) and inducing labor. There was no turning back now.

(SPOILER ALERT) At that point, we weren’t out of the woods yet. But as my upcoming BlogSpot post will describe later this week, everything in the maternity ward ultimately turned out alright (as everyone knows by now). Baby Lena was not only born with a strong heartbeat, but she continues to be blessed with good health and a loving family as she begins her second month of life!

To be continued…

My next BlogSpot post will include a bunch of photos from baby Lena's delivery and first days, as well as another current picture. Let the good times roll!

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