Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lena Hamilton: The Adventure Begins, Part 2 of 2

DSC_0164.JPG by gkhamilton
DSC_0164.JPG, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.
Above: Celebrating Lena's one month birthday on 10/10/11!

Here’s what you missed from Part 1: Kathy and I had checked into St. Vincent Hospital on Friday, September 9, two days after our due date, to see a doctor about her unusual bleeding. Potentially life-threatening drama ensued. Got that?

Five days in the hospital and over $30,000 in medical bills later (mostly covered by insurance, thankfully), we took home a beautiful baby girl. I could go into detail about every health scare we had in the meantime… but let’s skip to the good part: 9/10/11, the Saturday night that Lena Esther Hamilton was born!
For the first 36 or so hours after checking into St. Vincent hospital on Friday morning, our doctors had been assuring us that it was still reasonably safe to plan for a natural delivery (Plan A). On Saturday evening, though, a doctor eventually warned us that the risk of Plan A was beginning to outweigh the risk of a cesarean delivery. Kathy was still suffering from the unexplained bleeding and had only dilated 6 cm, even after the doctor broke her water and administered pitocin to induce labor earlier that day. More alarming was that baby Lena’s heartbeat dropped to dangerous lows each time Kathy had a contraction. We didn’t know how much more her little heart could take.

“We’ve got to get this baby out of you,” the doctor ultimately counseled us, before Lena’s heart “hits a wall.”

Hearing that our situation was taking a turn for the worse, we didn’t hesitate to authorize the surgery.DSC_0702.JPG We changed into our scrubs, split up, and rendezvoused in the operating room.

The C-section surgery itself was quick and “painless,” thanks to the efficient skill of the St. Vincent maternity staff and the anesthesia (and earlier epidural injection) that Kathy was given. I remained at Kathy’s head during the procedure, with full view of the surgical cutting and pulling that was happening on the other side of the blue curtain which obstructed Kathy’s view of her torso. Even as Kathy’s lower abdomen was sliced open, there was an eerie silence. No sounds of a baby crying… just the noise of operating room chatter and instruments being carefully operated.

At exactly 10:18 p.m. on 9/10/11, the anesthesiologist (who had been closely eyeing me for signs of passing out) abruptly shouted for me to grab my camera and stand up. The very moment that I rose to peek over the top of the dividing curtain, Dr. Morrison was lifting our beautiful baby daughter of Kathy’s mid-section. [Photo removed] My hands trembled as I managed to squeeze off a few blurry shots of Lena drawing her first breath. After cutting her umbilical cord, the nurses invited me over to watch as they wiped Lena off and weighed her in at a whopping 8 lbs. 15 oz.!

DSC_0748.JPG This is one of my favorite photos ever, and the very first picture of the three of us!! We are all together in the delivery room for the first time after Lena's birth, and Kathy is still lying on the operating table as I hold our newborn daughter. Priceless!!

While the doctors finished sewing up Kathy in the delivery room, I carried baby Lena back to our posh birthing suite so head nurse Jodi could prepare her to be swaddled. DSC_0755.JPGIMAG1052_edTMP-1.jpg For the next 15 minutes or so, I had Lena all to myself. I prayed over her, changed her first diaper, spoke to her words of affirmation, and gently rocked her back and forth as we waited for Kathy to be rolled back into the room. I savored each of these 15 minutes of heaven.

DSC_0775.JPG Our family reunion of three in the birthing suite lasted a couple of hours. At some point, I slipped out into the lobby to break the good news about Lena’s birth to our waiting family and friends.

We were soon transferred to the post-partum recovery ward by an attendant who strategically devised our highly classified route to achieve his top secret mission: Transfer the package (us) with extreme efficiency, and evade en route interference (our family and friends) at all cost.
DSC_0794.JPG You’ve gotta feel for our excited parents (pictured down the hall, in the deep background), who had been cordoned off like paparazzi while impatiently waiting into the wee hours of the morning to catch their first glimpse of their granddaughter Lena.

DSC_0809.JPG Just before 2 a.m. on Sunday, September 11 (Day #3), we settled into our cramped post-partum recovery room. Sorely missing was the spacious design, high ceiling, scenic view, roomy bath, comfy couch and leather recliner of our birthing suite. We practically had to stack pieces of furniture and exhale all the air from our lungs to squeeze in our family for their first middle-of-the-night visitation.

The next few days spent in the St. Vincent post-partum recovery ward were a blur of sleepless nights, exhausting days, invaluable instruction and care from the nursing staff, visits from family and friends, and intimate time spent getting to know our wonderful newborn baby daughter, Lena.

Here are a few of our favorite photos from those last three days at the hospital:


On Tuesday afternoon (Day 5), we were finally released from St. Vincent’s hospital. Our first few joyous days with Lena had flown by. Although being cooped up in that tiny room for one minute longer would’ve certainly led to a scrappy jailbreak, we left with nothing but high praise for the outstanding care of the hospital staff.

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With the help of my dad, I loaded Kathy and our newborn baby Lena (now weighing 15 oz. less) into the car and drove the three of us home.

...And so the adventure begins!

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