Liam's Birth Story & Struggle W/Birth Asphyxia
Taite & I have 2 daughters, Mia (4.5) & Carly (2.5), then I miscarried after them (at 10 wks), & was 39 wks pregnant w/my first boy. I had been induced w/both of my daughters, at 41.5 wks (she was 9 lbs & had shoulder dystocia, got stuck coming out) & 39 wks (bc of my large 1st baby having SD). I had never had a csection.
I was scheduled to be induced on Thurs 3/1, at 39 wks, so they wanted me to go in Wed night 2/29 to start. I was having some contractions on the way there though. I arrived at 8pm, & I asked for my favorite labor & delivery nurse because she had delivered my first daughter 4.5 yrs ago, & I had asked for her for my 2nd daughter 2.5 yrs ago but she was busy until just after I gave birth (that one happened much more quickly). I was checked around 9:30pm & was told I was 2cm but could be stretched to a 3, & 50% effaced, and my contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I hadn't eaten so since I could eat before midnight, they let me eat first, & then I got the cytotec around 12:30am. The next morning, they tried to break my water around 11am with no luck. The doctor said I was still 2.5 cm but my cervix was too long & the baby's head wasn't down enough. They started the pitocin at 6 milliunits, & then over the next hour and a half it was increased to 8 milliunits, then 10, 12, and 14. The contractions became really strong & the pain started to get worse. Around 2pm my contractions were 2.5 minutes apart. They increased the pitocin to 16 milliunits & then 18. When I couldn't take the pain anymore, I asked for an epidural around 3pm but the anesthesiologist had just been called to help someone else so I had to wait a very long painful hour. I finally got the epidural, but by then it hurt so badly I was crying partly from the pain & partly just from being scared to death about the epidural. After it was in, they checked me again & I was 6cm. I got a catheter & they broke my water. They turned off the pitocin to see if I would continue laboring on my own, which I did. My doctor had to go perform a csection on someone so I was told she wouldn't be back for an hour. Probably around 6pm I started to feel a LOT of pressure... like the baby wanted to come out. I also started feeling nauseaous... I gagged into a bag a lot but couldn't actually throw up since I hadn't eaten in about 20 hrs. I was checked by a different nurse and was told it wasn't time to push yet because I was only 9cm. My heartrate went up, and the baby's heart rate dropped for some reason so they were watching it. I was so exhausted, and the pressure was intense. They made me wear an oxygen mask to help me breathe. About 6:45pm the dr came in & the nurse immediately told her I was ready & at 10cm (without checking me again?). The pressure was painful. The baby's heartrate had been 140 at one point but was now 70. They said I could start pushing. This is where my nightmare began.
When I felt a contraction, I was told to push for 10 seconds, so I did... & again, & again... Then the next contraction, as I was pushing the dr & nurse could see my baby's head coming. I was getting excited & hoped I wouldn't be pushing for long. But the next contraction felt different... it felt weaker, but I pushed anyway, & after that set the contraction didn't stop, it kind of lingered on, although not as strong as a normal one. It just felt weird. My nurse looked confused as she watched the monitor. The dr & nurse could no longer see the baby's head. So the next (still kind of strange feeling) contraction came,and the nurse seemed confused if it was a contraction or not, but it seemed like it was... they told me to push harder, but the head was gone, so the dr had me roll over to lay on my right side, then my left side... & afterwards the dr felt inside & could not feel the baby's head at all. She kept feeling around & the nurse said, "What do you feel?" The dr said, ".....It's an extremity," with a very confused look on her face. The nurse repeated, "An EXTREMITY?" & the dr said, "....... It's a FOOT..!!!?" She looked like she had NO IDEA what was going on. I felt a sense of panic, as the nurse quickly said to the dr, "Should we take her down and get her ready?" meaning, csection. I was all for it since I felt like SOMETHING went wrong & I just wanted my baby out NOW. As soon as the decision was made for the emergency csection, everyone moved so quickly. They were throwing gowns & caps & masks on as they flew my bed down the hallway. People seemed SO panicked, running down the hall w/their gowns & caps & masks half on. I was screaming for Taite to come w/us, but he was told he couldn't. Apparently eventually someone threw an outfit at him & told him to put it on. I was taken into the O.R. I was scared to DEATH. I HAD been very very nervous about ever getting a csection, but at this point I just wanted to be cut open & have my baby pulled out safely & quickly. As everyone was preparing, I heard epidural talk, a nurse touched my stomach & said, "She's not numb here!!" a couple times... I said, "I don't care! Just cut me open already!!!!" I guess I was numb though, the anesthesiologist must have done something. I was looking upwards, behind me... everyone looked identical in their blue gowns & masks... I felt like I was dreaming... It really felt like I was inside a nightmare. I was searching everyone's eyes looking for Taite. My favorite nurse was there with me, she stayed past her shift. I was still asking for Taite. He finally made it back there. I felt them cut me open but it didn't hurt. I felt all kinds of weird pulling & tugging... I threw up. I was so scared. I couldn't see anything that was going on... but I could sort of feel what they were doing. I was staring at Taite's eyes the whole time, he was sitting near my head. I felt them pull the baby out, & since I was SO scared about him & whether he was okay, I listened SO carefully while staring at Taite........ but I heard nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. NO cries, no baby noises. It was SILENT. I had NO idea what was going on, but I was extremely scared. I remember asking my nurse what was going on, & if my baby was okay... she looked at me with tears in her sad panicked eyes & just said, "I don't know." I was devasted & scared to death. I was fearing the absolute worst. By this point Taite had tears in his eyes too. I later found out he had seen our baby boy, pulled out totally limp & lifeless, & quickly carried out of the room by a nurse. I was clueless as to what was going on. The dr was busy working on me. It felt like FOREVER. I could feel so much pulling & tugging of my insides... I got SO cold, I started shaking uncontrollably. I did not feel well. I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I was laying there closing my eyes just hoping my baby was okay. I heard a nurse ask someone, "Is she OKAY?!" & someone replied Yes. The anesthesiologist went & got me a WARM blanket to put over my chest & arms. It felt so good because I was SO SO SO cold & shivering & shaking like crazy. But I didn't care about me. I just wanted my baby in my arms. A million thoughts were running through my head as I felt like I was in the middle of a nightmare. The scariest fear was that my baby was dead. And I still didn't understand what had gone wrong. My nurse left, & came back & told us she saw our baby, he was resuscitated, put on a ventilator, & was now pink. I assumed that meant he was not pink when he was born. I felt a little better, but was still very worried. A dr had come to talk to Taite, and they went in the hallway. It felt like an hour later when they were finally done with me. The dr had said our son had Birth Asphyxia...was born limp & not breathing at all. They couldn't find a pulse. His 1-minute Apgar score was 0. He had been deprived of oxygen for an unknown amount of time. They resuscitated him & he was now on a ventilator, but they needed to take him to the CHKD NICU, which was maybe half an hour away. He was to be surrounded in ice to prevent any further brain damage or swelling. They wanted to do a cooling treatment, called Hypothermia Treatment... 72 hours of the baby being wrapped in cold cooling blankets to bring the body temperature down to 33 degrees celsius. He said our baby would probably have to be in the NICU for about 3 weeks. I felt lost, and I didn't know if our baby would make it.
I was taken to a recovery area where they wanted to monitor me for 2 hrs. It felt like forever, sitting there with a nurse who wouldn't tell me anything. I had no idea where my baby was or what was going on. It felt pointless for me to be in there... if I could walk I probably would have run out looking for my baby. I asked the nurse how much he weighed and what time he was born. He was born 3/1/12 at 7:51pm, weighing 8 lbs 13 oz and measuring 21.5". My dr came in to talk to us & we were told that my uterus had ruptured. The dr did not know until I was cut open. I was surprised but since I was sitting there alive I figured I was fine enough. She said she managed to stitch it back together & that I could still have another baby in the future if I wanted (the least of my conerns at the moment!). I HAD had an unscarred uterus... this was so extremely rare! I also had lost a lot of blood. She said I may need a blood transfusion. I really wasn't worried about me though, I was so scared for my poor poor baby. We were told they were going to bring him in so we could see him! That made me happy... they wheeled in an incubator-like box that looked like a cooler... my poor sweet little baby was laying in it, with ziplock bags of ice all around him. He wasn't moving. It was so sad. He was on a ventilator too, & had all kinds of wires & things all over him. We got to see him for a couple minutes & take a few pictures. Then they had to take him to CHKD NICU. We were absolutely devastated, nervous, scared... & I was sad because I really just wanted to hold my baby boy in my arms. He looked so cold. I felt bad I couldn't cuddle him like I was supposed to.
Once we went back to the original labor/delivery room, we spent hours researching Birth Asphyxia & Hypothermia Treatment, and also uterine rupture. Apparently we were both extremely lucky to be alive, and this was extremely rare. We had called the NICU to check on our baby, & he was doing okay, & would be kept cold for 3 days. They said he needed a sedative to calm him down, which was actually a good thing that he was responding (except that I hated to hear that he was upset). They told us he would need EEG scans, and an MRI to see what kind of brain damage occurred... but not until after the Hypothermia Treatment & rewarming phase. I couldn't sleep at all... I felt SO DEPRESSED. All I could do was cry.
The next day, Friday 3/2/12, (1/2 a day old) my dr told me she was working on getting me transferred to the hospital that is connected to the children's hospital/NICU. Some of the NICU doctors came to talk to me. They didn't really tell me anything new, but they said he would probably be there for 4 weeks. My heartrate was very high, & I was told my blood count was low & I got anemia, so I had to have a blood transfusion since I had lost so much. An hour after getting 2 units of blood, they made sure everything was okay with me, and they started getting me ready to be transferred. We called the NICU around 7pm & they said he was still on the ventilator but they had turned it down, and he had opened his eyes. We decided to call him Liam. It means strong protector, or strong willed warrior. His real name is William Taite Westendorf. Eventually I was put on a stretcher & taken to the other hospital by ambulance (SUCH a bumpy PAINFUL ride!!!!!!!!!! I would have felt a lot better if I could have ridden in a car!). I didn't really like the new hospital, but it was near my baby. I was in a ton of pain. It hurt sooooooooooo badly to move. That night (Friday) we got to go see our son at the NICU for the first time. He was soooooo cute!!! Very cold though. And swollen. He had gotten off the ventilator! We were allowed to touch him but we couldn't pick him up while he was getting the Hypothermia Treatment, and he had a lot of wires and things on him. We watched him lay there. He cried a little but we took that as a good sign. He was on sedatives also. He looked so sweet. I wanted to hold him in my arms though.
Saturday 3/3/12 (about 2 days old) we were told he opened his eyes & looked at a nurse. Not much more change though since he was still getting HT. When we went to visit him I recognized his cry from the day before. I hated to hear him cry (it wasn't much), but I was also glad he was able to cry.
Sunday 3/4/12 (about 3 days old) we were told he took a few sucks on a pacifier... a good sign we thought. His grandparents & aunt came to visit. But they wouldn't allow any children under 7 in the NICU. And later that night he was taken off the Hypothermia Treatment and began the rewarming phase.
On Monday 3/5/12 (about 4 days old) they were letting me go home... I was still in a lot of pain though, & it was very sad going home without my baby. We went to visit him though before going to pick our daughters up at the grandparents'. He was in the rewarming phase for under 24 hrs. He felt very warm to the touch. We were told he would be getting an EEG scan the next morning. As we were watching him, we saw him start to shake... quick jerky movements... it scared us. We had read that seizures were a bad sign that something was seriously wrong w/the brain... We asked the nurse if this was a seizure & she very depressingly shook her head Yes. We lost it. I started crying so hard I fell to the floor. It really instantly just BROKE my heart. I can't describe how badly that hurt to see. Taite started to cry as well, & he got very mad too. All of a sudden we finally had an idea on how our baby was doing... & it wasn't good. We both imagined that meant he did in fact suffer brain damage. The nurse let me change his diaper. One of the attending doctors came to see us... & he said something I'd been waiting 4 very long days to hear... he said, "Do you want to hold him?" & it was the best thing I'd heard in a long time. I finally got to hold my precious baby boy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was in heaven. It was the best feeling EVER!!!!!! We both held him for a while. I never wanted to let him go. It was a happy moment but we were also pretty upset about the seizures & possible brain damage. When it came time to go, we watched him a little longer, & he started to seizure again. We were crying. He hadn't done it at all the whole time we were holding him though. I really hated to leave him. I just wanted to hold him forever. It was SO hard to walk away. I felt like he needed me. We were VERY depressed that night, having to not only go home without our baby, but to think about everything that had happened. We also had to explain to our daughters that they could still not see their baby brother. Everything was extremely devastating to think about... our son being brain damaged for life because of a few minutes without oxygen. I was picturing our future, with our brain damaged son in a wheelchair, not able to move or speak correctly. He could be partially blind, he could be deaf. It was all unknown. I didn't understand why this happened to me, why my uterus failed me & my baby, & how CLOSE my baby was to coming out FINE before my stupid uterus popped open hurting my sweet innocent little baby boy. I played the whole thing in my head over and over and over again. But I felt like it was all somehow my fault. I should have just opted for a csection from the beginning. I should have pushed a little harder that first & second contraction when his head was right there. Maybe my diet wasn't good while I was pregnant. Maybe I didn't drink enough water. I was blaming myself for everything. But Liam definitely did not deserve this.
Tuesday morning, 3/6/12, about 5 days old, a nurse practioner called to let me know they did the EEG scan and they would call back as soon as they got results. I was SO nervous. Soon after, I got the call. I felt like I was about to have a heart attack just answering the phone. The nurse practioner said, "The EEG DID show some abnormalities..." & that is all I heard. I broke down screaming in tears. I was so exhausted, physically & emotionally, not to mention I was still in a lot of pain myself. The NP had also said there was good news, that he had sucked on a pacifier AND drank a little of my pumped breast milk from a bottle. That was good. BUT I was so so so upset about the EEG scan. I figured it meant something really horrible. Especially after the night we had. She said that we should go to the hospital to talk to them about the results. When we went to visit Liam, we spoke w/another attending dr who ended up making us feel a LOT better. The "abnormalities" were "spikes" that meant seizure activity, but it was just his brain learning to deal with everything that has happened & it was pretty normal for what he had been through & did NOT mean it would last forever. It didn't necessarily mean there was any brain damage, and there was still a lot of brain activity going on. In fact it was pretty normal, just had some spikes. The dr looked at all our baby's info... He told us his 1-5-10-15-minute Apgar scores were 0-3-4-5, and said ALL of his other organs were working great, nothing had shut down throughout it all, & when deprived of oxygen, the other organs would fail to work BEFORE letting the brain go without oxygen, but they never quit working, so that was a great sign that maybe the brain had done okay, and that made me feel a LOT better. They scheduled an MRI for Thursday. The dr said he was hoping that he could come home w/us in 2 weeks! I didn't believe 2 weeks was possible but it was still great to hear. And then.... I was told I could nurse him!!!!!!!!!!! We went in to see him... & I got to nurse my baby for the first time! I loved it. He did a great job! It felt so natural for both of us. We were feeling a lot better. Still very unsure of what all was going to happen though. But I was absolutely in LOVE with my baby boy.
Wednesday 3/7/12 (about 6 days old) they told us we could bring in any clothes or blankets that we wanted. We could also leave the boppy there if we wanted. He was doing so well that they were going to look for a crib for him soon. He was being given 5mL of phenobarbital every night to control the seizures.
On Thursday 3/8/12 (1 week old) we brought the boppy and a diaper bag of clothes and blankets for him. That morning he got his MRI. We were so anxious to see the results. As we were walking back to the NICU w/his nurse, she said we should be able to take him home tomorrow or the next day!!!!!!!! I could NOT believe it! I felt dizzy for a second, I had to ask her to repeat it. That came out of no where! SO unexpected!!!!! I wanted to SCREAM! Also, Liam got a regular nursery bassinet! They said they were out of the cribs for now but he was well enough for the bassinet. We planned on staying with him a while that day. We were taking turns holding him, & I nursed him again. He had his eyes opened a lot, and he looked at us. He listened to Daddy tell him all about his room at home, and his sisters who were waiting to meet him. They said he weighed 9 lbs 3 oz.. The NP came and said that the MRI looked good, but she didn't really know how to read it so she wanted the attending dr to come talk to us. When he did, he said the best news ever... The MRI was FINE!!!!!!!!!!! NO BRAIN DAMAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow. I almost couldn't believe it. Happy doesn't even begin to describe how we felt. Everything was turning around. All of a sudden all we were getting was good news! What a fighter!! He said there was a little blood above the brain but it was probably just caused by the trauma & is normal and would go away. We didn't want to leave, but we couldn't WAIT to tell everyone the GREAT NEWS!!! We held him and stared at him a little longer. I changed him into his very first outfit... a onesie that said "Mommy Loves Me." That night, everyone was SO relieved to hear the great news! I definitely had a very strong baby boy. A miracle baby.
The next day, Friday 3/9/12, at 8 days old, we were allowed to take our baby home!!! There was a lot of paperwork to fill out, and things to go over like his dr appts w/the regular pediatrician, a follow-up appt at the NICU, and a neurologist appt where they would give him another EEG. We had to watch a few videos about shaking babies, car seat safety, and CPR, and then he needed to take a car seat test, which he did great on. They taught me how to give him his medicine and told me we had to give him 5mL every night. I got to put an actual "going home outfit" on him and for the first time he was unhooked from every single wire! In the NICU waiting room was where big sisters Mia & Carly FINALLY got to meet their baby brother! 8 days old & finally coming home!!!!!!!!!
Over the next week he was still making some occassional jerky movements, but only while he slept. I hated to see it though. We were giving him 5mL of phenobarbital every night. I stared and watched him sleep a lot. And I had trouble ever putting him down. I was so proud of my baby boy for fighting through what he had been through.
Monday 3/12/12 (11 days old) he had his first regular checkup w/his pediatrician. She said he looked good & he was 9 lbs 3 oz..
Wed. 3/29/12 (4 wks old) Liam had his very first neurologist appt. They said he looked "amazing." They said if they hadn't known what he'd been through, they never would have guessed. They said everything looked good and he was acting exactly as a baby his age should be. They were so confident, they lowered his phenobarbital amount to 4mL every night. We were told to schedule an EEG scan for 2 wks from then, but then they only had availability for 4 wks out. He weighed 10 lbs 5 oz (w/clothes on) & measured 22.5" long. For the next 4 wks he was getting 4mL of phenobarbital every single night. He HATED it.
Mon. 4/2/12 (1 month old) he had his 1 month well baby check up. His doctor seemed impressed, and said he looked perfect. He weighed 10 lbs 4 oz (50-75%) and was 22" long (75%). I hadn't been seeing anymore seizure activity or jerky movements.
Thurs. 4/26/12 (7 wks old) he had the EEG. It was difficult to watch because he had to get his head measured & drawn all over, then 26 little things all over his head w/lotions, and then tape. Then his head was wrapped in gauze. And he was put in a "swaddle" blanket that looked more like a straight jacket, to keep him from touching his head. It was pretty sad. We put his blankets around him near his face so he could smell them...After a minute he finally calmed down. Afterwards, the person who'd given him the test said she didn't SEE anything bad & thought it looked normal to her. We were told the neurologist would call us with the results in about 3 days. But we felt pretty confident it would be normal.
Mon. 4/30/12 I got the call. They said "Everything is completely normal." I was SO EXCITED because this was the LAST thing to check and see if Liam really was okay. And everything was GREAT. I asked if this meant if he could stop taking the phenobarbital. They said YES. But he had to be slowly weaned off of it. At 1mL less every 2 wks. So that night he got 3mL. He would get that for 2 wks, then 2 wks at 2mL, 2 wks at 1mL, and then he would be done!!!
Tues. 5/1/12 (2 months old) Liam had his 2 month well baby checkup w/his pediatrician. She said he looked perfect! Weighed 14 lbs 2 oz (90-95%) and was 25.2" long (98%).
Thurs. 6/7/12 (3+ months old/14 wks old) Liam had his first NeoNatal follow-up appt. It's something all CHKD NICU babies have to get every so often for 2-3 yrs. He did very well! He got a report card... Gross motor level (pushing up onto his arms) - 2 months. Fine motor/visual problem solving - 3 1/2 months. Language: Expressive (sounds he makes) - 4 months, Receptive (what he understands): 5 months. He was 26" long & weighed 17 lbs 4.8 oz w/a dry diaper & onesie on. He goes back in 4 months. We are SO happy everything is going so well!
Sun. 6/10/12 is Liam's LAST night taking his phenobarbital!!!!!!!!!
<3 I LOVE MY SWEET BABY BOY!!! <3
~ Shannon Sullivan
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