Handsome Hank: A Birth Story* (Part 5)
After Hank was born, we learned a little about what had happened during his delivery, but it wasn’t until the next day that I got the full picture.
Immediately after he was born and weighed, Olivia told us that she was concerned that Hank’s shoulder had fractured during the delivery. She wanted to have it looked at, but in the meantime, Hank was given to me to hold. After taking a minute to let out that first initial cry, he hollered non-stop for the next 40 minutes. As I held him on my chest, Olivia noticed that he was having a little difficulty with his breathing–it sounded like his breath was catching. She helped me arrange him in a comfortable position, gave me an oxygen mask to hold a few inches from his face, and encouraged me to speak to him while he cried. Eventually his breathing became less labored and he snuggled close to my chest as he examined his new world.
As soon as the pediatrician on-call was free, Olivia had him come in and examine Hank, and he agreed that his shoulder was likely fractured. X-rays were ordered for later that afternoon, and the Hubster and I were left to wonder about what that would mean for our son.
Then began a never-ending series of tests and blood work. Because of Hank’s size, Olivia was concerned that he might have difficulty regulating his blood sugar–a common issue with bigger babies. We were initially told that we would have to stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours while they completed these tests, and they would need to wake him and draw blood every three hours. Poor Hank was such a trooper as it seemed like nurse after nurse came to steal more blood from him. Thankfully he had three “good” tests in a row and Olivia opted to end the testing.
The X-rays confirmed he did fracture his clavicle (collarbone). Some bruising had already begun to develop at the site, but he didn’t appear to be bothered by it. The pediatrician returned to discuss the fracture, and we were told to keep his arm pinned to his clothing to restrict his mobility and help it heal in place. Thankfully it is a fairly common fracture and there is a nearly 100% healing rate.
Our first night together was long, largely because of the parade of people that continuously came through the door to check his temperature, my blood pressure, and complete this test or that.
In the morning the Hubster slipped out for a few hours to go to an appointment and spend time with Ruby, and during that quiet time, Olivia returned.
She came in, and after her cursory examination of Hank and I, she pulled up a chair by my bed so we could talk. She began to walk me through his delivery in detail, pausing often so I could ask questions or so she could explain something more fully.
As I was waiting for the epidural, Olivia was monitoring my contractions and Hank’s heartbeat. My contractions were coming in steady waves and my labor was progressing much more quickly than either she or I had anticipated… but it was Hank’s heartbeat that prompted her to check my progress after so short a time. As she watched the monitor, she noticed that his heart rate had been decreasing, and then it took quite a dip. When she checked me and saw that I had fully dilated to 10cm so quickly, she knew that Hank’s dropping heart rate meant that he needed to come now.
I didn’t know this at the time, but there were so many nurses in and out of my room because I was considered high risk for complications… which did end up taking place. First, Olivia urged me to push with all my strength because intially Hank’s head was larger than what my body would allow. She actually turned away for a moment to prepare for an episiotomy, but in that moment my body completed that work for her and his head came free.
However, as his head was born Olivia became aware that the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. She began urging me to push–even without contractions–so she could “free” him, but it became clear that his shoulders were caught on my pubic bone. She noticed that his heart rate dropped even further, which is when an intervention became necessary.
The nurses I had noticed take place on either side of me were there to assist with one of two jobs: if the baby became stuck, they were supposed to flip me over onto my hands and knees (which can help free the baby), or one would jump on the bed with me and add additional force to help push the baby out quickly. By applying pressure to my stomach, it would be possible to “round out” the baby’s shoulders and help him be delivered. A fracture in this case is much more likely, but after quickly assessing the situation, Olivia decided it was our best option. She felt that the baby’s decreasing heart rate needed to take precedence over all else, and knew that shoulder fractures had a high success rate for healing. She gave the nod to the nurse, and seconds after she began applying pressure, Hank was born and the cord removed from his neck.
I am just so, so thankful that all things considered–Hank is here, and he is healthy and happy. We ended up only having to spend one night in the hospital, and he has been absolute prince here at home.
A very hungry prince, but a prince none the less. ;)
He is sleeping and eating well, and is generally content just to soak in the world around him. He has the sweetest disposition and loves to snuggle… which I am loving. We’ve already survived one growth spurt, and I think we may be in the beginnings of another as Hank is quickly climbing back up to his birth weight.
We had a follow up with the pediatrician last night, and he is very pleased with how Hank’s shoulder is healing. He seems to have full mobility and no pain, so we are very hopeful that there will be no lasting effects. He gave us the green light to stop restricting his arm, and we have one more followup with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon next week for more x-rays. Please keep your fingers crossed for him, but right now his little shoulder looks good. :)
It was a bit of a wild experience, but we are so happy that Hank is here and is part of our little family. Ruby is slowly adjusting to life as a big sister and becomes more interested in “baby!” every day. Life is a definitely a little busier now that we have two kids under our roof, but we are loving every minute of it.
Thank you so much for all your kind words and well wishes–this recovery has actually felt a little easier than my last. I’m hoping that in another few days I’ll be good as new. :)
Oh my! What a birth story. Glad to hear that your son is doing well. As a soon to be mother myself, this was great to read. Combined with other birth stories I’ve read, the major take home is to expect the unexpected. I read a statistic that only 55% of birth plans are actually followed. You certainly cant plan anything…let nature take its course.Best wishes to you and your little one :)
I loved reading your birth story! So glad he is here and safe.