Zephan's birth at 31 weeks 3 days - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 11-23-2008, 03:53 AM - Thread Starter
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This is a long story of a pregnancy and birth complicated by placenta previa, preterm labor, PPROM, and possibly a placental abruption during labor, followed by a very easy delivery and a thriving 31 week old preemie...

Last May, my husband and I went on vacation to San Francisco for a week. We had just sold our old house after it had been on the market for 9 months and moved into our new home. We were already busy with 2 little boys and while we wanted a bigger family, we were not planning on trying soon. Half way through our trip, however, I felt a familiar light headed, queasy feeling...and I knew we were pregnant. A test when we got home confirmed what I already knew.

Through May and June, I struggled with terrible morning sickness. I spent most of this time at home in bed. Around the Fourth of July, I began to feel well enough to take my kids out to play in the beautiful summer sun. After a long day at the farmer's market, swimming, and playing at the park, however, I began to feel contractions. I was just 13 weeks pregnant.

I began to take it easy, drink a lot of water, and do other things to try to calm my already irritable uterus.

The following week I had my first appointment with our perinatologist. After the ultrasound, we learned that we were having our third boy. We also discovered that I had a complete placenta previa and an short cervix. These, along with my history of preterm labor and birth, meant that I was "high-risk" and I was put on modified bed rest at just 14 weeks.

For the next four months, I was on some type of bed rest at home. No holding my older boys, no housework, no exercise, no playing at the park, no shopping, no sex. I saw the perinatologist weekly and the OB every other week. We carefully watched as my cervix continued to get shorter and my contractions grew stronger. I was in and out of the hospital half a dozen times and on every medication to try to stop labor. Thankfully, when I was about 26 weeks pregnant, my placenta had moved far enough out of the way that I no longer had a previa.

We rejoiced as we passed 24 weeks and then 28 weeks. When our baby measured 2 pounds 15 ounces on his growth scan at almost 29 weeks, we were so relieved. We knew that by then, if I did go into labor, our son would have a very good chance of surviving.

The following Sunday, our family went to church where I put my feet up in the back row as usual. I could not pay attention to the music or the sermon because I was having so many painful contractions. After church, we decided I should go into the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital almost 3 weeks ago, I had no idea I would be there until our son was born. The doctors were not able to stop the contractions with terbutaline and ibuprofen, my cervix was beginning to dilate, and I had a positive fetal-fibronectin test.

I was admitted to the high-risk pregnancy unit where I was put on IV magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions. I was given steriod shots to help mature our baby's lungs along with antibiotics. I felt absolutely terrible on the magnesium, but it did work to stop labor. When the doctors tried to wean me of the magnesium after 48 hours, the contractions started again, so I went back on magnesium for a few more days. I remained in the hospital on bed rest.

Through that week, my amniotic fluid levels were rising rapidly. I developed polyhydramnios and as my uterus stretched, I was continuing to have contractions. On Friday, November 7 when I was 29 weeks 6 days, my water broke in a huge gush. I was terrified. Both of my older sons were born soon after my water broke and I thought this meant that I would go into labor within hours.

My doctors stopped the magnesium and started me on several new antibiotics to try to prevent infection. With my water broken, the doctors would no longer stop labor. One of the OBs who was on call came to my room to do a ultrasound to determine baby's position. That morning he had been breech, but thankfully he was head down. My husband and I went to bed, hoping that I would not go into labor.

Around 3 am, I woke up to stronger contractions. A different OB was on call at this point and she came in to asses the situation. She announced that for a 30 week baby, it was necessary to do a c-section. As I had been on bed rest for months, I had plenty of time to learn about premature birth and I knew that there were benefits to vaginal delivery for preemies at this age. We told her that we preferred a vaginal birth, but she was clearly irritated.

I was moved from the antepartum unit down to labor and delivery. For the first time in months, I began to walk around with the contractions. They were growing stronger and I could feel the baby's head pressing very low on my back. Around 5 am, however, I began to feel light headed. Then I noticed that my face was going numb. I thought that maybe I was light headed and I needed something to eat.

At 5:30, when the nurse started my second dose of IV antibiotics, the rest of my face went numb. I began to feel like I was going to pass out and then my throat and chest tightened up. I could not breathe. The nurses figured out that I was having an allergic reaction to the medication.

Thankfully, the allergic reaction worked to disorganize my contractions. I spent the rest of that day struggling to breathe and still contracting, but not quite in labor. By the next day, my uterus was quiet and I moved back up to the antepartum floor.

The doctors had a new plan. The goal was to keep me pregnant as long as possible up to 34 weeks. The doctors would watch carefully for signs of infection and to see that our baby was doing well even though I had very little amniotic fluid left. If there was any indication that the baby or I was getting sick, the doctors would induce.

For the next 11 days, I continued on hospital bed rest. There were a few times that I began to have contractions and we wondered if I was going into labor. There were also a few days that my temperature went up and we worried about infection.

I was struggling intensely with my emotions at this point. Our whole family had been through so much in this pregnancy. I was exhausted and weak from everything I had been through. I missed my older sons and my husband. I spent a lot of time crying.

Eventually, I got to a place of peace, trusting that our son would be born at the right time. We were hoping that my body would go into labor naturally before an infection developed, but that I would stay pregnant as long as possible. Last Monday night, we celebrated with a little pizza party. We gave our two boys a bubble bath in the jetted tub in my hospital room. I went to sleep Monday night feeling very relaxed and okay with up to three more weeks of hospital bed rest.

At about 5:30 am on Tuesday morning, however, I woke up to a stronger contraction. Although I had many contractions during this pregnancy, this one felt different. All the same, I tried to stay in bed and sleep. I figured the contractions would go away if I rested.

By 7:30 am, they had developed into a regular pattern every 4-5 minutes. My nurse came in and asked what was going on. I told her I was contracting, but I didn't know if it was going anywhere. I also called my husband to tell him to go to work, but to pack his hospital bag in the car.

Between 7:30 and 8:00, as I went to the bathroom, got dressed in clean pajamas, and brushed my teeth, however, the contractions got much stronger. When my nurse came in my room with breakfast at 8:00, I told her "this is labor". A few minutes later she checked me and I was 3 cm and 90% effaced.

Each contraction seemed to require more of my attention to cope with the pain. The contractions were strong and on top of one another. By 9:00, the nurses had moved me downstairs to the labor and delivery floor. As the contractions were very frequent and I was just 31 weeks 3 days pregnant, the nurses were running around very anxiously preparing for a preterm birth.

To make things a little more complicated, my husband was stuck in traffic. I have a history of rather quick births, so the nurses were very clear that I could not leave my room. As my water had been broken for months, I could not get in the tub. I had to be monitored constantly and I needed an IV for antibiotics. I knew that a very medical birth was inevitable. And honestly, after 5 months of bed rest, I did not have the energy for an active natural labor.

I decided to have an epidural. Although I felt sort of weird about asking for an epidural, I knew that it would be impossible to have the quiet, calm, natural birth I'd been planning. I had a strong feeling that despite my plans for and previous experience with natural birth, this situation required something different.

When the epidural and IV were in around 10:00 am, my heart rate and the baby's heart rate both went up. Mine was in the 130s and baby's was in the 180s. The nurses gave me oxygen and increased the amount of fluid I was getting through the IV. For a little while, I think this stress slowed down the contractions.

When the doctor checked me at 10:30, I was still at 3 cm. At this point, everyone relaxed, figuring that I wouldn't have the very fast labor we'd all been worrying about. The doctor left and told the nurse not to check me until 2:00.

My husband arrived along with my friend Natalie who was going to take pictures of the birth. The epidural worked well to take away the pain of the contractions, but I could still feel what was going on and move my legs. For the next hour, we relaxed and talked about how weird it was that I was in labor without being in pain.

At about 12:00, I began to shake and feel queasy. The nurse said that I could be in transition, but I didn't believe her. She asked if I felt pressure and I said no.

With the next contraction, however, I began to feel a little pressure. I told the nurse that she could check me in 10-15 minutes.

With the following contraction, the pressure was very obvious. I said "check me now". When she lifted up the blankets that were covering my lower body, there was blood all over the place. She checked me and I was fully dilated and at -2. At this point, she called the doctor and said it was time.

With the next contraction, I began to feel like I needed to push. I breathed very carefully, trying hard to keep baby inside. The doctor arrived and said that we needed to go to the operating room to deliver. I told her I could feel the head and that we didn't have enough time. She took of her sweater and had my husband tie on her gown and quickly put her hands inside me to stop the baby from being born right away.

The NICU team ran from the operating room and began to prepare for our son's birth. The OB kept her hands on my son's head through another contraction until they were ready.

My third son, Zephaniah Isaac, was born at 12:21 with just a few gentle pushes through one contraction. He opened his eyes as his head was born and after the OB suctioned out his mouth and nose, we heard him cry.

This was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. He was breathing!! After everything we had been through, our son was alive. He was breathing. He was going to be okay.

The team of neonatologists and nurses worked to stabilize Zephan. Meanwhile, the OB gave me a shot of pitocin in my IV and delivered the placenta. After I had an opportunity to see our son, the NICU team took him upstairs.

We didn't realize it at the time, but there was a lot of blood with this delivery. It was everywhere, soaking through layer of layer of sheets and pads on the bed. Everything happened so fast that we do not know for sure, but I am guessing my placenta was beginning to abrupt during the last 20 minutes of my labor. Thankfully, my son was born vaginally much more quickly than he could have been my c-section and we were both okay.

About an hour after his birth, my nurses helped me clean up, eat something, and get in a wheel chair to go up to the NICU to see our precious son. He was 3 pounds 13 ounces and 17 inches long. Although he was able to breathe on his own, the doctors put him on a CPAP machine to make breathing easier. He was healthy and doing very well for his gestational age.

Over the last few days, Zephan has surprised everyone with how well he is doing!

On Wednesday morning, the doctors took of the CPAP. Since then, Zephan has been breathing well on his own. He had IV antibiotics for two days, but he does not have any signs of infection. On Wednesday afternoon, he started to have breastmilk through an NG tube. We were also able to begin kangaroo care. Although he has lost a little weight since his birth, he is already starting to grow again.

Today, at 32 weeks gestational age, we began to try breastfeeding. This morning I was able to hold him for half an hour while he was wide awake. He was very interested in breastfeeding and was able to latch on for 10-20 seconds at a time. He probably did not swallow more than a few drops of breastmilk, but he was a very happy baby and I am a very proud mama. :

Zephan will probably be in the NICU for at least 4 more weeks. We're hoping that if all goes well, he will be home by Christmas.
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#2 of 13 Old 11-23-2008, 04:26 AM
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Wow. Praise God little Zephan is doing so well! I think you are an amazing woman to have endured so much. I hope you both recover quickly and are able to go home soon.


Happy Wife  partners.gif since 12/31/05 ~ Blessed Mama to stillheart.gif 2/8/09 and stillheart.gif 6/11/11, with stillheart.gif on the way due 2/24/14


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#3 of 13 Old 11-23-2008, 02:26 PM
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Hi, I followed your link here from the Dec Due Date Club Forum. Congratulations! I'm so happy that Zephan is doing well in the NICU. My son was born at 32 weeks, spent 3 weeks in the NICU including 10 days on a ventilator. It can be a very scary place. And it's awesome that BF is going well! After my son got home from the NICU (where I had spent 12 hrs a day holding him in fairly uncomfortable chairs), I told my husband that I was going to sit in the LazyBoy chair and hold him for as long as I felt like it! And I did - I just nursed and held him while he slept for about a week. I hope that your NICU stay is shorter than anticipated and that you get your sweet little boy home well before Christmas. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk about NICU stuff.
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#4 of 13 Old 11-23-2008, 04:42 PM
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Congrats on your 3rd boy, Mama! ray he gets to come home very very soon.

-zak- Mama to three fantastic sons - 2005, 2007 & 2010 and expecting a daughter February 2012!

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#5 of 13 Old 11-23-2008, 05:48 PM
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Awww Sara, even though I knew most of the story it still made me cry to read it all together. I'm sending blessings and joy to your little family and hoping that Zephan grows strong and is home well before christmas. : :
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#6 of 13 Old 11-24-2008, 03:14 PM
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Congratulations on your new little boy! I'm glad to hear you're both OK, after all you've been through, and I hope he gets to come home soon.

Mom of 2 boys: D-Mac (Feb 06) and Ducky (Dec 08)
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#7 of 13 Old 11-24-2008, 03:48 PM
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Wow, what an amazing & inspiring story, I'm so glad your little Zephan is doing so well! Congratulations!!
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#8 of 13 Old 11-24-2008, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Here are pictures!
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#9 of 13 Old 11-24-2008, 09:42 PM
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wow. what an amazing birth story-- that little boy of yours went through a lot to get here! congratulations to you and your family! :

Waldorf-teaching mama to A (12/08), wife to my sweet wife M , and sharing a home with a dog , four cats , five turtles, a fish, and a crab.
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#10 of 13 Old 11-27-2008, 11:07 PM
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I have been following your story, I am so glad your little one is here and is doing well. I hope you get to take your little one home and snuggle him very soon!


Midwifery Student and Mama to 2 daughters and 3 sons.     
ribboncesarean.gif vbac.gifhomebirth.jpg I have given birth a variety of ways and I am thankful for what each one has taught me.

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#11 of 13 Old 11-30-2008, 02:19 AM
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Congrats on the birth of your sweet baby boy

Thank you for sharing your story. It is an amazing story and I wish you and Zephan all the best! I hope he is home for Christmas and hope he continues to do so well. Much love and light to you and your family :
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#12 of 13 Old 12-04-2008, 04:33 PM
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That is an amazing birth story. I'm so happy to hear he's doing well. I hope he's home for Chrismtmas with his family!
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#13 of 13 Old 01-30-2009, 04:29 PM
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That was a grueling experience. Thanks for sharing that incredible story! Congrats again and good health to little Zephan!
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