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Andrew Pollock

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Wednesday, 05 September 2007

fork failed: unlucky

The short story: we lost the baby. "Cord accident".

The long story:

Sarah woke me up at about 2:30am on Tuesday morning in a panic because she'd woken up herself at about 2am, and realised that she hadn't felt the baby move since about 8am the previous day.

I had a quick feel, but couldn't feel anything like his usual vigorous kicking, and eager to put her mind at rest, called Labor and Delivery at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital to see if we could come in. They said we could, so we jumped in the car and got there at about 3:25am.

They hooked up Sarah to a fetal heart monitor, but after anxious minutes, they couldn't pick up anything, so they got out the ultrasound machine. It was pretty obvious from that that there was no movement. We'd lost him.

So from about 4am onwards, we, well, tried to come to grips with the fact that we'd lost our baby. That we'd been robbed, 13 days from the finish line, and that we weren't going to be bringing a baby home to all the stuff we had ready for him there.

The doctors briefly mulled over whether to have a C-section to deliver Joshua, as was the plan, or induce. Apparently it's psychologically better for the mother if she delivers naturally, since she doesn't have the constant reminder for 6+ weeks while she recovers from the C-section. However, the doctors decided that as nothing had really changed from a delivery point of view, and they wanted to do a C-section for reduced strain on Sarah's heart, they opted for a C-section.

They managed to get a free operating room slot in the Stanford ORs, so they transferred Sarah over there, and they started performing the surgery at about 10am. Joshua was delivered sometime around 10:15am. I got to see him and hold him while we were still in the OR. He was perfect. 4 pounds 12 ounces. He didn't look that small. We were wondering if he was going to make 5 pounds or not. Maybe he would have by the 17th. I brought him around to show Sarah while she was still on the table, but it was hard to get him up to a good position that she could see him from, and she was a bit zonked out from all of the drugs.

They finished up at about 10:45am, and took her to the recovery room, where they didn't really want me, so one of the nurses from Labor and Delivery took me back to Lucile Packard, to spend some time with Joshua. There she let me hold him for a while, and look at him, and take some photographs. Then she weighed him and measured him, and took some more photographs. The nurse was really compassionate about the whole thing, and it felt like we were there for a good couple of hours, which was good, because apparently Lucile Packard and Stanford don't really inter-operate very well, and whilst physically transferring a patient just involves wheeling them down a corridor, getting all the paperwork sorted out is a completely different story. So while Sarah was only supposed to spend an hour in recovery, she spent three hours there, because they were waiting on paperwork to release her, then waiting on a room to be available, then the right people weren't talking to each other, so they didn't know that a room was available from midday. I forget what time we actually got out of recovery.

The doctors, being the overcautious bunch of people that they are, wanted to keep Sarah in the Cardiac Surveillance Unit for 24-48 hours so they could check on her vitals post-delivery. They let us out of there late today. We're currently in a general ward. I thought they said it was for gynaecology patients (they didn't think it'd be terribly considerate to stick us in with all the other recovering mothers and their babies), but there's some male patients in here too, so I'm not sure what this ward is.

In terms of coming to grips with things, they brought Joshua up to our room for pretty much as long as we wanted yesterday, and Sarah was more with it by then, so she could hold him, and we could take more photographs.

It's been really hard. I was awake from when Sarah woke me up in the morning until about 10pm that night. Fortunately I was able to get a cot in the room with Sarah, so I could stay the night there. I'm staying here tonight as well.

The obstetrician that delivered Joshua said that his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and once around his body, and was pretty tight around his neck. They can't say for sure that that's what happened, but it's a good enough explanation for us, and we're not going to have the little guy cut up for an autopsy, which may not tell us anything anyway.

So we're taking some small comfort from the fact that we're able to make a healthy looking baby, and that Sarah's heart performed fine throughout the pregnancy and delivery, and that this was just one of those so very unlucky accidents. Apparently babies get their umbilical cords wrapped around their necks all the time, and most of the time it's not a problem. So we know that he didn't have any birth defects, and it wasn't because of something Sarah ate, or because Sarah got sick or anything. It's just plain bad, rotten luck.

We'll most probably try again, but the next pregnancy is going to be hell. It'll be like walking on egg shells the entire time. Clearly, your baby isn't out of the water until he's screaming in the delivery room.

There's a lot more I want to write, but I also want to get this finished and get some sleep, so here's a brain dump of what's been going through my head for the last 48 hours:

  • Dammit!
  • Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!
  • We only had 13 days to go
  • We just had the baby shower on Saturday!
  • We just bought the last few things at Babies 'r' Us on Monday. He was probably dead by then.
  • We were so ready. We'd gotten everything. We bought a cool jogging stroller! We bought a super-awesome safety table of a high chair.
  • I never thought my Tuesday would end up like this when I went to bed on Monday night
  • He looked so perfect. We've been robbed. He's been robbed.
  • The little bugger was too active for his own good
  • We were supposed to be having our Caesarian class the next day
  • Should we try again? Can I handle seeing Sarah go through all the pain and suffering of another C-section?
  • It's just not fair!
  • I wouldn't wish this on anyone
  • This sucks
  • This just isn't fair
  • We'll get through this

We've been very grateful for the near endless stream of visitors, phone calls and SMSes, and flowers. It's helped us not dwell on things, especially given all of our family is so far away. Sarah's Mum, who was going to arrive in 5 weeks, is now arriving on Friday, so that'll be good for Sarah.

Sarah will hopefully be discharged on Friday or Saturday. We're planning on cremating Joshua, as it just doesn't seem right to bury him over here and then someday move back to Australia and leave him all alone. Current thinking is we won't have a funeral service.

Here's what I emailed to the people we were going to send the birth announcement to:

Hi everyone,

It is with heavy hearts, that we have to tell you that rather than announcing Joshua's birth on the 17th of September, we have to say that yesterday, we learned that we lost him, 13 days before he was to be delivered.

Sarah woke me yesterday morning at about 2:30am, because she'd woken up at about 2am, and realised that she hadn't felt Joshua moving since about 8am the previous day. She tried a few things to get him moving, but they didn't work, so we hurried into Labor & Delivery at the Lucille Packard Children's hospital. There, they confirmed the worst, no heartbeat.

Yesterday morning at about 10am, Sarah had a c-section so the doctors could deliver little Joshua. He was absolutely perfect, weighing in at 4 pounds 12 ounces (2.15 kilograms) and 26.7 centimetres (10.5 inches). Yesterday was a very long day.

Sarah is currently recovering in the Cardiac Surveillance Unit (CSU) of Stanford Hospital (her aorta has been absolutely fine, the doctors are just being their usual cautious selves). It's a little bit up in the air as to whether she'll spend the entirety of her recovery in the CSU, or if she'll be transferred back to the Post-Partum area of Lucille Packard after 24 hours. (We hope that she does get transferred back, as the CSU isn't really used to dealing with post-c-section patients, particularly ones that have lost the baby).

The obstetrician that delivered Joshua said that his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice, fairly tightly, and once around his body. So whilst we'll never know for sure, it looks like it was a cord accident. That's a good enough explanation for us, so we're not going to have him autopsied.

That's about all I can report at the moment. If you'd like to speak to Sarah, you can either call home and I'll try to keep Sarah's extension forwarding to her hospital room, or you can call my cell phone. I've got it on vibrate all of the time, and I'll answer if we're not in the middle of something. If you're calling from Australia, my extension at home will let you connect to my cell phone.

If you're local, and would like to visit, we'd love to see you, just call ahead to check where we are.

It's going to be hard, but we'll get through this.

[23:41] [life] [permalink]