I have so much news I could burst! To make this easier, I’ll just tell you right now that we did in fact find out months ago that we’re having… A BOY! Hooray! We kept it a secret until after the baby shower, but then we really wanted to tell the baby’s namesake, Grandpa Walter, that there would soon be a little Walter. (The baby’s Grandpa, not ours.) So we just stopped trying to keep it a secret. I’m super excited to raise a boy, and I can’t wait to meet little Walt!
Now, in chronological order, here are the things that happened to me on Saturday, Sunday and Monday:
- Saturday: The Car Accident. A city bus going about 5 miles an hour rear ended our car, which was completely stopped at a red light. I know. It’s totally insane. It was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. Even going very slowly, a city bus hitting your car’s bumper feels pretty intense. I cried and held my belly and prayed for my baby to move. As soon as I felt movement, I got out of the car and checked on myself. Everything seemed fine. A very nice police officer came. The accident report was filed.
- The Hospital. I called the midwives’ answering service just to make sure there was nothing else we should do. I began to suspect that this was a bigger deal than I had thought when the operator put me right through to the midwife on call instead of taking down my message. The lovely Elise asked me a whole bunch of questions (yes, I was wearing a seat belt, yes, it was under the belly not around the belly, etc) and then informed me that pregnant women who have been in a car accident come in for observation for at least four hours.
- What’s the big deal? The jolt of a car accident can damage the placenta by causing it to come away from the wall of the uterus. The placenta is the baby’s everything; my blood flows into the placenta and the oxygen it carries keeps the baby alive in the womb. How do they know if this has happened? Well, it’s pretty simple. They monitor both the baby’s heart rate and any contractions I might be having. The baby’s heart rate drops, obviously, if there isn’t enough oxygen. If there has been damage, my body might go into labor.
- What happened to us in the hospital? I am now 37 weeks pregnant, which is considered full-term in the medical community and pretty much guarantees that my body is contracting in order to get ready for labor. It also means that when my baby is active, his heart rate goes up quite a bit–he’s bigger and activity requires more effort. Four hours came and went. Elise explained that they just couldn’t get enough information from the monitor, but that she wasn’t worried because it looked like I just had a very active fetus. I could have told them that! Her description was perfectly accurate: “You have a crazy monkey kid in there!” I do.
- Sunday: We finally go home! That’s right. I was in the hospital for 26+ hours. The good news? My midwives now know all there is to know about my baby. He is super active, as I mentioned, and has a high baseline heart rate. You know that old wives’ tale that a high heart rate means Girl? Not true. Walt’s heart rate hangs out around 150 and when he’s active, which so often, it can go all the way up to 180 for awhile. They needed a lot of time and monitoring to figure that out and needed to be certain that the lower heart rate times were not signs of a dangerous “deceleration.” Walt also doesn’t sleep much. Let’s hope that habit doesn’t stick with him after birth!
- I did it! Everyone, I did not have a panic attack in the hospital. I felt safe. Hospitals are a huge trigger for me, so this is a very big deal. I wish our stay had been shorter, but it was a practice run during which I impressed the heck out of myself. It really helps that in triage and maternity special care there is a lot of privacy and not a lot of traffic in and out of rooms. The food was even pretty good!
- Monday: We meet with the breastfeeding specialist/pediatrician who changes everything. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that all the psychiatrists I talked to were uncomfortable with the idea of me breastfeeding on my medications (Klonopin and Effexor). The risk, I was told, was that the baby would become overly sedated and not eat enough and possibly increase the risk of SIDS. I had decided to bottle feed our baby donor breast milk oh so generously pumped by a friend who had a baby in June. Then came the objections from the hospital. Bringing in donor milk from a friend, rather than a milk bank, could leave them liable for any infectious diseases the baby might catch from un-screened, un-pasteurized milk. Fortunately, an amazing, incredible, lovely, sweet woman named Liz came up with the following solution: for women in my position, where the safety of the meds is questionable, we can find out whether feeding the baby colostrum might be safe, just while we’re in the hospital. If we don’t feel comfortable or it’s not safe, she offered to get us some of the milk bank donor milk usually reserved for preemies and under weight babies. Now, normally this would require a prescription from our doctor and be very expensive. It was a very generous offer. But this colostrum idea had never occurred to me, and my midwives had an expert in mind who could tell me some more about it.
- Long-term breastfeeding is, in fact, safe for our family! Ok, let me back up. It became clear very early on in our appointment with the warm and kind specialist that she was talking about long-term breastfeeding, not just giving the baby some colostrum for 24-48 hours. I literally started shaking. I was ready to be angry that she was putting me through this emotional roller coaster I had already gone through. I was confused. She gave us a minute to watch a video about breastfeeding while she went to print out more information about my particular medications. In the end, we decided that breastfeeding was the right choice for our family. I could not be more ecstatic!
Up next: exactly how we plan to make breastfeeding safe and comfortable for everyone. Right now, I have to go get fitted for some nursing bras!