My pregnancy was normal, easy even. I had morning sickness for about three days. I couldn't eat spinach or garlic anymore, but tomatoes no longer bothered me. My addiction to sweets was a little out of control and I gained more weight than I wanted to. Not much to complain about.
Labor didn't really scare me. I had the birth plan all written up. I wanted to do everything as natural as I could. I insisted on no epidural. I wanted to do all the stuff we learned in labor classes. I was going to breastfeed exclusively. I trusted my body to do what it was made for doing.
All that went to hell, of course. I was scheduled to be induced but when I got to the hospital I was already in labor, much to my surprise. I ended up hooked up to a monitor so that I couldn't leave the bed, didn't get to do any of the labor exercises, asked for an epidural against my own better judgement (which was done incorrectly and didn't work), stalled out before I fully dilated, was given pitocin to move things along which practically stopped my contractions, the baby had turned around so he was in the wrong position, and then after 16 hours, I ended up having a c-section because his heart rate was fluctuating.
It was all wrong. All of it. Not just a few things here and there...I can be flexible, I understood birth doesn't actually go according to that stupid birth plan...but everything was wrong.
Except that my son was healthy and perfect. They put him in my arms finally and I was so tired. I was so relieved that it was over...and so disappointed in myself and my body and my experience...that I hardly felt anything else.
Oliver was born on a Thursday evening. He was 8lbs11oz and 22" long. The few days we spent in the hospital were uneventful. My husband was by my side the whole time. He had been supportive and amazing through all of it. We were visited by various family members. There were flowers and tears and teddy bears. All of our son's tests came back normal. He was healthy and we were happy and exhausted.
I struggled a little with breastfeeding, but it had been drilled into my head for nine months that "breast is best" and I never even considered another option. The nurses and lactation consultants gave me tips. They showed us how to bathe him and change him. Then they sent us home on a Sunday afternoon with this tiny human being. He was healthy, they said. You'll get the hang of breastfeeding, they said. You're doing fine, they said.
The first night home was hell. Oliver just screamed all night. The only thing that calmed him down was being swung back and forth in his carrier. Breastfeeding was even harder with no one right there to help me. First thing Monday morning we called the pediatrician. We were bewildered. We had no idea what we were doing and we were trying not to be paranoid, but we felt like something had to be wrong. The doctor examined him and said he was not getting enough to eat. She sent us home with formula to supplement the breast milk. As soon as I gave him a bottle of formula, he fell right asleep in my arms. Sweet relief.
That afternoon I started to notice a twitch in his right arm as he was falling asleep. I pointed it out to my husband and family members who were visiting. I had a bad feeling in my gut about it, but what did I know? After it happened a few times, I called the pediatrician. She explained that a muscle spasm as a baby is falling asleep is normal...she even gave it a name, but that if it continued I should call back.
By Tuesday morning the twitch was happening every time he fell asleep and as he was waking up. It had spread from his arm into his neck and his leg, all on his right side. It intensified overnight and we realized that this was no normal muscle spasm. We even took a of couple videos. We already had a follow up appointment scheduled with the doctor that morning. We showed her the video and explained what was happening. She started calling places in the area to see if we could get in for an immediate MRI. As she was in her office, Oliver started twitching again...and this time he was awake. The doctor told us to go straight to the pediatric emergency room at Upstate University Hospital. They would be waiting for us.
Thus began the most terrifying and unbelievable whirlwind experience of our lives.
To Be Continued...
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger