Monday, May 6, 2013

Validation, Baby

On Thursday I had my 6-week postpartum check.  It was great to have the chance to show Tanner off to the people who helped get us to the finish line.  They all seemed genuinely happy for us, and Tanner's full head of hair was quite the topic of discussion.  

Dr. VBAC and I did not see eye-to-eye on everything during my pregnancy.  For awhile, I think he had some trouble deciding whether to be irritated or amused by me, but by the end of our journey I think we had developed a good rapport.  He visited my hospital room 3 or 4 times a day and would sit and talk for much longer than necessary, frequently about non-medical things.  He has a nurse practitioner who works for him named Nancy who I absolutely adored.  Either Dr. VBAC or Nancy has called to check on me weekly since Tanner was born.  These are people that I am eternally grateful to.  

One of the issues Dr. VBAC and I had was whether or not I should have a VBAC.  As you know, I chose to have a c-section with Roo.  I had a wonderful peri, Dr. M, who delivered her safely and on-time.  He passed away a year after she was born, and was thus unavailable as a resource to me during this pregnancy.

I didn't know it when I wrote this post, but Dr. VBAC likes to travel the country encouraging rural hospitals to allow more women to attempt VBACs.  At nearly every appointment either he or the nurses would mention it to me as an option.  I ended up feeling like he was pushing his own personal agenda on me, and I really resented it.

At the same time, I felt very conflicted.  Obviously, I wish with all my heart that I had been able to give birth vaginally with Matthew.  No one would be trying to limit the number of children I have.  I wouldn't have to live in fear of uterine rupture or another horrifyingly painful recovery.  And I love witnessing childbirth.  In my nursing career so far, women and babies have been what most fascinates me.  I wish I had the chance to have a vaginal birth.  I wish it was that simple.

So my internal conflict raged throughout Tanner's pregnancy.  Dr. M had said no, but Dr. VBAC was saying yes.  A VBAC wasn't something I had known I wanted, but the more times it was offered, the more tempting the option became.  In the end, fear kept me from trying.  Fear and the knowledge that if I tried it and something were to go wrong, I could lose not only another little boy, but also a chance at future pregnancies.  As any woman who has experienced infertility or the loss of a child knows, the chance of a future child can be priceless. I was more frightened during this pregnancy than I have ever been in my life.  The premature labor and being hospitalized in the same places where Matthew and I were 7 years ago was emotional torture.  Having a baby boy stirred some old feelings up that I had thought were long buried.  Being separated from Jerry during the week caused some extra anxiety.  I was....terrified the entire time.

Here I am now.  Safely on the other side of all that. After Tanner's birth, I spoke with Dr. VBAC about the possibility of another pregnancy in a few years and I was glad to hear him say that I can attempt one in the future.  He also casually mentioned that he felt the "VBAC ship had sailed."  

But at my check-up, Nancy gave me a gift.  Without any provocation whatsoever--we were talking about birth control--she paused, looked me in the eye, and said, "Reese, I want you to know that although we think you are ok to attempt another pregnancy, your uterine wall was thinner than Dr. VBAC thought it would be.  We wouldn't let you labor in the future because we wouldn't want your uterus contracting.  Dr. VBAC was actually very glad that you chose to have a c-section."

I didn't know what to say.  Nancy knew that I had struggled with my decision, and she was handing me absolution.  I looked at her, and I knew she understood exactly what she was giving me.  I barely held back my tears.

I felt a weight lift.  There was a part of me that worried that perhaps I had limited myself unnecessarily.  There was a part of me that felt I had wimped out because I was afraid to try.  I am so relieved that I followed my instincts and trusted that Dr. M, the peri who had actually seen my uterus, knew what he was talking about. 

I don't know if I'll ever get another baby, but I know I haven't given up on the idea.  In my heart, I really want to do it one more time.  In my heart I want to hear that precious new heartbeat and feel those first tiny kicks one more time.  And now I know for sure that the choices I made during Tanner's pregnancy just might make it possible for me to do it one more time.  For right now, though, it's time to focus on enjoying the two wonderful babies I have here on this earth.  It's time to put that tiny little flame of hope that is my fourth child away until the time comes to take it out again. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Trip to the ER

Let me preface this post by saying that I wouldn't even be telling this story if I didn't have Jerry to verify that I am not, in fact, crazy.

I kicked ass today.  I got so much cleaning done.  I felt like my old pre-pregnant self again.  Better than my pre-pregnant self.  I practiced handwriting with Roo.  I made hotel reservations for my upcoming trip to the city (just  me and the kids--should be interesting).  I scrubbed the mud room free of all the spring mud.  After a rough night, Tanner slept like a baby all day.

Around the time I was getting ready to start dinner, he started to fuss.   A really high-pitched type of fuss.  When I opened his diaper I almost fainted.  His scrotum was hugely swollen on the right side all the way up into the crease of his groin and slightly discolored.  

I freaked, you guys.  To be honest, one of the things that made me apprehensive about having a little boy was dealing with the boy parts.  All the nursing school textbook stories of undescended testicles, circumcisions gone wrong, circumcisions gone right, varicoceles, and inguinal hernias really scare me.  I knew he didn't have a fever.  I knew he was peeing, pooping, and eating on schedule.  But he looked a bit pale when I thought about it and combined with the high-pitched cry and the obvious sudden discrepancy down there...yeah. Tanner clearly has some sort of inguinal hernia (at best) or testicular torsion (at worst) going on.   

Jerry arrives home and I open his diaper to show him the goods.  We head to the ER.  Tanner, finished with his baby-rant, passes out again.  Tanner dozes peacefully in his car seat.

We arrive at the ER.  Tanner wakes up and proceeds to smile at the receptionist and a nurse who comes over to check him out.  Obviously not in distress, we are shoved in a room and wait over 2 hours to be seen. Tanner stays awake the entire time, staring at the world in sheer contented wonder. 

And...his parts look completely normal.  Seriously.  The PA was looking at me like, "Why are you here?"  and then she recommended I follow-up with his pediatrician.

I mean, I'm thrilled that this trip to the ER didn't end with someone getting airlifted to a larger hospital (because that happened recently, remember?).  Or with emergency surgery on my infant son.  But I felt like an idiot because there really didn't seem to be anything wrong with him.  And I'm an RN.  I feel like I should know better or something.

On the way home I asked Jerry about 6 times, "I mean, it WAS swollen right?"  and every time he agreed with me that it had been. 

So I guess I'll call his pediatrician in the morning?  It should be interesting trying to relay this little story to her.  For now I'm just glad that my baby seems to be ok.