Ricky's Complicated Birth By Rebekah Whicker Print
Birth Stories - C-Section Birth Stories
Tuesday, 06 January 2009 09:41
I was at 33 weeks at Thanksgiving of 1995. Everything had been textbook up to that point. I had gained only 18 pounds which was okay for me, considering I was overweight. The kicking was fine, the fundus measured perfect every visit. Then that day, at Thanksgiving, I mentioned to my sister-in-law that I hadn't felt the baby kick in about 3 days. She was very concerned and said I should call the doctor. Well, I shrugged her off till the next morning when I called my doctor, who happened to be on call. She said to come right on down to the hospital and she'd meet us in labor and delivery for a non-stress test.

I took a shower and my husband and I postponed having lunch even though we wanted to, figuring this wouldn't take long and we could have lunch later. How wrong we were! Anyway, the non-stress test didn't show much, and seemed borderline normal, so an ultrasound was ordered. After the initial small talk with the ultrasound technician, suddenly everything got very quiet as she concentrated on something. I was wheeled back to L&D where my doc came in and said, "Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is, you're having this baby today! The bad news is, there's something wrong with it." She went on to explain that the baby had fluid in its abdomen, and she wasn't sure what it was and it could be a number of things. She had us transferred by ambulance to a nearby hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). There the perinatologist did another ultrasound and said that the baby looked pretty big (at the time he estimated 7.5 lb.) so we'd try labor and see how it went.

Well, for nearly two days we tried to induce labor with no success, and the baby's heart rate was gradually dropping. So a decision was made to have a c-section. I was wisked into the surgery room and we got right down to business.

Ricky was born not long after. For a 33 week premie he was robust at 6 lb., 3 oz. (though a far cry from 7.5 lb.) and his five minute APGAR was 9. When the doctors started stitching me back together I moaned and cried so hard they had to put me out. While I was asleep my husband followed Ricky to the NICU where an x-ray was done that showed the cause of the fluid shown in Ricky's abdomen: a ruptured bowel.

When I woke up and was later transferred to my hospital room, the pediatric surgeon (these guys are pretty antisocial) came to see us and explain what the surgery was like that he wanted to do on Ricky. The problem Ricky had was called meconium ileus, meaning a blockage or rupture of the small intestine, or ileum. The surgery would give him two little stomas on the outside of his abdomen, two pieces of intestine sticking out. Then, perhaps 10-14 days later, he would be reattached and be as good as new.

So the surgery was done. Ricky's lungs were pretty good, but till, he needed a ventilator for a couple of days. Meanwhile I developed a spinal headache from my spinal column being tapped during the administration of the spinal block. I was in agony and had to lay flat in bed, though as a result I did get an extra day in the hospital (making a total of five including the two days I was trying to have labor).

I went home without Ricky, but I visisted him in the NICU several times every day. He got off the vent, and shortly after that a neonatologist announced to me that they were doing a genetic test for cystic fibrosis on my little guy. She said that meconium ileus is a common symptom of CF. I said go ahead, what the heck, there was no CF in my family after all.

Well, the results came back positive for CF. This is a fatal genetic disease which affects the digestive system and lungs. People with CF usually end up dying of pneumonia that colonizes in the unusually thick mucus in their lungs. I was devastated. My husband and I went through a considerable grieving period, me crying all the time and him in denial. But through it all we continued returning to the hospital to look after Ricky. He was having trouble nippling the breast or bottle, being a premie.

Gradually this resolved and when he was about 12 days old his intestine was reattached. Everything went fine and when he finally learned how to eat properly he went home, the day after he had been due. It was almost unreal to have him at home, though he was on an apnea and bradycardia monitor at home (he had had some heart rate dips in the hospital).

We've had to continue giving him tons of medication at home, but now he is 3 and doing wonderfully. He has had only two stays in the hospital for CF and we are grateful every day for having such a beautiful, intelligent child.