Posts tagged ‘Modern Medicine’

October 1, 2010

Hello, Handsome!

Ten short and incredible days ago, John and I welcomed our little Peanut—henceforth Jacob Paul Schlegel—into the community of air-breathing folks on this earth.  We enjoyed the week of paternity leave John had from work, and since he went back to work, I’ve been finding my way back to the blog.  I intended to post this entry on Tuesday—how quickly the hours pass with a newborn!

Meet the Peanut, Jacob Paul!

In theory, I wasn’t thrilled about an induction, but through good conversation with John, time in prayer at a nearby church, and a generous portion of God’s grace, I quickly accepted that this was the way things needed to be.  After the delivery, our doctor told us he was so glad we’d chosen to go through with the induction, seeing as we had such a large baby, and the possible alternative was not something we’d want. He also said he’s putting a note in my chart to watch out, should any future child get to be more than eight pounds. . . . Can you say “stress eating”?  Rather, can you say “Cookie Friday”?!

But I’m getting ahead of myself!  Here’s the story I know at least some of you have been waiting for.

On Monday evening, we went to the hospital.  We waited about two hours to be admitted, as the labor and delivery rooms were mostly full. At least one woman arrived in labor while we were waiting, but I wasn’t in any pain, so I didn’t mind that she was admitted ahead of us.  I should have eaten something, though, because I didn’t realize until I was already dressed in a hospital gown and lying on a bed that all I’d consume in the next twenty-four hours was popsicles and ice chips.  The good news there is that some of the popsicles were the kinds with jokes on the sticks!  Remember those?  They’re still really bad jokes, but it was a great blast from the past.

Monday night wasn’t too exciting.  The sticking and poking and blood drawing began, which was kind of a bummer, but all for a greater good.  The internal exams in the hospital were not like those I’d had at my monthly and weekly OB appointments, and I struggled with them some.  Thank goodness John was right there with me; just knowing he’s there always makes things easier.

On the other hand, the labor rooms have free cable (recovery rooms do not). Wonderful man that he is, John forwent Monday Night Football to watch Ina Garten make key lime pie, and that dose of Food Network helped to comfort me, too.

The first medication started some contractions, and I realized I must have been having contractions here and there over the past week.  I didn’t think these little period-like cramps counted as contractions, but apparently, they do.  They intensified some with the medicine and I found myself using the lighter breathing exercises we’d learned, but never really practiced, through some of them on Tuesday.

Things started to get more . . . interesting when the doctor came in to break my water around three o’clock Tuesday afternoon.  The next instant I had one heck of a contraction, and they kept rolling from there. I knew I wouldn’t scream in labor, but I figured I’d cry, and cry I did.  I’d have one contraction that only mellowed a bit to make room for a second, and then maybe a two-minute reprieve before they started again.  When I did have a break, I was exhausted.  I couldn’t imagine keeping this up for five hours; I hadn’t prepared for it, plus, I’m kind of a wimp.

The nurse told me to let her know when I wanted an epidural.  Up until this point, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure I wanted/would need one.  But the transition from crampy to grip-the-bars-of-the-hospital-bed intense was not a gradual one.  Having the epidural administered was no walk in the park, either, and there were more side effects than our childbirth teacher had shared with us.  I didn’t have too long to be freaked out, though, and when John had to leave the room—hospital folks fear fathers/partners will pass out so they always have to leave—a nurse/angel named Margo steadied me and made it as tolerable as it could have been.

The doctor said he’d be back at seven-thirty that evening, and sure enough he walked in the room at 7:26.  He took a look at me and told me to push.  I thought this was just some kind of practice, so boy, oh boy, was I in for a surprise.

Suddenly, the room was transformed—the doctor had a stool at my feet, part of the bed dropped away, a cart with lots of medical instruments was wheeled in, and a huge light was taken down from underneath a tile in the ceiling.  Three contractions and ten minutes later, our doctor told us we had a baby boy.  All I could see were Jacob’s little lavender feet, just up to his knees (he wasn’t quite scary purple), which is what the doctor held him by.  He cried for just a few seconds, and the next thing we knew, he was on my chest.  I couldn’t believe this little boy was ours, except for the fact that Schlegel was written all over his face.

The nurse—whose shift was over at eight o’clock, and wasn’t sure if she’d see the baby—asked what his name was and for the first time, we told someone!  We hung out with Jacob as long as we could.  Then John went with him so that he could be weighed, and I started to get ready to try standing so I could get cleaned up.  The epidural worked overtime in my legs, but it wore off enough that I could move around the room a bit.

We moved to the recovery room while Jacob was still in the nursery.  Unfortunately John had to leave before our little munchkin came back to me.  When John had to go home at midnight, Jacob was still in a warmer, getting up to an okay temperature (FYI, this is totally normal procedure).

At one am, Jacob came back to me, and I realized I had a bit of a problem: I needed to feed my baby, based solely on knowledge I’d gained from reading The Nursing Mother’s Companion—which, coincidentally was all I needed to know—while being hooked up to an IV and barely able to get in and out of my bed, holding a brand new nine-pound child, to boot.  Talk about tricky.  Plus, I needed to pee by four am to be declared free of a catheter, and I do not like failing exams of any sort.  My goodness, the pressure from every direction!

After a couple of minutes spent deciding how weepy I was going to get over the whole thing and wishing John were still there, I offered up a couple of desperate prayers that were quickly answered.

It was not an easy night by any stretch, but eventually Jacob had to go back to the nursery and we both got a couple of hours of sleep. I learned later that the night nurse was covering for someone else, so unfortunately my impression that anything I asked for would be something of a burden had some truth to it.

Moral of the story is that we survived, and soon enough, John was back in our room and so was Jacob.  John scooped him up about as soon as he could and we spent the next few days trying to relax, trying to figure things out, trying to understand how in the world we were blessed with such a beautiful child, a wonderful doctor, a happy delivery, and incredible family and friends to share the experience with.

Come to think of it, I’m still working on that last part.

Ten days later and I can’t imagine not knowing what that perfect round face looks like, the weight of him in my arms, and the beauty of his eyes.  Motherhood absolutely is an amazing thing, but I don’t feel I really have the words for it yet. Perhaps this is an experience better reflected on in some retrospect.  When it’s happening, it’s so hard to believe.  And so hard to make time to write about it!

Of course I don’t want a moment to slip away, but I don’t want to waste anytime worrying about forgetting something either.  So here we have the basic story of Jacob’s delivery.  The rest, I pray I can hold in my heart, as Mary did her experiences with Jesus.  With so much coming at me at once, I’ve had an incredible sense of peace (most of the time) these past few days, and this, like the rest of this experience, can only be attributed to God’s grace—the grace to trust in Him, the grace to hear His Word, and the grace to act on it.

Praise God, and bless our baby Jacob Paul!

September 20, 2010

Induction Duction, What’s Your Function?

It seems our “little” one has taken its recently bestowed nickname—Big, Fat Baby—to heart.  When last measured on Thursday, Peanut was estimated to be 8 lb, 8 oz., putting him/her in the 88th percentile for weight in babies of the same gestational age.  Or in John’s dad’s terms, that’s not a peanut; that’s a coconut!

Today we had another sonogram and visit with the doctor, and while the baby is just fine, it’s kind of big.  After a conversation with the doctor, a conversation with one another, and some time praying together, we’ve decided to induce labor.

For those not familiar with the process, here’s the game plan.  We’ll go to the hospital this evening and I’ll get some medicine that helps prepare my body to deliver the baby (I’ll spare the use of biological terms here).  Tomorrow morning, I’ll get other medicine to start or intensify contractions.  If by two or three o’clock tomorrow afternoon, my water hasn’t broken, the doctor will do that.  Then contractions will get more intense, I can get an epidural, and by tomorrow evening, should all go according to plan, we’ll have a little baby Schlegel in our arms.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers for our family thus far, and please keep praying for us tonight and tomorrow.  We’ll be in touch again when we have more news on the Peanut.

As for right now, I’m on my way to the hospital with my best friend, so that we can bring home the newest member of our family.

June 2, 2010

Top Two—Make that Three—Tips for a New Pregnancy

One of my closet friends is a case manager for a non-profit organization that, in part, helps to resettle refugees in the United States (yes, it is an awesome job, and yes, you do need to be as smart, compassionate, and hardworking as she is to be good at it).  In her position, she works closely with families and she’s been a part of a number of pregnancies and births.  Heck, there are even a couple of babies she’s either named or have been named after her.

Seeing as she had more experience with pregnancy than I did when I first told her the good news, I asked for her top advice for a new pregnancy.  Here’s what she told me:

  1. Make sure you have health insurance.
  2. Take a prenatal vitamin every day.

Thankfully, I could say check and check to both of her prescriptions.  Plus her advice was a welcome reminder to be grateful for the access to healthcare—and vitamins!—that I have.

Over the past few months, I’ve learned that lots more could be added to this list: eat well, get enough rest, have an outlet for the emotional and spiritual changes you’ll experience, etc.  Only one, however, tops them all, and only one do I deem worthy to amend the list above.

  1. Make sure that the hospital with which your doctor is affiliated is not likely to close before your due date.

When I needed an OB in NYC, I started my search the way I always do—I googled.  I quickly found a fantastic new Catholic healthcare center for women, affiliated with St. Vincent’s Hospital.  I checked to see that care there was covered by my insurance, and emailed right away for an appointment.

Now I know that no doctor would force us to do anything we didn’t want to do, and only some would be judgmental about things like not doing a screening for Down syndrome, so having a Catholic, or at least a prolife doctor is not an absolute necessity.  But over the duration of this experience and in making decisions about our family later, I liked the idea that our beliefs would be encouraged, rather than simply tolerated.

So we met the doctor, we met the staff, I had a number of check ups.  Everything was going well, and I was thrilled that I could support this new organization by being a patient.

Then my doctor told me that there was some question as to whether St. Vincent’s would be able to stay open, and in turn, whether he would be able to continue practicing OB.  I could choose to wait and see how things would fare for him and the center or I could find another doctor; he’d even recommend someone. I took the other doctor’s name to research, but continued to hope for the best, that is, staying with my doctor.

Eventually word came that St. Vincent’s was closing its doors.  There was still a possibility of staying with my doctor, but I started asking for more recommendations where I could.  Unfortunately, other doctors or midwives were either totally booked, not highly recommended, or not on my insurance plan.

My doctor gave me a few more names, and I chose an OB whom he knows personally and who has a good deal of experience.  I met with her and toured a new hospital, but John and I didn’t feel comfortable at the end of the day.  The doctor was kind, and probably would have been fine, but the hospital itself—poor guidance inside, some rude staff, and a late start to the tour—left us skeptical, to say the least.

That afternoon I made another appointment, this time with the first doctor that had been recommended.  I’d hesitated to contact him because I’d read some questionable reviews online, but I figured at this point, the best thing to do would be to ask him about it face-to-face.

Once I did get in touch with him and we met for a kind of interview, John and I learned a bunch of things we liked about this new guy.  For example:

–       He delivers at and only at Lenox Hill, which we’d toured a few weeks earlier and really liked for its location, its facilities, and its nurses.  His office is only a few blocks from the hospital, and his home is in between, so he’s pretty much always around.

–       As to what I’d read online, it must have referred to a very old report.  In the past twenty-two years (read: roughly my entire life), he’s only had three malpractice suits filed against him, the last of which was in 1999, if I remember correctly.  Plus, he delivers almost all his babies himself—last year, all but one!

–       I also liked that he said he tells his patients if their pushes during labor are wimpy.  I know not everyone would, but I appreciate this.  I expect his honesty and frankness will be welcome when it’s time.  When I hear him say I’m doing something right, I’ll know it’s sincere, and that should be a comfort.

–       And of course, both his practice and his hospital affiliation are in good order from now until my due date and beyond.  I was sure to ask this time!

My first real appointment is next week.  I’m happy to have this unexpectedly stressful aspect of my pregnancy sorted out. I take it as another preemptive lesson on parenthood—there will be all kinds of things we can’t anticipate, but if John and I work together and trust in God, things will always turn out all right in the end.

So now we just have to pick a stroller, find a new apartment, and endure the third trimester.  Piece of cake, right?

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