Hank’s Shoulder*

You guys, I need to vent.

If you read through Hank’s birth story (and survived my “cliff hanger” endings… ha) you’ll know that he and I had a few complications during delivery that resulted with him being born with a fractured clavicle. Right after his birth we were told it should heal completely, but that he would need x-rays and a follow-up with the hospital pediatrician (who is not our doctor) and an orthopedic surgeon. We were also instructed to keep his arm pinned to his clothing to restrict mobility to allow his shoulder to heal.

The x-rays were done at our hospital in Pretty City, and we kept his arm pinned for a week until the pediatrician gave us the all clear to let his arm move a little at our appointment with him a week later. We thought that our appointment with the orthopedic surgeon would be the last “special” appointment before our care would be transferred back to our doctor, and life would go on as normal.

We met with the surgeon last Friday. She works out of a hospital that’s a little further from us, and when her office called to make the appointment we were told to expect a long wait. We decided that it would probably be too long for Ruby, so we made arrangements with a friend who offered to watch her for us. (Thank you!!)

We drove down, and we did end up waiting an hour past our appointment time before we were able to get in. The surgeon was very nice and examined how Hank’s shoulder is healing. She seemed pleased that there was no further bruising or swelling, and the bump where his bone is healing wasn’t terribly large. She told us she wanted to see us again in a month’s time for a follow-up x-ray, which I expected.

I thought / hoped that that would be the end of it.

She then told us that she wanted to start monitoring his hips because of his size. Both my midwives and the pediatrician had checked them and told us they were fine, so naturally I was a little concerned that all of a sudden I needed to bring Hank back for an ultrasound on his hips. Without really consulting us, they booked both appointments for us, on separate days… after the Hubster goes back to work.

Then we were sent down to the rehab wing to meet with a physio therapist. We thought we were just being sent down to learn some exercises that we could do with him at home to help strengthen his arm as it heals. The therapist was very nice, and as he was leaving he called back through the door to tell us that we should make an appointment to come back for a follow-up.

I’m not going to lie–the idea of another follow-up already seemed overwhelming, and we weren’t even through our first appointment yet. I asked the receptionist if we could schedule the appointment on one of the days I would already be at the hospital, but she told me that the dates weren’t close enough (early April). Instead she scheduled an appointment for me for Wednesday, and let me know that this time I would be seeing some specialist who was coming from the children’s hospital downtown Toronto. She also alluded to the idea that there might be several appointments with this doctor.

I understand that these people are likely just being overly careful, and with a newborn it’s always better to err on the side of caution… but I do have some questions about the necessity of all these appointments, and why they have to happen at this particular hospital. Everyone keeps telling us that his shoulder is healing beautifully… and yet they keep piling more and more appointments on us. It makes me feel like there is either something they aren’t telling us about his arm, or I can’t help but wonder if these doctors make any money off all of these individual appointments. (I’m terrible, I know.)

I asked if it was possible to have any of these services done on the same day, or at our hospital–which is connected through the same health system–but the people I talked to immediately said no. I just find it incredibly frustrating as this particular hospital is half an hour away and parking is ridiculous–it cost us $16 to go to our one appointment last week. Our hospital is a 5 minute drive away, and we can park nearby for free.

All of these separate appointments also mean that I have to arrange childcare for Ruby, as my sweet girl isn’t terribly fond of sitting still for long periods of time.

It all just feels… overwhelming. I am so grateful to have access to good healthcare and I know my son is in good hands, but I so wanted to hear that he was on the mend and to not have to stress about his shoulder any longer. I’m already worrying about to manage these appointments, especially since they indicated that there will likely be more.

I know I shouldn’t complain–there are parents out there with concerns far more grave than these, but I just… ah.


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Life With Two*

Shortly after Peeah gave birth to my handsome nephew three years ago, I asked her how she was managing. For some reason, her response found a tiny shelf in my mind and has stayed put. After telling me everything was good, her answer to my question was simple. She chuckled and said:

“Life is busy with two.”

I knew that life would get a little more complicated with two kids, but I didn’t understand or appreciate what she really meant until now.

I’m pretty sure that the Hubster and I have been blessed with two of the most amazing kids out there. Ruby is smart, funny, and kind and she is learning how to be quite independent. In just two weeks she has really come to love “baby” and wants to sit near him, rub his head and give him kisses. She hasn’t really exhibited any wild tantrums or jealousy (yet) and she makes us laugh all day long.

Case in point: yesterday the Hubster called to me from the living room and told me I had to come and see her. We found her sitting in the baby’s car seat, wearing his tiny knitted toque on her head like a beanie cap, talking to one of her toys. I almost died. And let me tell you–laughing that hard is not comfortable for a woman who has just given birth. haha

Hank is showing us his sweet, quiet personality. As long as he is full, he is a happy boy who is content to sleep in his bed or be snuggled in someone’s arms. When he is awake he loves to look around and doesn’t really cry unless it’s time to eat or he needs to be changed. Every day he’s becoming a little more alert and the way he smiles in his sleep melts my heart every. single. time.

But life is certainly… busier. Ruby and I had a simple, steady routine that I loved. She ate at certain times, napped at a specific time, and I knew when it was best to go out and run errands, go for a walk or give her a bath. I also knew when I would be able to schedule in my “me time” to recharge my batteries.

Hank’s arrival has changed things somewhat. While Ruby still essentially follows her routine, Hank doesn’t really have one yet. I’m nursing him so I feed on demand, and sometimes he needs me at the same time that Ruby wants to eat, or nap, be changed or play. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance both of their needs, while attempting to keep my home from becoming a total disaster and trying to find a few minutes to spend time with the Hubster. I’ve definitely learned to let go of things that aren’t essential (oh, my poor floors...) but I’m still trying to figure how how to “do this” with two kids. Thankfully the Hubster is home with me for another three weeks, so I still have some time before I really get thrown in the deep end.

I know I’ll figure it all out–every day gets a little easier. I’m just someone who thrives on rhythm and routine, and I feel a bit like the steady drum I was walking to has changed to a new beat I haven’t quite mastered yet. There are moments when everything feels incredibly overwhelming (hellllooo hormones) and then I take a breath and somehow manage to get them both changed, fed and down for naps without dying. I’ve realized that a lot of my anxiety over how to manage with two kids is all in my head–when I stop thinking about how I’ll manage and just do it, it always works out.

So, I have a new, deeper appreciation for parents of multiple children. Seriously. And the ones who manage to have clean homes, healthy meals, go outside on a regular basis, shower and wear clothes without elastic waistbands?

Those people are super heroes.

Life with two is definitely good… but it’s certainly busy.

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Handsome Hank: A Birth Story* (Part 5)

Handsome Hank*

Handsome Hank*

After Hank was born, we learned a little about what had happened during his delivery, but it wasn’t until the next day that I got the full picture.

Immediately after he was born and weighed, Olivia told us that she was concerned that Hank’s shoulder had fractured during the delivery. She wanted to have it looked at, but in the meantime, Hank was given to me to hold. After taking a minute to let out that first initial cry, he hollered non-stop for the next 40 minutes. As I held him on my chest, Olivia noticed that he was having a little difficulty with his breathing–it sounded like his breath was catching. She helped me arrange him in a comfortable position, gave me an oxygen mask to hold a few inches from his face, and encouraged me to speak to him while he cried. Eventually his breathing became less labored and he snuggled close to my chest as he examined his new world.

As soon as the pediatrician on-call was free, Olivia had him come in and examine Hank, and he agreed that his shoulder was likely fractured. X-rays were ordered for later that afternoon, and the Hubster and I were left to wonder about what that would mean for our son.

Then began a never-ending series of tests and blood work. Because of Hank’s size, Olivia was concerned that he might have difficulty regulating his blood sugar–a common issue with bigger babies. We were initially told that we would have to stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours while they completed these tests, and they would need to wake him and draw blood every three hours. Poor Hank was such a trooper as it seemed like nurse after nurse came to steal more blood from him. Thankfully he had three “good” tests in a row and Olivia opted to end the testing.

The X-rays confirmed he did fracture his clavicle (collarbone). Some bruising had already begun to develop at the site, but he didn’t appear to be bothered by it. The pediatrician returned to discuss the fracture, and we were told to keep his arm pinned to his clothing to restrict his mobility and help it heal in place. Thankfully it is a fairly common fracture and there is a nearly 100% healing rate.

Our first night together was long, largely because of the parade of people that continuously came through the door to check his temperature, my blood pressure, and complete this test or that.

In the morning the Hubster slipped out for a few hours to go to an appointment and spend time with Ruby, and during that quiet time, Olivia returned.

She came in, and after her cursory examination of Hank and I, she pulled up a chair by my bed so we could talk. She began to walk me through his delivery in detail, pausing often so I could ask questions or so she could explain something more fully.

As I was waiting for the epidural, Olivia was monitoring my contractions and Hank’s heartbeat. My contractions were coming in steady waves and my labor was progressing much more quickly than either she or I had anticipated… but it was Hank’s heartbeat that prompted her to check my progress after so short a time. As she watched the monitor, she noticed that his heart rate had been decreasing, and then it took quite a dip. When she checked me and saw that I had fully dilated to 10cm so quickly, she knew that Hank’s dropping heart rate meant that he needed to come now.

I didn’t know this at the time, but there were so many nurses in and out of my room because I was considered high risk for complications… which did end up taking place. First, Olivia urged me to push with all my strength because intially Hank’s head was larger than what my body would allow. She actually turned away for a moment to prepare for an episiotomy, but in that moment my body completed that work for her and his head came free.

However, as his head was born Olivia became aware that the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck. She began urging me to push–even without contractions–so she could “free” him, but it became clear that his shoulders were caught on my pubic bone. She noticed that his heart rate dropped even further, which is when an intervention became necessary.

The nurses I had noticed take place on either side of me were there to assist with one of two jobs: if the baby became stuck, they were supposed to flip me over onto my hands and knees (which can help free the baby), or one would jump on the bed with me and add additional force to help push the baby out quickly. By applying pressure to my stomach, it would be possible to “round out” the baby’s shoulders and help him be delivered. A fracture in this case is much more likely, but after quickly assessing the situation, Olivia decided it was our best option. She felt that the baby’s decreasing heart rate needed to take precedence over all else, and knew that shoulder fractures had a high success rate for healing. She gave the nod to the nurse, and seconds after she began applying pressure, Hank was born and the cord removed from his neck.

I am just so, so thankful that all things considered–Hank is here, and he is healthy and happy. We ended up only having to spend one night in the hospital, and he has been absolute prince here at home.

A very hungry prince, but a prince none the less. ;)

He is sleeping and eating well, and is generally content just to soak in the world around him. He has the sweetest disposition and loves to snuggle… which I am loving. We’ve already survived one growth spurt, and I think we may be in the beginnings of another as Hank is quickly climbing back up to his birth weight.

We had a follow up with the pediatrician last night, and he is very pleased with how Hank’s shoulder is healing. He seems to have full mobility and no pain, so we are very hopeful that there will be no lasting effects. He gave us the green light to stop restricting his arm, and we have one more followup with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon next week for more x-rays. Please keep your fingers crossed for him, but right now his little shoulder looks good. :)

It was a bit of a wild experience, but we are so happy that Hank is here and is part of our little family. Ruby is slowly adjusting to life as a big sister and becomes more interested in “baby!” every day. Life is a definitely a little busier now that we have two kids under our roof, but we are loving every minute of it.

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Thank you so much for all your kind words and well wishes–this recovery has actually felt a little easier than my last. I’m hoping that in another few days I’ll be good as new. :)

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Handsome Hank: A Birth Story* (Part 4)

Olivia arrived around 11:15am, just as Anna and the nurses were helping me back into the bed. I asked again about the epidural, and Olivia told me that I needed to have some blood work done before it could be started. She assured me that if the anesthesiologist arrived before the results were back they could try and get things started anyway. To help me in the interim, she also brought me a tank of laughing gas to help me cope with the contractions until the epidural kicked in.

Olivia went to work trying to start an IV when the Hubster made it back to our room. She tried to start it twice on one hand, but a combination of my veins collapsing and my being unable to stay still through constant contractions made it very difficult. They were finally able to run one on my other hand and I was given the laughing gas mask while we waited.

In the meantime, the nurses were busy hooking me up to a fetal monitor and continuously checking my blood pressure. After a few moments of waiting, I had another surge of contractions that left me feeling like I needed to push. I communicated this to Olivia, and she went over to check the fetal monitor.The laughing gas was helping to take a bit of the edge off the contractions, but I began to worry that the anesthesiologist wouldn’t make it in time.

After watching the monitor for a moment, Olivia came back to my side–all business. I felt her lower the head of my bed, and she told me she wanted to do a second check on the progression of my labor. Her eyes widened, and she gave me a smile and told me that I had fully dilated to 10 centimeters.

…in less than 15 minutes.

She became serious, came to my side and said,

“Shop Girl, your baby needs to come right now. We don’t have time to wait for the epidural, and I’m going to need you to push as hard as you can. We can do this.”

Shortly after 11:30am, Anna helped me into position and my room filled with nurses. I didn’t know why at the time, but a nurse took position on either side of me, in addition to Olivia and Anna who were in position to deliver the baby. The Hubster came by my side, and in a matter of seconds I went from waiting for my epidural to being prepped to have my baby–au natural.

There wasn’t time to doubt myself or be afraid; something inside me knew that I had to get this baby out and there weren’t any other options. My anxieties about his size flashed through my mind for one second, then Olivia urged me to push as hard as I possibly could.

It’s pretty amazing what the human body is capable of. My eyes closed and I’m pretty sure my mind went to a different place as I started to push. I knew the Hubster was beside me, but I also knew that I had to do this on my own. One of my hands gripped the mattress behind my head, and the other grasped the guard rail for dear life. Olivia urged me to push as hard as I possibly could with each contraction, and as time passed I realized that she began urging me to keep pushing, even when I wasn’t having contractions.

I pushed with every ounce of strength I had, and then dug deeper for more. My eyes were still squeezed shut, and I could hear Anna and the Hubster urging me to continue as the baby was almost there.

Suddenly it felt like the mood shifted in the room. Without any real warning, one of the nurses who had been perched by my side jumped up on the bed with me and began pushing down on my stomach. As I took a second to cope with this this new pain, Olivia shouted at me to push as hard as I possibly could.

With one final push, he arrived at 11:46am… after just thirteen minutes. They laid him on my chest for one second, then as they whisked him off to the warmer I realized that I hadn’t heard him cry. His skin was a bluish colour, and I tried to peer through the team of nurses surrounding him as they cleared his airways and rubbed his arms and legs to stimulate them.

Finally, after what seemed like forever (and was probably only a matter of seconds), our little boy let out a huge holler. Olivia came over to give me a big hug, and told me that he was finally here–all 9lbs 8oz of him. She promised to “debrief” me on what had happened during the delivery when things settled down a little, and told me that I had had some tearing that she and Anna needed to tend to.

I looked over at our baby and caught the Hubster’s eye as he smiled at me. Our (not-so) little boy was turning a lovely shade of pink while he continued to holler and tell the world he had arrived. I closed my eyes while I waited to hold my son and find out exactly what had happened during his arrival.

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Handsome Hank: A Birth Story* (Part 3)

I called Olivia for the second time at 10:20am.

By this point I had been having regular, intense contractions for over an hour. They were quickly building in frequency and strength, and I wanted to know how far I had progressed. We decided to have her come to the house and do the assessment here, to avoid the possibility of being sent home from the hospital. She let me know that she could be at my house within 30 minutes, but encouraged me to call her if anything changed. Before we hung up she suggested that I try and get back into the tub as it had been fairly comfortable for me before.

Immediately after I hung up the phone I had a wave of really intense contractions. I spent a few minutes folded over the side of my bed before I decided to try and make it back into the tub. I started to fill it, then I had a contraction so strong that it took my breath away and I felt that I needed to sit down. The toilet was the closet “seat”, so I sat down to try and breath through it.

My water broke in a huge gush three seconds later. (Talk about luck! haha)

When my water broke, I considered for the first time that the labor pains I was feeling might be more than “early” labor. I was still waiting for the Hubster to return from dropping off Ruby, but I felt strongly that I shouldn’t wait for Olivia to asses me at home and needed to head to the hospital instead.

It was less than 10 minutes since our last conversation, but I paged Olivia again to let her know my water had broken. She agreed to meet me at the hospital, and told me she would call ahead to let them know I was coming in case I arrived there before she did.

As soon as I hung up the phone, the Hubster sent me a message to let me know that Ruby was safely tucked away and that he was on his way home. I checked the clock–10:35am. I didn’t want to panic him, but I sent him a quick message back to let him know my water had broken and that we needed to head to the hospital as soon as he got home.

I drained the tub and got dressed while I waited, and at 10:45am he flew through the front door. He began making trips to the car with our hospital bags as I made my way downstairs. In less than five minutes we were loaded into our car and began the short drive to the hospital.

My contractions started coming even closer together, and I was immensely grateful when we pulled up to the doors of the maternity wing. Just before 11am he dropped me off at the doors and told me to head inside, with a promise that he would be right behind me after he parked the car. I debated waiting for him, but again felt strongly that I needed to move and get into the labor and delivery ward as quickly as possible.

I started waddling down the hall, pausing only briefly when my contractions were too intense to move through them. The nurses saw me coming, took one look at me, then rushed to help me get settled into a room. As promised, Olivia had called ahead and they had a room ready for me. A flurry of nurses began flying in and out of the room while we waited for Olivia to arrive.

One lovely nurse began helping me out of my jacket and clothes and into a robe while she chatted brightly about this and that. She and another nurse were trying to get some information they needed from me, but my contractions had reached a point where it was becoming difficult to speak through them. I remember just chucking my whole wallet to her when she asked for my health card, and she laughed and asked if she could take a tip at the same time.

Olivia’s student midwife, Anna, arrived just then, with the Hubster right behind her. The nurses stole the Hubster away to complete some paperwork, and Anna began assessing me.

I still had absolutely no idea how far along I was, but there was one thing I knew for certain: I wanted an epidural.

I wanted it now.

As soon as I asked for it, Anna and the nurses began to prep me. The nurses assured me that I would likely be able to get one quickly as there was more than one anesthesiologist on duty at the hospital. They told me they just needed me to give a urine sample, then check me to see how far I had dilated and I would be good to go.

Anna had me hop up on the bed and quickly checked my progress: six centimeters. She congratulated me on making it so far at home, then handed me a cup and helped me to the bathroom. As soon as I sat down on the toilet I had a contraction so strong that I knew that sample just wasn’t happening. The nurse heard me cry out, and I told her that that was the first time that I felt like I needed to push after it.

Something in her face changed, and she and Anna rushed to help me back to the bed. I remember thinking: “…but I’m only 6cm. I still have hours to go!”

…this little man had different plans.

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