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Birth Story, Part II

Or How Jaundice Sucks and We Ended Up in the Hospital

So, 5 pounds and 6 ounces of baby popped out at 3:06. At 3:16, out comes a hu-honking-mongous placenta. So, the midwife and I are looking at the baby, and then at the placenta, then back to the baby, wondering where the heck the rest of her is. When she weighed the placenta it was 26 ounces. Now I learned in my midwifery training that a placenta typically weighs one-fifth of what the baby weighs. Do the math–there should have been 8 pounds and 2 ounces worth of child.

Anyway, the midwife got us out of the freezing cold bedroom and into the warmer living room, and we snugged down for a couple hours. I listened to the baby sing, and dozed, and woke up to see the sunrise.

The midwife called and asked how I felt about supplementing an ounce of formula after each feed, (and we were feeding every 2 hours) and I readily agreed given her weight and our prior history(ies). She was fine Monday, but did not take all the supplements. Tuesday she did better with the bottles, and was a bit jaundiced but started to get a little sluggish and harder to wake, and her weight was 5′ 4″. Wednesday, the midwife was out of town. Thursday morning, the babe was very sluggish, and hardly eating at all, barely rousable. We worked with her all day, trying to get something into her. Thursday evening, I promised the midwife I would stay up with her all night, or until I got 5 ounces of something into her. At this point, she was not even sucking, and we were letting the bottle drip into her wee mouth. And in the night, she began to spit up. So, up I sat, until sunrise, willing her to keep body and soul together. At 5am, she opened her eyes, and she was “there”. I talked to the midwife again, and went to bed for a couple hours.

Now it’s Friday morning. Midwife says, “I thing baby needs to go to the doctor. Can you take her to the pediatrician today?” And in my sleep-deprived self, I just said “No. Dh has left for work, and my mom may not be coming today.” And she actually, Praise God, continued to talk to me. We went through a mini-exam on the baby. No sucking response, no gripping of finger run up her palm, and no startle reflex at all. I came to my senses and said, “yeah, let me make a couple of calls”. Got dh turned around and headed back home, and my mom arrived. I called the doctor, and let them know what was going on, and they said come on in, so we scrambled a diaper bag together, I got dressed and we left.

She weighed 5 pounds, and was reptile yellow. She roused to the strange voices and hands on her, and even her eyes were yellow. I had already made up my mind that she was going into the hospital, and that is what happened. I had wanted them to feed her, but instead they put her on IV fluids, diagnosed jaundice and put her under lights. Her bilirubin was 13.6, which is not usually so serious, but combined with the low birth weight, lack of effective nursing technique, and the huge bruise on her head was more than she could handle. We stayed until Sunday night. She was feeding well, and much more responsive, with a bili of 8.8.

BTW, here’s a mini-rant on the doctor. I asked her whether to go to the ER or the office. She said the office. Then while we were there she says “Maybe if you were so concerned you should have gone to the ER.” I reminded her that I had asked specifically where to go. And she said’ Well, you sounded so calm on the phone, I didn’t realize it was so serious.” So, I looked right at her, and I said “Would screaming at you over the phone have helped you or the baby at all?” And she wisely answered “no”. Sigh.

Next installment: Overcoming Cephalo-Mammary Disproportion

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