Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How Stressful was Child Birth?

Posted by theboat On December 09, 2015 9 comments

Child birth is obviously painful for the mother, but things end up well right? Can something so routine really be stressful?

I was thinking at first that this didn't fit at all with the theme of the site as there's no data, but it was the most stressful part of the experience so far, so it does count as an effect. It also hopefully gives an idea of what the process is like once you make it to the hospital.

I didn't plan to track this so I don't have great data, but I texted with many people throughout the process and texted my oldest brother steadily, so I have a decent log based on that conversation (I tried to estimate times based on text messages).

October 15th (Thursday)

9:00 AM - check into the hospital

9:30 AM - we get a delivery room

11:00 AM - doctor comes by and breaks her water

1:00 PM - labor pains increasing to the point where she's panicking a bit; several contractions are >5 minutes

1:45 PM - epidural

2:27 PM - baby's heart rate plummets and the nurse freaks out

2:29 PM - more nurses and doctors rush in and they take her out; tell me to wait in the room

2:32 PM - nurses grab me and tell me to rush to put on scrubs and run to the OR

2:35 PM - make it to the OR as the baby is coming out; he isn't breathing or crying

2:36 PM - still no crying; NICU people appear to be panicking

2:37 PM - still no crying; doctor isn't answering any questions; wife too sedated to understand much

2:38 PM - very muffled cry; NICU nurses start talking more

2:46 PM - NICU nurses show the baby to the mother and rush out; take me with them

2:50 PM - they tell me to hold him as it might be my only chance

3:00 PM - talk with NICU doctor; they're feeling a bit better about him but want permission to drop his body temperature for 72 hours to prevent seizures; I consent and they send me back to our room

4:00 PM - talk with NICU again; apparently he appears fine, so they're opting for a 12 hour EEG (they called it something else but it appeared to be the same thing); if 12 hours with no seizures they'll not do the body cooling thing; turns out the lack of crying post-birth wasn't a complete lack...they were giving him oxygen so the crying was muffled to the point where I couldn't hear it; he started crying roughly a minute after birth

6:00 PM - mother is released to another room so we move to that one; she was too sedated to understand what was going on, so I have to explain everything to her; nurse confirms that a lot of the freakout was because there was a miscommunication of his APGAR score; only apparent issue when he made it to the NICU was that one of the reflexes (rooting I think?) wasn't there, but he demonstrated it a few minutes after they got him to the NICU

11:30 PM - I'm able to spend time with him in the NICU; mother can't come because of cesarean; talk to the NICU employees a bit and everything seems positive; all reflexes are there when I play with him, and he shit everywhere when I changed him; it was extremely sticky

October 16th (Friday)

2:30 AM - get to visit him in the NICU again; EEG was fine so no more worry about cooling him; next is to make sure his intestines didn't die, so they're planning to keep him on an IV for a while to make sure he shits regularly; mother had gestational diabetes so they're also monitoring that; will attempt to get him off the IV if he's ok feeding within 24 hours

After that, I stopped texting so much so I'll drop the timestamps, but this is the rough order of what happened:

- take mother to visit him in a wheelchair; she meets with lactation specialist and attempts feeding him at every visit after that (I think we were allowed something like five, one-hour visits per day); he's deceptively calm at every visit

- mother attempts her first diaper change and he projectile shits all over the NICU equipment ( went like 4 feet); she slightly re-injures herself from laughing and has to sit back down

- my mom let me know that things apparently went worse when I was born; for one thing, it was in the 80's so they knew less; I apparently stopped moving in the womb at seven months, refused to come out for >20 hours, was strangled by the cord when I did come out, and the equipment in the OR failed so I didn't breathe for several minutes post-birth; a friend and former co-worker relayed that his daughter's birth went almost identically and she turned out fine (finished college recently); my current manager's children also were similar; I'm feeling better about the situation

- feedings are going well so they ween him off the IV on the night of October 17th (Saturday); Alabama beats Texas A&M; everything's going well

- he's brought to our room on the night of October 18th (Sunday) and fully discharged from the NICU; mother has not been discharged yet so we still have at least one more night in the hospital

- mother is discharged on October 19th (Monday); everything seems ok with him so we have a baby and I'm able to start collecting data

The whole thing was pretty stressful. It was never to a level where either of us wanted to pass out or anything, but I'd rank her surgery as the most stressful thing I remember going through. They never found a cause for what happened. The best guess was that her contractions were very long and intense, so they stressed him physically to the point where his pulse rate dropped.

Once we get final bill info from the insurance companies, I'll post a cost breakdown for the extended hospital stay + NICU.


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