To pick up where I left off in the last post…Kyle and I were both taken off guard hearing the words “emergency C-section”. I wasn’t at all prepared for that so I asked, “What happened within the last 5 minutes?!?!” As the doctor and midwife rolled me onto my left side, put an oxygen mask on my face, and inserted an IV, the doctor explained that the baby’s heart rate had dropped to 50 beats per minute and he was in distress. As she spoke the words, the monitor showed that his heart rate was back up to a healthy 146 beats per minute. I remembered the countless times when I sat with the non-stress test in the doctor’s office and the monitor would frequently “lose” Henry’s heart beat and I assumed that the same thing had happened this time. I wasn’t nearly as concerned as everyone else in the room seemed to be, and now I thought they were the ones being dramatic.
The doctor explained that she had phoned the surgical team to get everyone prepped in the O.R. for my C-section, and that they would be on stand-by as we watched the monitor. I told Kyle that it appeared that the baby was okay, and I didn’t want to rush the decision to have a C-section if we didn’t have to. As the medical staff left the room, we both said, “What just happened?” and wondered if there was a potential problem with the baby, or if they were being overly cautious. We didn’t have long to discuss the possibilities because within 10 minutes, everyone was back in my room again. Although it appeared to me that the monitor was showing healthy heart beats, the doctor explained that they had been watching the monitor from another room and were not happy with the inconsistency of the heart rate. She encouraged me to agree to have a C-section for fear that the baby was in distress and if his heart rate dropped again, they would have to perform an emergency C-section, which would be rushed. For whatever reason, I felt a sense that this was the right decision and I agreed to go ahead with it. I think Kyle was surprised by my calm mental state (especially considering that I had a break-down about an hour ago), and didn’t question the decision.
With the decision made, Kyle was given a set of scrubs to change into while the anesthesiologist and the doctor explained the process of the surgery to me and did a quick medical history Q&A.
As I walked into the O.R. I had a few thoughts of “is this really happening?”, “I hope Kyle doesn’t faint”, “I wish my parents were here”, and “too bad they didn’t give me any time to change into my super-cute hospital gown…”
Entering the room, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people in there. I couldn’t really hear anyone talking except for the anesthesiologist, who was telling me what to do in her perfect English (thank goodness!).
Within 15 minutes, I was completely numb from the neck down and Kyle joined me in the O.R. As he sat down, I asked him to peek over and tell me what was going on, (I really wanted him to record the whole thing and take pictures, but the doctors didn’t seem too keen on that idea…and neither was Kyle.) I told him that I was feeling a lot of movement and just then, we heard a cry. Baby Henry was out (already!) and just let out the tiniest scream. The midwife brought him over to Kyle and said that the cord was around his neck pretty tight, the reason for his drop and then inconsistent heart rate, apparently. The midwife said that she was going to clean him up and get his measurements, and I told Kyle to “follow the baby and don’t let him out of his sight”, because after this crazy sequence of events, I just wanted to make sure that the baby was okay.
I glanced at the clock on the wall and could not believe that I hadn’t even been in there for an hour. The whole surgery start to finish took about 45 minutes and I have to say that I was very impressed by the efficiency of the entire process. As soon as I was sewn back together, they wheeled my back to my original delivery room and Kyle handed Henry over to me. It was nice to be able to hold him so soon after the surgery, and surreal at the same time because I never dreamed that he would be born before 7 p.m.
We were then taken to our private family room where we would spend the next 6 days. One of my main concerns prior to Henry’s birth was ensuring that Kyle could stay with me in the hospital. We knew that we would have to pay extra (88 euros a night) for this luxury, but it was one that I thought was very important. First of all, I cannot imagine sharing a room with another woman and her baby. We were so blessed that Henry slept so much and was a very good baby. We heard many other babies screaming throughout the night and I would have hated having one of them in our room (although I did feel bad for those parents). Secondly, since I only know a few German words, it would have been difficult to communicate with the nurses throughout the day/night. Once a day, we had a nurse who didn’t speak any English, so I was grateful to have Kyle as my translator. He learned a lot of new medical terminology that he never would have needed to know before now!
Big sister Anya came to visit us every day and was so excited to meet Henry. It was wonderful having my mom in Berlin, staying with Anya while we were in the hospital. I don’t know what we would have done without her. Although a few friends offered to help out during this time, we knew that Anya would be most comfortable staying in her own home with Ommy. These 6 days were hard on everyone, but made easier by the fact that we knew Anya was happy and being taken care of at home.
In general, we were very happy with the doctors, midwives, and nurses at the hospital. They were extremely attentive to me and helpful in giving suggestions for my recovery. My only complaint in the experience, which I was warned about from online bloggers, was the “stinginess” of pain medication. This was the only instance where I hoped we were back in Carmel, IN at the hospital where I had Anya.
On day 3 of my stay, I had severe pain in part of my incision, and up until that point, I was only given ibuprofen every 6 hours. I had constantly asked for stronger drugs, but it wasn’t until 2 a.m. that morning when I had not gotten out of bed for over 9 hours because I was in so much pain that it made my whole body shake that they finally called a doctor in to assess the situation. No one seemed to understand why or how I could be in so much pain, and when they saw me physically shaking, I think they determined that I wasn’t just being a baby about it and probably needed another method of relief. Kyle specifically asked the doctor, “Don’t you have any Vicodin you can give her?” to which she chuckled and said, “You Americans…”. Not the best thing to say to me at that moment, but she finally said that she could give me something stronger and warned that “it might make you a little fuzzy”. At this point, I would have let Kyle just knock me out to get out of experiencing the pain, so a little “fuzziness” was not something I was worried about.
After a few more days of slowly starting to feel better, and having an ultrasound to ensure that everything was healing properly, it seemed that I was on the mend. Finally on the 6th day, we were released to head home.
It’s been a slow and painful recovery, but I now see the light at the end of the tunnel and can look back on all of the good aspects of the pregnancy and delivery.
Now that Henry is nearly one month old, I look back on the last few weeks and realize that we have been pretty lucky with the whole experience of having a baby in Berlin. From the excellent care given by my personal doctor (weekly check-ups), the delivery doctor, midwives, nurses, and even our health insurance which allowed us a cost-free delivery (with the exception of paying for our private room), it’s all been a positive experience and one that we will always remember.