Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The slow and steady recovery.

Dominic sure was in a rush to get here and, in the process, earned himself a nearly two-week stay at the Beth Israel Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Within minutes of his birth, I knew something was wrong. Instead of nursing, Dominic blew saliva bubbles. Instead of cooing, he grunted. And his breathing was rapid and labored.

We soon learned that Dominic's early arrival and quick delivery resulted in Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome. My heart broke the first time I saw him in the NICU.

A CPAP delivered oxygen through his nose, and an IV delivered nutrients through his bloodstream. A handful of other patches and wires monitored temperature, oxygen levels, heartrate and respiratory rate. But the little man took it all in stride, often appearing to be downright comfy in his new digs.

Within days, Dominic graduated to a simple feeding tube while he learned to nurse and bottle feed. That whole "suck, swallow, breathe" thing can be pretty complicated for premature babies.

Dominic also experienced "drifts" or "spells," which are sudden dramatic drops in oxygen levels and heartrate, each one earning him five more days in the NICU.

So, right now, we are on Day Three of a five-day spell countdown. The nurses have been lovely, and I have made the most of my long days in the hospital by reading novels and studying my baby in the relative peace and quiet. However, barring any further incidents, I absolutely cannot wait to take our son home on Thursday.

The fast and furious delivery.

It was a dream labor … until the very end. My water broke at home during a Saturday afternoon nap. We had time to pack, call on Michael’s parents to watch Gabriella, eat dinner, put Gabriella to bed and even have a cup of tea before heading to the hospital.

The drive to the hospital at 10pm on a Saturday night was quiet and easy. Not much traffic, even less contractions.

We checked into the hospital, learned my water had indeed broken (which was a relief, because I imagine the other option was that I’d been peeing myself for nine hours) and I was 2cm dilated.

I received pitocin and the contractions picked up. We watched March Madness followed by Saturday Night Live on a faraway television with horrible reception. I called for an epidural around 1am and 3cms dilated. Then the resident on duty turned off the television, closed the lights, told us to get some rest, she’d check on us in a couple hours.

Michael started snoring. I rested in between contractions, waited for the epidural to fully kick in. Around 3:30am, I couldn’t quietly breathe through the contractions anymore. Where was the pain-free post-epidural labor I had with Gabriella?

Michael was suddenly at my bedside, bleary eyed, telling me to call the nurse, stop being a hero. I called the nurse. She called the anesthesiologist, checked my cervix, pronounced me 9cms, no, 10cms dilated. Then the nurse asked if I wanted to push. Push? Aren’t I getting more pain medication? We were out of time. I cried (literally) then told myself (out loud) to get it together, which I never quite did.

The rest was not pretty, straight from the movies, downright primal. We were right next to the lobby and Michael later joked that any first-time mother checking in would immediately ask for a C-section upon hearing the noises coming from my labor and delivery room.

The nurse told me not to push until my next contraction. The doctor told me to wait so she could, well, get ready for delivery. Michael told me to breathe, put chin to chest. I ignored them all, quite vocally (but not before I instructed Michael to get the camera and the doctor to make sure my husband announced the baby’s gender).

Dominic arrived less than a half hour later at 4:11am on his sister's 21-month birthday. The nurse placed him on my chest and he curled into my skin—so soft, so warm, so peaceful. I just lay there—staring at my beautiful, beautiful, beautiful little boy—while the rest of the world temporarily ceased to exist.

Welcome to the world, Dominic Joseph!

Michael and I, along with big sister Gabriella, welcome Dominic Joseph with love to our family.

Dominic was born March 22, 2009 at 4:11am—7 lbs 4 oz, 19 inches—in a fast and furious delivery followed by a slow but steady recovery.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Wow, I guess I've been Missing In Action from the blog for awhile, but I have a good excuse: I've been making a human being. Here we are, babylicious at 38 weeks:
And here is my new favorite picture of Michael and Gabriella, who have been taking good care of us:
And finally, here is the often-forgotten first child, Nola, trying to earn herself back into our good graces by pretending to want salad for dinner. Even Grover knows better, and he's just a cup.