Saturday, November 7, 2009

marvels of modern medicine

Today is Harper's sixth birthday, three weeks after her sister's tenth (the day I dislocated my shoulder riding home from shift, quasi-ruining her special morning...). Both girls were healthy while in utero. Annie had wanted to do home births but our midwife/nurse was licensed through the hospital so we didn't.

Something interesting, and perilous, happened with each girl's birth. With Flann, Annie had sudden-onset toxemia/ecclampsya (sp?), which meant she went from dancing at Lucinda Williams (and scaring the roadies with her tumescent belly) and running stairs at Powderhorn to stimulate labor, to--without any warning--being gravely, suddenly ill. They did an emergency c-section. The young doctor was whiter than her lab coat. The midwife shit a brick. So, I trust that it was truly emergent. She had no obvious signs of being ill. Had we been at home, she would have birthed Flann, then hemorrhaged and died.

With Harper, she had contractions for seventy-two hours. I didn't have sympathy contractions, but I held her hand for the brunt of that time, getting my paw crushed with each seismic rumble of her uterus. When we re-re-returned to the doc's, they measured and found she was STILL only one cm dilated. She was exhausted. They did a c-section this time, and this time discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Harper's neck. It had been acting as a bungee: each contraction pushed her downward toward air and fresh coffee, and the cord pulled her back. Again, at home, Annie would have labored until she dropped, and Harper would have been entangled and at serious risk.

End result: two healthy daughters and a live wife. Good things all around.

A separate discussion is merited by what it's like to stand by your beloved's head while the docs play around with her innards on the other side of the little sterile tent they erect so the patient can't see her own kidney and pancreas and what-not plopped onto her belly.

Happy birthday, my dears.

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