When Everything Goes Wrong
Ambrose was born right around 11 p.m. on January 9, 2017. He’s a big kid: 9 lbs, 4 ounces and 20.5 inches long.
J and I had been anxiously anticipating and planning for his arrival since we got the news I was expecting back in April. I’d read countless books, made notes in my bullet journal on what to do in those first delirious and sleep-deprived weeks, put together the perfect nursery with everything he would need, and planned everything for our beautiful home waterbirth, which was going to be attended by our midwife and my mother, also a midwife.
Everything went according to the plan. Until he was born. And then it didn’t.
I’m still wrapping my head around what all happened with his birth, but from what I understand, it was some combination of meconium aspiration, and birth trauma possibly caused by shoulder dystocia and a short cord. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers right now, and I’m probably wrong about all of that. What I know is that he was struggling when he came out. The birth team suctioned his lungs and stomach while giving him CPR and oxygen, and then the paramedics arrived and we were cut apart. I stayed home from the hospital to be sewed up and recover from the 18+ hour labor while J went with the ambulance, followed closely behind by my mother and my in-laws.
Ambrose’s condition was bad enough that the NICU he was taken to wasn’t able to give him the level of care he needed. He needed to be put on ECMO — respiratory bypass — which was only available in Utah or LA. We chose to have him airlifted to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The good news is that he did great during the flight, and his condition gradually improved enough that he actually hasn’t had to go on ECMO yet, which is big. ECMO requires major surgery, and if he can avoid it for the time being, that’s for the best.
Still, Ambrose is not doing great in general. He is very, very sick. Although his condition is slowly improving, he’s still heavily medicated and sedated, and is currently on a 24-hour EEG to monitor his brain activity. As of our meeting with the neurologist this afternoon, it’s understood that he’s sustained some degree of brain damage, and will most likely not develop normally. In the next several days we will try to do an MRI to assess the damage further; this will give us a clearer picture of whether the damage is limited to the extent that the rest of the brain can compensate, but the probability of this is unlikely.
Miracles can happen, and all prayers for Ambrose’s recovery are very much appreciated. It’s looking like Ambrose will be here for weeks or possibly months. We’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received thus far.
How am I doing? All of this is very hard for me. Mom guilt is a real thing. Even though I know that what happened is incredibly rare, I’m still working through the feeling that my selfishness with my birth plan directly led to Ambrose’s condition. I would rather have had ten of the C-sections I was trying to avoid than for any of this to have happened to my beautiful, dark-haired son.
And it’s not just the birth — it’s the time in the NICU. I feel like I need to be by Ambrose’s bedside 24/7, but at the same time, I know I need to take care of me. I’m also recovering. I gave birth less than 48 hours ago, and I am still completely exhausted from it.
Anyway, my brain is still foggy, so I’m not sure how to wrap this up nicely. Just keep Ambrose in your thoughts and prayers, and in the meantime, I’ll keep posting updates as I can.