Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Owen's Birth Day - The Boy Who Lived

 Today is Owen's fourth birthday. I decided it would be a good day to share his very first Birth Day. I'm going to abbreviate a little for the sake of time and my own ability to deal. I've gone through several stages where I have alternately wanted to tell everyone about Owen's birth and where it has been too painful to talk about. I've been in the later area lately.

 The night before Owen was born, I had this horrible feeling that something was wrong. I had been having irregular contractions for a couple of days which isn't unusual toward the end for me, but the contractions had been getting stronger and stronger without regulating at all. We had planned a homebirth, but after failing to get hold of the midwife I decided to have Rod take me to the hospital( around midnight).

 The doctor on call was absolutely horrible to us. She no longer works there (or anywhere in our state although we ultimately decided not to sue). She barely checked me, was extremely rude and completely refused to listen to our concerns. She told me I was no where near having the baby( 1cm dilated, not effaced at all, and baby still floating) and to go home and follow my birth plan. The nurse we had was extremely nice and convinced the doctor to do an ultrasound to check for position. The doctor barely touched the wand to my belly told us the baby was head down and then THREW the ultrasound wand and stomped out of the room. I don't know if she had just had a really bad day or if she was that upset that we had planned to birth at home or what, but she didn't even try to hide her contempt for us. I thought about heading another 30 min away (already 30 min away from home) to the next closest hospital, but managed to convince myself that the doctor wouldn't have treated us like that if something was really wrong. I also wasn't in the mood to be treated like that again, so we went home to follow our birth plan.

 I continued to have strong, but extremely irregular contractions throughout the night. they would stop completely for up to 3 or 4 hours at a time so I was able to get some sleep. The next morning was the same. I decided to get in the bath to see if it would either relax me enough to stop the contractions or bring them on stronger. We had bought tickets to Harry Potter for Cameron's birthday and decided to have my Mom take the kids in just in case. My mom left with our van and the older 4 kids leaving Rod, Morgan, and I home. After a while in the tub the contractions slacked off and I figured the doctor was right. I was now at 39 weeks exactly, which is the longest I had ever carried anyone up until then, but everyone always says that each pregnancy is different. The midwife finally got our messages and called to check on us (I hadn't tried to call the backup midwife, first because I was so worried I just wanted to go to the hospital and then because I had been told I wasn't close to having the baby). I had only had two contractions in the last two hours, so we told her we thought things were settling down and we'd call back if it picked back up.

 Rod went back in the other room to put a movie on for Morgan and I decided to get out of the tub. I stood up and IMMEDIATELY had 3 contractions one right on top of the other. My water broke and I felt Owen's head descend. I yelled to Rod that my water broke and I could feel his hair (no, we didn't know he was a boy). At this point I thought everything was fine. I was going to have the easiest labor ever. Then I pushed and looked down into Owen's eyes. Yes, he was posterior. I pushed again and nothing, he didn't move any further down. Rod had made it into the bathroom by now and was draining the tub as I flipped onto hand and knees (the best position for both posterior and shoulder dystocia). Still nothing. Rod had to reach in and turn Owen and pop my bones out of joint to finally get him out. My water broke at 1:07, at 1:16 Owen stopped fighting, and we finally got him out at 1:25. His cord was completely limp, he was blue, no breathing, no heartbeat. I started CPR while Rod ran to call 911. Morgan had come into the bathroom just long enough to run off with the phone. The paramedics arrived in ten minutes and did 3 rounds of CPR and got a heartbeat! They bagged him and rushed to the hospital. I went in another ambulance hemorrhaging with pre-eclampsia.
 Owen was stabilized and put into therapeutic hypothermia at our local hospital and airlifted to Seattle. I was stuck in our local hospital where I promptly developed sepsis in addition to the pre-eclampsia and hemorrhage. Owen had a seizure during the airlift and several more during his first night at Childrens'. He was given phenobarbital and ativan. The next morning Rod was told to call our local hospital and get me released to go to Seattle because Owen's condition was so severe.
 Once I arrived at Children's the doctors took us to a private room and strongly advised that we discontinue treatment. Basically the only brain activity Owen was demonstrating was seizure activity. We refused until the therapeutic hypothermia protocol ( 3 days of cooling, one day of warming and an MRI) was over and said we'd talk again after the MRI.
 Owen had some more seizures over the next 2 days and had daily EEGs confirming the neurologist's position. On day 3 the nurse tried to extubate Owen since he was breathing over the ventilator only she didn't suction well enough and he choked on a mucus plug and crashed. He was down for 5 minutes. They let all of us in his room right after that (instead of the limit of 3) for our possibly only chance at a family picture.
 Finally we made it to day five. Owen had been warmed up to normal temperature and they took him for his MRI first thing in the morning. Then we waited, and waited, and waited. No one came back to us with the results ALL day. As we were leaving for the night, we told the nurse to make sure and call us when the neurologist came in no matter what time it was. She was astonished that they hadn't talked to us yet and told us that she couldn't tell us what it meant, but that Owen's MRI was completely normal!
If you look closely at this picture, you can see his flat brain scan.

 The next morning, the student neurologist came in and gave us the results of the MRI. She said everyone in the hospital and surrounding hospitals had studied it and no one could find any abnormalities.
 Over the next few days, Owen woke up and started moving and responding to light and sound. He passed all the tests except for swallowing. He continued to be tube fed and needed some extra suctioning to keep his own saliva out of his airway since he couldn't swallow it.  He left the NICU after a week and a half and at 3 weeks and 1 day left the hospital with an NG tube for feeding, phenobarbital for seizures, and a wedge to help him stay upright since he could keep his airway clear easier propped up.
 We still had no idea where his development would be. The doctors made sure we knew that the clear MRI didn't mean that there was no damage. We were so amazed he was even alive that we weren't too worried about future development at that time. We were just so glad to still have him.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Kara. What a great testimony for going with your parenting instincts, even if they fly in the face of what doctors recommend. You and Rod are amazing and truly blessed. Happy birthday Owen!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Angie. I just wish I'd gone with my instincts more in the very beginning.

  2. Wow. I've been praying for Owen for a long time but I didn't know his birth story.

  3. Thanks for the prayers, Owen needs them!