LadyCheena: Octavian's Birth Story
Tuesday, February 03, 2009 10:18 AM
"My dog, Brock Samson, saved my baby boy’s life..."
An unexpected beginning...
A small but robust Min Pin with a bossy nursemaid’s attitude sent me to the hospital with all swiftness on September 26, 2008. It was about 4:30 a.m. when Brock began twitching excitedly by my belly, which had been his resting spot for the last four months. Not reading further into his jitters, I attributed them to his needing to go to the bathroom. So I hoisted myself up and waddled over to the French doors to let him out.
However, Brock was not in that kind of need. His auburn eyes were buggy and his body was doing a weird seizure-ish motion pushing me back in. As I tried to maneuver passed him, he clung close to my leg like he was trying to get me to sit down. When I finally sat on the couch he made it a point to nestle feverishly between my legs with his head on my belly and those still buggy eyes staring at me.
I felt my belly and had noticed that my son was not moving the way he had been the last couple of days. Again, ignoring the signs, I thought the baby was simply loosing the once wide open spaces he had previously enjoyed and was making a move south. Brock, however, was under a different impression. I tried my best to assure him that I was good and he could back up off me, but he was still shaking like a crack-head.
When I went to the bathroom, I had noticed that my mucus plug had expelled and my nerves picked up. Pat, my husband, said to call the doctors. Finally, I called the docs and told them what was happening. The doc on the other end asked me if I was in pain (no), did my water break (no), was I in labor (maybe, but the contractions were in no way consistent),and if the baby was moving normally (not really). He suggested I drink some juice and check back if the baby did not move more. I let him know I had appointments that day and would check with them as well. With that, I continued with my morning getting ready for my sister’s pick-up at 6:30 a.m.
My sister, Beez, had offered to drive me through rush hour traffic to Boston, where my scheduled appointments were happening. If there was something wrong, one of those appointments would catch it, which was why I relaxed. So, once I was ready, I continued to baby Brock for as long as I could before my sister honked the horn. As I got him settled in his cage, he persisted to paw and whine in it restlessly, which he hadn’t done since he was a pup. I only fretted for a moment, realizing my parents would be by to pick him up later that morning, and he would be fine.
Heading to the hospital
As I got into the car, I felt the familiar twinge of labor pains, but, like the others that week, it wasn’t consistent enough to draw concern and was gone as quickly as it had come. However, as we continued on to Beantown, I began to really feel them come on, but, this being my first child, I wasn’t sure if this was the moment. Plus, I wasn’t going to freak my sister out by saying, “Oh, I think I’m in labor.” That would not have gone over well!
We reached Boston in no time, where Beez dropped me off in front of the medical center and went on her way. I waddled to my first appointment with the rheumatologist where I huffed and puffed through question after questions about my swelling, my joints and my overall health. As I made my way to the desk, I joked with the nurses on how big I was and that it would be a riot if this was the day. “At least I’m here already,” I chuckled.
Since I had a big gap between appointments, I decided to go rest at my father-in-laws apartment. On the ride there, I kept thinking about Brock and his really odd behavior, so I called my mom to check on him. When I got her on the line, my heart sank into my tummy. She said that Brock had thrown up in his cage and was an absolute mess. Not only that, but he was still shaking like he was afraid or upset. She had mentioned that when she had tried to put him outside his back legs had given out on him like he was paralyzed and it had taken several long minutes before he recovered. She said he was still whining and wouldn’t stop.
That was it! I was going to the right back to the hospital right then and there.
Trying to get answers
As luck would have it, my next appointment was my regular weekly Non-Stress Test. They would know immediately if my son was in danger. I asked my brother-in-law to drop me back off at the hospital under the guise of “I want to get in early.” I kept mum about Brock, the labor pains, and the fact that while at my father-in-law’s my water had indeed broken. (Oh, yeah, that, too!)
When I got to the office, I asked to see the nurse sooner and explained my growing concern. Once they strapped me into the monitor, I heard my baby boy’s heart beat thunder through the speakers, and then, drop out. It came back again, then… dropped. My insides began to shiver. My nurse, Nancy, came over and I said, “That doesn’t sound good.” To which she replied, “No, I’m getting the doctor right now.”
The doctor and nurse huddled with me and basically announced, “We’re sending you to Labor and Delivery. This baby has to come out.” I agreed without argument.
Laughing all the way to delivery
As fate would have it, my dear six-foot-one, teddy bear of a husband, Pat, wandered into the appointment – and the chaos that was soon to erupt. Without so much as one step of his size 13 foot in the door, lil’ five-foot-nothin’ nurse Nancy hollered at him to grab the end of the gurney, “We’re heading to Labor and Delivery!” she yelled. Pat barely got in a “Wait! What’s going on?!” before he was nearly trampled on on our way out. After that, it was a comedy of errors. Pat slammed me into almost every door jam there was, prompting me to scold, “This is not Crash Bandicoot (the video game), Pat! Easy!”
“I don’t know where I’m going,” he returned, shuffling toward another corner.
“Left!” Nancy and I yelled almost simultaneously.
When we arrived in Labor and Delivery, the place was abuzz with my arrival. Nurses began strapping on monitors, removing my clothes, and getting my stats. A calm fell over me, more like acceptance to what was happening, while panic began creeping into my husband’s eyes. The doc came into the room and gave this nice little spiel about what was happening, ending with, “We strongly suggest you have a C-section.” To which I smartly replied, “So, I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
Thrown by my calm, joking and accepting manner, the doctor replied, “Ahh, no.”
“Ok, let’s do it,” I said. “Get my son out of me.” With that, the doc began to issue orders as I began issuing mine to my husband.
Me: “Call my sister to cancel my pedicure appointment.”
Doc: “Get her prepped for a C-section.”
Me: “Call Maritza to get rid of my tickets for the show tomorrow.”
Doc: “Get the readings on the infant.”
Me: “Call my parents and fill them in. No, wait, tell Beez to do it.”
At one point, the nurse looked at me, giggled, and shook her head. Chuckling to myself, I asked her what was so funny? She replied, “I wish I had your life -- pedicure and a show. Wow!”
“Hey, you know, I wanted to stay busy,” I laughed.
Despite the calm and jovial manner, I never lost sight of the fact that my son’s life was in danger. My calm was more for everyone else than for me. I felt that if I stayed calm and upbeat, they’d stay calm and upbeat. Once they had me in the O.R., things began to move quickly. They were stripping me left and right, poking me with needles, choking me with awful meds, and rolling me from one table to the other.
Delivery room highlights
However, the greatest moments of that ordeal were those of my husband. First, the nurses had tried to find him scrubs to wear, but didn’t seem to have the extra-big-boy size he needed. So, they jimmied together a couple of johnnies and threw his long dreds haphazardly beneath a cap. Second, while they were slicing me open, my husband bravely peered over the partition and said, “Why, Che, it’s like slicing a turkey!” -- a comment only a wife could cherish. And lastly, and most hysterically, once my son had emerged from my womb, Pat trumped his earlier comment with, “Che, he’s got BIG BALLS!” (Oh, yeah!) There was no “he’s beautiful”, or “there’s our son”; just “he’s got BIG BALLS!” Despite being numb, naked, and split open, I found myself laughing with the rest of the OR once the shock of the comment sunk in.
After I was all sewn up and had rested a bit in the recovery room, I was wheeled down to see my little boy in the NICU. He looked so tiny and fragile with those wires sticking out of him. I wanted to hold him so badly and make it all go away, but when I looked into his eyes, he had a look of, “I’m fighting hard, momma. Don’t you worry.” And wouldn’t you know it, this 4 lbs. 12 oz. bundle of joy was fighting with every piece of his soul.
Never losing hope
As we visited with our baby, nurses from all over the NICU kept telling me how beautiful and cute he is. In fact, Elaine, one of the many nurses in charge of my son, informed us that the staff had dubbed him the Most Beautiful Baby in the NICU. I laughed thinking they must say that to all the new moms and dads, but Elaine, assured us, “No, it’s been months since we’ve seen a baby as beautiful as yours and he may actually be the cutest. He’s so sweet and easy-going.”
One night during Elaine’s shift, she let us know, “This is the first time I’ve seen the docs argue over how to run a course of treatment on a baby.” It seemed that everyone wanted to make sure Octavian’s fight was not in vain. Hearing that made my heart swell with such joy and honor that I was speechless. And then, I thought of my Brock and what he had gone through to make sure that my Octavian was there to get this kind of treatment. I quickly asked Elaine for a blanket that had been used for my son to send home with my mom and dad when they came to visit.
After an intense week in the hospital, I finally came home with my son, Patrick Octavian DeAraujo Desir (Oc-man for short). Just before we pulled into the driveway, I called my dad and asked him to bring Brock home. Everyone began to worry that it was too soon and that the dog wouldn’t be ready, but something told me he was more than ready. When they brought him into the house, Brock came running for me on the bed and gave me the biggest doggy hello of sniffs and licks. Then picking up the new scent he recognized from the blanket I sent along, he ran over to the playpen where Octavian slept and stood up on his back paws to peer inside. He stood that way for five minutes straight, sniffing the air and staring at the bundle. It was like he was saying hello to an old friend.
Octavian is now three months old, cooing and gurgling like most babies do, and always there beside him is that nursemaid of a Min Pin, Brock Samson -- smelling his hair, licking his face, and staving off any strangers who dare to bother him. In Brock, Octavian has a best friend for life. And I’d have it no other way.
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