Alexander Lee Pembleton

It is truly amazing how life throws things your way you never imagined would happen.  There are a lot of not so pleasant images and experiences in which Alexander came into this world, but I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason when it is supposed to happen. Life isn’t always clean and nice; it’s the dark and dirty parts, which make us thankful for everything else.
Thursday, December 15:
My mom came up in the morning to help get the house ready for Gary to get home, and help us pass the time until we had to go to the airport. We shoveled mulch, and finished outside chores. We then grabbed some lunch and headed to JoAnn’s to pick up some last minute fabric that I needed to make some baby hats for the birth center in St. Augustine that had just opened.
We ran all our errands, and Arabella fell asleep in the car, which was perfect. By the time we got to the airport she was awake and ready to go in and wait for daddy. I wanted to get there early to get a gate pass to surprise Gary as he came off the flight, and it worked beautifully. Arabella loves looking at the planes, so getting there early was a treat for her. Finally, Gary arrived and we were on our way home as a family. Gary’s flight arrived around 1645 and we were home by 1830.
We put Arabella to bed, it took a bit longer than normal since she was so wound up from Gary getting home, but it was sweet how it was just the three of us again. Gary and I were finally able to sneak out to spend some time together and start getting things ready for when little guy decided to make his appearance.
Little did we know it was sooner than anyone had expected.
Having Gary come home when he did was hopefully going to give me some alone time to get some sewing done, clean the house and prep everything for the birth.  Not so much.
Fiddling around, picking things up I squatted down to pick up something in the sewing room and felt a pop, then a gush. I looked down and expected to see what I had with Arabella, but there was a lot of blood. Not panicking (which was a shock that I was able to keep calm), I called Tara (my midwife) and Heather (my doula) to get an idea on what I should do. We were planning a home birth and it was looking like that wasn’t going to be happening. Tara called back and told us to go to the ER, which for us was Baptist South, just across the street. She would meet us there, and Heather was going to as well.
It took us a bit to get a few things together as we didn’t have a hospital bag prepared, and get Arabella into the car. Gary dropped me off at the ER and parked while I explained the situation. Up to L&D I went.
We were put into an observation room and I was able to give a urine specimen, and get hooked up to some monitors. I was 5-6, and having some light contractions by the time we got everything situated in the observation room. It was time to discuss our options…
Option 1: Stay and be admitted since I was in active labor, and leaving would be AMA.
Option 2: Go home and labor there, being able to come back if need be.
Everything looked good on the monitors, and it really was a debate to stay or go. I wasn’t having as much blood as I did originally, but there was still more than normal. It definitely wasn’t the “bloody show”.  I know Tara was torn. Ultimately we decided to stay, I was going to go by whatever Tara said. I trusted her completely to make the right decision…it’s why we hired her!
Gary had run home at this point, after we decided to stay to take Arabella home so Tristan could watch her while we were at the hospital.
Now things were picking up, I had to use Heather to get through contractions. She was amazing as well, using the Hypnobabies cues to help me work through the waves.  I think at some point during this they called Gary to come back, saying things were picking up.
I think I was complete or close to it by the time Gary got back, my body had the urge to push with each contraction. There ended up being a small lip of cervix but Alexander wasn’t descending and even with holding that aside not much was really happening. He was acynclitic, turned OT and OP during labor with his head cocked at a weird angle. He wasn’t moving. Even though I was complete, I asked for an epidural about 2-3 hours into pushing and was given that so I could hopefully relax and be more effective at pushing. I was still having blood with each push and things were not progressing past this point. I pushed for about 4 hours at that point. The on call OB came in and said I had reached my limit. He wasn’t going anywhere, and a c-section was needed.
I felt defeated. This wasn’t happening. This was NOT the way that he was supposed to be born. I felt out of control, that my body had failed me and I had to give in to the section.
I consented to the section and waited about an hour to be taken to the OR. The lights in the OR were so bright, and after crying, having my contacts in, and just being tired I could barely keep my eyes open. I remember a lot of shaking, I was cold, scared, and felt so alone at one point. Even having Gary next to me didn’t help, he couldn’t help.
Alexander entered this world at 444am on the 16th of December. His first cry was so bittersweet. It was supposed to be on me, delivered by me, Gary or Tara in our home. Instead he was brought out to a cold OR room surrounded by strangers. He also had to be pushed back through the birth canal because he was so stuck, making for an even more traumatic entrance into this world.
Gary followed Alexander back to the room to get his stats while I was being tended to in the OR and they met me back in the room. He was 8lbs 14oz, and 21.5 inches long (a full pound bigger than Arabella and 2.5 inches longer). 
Everyone was so amazed since I had only lost a little bit of blood, equivalent to a normal vaginal delivery.
Back in my room I nursed and held Alexander, I remember that much. After that this is where things get fuzzy, and Gary will have to tell some of the story. I also remember people asking me if I felt dizzy or lightheaded, to which my answer was no! I just felt tired, extrememely sleepy. I told Gary to take Alexander because I wanted to take a nap, and that’s the last I remember until Saturday at 0700.
Becki kept saying that she felt exhausted.  The nurses spent some time trying to get a blood pressure reading, and when the machine finally registered it was 60/30.  At that point they felt around Becki’s stomach to see how firm it felt, and immediately there was a large gush of blood.  It soaked the sheets, pads, everything, to the point where it ran down onto the floor.  They started another bag of Pitocin directly into her stomach and 2 more IV’s that were supposed to help with clotting.  After 5 minutes they checked her stomach again and got another gush of blood, though this one was slightly less than the first. 
At this point the nurses called for a Doctor and asked for blood to be brought up.  They kept checking her stomach every 5 minutes and each time there was a little less blood to the point where they said it looked like the bleeding was stopping.  The doctor came in and asked how much blood she had lost to which the nurses responded they didn’t know, so he told them to send a runner for blood and not to come back with anything less than 2 units.  Becki was awake but mostly out of it and just kept saying how exhausted she was.  They put her on oxygen since she started complaining about some shortness of breath.
Shortly after getting oxygen she fell asleep and started snoring.  This whole time one of the nurses was constantly trying to get an updated blood pressure and pulse and the machine would not register anything.  Suddenly Becki’s snoring changed to the point where the nurse asked if she had a history of sleep apnea so which I replied no.  They became concerned and tried to wake her up with no response.  They then had one of the nurses squeezing bags of fluid to get them into her faster and tried smelling salts and she was still unresponsive.  At this point the doctor asked me to leave so he could do his job and as I left I heard him say that Becki needed to be intubated and asked about a crash cart.
I took Alexander to the nursery and sat in a rocker holding and feeding him for what felt like hours as the nurses would come in and give me updates.  Becki was still bleeding somewhere and they rushed her back into the OR to figure out what was going on. 
Finally I was told I could go back into our L&D recovery room and that a doctor would be talking to me soon.  Eventually he came in and told me that Becki was stable and would be sent to the ICU but would remain intubated and sedated until they knew she was going to be ok.  He told me that they had to give her 5 units of blood, 1 unit of platelets and another unit of something else for clotting while in surgery.  There was a tear and another bleed that ended up filling up the space in her back around her right kidney after they thought that they had the initial bleed under control.
After several more hours I was finally able to go up to the ICU and see Becki.  I was allowed to bring Alexander and once upstairs the nurse allowed me to lay him on her chest and gave us all some time to bond even though she was still sedated.  They told me that she would be sedated for at least 24 hours depending on how things went.  I asked if they could bring a lactation consultant in to pump for her every few hours to bring in her supply for Alexander and they agreed.  At that point I went back down to the normal recovery room for the night.
Saturday, December 17, 2011. Around 0700:
Where the hell am I? I have something in my mouth/throat and I’m in a strange room. And why does the whiteboard say Saturday, December 17??
People are moving about the room, and I have no clue what is going on. I’m half awake, and realize my hands are restrained too. And where is Gary???
They were waking me up from being out the past 24+ hours, and being intubated from something. Luckily they took out the tube, and got Gary up to my room ASAP so he could explain to me what happened (See above, Gary’s portion).
Luckily my ICU nurse was amazing, and got things rolling for me. I was still receiving blood when they woke me up at 0700 but after that I was able to eat if I wanted, and they told me if I wanted to I could get up and walk /sit in a chair that afternoon. I spent the morning talking to doctors who were present at my second surgery (neurologist, hematologist, general surgeon, etc) and wrapping my head around what had happened.
After lunch I told my ICU nurse I’d like to try and sit in the chair, but she actually had other plans for me. Instead she had taken a look at my labs, charts and saw that I was doing better and wouldn’t need the constant ICU monitoring (something every doc was surprised at considering what had happened). She was getting me moved back down to L&D so I could be with Alexander full time.
I spent Saturday, and Sunday back in L&D being monitored. Each day doctors and nurses came in who saw me post c-section on Friday and couldn’t believe how well I looked. It is surreal when people are telling you that you were on the brink of death, in shock almost and you are feeling “fine”. Granted I’m in some pain from the surgery and the places in my abdomen where the blood was pooling but other than that, it isn’t anything worse than I’ve felt before with surgery.
I was released from the hospital on Monday, December 19th, 2011…Gary’s 31st birthday.
I’m lucky to be alive. I’m lucky Alexander is perfect in every way and I’m lucky that I have the support of a husband who can take charge, know my wishes and wants even when I’m unable to speak for myself.
I do feel like my body failed me, and though I have a healthy baby to show for it we will no longer be able to have biological children of our own without the help of a surrogate. I had a total hysterectomy with the removal of my right ovary. Part of me doesn’t feel complete any more. I don’t like the fact that my fertility has been taken away from me before the age of 30…we didn’t know if we were done having children, though now that decision has been made for us.
One thing I do know, is that events happen when and how for a reason. That reason may not be clear until much farther down the road, but this was meant to happen to us. We are a strong, healthy, connected, and loving family that after 2 near death experiences, we know we can get through anything. Nothing can stop us. 

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