Xander’s Birth Story

So I said that I was excited to put Xander’s Birth Story somewhere so here goes.

We will start with the pregnancy I suppose, it is a pretty important part, plus he was born during the time when I should have still been pregnant.  We found out we were pregnant in October 2011.  I am a scrapbooker and I told Cory we were pregnant by going out and getting some “we’re pregnant” and Baby stickers and showing them to him.  At first he just thought that they were for our sister-in-law who found out they were pregnant a few months earlier and I said no… it’s us!  He didn’t believe me until 2 pregnancy tests later. (it could have been a false positive you know ;-))  It all happened so fast he wasn’t quite ready but it was a good time if we were ever going to start a family.

The first OB Dr visit at 12 weeks was really amazing being able to see that tiny
baby in my tummy that we knew was there, but the visual affirmation made it even
more real.  Everything measured normally and we had a due date of July 10th, 2012. Things seemed to be pretty normal, I didn’t have an appetite through the first trimester and most of the second.  At the 20 week ultrasound we found out it was a boy!  I had an OB appointment the afternoon of the ultrasound and that is where I found out that I had a fairly large (8cm) uterine fibroid.  That’s about it, the US tech just basically said there is a fibroid and it is approximately this big.  I learned that it may have been there all along and they tend to grow with pregnancy due to all of the things happening to the uterus.  My OB and I decided to get another US done at 32 weeks to see the exact location of this fibroid and if it would be in the way for a vaginal delivery or not.  I got a copy of the US from the OB and noticed that the baby’s size was approximately that of an 18.5 week gestation and I know I was at 20 weeks because I waited to make that US appointment at 20 weeks exactly.  My OB wasn’t concerned since babies are all different sizes and grow at different rates and he was within an acceptable range.

Everything was normal at the 24 week OB appointment March 20th 2012; my tummy was getting bigger and actually measurable!  (something Cory and I were a little concerned about since I didn’t seem to be growing outward very much) Cory and I were getting more excited each passing week and had started moving big things out of the upstairs spare bedroom to make a room for baby.  I started to feel baby moving more and more.

This is where I need to mention that I believe God has a plan for every one of us and he puts people in our lives and gives us direction and instinct sometimes that we could not come up with on our own.

We have a health nurse at work who comes out to the Public Works building every 2 weeks for employees to talk to her about any health concerns and to get their blood pressure checked.  It was April 5th,(26wks 2days gestation) a Thursday morning which was unusual since she usually came out on Wednesday afternoons and I happened to catch her just before she left at 9am.  We were chatting about my pregnancy and how things were going and I had her take my blood pressure out of habit(usually the excuse to go talk to her) And it was higher than it had been throughout the beginning of my pregnancy.  It wasn’t extreme so she recommended I have it checked the following week and if it was still high to call my OB Doc and go in to get it checked out.

It was Easter weekend and I was working all weekend at my second job.  I remembered they had a BP machine near the entrance and I kept checking it all weekend before and after work and my BP wasn’t going down to a normal rate.  So I decided to run an errand on Monday at lunch and stop at Walgreens to get my BP checked.  It ended up that I had to have it checked by the pharmacist who just used a small portable cuff machine.  He took it twice and the reading both times was 150/105.  I called my clinic and they asked me to come in at 2pm then called a few minutes later to come in at 1pm.  I ate my lunch at the Tropical Smoothie Café and headed over to the clinic in Lakeville.  At the clinic my BP was a bit more normal and I thought the machine they used at Walgreens was completely broken.  My OB Dr wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything more and sent me to the Fairview Ridges Hospital for some observation.  They hooked me up to a monitor for baby’s heartbeat and to see if I was having any contractions.  They also took my BP every 20 minutes or so.  It didn’t get any higher than the BP they saw at the clinic so after 2 hours of observation the sent me home with a little brown jug and a “hat” for a 24 hr urine collection.  I had to bring my collection to work with me in a cooler on ice since two coworkers decided to call in sick that day!  I left work a little early that Tuesday (27wks) to turn in my urine collection to the clinic in Lakeville.

Wednesday flew by like normal and it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon around 4pm that I got a call from my OB Doc saying they had gotten the test results back from the urine collection and it was showing protein in the urine which can be a sign of preeclampsia but it could also be there if I had chronic hypertension.  So back to Ridges hospital I went for more observation.  They hooked me up to the monitors again so I could hear baby’s heartbeat, taking my BP every 20-30 minutes.  I let Cory know I was back in the hospital for observation and he came to see me after he got off of work.  They were getting my discharge papers ready when I had two higher BP readings in a row. They called the OB Doc and she decided they wanted to keep me overnight.  It was very uncomfortable in the outpatient room/bed. They made me lie on my left side the entire time, told me they would move me to a real room/bed when a room opened up but they didn’t offer it to me until 3am and by then I didn’t want to move.  Cory had gone home for the night and was planning on going to work the next day(Friday) and I was hoping to go home.

In the morning my OB Doc came to see me after she got out of surgery and was consulting with the MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) Docs at the U  of MN Fairview Riverside about my prognosis and they decided I had severe preeclampsia and that they were going to send me by ambulance to the U of M Riverside Hospital.  They drew blood, started me on an IV with Magnesium and gave me a steroid shot betamethatsone to help the baby’s lungs develop more quickly in case he had to come out soon.  They said they like to have 2 shots with 24 hours after each before they deliver but that they might have to deliver after the first 24 hours.  I called Cory at home and told him what was going on and that we might have the baby soon.

The paramedics came and put me on a gurney and rolled me on down to the ambulance.  The ride to the cities was bumpy but short, they were told to take me to the U of MN hospital on the East Bank. The driver thought it was supposed to be Riverside but she wasn’t going to argue with dispatch.  They took me out at the U in the rain and were told we needed to go to Riverside.  We went back out into the rain and back into the ambulance and across the river to the U of MN Riverside hospital.  They deposited me in a room right across from the nurses’ desk in Labor & Delivery.

The next few days are a blur for me.  I was told that I wasn’t going to be leaving the hospital until after the baby was born, but we didn’t know when that would be exactly, days, weeks, who knew.  The Magnesium was not fun to be on, it is meant to prevent seizures.  I got the second shot of betamethatsone on Saturday morning and had an ultrasound.  The doctors came in just as the ultrasound tech was finishing up and we found out that our baby was only about 1lb 4oz and that the placenta had implanted over the fibroid.  This is what they believe was causing the preeclampsia.

The baby wasn’t getting all the nutrients it needed to grow because the fibroid was taking blood and things to grow and the placenta wasn’t getting nutrients from that part of the uterus where it had embedded over the fibroid. This is also what caused him to be IUGR or intrauterine Growth Restricted.  They said he was about 4 weeks behind in growth so about the size of a 23 or 24 weeker.  The MFM doctor described it as… If you have ever been to California and seen some of their more rocky terrain where occasionally a tree will take root in the rocks but it grows up sort of scrawny because it is difficult for it to get nutrients out of the rocks and the little amount of soil at its roots as opposed to one of the big tall strong redwoods in rich soil.

By Sunday I was feeling terrible on the Mag. I needed the nurses to help me to the bathroom because I was in danger of falling, my knees could give out on me very easily.  My body was taking on more and more water, by the time I was weighed on Tuesday I was up 7 lbs from only a week earlier.  The Mag being a muscle relaxer also made me not want to eat because it took so much effort to chew. Cream of Wheat and jello became my favorite things to order with….2 packets of brown sugar of course!

Monday morning I got to come off the magnesium, had another ultrasound (we actually had ultrasounds every day from Saturday to the following Tuesday).  It took a little while but I was starting to feel a little better.

Tuesday came and we had another ultrasound in the morning, I was feeling a lot better not being on the magnesium, was able to eat breakfast, I texted Cory that it wasn’t happening today and he went to work, Mom called and said dad was going to visit that day.  It was about 2pm and dad had just got there and we had started visiting when Dr Ramin walked in with about 6 other people.(you know it is bad when a group that large comes to visit you about anything)  They said the flow of blood to the placenta had reversed today and they wanted to know when I last ate and that the c-section was going to be scheduled for 6:30pm that night.  When a reverse diastolic flow is detected it becomes an emergency situation to get the baby out since their defense mechanisms to try to survive kick in and can include sending toxins out to the mother making her sick too.  It is nice that the Drs didn’t tell us the statistics on this sort of thing as it was happening as they aren’t pretty.  If I hadn’t gone in when we did, say maybe waited until my 28 week checkup with the OB (the day Xander was born) we could have been very sick and the baby would most likely have died within a week of the reversal of the diastolic flow.

I called Cory’s work and told him that it was happening today and he should come to the hospital.  Dad called mom and let her know and she and dad called the rest of the family.  Cory let his family know and he came to be with me.  They started the IV with the magnesium again (booo!) and shaved my belly and it seemed like time flew between 3:00pm and 6:30pm. I was so nervous when I got up on the operating room table my legs were shaking uncontrollably.  They gave me the block and covered things up, started testing to see if I could feel and when they got up between my chest and belly button I could feel it.  Then I got really scared, ok terrified! I didn’t want to feel any of what they were doing and said I could feel it and they said they were going to put me under the general anesthesia.  I was crying and the anesthesia burned as it went into my arm and they put a mask on my face and that’s the last thing I remember other than being worried about my nose being too stuffed up for the oxygen to work from being in the dry hospital room the past few days, until I woke up in recovery much later.  I got back up to my room at 11pm and dad showed me a photo of our baby Xander Alan Hassel.  I wouldn’t actually get to see him myself until the next night. He was born at 7:19pm at 1lb 5oz and 11.5 inches.

Dad took the first photo of Xander with his phone about an hour and a half after he was born.

Cory took the first photo of Xander with his phone about an hour and a half after he was born.

Cory told me later that he saw me briefly on my way down to recovery and they stopped to let him give me a kiss and he said there were still tears leaking from my eyes.  I don’t remember that at all.

My brother Sam is a Lutheran pastor and we asked him to be there to baptize Xander after he was born for possible reasons I didn’t want to think about.  So Cory and Sam got to see Xander soon after he was born surrounded by the NICU team in a transport isolet in the hallway and Sam baptized him quickly (I think with Catholic Holy Water if I remember correctly lol) before he was whisked off to the NICU.  Something else I missed.

While I was in recovery Cory was able to take my family members who were there 2 at a time to see Xander in the NICU.

They kept me on the magnesium longer than the initial 24 hours after delivery which made any movement difficult and that is why I was unable to see Xander until more than 24 hours after he was born.  Cory took me down to the NICU in a wheel chair with my IV pole to see him.  He told me things about the NICU since he had gotten a tour the night before, and I felt a little sad to be left out of that part of the process.  Cory made sure I visited the sink to wash my hands and arms before we went to the isolet where my tiny baby lay. The nurse on duty lowered the isolet so I could see him from sitting in my wheelchair.  I was in love at first sight at this baby hooked up to so many things and I couldn’t even see his face because of the mask he was wearing to protect his eyes from the bilirubin lights. (It was a couple days before I thought to ask the nurse if I could see his face and they turned off the lights and took off his mask so I could see his little face)  I was just so happy that he was outside of me and being given a chance to live even though I wasn’t fully aware of how bad the situation we had been in was.  (I found a research article from back in 2002 where no babies earlier than 29 weeks in this exact situation survived, although the neonatal medical field has improved greatly since then, but it is still scary)  I only saw him for about 10 minutes that night before we headed back up to my room.

2 days old

2 days old

The following morning, April 19th they finally turned off the magnesium.  And I was able to take a shower!  The nurses had me pumping every 3 hours even through the night but every time was a chance to take it down to Xander’s bedside and deliver the liquid gold.  Sometimes if I was too tired or busy I would send it with my nurse and they were excited to see our little guy.  The nurse escorted me down to the NICU once and after that I went myself pushing a wheelchair for support.  Eventually I was able to walk unassisted.  Visits didn’t last long in the beginning but the NICU nurses told me to touch everything around him as much as possible because that would produce antibodies in my breastmilk for him.  The first stuff they would use with a q-tip to his lips to calm him down when he was upset or agitated.  The friday (3 days) after he was born they were ready to discharge me from the hospital.  I just wasn’t ready, physically I was still recovering and mentally not ready to leave the hospital, I was so stressed out from the whole ordeal and distressed about having to leave that day, they sent the MFM Dr on duty to visit me and she was very understanding and put in the order to let me stay one more day.  It was a good thing because they still weren’t getting my BP under control and it was even worse a few days after the delivery.  They kept increasing my medications and adding more and even kept me another day after that because of the BP issues.  They even had me go for a kidney ultrasound (I think) to make sure they hadn’t been damaged with the preeclampsia and high BP issues.  I was in the hospital a total of 10 days, 5 before Xander was born and 5 after.  I think the hardest part of it all was going home that Sunday without my baby.  I didn’t have a lot of expectations about the birth, we still hadn’t decided whether it was going to be vaginal or c-section but I don’t think anyone is prepared after giving birth not to be able to take their baby home.  I cried in the car most of the way home. What should have been the happy time of taking your baby home was actually the begining of a tumultuous 92 day NICU experience for our family.

First time seeing his face without the mask.

First time seeing his face without the mask.

Factoid Update! A really fun fact about Xander’s birth is that he was born on my nephew, Wyatt’s, Birthday! Wyatt was also born at 28 weeks 9 years prior to my sister Nadine and her husband Travis.  It has been nice to have someone so close who understands the journey we are traversing.  Wyatt has also been planning their joint birthday party for when Xander turns 1 and Wyatt will be 10!


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