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Samuel Norman Merrill

posted Jan 7, 2013, 1:29 PM by Christine Merrill   [ updated Feb 1, 2013, 6:18 AM ]

Here he is!  Not when we expected him, for sure!  Samuel arrived 8:54pm on December 28th, 2012.  Actually, I have no idea how they figured out he was born at 8:54, since (in the words of his medical report) he arrived "precipitously" and I don't think anyone was actually watching the clock.  He was about half the size of my other kids - 2165g.  (That's 4lb 12oz for those of you who don't think it's so darn cool that the hospital uses SI units...) But he made it safe and sound, and was brought home from the NICU 9 days later, on January 6th.

Some interesting things about Sam:  He looks a lot like his name-sake, Norman Turner (who is my grandpa).  Actually, a lot of times, he strikes us considerably to look like Uncle Doug, if he makes the right face.  You can't tell from his puffy new-born picture above, but it's true!  One of Sam's quirks is that he strongly prefers to poop without the constraints of a diaper.  He poops on me almost every time I change his diaper.  This preference is getting old - I hope he grows out of it soon!  He is an excellent nurser, to our great fortune.  He's not getting rid of his nickname "Stretchy" any time soon, as he has little tiny frog legs that he loves to stretch still.  And he loves to wiggle his hands out of his blanket and stretch them, which wakes him up and annoys Mom :)

And now, for all my fellow moms out there, here is his birth story.  This is the full-detailed account, so if you don't want to hear about any medical stuff, stop here!

Sam Merrill Birth Story

The first question you probably have is, "Why did he come so early?"  I got pre-eclampsia, which is an unexplained rise in blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy.  I had been concerned about this for a while, and just before Christmas, my midwife ordered some tests, including a 24-hour urine collection, which I got to do twice because I didn't use the right container for it the first time.  Let me tell you how pleasant that, let's not.  We'll just say that on Dec 26th, I checked my blood pressure and it was higher than it had ever been before, so I said I'd better call my midwife the next day.  When I called, she freaked out and told me to get to the emergency room right away.  I hadn't been expecting that...but I guess 178/113 is really bad!  It's funny going to the emergency room when you don't feel sick at all...I felt really dorky.  But they sent me up to labor and delivery, which impressed upon me the seriousness of my condition.  My test results had recently come in, and they solemnly informed me that I had severe pre-eclampsia.  Like they'd never seen before.  One wonderful nurse complimented me strongly on having done the thing so well :)  A little humor was nice at that point.  As we started asking questions, it became clear that I was not going to get some medicine and go home, I was going to stay there until I had the baby, and that was going to be sooner than later.  They put me on an IV and gave me magnesium sulfate, which is an anti-seizure medication.  Then they gave me some blood pressure medicine and told me we'd talk more about delivery in the morning.

The night went fairly well, except for a little excitement around 2am when the nurse noticed that I was swelling quite a bit, and my wedding ring was getting really tight.  There was a little scare that we'd have to cut it off, but after a lot of soap, ice and tugging, it came off.  Magnesium sulfate makes you sorta feel like a lead blanket, and I slept really well.  But my nurse didn't, as my blood pressure stayed dangerously high for a long time.  Finally, in the early morning, things seemed to settle down, and she breathed a sign of relief.  I was pretty oblivious.  (Note:  this is why we are not publishing a picture of the mom and baby together - I looked horrible!  I'm so happy to be back to my non-swollen self!)

In the morning, they sent a specialist in, who upon doing an ultrasound declared that I should be delivered immediately, and if labor wasn't progressing in 3-4 hours, they should do a C-section.  My doctor took a more moderate view of things, and actually waited 3-4 hours to even get me started.  But they did agree that the time was now.  So about noon, Dr. McKenzie (to whom I was referred by my midwife, I'd never met her before in my life) came in and started doing some things to ripen my cervix.  She put some cytotec on it, and placed a water balloon to apply pressure.  Yes, seriously.  And guess what, it worked.  I started having contractions within an hour.  After 4 hours of warm-up, they put on the pitocin.  I was really impressed at how well they did of mimicking a natural labor.  I admit, I was scared to death.  I even told Marriner at the beginning that they should just knock me out and do a C-section now, because I didn't think I could do it being induced.  Fortunately, magnesium sulfate helps with the relaxation a lot.  I spent the early part of labor pretty much asleep.  When a contraction would come, I would just tell myself, "Stay where you are, don't do anything."  And that worked great.  Around 5pm, they checked me and declared me to be at a 5, then cranked up the pitocin.  I went for another hour, and started to get really scared.  I felt like I was in the final stages of labor - the self-doubt, the panic, etc.  But I knew that I couldn't be that close.  I was hooked up to so many cords and monitors that I couldn't move very easily, and I couldn't lie in my favorite position, or it made me throw up.  I was starting to lose it.  Marriner called the nurse and asked if we could turn down the pitocin a bit, and they said, "Let's check her."  I asked them to break my water, too, since the pressure was so hard.  Of course, as soon as they did that, I remembered that things hurt more when the water's gone!  And, I suddenly felt like I wanted to push.  I lost it.  I was sure I couldn't make it and I was going to die.  Everyone was telling me, "Don't push, don't push, you're only at 7!"  That was the worst news I'd ever heard in my life!  But, the urge was so great, and I thought that maybe if I just pushed a little, something would move around a little and feel better so I could continue on.  So, lying on my side on my bed with my legs together, I gave a little push.  And something moved.  And I pushed again.  And there was a big slippery squirt, and there was a baby, lying on the bed.  This was about 2 minutes after they checked me.  The nurse was fortunately still in the room.  I said, "Ahhhh...."  and then, "Oh, I'm sorry!"  Marriner just stared, the nurse also stared for a minute then yelled, "I need help in here!"  A lot of stuff happened really fast after that, the usual post-delivery rush.  The baby showed no signs of distress, which was a great blessing.  And, I found that I had no signs of distress, either.  4-lb babies don't tear you up at all :)  After they got the baby all cleaned up and checked out, they let me hold him for a few minutes before taking him to NICU.  I was really grateful for that.  Those NICU people can sometimes get a little caught up in the urgency of their profession, but not this time!

Because of my chance of seizure, they left me on all the medicine overnight, so I couldn't go see my baby. It was a long night with lots of cramps and lots of needles.  But joy cometh in the morning, and by about noon the next day, I was unhooked from everything and allowed to go up to NICU.  Unfortunately, my blood pressure did not drop back to normal immediately, as it does sometimes.  I ended up staying in the hospital a total of 4 days, and was sent home under orders to rest and not do any work at all.  Fortunately, my mom had bought a ticket and gotten on a plane as soon as she heard I was in the hospital.  This seriously saved our lives!  And the rest is just boring "driving back and forth to the hospital" stuff.  But we're all home now and healthy.  And so grateful to have our little burrito boy in the family!


Well, I thought that was the end of the story, but we did have a little twist in the plot!  On Sam's 3-week birthday, my hip started to realy hurt, and when it got to the point that I couldn't walk, we went to to hospital.  It turned out to be a blood clot, and since it was in a strange location, the small hospital I went to transfered me to the huge hospital in the middle of DC.  So, I got to ride in an ambulance and spend 4 more days in the hospital.  This happened the same weekend Nana (my mom) had taken Lige and Ellis to NY to visit cousins, so Marriner got to stay home with Lill and Sam.  Being separated from Sam was devastating, and I spent several of the days scared that they were going to tell me that I needed some sort of surgery.  Finaly, they determined to treat me with coumadin, which fortunately can be taken while nursing and is just a pill.  The downside is that while waiting for the coumadin to build up, I'd have to get shots of Lovenox, another blood thinner.  Those shots go in your stomach.  I guess most people give them to themselves at home, but I quickly ruled out that option, and so Marriner gave them to me.  What an act of love!  The day I got to stop taking shots was a day of pure relief!

So now, finally, we are all home and healthy!  It took longer than we wanted, and it was not exactly the way I wanted Sam to spend his first month of life, but with the love of family and friends and some special blessing from God, we all survived.  And our little Sam?  Well, he's almost 6 lbs already, and starting to fill out all those wrinkles he was born with.  Maybe he's just so excited to have Mom home that he's eating every chance he gets...