We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m., but, because I am stubborn, I wasn’t induced with Pitocin until 8 a.m. The contractions were intense. The doctor broke my water at 9:30 a.m. My contractions were intense and coming so quick that I asked for an epidural, which I received at 11 a.m. At noon, I was 3 c.m. dialated, 90% effaced, and the baby’s head was dropping. At 3 p.m., I was 5 c.m. dialated, 100% effaced, and the baby was at zero station.
The baby’s heartrate was having late decelerations, which meant that the baby’s heartrate was dropping after contractions. The baby wasn’t in distress, just showing signs of being a little unhappy. The doctor stopped the Pitocin to let the baby “catch up.” At 4 p.m., I was 6 c.m., so the doctor decided to let my body try to contract on its own. But, at 5 p.m., I hadn’t made progress. The doctor gave me the option of putting me back on Pitocin and giving the baby one more chance or to go ahead with a cesarean section. I have a feeling that he knew how bad I wanted to have the baby the old fashioned way. I opted for another shot with the Pitocin.
The baby had 2-3 late decelerations within an hour after being put back on the Pitocin (a semi-lite dose). The doctor said that the baby still wasn’t in serious distress—there was no need for an emergency c-section—but, the baby didn’t seem to be tolerating labor like he’d like so it would be safer to go ahead and get the baby out. I cried.
I was prepped for a c-section and wheeled to the O.R. at 6:30-6:45 p.m. I remember being taken to the O.R. I remember Travis coming in. I remember everyone in the O.R. being excited that we didn’t know the sex of the baby, and reminding each other that Daddy (Travis) was to be the one who told Mom the sex. I remember the anesthesiologist who stood at my head during the entire process to tell me everything that was going on. I remember her telling me that there would be “some pressure” as they tried to push his head out. Then, she said that they were having trouble getting his head out and that I would feel more pressure. And then I remember quiet—stark quiet.
Next was the doctor’s voice, “Mary, um, it looks like the baby has some form of dwarfism so when you see him…” Anakin was then poked over the barrier for me to see. Seeing him scared me. He was reddish-blue and not breathing. Apparently he also aspirated some meconium. He was quickly handed off to the NICU team. Travis went with him, as was the plan—for him to stay with the baby.
As my c-section was completed, I kept thinking, how do we raise a dwarf? They rolled me over to see the baby before I went back to my room for recovery. He still wasn’t breathing right and I still hadn’t wrapped my mind around raising a dwarf. It was the farthest thing from my mind throughout the whole process. And, I assumed his breathing issue was because of the meconium and I knew that babies survive that all the time these days. I just assumed that he’d be fine in a day or two.
I was wheeled back to my room. After 30-45 minutes, the neonatologist and nurse practitioner came in to talk to us. The neonatologist said, “I think the baby has Thanatophoric Dysplasia. The prognosis isn’t good. You’ll have to make some tough decisions in the next 48 hours. I’ve seen 5 cases in my 30 years at this job and none of them survived.”
Our souls dropped.
We went from having a healthy, average baby, to having a baby with dwarfism, to having a baby with dwarfism that was going to die—all within about two hours.
We brought our families in. The O.B. had told them that Anakin had a form of dwarfism with some other issues, but we had to tell them the “whole” truth. It was horrible. Everyone was then allowed to go see Anakin in the NICU but me. I had to continue to recover, and didn’t get to go see him until around midnight.
Honestly, I don’t remember much about going to see him. Maybe I was in shock. I got to see that he had the most ridiculous head of dark hair, short chubby arms, short, chubby legs that weren’t straight, and he was on a ventilator. He had two tubes coming out of his belly button (which I came to learn were umbilical lines and made things easier on both baby and staff). He had four leads attached also that were monitoring his respiratory rate, oxygen level, and heartrate. They showed us Anakin’s chest x-rays to help explain to us what his problem really was. Being someone who hasn’t spent much time in a hospital with the understanding that her child may die any moment, I was scared.
And that’s what happened the day our little Anakin entered this world.