Sunday, December 23, 2012

How to Care for Your Bear Chapter 1

A Bear is Born

Record tornadoes swept through Arkansas in 1997. On March 1st 1997 in East End, Arkansas (pop. aproximately 5200) only a few miles from our home; 15 people died, and 220 were injured in 2 category F4 tornadoes that hit on the same day. Of the 102 confirmed tornadoes in the US that month 16 hit Arkansas that day. According to a Service Assessment by the US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, & the National Weather Service dated September 1997, there were 25 deaths in Arkansas that day. 

I was not at home when the tornadoes came, I was in North Little Rock having lunch with my mother. We saw the sky turn a golden yellow from the restaurant window, but we didn't know what had happened. It wasn't until we were driving back to my house and discovered the freeway and most of the route home was closed did we see the devastation. I was in a sheer panic, knowing that my husband and two oldest daughters had been at home as we fought our way through the traffic, and road blocks. We drove past unspeakable devastation, saw trees twisted into impossible shapes, buildings that looked as if a bomb and exploded inside leaving pink insulation hanging in the remaining trees like cotton candy.  When we finally turned down my street, I could barely keep myself seated on the passenger side where I was straining to see my house. Then finally there it was, untouched with the sun shining brightly all around and two laughing little girls running out of the front door to greet me, and tell me about the tornadoes they saw in the sky. 

The devastation was awful, and the clean-up took a long, long time. Arch Street remained closed most days between Geyer Springs Road and Pratt Road, even weeks later, complicating my route home from town. 

I went into labor in the middle of the night, of course, and my mother drove me to the hospital. We barely made it in time, with all the detours and the fact that he was baby number four. None of my labors had ever been long, my first being only 5 hours in total. Arriving at the hospital, I found that as usual the trouble we had taken to "pre-register" had really been for nothing. I sat in the waiting room, screaming and hollering in hard labor while my mother unsuccessfully tried to answer questions about my health history and insurance by a clearly harassed and irritated intake nurse who seemed to think  it didn't matter that my baby might be born in front of her, until a nervous man in the waiting room came to my rescue, declaring that he was timing my contractions and they were less then 1 minute apart, so get a "damned doctor out here NOW". I wish I had been able to get that guys name, my hero. 

I did make it upstairs and even got mom to leave to go back to take care of the sleeping girls left at home, before my water broke. I was supposed to have an epidural. I didn't really want to have one, I had my three daughters all naturally. Well, as naturally as possible in a hospital anyway. But I had decided to have a tubal ligation and the doctor had said I had to have an epidural and do it all at the same time. That did not happen. 

There I was, laboring in a birthing room, waiting for the doctor and nurses to get everything ready in a delivery room. One nurse had confirmed I was fully dilated, but had not been able to relay that information to anyone yet when the anesthesiologist came in and began explaining the procedure to me while I panted heavily in between screams. She told me, 

"You'll have to keep panting like that about 30 minutes until the epidural takes effect." 

It was very early in the morning on March 6, 1997 and that's when I said, 

"Oh to h**l with that!" 

and began to push. The look of shock on everyone's face when my water exploded with that first push and sprayed everyone was just priceless. The doctor had just walked in the room, and he got his share too. At that point another contraction hit me along with another huge push. The doctor and the nurses all started scrambling, yanked me off the birthing chair I was already on, and tossed me onto a gurney and were dragging me down the hallway to the delivery room, the doctor shouting at me all the while, 

"Stop pushing!" 

Then poor Bear pops out, all by himself onto the gurney sheet with no one to catch him. He scraped his poor little nose on the sheet because it was so rough. The doctor deflated, stops the gurney and just stands there gaping at me, until I say, 

"Well, pick him up!" 

So a comedy of errors, as they say, was the situation. In spite of this his APGARs seemed good. The nurses whisked my son away to do what nurses do to babies who have just entered the world, unbeknownst to me, and all seemed right, or at least ok. 

Later that day, in the room alone with Bear, I noticed he wouldn't latch on to nurse. He just kept going back to sleep. But he had a struggle, and it was time for my surgery, so I let the nurses have him. 

I think it was the next day that I was still having trouble getting him to wake up and nurse. He just wouldn't latch on. A lactation consultant was brought in to help, and she stated that some babies have trouble "learning to suck". I thought that was a little odd, but within 30 minutes or so she had got him to latch on and he did nurse. He did seem to get better with practice after that. 

Bear nursed exclusively for just about four months. I had been having continued abdominal pain and the doctor declared that I had an infection in my tube from the surgery and insisted the only antibiotic I could take would mean I had to stop nursing, but "only for two weeks". I optimistically rented a good breast pump and took my medicine. Bear was heart broken to be switched to a bottle, but adapted fairly quickly. In fact it went so well that when the two weeks was over, he was no longer interested in nursing. So that was that. 

Apparently, that infected tube had allowed me to get pregnant again. I theorize that I was also extra fertile from suddenly weaning. Maxine was born        
in May of 1998, so you can do the math.

Up until about June of 1997, other then the nursing issue in the beginning, Bear seemed to be developing completely normally. 

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