Birth Stories

This page will be a work in progress, in reverse order, youngest to oldest!

Here is Tori's birth story (9-29-2010):
Announcing the arrival of Victoria Zada Riesenberg

on Wednesday, September 29, 2010
at 31 weeks 4 days gestation
weighing in at 5 lb 4.5 oz
measuring 18 3/4 inches
and with a tiny peanut head 12 1/4 inches
at 5:09 PM
Apgars 8 (1 minute) and 9 (5 minutes)

On Monday, September 27th, things felt different. I had a nonstress test (NST) and an amniotic fluid check first thing that morning, but even though baby passed the tests, baby seemed to have gotten lazy overnight and wasn't moving the same way she had the days and weeks before. Monday
evening I noticed a marked decrease in fetal movement and Tuesday morning movement hadn't picked up so I called my OB around 2 PM to see what they thought. They suggested that I drink something cold and sugary and lay down for an hour and see if the baby would move 6 times. My hyper baby, who usually moved 6 timed in 5 minutes couldn't manage to move even 4 times in an hour so I called the office back. They said that although they didn't think it was anything, but that I should come to the hospital and they would do an ultrasound and put the baby on the monitor just to reassure everyone. After running some tests they agreed something was off but they weren't sure exactly what it was. Since I hadn't reached the magic 32 week mark, they decided to transfer us to Good Sam Hospital, a bigger hospital that they are affiliated with because it had a better equipped special care nursery. I tried to argue with them that we would be fine staying at Bethesda North, but God's hand gently guided us to where we needed to be, He knew what we didn't, that this was a matter of life and death. As the Reds clinched their division, I was transported by ambulance to Good Sam. They monitored the baby overnight and did another u/s and some blood tests Wednesday morning. It was quickly decided that today would be BIRTHING DAY! The doctor came in and we had a long chat about my surgery since he knew it would be a more complicated delivery because of the placenta accreta, little did either of us know just how complicated things would get!

Placenta accreta is when the placenta attaches too deeply to the uterine muscle and can not separate after birth. In the worse cases, the placenta grows out of the uterus and into the surrounding organs like the bladder and bowel. Because we Riesenbergs don't like to do anything simply, it makes sense that the accreta presented in the worst possible presentation.

We went back to the OR at 4 PM and because of the placenta accreta and the placenta preiva they had to do some repair work first and had to basically open the uterus on the side to avoid the placenta they didn't open the uterus until after 5 PM. I gave birth to a beautiful baby GIRL weighing in at a meager 5 lb 4.5 oz, 18 3/4 inches, 12 1/4 inch head. I got to kiss her before they whisked her off to NICU, Jay followed here leaving me in the OR alone (my choice, I felt he needed to be with the baby). It took them another 4 hours to finish my surgery, they did a hysterectomy, had to do pretty extensive bladder repair, had to separate the placenta from the bowel, and I lost a whooping almost 4 liters of blood (we later learned that 4 liters is almost your entire blood volume!). OK—side note here-- I watched the whole surgery via a mirror above the incision, I asked for it to see them pull Tori out, and used it to see the 4 hours of surgery that followed!

In the OR are 4 doctors (Dr. Holbert, Dr. Namakel, Dr. Freeman, and Dr Basil -urologist), one medical student (Peter Toth), 4 people from anesthesia (Dr. Roth, Tom Meyer CRNA, Allen Dube CRNA, and Jean Venarable CRNA), 5 RNs (Candace, Danielle, Donna, Patty and Carrie) and 3 scrub techs (Jen, LaShanda, and Bridget) not to mention the pediatric team that came in to stabilize the baby.

I come out of surgery only to find out that they had to transfer Tori to Childrens Hospital because there is something wrong with her bowel. They suspect a mass because of the “double bubble” that showed on the x-ray they did right after delivery. Because of the mass, Tori couldn't fully inflate her lungs so they had to intubate her and put her on a low level of oxygen. They went back and looked at every u/s and MRI they did during this pregnancy and until the scan they did yesterday, the was no
indication that there was anything out of the ordinary.

At 9 PM I am in recovery. I have 2 panic attacks when I try to talk to people about the baby, I literally feel like I can't breath and am dying! Once I eat a few ice chips I seem to settle down!

At 11 PM I am moved back to the same room I was in prior to surgery because they want to keep me by the OR in case I have issues overnight. I call over to Children's and talk to the nurse that is working with the baby. She confirms that she is intubated and that they suspect a lower abdomen mass or looped intestine and that they are doing an u/s as I speak to her on the phone to see if they can determine just what it is. All of the baby's blood work is normal. She transfers me to the doctor who says she will have some results in about 2 hours and she will call me with them.

So Tori has arrived with great fanfare! Our difficult birth and early arrival are just the beginning of her story......

Tori's arrival was preceded by the arrival of Luke (4-18-2007):

It is with great joy that we welcome Luke Zaid (aka PUMPKIN!) to our family!

Luke Zaid Riesenberg
Wednesday, April 18,2007
2:35PM via planned c-section
weighing 9 lb 8.2 oz
measuring 21 inches

Here is Luke's birth story (and the story of our 48 hours in the hospital after delivery!)

We were supposed to be at the hospital by noon, but we ended up running late. It didn't help that the majority of the elevators in the hospital were being serviced and that some maintenance guy with a bunch of big equipment seemed to think he took priority over a very pregnant woman and her pack-mule husband (poor Jay was carrying 2 suitcases and his newspaper!). We ended up arriving up in triage about 12:10 PM. It was oddly quiet and we were registered immediately and sent back to the surgical prep suite. It was so quiet that we ended up with 3 nurses attending to us! One of the nurses, Laura, went to start the IV, a procedure that I always hate as they tend to never get it right the first time. Unbelievably, even though she has to use the vein in the side of my lower left arm, she gets it started on the first try and it doesn't even hurt going in. Turns out her son plays football for UC (local college) so she and Jay chat about the new coach. They start the IV fluids, they need to get two bags in before heading into the OR. They test my blood sugar (77) and they fill out all the paperwork needed for the chart. Jay and I talk about names and the odd sense comes over me that since we easily picked a girl name, that this baby will be a boy! All of the nurses offer suggestions for names.

Shortly after 1 PM, Denise, the nurse anesthesist , comes in and discusses the procedure for the spinal. She is wonderfully cheery and upbeat, reminding me of the anesthesia guy we had with Sophia. It sets a great tone. One of the nurses shaves my massive belly to prep it for surgery. About 1:45 PM, Jay is handed his scrubs (which look like a biohazard suit) and told to get dressed while they start my spinal. I walk into the OR (a different experience since I had been wheeled into the OR for both other c-sections) and asked to hop up onto the table. The room looks almost identical to the OR at the other hospital I delivered at, the only bad thing is that I notice that the infant warmer and scale are at the foot of the bed, so I won't be able to see the baby or the scale once baby is born!

Denise tells me to sit indian style and to slump forward and relax! Easy for her to say, she isn't the one who is going to have a needle shoved in her back. She administers a numbing solution and I barely feel anything. I had felt tremendous pressure with my other spinals, but this barely hurt, I couldn't believe it. I was skeptical at first that she had even done it right, but as the familiar warmth and numbness rose through my legs and into my torso, I knew things were alright. By 2 PM, I was completely numb. While Denise does the spinal, the familiar sound of counting instruments is heard throughout the OR. They put a wedge under the right side of my back and strapped my legs to the table. Surprisingly, my arms were left completely free (another new experience). Denise put oxygen on my nose and Laura inserted the foley catheter. A screen was set up to block our view, but it wasn't very high. It was game time!

Doctors who perform the c-section: Dr. Andrews, Dr. Altman, and Dr. Valley.

Jay comes in and joins me just as the doctors test to see if I am completely numb. 2:05 PM the procedure begins. I can smell burning flesh and then realize I can see exactly what the doctors are doing in the reflection of the light. Jay can see right over the screen. The mood in the OR is light, lots of laughing, talking and joking. Denise agrees to snap pictures of the baby being pulled from the incision. Lots of PRESSURE and TUGGING! Jay stands up and actually manages to stay on his feet! Up baby comes into the air..... 2:35 PM....IT'S A BOY! I am completely and totally shocked, I think I even asked them if they were sure! I had spent my whole pregnancy preparing myself for a girl!

A funny sidenote. As baby is being delivered, the song "Rock Star" by Nickleback is playing in the OR. The night before (or more accurately at about 4 AM that morning) I awoke from a dead sleep with the words from that song streaming through my head. I had been dreaming about having the baby. The whole think gives me chills. I mention it to the delivery room. Everyone thinks it is funky!

Jay goes over to the table to watch them assess the baby. Apgars are 8 and 9. The moment of truth, baby is placed on the scale. 9 lb 8.2 oz. What a tiny little sprite for a Riesenberg baby at full term! He is 21 inches long. Dark hair and the most distinguished of cries. Ironically he looks NOTHING like any of his brother's at birth.

While they are assessing the baby, the doctors are busy finishing the surgery. I can see my insides being reassembled in the reflection of the light. It is kind of cool and kind of weird at the same time.

Jay comes back and sits down and is handed our beautiful son. Jay is right, he looks nothing like the other Riesenbergs! They finish sewing me up and staple the incision shut, not that I really notice, I am in total awe of the beautiful baby in Jay's arms. We are wheeled out of the OR and back into the surgical prep suite. We will spend at least the next hour in there being carefully monitored!
An initial blood sugar is taken from the baby. It comes back 37, just below what would be considered normal. Mine is also checked and reads 66. They decide to let me try nursing the baby to see if his blood sugar will come up on his own. i am worried since he has just been exposed to all the meds they gave me, but unbelievably he latches on the VERY FIRST TRY and then continues to suck for an HOUR! We finally take him off the breast because they have to wait 30 minutes after he finishes eating to recheck his blood sugar. I cradle him in my arms the entire time. They retest his bloodsugar and it comes back 43! YEAH! Jay finally leaves our side and calls the kids to tell them the news! We leave the surgical prep suite, baby still in my arms, and head downstairs (Labor and delivery is on the 3rd floor, post partum rooms on the 2nd floor). By 5PM we are settled into post partum room number 220!

We call the kids again. I am given juice to drink. Boy it tastes good after not eating anything since midnight. Baby nurses again for about 15 minutes (6:30 PM). They bring my meds bedside (ibuprofen, gas-ex) and tell me that I can take them when I need them, no more than every 6 hours. If I want narcotics, I just need to call the nurse. Jay heads out to run a few errands and to go home and be with the kids. Nurse until shift change is Mary.

After Jay leaves, I call my mother. No congratulations. Only her saying she hopes that this is the last baby we have. At least she holds her tongue and I don't get a white trash comment from her this time around. I don't get it and I never will. Oh well, not my responsibility for her to take joy in her grandchildren. It certainly is her loss!

7 PM is shift change. Night nurse is Phyllis and the PCA is Lori.

By 8:30 PM, I am eating Jello. Oh, how I HATE jello! I call Deanne and chat with her a bit, but don't feel up to calling anyone else.

11:30 PM, I am given a sandwich, applesauce, and cookie to eat. A very dry turkey sandwich has never tasted so good!

4:45 AM: Catheter is removed.

Baby was up the whole night! He nursed some, but mostly fussed.

5 AM: They test my bloodsugar. It comes back 85! YEAH!

7 AM: Dr. Wall comes to visit. Baby is happily nursing once again. He removes the dressing over the staples. OUCH! He reminds me to keep the incision clean and dry. Yeah, like I want to let it get infected! Baby finally falls asleep. Shift change and our nurse for the day is once again Mary and the PCA is Bonita, who is wonderful sweet!

7:30 AM: Breakfast! For a hospital, it really sucks nutritionally! An egg, danish, juice, milk, cereal! But I am hunger so I eat the danish and the egg and drink the milk, even though it is 2%.

8:45 AM: 4 hours after catheter is removed, I finally PEE! What a relief, although it is obvious that the bladder is still being affected some by the anesthesia as it is hard to control the flow. It gets easier to pee over the next two bathroom visits and things are pretty much back to normal by noon.

10 AM: Baby is taken to nursery for circumcision.

2:35 PM: Happy 1 day birthday baby! Checked for jaundice and level is 7.4, just under what would be considered worrisome at 24 hours old (a reading of 8).

4 PM: The gang arrives for a visit! By the end of the visit, Luke has been named! Will insists that his baby's name is PUMPKIN! Emily even changes a poopy diaper!

7 PM: My mother visits. She HATES the name. It so happens her father's name was Lucas so she hates it. She is hell bent on holding onto the past, I much prefer to create new memories and a bright future. The way I see it, it really is not my problem if she likes the name or not, after all, how much contact will she have with him? If her past behavior holds true, maybe on holidays and an occasional baseball game. She leaves by 7:30 PM. She comments that I need to lose weight, even though she brought chex mix and trail mix with her for me to eat. I will NEVER understand this woman!

8 PM: Hannah returns with Sarah and Deanne for a visit. They bring a chicken sandwich from Penn Station with them! YUMMY! It is great to have company that actually wants to be there! OK, the kids wanted to be there, but they were VERY LOUD!

Baby is taken to the nursery to be weighed (this is normally the only time each day baby is taken from the room). 8 lb 12 oz. Night shift nurse is Jeanie and PCA is Alice.

12 AM: Luke screams for almost 1 hour. Nothing makes him happy. Hopefully this isn't an omen of things to come!

1 AM: I am in so much pain from the incision,backache and cramping (with baby #9, post partum contractions during nursing are worse than labor contractions, and each contraction is accompanied by gushing blood) that I ask the nurse for perocet. She is a sweetheart and takes Luke out of the room with her and says she will bring him back when he needs to eat. Apparently I pass out from exhaustion ( I slept less than 1 hr the night before) because the next thing I remember is the nurse standing over me with Luke at 4 AM saying he wants to eat! It is amazing what just a few hours of sleep does for the spirit and soul!

4 AM: Luke nurses for an hour! We fall back asleep.

6 AM: Dr. Wall comes to visit. Says we can go home if we want. Incision looks great according to him. It isn't oozing at all! Home health nurse will remove staples when she visits. Need to make appointment for follow up visit in 1 week and at 6 weeks. No long car trips for at least 2 to 3 weeks because of swelling in my legs.

6:15 AM: SHOWER! What fun it is to be CLEAN!

10 AM: Hearing test is administered. Once the vernix is cleared from Luke's ears, he passes with flying colors!

11 AM: Peds round and agree baby can go home! They check a bilirubin on baby at it is 9.4 at 45 hours of age. They do the PKU test and also test baby for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disorder that only afflicts baby boys. They have just started offering the screening for this disorder and we agreed to participate in the pilot study.

By 3 PM we are heading home. Just 48 hours after surgery and we are reunited with the family!

Luke's arrival was preceded by William's arrival (6-28-2004):

Where to begin....

On Friday, June 25, 2004 I went in for my regular appointment and my non-stress test. When I got to the office they told me the NST machine wasn't working so they sent me across the street to the hospital. It took almost 2 hours for them to monitor me because I was having contractions and they were concerned. I wasn't. They were the same kind of contractions I had been having for the last month, fairly regular (3 to 5 minutes apart) and annoying but we knew they weren't doing anything to my cervix. Finally Dr. Zabrecky, finished doing a delivery and she agreed to do my "weekly" check right at the hospital so I won't have to go back across the street and wait even longer. She decided to do an internal just to put her mind at ease and as we suspected I was still posterior, high, closed and long. Great, see you Tuesday at your next appointment.

Friday night we go out and do the "Friday Family Thing".....dinner out at Fuddrucker's and then we walk around Rookwood. We find a great deal on some party favors for the girls' birthday party and a couple cute shirts for Sophie at Old Navy. Saturday is pretty uneventful. I went yardsaling and found 4 adorable maternity tops and a pair of shorts, came home and washed them up right away and put on my favorite of the tops and the pair of shorts. Emily is invited to her friend Tabby's house to spend the night and I get to spend some time talking with Kas and hanging out. Kas comments on how beautiful I look pregnant and surprises me with a drawing she purchased from an artist depicting my pregnant belly, such a sweet gift!

Sunday, June 27, 2004 seems to start out differently. I wake up and go to the bathroom and find a huge chunk of mucous plug. It was snot green but no blood or anything so I figure it is probably just the biproduct of the internal exam from Friday and being up and about most of Saturday. Jay has tickets to take the boys to the Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game and although I am having contractions I just chalk them up as the same annoying kind I had for the past month. I do some scrapbooking and right as Jay is leaving with the boys go to the bathroom and notice that I have a mucous bloody discharge. Hmmmm.....I wonder what this means? I decide to not say anything to Jay and he heads out with the boys. I spend the afternoon having contractions about 8 minutes apart and notice about 4 pm that they actually kind of hurt and seem to radiate to my back. Jay was taking Brett to his basketball game after the Reds game, so I figure I better go out to pick up Emily at Tabby's because if I am in labor I want the kids to all be at home. As I am driving start looking at the dashboard clock and notice that the contractions are coming exactly 6 minutes apart. The low fuel light comes on and I stop to put a few dollars of gas in the tank, getting in and out of the van just about kills me. By the time we get to the Ridiman's I know I can't get out of the car and send Hannah to the door to get Emily. I don't want to say anything to anybody about maybe being in labor because I don't want to look like an idiot if I am wrong. What the heck would people think, pregnant for the eighth time and I don't know what real labor is? We get back home and I drink a ton of water hoping they will back off. I tell Jay I am tired and having contractions and am going to lay down in bed. As I watch Law and Order I notice the contractions are now only about 4 to 5 minutes apart and hurt enough that I want to change position with them....SHIT...this is probably the real thing. I call the answering serivice and ask them to page the doctor on call, of course it happens to be my "favorite" fat phobic Dr. Fermann. Wonderful.....she tells me to come down to the hospital, she wants to give me breathine to stop labor. Jay and I get down to the hospital about 10:30 PM and are in triage and hooked up to monitors by 11 PM, contractions are about 3 minutes apart. The nurse checks me and although I am now low and soft I am only 50% effaced and about 1 CM dialated so they can probably still stop labor. They give me a dose of breathaine and watch the monitor, the contractions don't seem to back off any so they repeat the dose a half an hour later. They monitor me for a while, as my OB has been called in to do an emergency c-section. The nurse comes in to start an IV, hoping the fluids will ease off the contractions. She pops the needle in the first time and the vein rolls. She tries a second time and blows the vein in my other wrist. She makes some comment about that I must be hard to start an IV on and I comment back that she is the first nurse that has ever had to stick me more than once. She calls in another nurse who manages to get it right her first try. At 1:30 AM I am still contracting and the nurse comes in saying that Dr. Fermann wants her to check me to see if the breathaine has kept my cervix from changing. From the look on her face I can see that she isn't happy. She looks at us and says "4 cm, almost 100% effaced....I will go and tell Dr. Fermann". As she walked out the door she grabbed the tracing from the monitor to show to the doctor. She walks back in 5 minutes later and says "the anesthesia guy will be here in a few minutes". She leaves the room and Jay and I just look at each other and I finally say "I guess than means we are having this baby". John, the anesthesia guy walks in, introduces himself and asks me if I have a preference for anesthesia. I tell him I would prefer a spinal since it worked well the previous surgery and that I wasn't happy with the epidural I had with my first delivery. He says he is going to check on the status of the OR and will be right back. He comes back about 10 minutes later and tells me since they need a latex free OR it will be about 30 minutes until we can go back and says if I am uncomfortable he can give me an epidural right in the room. I tell him that I would prefer a spinal and that I am fine and can wait. Things start to happen quickly. A nurse comes in to prep me and shave my abdomen and also gives me an antacid to settle my stomach. Dr. Fermann walks in and asks if we have any questions (she never bothers to introduce herself to Jay). I am pretty tired so I don't think to ask anything, in retrospect I now realize that things were happening rapidly and that the hurried pace was probably an indication that she suspected something was wrong. We walk back to the OR and Jay is sent to scrub up. The nurses count the operating tools. John quickly starts the spinal, all I feel is mild pressure, he does a wonderful job. He doesn't strap down my arms so I don't feel as clastrophobic as I did with Sophie. The nurse inserts the foley catheter and Jay comes in and sits down by my head. The tone in the OR is oddly quiet, lots of whispering, very different from the almost jovial mood that we experienced with Sophie. There is a neonatal doctor and a neonatal nurse waiting for baby. The only thing Jay or I hear is Dr. Fermann saying "I have never seen such bad scarring on a second time c-section, this is horrible". Suddenly the anesthesia guy is standing up practically leaning over me, I can feel the weight of his stomach on my sholulder. Something is wrong but I can't seem to process my thoughts to ask what is going on. I hear this HUGE pop and then the sound of liquid flooding to the floor, amniotic fluid is everywhere and I hear the nurse say "I have never seen such a thing" I feel the familiar tug of what I know is them freeing the baby but I hear nothing except "4:29 AM".......I see the neonatal doctor turn with a limp baby in his one says anything....Jay turns and goes to the table were they are working on the baby and I keep saying "is he OK? Is it a boy or a girl?" Jay says "it's a boy" but doesn't answer my other more pressing question. "Is he OK?" I say again and again. Finally the neonatal doctor says "No" and goes running with him in his arms to the Special Care Nursery. Jay rushes out the door after him. Dr. Fermann doesn't say a word as she finishes the surgery and closes the incision with staples (apparently she spent a lot of time cutting out scar tissue and then cleaning the uterus out, which I can be thankful for now since I have had minimal bleeding even with being on my feet everyday and have not passed any clots!). As she walks out of the OR I feel naseated and puke. They wheel me to my room where my nurse greets me. It is about 5:15 AM. The nurse starts to do my vitals and starts telling me that the baby is stable. Jay walks in about 10 minutes later and says the baby is on 79% oxygen but is looking better. He tells me he looks exactly like Brett and then lays his head down at the foot of my bed. I tell him to pull out the fold-away bed and get some sleep, I can tell that the last 8 hours have taken a toll on him. We briefly discuss names and end up vetoing everything but a short list including William, Luke and Lincoln. The nurse sits with me until about 6:30 am. No sooner does she leave as I feel the need to puke again. I manage to grab the sheet from the bottom of my bed and gag and puke in it.

A lot goes on in the Special Care Nursery that we don't see. Will takes a turn for the worse and they have to put him on CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) at 65%. As expected, he is hypoglycemic, but it is far worse than what they were prepared for. His values fall rapidly, starting at 16, then 12 and then the next level is unreadable by the machine so they send it to the lab. It comes back 1! The worst they had seen before that was a baby with a 3. Glucose is DUMPED into him via IV.

Shift change at 7 AM and the new nurse, Danielle, comes in and tells Jay he might want to go to the nursery as the baby is now on CPAP. Jay has this blank look on his face, he has no idea what this means, unfortuantely I do know. The baby is doing worse. Jay leaves and goes to the nursery and I start quizzing the nurse as to what "condition" I have to be in to go to the nursery. Apparently, I have to be up and walking, so I demand that she get me out of bed. I am standing by the side of my bed at 8:30 AM, only 4 hours after Will's birth and a little over 3 hours after the end of surgery. The won't let us into the nursery until they are done doing rounds, but at 9:15 AM I see my son for the first time. Will is extremely aggitated by outside stimuli so even my touching him or talking to him sends his respiration rate soaring into the 130's (meaning he is breathing more than twice a second) and his blood oxygen level plummetting into the 70's. Jay heads home to be with the other kids and I just sit quietly by Will's bedside. Around 12:30 PM, I ask the nurse to take me back to my room.

Once we are back in my room I ask Danielle if she can cap off the IV and remove the foley catheter. She calls the doctor and gets her permission. By 1 PM I am IV fluids and catheter free. Policy is to leave the IV in but capped until 24 hours after delivery, I can live with that! I eat some lemon ice and drink some water and some cranberry juice (have to LOVE the clear liquid diet). Jay calls and asks if he can bring the kids down, they are really worried about the baby. I ask Danielle to find out if at least the older three will be able to visit Will in the special care nursery and am surprised when she comes back in and tells me that they said all of the kids can go in and visit.

The kids arrive and we spend a few minutes explaining to them what the baby will look like, that they have to be quiet because any noise makes him "sick" and that they can't touch him. We take the girls down first to see him and then the boys go in. Everyone is amazed at how small he looks and there is genuine concern in the eyes of the older kids. After everyone visits with him, we go back to the room and discuss names. It doesn't take very long to come to an agreement. William Zander! The only other name that was even in the running at the end was Lincoln.

So William Zander Riesenberg joins the family 5 weeks ahead of schedule and with great fanfair, weighing in at 8 lb 12 oz and measuring 20 1/4 inches. Far be it that any Riesenberg child do anything quietly! Welcome to the family William, we have been waiting for you!

Sophia's birth story (6-20-2002):
It is with the greatest joy we welcome our newest daughter into our family:
Sophia Zevin
Arrived on June 20, 2002
At 2:29 PM by planned c-section
Weighing 10 lb. 5 oz
Measuring 21 1/2 inches long
Head circumference: 14 inches

Here is an account of the hours before and the 24 hours following the arrival of my newest daughter. When we found out that she would have to be delivered by c-section I searched the web and all I could find was birth stories from women who were either upset with their cesarean experience or who had been unprepared for having a c-section. I wanted to share my account, hoping that it is as honest as possible. For us the most important thing was insuring the safe arrival of our daughter and I am not disappointed that it took a c-section to give us that outcome.

I couldn't sleep at all the night before the scheduled c-section. Every time I would drift into that state of semi-sleep where you are half asleep but still awake I would have vivid hallucinations about the delivery and everything going wrong. The fears that I had harbored my whole pregnancy, that we would get to the very end and lose this baby filled every recess of my mind. I tossed and turned so much that when I finally pulled myself out of bed Thursday morning, I felt like I imagine a marathon runner must feel like after a race. Note to self: If we every plan to have another baby delivered surgically, ask doctor for drugs to help me sleep the night before.

Spend the early hours of Thursday morning doing 2 loads of laundry and cleaning up the kitchen. The kitchen was barely half done when I realized I had to get the kids to my friend Michelle's house. Of course as ran around like a frantic nauseated chicken with my head cut off, Jay leisurely enjoyed a shower and the morning paper. I dropped the kids off and kissed and hugged everyone. Got weepy at the thought that it was the last time I would kids Cade when his the baby of the family. Drive back home, radio blaring to keep from completely losing it. Jay has the bags ready to go in the minivan when I get home. I don't think we said a word to each other on the ride down to the hospital. Neither of us is doing well with the reality of the surgery looming over us. We arrive up in Labor and Delivery at 9:55 AM, five minutes ahead of schedule. We get some bad news. One of the 2 operating rooms is down so now the 6 c-sections that they have scheduled will have to run concurrently instead of simultaneously. We are shown to our room, and told we will either be taken back earlier than expected or up to 3 hours later than scheduled. Bet you know which one happened! By 1:15 no one had even been in to tell when we would go back. But then all of a sudden, things began to happen in a flurry.
Mike, the anesthesia guy, comes in and explains our anesthesia options. I tell him I would prefer to go with what Dr., S prefers. Mike replies that Dr. S prefers spinals so he discusses the procedure with me and he mentions
that I have a 3% chance of developing a spinal headache because of the anesthesia. He mentions that they will give me duramorph after surgery and that is MIGHT make my skin itch. He then asks me if I have any questions.
No questions, lets just get this show on the road.

Nurse Kathy comes in and has me drink an antacid to help neutralize my stomach acids. It tastes like sour sweet tarts crushed up in lukewarm water. YUCK! Next she inserts the IV in my left forearm, honestly she did
the best job of any nurse who had ever put an IV in me. She managed to do it on the first try and it didn't hurt at all, she even positioned it so it was COMFORTABLE when I moved my arm. IV in place, she proceeds to shave my abdomen and the upper section of my pubic hair. Talk about a WEIRD sensation. Baby moving, contractions, and a woman you barely know whipping a very sharp razor over your abdomen. Note to self: If we ever do this
again, arrange for a bikini wax the day before. Once she is done shaving my abdomen, she gives Jay paper shoes and a paper hat to wear into the OR, I am also graced with a BEAUTIFUL paper hat to wear during the surgery.

They wheel me down to the OR right in the bed that I have been sitting in since 10 AM. I am a bit surprised when they don't make me change into a sterile gown, and even more surprised when they take the pillow off of my
bed with me into the OR. Jay is whisked away to scrub up and be prepped to watch the surgery. I wish I had had someone take a picture of him in his surgical garb!

The moment of truth is upon me. I am taken into OR. The room is WAY SMALLER than I had imagined. In the middle of the room is a single table with 2 outstretched arm rests. I can't help it, the first image that pops
in to my head is the table that they use for lethal injections in death penalty cases. I feel a wave of panic come over me. If I had thought my legs would have worked, I probably would have bolted from the room at that
point. Mike tells me to sit on the table, lean forward and RELAX-yeah
right, I am going to relax and lean forward over this massive huge belly of
mine. He pokes around on my back a bit, I get more and more apprehensive,
anticipating what it to come next. He scrubs my back with something COLD
and SCRATCHY. He tells me I will feel some pressure as he injects a numbing
agent and I just about BOLT out of my skin, he promises the worst part is
over. Turns out he was wrong. He can't get the needle into the spinal
space he was hoping for so he has to move further up my back and do the
whole thing over again. It wasn't as bad this time, partly because I knew
what to expect and partly because I was a little numb from the first round.
He gets the spinal administered and tells me to QUICKLY swing my legs up
onto the table before they get too heavy for me to move them. I made some
crack about them always being too heavy for me to move them. He wasn't
exaggerating though, my legs were numb and dead weight within a couple of
minutes. Although it seemed to take forever, the whole spinal procedure had
taken less than 10 minutes.

Spinal administered and me numb, except for the fact that I could wiggle my
toes (very odd, even according to Mike) the nurse inserts the foley
catheter. I will say it is a totally ODD sensation to know someone is down
between your legs in your genitals and you can't feel them. One of the
nurses in the OR is busy counting instruments and another nurse is checking
them off as she counts. Probably a good idea so they don't lose any of them
inside me. I think in this day and age I would have a hard time convincing
airport security that my doctor had accidentally left a retractor inside of

Jay and Dr. S enter the OR. Jay looks pale and disoriented. I am a bit
nervous he may pass out. The nurses position him on a stool right by my
head. Jay keeps asking Mike why I am not asleep. Mike re-explains to him
the spinal and the fact that I will be awake for the whole surgery. More
color drains from his face. I am thinking I should have done a better job
preparing him for the c-section. I thought that since he had talked to some
any people whose wives had had c-sections that he understood I would be

Before they make the first incision, Mike does a pain test to see if I can
feel him pricking at my skin with a sharp point. It is really weird to know
he is touching me but I can't feel it. I am completely numb from about 2
inches below my sage breasts to my toes. Dr. S takes a pen and draws a
line to guide his first incision. Time of first incision, 2:02 PM. The
weird thing is once the surgery is underway the mood in the room becomes
more relaxed, although Dr. S makes a couple comments in a hushed tone that
make me worry a bit. Either time is standing still or this whole thing is
taking much longer than I had thought it would. Everything I had read on
the web or in books had said from the start of surgery (first incision) to
birth was less than 10 minutes. Probably a good thing that I can't see the
clock or I would be freaking out. I feel absolutely no pain as he slices
layer though layer, but merely this odd sensation that I can only describe
like this. Imagine yourself on a ride at the amusement park. You are
wearing a blindfold so you can't see what is ahead of you, but you can feel
the sensation of movement and occasionally even a moment where you feel
nauseated, like your stomach dropped after going down that big hill on a
roller coaster. You feel some rocking and rolling from side to side. For
brief seconds the movements seem overwhelming, but a deep breath and you
feel settled again. I comment to Mike that I feel like I am on an amusement
park ride and he laughs, saying he bets I wouldn't buy a season pass to this
amusement park. I comment back that I know I will like the prize at the end
of this ride much better than some giant stuffed Tweety Bird I could win at
our local amusement park.

Again I feel waves of movement, then I hear what sounds like a cry. I say
"Is that my baby?" by the time I have the question out, the answer is clear.
Lusty cries fill the OR and Dr. S announces "It's a GIRL!" and then he adds
" A BIG GIRL!". As they hold her, covered in vernix and blood right next to
my face for me to see for the first time, Jay and I look at each other and
almost simultaneously exclaim "She has hair. She has DARK hair!" One of
the peds asked why we said that and Jay told her that our others were BLONDE
and BALD! Time of birth is recorded at 2:29 PM, a whole 27 minutes after
the first incision.

The pediatricians access the baby right by my head, so I can see the whole
thing. Our little girl scores a 9 on her 1 minute apgar and a 10 on her 5
minute apgar (it isn't until the next day that I realize how impressive this
is, when a nurse who had been at that hospital for years tell me she has
seen only one other baby given a 10). They clean her up a bit and the
moment of truth is upon us. They put her on the scale. The scale was
directly behind me, so I couldn't see it, but I could hear everything they
were saying. Everyone kept saying how BIG she was, but I think everyone was
shocked when they clicked to convert the 4666 grams to pounds and a WHOOPING
10 lb. 5 oz came up on the display. She bet her big sister by a matter of
ounces! Once she is weighed she is wrapped up and Jay sits and holds her
right by my right arm during the rest of the surgery. I almost have to
laugh at the irony that our "surgical" birth has ended up with the least
amount of intervention and no separation from our baby.

The exciting part of the surgery over, they begin the repair and suturing.
Dr. S asks us what the baby's name is. The moment of truth, Jay and I both
say DIFFERENT names and then admit to everyone in the room that we haven't
even DISCUSSED names. We tell them the only thing we know for sure is her
middle name will start with a "z". After finding out the other kids middle
names (Zachery, Zoe, Zara, Zane, Zaren, Zavier) everyone starts throwing
out "z" names. I think the best one had to be Dr. S suggestion of Zeppo.
After exhausting the "z" names the room starts suggesting first names. It
quickly becomes apparent that Mike and Jay must have watched every one of
the same sitcoms over the past 20 years. Names like Ginger (Gilligan's
Island), Marsha (Brady Bunch), Uma and Mulva (Seinfield episodes) are
amongst the most memorable they suggested. Dr. S gets paged and says that
an emergency has come up and asks if I mind if the attending doctor finishes
closing me, he is up to the top layer. I say that is fine and he leaves the
OR. I tell the doctor doing the suturing, to make sure that all my stretch
marks get lined back up. The room explodes in laughter! Apparently I
lucked out that the person doing the closing liked suturing and opted to
close with disposable sutures covered with steristrips rather than staples,
which means I wouldn't have to have ANYTHING removed!

Once I am sewn back together, the remove all the draping and sterile
dressings and prepare to move us back to the room. They wheel the bed I
rode down to the OR in right back into the OR and transfer me into it. It
kind of freaks me out a bit that they wheel the bed right through the blood
on the floor and then right out the hallway and back to the room. The
hospital is set up that you go immediately from surgery back to your
postpartum room and they send a nurse with you. She is required to sit with
you for an entire hour. Once we get back to the room, I am hooked up to a
heart monitor, pulse oximeter, a blood pressure cuff and my catheter and IV
are both still in. As soon as I am hooked up to everything, the nurse puts
the baby in my arms, she is barely an hour old at this point. Never again
is the baby out of my sight. The nurse helps me position her to nurse and
since I am still numb from the spinal, I feel no pain.

Once she finishes nursing, the nurse says they have orders from my
pediatrician to test her bloodsugars. If her level is below 40 they will
need to test it 4 more times and have it register above 40 before they
consider her to be in the clear. With her bassinet right by my bed, my hand
patting her tummy, they draw the first level. Unfortunately it comes back
36, too low for the healthy baby standard. The nurse standing there
suggests that we supplement her with one ounce of formula to rapidly bring
her sugar up. She says chances are since I haven't eaten in 18 hours my own
blood sugar is so low that I won't be able to bring it up on my own.
Knowing I didn't want her to be supplemented or given a bottle (great thing
about being at a hospital that doesn't promote formula or give out samples
is they are very supportive of breastfeeding moms) the nurse suggests giving
her the supplement from a cup. I had serious doubts that a baby less than 2
hours old could drink from a cup and was utterly AMAZED to watch my
daughter drink down an ounce of formula with only one drop rolling off her
fat little chin. As much as I hate formula, it brought her blood sugar up
to 46 the next time they checked it. After that we just relied on her
nursing to keep it up and she did!

About 7 PM Mike (the anesthesia guy) came in and removed the heart monitor.
I was told everything else would remain in place until about 8 AM the
following morning. Of course that meant I would be stuck in bed ALL NIGHT!
The scary thing was that I was left alone in my room with my baby. Jay went
home to take care of the other kids so the baby and I were solo with me
drugged up the first night. The nurses were wonderful, anytime I rang they
were right there to change her and hand her to me. I spent most of that
night hold her, smelling her, nursing her and fading on and off into sleep.
Although I wasn't allowed anything solid to eat, I was given all the juice,
ice and lemon frozen ice that I wanted through the night. The duramorph
really made my skin ITCH, but an unbearable itch but more an annoying itch,
like when you have a bug bite. The percocet they gave me made me have hot
flashes and made me sleepy, but it took the edge of the pain. Worse than my
incision pain was the aftercramps, full blown gut tighten cramps every time
baby nursed. 800 mg of motrin barely touched that pain. Every time I would
drift off to sleep I would kick of the pulse oximeter and make the alarm go
off. Finally the nurse agrees around 5 AM to remove the pulse oximeter.
What a relief to be able to move my foot without setting off an alarm!

About 6 AM the nurse helps me out of bed for the first time since the
surgery. Even with the IV still attached and the catheter still in place,
it is such a relief to be upright and out of bed. The baby seems to like
our new more upright position and settles in for a long nursing session.

At 8 AM I am surprised to see my obstetrician, Dr. S walk into my room. He
had told me the day before that he wouldn't be in the hospital the following
day because he was scheduled for vacation. I asked him what he was doing at
the hospital and he says he had to come check on "Ginger Zeppo". He also
tells me that he was sorry he had to cut me so far across, apparently from
hip to hip because he couldn't get the baby free. Suddenly the hushed
whispers and the fact that it was more than 25 minutes from incision time to
delivery all becomes very clear. He tells the nurse to disconnect my IV and
remove the catheter. Less than 20 hours from the start of the surgery I am
complete free of all tubes and wires!

12:30 PM I eat my first soft meal, Roast Beef, Mashed potatoes and gravy,
cottage cheese and pears, and iced tea.

1 PM : Jay and the kids come to visit. The kids are THRILLED with their
newest sibling and it isn't surprising that they argue over who gets to hold
her and for how long. We have a family discussion about names and by the
end of their 2 hour visit, her first name is at least decided. Sophia,
named for her great grandmother that she never got to met, is welcomed into
our family. I only hope she has half the stubbornness and tenaciousness
her great-grandmother had.

2 PM: 24 hours outside of the start of our surgery, my bladder FINALLY
kicks back in. It is
unreal the feeling of urinating through a urethra traumatized by a foley
catheter. My bladder seems to empty fully, but I am completely FREAKED OUT
that I can't seem to control the flow of urine. Note to self: KEGELS,

So there you have it, our c-section story. I sit here typing this 3 days
post partum (we came home at 7 PM on Saturday following delivery) and I am
very sore, but taking only motrin for the cramping. I decided against
getting the percocet perscription filled, I felt it was better to feel some
pain and use it as a gauge for when I was overdoing it. Our first night
home brought some tears on my part, it was almost impossible to get up off
the couch or roll out of bed, but things get easier by the hour! Sophia is
nursing well and adapting to life in our large family. Every bit
of discomfort, every ounce of pain is worth it because I now have my
daughter safely in my arms!

Cade's birth story (4-8-2000):

Cade Zavier Riesenberg
9 lb 2.3 oz, 22"
10:01 PM
After an ultrasound on Friday, April 7, 2000, the ultrasound tech estimated
the baby to weigh about 8 LB 12 oz, just under Dr. Howe's 9 LB threshold for
avoiding a cesarean section. After consulting with Dr. Carpenter (who would
be on call on Saturday), Dr. Howe scheduled an induction for 7 AM Saturday,
April 8, 2000. After almost 40 weeks, it seemed unbelievable that the end
was finally so close. We scramble to make plans for all of the children the
following morning. Michelle (my best friend) came to the house and watch
everyone from 6 AM until they could be picked up by friends. Brett ended up
staying with Evan Hehemann, Hannah and Emily stayed with the Kramers and
Grant and Jake went home will Michelle. The weather had turned rather nasty.
At midweek we had been wearing shorts and t-shirts, but the forecast now
included rain and snow, with temperatures falling through the 30's, what a
gloomy day. About 6:50 we pull into the hospital parking garage and head
over to triage. It takes forever to get checked in and moved back to the
labor and delivery area. The doctor checks and says that the cervix is high,
firm, and just under 3 cm dilated and that baby is at -3 (still floating).
Doctor asks if we would be interested in participating in a research study
for a new induction drug. The one drawback is that it can take up to 48
hours for labor to start. We had been through two long inductions already
(Grant was around 20 hours and Jake had been over 36 hours) so we felt we had
nothing to lose. Finally just after 10 AM a labor room is open and we are
transferred. At 10:45 PM the study drug is administered. The doctor says
she will be back in to check on us in 4 hours unless we need her sooner, and
then we can ring for her. Experience some mild cramping but we both end up
taking a nap. At 12:45 the doctor returns to discuss my concerns about
shoulder dystocia and she feels that given that Emily was rather short and
round that this baby appeared to be much longer that this baby should emerge
rather easily. Since she was in the room, she decides to check for dilation
and announces that I am now 100% effaced and close to 4 cm...I haven't felt
hardly anything, she decides to stop the study drug (obviously labor is now
underway, there is no turning back) and says she will transfer us to a
birthing room and start pitocin as soon as one opens up (little did we know
at that point that 15 other women were also in labor...YIKES). The nurse
brings up a lunch tray and I DEVOUR everything (I had been told not to eat
after midnight). Around 2 PM Jay and I start to play to alphabet name game,
we each pick at least one name for each letter of the alphabet (minus the
letters the other kids names start with) it helps to pass the time since
basically nothing is happening at this point, mild contractions, we watch
bits of a movie on TV and once again we nap (remembering what a long rode we
might have ahead of us given our other birth experiences). At 3:30 we are
FINALLY moved to the LDR room. The nurse administers IV antibiotics because
I was group b strep positive with a previous pregnancy. Jay and I decide to
narrow the list of names and rather quickly have to pinned down to 3 names
(Dalton, Lance, and Quinn) for a boy and 3 names (Veronica, Alison, and
Sarah) for a girl, the question is will we still agree on any of the 3 once
the baby gets here! At 4:35 the PITOCIN is FINALLY STARTED....a sidenote
here, at about 4:15PM I decides to have Jay pull out the camera so it is
ready and I discovers that the batteries I just bought on 3-18-00 are
completely DEAD, a scrapper's worst nightmare! Jay runs out to get new
batteries, and I digs out a cheap disposable camera for the labor bag in
case it is needed. By 5:10, the contractions are starting to
piggyback...vivid memories of my last labor and the 15 hours of piggybacking
contractions that did NOTHING keep flashing in my mind. Jay makes it back
with the batteries and I am feeling pretty miserable. Dr. Carpenter agrees
to break my amniotic sac even though baby is still very high in order to get
labor rolling along. Within an hour of the sac breaking contractions and
pressure are really building I can remember thining to myself please let
these contractions be doing something. Dr. decides to check and says we are
at just over 6 cm. I am so relieved because I stayed stuck at 3 cm with my
last baby for over 12 hours. Jay comments on how smoothly things are going,
we have made it to more than 6 cm and that we are in the home stretch and he
hasn't gotten yelled at once or been made to massage my back for hours on
end. Somewhere shortly after 9 PM I feel a contraction that I know is
different, the sensation that maybe I could push is there. The next
contraction I try to completely relax and listen to my body, as the
contraction builds I can feel my body being called to push, about 90 seconds
later the next contraction begins, I moan, look at Jay and say "go get the
nurse and the docs it is time to push", everyone rushes in, Dr. Carpenter
checks me at 9:40 PM and declares I am complete and that I can push whenever
I want. Since I had gestational diabetes, the room begins to fill with
medical personnel, along with the 2 OB docs and 3 nurses, there are also 5
pediatricians in the room. Empowered by the freedom to finally push we
didn't go with the typical controlled pushing to the frantic count of 10, Dr.
Carpenter allows me to push as many times as I choose through each
contraction. The head rapidly descends, I can feel bone moving through bone.
Someone's pager keeps going off and I make some comment to the affect that
they either need to answer the damn thing or given it to me so I can throw it
out the window. Dr. Carpenter comments the next day that she has never had a
patient keep her sense of humor the way I did during pushing. I probably
push a total of 20 times, through about 8 contractions. I will never forget
that WONDERFUL FEELING as the face cleared the pubic bone. What a wonderful
feeling to know that the baby is almost here. The head completely out, I
know from previous experience that once more good push and baby should be
free. I push and NOTHING. Suddenly all 10 members of the medical staff in
the labor room fall quiet. I know our worst fear has come to pass, the
shoulders are stuck. Head of the bed is rapidly dropped (talk about a head
rush) and I am practically doing a headstand. Later Jay tells me that at
this point the baby's face is getting grayer and grayer and he admits that at
that moment he thought the baby was dead. In a last ditch effort to free the
baby, Dr. Carpenter slides her fingers between the pubic bone and the tightly
wedged flesh of the baby's shoulder, maneuvering her fingers under the left
arm pit, and she rotates the arm in and up popping baby out. Free at last at
10:01 PM, IT'S A BOY!!!!! Baby Riesenberg pinks up very quickly and scores 9
and 9 on his 1 and 5 minute apgars. Baby is given to mom to nurse. Dr.
Carpenter lets the placenta deliver itself (10:26 PM) and then makes a final
check for tearing or skid marks, not a since stitch is needed. Thanks the
Lord for flexible tissue. After about 40 minutes baby is taken to NICU to be
assessed. Jay and I both agree that he looks just like Jake and we decide
none of the names on the list seem fitting. About 11:30 PM one of the
pediatrician comes back into delivery room and tells us that baby broke his
humerus (bone in his upper arm) during delivery and also has suffered some
nerve damage, and that they are consulting with an orthopedic doctor from
Children's Hospital. After the delivery I felt pretty good with the
exception of feeling like my pelvic bone is bruised and the fact that my
afterpains (especially when I nurse) feel like labor contractions!  I was
moved to my hospital room around midnight and baby is brought back to me at
1:45 AM, little splint on his arm and all! Baby Riesenberg spends the first
night of his life nameless. I call Jay the next morning and ask him what he
thinks of Cade as a name and he says he really LIKES it, so it is SET.....I
fill out the birth certificate immediately so there is no turning back!!!