| This is a true story that does have a happy ending. I want to share it with you in hopes that maybe it can at least prevent what happened to my sweet baby from happening to someone else's.
I was 40 weeks pregnant with a procrastinating baby who didn't seem to want to leave her mother's warm womb just yet. With my obstetrician's advice, we decided to have labor induced. My husband and I actually were able to pick the day that our daughter would be born. Early that morning, I checked into the hospital and quickly got started in the normal routine of preparing for birth, being hooked up to all kinds of monitors, reading and signing all kinds of forms, and getting my I. V. medicines started. This baby was so stubborn about being born that we were even questioning if the induction medicine would work. After waiting for 9 to 10 hours, the dialation started to become serious as did the contractions. But there was another problem. The baby's heart rate would drop when I would lay on my right side. Naturally, this put a rush on things. I was doing all the pushing that I could, but the obstetrician decided to speed things along. I was familiar with forceps and hated the thought of them being used on my baby, but I had never heard of vacuum suctioning used to aid in birth. Something deep inside of me screamed "NO" at allowing this to be used, but I was so concerned about my baby's heart rate and unfamiliar with this method that I just put my trust in the obstetrician and remained quiet, a decision that I will regret as long as I live. The doctor put the suction thing up to my baby's soft little head and turned the suction on and started pulling. There was quite the resistence during all of the pulling and it is a wonder they didn't pull my baby's little head off. The doctor took off the suction and finally removed the umbilical cord from around my baby's neck, which happened to be the reason her heart rate was dropping. The doctor then put the suction back on the baby's head and the baby was born very quickly. I will never forget the moment they laid that warm and tiny baby across my chest. This 6 pound 5 ounce baby girl was the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. So one could imagine the fear and shock when she turned blue as she first cried. She had such a difficult time inhaling when she cried. Her cry sounded like a 'chirp' which the doctor called strydor. That is when they took her off my chest where she had only been for maybe a couple of minutes. The doctor and nurses managed to get her to stop crying. As long as she was quiet she could breathe and the blue would fade. They called in a pediatrician who examined her and quickly decided to have her flown to a neonatal intensive care unit at another hospital that was more specialized in infant care. I saw my baby through the nursery window as they moved me to a room. All I wanted to do was go to her and hold her, but I couldn't do that and risk causing her to cry. The transport crew did bring her into my room right before they took her to the helicopter to fly her away. She was already in the transport incubator which had two holes in the side made for hands to go into. I reached my hand in through one of them to touch my baby's sweet, tiny hand and she grabbed hold of my finger. She had a good grip too. My heart was so full of love and breaking at the same time. I had no idea what was wrong with her or if I would ever see her alive again. I wasn't able to travel to the hospital to be with her since my epidural had not yet wore off, so I had to stay behind while my husband went to be with her. If I could have walked, nothing on earth could have kept me from going to be with her. I spent a very long, lonely, and depressed night at the hospital where I was at. It wasn't until morning that I could walk again. I was discharged and on my way to be with my baby.
The doctors and nurses at the neonatal ICU were so good with our baby as well as with my husband and me too. They ran all kinds of tests on her and finally found out that her vocal chords were paralyzed due to damage to the surrounding nerves. One vocal chord was partially paralyzed and had some movement. The other chord was almost totally paralyzed and would barely move at all. The chords would collapse when she inhaled deeply, as babies do when they cry. As long as she was calm, she was o.k. There was nothing to do for her. There was no cure. Only time could heal the nerve damage that was causing this paralysis. Fortunately we escaped having to put a tracheotomy in her throat. We were also concerned about the huge knot on her head left by the vacuum suction machine. My obstetrician had told me the knot would go away in 24 to 48 hours. It did not. Actually, her knot was two in one, since they took off the suction to remove the umbilical cord and then put the suction back on again. We did have the knot x-rayed. It was not solidifying which would have made it a permanent knot. We were so thankful for that.
Karen, our baby, stayed in the neonatal unit for 5 weeks until she was transferred to another hospital for a re-evaluation and possible release home. There, she stayed for another week, the week before Christmas and was released home. What a Christmas present!!!! Her vocal chords were still paralyzed, but they were healing. There was no medical treatments or anything outside of caring for her being done in the hospital. We brought her home on an oximeter (measures oxygen level), a pulsometer (measures pulse), and some oxygen. We would make several trips to her ENT doctor for a laryngoscopy. A laryngoscopy is the procedure where they run a tube with a light and a camera on the tip of it down the nose and throat to view the vocal chord progress. At 1 1/2 years old, Karen made her last trip to the ENT and her last laryngoscopy. Her vocal chords were between 50% - 75% healed. If they never healed more, she can lead a normal life.
The knot on her head took approximately 6 months to go mostly away, far from the 24 - 48 hours we were told it would take. However, Karen still has a very small ridge on her head that will always be there. You can only find it if you know where to feel. It is totally unnoticeable. Karen is a very healthy, happy, little girl now. She chatters constantly and runs and plays like any other 11 year old. We were concerned if she would be able to talk or do many active things. She does both VERY well. If her vocal chords are still not 100%, no one would ever know by listening to her. We are so very thankful to our Lord for healing our little girl. No one but Him could do anything for her. She could very easily have had permanently paralyzed vocal chords. We are thankful for the talented pediatricians, ENTs, and the wonderful nurses that took such good care of our baby and us while in the neonatal ICU. I am also very thankful to my family and friends for all of their love, support, and prayers during this very difficult time. A difficult time that could have been prevented had the obstetrician chose not to use the vacuum suction and had the knowledge to just remove the umbilical cord from around the baby's neck so that she could be born normally. I find it ridiculous that such a horrible method is even used in our medically advanced world. If you think about it, using suction on those soft, little heads is a pretty unintelligent thing to do.
My heart truly goes out to those families whose little ones aren't able to have a full recovery from whatever may have went wrong with them. May the Lord be with you and give you strength.