Mae’s OK!

Well, that was a really scary few days.

On Monday, the lovely C was nearly 2 weeks overdue, and was scheduled to come into the Rotunda for induction the next morning; then contractions started on Monday afternoon. We were happy, as avoiding induction was good news for a natural birth, allowing the process to be run through the excellent Domino scheme, etc.

So we went in, arriving at the Rotunda ER for 3.45 or so. They put on the CTG to monitor the baby’s heartbeats, and the first 3 contractions were strong, but everything seemed OK. The next one, however, the baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically — to a very low 40bpm; I called the ER nurses, they ran in, put C on oxygen, and that seemed to help, returning the rate to normal — but on the next contraction the baby’s heart rate dropped even further. Once that happened, the shit hit the fan. In seconds C was on a trolley heading for surgery. It was clear this was serious trouble.

I was left standing outside the theatre while she was operated on — as an emergency Caesarean section there was no time for luxuries like hapless husbands stumbling around the background. Probably just as well. The midwives and surgical staff kept me as well informed as was possible, though.

After a terrifying 10 minutes, the prognosis improved a little. Initially they were worried that the baby had put pressure on the cord, but this was discounted — in fact the baby had emptied its bowels of meconium in the womb, which irritated it enough to cause enough distress and cause its heart rate to crash. After 10 minutes, the baby was out (and was a girl!), and C was going to be OK at least. however the baby was at quite a lot of risk from aspiration of meconium and possible brain damage due to reduced oxygen in the womb. holy shit. :(

The baby had indeed aspirated some meconium, causing a collapsed lung. Over the next couple of days in an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit, the little mite had surgery to introduce a chest tube into her pleura to re-inflate the lung, and was treated with a variety of treatments to deal with meconium in her stomach.

The best bit was this afternoon when we got news that the results of her cranial ultrasound were in — all clear, no brain damage. Then C got to feed her and hold her — and she latched on like some kind of milk-seeking missile. what a little trooper.

Anyway, with any luck, 2 or 3 days from now they’ll both be able to come home in one piece.

We were lucky btw — if we hadn’t been in the ER at the time, it was very unlikely that the prognosis would have been anywhere near as good. And I have to give credit to the Rotunda staff, they did a great job.

pics on Flickr!

Update, 7 June: C was released from hospital yesterday, and Mae got the all-clear this morning. We’re now all back home, healthy and in one piece. Now we can just get on with the usual second-child excitement-slash-drama! phew!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted June 3, 2009 at 22:39 | Permalink

    Congrats on the new version! Glad to see a spam free delivery.


  2. Posted June 3, 2009 at 23:00 | Permalink

    Wow, congrats to you and your wife. That must have been an awful time for you both but I’m glad the baby is ok.

  3. Posted June 3, 2009 at 23:00 | Permalink

    Congratulations! Remind me to tell you the story of our son Hari’s birth some day: scarily similar to yours.

  4. Kelly Jones
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 23:42 | Permalink

    I don’t know you at all, but I was touched by your story. I was glad to hear everything turned out ok in the end. Very scary. Best of everything to you, C, and the baby.

    P.S. Love your daily links. good stuff.

  5. Posted June 3, 2009 at 23:49 | Permalink

    wow – close one! hopefully all will turn out fine.

  6. Nix
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 00:10 | Permalink

    Good to hear it came out OK in the end :) and the photo of her wins the Sweetest Thing on the Internet Award 2009, or should.

    (Is this #2?)

  7. Deirdre and Ken
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 01:51 | Permalink

    Justin, your Mom sent the great news to the US….great stuff. You and Catherine should be so proud. Wonderful news it all turned out so well. The photos are terrific, make us almost there. Thanx and congrats to you all. PS We love the name! Love D

  8. Posted June 4, 2009 at 07:15 | Permalink

    Justin, I’m delighted that it looks like everything will turn out well. I’m sorry it had to happen in such a dramatic and wrenching way; emergency C-sections and NICU stays are very scary. It’s a relief to be able to wish you congratulations on the new arrival!

  9. Posted June 4, 2009 at 08:55 | Permalink

    Glad to hear she’s OK.

    Here that would be called a “crash” C-section. An emergency C-section is not planned, but there is also no immediate risk to mother or child. For example,

    That was a pretty stressful three hours, so days of it must have been heart-wrenching.

  10. Ken Walsh
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 09:10 | Permalink

    Hey Justin, Congrats! As a daddy of two daughters, I know they will go to great lengths to grab their dads attention :) Glad all is well!

  11. Posted June 4, 2009 at 09:53 | Permalink

    Phew! Congrats!

    Brings back scary memories of my first, with doctors and nurses roaring at each other and dropping heart rate (with sound affects), and the crying and the screaming…

  12. Posted June 4, 2009 at 11:22 | Permalink

    thanks everyone!

    @Nix: yep, it’s number 2. Bea, number 1, is being prepped with lots of discussion of her new baby sister…

    @Bryan, @Robert: it’s funny how this episode has prompted a lot of similar war stories ;)

    @Tony: I think it was referred to as a crash C-section here too, but it was in the heat of the moment so I can’t be entirely sure. Your story sounds a lot like the birth of Bea, who took a leisurely 40 hours and had to be dragged out with a venteuse in the end.

    So far we haven’t had a non-assisted, straightforward birth in our family yet. god only knows how the species propagated before medical science came along!

  13. Proinnsias
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 15:14 | Permalink

    Congratulations to the three of you ! … glad to hear things worked out … the NICU staff are absolutely fantastic …

    You’ll have a great story to tell her in years to come !


  14. Posted June 4, 2009 at 15:23 | Permalink


    Its stressing me out just reading it. Must have been absolutely traumatic at the time. Great that all are well.

    all the best,


  15. Bart
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 16:43 | Permalink

    Congratulations and (whew). Childbirth-related scary incidents are real emotional roller-coasters.

  16. Orlaith
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 21:27 | Permalink

    Congratulations Justin and Catherine!! So happy it all worked out OK in the end. Pat, Wendy, Padraig and myself wish you all the very best and loads of happiness with little Mae and Beatrice. (Let us know when you are in Skerries next, we all want to see them!)

    Orlaith x

  17. Posted June 4, 2009 at 22:07 | Permalink

    Precious picture! Your baby is beautiful. Congratulations on the addition to the family. A father of a girl myself, I can tell you they will soften your heart…

  18. Angela
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 00:12 | Permalink

    So so glad to hear everything’s come out ok. Ye were in the right place all right. Major kudos to C and Mae for nursing well after all that. Here’s to many happy and far less stressful years to come for the four of you. Angela and Fintan.

  19. Steve
    Posted June 7, 2009 at 17:46 | Permalink

    That sounds absolutely horrendous… very happy for you everything turned out ok.

  20. Posted June 7, 2009 at 22:03 | Permalink

    hey everyone — thanks for ALL the comments, they really helped us feel we weren’t in this alone!

    C was released from hospital yesterday, and Mae got the all-clear this morning. We’re now all back home, healthy and in one piece. Now we can just get on with the usual second-child excitement-slash-drama! phew…

  21. Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:42 | Permalink

    Congrats Justin!

  22. William
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 15:36 | Permalink

    Thank goodness everything seems to have turned out fine. What a scary time.