Happy Birthday Catalina Alexandra!

Baby Girl Ruiz joined us a bit early.  Here is her birth story…..


As you know, throughout the pregnancy, I was blessed to not have much difficulty.  In the 5 days before her birth, that all changed.  At my appointment on Nov 8, my blood pressure was a bit high (140/85).  The Dr told me to go home and rest all weekend…sit on the couch with my feet up and take it easy.  I followed Dr’s orders and rested.  Monday came and I went to work like I normally would.  On Tuesday, I decided I would go to work, and then ask a nurse at work in the afternoon to check my blood pressure just to reassure me that things were fine and I could keep working.  The nurse took my blood pressure several different times, and told me she kept getting the same reading, and it was high and I should call my Dr.  I think she said it was about 170/110.  I called the Dr, and set up an appointment with the nurse to have her check my blood pressure, and within 30 minutes I was in the Dr’s office.  She checked my urine, which did test positive for some protein and checked my blood pressure, which was high.  She checked with the Dr, and told me that I needed to go to the hospital to be monitored for several hours.  If my BP came down, I would go home.  She told me to go home, get my hospital bag, and get to the hospital within the hour.


I called Tony as I drove home to get my personal items, and he immediately left Allentown to come meet me.  He took care of calling our families so I could focus on getting my bag and getting to the hospital.  I checked in, and got hooked up to various monitors.  Tony was there within 10 minutes of me arriving (considering the length of the drive, you can imagine how fast he had driven!).  The Dr in the hospital checked my BP, and it was 194/112.  She said that I was not going anywhere and that baby was going to be joining us sooner rather than later.  They couldn’t believe my BP was that high but I wasn’t having any symptoms.  I was transferred to a labor and delivery room, and we discussed with the Dr my birth plan.  The Dr was very concerned about the BP (I had developed “severe preeclampsia”), and started me on Magnesium Sulfate.  I had a catheter put in, an IV put in each hand, and had machines hooked up to my legs to help prevent blood clots.  She said we needed to induce, not because baby was ready to come, nor that my body was ready, but because of how high my BP was.  They were afraid I would have a stroke or seizure.  I had wanted to do as close to a natural birth as was safe and possible, and so she agreed to insert Cervadil overnight to help dilate my cervix.


The next morning, the Cervadil was removed.  It worked at dilating my cervix, but I was not progressing as quickly as the Dr’s wanted.  My BP was still very high, even on bed rest and the medicine.  We had another consult with the Dr and we discussed our options.  The midwife said that unless my labor progressed faster, the Dr was going to take the baby via C-section to alleviate my high BP.  I elected one last effort before a C-section, and I started Pitocin.  I started to have contractions, but I also started to get woozy and was near passing out.  I was trying to think clearly, but nearly became unconscious.  Tony and I were talking and I was fading out.  He lightly slapped my face and he told me that we were doing a C-section because I was starting to go unconscious.  No sooner did he say that and the Dr came in and took one look at me, and I was rushed to the ER for an emergency C-section.  At the time, I thought I was lucid and “with it”, but later, I realize how fuzzy this all was, and how much I really don’t remember.


Tony was suited up, and I was given a spinal tap and strapped to the table.  I couldn’t focus my eyes, but I remember thinking that there were so many nurses and Drs in the room.  Tony was standing at my head, and he watched the entire thing.  We took in my iPod and speakers so I could listen to Christian music during the procedure.  He cut the baby’s umbilical cord, and held her.  I began to throw up on the operating table, and again was fading in and out.  Later, I remembered that a pediatrician came over and told me the baby was in perfect health.  She was placed onto my chest and we were transferred back to our room.  I remember seeing my mom and dad waiting for us.  The lactation consultant helped me nurse for the first time.  We did “skin-to-skin” and had some alone time just mommy, daddy, and baby.  Then, mom and dad came back in to meet her.  Tony’s sister came later that night to meet her too.   A nurse and Tony gave the baby a bath while I watched from the bed.


Catalina Alexandra Ruiz was born at 17:39 on November 13, 2013.  She was 6lbs 2oz, and 20 and 1/4 inches long  (I’ll tell you about how we picked her name in my next post).  She was born 6 days before her due date.  Thankfully, even though my health deteriorated quickly, she was perfectly healthy the entire time and was born without issue.


For 24 hours after delivery, I needed to stay on the Magnesium Sulfate via IV and the bed rest continued.  In total, I was confined to the bed for 53 hours straight.  My BP continued to go up and down, and over the next few days, they tried a variety of meds to control it.  Besides nursing, there was not much I could physically do.  Tony took care of everything: Catalina’s diaper changes, walking her around to soothe her, and waiting on me.  It was hard to be stuck in a bed and not able to do anything to help.  We had lots of visitors in the hospital, from family to friends to Marines.  And, Tony stayed with me the whole time I was in the hospital.  He was like a drill instructor (both there and since we’ve been home), not letting me push myself, telling me to take it easy.  The nurses loved it, because if I tried to push something they said or negotiate out of something, he would speak up and tell me no.  His medical training he got in the military definitely helped during the experience.  He can tell when something is wrong with me, and gets me to rest, lay down, or get me whatever I need to feel better.  He even commandeered the BP machine next to my bed, so he could take my BP whenever.


I was released on November 17 from the hospital (after a 6 day stay!).  I am on 2 meds now to control my BP, as well as pain meds for the C-section incision.  The good news is that although I was asymptomatic before, I can tell now when my BP spikes up.  I can pay attention to those cues, and lay down and rest when that happens.  Even at home, I have to take it easy by resting on the couch most of the time and not do much physically.  I have to go back to my Dr for a BP check tomorrow.


Another complication was Catalina’s weight.  In the first 2 days, she had a 9% loss from her birth weight.  The neonatalogist had me continue to nurse, but then pump and syringe feed her what I pumped.  We developed a system where Tony syringe fed while I pumped for the next feeding.  He called it his “daddy feeding time” and loved it because he had a part in making his warrior bigger and stronger.  Over the course of several days, she was able to gain weight by this method of supplementation.  We had her first appointment with the pediatrician Tuesday and she was 5lbs 15oz!  We got the ok to go back to just nursing, and we go to back tomorrow for another weight check to see how she does with that.


I delivered at Heart of Lancaster, and although the experience was not as I had pictured, it was overall a good experience.  All the staff was exceptionally helpful.  I enjoyed the personalized attention and more intimate setting.


We are at home now, and getting settled into a new routine.  I stare at her for hours and think about what a miracle this whole experience has been.  I am in love with her!

Our first family portrait

Skin to skin

Catalina Alexandra snuggling with daddy

Leaving the hospital as a family of 3

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