Monday, June 4, 2012

Craniosynostosis, Part II: The Birth Story

About a week before Joshua’s due date, after a morning of sporadic contractions, we drove to the hospital, expecting to be sent home, another set of overly-excited parents. But at 6 cm dilation and fully effaced, the nurses predicted we’d be holding our baby by lunchtime!

Craniosynostosis isn’t diagnosed before birth, although the plates of the skull seal early in fetal development, so we had no way of knowing that Joshua’s sagittal suture was already closed: his head wouldn’t be able to mold to the birth canal. I’d given birth just two years earlier with no complications, and a hold-onto-your-hat-this-baby’s-coming-now kind of labor, but Joshua wasn’t going anywhere fast. The attending doctor sent nurses to prep an operating room for C-section. He motioned to our attending midwife that it was time to give up pushing.

Somehow, in the hectic surrealism of that delivery room, my midwife seemed to stop time; her words cut through the chaos and concern around us, and she said, “Charlene, you’ve got three more pushes to get him out. He needs to get out now, and you can do it.”

1 in 500 babies are born face presentation (instead of the normal position of facing downward, chin to chest), and brow presentation is even more rare, with a C-section being necessary in almost all cases. But suddenly and somehow, Joshua dislodged and joined the anxiously-awaiting world, looking like he’d been in a bar fight, with a bruised, swollen face and black eye.

We thought trauma at birth was the source of Joshua’s subsequent fussiness, and wouldn’t realize until months later that his difficult birth was a symptom of craniosynostosis.

Bruised and beaten up by birth
Snuggled in and happy a few days later

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