The baby didn’t wait. Unexpectedly, my water broke on the night of June 6 and Mira was delivered via c-section on the morning of June 7 at MPHS. Unlike with my first c-section with Diya, this time we felt anxiety-free excitement. I had had a normal pregnancy and was experienced with a c-section, there was nothing to be concerned about. The surgery went smoothly with Mira entering the world with a strong pair of lungs and a full head of hair, with the instrumental sound track to Dil To Pagal Hai playing in the background. She passed her APGARs with flying colors and was assessed to be in great condition when she joined me in the recovery room post surgery. Her and I enjoyed nearly an hour and a half together with her successfully nursing and peacefully sleeping. I noticed some grunting noises, but the nurse seemed unconcerned. It was only when the nurse was adjusting Mira’s clothing back in the crib that she noticed how her stomach was contracting. Rather than inflating upon each breath, the sides of Mira’s stomach were contracting inwards as if she was gasping. Our nurse calmly called the nursery and mentioned she’d like to bring Mira back to have her breathing re-checked. I was rolled back to my hospital room, where the family was waiting, and told Mira would join me there soon.
It was a joyous mood in the hospital room – everyone couldn’t wait to meet Mira, take family pictures, and hold a “birthday party” for Mira that Diya was long awaiting. When 15 or so minutes had passed and we’d received no update, Ash went to the nursery to check in. He later returned completely distraught – there had been 4 doctors surrounding Mira in the nursery, holding an oxygen mask over her face, when he had arrived. She was struggling to breath and needed to be intubated for breathing support. MPHS lacked the acute care they felt she needed and she would need to be transported via ambulance to CPMC (where Diya had been born!) as soon as they inserted all the necessary IVs into her. The doctors said she would need an EEG to confirm her brain is properly sending signals to her body to breathe, an echo to confirm there aren’t any cardiac related issues, and other tests to confirm she didn’t have an infection (though they would be preemptively giving her antibiotics in case the cultures came back positive). She was only a few hours old at this time and I didn’t even yet have feeling return to my feet. How could what had been such a normal pregnancy go so terribly wrong post delivery?
Mira was brought into the hospital room for a brief visit before going into the ambulance, but she had so many wires in her and was inside a formidable looking box surrounded by oxygen tanks, nobody got that great of a look. No chance for family pictures, and definitely no chance for a birthday party. This was not the celebratory experience I had envisioned. Ash and Mira took one ambulance to CPMC, and soon after, my mom and I were in another ambulance being transferred to CPMC (after the doctors had initially told me I couldn’t be transferred – there was no way I was going to be separated from my baby!). After an unbelievable journey of first being taken to the wrong CPMC campus, then being rolled into the wrong building within the right campus, then the EMTs not knowing which room I should be taken to, I was eventually rolled into a room about a quarter of the size of my MPHS hospital room. Mira was admitted directly into the NICU where she began days of monitoring and testing. Fortunately, she began breathing on her own and the doctors later removed the breathing tube.
I had had great difficulties nursing Diya in the early weeks and I’m convinced it was due to CPMC forcing me to pump right from her birth. With Mira, I was determined to approach breastfeeding my own way with minimal pumping and lots of on demand feeding. Given I was still unable to walk from the surgery, Ash would wheelchair me back and forth from the NICU throughout the day and night to nurse. Mira was latching well and I was optimistic about how nursing was going, but it never hurts to speak with a lactation consultant.
It was now Monday, June 9, the day I was supposed to have a breast ultrasound at MPHS. Clearly I would not be making it to that appointment. I mentioned the lump to the lactation consultant and she agreed that once the milk comes in in the next day or two, it may be harder to feel the lump. Time was of the essence to get this ultrasound done. The OB-GYN who was on called pulled a few strings and got me an appointment with a breast surgeon (Dr. G) at CPMC itself for that afternoon. I squeezed in one more nursing in the NICU and then Ash rolled me in my wheelchair through the underground tunnels of CPMC to the breast surgeon’s clinic in the adjoining building. As I sat in the waiting room, still in my hospital gown, I was more focused on getting this appointment done and getting back to Mira before she starts freaking out for her next feeding.
Dr. G and her fellow felt the lump and confirmed its existence via ultrasound. They felt a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy was necessary to confirm whether it was anything to worry about. As they began prepping for the biopsy, we got the call from my mom saying Mira was awake and screaming – where were we and when were we returning? We didn’t share the news about the lump with my parents at the time since we all had enough stress on our mind with Mira’s condition, and why worry about something that is likely just a clogged milk duct?
The biopsy itself was reasonably painless. The initial needle for the local anesthesia, and the slight burning feeling that followed, was the worst part, and even that wasn’t too bad. A very thin needle, similar to one used for a normal blood draw, was then used to extract cells from the mass (unlike a core biopsy where actual pieces of the tissue are extracted). There was one point where I felt a very momentary sharp pain during one of the extractions, but after they then added a bit more local anesthesia, I felt no other pain. Upon completing the biopsy, Dr. G indicated that the texture of the mass felt soft to her – more indicative of a milk duct / benign mass than anything malignant, but that she should know the results by Thursday. I remember looking at Ash at that time and hearing the huge sigh of relief and seeing the relieved smile cross his face. Comforted by the notion that everyone seemed to think it was just a pregnancy-related milk duct issue, we rushed back to the NICU to attend to our screaming baby. I began nursing her immediately, the band-aid from my biopsy still showing. (Dr. G had confirmed it’s fine to continue breastfeeding). I updated my mom at that time with where we were. Strangely, tears filled my eyes when sharing the news, even though all I was trying to convey is that the doctor feels confident it’s nothing to worry about. I don’t know what I was so emotional about, but I guess I had recently delivered a baby…
Sure enough, the milk came in soon after and I could no longer even feel the lump.