Thanks to her traumatic birth, Arya has a head injury from the vacuum extractor. Within a few minutes after her birth a pediatric neurologist was inspecting her in the delivery room.
The neurologist didn’t seem too concerned after his initial inspection of her skull. Nevertheless, he agreed to check on her and came by our room this morning to do a follow-up.
My baby’s head looks like it has a circular contusion in the shape of the vacuum extractor. The area is red, bumpy, and sensitive to the touch. Although the skin doesn’t look broken, there appear to be broken blood vessels all around her skull where she was compressed by the vacuum extractor. Because of the shape of the bruise, it is clearly a baby head injury from the vacuum extractor.
When the pediatric neurologist came to our room to do a follow up, he spent five minutes poking our baby’s head injury. He then spent another few minutes watching Arya interact with us. Although he repeated his opinion that her head should heal properly in a few weeks, the doctor also listed a number of signs to watch for including inability to be comforted, high fever, and feeding problems.
We are obviously happy that the pediatric neurologist feels that Arya will be fine. However, we also feel guilty that our baby’s first experience in the world consists of a painful head injury. My wife feels– despite by best attempts to explain otherwise–that it was somehow her fault that Arya wouldn’t come out without the vacuum extraction. My wife pushed for 4 hours prior to the operative assist with the vacuum. Considering that she had already been in the hospital for 24 hours when she began pushing, I don’t think there is anything more she could have done.
In my case, I feel guilty about pushing the obstetrician to forgo a Caesarean section. I’m sure the doctor would not have hesitated to override my strong preference for a vaginal delivery if there were a medical necessity. But since Arya was in no immediate danger, he allowed us to make the choice. Since my wife was in no shape to talk, much less make any decisions, I gave the doctor approval for a vacuum extraction. In that way, I feel at least partially responsible for my baby’s head injury.