The Littlest Lion Arrives

Author: Tiffany Intal

In case you missed it, I was miserable during the final weeks of my pregnancy. So, imagine my relief (and pain!) when I realized my baby girl was finally on her way. I wasn’t 100% sure I was in labor at first. My contractions were painful, but inconsistent. This should explain why I let John drive 45 minutes away so he could play a round of golf with his buddy. He was hesitant to go at first, but I was confident that I was just having Braxton Hicks contractions as usual.

I’ll spare you the gory details, but wouldn’t you know it—it became evident my contractions were the real thing just as John started to play his third hole of golf. I’m a pro at this birthing thing, but I was less than enthused when John implied he might as well finish all 18 holes. (Yes, really.)

Before I could react, John quickly retracted his suggestion and sped back home. I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt, and I’d like to think he was just pulling my leg. Sure, we still had a few hours before the baby would arrive, but there was no way I was going to experience early labor by myself. I had all three kids home with me, and I cry like a big old baby when I’m in a lot of pain. Besides, we had lots of preparing to do before we left for the hospital.

My Birth Plan

When we discovered Noie was a carrier of factor VII deficiency, I wasn’t entirely clear what our birth plan would be. Noie had my copy of the mutation, so we assumed she wouldn’t be a symptomatic carrier, because I wasn’t one. Call me paranoid, but I was a little uneasy with the idea of not following the hemophilia protocol for labor and delivery. What if some freak error caused my amniocentesis results to be inaccurate? So, after speaking with my obstetrician and Niki’s hematologist, we agreed it would be best to follow the protocol anyway—just in case.

I don’t care how many times I’ve done it—five times, to be exact—but giving birth hurts! I unintentionally gave birth to Niki without any drugs, and there was no way I planned on doing that again. My hat’s off to women who can give birth au naturel, but I’m not one of them. After 13 hours of labor and lots of pain relief, Noie was out in three pushes: seven pounds, three ounces of pure joy! Our youngest daughter, Anjali Noelle (Noie), was born on January 24.

There was a bit of debate on whether Noie needed to have her coagulation labs and factor VII level drawn immediately after she was born. John and I assured the attending pediatrician that our hematologist wanted these tests to be done, but no one seemed to understand why, since she was only a carrier.

Niki had a cord blood study done immediately after birth (to prevent being poked) but despite our insistence, they skipped the opportunity with Noie. Later that morning, the pediatrician got in touch with hematology, and of course they wanted the labs to be drawn just as we insisted. (Drawing labs was listed as part of the protocol.) It was too late to test her cord blood, so Noie was sent to the NICU twice to get poked: once to check her factor VII level, and another time to draw her coagulation labs.

Results of the Lab Tests

Everyone assumed Noie would have normal lab results, but to our surprise, her factor level was slightly low at 33%, and her coagulation baseline was ever-so-slightly abnormal. I don’t think anyone was expecting that. John and I were glad we persisted. Had we dismissed the need for labs, we would have never known. Noie had a joint follow-up visit with Niki’s hematologist, and the plan is to check her labs again when she turns 6 months old. We’re hoping her factor VII level will normalize by then.

I know my birth story sounds like a total nightmare, but I was very happy with the doctor and nurse that helped my deliver my baby. They followed the delivery protocol perfectly and were totally supportive and encouraging during my birthing process. And even though there was some confusion on the need for lab tests, I don’t blame the pediatrician, either. We’re dealing with a rare disorder that doesn’t have much clinical data documented, so there’s always room for debate. All in all, John and I were very pleased with the outcome of Noie’s birth day. We were discharged to go home the following day.

Noie is almost 2 months old now, and I honestly forgot how tiring—and expensive—it is to have two little ones in diapers. Kevin just barely turned 2 when Anthony was born. And even though Ethan was only home for three days, Boo was still in diapers when he was born, too!

Nevertheless, John and I are enjoying our newborn daughter and all the pandemonium that comes with having four kids in the house. I’m absolutely in love with my newborn daughter and that “new baby” smell.

Read more about Tiffany's life at The Art of Lion Taming.