The last few days have marked our lives forever. Our sweet boy came into the world very early Thursday morning in a traumatic way, but we couldn’t be more glad he’s here, and more thankful for all the ways God’s hand was so evidently paving the way for his birth.
Lots of people have asked the story, so I’m going to post it here. Fair warning: some of this may be major TMI. If you’re freaked out already by me saying placenta, uterus, gushing blood, throwing up, catheter… Stop now! The rest of you, read on. You’ve been warned.
I was around 29 weeks pregnant when my blood pressure started to rise. It wasn’t super dangerously high, but they definitely started keeping a close eye on it. One night when I was 30 weeks, it had been super high all day, and I couldn’t get it to read below 140/90 (when you start treading in dangerous territory). I made a call to my midwife around 10pm and she had me lay down and it did come down to an “ok” level. She had me come in for labs the next day (Thursday, Mar 14) and an appointment Friday. They were getting concerned about preeclampsia, “a life-threatening disorder that occurs only during the pregnancy and postpartum period. Preeclampsia and related disorders such as HELLP syndrome and eclampsia are most often characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and/or the baby.” At my appointment Friday, I learned that my labs showed an issue with my kidneys, but they weren’t too worried at this point. I had planned to go to MN for my second baby shower that weekend, and the midwife said I was ok to go, but I needed to come in on Monday. We did go up to MN (and thank you for the amazing shower, girls!), but I didn’t feel great all weekend. I saw the midwife first thing Monday morning, and my BP was still high and even after lying down it wasn’t coming down. She wanted me to try a couple herbal supplements, and see if we could lower my blood pressure that way, since they really weren’t concerned about the kidneys at that point. She scheduled me for weekly appointments every Monday from there on out and weekly non-stress tests every Friday to monitor the baby. She wanted to repeat my labs that Thursday, to see how they had changed in a week. But then at the end of the appointment, it almost seemed like a mistake at the time, she asked me to do labs quick before I left. I gave them more of my blood and headed on my way with my list of herbs. I picked them up at the natural food store on the way home. I was emailing with my midwife that night and the next morning, because I wasn’t sure if one of what I had gotten was quite right. She told me to hold off, she had just gotten my labs and was waiting for a call back from the OB they work with, because one of them was concerning. She finally called me that afternoon (Tuesday, Mar 19), and said she hadn’t talked to Dr. Schwartz yet, but that I needed to pack a hospital bag, because she just knew he was going to have me admitted. I was NOT expecting any of that! I somewhat frantically packed myself a bag for my indefinite hospital stay, and packed a few things for the baby (we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl!) juuuust in case I didn’t come home before the baby came (I thought it was a long shot, but didn’t want to have to try to explain to Andy where and what everything was if I did need him to bring it at some point. We even laughed about it as we left the house “well that’s a weird thought that we wouldn’t make it back before the baby’s born” …ha!
We got to the hospital around 3:30 Tuesday afternoon and they admitted me, had me on bed rest on my left side, and had me start a 24 hour urine sample to check for protein which can indicate preeclampsia. I was BORED, but everything seemed fine. Andy was here with me for some of the evening, then went to pick up the dogs (Torq had actually had a couple of teeth pulled that day!), and then he did come back for a bit that evening again. He went home and slept for the night and I tried to get sleep in my uncomfortable hospital bed, with nurses coming in every couple hours and 2 monitors strapped to my belly to monitor the baby.
Wednesday was another long, boring day. They repeated my PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension) labs, and I continued bedrest and my 24 hour urine. I was really feeling quite “fine” the whole day. They asked me to rate my pain each time they came in the room, and my answer was always zero.
The nurses change shifts at 7 and 7, and my new nurse came in sometime between 7:30-8 to meet me that night. She was amazing, and absolute gift from God. Honestly, I couldn’t have made it through what transpired over her 12 hour shift so well without her. I need to figure out a good gift for her. She came in and asked a bunch of questions, and I was the only patient she had at the time, so she stayed to chat for about an hour. We talked about Minnesota, Kansas City, the crazy hot summer we had here, her pregnancies, her kiddos, just everything. I felt like I was talking to a friend. Andy had a super long day at work (he has been an absolute rock star taking care of EVERYTHING for us this whole week!!), and didn’t make it down to the hospital until about 8:30. He was exhausted, so we just played a hand of cards (which I lost, boo!). He headed home for the night shortly after 10.
I got ready for bed after he left (I was able to wear my own clothes while I was here which was nice!), and laid down to try to get comfy. That was just not happening. I figured it was from lying on my one hip for days on an uncomfortable bed, but I just could not get comfy. My nurse, Chanell, came in and checked on me around 11:30, and I told her I was just going to try to get some sleep.
The discomfort in my lower back and lower belly was getting worse. I knew they were going to need to come adjust the monitors, so I decided to let myself get into ANY comfortable position until they did. I remember kind of rolling back and forth, not sure if any of it was comfy, when all of a sudden I felt a HUGE GUSH. I thought my water had broken, but I couldn’t be sure. I wasn’t super concerned if that was the case, I knew enough to know that wasn’t the end of the world. There are lots of things they can do at that point to keep baby in and healthy. I called my nurse and let her know that something weird just happened, but did give her the disclaimer that I may have peed my pants. Lol. She told me to just stay calm and she’d be there in a minute. She brought in a kit to test what had come out to see if it was amniotic fluid. Another nurse and a resident OB had come with her as well. They asked me a bunch of questions, and the two nurses helped me pull my pants off. They were FULL of blood (the one nurse estimated about 300ccs). This was the first moment that bits of panic started to set in. I called Andy to let him know (that was at 11:50pm), but my doctor wasn’t even coming in at that point, so I didn’t think Andy needed to lose sleep and drive all the way here over something that could have been nothing. They kept asking if I knew my placenta placement, and I kept telling them it was anterior (in the front). Because I wasn’t in any pain (just discomfort/tightness), none of them believed this could be a placental abruption, they thought we were dealing with a previa (where the placenta is positioned over the cervix). They got the monitors situated again and baby’s heartbeat was fine and I wasn’t having contractions. I was still very uncomfortable, but they were placing my IV and getting the kit to start a catheter (even if it was just a previa bleed, I’d need to be on complete bed rest until delivery). They got orders from my doctor to start magnesium to try to lower my blood pressure, which was at 182/119 at this time. As soon as they started the magnesium, (pardon my language), shit hit the fan. I started throwing up and quickly filled two bags before my 8 huge heaves were over. I felt like absolute death. Then my body started to feel like it was 150
degrees, and I remember telling them ” I’m soooooooo hot!” Someone got me a cold washcloth for my forehead and that did help, but they assured me it was just from the medicine.
At some point in here I was able to call Andy back, that was at 12:23am. I’m pretty sure that was just after I threw up. At that point I wanted him here, but still didn’t want him to have a horrible night over me just being sick. I was trying to tell him that, and he was half asleep and not quite comprehending everything, and Chanell looked me in the eye and said “it would be a good idea for him to get here”. So I relayed that to him and hung up. When I threw up, it was so violent I had dislodged the monitors again so Chanell worked hard to get them back in place. I knew something really wasn’t ok when she called over one of the other nurses because she couldn’t get it and wanted her to try. They weren’t getting anything for his heartbeat, so someone went to grab a portable ultrasound machine. Everything is pretty much a blur for me because of the yucky magnesium, and the amount of blood that I had lost. My doctor arrived at the same time as the ultrasound machine and wheeled it to my far side. He sat down and placed the wand on my belly, and said very matter of factly, “we need to go. Now.” Next thing I knew, the sides of my bed were up, wheels unlocked, and everyone who had been in that room with me (lots of nurses and doctors!) all had a side of my bed and were RUNNING full boar through the halls of he hospital. I couldn’t even open my eyes because I felt so sick, but did open them when we got to the OR. I’ve never been in one before, and I remember it didn’t look how I expected! They worked frantically to get their tools ready (Dr. Schwartz yelled, “it doesn’t matter! Just throw everything on the table!!”), they doused my belly with iodine, inserted my catheter, placed a plastic cover over where the would cut, and tried to hang a “curtain” in front of my face (they had nothing to hang it with, so they were trying to wrap it around some poles). Wile they were all working on that, the anesthesiologist was up by my head trying to get ready to put me under. He could not get the machine to turn on that would monitor my heart rate, BP, oxygen, etc. Everyone in the room tried to push that power button, but the machine was not going to turn on. The finally unhooked it from all the hoses in the ceiling, and someone grabbed a new one. They got it hooked up, but THAT one wasn’t working either!! Dr. Schwartz was getting a little frantic at this point, he was shouting to the anesthesiologist that he needed me under like 5 minutes ago, and the anesthesiologist was shouting to someone else “I don’t care what but get me something to monitor her blood pressure, heart rate, etc!!” I was getting worried at this point that they were going to give up on a anesthesia and just slice me open. I remember asking my nurse if anyone was going to hurt me, and if I could please just have some warning if something was going to hurt. She assured me all was ok. I don’t know what they got, but finally there was a mask on my face and he said to me “ok, you’re going to go to sleep for a bit, we will see you soon.” I tearfully said thank you and I was out.
Josiah was born at 12:49am (just 26 minutes from my second phone call to Andy!). His first APGAR score was only 3 (it needs to be over 7), and he was very limp and pale. Because my placenta HAD in fact separated (abrupted), and the 1/3 that abrupted included his cord, Josiah was without support from me for a while, and that’s why they needed to get him out as fast as they possibly could. His heart rate was in the 80s while in my room, but was around 100 when he was born. To give perspective it hadn’t been under 140 my whole pregnancy, which is very normal. They didn’t need to resuscitate him at all when he was born, and he did try to breathe on his own when he came out. He wasn’t able to breathe enough, so they intubated him, and he is still intubated now. He was taken right to the NICU.
In a surgery like mine that is such an emergency, they don’t take the time to count all of their tools, sponges, etc. What they do is just do the surgery, close me up, and take me for an X-ray to see if anything is still inside. Unfortunately they found a sponge the had left behind, so they had to open me back up. The were planning to leave me under the whole time, but as they pushed on my belly I woke up. I was intubated at the time, and pulled the tube out while a couple nurses tried to hold me down. Then I started throwing up again (yes, while still lying flat on my back on the bed with an oxygen mask over my face. That was not pleasant. My nurse said to me, “you look a little green” – and I felt really green! Sometime during this awake time I asked Chanell if the baby was ok, and if I was ok and she said yes, and told me it was a baby BOY! They got me cleaned up, put me back under, and reintubated me to finish the surgery. Next thing I knew I was waking up in my recovery room, and I finally got to see Andy (who had pictures of our baby boy for me!). I was still very out of it for many hours. My amazing nurse said I could have been transferred to post partum, but I was her only patient and she wanted to keep me with her until she went home for the day. I seriously can’t say enough about her – she was an absolute godsend. She sat with me in that recovery room for hours and each time I woke up she got me a sip of water or anything else I needed.
Once I got settled in my post partum room, around 10:30am, they got me a wheelchair and I was able to go meet Josiah for the first time. He was just precious!
We’ve both got a long road of healing ahead of us, and as hard as it is to be separated from him – there’s a peace that comes with knowing he’s in amazing hands and I can heal. We are both doing as well as can be expected.
Apparently being intubated does quite the number on your throat, so 3 days later I’m still struggling to speak. It’s getting better each day, but they said it will still be a few more days until that’s back to normal. I apologize to those who have wanted to talk to me who I’ve had to turn down. It just takes too much exertion, which puts a lot of pain on my incision too.
I will continue to update this blog with updates about my recovery and about Joey as he continues to develop and grow, and as we eventually bring him home one day. He wasn’t due until May 19, and likely wont come home until about then.
I’ve got lots of updates even as we’ve been here. I will work on those tomorrow.