In my last post, I talked all about infertility and my pregnancy. I had a relatively easy pregnancy – morning sickness, but nothing too severe. It was more like an overactive gag reflex. I had a bad round of stomach flu around Thanksgiving, but that was really it.
January went by smoothly. I was really fatigued, but chalked it up to a normal pregnancy symptom. Everything was going well. Until February 6th.
On February 6th, I had my normal OB/GYN 32 week appointment. As usual, I left it up to Jack if he wanted to come or not. His response was the same as the other times – if I felt I needed him, he would come. I told him not to worry about it. After all, there’s nothing exciting about a normal 32 week appointment. For some reason, on my lunch break, I sent Jack a text message and asked him to meet me for my appointment. I’ll never know what exactly prompted me to do that but I’m so glad that I did.
At the start of my appointment, my blood pressure was high. REALLY high. However, it had happened at the last two appointments and went back to normal later on during the appointment. They had me lay down on the exam table and came back a few minutes later to take it again. Still really high. A few more minutes and a third time…still high. At this point, the doctor came in and explained that they had found protein in my urine – a sign of preeclampsia. With that and my blood pressure readings, Jack was given strict instructions to take me directly to the hospital – no stopping for food, no going home and packing.
I cried the entire car ride – about half an hour. I worried about the baby. I worried about myself. I worried about Jack, should something happen to me or the baby or both. I worried about if the cats had food and water at home. I worried about anything and everything I could think of. I could still feel the baby moving, which was a small relief for me. I got to the hospital and got checked in. I was hooked up to a blood pressure machine to take my blood pressure every 15 minutes. And the kicker…I had to catch all of my urine and put it in a bottle for 24 hours so they could get a better analysis of the amount of protein in my urine. Being 32 weeks pregnant, it was A LOT of urine. At the hospital, I was allowed to eat and get up and move around. One of the other small comforts was a nurse that knew Jack and his family. My blood pressure went down a little bit, on the high range of normal. I had no other symptoms of preeclampsia – no blurred vision, no major headaches, no swelling…no seizures. According to my initial blood pressure reading at the doctor’s office, I should have been having seizures.
It was a boring 24 hours. Jack stayed with me. We watched TV and slept the best we could. I had an ultrasound to check on the baby. While we were waiting for the results, I was brought dinner – Thanksgiving dinner. It was awesome. This was on Thursday, February 7th.
I had finished my food and was getting anxious to go home. I knew I would probably be put on bedrest, but I was fine with that. The next thing I knew, I had several people rush into my room. They started setting me up for an IV. I panicked. I knew this wasn’t good, and I knew it meant I wasn’t going home. I had no clue what was going on. My blood pressure skyrocketed to 170s/130s. I was then told (AFTER getting the IV fluids and being started on magnesium sulfate) that I was being transferred to a hospital with a higher level NICU for the baby. I got a steroid shot for the baby’s lungs (I would get the second one the next night) and was transported via ambulance to a hospital a little over an hour away. Jack had to follow in the car, probably the most excruciating drive of his life. He had no clue what would happen to me or the baby. He called both his parents and my parents on the way. I can’t remember if his parents visited that night, or the following night, but they were there when I got a more detailed ultrasound to determine the baby’s growth. I knew the baby should be between 3.5 and 4 pounds. He was estimated to be about 2 pounds. I was completely floored. I was diagnosed (or rather, the baby was diagnosed) with Intrauterine Growth Restriction, caused by the preeclampsia.
Now, it still bothers me how that sort of growth restriction went on undetected. With all of my ultrasounds and appointments, I wonder if there was ever a time when his growth wasn’t on track, and if so, why wasn’t he checked more thoroughly? I will probably never know.
Jack’s family continued to hold out hope that the baby wouldn’t have to be delivered. I knew in my heart that he would arrive that weekend. I was given the second steroid shot for the baby’s lungs around 6:30pm on Friday, February 8th. The goal was to make it another 24 hours for the steroids to have maximum effectiveness. I had been given a choice to have labor induced or to have a c-section. With the growth restriction, the doctors weren’t sure if he would survive labor if it got rough. It was really no choice at that point – a c-section it was. I worried all night Friday, but managed to get a little sleep. I believe I was given Ambien to help.
I woke up Saturday morning, and tried to make light of the situation. I should mention that I wasn’t allowed to get up out of bed, as magnesium sulfate makes your muscles weak. I also wasn’t allowed to eat. So the last time I had been out of bed and eaten was Thursday evening before the ambulance ride. I had already been told that it would be 24 hours after the baby’s birth before I would be allowed to get out of bed and eat. There was a movie marathon on the TV. I turned it on, since the 40 Year Old Virgin was playing. I at least thought I could laugh a few times. I was incredibly anxious about the c-section and what the outcome would be. At some point during the movie, the doctors came in with a buzzer and put it on my belly. They said the baby’s heart rate was good, but he wasn’t moving as much as they would like. He started moving around with the buzzer, and even kicked at it. I continued to watch the movie and tried not to worry.
Around 1:30, I had a flood of people rush into my room. Once again, no one told me what was going on until it was underway. The baby wasn’t moving around. His heart rate was still okay, but not as good as it had been. They were doing an emergency c-section. I clutched to a stuffed bear that Jack had brought. I told him I wouldn’t let go of it, that way they couldn’t take the baby early. He pried it out of my arms. I told him I wanted my mother, or his mother, or somebody’s mother. Our families weren’t there yet. They weren’t supposed to come until about 4. Jack immediately called them and told them they were taking me to surgery.
They took me to the operating room to be prepped and Jack was left behind to dress in his operating room outfit (which, funny enough, didn’t fit and they had to rig it). I cried through the local anesthesia and the spinal block. It didn’t really hurt but it was my response to being nervous. The spinal block worked immediately. I was also given morphine. The medications made me nauseous, so I was given Zofran.
Jack came into the operating room just in time. I asked him repeatedly if the baby was out yet. He didn’t know. I didn’t hear anything. And then finally, after the longest minutes of my life, I heard what sounded like a tiny lamb. Justin was born at 2:43pm. He weighed 2 pounds 8 ounces, and was just 16 inches long. But he took his first breath on his own, which was encouraging. We knew it would be an uphill battle with a lengthy hospital stay, but he had made his way into the world.
More to follow…