I am beyond grateful to introduce to you...
born January 6, 2013 at 1:18 am
(31 weeks 2 days)
3 pounds 13 ounces
*The photo above was actually taken when she was 4 days old this last Thursday when I was discharged from the hospital. It's my favorite photo of her so far.
**Also, I'm sharing her real name for now, but I will probably go back and edit it out in a week or so. She is named after a favorite saint, and my own beloved grandmother.
***This will probably be much more than you ever wanted to know, but this is my journal of sorts where I put things I want to remember. So you've been warned. Proceed with caution.
Okay, the birth story…..where to begin…
I'm calling it an unexpected journey, because though I knew what could happen I had steeled myself in the thought that it probably wouldn't happen like that…that is, that hopefully, most likely, everything would go without a hitch; smoothly and uneventfully.
I was wrong.
If you remember I was admitted to the hospital after my second episode of spotting. The day after that post on Thursday, Jan. 3rd, I had my first full bleed. They moved me back down to the Labor/Delivery floor and began to prep me for surgery and even had me call my husband to tell him it would probably happen that night. My bleeding stopped shortly after being moved to the L&D floor, though. After close monitoring, watching and waiting for a few hours they decided not to go through with the surgery to see if they could get the baby a few more days in the womb. It was a miserable next few days. I was so worn out with blood loss and anxiety. They wanted to give me IV iron to bolster my levels, but the IV site didn't react well at all. It was such intense pain. They had to stop the infusion and remove that IV. Because of my high risk of having another bleed and going into emergency surgery they absolutely needed at least one working IV in me at all times. Unfortunately, because of my very low blood pressure they couldn't get another one going. Two nurses worked at it. They tried 5 times before calling in another "specialty" nurse (the ones that fly on the helicopters) to try to get one started. He finally succeeded. Ouch. My arms look worse than a junkies; bruises, discoloring, and pokes everywhere. I was strapped down with monitors, tubes and wires. I could only moisten my mouth with the little sponges on a stick because they didn't want me to eat or drink in case of immediate surgery. This was very hard, but considering I was only allowed a bed pan, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. I think I cried more in those few days than I had all year. I missed my children and husband so much. I was very worried about the baby. And after days in the hospital, experiencing the close call on Thursday night and having the medical staff treat me like a "dead man walking" it was pushing me to my physical and emotional limits. It seemed everyone at the hospital knew about me and my condition. One nurse that was very kind and actually requested to care for me, confided in me that the other nurses were nervous about being the one to care for me or flat out didn't want to take care of me because of my high risk status. I can't blame them. I was a ticking time-bomb.
The next night a Urologist came in to talk with me about the possibility of the "situation" involving my bladder. Oh, Lord. I was so upset by this new possibility. I really didn't need one more thing to be worried about. Like I had done from the moment I entered the hospital I offered it up to Our Lord in union with His sufferings for my own special intentions and those I had promised to pray for. This was very comforting for me. To know that the suffering was doing good for someone else. It wasn't meaningless. Meditating on Our Lord's Passion and Our Lady's Seven Sorrows were my main consolation. One of the things that bothered me about the hospital was that though it is a Catholic hospital and they did have a cross up in every room, it was without the traditional corpus and had instead a more modern "risen Christ". How I missed my suffering Lord. I told Mark to please bring up one of my children's standing Crucifixes to have at my bedside along with my wooden statue of the Blessed Mother. We cannot fully experience the Resurrection without first going through the Passion.
The night of January 5th I had my second full bleed and this time it did not stop.
I'm pausing here. This is painful for me to relate and my thoughts become jumbled…
It was late and I can't recall the exact time, but I had already turned out the room lights and tried to settle myself to sleep without the help of my new friend Ambien. I rolled to my side and felt the gush of blood. I first said, "No. Oh, please, no." Then I pushed the call button for the nurse..."I'm bleeding." I laid there as motionless as I possibly could and still the blood flowed. Within seconds I was surrounded by the whirling turmoil of nurses and other medical staff working around me. I think an "on floor" doctor was there, too, but I can't remember for sure. A second IV was started after several tries and a catheter put in place (usually done after you're put under, but in my case they had to save time). I called my husband and told him that this was it and I would be in surgery probably before he left the house.
They took me, still laying in my bed, several floors down to the main OR. I was shaking uncontrollably, though they had covered me with several blankets taken straight from the warmer. This is my very annoying response to intense stress…that or I was going into shock. They stopped right outside the OR and continued to prep me placing those sticky monitors all over my body. At this point the anesthesiologist came up to me and began his onslaught of questions. How many past surgeries? Any adverse reactions to anesthesia? Any allergies?… while he paused to breathe I got in my own question. Will I be able to stay awake as I have for previous c-sections? The answer was no. He told me I would be put completely under because of all the risks and complications this surgery may have and the fact that my blood pressure was already very low. There was no changing his mind on this. I panicked. I wouldn't be able to see my baby immediately following delivery.
I might never see my baby.
As they moved me into the OR and onto the table I couldn't hold back my tears... just as I can't hold back my tears now. That sterile, cold operating room might have been the last thing I saw. I began to pray like I've never prayed before. The only thing was that I couldn't remember the simplest prayers. Prayers that I had known by heart since I was a small child. Even my favorite daily prayers escaped me. Because I couldn't remember an Act of Contrition, I instead prayed, "Lord, forgive me." Instead of an Act of Love I prayed, "Lord, I love you." And instead of An Act of Faith or Hope I prayed, "Jesus, I trust in Thee." and finally, "Lord, if I do not live through this, please, let me be with you."
My arms were stretched out, cruciform, and strapped down as they are for any surgery. But unlike with my past surgeries, this image was not lost on me this time. As I repeated over and over, "Jesus, I trust in Thee" and "Jesus, I love you", they put the drugs into my IV and the O2 mask on my face. It seemed to take a long time, but I eventually went to sleep.
Now is where I fill in from what my husband, nurses and doctors told me afterward…
By the time my husband got to the hospital the baby had been delivered. He was informed that I was in recovery under observation and that I would probably be out in an hour. Before that hour was up a nurse came to tell him that I had begun to hemorrhage and that I had been taken back into the OR. They opened me back up and decided the only way to stop the bleeding was to remove the uterus. Even after they had removed the uterus I continued to bleed. I was told that I had lost so much blood that although they were transfusing me my body just would not begin to clot. I'm still not quite sure how they finally got the bleeding under control, though somehow they did… no, I do know. It was all of the many, many prayers that had been offered up for me and the baby. All in all I required 10 units of blood, two bags of fresh frozen plasma, two bags of platelets, and some fiber (?) something or other that was applied which gives the body something to begin to clot to. The second surgery lasted about 2 1/2 hours.
The doctor came to talk with Mark and to tell him all that had happened. He was in shock. I guess he was in just as much a state of denial as I had been. At this point they had moved me into the ICU for continued recovery and observation. Mark came right up to see me, but I was still under anesthesia. I guess the anesthesiologist came in to talk with Mark and informed him that during the second surgery I had started to wake up. He had had to back off from the amount of anesthesia he was administering because my already low blood pressure continued to drop. But I guess he had backed off a little too much. He told Mark that there was a possibility that I could remember some of the surgery and that I may have nightmares. So far I have not remembered anything, thanks be to God. I'm not sure I could handle it. I'm already having a hard time sleeping since being released from the hospital. Within a half hour of being in the ICU I woke up. I had no idea where I was, but I immediately went into a panic. I was in an incredible amount of pain and still intubated. I had no idea how truly terrible being intubated while awake could be. I had uncontrollable gaging, my hands were strapped down, I couldn't talk and although I was breathing, I felt as if I wasn't. A nurse had her back to me typing something on the computer, a few other medical staff were working around me and I was desperately wanting to tell them how much pain I was in. I kept motioning that I wanted to write. I was ignored and when Mark told them I was wanting to write something he was ignored as well. I remember one nurse or CNA being very concerned with my wedding ring. It was tight because my hand was swollen from all of the fluids given during surgery and she wanted to remedy it. Are you kidding me?! My ring?! I'm in excruciating pain and gagging uncontrollably over here and you're concerned with my ring?! Get these tubes out of me! ….Mark still cannot talk about me in this state without openly weeping. They had to take an x-ray of my lungs to make sure there wasn't any fluid in them before removing the tubes. More pain as they moved me gaging and foaming onto a hard board for the x-ray. The respiratory lady (not her official title) declared me fluid free so they slowly removed the tubes. I wish they would have just pulled them out all at once, but instead they removed them one at a time and slowly. What was terrible before became unbearable now. I was gaging, foaming, barfing and hyperventilating as they tried to suction out my mouth and pull out the tubes. Mark had been taken to the NICU to see the baby and to sign some papers so he wasn't there to see this. I was very glad of it. When he came back I was free of the tubes and had been set up with a pump button for my morphine. For whatever reason this was next to no relief for me. Really I never felt my pain was under control until I was taken off of the morphine and given percocet in pill form.
I had two days in the ICU before moving me onto the regular OB floor. Before releasing me from the ICU though they gave me two more units of blood, IV iron, potassium, and magnesium. My blood pressure continued to be low as well as my electrolytes. I spent another 3 days in OB recovery before being discharged. I was so torn when I left the hospital on the night of the 10th. I wanted to go home to rest and recover (you really can't do that in a hospital). Plus I missed my children at home. But leaving the baby in the NICU was SO painful and continues to be so. I miss her so much. I come home after a trip up to visit her and I feel like someone is missing. I go through counting all of the kids and realize that it's the baby I'm looking for. I do this several times a day. It doesn't help matters that I'm half crazed with postpartum hormones, I'm sure; laughing and crying at the drop of a hat. My poor husband.
I guess out of all this ordeal what was most unexpected is the profound loss I feel for my fertility. My husband and I truly feel like we are in mourning. We've shed many tears the past few nights lying in bed talking about it. That's not to say that we do not feel very grateful for our little girl or our other 8 children. Goodness knows we have been abundantly blessed. Yes. We have been blessed and I had thought that it wouldn't bother me much to lose my uterus. But to now have it actually happen…to know that this is it for us…Baby A will be our last baby…well, it makes me so, so sad. All of those prenatal flutterings and little kicks….no more. Every milestone and development Baby A goes through will be for the last time for us. I'm left feeling very empty.
Now that I am home I am trying desperately to bring in my milk. I'm pumping every three hours with a five to six hour break at night. At most I'm getting a total of 40 ml. I'm told this is very good considering all of what my body has been through and fluid I've lost. We bring up my milk every day for her feedings. We're still only allowed two times a day when I can hold her during her "care times". This is so frustrating. I hate putting her down at the end of our visits. I feel like I could hold her for an eternity. *sigh* She is doing fantastically well, though. She's been making daily progress in all critical areas. She is down to room O2 levels at a slightly positive pressure to help her lungs stay more open, but they tell me that it is minimal help and she is above where other preemies are usually at at her age. Her IV has been removed and she is tolerating her gavage (tube) feedings very well and they increase the amount she takes in at every feeding almost daily. She has needed to be under the bilirubin lights a couple of times and may need to be under them more in the days ahead, but I have been told this is very normal for most preemies. It would be more unusual if she did not need it. She is alert and amazingly beautiful…of course I'm probably a little biased. But all the nurses say the same thing, so it must be true. ;) Seriously though, to us she is total perfection.
I'm still sore and tired, but I'm off of the pain meds. Every day is a little better than the last and our focus now is on Baby A's development and going to see her as often as possible. They tell you in the NICU to not fixate on when the baby will be released and to just plan on the baby being in there until his or her actual due date. Even though it could be sooner they do not want the parents to get their hopes up only to be let down by a set back. They never rush a preemie baby's development.
So, we wait, pray, and look forward to the day we can bring her home with us.
I would like to thank you all for your prayers you have offered for me and our little girl. I know that is why I am still alive and why Anna continues to make such good progress. I feel so humbled by the love and outreach of those I have never even met in real life. I'm astounded at God's goodness and the faithfulness of this Christ-centered online community I am so blessed to be a part of.
May God bless you all.
All praise and honor be to God!