Thursday, July 31, 2014

Adventures in the NICU #1

After the nurses cleared me to visit my son, I hopped (actually I sat down very very gingerly) in a wheelchair and a volunteer pushed me over to the NICU while my husband followed.

Long Beach Memorial is quite a maze. There's the birthing center, the main hospital, and the children's hospital. My husband and I were already familiar with the birthing center, and the hospital lobby, but the children's hospital was a mystery to me. The volunteer explained that to reach the NICU we could go through the nursery (only if we had a nurse with us though), or we could go down to the elevators, make a right down this one hallway, then a left, then another right, and there it was.

Once at the NICU we had to sign in. Then we had to wash up at these old school sinks. You pressed a red button to turn on the water, and scrubbed up while the light was green, when the light turned yellow, you rinsed off, then dried off, and then you could enter the NICU nursery.

I gingerly stepped out of the wheelchair, dragged my IV over to the sinks, scrubbed up, and then followed my husband into the nursery.

Thankfully my little one was in the first incubator on the right, so I didn't have to walk far.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they were getting ready to give our baby an umbilical IV. It's a sterile procedure, so only those in hats and gowns were allowed to be near the incubator. My husband and I explained that I had only been able to see our son for a second after he was born, so the nurses made an exception and allowed us to take a peak at him before they got started.

At 3 pounds, 15 ounces, our baby boy was tiny. However he was long, clocking in at 16.5 inches. Despite the loud cries he had made at birth, they had him on oxygen, and it was heartbreaking to see his little face covered up by the mask. I had thought the steroids had helped, but apparently not.

After a couple of minutes the nurses ushered us out of the room and we headed back to the Post Partum ward. They had told me that I could come back in an hour or so, but my husband insisted I relax and get some sleep since I had been through so much. Plus, in the morning my nurse would be removing my IV, so it would be easier to get around since I wouldn't be dragging an IV pole around.

As much as I wanted to spend as much time in the NICU as possible, I listened to my husband's advice and crawled back in to bed. I was able to nap a little before the night nurse came in and showed me how to pump and advised me that from here on out I would be pumping every three hours to establish a milk supply for my boy. He was too young to nurse right now (babies don't develop the coordination to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time until around 34 weeks) but once he was stable they would be feeding him through a tube that went through his nose into his stomach, and they would need the milk then.

The night nurse was fairly impressed by what I was able to get whenever I pumped that night, but by morning my supply had dwindled. She told me not to worry, and explained that it could take up to a week for my milk to come in - I just had to keep at it.

After breakfast, and after the nurse had removed my IV, I headed back down to the NICU. At some point during the night, they had removed my son's oxygen mask, and he was breathing room air without any issues. He was having some issues with his blood pressure, but he was responding well to his medication. Also, while they were giving him nutrients through his umblical IV, the doctors wanted to do something called a PICC line (which is a more permanent form of an IV) instead - but they wouldn't do it until that afternoon when the PICC nurse was there.

The nurse watching over him said it was safe for me to open up the incubator and reach in and touch him - however I couldn't do so for very long because they didn't want him to get cold. I quickly opened the door and reached in and touched his head - which was covered in a full head of hair - and marveled over how soft his skin was.

I stayed for two hours, before finally returning to my room in the Post Partum ward. I didn't want to go, I would've stayed there all day if I could have, but I needed to go to the restroom and it was almost lunch. Plus my Dad and Stepmom had brought breakfast for me since the hospital breakfast had been so disappointing.

Others stopped by throughout the day, bringing flowers, gifts of soda and reeses peanut butter cups, and company. Finally, after my husband got off work, he brought the biggest present of all - himself and In and Out.

Once we were done we went back over to see our baby boy. The doctor stopped by and explained that they were worried about how red and bruised he was. They decided to start phototherapy to help prevent jaundice.

My husband was able to touch his son for the first time, and he agreed that his skin and hair were soft. Then baby boy grabbed his finger in his tiny hand and my husband and I absolutely melted.

By the next day more photo therapy lights had been added to baby boy's bed. Apparently his jaundice levels had gone up over night. It was sad to see, but we weren't very worried since most babies nowadays seem to develop jaundice and, as a preemie, baby boy was just more susceptible to it.

Since they had added the PICC line, he no longer needed the umbilical IV, so they removed that - which was good to see. In addition to that his blood pressure had finally stabilized, so they had stopped those medications.

Because he was doing so well, there was talk of moving him to one of the other NICU nurseries - but that wouldn't happen until later that evening or very early in the morning.

Finally, since I was being discharged that day, the nurses allowed my husband and I an opportunity to hold our son.

He was a bit fussy at first, which we suspect was because they had the oxygen sensor wrapped around his arm. The connector is heavy for a newborn (heck its annoying for an adult to deal with!) so the nurse moved it to his leg instead and he calmed down quickly. We cuddled with him as long as they would allow, and then, with heavy hearts, we headed home.

The next day we were up early and headed back down to the hospital. Just like the doctor had warned us, over night our baby boy had been moved to a new NICU nursery. Thankfully, this one was closer to the entrance of the Children's hospital, so it was easier to get to. It was also much much newer and larger than the old NICU.

The phototherapy seemed to be working. Our son was still very red, but it had faded a lot from the day before. Also the bruising on his forehead (a battle wound from being born) had faded, as had the red mark on his nose. He had also lost a little weight (which happens with newborns). Thankfully it seemed to be mostly water weight as his swelling had gone down significantly.

They set him up with his feeding tube, and to ours and the nurse's surprise, he didn't fuss or complain while they were putting it in. He did sneeze a few times, but that was understandable since there was something going through his nose - poor guy.

We were allowed to change his diaper, and afterwards we read him a story one of my Aunts had mailed me. I had wanted to read him Harry Potter, but I was too emotional for that just yet.

Sunday we went to church for the first time in a month. It felt soooo good to be out and doing something normal. Sadly, we couldn't stay to chat with people afterwards because I had to run home and pump. But I'm sure they understood.

When we finally got to the hospital the nurse explained that as soon as his feedings reached the maximum the doctor had inputted into the system they would be removing our son's PICC line. Which was good, because it was in an awkward spot on his arm. Whenever he bent it, the alarm would go off, and he hated having to keep his arm straight. He would cooperate for awhile, but it wasn't long before he had wiggled around so much that the splint had fallen off. The nurse finally started placing a bean bag on his arm, but he was such a determined baby that he eventually figured out how to free himself from that.

Since his jaundice levels were a little better, we were allowed to hold him while he was fed. I jumped at the chance for skin to skin time, and our son enjoyed being out of the incubator. He looked around, staring at his dad, then me, then back again. I hated having to put him back, but hopefully the phototherapy would be over soon.

Monday was a bad day. I had posted something online talking about how my stay in the hospital had made it easier to get up every couple of hours to pump and not be tired. A friend commented that I should get used to it as I would never sleep again. A lot of people had actually said something similar to this ever since baby boy had been born - but this was the one comment that broke the camels back. Didn't our friends understand that our son was in the hospital? That we hadn't been able to take him home like a normal baby because he had been so early? That we would give anything to have him at home with us? Every time someone made a comment like that it was like rubbing salt in the wound.

I spent most of the morning bawling. I did better once we were at the hospital and I was able to hold our son, but then I had to leave early to go to a WIC appointment, and I was bawling once again - this time because I felt like I had been rushed and hadn't been able to spend enough time with him. I went back after the appointment though, and finally calmed down when the nurse reminded us that we could visit whenever we wanted.

The next day was a much better day. I was able to spend all day at the hospital, and my Mom and my Aunt finally got to meet our son. We went out to lunch afterwards, which was really nice.

On Wednesday, more visitors stopped by - this time my cousin and two of her daughters.

Also, baby boy was finally up to his maximum feedings, so they finally removed his PICC line. My son was free to wriggle around as much as he wanted to, and boy did he ever! He kicked off his cover and stretched out his legs, enjoying his freedom.

In addition to that, when it was time for his feedings, the nurse had me hold him, gave him his pacifer. She then took a tiny syringe full of a little extra of my breast milk, and would stick it into his mouth next to his pacifer and give him a few drops at a time. Baby boy loved it and happily sucked away.

This was a pretty big deal since one of the big steps he had to conquer before going home was learning how to breast or bottle feed. Normally baby's don't pick up the coordination to suck, swallow and breath until they're around 34 weeks. Baby boy was only 32 weeks adjusted (one week old officially) and they weren't supposed to start working with him on breast or bottle feeding for another couple of weeks - but he was so smart he had figured it out on his own.

Afterwards he wanted nothing to do with his pacifier unless a nurse pulled the same trick again!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #10

The first time I had gone home I had been worried and stressed - this time I was happy and excited. The heat wave had ended, and I knew if things went down we could reach the hospital quickly. My husband and I also made plans to have friends come and visit so I wouldn't be lonely any more.

Also, my bed wasn't possessed.

On the downside, my husband and his parents refused to let me leave the house - unless it was for the doctors office. No more going over to watch my husband feed our friends dogs. And going to church was out of the question - the doctors felt it was too far away if something went wrong.

I was sad to loose some of my freedom - but, hey, at least my bed wasn't possessed.

My husband and I quickly fell asleep that night, and I only woke up once or twice to go to the restroom. Around seven am my husband got up and got ready for work. I tried to go back to sleep, however my hips and back were once again protesting at laying down for so long. I tossed and turned some more before finally giving up.

Since my in laws weren't up yet, I fixed myself some cereal and set myself up on the recliner in the family room. Sitting there had helped my back before, and I was hopeful it would do so again, but, sadly, the pain only seemed to get worse. I finally broke down and took a Tylenol, and when that didn't work I hopped in the shower.

It was around then that I realized that, just like before, the pain was beginning to develop a rhythm.



I knew I should go to the hospital. The doctors had made it very clear that I was to do so whenever I felt contractions, after all. However, these weren't that intense. I decided to follow my one nurse's advice and drink some more water. I would give it 30 minutes to see if it worked, and if it didn't, then I would go to the hospital.

Unfortunately, the water didn't help - the contractions were only getting stronger, and it wasn't long before they were just as intense as the contractions that had sent me to the hospital  in the first place. In addition to that they were pretty close together - only 4 minutes apart.

Crap, crap, crap.

My mother in law was getting ready to go to a memorial with my father in law. I poked my head into their bedroom and told them what was happening. She quickly decided that she would take me to the hospital and my father in law would go to the memorial - she just needed to get her shoes on and grab her purse and then we'd be on our way.

I called my husband and let him know what was going on. He asked if I thought he needed to leave work. At first I said no, but then quickly changed my mind when he asked again. Yes, I definitely wanted him there, especially since he often remembered things I didn't, and even if he didn't, looking at him usually prompted my memory.

My MIL drove as fast as she could without breaking the law. Thankfully since it was after 10, traffic wasn't too bad, and we made it to the hospital in 30ish minutes. She parked outside of the Birthing Center at Long Beach Memorial, helped me out of the car and inside and then moved the car so she wouldn't get a parking ticket.

Unfortunately, there was a bit of an issue with the elevators. The first elevator I got in wouldn't move. The doors would open, but when you hit the button to go up, it just sat there.

Great, I thought, I was stuck and would give birth to my baby in an elevator.

Thankfully I was able to get out and get in another elevator that actually worked. Once I reached the second floor, where the birthing center was located, I let the nurses at the admitting desk know what was going on. They checked me in and explained that they would call my name in just a few minutes.

I found an empty seat in the lobby and kept an eye on the elevators; my husband actually works near the hospital, and I didn't think it would take that long for my mother in law to find parking, so every time I saw the elevator doors open, I expected to see them standing on the other side.

However, before either of them could show up, a nurse was calling me into the triage area. I followed her back, and changed into a hospital gown. By the time I had given the nurse a urine sample, my husband and mother in law finally showed up (it turned out that the security guard had told her to go to the ER to wait for some reason). The nurse hooked me up to the monitors and we all settled back to wait.

The first go around and second go around we had been seen by a doctor pretty quickly - Dr S, since he was usually the night time on call doctor. This time instead of going to the on call doctor, the nurses were trying to get ahold of the doctor I was supposed to start seeing at the clinic the next week, Dr C, but she wasn't responding to their calls.

By now the contractions were getting closer together and were far more intense. In fact they were easily on par with the ones I had experienced the first time they had put me on Magnesium Sulfate! I gripped my husband's hand and tried to breath through them, but I desperately wanted something to make the pain go away.

The next time a nurse came in, I asked for pain killers. She promised that they were working on it, and quickly left the room to try to call Dr C again.

I complained to my husband that they should stop trying to call her and just give me something. Surely they could ask one of the other doctors! After all, they were all familiar with me and my situation!

I also asked my husband why we had decided to do this having a baby thing. I thought I asked in a reasonable tone of voice in an attempt to make my husband laugh. Apparently, according to him and my mother in law, I actually yelled it.

It's around this time that I suggested that he call my family and let them know what was going on. He borrowed my phone and did so, letting my Mom, Aunt, and Cousin know. Unfortunately he wasn't able to get in contact with my Dad.

A new nurse replaced the old nurse and asked how my pain levels were. I quickly let her know that the contractions were easily a 6 or a 7, and that I was feeling a lot of pressure with every contraction. Also, I was pretty nauseous. So much so that when I sat up in an attempt to try to relieve some of the pain from the contractions, I actually ended up vomiting. That led to a rush of dampness down below, making me think that maybe I had wet myself.

Since the old nurse hadn't checked my cervix, the new nurse quickly did so and discovered that I was 5 cm dilated, and 100% effaced. However my water hadn't broken yet, but when she checked the pad there was something in her expression that told me that she probably wasn't telling me everything.

Rather than try to call Dr C again like the other nurses had been trying, she stepped out of the room and waved down another doctor, Dr M.

Dr M had been the doctor on call the night I went into preterm labor for the second time and had been involved in my treatment at the hospital ever since. He checked me again and confirmed that I was 100% effaced, but to him it felt like I was 6 cm dilated, not 5 cm. Also, because of the fibroid I was bleeding more than your average pregnant woman in labor - which he had warned me would happen back during my first stay at the hospital. That explained the rush of dampness I had felt earlier.

(My husband told me he had actually bumped into Dr M outside while he was making calls to our various family members and his work, and that the man had recognized him as my husband and was shocked that I was back again. Once my husband told him what was going on, he immediately headed back to take care of me.)

He ordered that I be put on Magnesium Sulfate, and the nurse quickly set me up with an IV and got it started. I prayed that it would work this time like it had before, but the contractions were so strong and so close together!

I asked again for pain killers, specifically morphine. One of the nurses had offered it to me when I had some back pain while I was in the high risk ward. I hadn't taken it at the time because Tylenol easily fixed that problem, but surely I could have it now? Sadly, no. The nurse told me that they couldn't put me on morphine and magnesium at the same time as it was bad for the baby. As they moved me to a labor and delivery room, the nurse asked Dr M if they could do an epidural instead. He quickly agreed.

I think that's when it began to hit me that the baby was on it's way. I mean, they wouldn't give an epidural to just anyone right? (My husband tells me that Dr M told us the baby was on his way shortly after he checked my cervix, but I don't remember that)

In the labor and delivery room I became nauseous and vomited once more. There was more dampness down below, and the nurse began regularly checking the big absorbpads they put under labor and delivery patients. She piled them up in the linen closet and weighed them - which made no sense to me at the time.

She began to ask the normal questions - if I needed a blood transfusion would I want one? Yes. If they needed a c-section, would I be okay with that? Yup. What was my medical history? My husband took care of that for me since I was so out of it. Could I sign this paper? Not really - my IV was in my right hand this time - but I scribbled something down that vaguely resembled my signature.

After that was done, a man in scrubs stepped in to the room and introduced himself as the anesthesiologist. My husband decided to take this opportunity to step out (he doesn't like needles) and eat the pizza his dad had bought him from the cafeteria.

Getting back up into a sitting position, and moving to the side of the bed so the anesthesiologist could do his thing took far longer than I expected it would due to the constant contractions and their intensity. I finally made it though, and leaned against the little stand they had put there. I felt the three shots as he numbed the area, and then nothing, and then suddenly my legs began to tingle, and the contractions weren't nearly as bad as they had been before.

However they were still pretty painful.

I told the nurse that after the anesthesiologist left and she showed me that there was a button I could hit to get more pain killers added to the epidural. I hit the button and nothing happened. The little screen for the epidural just gave me a big no sign. I showed the nurse and she realized that the anesthesiologist hadn't hooked up the epidural catheter to the IV. She had him come back and connect the two, plus he gave me an extra push. When he left I clicked the button again to confirm that it was working like the nurse said it would.

It did. Between that and what the anesthesiologist had given me, life was good. I could still feel the pressure of each contraction, but there was no pain.

Dr R popped in around this time to see how I was doing. She was another doctor I had dealt with during my various stints in the hospital. She was the one who showed up every morning to see how I was doing and to give me an update on what the hospital's plan for treating me was. She was really nice, and reminded me a lot of my original OBGYN, Dr H. I absolutely adored her and was glad to see her.

She finally explained what we all knew - baby boy was on his way. I had dilated too far too quickly and there was just no way to stop the labor. (Meanwhile, apparently Dr M was out in the lobby trying to convince my family that they were trying to stop it...) At this point the magnesium was to protect the baby from any brain bleeds or other trauma, and they were adding penicillin to my IV since I had tested positive for Group B Strep (which is harmless to adults, but could be bad for the baby)

I had hoped that the magnesium would work like it had before and give baby boy more time to grow, but God clearly had other plans. At least I was at a good hospital with an amazing NICU and we would be taken care of.

Since I could talk again without having to pause every two minutes for a contraction, my family slowly trickled in to visit. I pointed out to my cousin and anyone else who would listen how my legs couldn't stop shaking. Apparently this is normal during labor, but I had never heard of it before and was kinda fascinated by it. I also kept telling everybody how the baby was already on his way - which they knew.

It was while my mother in law and I were talking that the contractions began to change.

Now in addition to feeling pressure with each contraction, I also felt the need to push. It was faint at first, but rapidly growing stronger. I let the nurse know and my mother in law ran out and grabbed my husband. By then the nurse had checked me and said that she could only feel the amniotic sack. She wasn't sure if that meant that I was fully dilated, or if the membranes were just bulging, so she called Dr R back into the room.

Dr R checked me and agreed that I was fully dilated. Unfortunately, while she checked me, another contraction hit, and the urge to push had only gotten stronger. I tried not to push, but it happened anyways, and my water burst all over the poor doctor. I apologized, but she shrugged it off, saying that she had had worse things happen.

Things happened quickly after that.

Dr R stood up, told the nurse to set up the bed, and rushed over to the linen closet between the rooms to get ready. The nurse lowered the bed so that I was flat on my back, and raised the stirrups - which were not what I was expecting. I had thought that they would look like the normal stirrups you see at the OBGYN's - no these cupped your entire calf. Since my legs were weak from the epidural, the nurse helped me raise them up and get them in to place.

While that was happening, Dr M and another nurse entered the room into the room, as did a team from the NICU. Dr R got into place to deliver the baby, while Dr M took up a spot by side and the extra nurse stood behind me.

And then it was go time.

My husband and I had never taken a birthing class. We had thought that we would have more time to do so. That said, it's amazing how my body knew what to do - I grabbed my calves like the doctors suggested and with every contraction I gave into the need to push and pushed! The only problem was that I seemed to be out of sync with the doctors. When Dr M wanted me to push, I wanted to take a breather. When Dr M wanted me to take a breath, I wanted to push.

At some point Dr R told me that I was close and asked if I wanted to feel the head. I declined the opportunity because I was afraid of it ruining my focus and rhythm. Also, the idea kinda grossed me out.

There were a couple of more pushes, and suddenly the pressure was all better and Dr R was holding a baby in her hands.

A very blue and red baby with very very dark hair.

That had come out of me?

I watched as she handed the baby over to the NICU people, who immediately began cleaning him up.

Why wasn't he crying?

Dr R and Dr M immediately began coaching me through delivering the placenta, but it was hard to focus. I stared at the corner my son had been carried off to, praying for any sign that he was alive.

And then I heard it, a faint cry that quickly became louder and louder as our baby boy found his voice.

He was alive!

And judging from the sound of him, those two rounds of steroids had really helped his lungs - just like the doctors said they would!

My husband cut the cord and took pictures, I asked him if the name we liked fit him and my husband thought it did. Then the NICU group wrapped him up, gave me a quick glimpse of him, and put him inside of the portable incubator they had brought with them. They rushed him off, with my husband hurrying after them to see which NICU he was being put in (Long Beach has two) and to get his measurements.

Dr R was cleaning me up when I overheard the nurse make a call to have housecleaning come in to clean things up. Apparently I had made quite a mess that my husband later compared it to something out of a horror show. Come to find out, I hadn't just been bleeding heavily like Dr M had warned me -I'd actually been hemorrhaging! That explained why the nurse had been weighing the absorb pads! Thankfully it wasn't bad enough that I needed a blood transfusion though, but I would need to take iron supplements when I was discharged.

In addition to that, while delivering the afterbirth, the doctors discovered that my placenta had begun to separate from the uterine wall - which is called placenta abrupta, and is very dangerous for both mother and baby - and had begun to disintegrate. Had labor gone on any longer, Baby Boy would have gone into distress and they would have had to do a c-section on me. The doctors decided that the placenta abrupta hadn't happened until I was pushing, or just before I had started pushing, as my baby had been fairly stable throughout everything.

God clearly had been watching over us.

Once everything was clean, Family began to come in to visit afterwards and congratulate me and my husband on our son.

Then, after he had cleaned himself up, Dr M stopped by to discuss my fibroid. They still believed that it was the cause of all my problems and that it should be removed ASAP (No duh). I had thought that they wouldn't be able to remove it for at least three or four months, but Dr M said that they could do it within 6 to 8 weeks. They'd extend my medical leave to give me time to recover from that, but he figured that my work would rather have me out for an extended period of time rather than go back and have to go out on medical again a couple of months later.

But first I had to recover from the birth - so we would discuss the details at a later appointment.

After Dr M left, it was just my husband and I and the nurse once more.

Because of when everything had gone down, we were very close to the changing of shifts. The nurse explained that I could either hang out in the labor and delivery room, eat dinner, and then be transferred over to Post Partum once the change happened, or I could go now and eat my dinner there. Either way I had to get up and walk to the restroom before they could transfer me.

I decided to do it as quickly as possible because the sooner I got to Post Partum, the sooner I could visit the NICU and see my son.

The nurse helped me sit up, and then stand. My legs were still a little tingly from the epidural - which had been turned off for almost an hour by this point - and the magnesium always makes you a little shakey on it's own, but I was able to walk over to the bathroom and sit down on the toilet without any issues. Then, once the nurse finished cleaning me up a second time (Here I thought my modesty had gone out the window during my first week in the hospital. Nope. Now my modesty was officially done) I got up again, walked over to the wheelchair another nurse had brought in for us, and sat down.

She wheeled me over to the Post Partum area and helped me into my room. I had been looking forward to having a private room again and having my husband stay with me, but since so many women had had babies that week, they were forced to double us up. They made sure to keep NICU moms with NICU moms though, which was nice, and hey, at least I didn't have a possessed bed this time!

As I ate dinner, everything really began to hit home.

I had given birth.

We had a little baby boy.

We were parents.

And he was in the NICU.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #9

After my birthday, my husband and I decided not to ask the Doctors any more about the possibility of me going home. It seemed like every time we did, something would happen - first there was the preeclampsia, then our baby's antics on my birthday. We didn't want to risk something else happening.

However, the Doctors kept bringing it up! First Dr B said that if I continued to stay stable, they might consider it at the end of the week. Then another doctor mentioned it. Finally one doctor told us that she had heard from another that I was getting antsy about going home, and restated that that would not be happening any time soon.

That last bit irked me, because neither my husband nor I had mentioned me going home since my birthday - so where had they gotten the idea that I was demanding to go home? Unless maybe one of the nurses had seen one of my bouts of homesickness and mentioned it to the doctors - but I hadn't felt homesick since before my birthday! I had finally accepted that I was here for the long haul and had begun to settle into my room. It also helped that my husband had brought my laptop, and friends had brought in yarn and books, so I had more things to do instead of just watching TV and playing around on my phone.

On Tuesday, one of the doctors mentioned sending a physical therapist up to teach me some exercises that were safe for me to do. Even though I was on bed rest, they didn't want my muscles to atrophy. Plus, I was having back issues from laying down all the time, so they thought that that might help me out.

They also brought up the possibility of pool therapy.

I was intrigued. Wouldn't a pool be a bad idea since I was 4cm dilated? The doctors quickly reassured me that it wouldn't be, since my waters hadn't broken, and it would be so low impact that it shouldn't cause any other issues. Unfortunately I would only be able to use it twice a week - but it would break up the monotony of being stuck in bed all day.

I quickly jumped at the opportunity, telling the doctors that I would love to do pool therapy. Unfortunately there was only one problem - I didn't have a swimsuit.

My husband went out that night and bought a brand new bathing suit for me, and I breathlessly waited day after day for the physical therapist to show up and take me down to this mysterious pool.

However, pool therapy was not to be. On Thursday, after 19 days of being in the hospital, and being told repeatedly that I wouldn't be able to leave until after the baby was born, the doctors changed their minds about sending me home and decided to discharge me. Our baby was still having dips here and there, but they were no where nearly as bad as they were before. Also it had been a week and a half since I had had any contractions. The doctors didn't see the point of keeping me because things were so stable, and they weren't doing anything special for me there that I couldn't do at home.

The only caveat was that I was still on bed rest and only allowed to go to the bathroom, take quick showers, and fix myself something to eat. I would come back to the hospital twice a week for non stress testing, and I would be seeing one of the doctors at least once a week at their clinic down the street. Also because I was 4cm dilated, the doctors explained that I would need to come back at the first sign of any problems. Contractions? Come back. Suspected water breaking? Come back. Baby not moving enough? Come back.

If I could have danced, I would have - by the end of the day I would be at home, with my cats, and my husband, and the rest of our family

Since my husband was at work, my inlaws came down to pick me up. Sadly I had not had time to pack a go bag, and my inlaws forgot to grab clothes for me, so I had to wear a nightgown that was a little on the short side, but it didn't matter - I was finally going home!!!!

After signing all the discharge paperwork, one of our favorite nurses packed me up into a wheelchair, and one of the hospital volunteers helped me move all the stuff I had accumulated during my stay in the hospital out to the car. My father in law drove slowly and carefully, but it wasn't long before we had parked in our driveway.

As soon as I stepped in the door, I picked up my cats and hugged them tightly. Murphy was unimpressed by my presence, but Connor cat began to purr up a storm. Then I retreated to my bedroom where I changed into something more normal and turned on the AC (we were in the middle of a heat wave). When my husband came home from work, we hugged and I cried a little, and then we retreated to the family room to sit in the recliners and talk a little.

We discussed rearranging our bedroom so we (meaning my husband) could set up our son's crib. The doctors had warned that there was still a chance that I would go into preterm labor again, but we were both hopeful that I would be able to make it to full term, so we figured we had time.

Then we retired to our bedroom, and for the first time in far too long we fell asleep in the same bed, holding hands like we normally do.

Day two at home was a little tougher.

I'd had a rough night where I kept waking up every couple of hours in pain. Each time I would lay there wondering if it was a contraction or just the normal aches and pains of pregnancy. It was always nothing, but I began to worry about what would happen if something did go wrong. At the hospital all I had to do was press a button if there was an emergency. At home, I would have to wake up my husband, and then we had at least a 30 minute drive.

In addition to that, after my husband left for work, I felt so lonely. Yes I had my inlaws to talk to, but I didn't want to bother either of them any more than the occasional request for water or food. At the hospital I constantly had nurses, doctors and volunteers walking in and out of my room. Also my friends and family would come and visit me fairly regularly. Now that I was home, who knew when I might see someone other than my husband or my inlaws. We had told them that they were more than welcome to visit, but they were being so quiet. In retrospect, they were probably just giving me time to settle in - but when you're emotional, you're rarely rational.

After my husband came home we talked everything out and I quickly realized I was just being silly - but then I began to bawl because I was being so ridiculous, and even though I knew I was still being ridiculous, I couldn't stop bawling. My husband reminded me that we had been through so much that it was bound to get to me eventually. Also, there were these pesky things called pregnancy hormones that were not helping matters either.

He was right, of course. Everything was fine, I was just stressed from everything that had happened, and the pregnancy hormones weren't really helping matters. My friends weren't ignoring me, they were just busy with their own lives. And I was crazy to think I was a bother to my in laws - they wanted me there and they wanted to help us. Things would get better.

Thankfully I was able to get some more sleep that night. Since the next day was Saturday, my husband was home all day, leaving my side only to get lunch. Instead of laying in bed, I got up and sat in a recliner, which helped my back, and, my cousin and grandma came to visit. They didn't stick around long because they didn't want to tire me out, but it was good to see them.

Since the doctors had said I could go out for short drives, that afternoon my husband and I went over to a friends house whom he was pet sitting for and fed their dogs. My father in law was worried that one of the dogs might jump on me, but our friends dogs had seemed to sense from the very beginning that I was pregnant and had always been very careful around me and protective of me. Besides, they were short dogs, so if they tried to jump on me the highest they could reach was my knees!

Even though I sat down on their couch as soon as we got there, it felt so good to do something so normal after weeks of doing nothing!

The next day my husband and I lounged on the couch all afternoon, only leaving the house to go and feed my friends dogs again. On the way home my husband stopped at Fresh and Easy and picked up dinner. Nothing was on TV so we turned on Netflix and started watching some documentary about one of Henry the VIII's castles.

And then I noticed that I was starting to have cramping again. Cramping that quickly escalated into contractions. They weren't very painful, but after watching the clock for awhile, I decided that since they weren't going away that it was time to go back to the hospital like the doctors had told me to do.

We quickly packed up a bag of necessities and drove down to Long Beach Memorial.

Once there we were escorted into the triage area where I was hooked up to the monitors. One of the doctors confirmed that I was having contractions and that they were more frequent than they cared for. They decided that they would hook me up to the magnesium sulfate once again, and do another round of steroids to help our baby's lungs develop even more.

From triage I was moved into an empty labor and delivery room so the doctors could continue to monitor me. My husband stuck around until 2, and then since he had an appointment early the next morning, he headed home to try and catch a little shut eye.

This time around I handled the magnesium better than the first two times. I still had the hot flashes, but I was more coherent, and I didn't have any hallucinations. However I wasn't able to get much sleep because the vampires had to keep drawing my blood every couple of hours.

The next morning my Mom and Aunt came to visit, as did my Dad. The nurses who remembered me were sad to see that I was back, and cracked jokes about how I must have missed the hospital food. I replied that I knew they missed how my husband fixed coffee, so I had brought him back for them. They laughed and agreed that they had missed that, and while they were sad to see I was back, they were glad that he would be making coffee for them once more.

Once my husband was done with his appointment, he came down to the hospital and quickly passed out on the pull out chair. We had planned for him to spend the night, but around 10 that night a nurse came in and told us that they would be moving me to a different room. Apparently they had had a sudden rush of pregnant women in labor and they needed the room I was in. The high risk ward was also full, but post partum had some open beds, so they were moving the more stable high risk patients over there for the night.

Unfortunately since the rooms in the post partum ward were shared rooms, my husband wouldn't be able to spend the night with me like we had planned. He followed me over and helped me get set up, and then went home to pass out.

If only I could have done the same.

Sadly my new bed, while more comfortable than a labor and delivery bed, was possessed. First the bed under my feet would inflate, then decrease. Then the section under my hips. Then my butt. Then my body, Then my head. It would buzz and vibrate as it did this, driving even my new roommate nuts.

I asked the nurses what was going on and they explained that the bed I was on was a bed designed to prevent bedsores on patients who were going to be stuck in bed for awhile. Sadly there was no way to turn it off, so they told me to just pretend that it was a massage bed.

Between that and the nurses coming in to check on myself and my roommate every couple of hours, sleep was impossible. By the time the doctors came to check in on me in the morning, I was begging to be moved to another mattress. Sadly there still was no room in the high risk ward, but they were hopeful that they might be able to discharge some patients by that afternoon. If not, then they would try to move us back over to labor and delivery since they didn't like us being so far away if something happened.

At around 9 am, the nurse came in and took me off the magnesium - which was quite a shock because the doctors had told me that they would be keeping me on it until midnight. Apparently I was doing so well that they felt they could take me off it sooner, and by noon, they told me that they would be sending me home since I was stable again.

I had been expecting that they would keep me for longer again - in fact, a part of me had been hoping they would - but after a night in that stupid bed, I was glad to get as far away from it as possible.

I was discharged around 3, and my mother in law, who had come to visit me, drove me home.

But just like before, I wouldn't be at home for very long...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #8

Monday evening my blood pressure spiked from 120/70 to 145/80. It later dropped into the 130s, but the doctors decided to order a urinalysis just in case. I wasn't too worried. After all they had taken my blood pressure shortly after my Mom and Aunt had come to visit - and we had been laughing and talking. Also, my day nurse had been a little annoying - she kept referring to my baby as her baby, refusing to listen to me when I gave her advice on where to find his heart beat for monitoring, and had told me that I was the one at fault when he went off the monitor. It was only reasonable that my blood pressure be a little high.

Unfortunately the urinalysis came back from the lab showing that I had trace amounts of protein spilling into my urine. The doctors ordered a 24 hour collection to do further testing for Preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia (formly called Toxemia) is a scary issue that affects pregnant women of all shapes and sizes. Doctors call it the disease of theories, because after all these years they still aren't sure what causes it though some suspect it has something to do with the placentia. However, they know that the symptoms are high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and that it can quickly progress into Eclampsia or HELLP syndrome, which is very very dangerous. Sadly there really isn't a way to treat it though, and the only cure is to give birth.

Going through preterm labor was bad enough, but this? I panicked and called my husband sobbing. He quickly came down to spend the night with me. After calming me down and reminding me that we were in the best place possible, he promised that he would spend the following night as well, since there was a chance we would have the diagnosis around midnight.

The following day was stressful. Thankfully I had a really great nurse that day who had had a couple of rough pregnancies herself. She called me mija, was upset on my behalf that they had me in such a large gown and got me a smaller one after I showered (honestly I didn't mind as the larger gown was less restricting and offered more protection from accidentally flashing people), and constantly checked on me to make sure I had enough water and food.

My Mom and Aunt stopped by again and broke up the monotony and stress a little with some much needed laughter and prayer.

Then my husband finally got off of work. He borrowed a wheelchair and got permission to take me outside for some much needed sun therapy - though it was so late that it was actually lunar therapy - and to help take my mind off of things. After being inside for over a week and a half, it was amazing to get some fresh air. The nurses were surprised that we didn't stay outside longer, and my husband and I joked that we should have hopped in the car for a little drive.

Before we knew it, the 24 hour urine collection was over.

We tried to stay up to find out the results, but we both were so tired from the previous night that we passed out around 11pm. The night nurse came in around 3 to take my blood pressure (which had returned to normal by then) and gave me the bad news - protein was still showing up in my urine.

The doctor confirmed her news in the morning. However, she explained that while there was protein present, it was in very small small amounts, meaning that I didn't have preeclampsia yet - I was just borderline for it. They would keep an eye on it, and if it went full blown, they would wait until 34 weeks and then induce labor. If it stayed borderline, then they would let things go as long as they could.

The downside of this was that I was not going to be going home any time soon - I was just too high risk.

Not exactly the news you want to hear two days before your birthday, but such is life. I reminded myself yet again that I was in the best place possible for myself and our baby. That our doctors were amazing and would take care of us.

Thursday the doctors decided that I was overdue for a growth ultrasound since it had been three weeks since my last one. I was allowed to walk down to the fetal diagnostic center, which was just down the hallway from my room, and waited while one of the doctors powered up the ultrasound machine and poured a generous amount of goop on my belly.

Despite everything that had happened, the baby was doing good. He had more than enough amniotic fluid, and even though he didn't have much room to move around in, he was measuring on target for being 29 weeks. Unfortunately, due to the baby's position - head down against my cervix - they couldn't get all the measurements they needed, so another doctor was called in to assist with the ultrasound. His job was to press up, so they could get the all important head measurement.

This is when I realized that while all the doctors at Long Beach Memorial are amazing, people with larger hands should not be OBGYNs! Afterwards I was so sore I needed more Tylenol - thankfully my nurse was more than understanding and happy to get some for me!

As I walked back to my hospital room, the doctor with the large hands confirmed that I was still 4cm along and 70% effaced, I wanted to reply that if I wasn't before, I definitely was now, but I kept my mouth shut and restrained myself from throwing any pillows.

Since it was the day before my birthday, a steady stream of visitors stopped by to say hi. One cousin brought me flowers and a basket of goodies. My other cousin brought cake, and a friend from Faire took several buses so she could stop by to say hi.

My dad also visited with my step mom and niece. I had not seen him since I had been moved to Long Beach, so he was very happy to see that I was more with it and coherent now that I was off the magnesium.

After they left, my husband brought dinner and we attempted to watch a movie before passing out for the night. The high risk ward rooms came with DVD players, but unfortunately the sound was rather low compared to the sound on the normal TV, so we gave up after awhile.

The next day dawned bright and early. First the lab vampires wanted to draw my blood. Then the doctors stopped by to see how I was doing. When they were leaving my husband reminded them that it was my birthday and they quickly rushed back to wish me a Happy Birthday. I may have been a little short with them considering how early it was! After the shift changed, two of my favorite day nurses sang Happy Birthday to me when they delivered my breakfast.

Shortly after that friends and family began to stop by and say hi, and it wasn't long before my tiny room was packed. I was given Starbucks (decaf) more flowers (we soon ran out of room to put flowers on) and cupcakes (which were given to the nurses because there was no way my husband and I could finish them all!). My Mom also stopped by with a bag filled with glow sticks so I could celebrate the Fourth of July.

Unfortunately all the excitement must have gotten to our boy, because when it was time to monitor him, he was all over the place and I had to stay on longer than normal. In addition to that the doctor on shift for the day wanted to do another ultrasound - which the baby quickly passed.

Once the sun set, my husband borrowed a wheelchair again and we headed out front to watch the fireworks that the Queen Mary was going to set off at 930. Unfortunately that portion of Long Beach is confusing, so we couldn't quite figure out what direction it was in, but there was enough illegal fireworks going off in the neighborhood around the hospital that it didn't matter.

Then to top the day off, when we came back from watching fireworks we discovered that my nurse for the night was a fellow Renn Faire playtron. She wasn't someone we knew personally, but she knew many of the same people we did, had the same sense of humor, and was just a good person all around!

Plus she let me sleep through the night instead of waking me up at 4am to check my blood pressure and other vitals! I would have her for the next several nights, and she quickly became one of our favorite nurses. I looked forward to running into her at Faire someday once all of this was over.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #7

By midday Thursday, the contractions had stopped, and by midnight, the doctors decided that they could take me off of the Magnesium Sulfate again. I was a bit leery of that at first, since things had progressed so quickly the last time they had taken me off the magnesium, but the nurse pointed out that people weren't supposed to stay on magnesium for forever, and that if my labor started again they would put me back on the magnesium ASAP.

The doctors also decided that it was safe enough for me to take a shower, and to have an actual meal. Since this all happened after my husband had left for the evening, and the cafeteria was closed, his dad rushed off to get me a hamburger while the nurse taped a biohazard bag over my IV and helped me into the shower.

I was still shaky and weak from the magnesium, but a shower has never felt that good before - and I've worked at the Southern California Renaissance Faire, where dust clings to every thing, and at Halloween Haunt, where fake blood clings to everything! Once it was done I crawled back into bed and ate what I swear was the best hamburger ever.

The next day the doctors decided that since I was stable enough, and that since the baby's decelerations had eased a bit, I could finally be moved into the high risk ward. Unfortunately they didn't have a bed available, so I was put into a normal labor and delivery room temporarily.

It was still a fairly large room, and the bathroom, oh man, that bathroom was sooo nice!

The only downside was that the room only had a recliner - no pull out bed. Since it was Friday, and he didn't have to work in the morning, my Husband had planned to spend the night. He ended up sleeping on the floor because the recliner was so uncomfortable.

The nurses showed me how to unhook myself from the monitors, so I could go to the restroom without having to call them - though they still had to come in once I was done to make sure that they were picking up the baby's heart beat and not mine, and to adjust the toco levels. However, it was nice to have that freedom!

Also they took me off the IV, though they left the IV hook up in my hand just in case they had to start the Magnesium again, so I no longer had to drag an IV pole behind me where ever I went.

Unfortunately, this is where I had my first run in with a nurse I did not like.

I understand that nurses work long shifts and have multiple patients to look after - but everybody I had met up to that point had been amazing, so it was quite a shock to have to deal with someone who had such a grumpy attitude and who was so condescending!

Around 2 in the morning on Saturday, the contractions started again, though they were no where nearly as painful as they were before. I told the nurse, but she said that since she didn't catch them on the monitor, they couldn't do anything. Over an hour later, she finally caught them on the monitor, and it took another 30 minutes before I was given a shot to stop them. It helped, but by then I had noticed that I had begun to develop an infection from the various antibiotics I had been on over the course of the week. The nurse asked me how I knew it was, and I explained that I had had enough of them in my life to recognize the signs. Her response was to tell me to tell the doctor in the morning - which I did, making sure to leave nothing out about how the nurse had behaved. The doctor gave me diflucan to treat the yeast infection (I had never had it before, and OMG is it wonderful!) and she also made notes to make sure I never had that nurse again.

I still had contractions here and there throughout the day but they were minor. Finally our day nurse, a lovely woman from Brooklyn, explained that I needed to make sure I drank more water, and go to the restroom frequently. I started following her advice, and the minor contractions stopped by themselves. I still had some back pain from being in bed for so long, but Tylenol and a hot pack took care of that (though the nurse had offered me morphine if the Tylenol didn't help)

Saturday evening the homesickness began to hit. Right when my husband left to head home, I burst into tears because I missed my home, my cats, my bed, EVERYTHING SO BADLY. Considering how much I had been through, the nurses were surprised that I hadn't had a melt down earlier. They brought me tissues and reassured me that everything would be okay and that I had to remain strong for the baby. Eventually I was able to calm down and fall asleep.

Sunday they finally pulled out the IV. Apparently an IV is only supposed to stay in your hand for four days before they change and move it. Mine had been in for six, but thankfully my hand didn't seem any worse for wear. Rather than putting in a new one, the nurses made the executive decision to leave it out, saying that it wouldn't take too long to redo it if they needed to.

I was also moved from the labor and delivery room in to a room that was officially a part of the high risk ward. The new room was one of the airborne infection isolation rooms (don't worry, it was safe and clean) that each ward has to have, and it was also smaller than my previous two rooms, but it had a larger window with a better view and a much nicer bed.

Even though my husband came to visit and spent most of the afternoon and evening with me, my homesickness was still pretty bad that night, and I broke down while talking to my mom on the phone. It's funny how I could go on vacations to Florida and Ireland without any issues, but this was bugging me so badly. Again, it was probably because of everything I had been through and all the stress up to that point. Plus, this was not how I had imagined my pregnancy to turn out. A part of me had always known that the fibroid might cause issues, and I had tried to stay open minded about birth plans as a result - but this... this had come out of left field.

Monday was fairly mellow. The doctors decided that the baby was stable enough that I no longer needed constant monitoring. Instead I was hooked up twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. The doctors also began to discuss sending me home. I instantly perked up. Home! With my husband and my cats! And just in time for my birthday too!

Unfortunately, our problems weren't quite over yet...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #6

The room at Long Beach Memorial was a bit older, but much much larger than my room at Orange Coast Memorial. Both my family, and my husband's family could fit inside, with more than enough room for doctors and nurses to move around. Also, the bathroom was large enough that I could take my IV stand inside with me and close the door.

My husband was also happy, because at least their pull out bed was longer, wider, and had a little more padding to it.

The new nurses took a little getting used to. Within an hour of being there, baby boy already had a couple of more decels (though none were nearly as bad as he had earlier in the day) making one nurse exclaim that she was glad she was off at midnight - which isn't exactly something you want to hear when you're a patient. (We later found out this nurse was in the process of transferring to the day shift, and she was actually a really cool nurse when she wasn't exhausted)

The new doctors were also a bit strange. The first time the perinatologist came into the room, he seemed a bit rushed and acted as if what we were going through was no big deal. He quickly changed his story once he saw our chart from the previous hospital though! The other doctors were nicer, but liked to do their rounds early in the morning - like at 6 am - which made it hard to remember any questions we might have for them.

I won't deny that I began to question if we had made the right choice in being transferred.

Around noon on Tuesday, the contractions hit again, and this time Indocin wasn't enough to stop them.

They were intense, quickly reaching an 7 or 8 (depending on the contraction) on my pain scale. I immediately thought of the nurse we had had at the previous hospital who had told me I had a high pain tolerance and could probably handle child birth naturally if I wanted to - if only she could see me gasping in pain now!

A nurse (who would quickly become one of our favorites during our stay) asked if anyone had checked me. I explained that they had done a fetal fibronectin that had come back inconclusive, but that an ultrasound had shown that my cervix was fine. They decided to check and quickly discovered that I was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced. Baby boy had also dropped down and his head was pressing against my cervix.

The next thing I knew I was being put on oxygen again since every time a contraction hit, the baby would decel, and Magnesium Sulfate was being added to my IV.

Magnesium sulfate is both a wonder drug and a horrible drug. It's wonderful in that it can be used to treat so many things. It can protect a preemie from getting brain bleeds during birth, and it can also stop contractions. In addition to that, in women who have preeclampsia, it helps prevent seizures. However on the other side of the coin, when they first give it to you, they have to give a large dose rather quickly, so you get really bad hot flashes. Even though our room at the hospital (which my husband called the cave) was very cold, I couldn't stand having more than a sheet over me, and the nurses put damp washcloths on my forehead and neck to keep you cool. Also, the Magnesium makes you feel very out of it. When our family and friends came to visit later, I had a hard time focusing on their conversations - so I spent a lot of time just smiling and nodding and staring off into space.

This would be the second time my Mom got teary eyed when she came to see me. As she later told me it was hard to see her baby girl hooked up to so many IVs and wires and not be able to do anything. At least when I was five she had been able to pick me up and hold me. Now all she could do was squeeze my hand, brush my hair, and pray some more.

It took forever for the contractions to fade. In the beginning, my husband and my cousin took turns holding my hand and watching the monitors. They would let me know when the numbers on the toco (the sensor that picks up on contractions) would begin to rise, and would let me know when they began to drop. They timed them - how long they lasted, how far apart they were - and reminded me to breathe and try to relax during the contractions.

Slowly the contractions began to fade, and by night time they were gone. My husband had to go back to work the next day so my cousin offered to stay the night and keep me company. We had planned to watch Orange is the New Black, but I quickly passed out around 10. Despite the nurses coming in to check on me and move the monitors, and the lab techs (whom my husband dubbed vampires) coming to take my blood I was able to get some sleep.

By Wednesday afternoon it seemed like we were finally in the clear. Baby boy was doing better - he was still having decelerations here and there, but they were no where nearly as bad as before. Also, my uterus had calmed down - I was no longer having contractions, and there were no signs of irratibility. The doctors decided to take me off the magnesium sulfate and I was finally allowed to eat again. At first I was only allowed clear liquids, but by that evening I was allowed to have a sandwich and water. There was even talk of moving me out of labor and delivery triage and into a room in the ward for women with high risk pregnancies who were expected to be staying at the hospital for awhile. The nurses promised me that those rooms were much much nicer with 'spa like' bathrooms.

Then around ten at night, the contractions started again.

The doctors decided to check my cervix once more to see if I had progressed any - I had. Now I was 4cm dilated, and 80% effaced, and the doctors and nurses could really feel my baby's head pressing against my cervix.

The doctors warned me that they may not be able to stop the labor this time, and that I might give birth to the baby that night. I watched, panicking, as the nurses hurried around the room and quickly prepped it - cleaning off the baby bed and turning the warmer on, making sure other surfaces were clear, and calling the NICU to let them know that they might have a baby incoming and would need transport.

My husband, who had been planning on spending the night at home, quickly drove back down to the hospital, as did his parents. Once more he sat and held my hand through each contraction, reminding me to breathe and relax.

I was put on oxygen again - but at least this time instead of a mask I just had a little nose piece. They also put me back on the Magnesium Sulfate - which is when I learned that it had another side affect that no one had told me about.

Sometimes, when you're one Magnesium Sulfate, you may hallucinate.

At one point I thought my cats were in the room with me. Another time, in that place between being awake and asleep, I saw pictures of cheeseburgers on flash cards (Keep in mind, I had eaten much in the past 72 hours). Finally, I thought I saw an older man dressed in a gray suit sitting and keeping watch next to my bed.

By this point it was almost two in the morning. The contractions were finally beginning to ease again, and I was exhausted. My mother in law told my husband to get some sleep, and took up his post by my bed. The last thing I remember was her working on the baby blanket she was making for our son... and then I was out for the count.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #5

The nurse was able to quickly get the baby's heartbeat back on the monitor. She explained that decelerations in the heartbeat had probably been happening through out the pregnancy, but since they had caught it on the monitor, I would now be kept over night for more observation.

A couple of more times throughout the night the baby's heartbeat would drop, and a nurse would rush in to find it again. Sometimes I'd need to go to the restroom, so a nurse would come in and disconnect me and help me over to the small bathroom. Then we'd spend several minutes trying to relocate the baby on the monitor. It got so bad at one point that the nurses threatened me with bedpans!

Despite the drama with his heartbeat, our son also discovered that whenever he kicked the sensors, the monitor would make noise... so every so often, my husband would hear static from the monitors due to the baby kicking the sensors. First it'd be little spurts, then there'd be longer periods of static as he figured out that dragging his foot across it made even more noise.

Crazy kid.

In the morning, the doctors started giving me steroids to help the baby's lungs develop just in case something happened. Since the next dose couldn't be given until the next day, I was told that I wouldn't be able to leave until Tuesday at the earliest. This would be the longest I had stayed at a hospital, so I was a little nervous, but our nurses were pretty awesome (when I had a bout of nausea earlier in the morning, they joked about it, comparing the aftermath to the Exorcist, instead of complaining), and the room was nice. I felt bad for my poor husband though: his bed was a chair that pulled out into a cot that was obviously meant for kids - not a 6'4 man. But he was willing to put up with it for another night as long as the baby and I were taken care of.

I updated my work, and let them know that there was a good chance that I might not be returning to work even after I was released. They were very understanding about the whole situation, thank God!

My husband's parents had just stopped by to visit when another deceleration happened. However this time when the nurses couldn't find the baby's heartbeat again, I was put on oxygen. When that didn't help, more nurses came rushing in as well as a couple of doctors, and they dragged in an ultrasound machine to help them locate it. Five minutes later they were able to finally able to find the baby again, and eventually the oxygen mask was removed.

The doctors overseeing me came in to visit us at this point. They acknowledged that the decelerations were scary, but they didn't see any need to deliver the baby right then and there. As soon as the deceleration had ended, our baby had bounced right back without any issues.

They thought the cause of both the decels and the contractions was probably my fibroid. It was so big that the baby was running out of room, which meant he might be laying against his umbilical cord. Plus it was located near where the placenta had formed on the inside of the uterus, so it could be pulling blood away from the placenta and the baby. In addition to that it was so large that it was putting stress on my uterus and causing it to be irritated.

Their goal was to try to keep our baby in there until 30 weeks. By then the steroids would have had more than enough time to help our baby's lungs develop, and he would have put on more weight. Also his odds as a 30 week old were much better than a 28 week old - though, the NICU doctor was quick to reassure us, if something did happen, and we had to deliver early, 28 week olds did very very well.

I started doing some research and confirmed what the doctors told me; 28 week old preemies did have extremely good odds. They were a little behind developmentally, but once you factored in what their due date was instead of going by their birth date, they were often on track.

Plus it turned out a lot of people we knew were preemies or had had preemies and were doing quite well.

I began to trust that if something happened, we were in extremely good hands.

A second decel happened when my family stopped by to visit. My mom, my aunt, and uncle were quickly ushered out of the room while the nurses tried, yet again, to find our baby. I was put back on oxygen, and it took another five minutes to locate him, but at least they didn't need to drag the ultrasound back in. When my mom was allowed back in and saw me on the oxygen she began to get a bit teary eyed. My husband and I reassured her that the baby just liked to move around a lot, and that we were in the best place possible, the oxygen was really for the baby, not for me, and that we were fine. She, my aunt, and my uncle all gathered around and prayed before they left.

Around 3 my OBGYN finally stopped by my room. She explained that she had been out of town, and that her back up had been on vacation, and apologized profusely for the fact that her phone service had given the wrong information. She also apologized for not coming down sooner and for letting the doctors at the hospital handle everything. Apparently she had injured her hand in a car accident recently (something my husband had noticed at our last appointment, but I had not) and was currently in the middle of rehab - so if something had happened, like I needed surgery, she wouldn't have been able to do anything. As a result she had stayed away so she wouldn't step on the other doctors toes.

We all agreed that that was for the best - and  told her we would keep her updated.

Then curiosity got the best of her. She began to ask the nurse questions, and took a look at my file and the sheets from my monitor showing the baby's decels.

After reading over everything, she stepped out of the room for a few minutes. We later found out that she had called and talked to a perinatologist who was consultanting with one of the other doctors on my case. Apparently she and the perinatologist had done their residency together and were good friends. They quickly agreed that while Orange Coast Memoria was a good hospital, I really needed to be moved somewhere that was better equipped to handle high risk cases like mine. They decided to send me to Long Beach Memorial, which was about 20 minutes away. However they had perinatologists on staff, where Orange Coast only had them on call, and a level 3 NICU - just in case I did deliver early.

While my husband and I were sad to leave where we were at, we agreed that we needed to do whatever was best for the baby and I.

Three hours later I was loaded up in an ambulance, which was fun, and driven to Long Beach.

Little did we know that things were about to get much much worse...

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #4

Starting at 26 weeks, our doctor decided she wanted to start doing growth ultrasounds every month until the baby was born. She reassured us that everything was fine, but that this was standard procedure for women who were pregnant and had fibroids.

We had no problems with the additional ultrasounds. Better safe than sorry after all! Plus, it would be interesting to see our baby grow, and hopefully we'd get more pictures for the baby book since the second trimester screening ones were kinda creepy.

The ultrasound showed that the baby had grown - but that the fibroid had almost doubled in size. At the beginning of the pregnancy it was 10cm. Then it had shrank to about 8 cm. At the second trimester screening it had gone back up to 10cm. Now it was a hefty 16cm in size. 


At the following appointment our doctor asked if I had had any pain because of the fibroid. I explained that I hadn't had any pain aside from the normal round ligament pains. The doc was kinda surprised because something so large should be causing some issues - but despite everything I was fine. She then took my blood to do a gestational diabetes test and sent me on my way.

Two days later the doc called and told me the results of the test. Thankfully I passed the gestational diabetes portion, but it turned out that I was anemic. The doctor had a feeling that this was because if the fibroid. She told me to start taking iron twice a day to help with the anemia. 

Like a good girl, I did what she told me to, but I wasn't really thrilled about it. Constipation is one of those lovely pregnancy side affects that I had suffered from throughout the first and second trimester, and I knew that the additional iron wasn't going to help the situation. Unfortunately there isn't much out there that is safe for pregnant women to take for those issues, but I figured I had time.

On Thursday, my back began to bother me. No matter how I sat in my chair at work, I could not get comfortable. By Friday it was so bad that I left work early. Then during the drive home I had to stop at my Mom's and stretch out on her couch for a little bit in an attempt to get some relief. That evening I could barely sleep. No matter how I shifted, there was just no escaping the pain.

Saturday wasn't much better. By then the iron had kicked in - so now I was constipated in addition to having a sore back. I chowed down on cereal and salad, and tried some prunes in the hopes that I would find some relief but it was a no go. 

Early Sunday morning things took a change for the worse. The back pain I had been experiencing suddenly developed a rhythm. Every ten minutes it would get really bad, and then it would eventually ease. At first I thought it was Braxton Hicks contractions, so I drank more water and tried to get some rest. 

It didn't help.

I finally woke my husband up and explained what was going on. I felt that we needed to go to the hospital, but he wanted me to talk to his mother first. He figured that I was just exhausted and imagining things. She prayed over me, and then we drove to the closest ER at Downey Regional.

They immediately wheeled me over to Labor and Delivery where our reception was horrible. The nurse on duty scolded us for not going to the hospital we were supposed to deliver at multiple times and demanded to know why we didn't call my doctor. I explained we had been unable to reach my doctor because it was 6 in the morning on a Sunday. And her advice in emergencies was to go to an ER. She had never said anything about how we needed to go to her hospital, and nothing online said anything about that either, so we had just gone to the closest ER available.

After monitoring me for 30 minutes, she told us that the doctor on call thought I was too high risk to treat. They released us and told me to take some Tylenol, drink more water, and call my doctor later in the day. 

Only problem - even though the hour was more reasonable my doctor was still unavailable. We tried to reach her back up instead, but he did not respond to our messages or pages either.

By then the Tylenol had kicked in and the pain was beginning to fade a little. Thinking that we were in the clear, I curled up on the couch and tried to catch up on sleep. My awesome in laws brought me oatmeal for breakfast, and my husband fixed a ginormous fruit salad for lunch. 

As the day passed it began to seem like maybe, just maybe my woes were finally over. 

And then the back pain began again. 

Once more it fell into a rhythm. Every ten minutes or so it'd get really intense, and then it would fade. Tylenol was no longer working. I remember reading somewhere that vicodin was safe for pregnant women. A friend who was a nurse confirmed it, so I tried that, but it didn't help either. 

I told my husband we needed to go to a hospital again since there was something seriously not right about this. He had his mother come in and pray for me again. When I repeated that we needed to go, he suggested that I call the hospital that we would be delivering at and tell them what was going on since we weren't able to get in contact with either my doctor or her back up. I think he probably thought nothing was wrong. After all, Downey Regional would have said something if there was - wouldn't they?

I called Orange Coast and explained what was going on. They told us to come down so they could admit me for observation and monitoring.

We had moved recently, so we were a bit farther away from Orange Coast Memorial than before (which is why we had gone to Downey Regional earlier that morning) but, since it was Sunday evening, there wasn't any traffic and we reached the hospital in 20 minutes. The entrance to the Birthing Center was closed, but when we found the main entrance and explained to the receptionist what was going on, he quickly checked us in and escorted us to Labor and Delivery. 

The nurses there were a heck of a lot friendlier than the ones at Downey Regional. They set us up in a room, took a urine sample, blood sample, and did a fetal fibronectin test - which was way more than the other ER had done earlier. Then they hooked me up to be monitored for contractions and to watch the baby's heartbeat. 

The urine sample showed that I was dehydrated, so I was hooked up to an IV and quickly pumped full of liquids. The blood sample showed that my white blood count was off, which led them to think that I might have an infection of some sort developing so they added a universal antibiotic to the IV to fight that. Unfortunately the fetal fibronectin came back inconclusive, but an ultrasound showed that my cervix was fine, so I wasn't in labor. However, the monitor showed that I was having contractions, so I was given Indocin to stop those. 

After a couple of hours of observation, the doctors were positive that I was stable enough to be discharged. They had just started the paperwork and then the baby's heartbeat dropped. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Preggo Diaries #3

Around 13 weeks I felt the baby kick for the first time. I know it's not normal to feel a baby kick that early - most don't feel them till around 16 weeks, and some don't feel them until even later - but I swear it was the baby. I was sitting at work, plugging away at a project a boss had assigned me, when all of a sudden I felt this weird spasm in my uterus. Except it was only local to one spot, and it was kinda faint. Over the next few weeks, as the baby continued to grow and get strong, I would feel that same spasm more and more often.

My progesterone levels rose and I was taken off of the suppositories. I was also taken off of the pelvic rest, which was awesome, but I was told that I still could not exercise. Walking was fine, but anything that might get my heart rate going was out of the question.

Still my husband and I took advantage of our new found freedom to start going places again. We went to the local malls and walked around. We went to look at model homes even though we could never afford to buy one. We went to visit the local Ren Faire and see our friends who worked there (though we made sure to take plenty of breaks and keep me hydrated).

The morning sickness and exhaustion began to fade. There was still the occasional gagging and vomiting here and there, and I couldn't eat much at meals due to the fibroid that was now pressing on my stomach, but it was so nice to not be nauseous all the time and to be able to enjoy food again. And while I could still sleep for 10 or 12 hours a day, at least I was able to stay up past 10pm without turning into a pumpkin anymore.

The second trimester screening went well. We learned that we were finally having a boy. The ultrasound tech assured us that our baby was growing fine and all his vital organs were doing well. Unfortunately the fibroid had grown, but that was to be expected - pregnancy hormones are like miracle grow to fibroids. Other than that little problem, the pregnancy was going smoothly - which was great, because things were about to get interesting...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where She Went...

So I dropped off the radar for a couple of weeks, and I haven't written at all since my last update, but I have a good excuse!

You see, I'm stuck in the hospital.

At 28 weeks, baby boy got a little impatient and tried to make an early appearance... at least three times throughout the course of a week. He's a stubborn one. Thankfully we have some wonderful doctors who are just as stubborn, if not more so, at our hospital and they were able to stop the contractions and labor every time it popped up. We're fine now, but because I'm 3cm to 4cm dilated and 70% to 80% effaced (it depends on who you ask - one doctor here has HUGE hands) and I'm also borderline for preeclampsia (My blood pressure is great, but there's a little protein in my urine) the doctors have decided that I'm not going anywhere until the baby is born.

It's scary and it's tough, but we are in the best place possible. This hospital is more than equipped to handle high risk pregnancies, and their NICU is the best in the area - so if baby boy tries again, and they can't stop him, they are more than equipped to take care of him until he's healthy enough to go home.

But enough about that scary stuff - on to the WIPpet Wednesday goodness!

Anywho, since today is July 9th, here are nine lines from my fanfic Between Two Worlds. In it Norah decides to have a chat with her son (who is just as much of a troublemaker as my baby boy is).
“So how was your day?” She asked.

“Fine.” Marcus murmured, suddenly taciturn.

She sighed.

“You’re not going to put me on water rations are you?” He asked her suddenly.

“No. You do know that Domick was just talking, right? Like sometimes how I joke about hitting Mud over the head because he’s annoying. He would never actually do that to you - just like I would never hurt a hair on Mud’s head.”

“He did buy me a hamburger.” He admitted. “I guess he wouldn’t’ve done that if he was going to punish me.”

Norah nodded. “See? He’s not such a bad guy... Though this may be the last ice cream you get for awhile after letting those pigs loose.”

“You heard about that?”

“I am Mom. I know all.” 
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