How giving birth was secondary to the real issue. (part one)

19 Oct

I feel like I can finally write out the story of my daughter’s birth.

I did everything right before deciding to get pregnant, I saw everyone and got them to all agree that it was a good time to get pregnant because my Crohn’s was in remission and the timing was right. Got pregnant right away.

It wasn’t what I would call an easy pregnancy, but it wasn’t awful, either. Between my OB/GYN, perinatologist and gastroenterologist, there were a lot of appointments to keep. I wasn’t even high-risk because of Crohn’s, but for a blood-clotting disorder (then diagnosed as APLS, but is really Lupus Anticoagulant). Crohn’s was the least of my concerns, the clotting thing being the Much Bigger Deal.

I was told to be prepared to go any time after 32 weeks, if the bio-physical profiles showed any distress. I scheduled my induction for 38 weeks and some change, so that I would be off the blood-thinners long enough to get an epidural. Toward the end, I complained that her kicking me really hurt. In retrospect, I should have recognized it as punches of flare pain, but I was otherwise symptom-free as far as Crohn’s was concerned, and the Humira appeared to be working. We all attributed it to the area being sensistive anyway from general inflammation and/or my pain tolerance was lower because of pregnancy.

At 32 weeks, I went to the hospital with a high, high fever at the height of the H1N1 epidemic. They found no cause for the fever and the baby wasn’t in distress so I was sent home, and it was attributed to a virus. I was told to take it easy for the duration and to stay out of crowds.

At 36 weeks, I was cocky. They had my shower at work on Friday and I assumed I would be there for the big annual gala the following Thursday, I was going to make it to my induction date! All of this panic and monitoring has been for naught! GOD WHY AM I SUCH A HYPOCHONDRIAC?!

Ha. Ha.

Sunday afternoon I was cleaning like a madwoman. The kicking that had stopped me in my tracks several times a day had subsided. We bought a new Dyson the day before and I was having the time of my life using it. I was making dinner, tortellini soup, and was buttering garlic bread when BAM! the mother of all kicks, and the pain wasn’t going away. I shouted, doubled over, and my husband (for blog purposes, let’s call him Dr. Horrible. He has a PhD in Horribleness) practically carried me to the couch. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, couldn’t lay down, sit up, stand up, move, think. My husband called the nurse line, who told us the obvious: Get to the hospital pronto.

Knowing this was It, I had Horrible pack the rest of my bag, like my makeup and important things like that, and had him finish vacuuming the living room. Yes, really. I knew I wasn’t going to be the next one back here and BY GOD my house wasn’t going to look sloppy!

I hobbled out to the car while Horrible ran around me like Lassie with news of a barn fire. He deposited me in the car and I was in too much pain to even reach over to close the door, so he had to run back around and shut the door, spraining his ankle in the process. We’re a graceful lot.

The ride to the hospital hurt. A lot. Every bump and every turn sent a new stab of pain. I tried to keep my panic under contol because I couldn’t feel her moving through the pain and prayed to God and every saint I could think of that she would be ok.

We got to the hospital and waited no less than 15 minutes for a damned wheelchair, it took a few PA announcements to get some back down to the ER. Patients hoard wheelchairs since they’re so scarce. After that it gets fuzzy.

They started an IV, took blood work, checked me for labor (I wasn’t in labor, wasn’t even remotely dialated), and put a monitor on so that they could make sure the baby was ok. And she was. So was I, for that matter. Other than the excruciating pain that made me unable to move, my bloodwork was fine. I had no fever. I was urinating. I repeated a hundred times that the last thing I ate was teddy grahams and milk.  They gave me dilaudid and kept watch.

We didn’t really call anyone. At one point, Horrible called my mom and said I was in the hospital but we had no information. He ordered a pizza for himself and the nurse got him ice for his ankle. We both caught bits of sleep in the spacious labor and delivery room until the next morning. At that point, when it became clear that natural childbirth was likely not in the cards, I was moved to a different room so that someone having a normal pregnancy could use it. My belly started growing upwards, and I couldn’t be on one side at all. I was still in a lot of pain, even with the pain medication.

Around 5pm, a lot of things happened at once. The gastroenterologist came in to see me, someone I didn’t know but was in my doctor’s practice. My bloodwork started going weird, with my white blood cell count skyrocketing. My OB came in with a general surgeon and an anesthesiologist. They wanted to go in and take the baby out and do some exploratory surgery. They suspected my appendix, maybe a bowel perforation, though no one had ever seen that. They gave me the futile option of doing a CT scan or some other imaging before going in, but they warned they would probably not see anything and would need to go in anyway. It’s a good thing I agreed, there wasn’t time to waste.

My entire birth plan was exactly one request: That I was not put under general anesthesia when my baby was born.

Never make a birth plan of any kind.

We called everyone that would need to travel. My mom talked to the anesthesiologist on the phone. My OB stood at the back of the room, her face trying to conceal worry, as she apologized that she couldn’t be there. I understood, it was 5, she wasn’t on call, and she had kids at home. One of her partners breezed into this Situation Room and took my hands and shrieked “OK! Are we ready to have a BABY!” Her perkiness was comical, compared to the otherwise somber mood in the room.  It remains one of the most absurd moments of my life.

It didn’t occur to me until I was being wheeled out of the room and down to the OR that my life might be in danger. Suddenly the maternal mortality statistic popped into my head. It occured to me to pray, though it was hard through the fog and madness. I vaguely remember Dr. Horrible kissing me goodbye, looking more calm than necessary. I vaguely remember the elevator.

I remember being in too much pain to help with the transfer of my whale-like frame from the gurney to the operating table. I remember there being an isolette on the other end of the room, and men in brightly-colored scrub hats from the NICU introducing themselves. I remember making a Michael Jackson joke as the anesthesiologist announced that he was injecting the propofol.

I remember waking up.

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2 Responses to “How giving birth was secondary to the real issue. (part one)”

  1. Coop February 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    1- I’m glad you can talk about this.
    2- SOB
    3- Where is part 2? Don’t leave us hanging!!

    • Cheken February 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

      Hopefully I’ll get it up tonight!

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