I'm laying here in the hospital unable to sleep the night before our expected discharge. Actually, the night after our first expected discharge. I guess this would be expected discharge, round 2? More on that....
This has been an extremely surreal experience. Have the last 6 days really happened? Did I really go to work last Thursday and am now coming home with a baby? Huh?
Jeremiah's birth was far from easy and far from ideal. Nothing like how I would have wanted it to go as recently as a month ago. But you know what? He's here and he's mine and I love him. That's the end result that matters - not any of the details of how. All in all, I had a terrible couple of days. In comparison to the lifetime that I now have with him, that's nothing. Really and truly nothing. (And I know that no births are "easy" but some go slightly more according to plan than mine.) :)
On Wednesday, January 9th, I went to the doctor after spending the day at home. I hadn't gone into work because I was so miserable. All of my pre-eclampsia symptoms had seemingly stepped up a notch or two. I was so tired from not sleeping. My blood pressure was far over what they had given me as a "danger zone" cut off - and this was on blood pressure medication 3 times a day! John was able to go with me since the appointment was later in the day. We saw my primary doctor (I was making an effort to only see him at this point since I felt more comfortable with him and I wanted the consistency with my issues instead of constantly having to bring a new doctor up to speed each time.). He asked when we were seeing the perinatologist again and I told him the next day. He said good, and reminded me that he wouldn't be surprised if in a week (when I would reach full term) or two weeks, the perinatologist said it was time to deliver. No more waiting for labor, but since the baby was full term and I was pre-eclamptic, it was time to just do it. He then said "Then it's the hard part. I have to, or whoever is the doctor from the practice for that day, deliver this baby. We can try different methods, but it all depends on your uterus. When we're inducing early, particularly for a first time mom, a lot of times the uterus just doesn't respond well." We left the appointment thinking we had at least a week, but more likely 2, before we really had to worry about this. I had actually been planning on packing my hospital bag that night just in case, but decided not to bother. We still had time. I was 35 weeks, 5 days. They weren't going to do anything until 37 weeks at the earliest!
That night I didn't sleep at all. Like, I got up at 3 a.m. giving up for the night. I was miserable. Just miserable. Severe headache, back pain, some contractions, and my legs were hurting so badly as well. I was also having really bad pain in my upper abdomen, both on the right side which I knew could be the pre-eclampsia and toward the middle. I didn't have any idea what that could be. I did manage to get up to be at work in time for my 10:00 meeting. I was planning on it being my last "real" day of work; I knew things were getting worse and I needed to slow down, but it was my boss' first day back in the office after a trip, so I wanted to make sure everything was settled. My appointment with the peri was at 3, but I had a non-stress test scheduled for afterward. Since I was feeling so miserable, I decided to leave work earlier and try to do the NST before the appointment. That way, I could be home in bed in my pajamas earlier (I was still an optimist at this point).
I get to the hospital, go up to the area, and the nurse who runs the Maternal Fetal Medicine department was like "Are you okay? You don't look very happy." (I've been going there since 18 weeks, and the past few weeks have been there 2-3 times a week, so she got to know me.) I said "I'm fine. Just not feeling very well." We start getting ready for the test, and I told her "I know you were an L&D nurse for years, and I've been debating calling my doctor all day. Can I ask you a quick question?" She said yes, and I told her about how bad the pains in my abdomen had gotten. I asked if they could be pregnancy related. She got a very serious look and said "No, but they could be a sign that the pre-eclampsia has progressed a lot. Dr. K is probably going to want to do lab work." She then hooked me up to the monitors and my first blood pressure reading was 181 over 106. This was NOT good. (Again, keep in mind I was on a pretty significant dose of blood pressure medication!)
While I was doing the NST, the Dr. K came in to talk to me. He said he was going to do labs and hold off on our consult until after they came back. He then said "Your pre-eclampsia appears to be getting more severe. We'll see what the labs say before we decide if we need to have this baby today." I was like "What??" (I thought I was mentally prepared to hear that - I was not!) I said "But he's only 36 weeks!" "He's had the steroid shots. He will most likely be totally fine if he is born now." He left the room and I texted my husband and then 3 friends. I asked for prayer. I was suddenly very, very scared.
After what seemed like an eternity (but was probably about an hour) the labs had been drawn and we had the results. As soon as Dr. K walked in with the nurse I mentioned earlier, I knew it was bad news. For one, the look on his face. For two, the fact that nice, lovable nurse was with him. She never was in any of the other consults, and all I could think was "He brought her to help break the news. She's here in case I need someone to comfort me." Because Dr. K is seriously smart and a great doctor with a fabulous reputation. But he's not exactly comforting. He's not one of the touchy feely docs. He's more "Here are the facts. Here are the statistics. Here's what I recommend." He explained that the labs showed my liver enzymes were too high; the pre-eclampsia had impaired my liver function significantly. The fact that I had gained 4 pounds in 3 days showed my fluid retention was way up. I had had such blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches over the last week that there was no doubt something was going up. Also, the blood pressure. Oh, the famous blood pressure. He was very, very concerned about how high it has gotten. While I was on the monitors there, in addition to the 181 right away, there were readings in the 170s, high 160s, all with bottom numbers in the danger zone. He said he thought the three times daily Labetalol was masking how bad the pre-eclampsia had gotten. When I mentioned again the baby not being full term, he said "Yes, but at this point, I think the baby is far, far safer outside of you than inside of you. He's 36 weeks, has had steroid shots to develop his lungs, and is a healthy size. Both of you are in danger if we let the pregnancy go any farther." We talked for another couple of minutes (pretty much could be summarized in other words of "Are you sure?" "Yes." "Are you really sure?" "Yes." "Are you sure that you're really sure?" "Yes.") So, off to a Labor and Delivery room we went!
I called John and gave him an update and he headed up to the hospital after grabbing a couple of things for me such as my toothbrush and phone charger. I called my mom and promptly started crying. I was scared for my baby. I was scared for myself. I was worried about not being able to finish up a few things at work the next day (I know, I know....). I was upset because my shower was supposed to be Saturday and I didn't know what to do about that.
Once in the L&D room, the on-call OB from my practice (who I had met with twice. He's not my doctor, but other than mine, he has the most experience of the doctors in the practice. This made me feel good.) came in to discuss the plan. The plan was to start with Cervadil that night overnight to try to jumpstart my cervix, start Pitocin in the morning, and also to immediately start an IV of magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures. Oh joy. There was also an internal exam to check the status of my cervix. I also questioned him like I did Dr. K. Baby isn't full term. Are they sure this is the right decision? Again, same answers as before. He said especially with the steroid shots at 36 weeks, the baby should be fine. The baby would be much worse off if I kept getting worse. He was nice enough to agree to let me both shower and eat dinner before starting. The nurse made a point of telling me at least 10 times how nice this was of him. Apparently, this is a show of major compassion and kindness. :)
My parents arrived around this time. They offered to take my new kitten back to the shelter for me since I would have my hands full. Tears! Not my Lucy! Especially without saying goodbye! We also had to make a decision about the baby shower. They were leaning toward having it without me. Again, more tears! Miss my own party? No fun at all! Cancel altogether? Also no fun! We decided to see what the church had available for the next few weeks once they were open the next day. Since we would be busy, my friend Dy agreed to handle this.
Around 7:00, the Cervadil was painfully inserted. Around 9, my parents left for the night. Soon after, the painful contractions started. I watched some tv, tried to sleep, and was excited that surely, the next day, my baby would be there. Right???
To be continued......