I first saw Dr. Chapman the week of Thanksgiving, not knowing then that it was only going to be about two more weeks until I delivered. When I called Health Central to get in they recommended Dr. Chapman to me because he is a high risk specialist. Funny, I was high risk because of the chance of hemophilia not because of what was about to happen.
Dr. C came in and checked me out and told me he hadn’t received my records from my previous OB. Surprise, surprise. We talked about getting registered at the hospital and seeing if I could take a birthing class. Things my previous doctor never said anything about. I finally felt comfortable with my OB and the care I would be receiving.
Thanksgiving came and with it long hours at work, swollen feet, upper back pain, and 15 people in my house for the holiday that I insisted on cooking for. As usual, I worked the day before and the day after Thanksgiving, 12 hour work days, and continued working until that Wednesday the 10th of December.
The night before, I had to close the store and prep for the morning’s truck delivery. I was trying to train my staff for when I would be gone on disability because my company wouldn’t let me work if I couldn’t lift 35lbs. What pregnant person is able or willing to lift 35lbs? On my way to work, I picked up my food of the month an 8 piece chicken nuggets and a large Dr. Pepper from McDonald’s. Don’t judge, McDonald’s is awesome when you’re pregnant!
I went in to work not really feeling all that great but, what else was new. I was running to the bathroom every 15 minutes to pee and my stomach felt like I had swallowed a balloon. My back was hurting like it had been for weeks now. I stuck it out thinking that it was just the McDonald’s I had eaten earlier. Yes it tastes great but, no it’s not really that good for you. I closed the store and went home to get some rest so I could be back at 6 am the next morning.
Of course I couldn’t sleep. That’s the other thing they don’t tell you about being pregnant. You won’t sleep for probably the entire second trimester. The first trimester all you want to do is sleep. Then the second trimester comes along and all the books and magazines say you’ll get a burst of energy and you’ll feel great. Well, if that burst of energy is actually insomnia than yeah, I got a burst of energy.
After getting maybe a few hours of sleep, I woke up to go back to work. On the way there I was still feeling pretty bad and I decided I would go in and give directions to the staff and then go home and go to the doctor. Mind you, I lived half an hour away from my store. I still went in for about an hour and then came home all before 7 am. No one can ever say I wasn’t a hard worker!
I got home and laid on the couch until 8 am when Dr. C’s office opened and then called in to see if I could get an appointment. I gave the receptionist my symptoms, upset stomach, no appetite, back pain, gas and she said to come in right away to see the nurse practitioner. I was a little nervous but, thought maybe it was just a flu or something. So, I drove myself to the office which is conveniently located in a hospital, and told Mark I would call him.
When I got in the room with the NP, I went over my symptoms again with her and she said it might be something with my gall bladder. I remember thinking “oh good, that’s exactly what I need.” I think I would have rather have had a gall bladder problem. Then she took my blood pressure. She remained calm but told me she was going to take it again. After the second reading, she told me to lay down on my left side for a minute and she would be right back. She hadn’t told me what my BP was but, I started to get a little worried.
When the NP came back into the room, she took my BP one more time. She still didn’t tell me what it was but, proceeded to tell me that they were going to admit me to the hospital downstairs for observation. A nurse came to wheel me down there because they don’t let pregnant ladies walk around when they’re under observation. When Mark called during all of this, I told him that I was being admitted and that it would probably only be a few hours. WRONG!
After all of the admitting, changing clothes, getting into bed stuff, they got me hooked up to a BP monitor and told me to be quiet and not stress. Because that works. By this time, it was about 1 pm. Mark was trying to find me in the hospital and my store had called me 3 times. Dr. C came in and told me I had something called Preeclampsia and that I needed to keep my BP down. If my BP didn’t come down by Friday we would have to deliver via emergency C-section.
DELIVER?? C-SECTION?? What about classes? Forget classes, what about the house? What about me, I’m not ready?? I still have 4 days of work left. I was going to buy a book about babies on Monday!
It was Wednesday, December 10. I was due February 20. At that point I was 29 weeks and 4 days pregnant.
So, the next 24 hours went like this, from what I remember… catheter, unpleasant, but, I didn’t have to pee anymore, awesome. Then getting hooked up to magnesium sulfate drip, worst experience ever. Magnesium sulfate, from what I understand, is supposed to slow preterm labor but, it really screws up your system. It makes you really hot, lethargic, and pretty much slows you down all together, sort of like getting hit by a truck. They also gave me two steroid shots to boost Christopher’s lungs in case we did deliver.
They also told me to let them know immediately if I had a headache or blurry vision because that meant I was either about to have a stroke or a seizure. At this point I didn’t know anything about preeclampsia. I knew that I had read somewhere that it only affects 5% of pregnancies and not to worry about it when you can worry about other crazy things during pregnancy that are more likely to happen. (To learn more about preeclampsia click on the word preeclampsia on the side bar. ) A basic explanation is, preeclampsia causes high blood pressure which can cause stroke, seizure, or death and the only way to “cure” it is to deliver the baby.
So, Thursday evening comes along and I’m hot, hungry, tired, and I have a headache. I remember looking at my mom, who had driven in from Houston in the middle of the night, and she was wearing her coat. They had all kinds of fans blowing as well as cold wash cloths and ice chips for me. I told her I had a headache and the nurse came in. I also remember saying “I think I have a headache but, it feels like more of a sinus headache.” Within 20 minutes I was in the operating room.
The other thing about magnesium sulfate…it’s like a really bad muscle relaxer. Your muscles relax without that “ahh” feeling. They’re basically like dead limbs. So, when you have to move yourself from the gurney to the operating table to get your spinal(like an epidural) it’s incredibly hard. But, I did it and within a few minutes we were good to go.
When Christopher came out, the first thing I thought was “he’s not crying!” His lungs weren’t fully developed yet. The team of doctors for Christopher took him away to the NICU to get him taken care of while my team of doctors knocked me out to finish my surgery. I did briefly see him when they rolled him out the door. He was so small. He weighed 3 lbs 7 oz and was 16.5 inches long. He was 10 weeks and 2 days early.
When I woke up after the C-section I was back in the observation room for a required 4 hours before moving to post-partum. They also had to keep me on the magnesium for a little longer, just in case. I don’t remember much of those 4 hours except that everything was very hazy.
On the way to my new room the nurses took me by the NICU to see Christopher. They wheeled me in, bed and all, and I got to see him in his isolette. He was so small and hooked up to a ventilator and all kinds of tubes. They had wiped him off when he came out but, couldn’t even give him a bath because they had to get him to the NICU so fast so, his hair was all curly and dark. I got to touch his hand for the very first time through a port hole in the isolette.
I can’t remember who stayed the night with me. My mom and Mark took turns staying with me for the 6 days I had to stay in the hospital. The next morning I woke up and I was still pretty out of it. Mark and my mom went down to see Christopher and report news back to me. Then it was time to pump.
Now, I hadn’t gotten to all of the fun information you get about breastfeeding and pumping and all of the great stuff your body goes through. I had just barely adjusted to being pregnant. So, in comes the lactation consultant with a hospital grade pump and tubes with suction cups and, oh my gosh! The LC says to me “So, here’s how you work the pump and you know breastfeeding IS best for your baby, especially since he’s a preemie.” And I’m thinking “Oh my god, this woman is just going to stand here while I try and figure out this pump thing.”
It was crazy. They told me that at first I wouldn’t produce much milk since my body hadn’t been ready to give birth but, to keep pumping every 3 hours. So, here I am 24 hours after a C-section trying to sit up and pump barely there milk and not die of humiliation or pain. Let me just tell you, that you will do anything for your children.
That first day, I didn’t get to see Christopher. It was all I could do to even get to the bathroom. I was so sad when they took the catheter out!
The second day I got to take a shower. Of course my mom got to come too. I could barely walk and I had a pain ball attached to my stomach. My awesome mom helped me take a shower and put my clothes back on. Like I said, you will do anything for you children.