Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The End

Bed rest is over.  Because my pregnancy is over.  At 2:25am, on Saturday, July 28, 2012, our little girl was born with her angel wings.

The cramping that I'd had off and on all week intensified on Friday with a nasty discharge.  I had chorioamnionitis, an infection in the space between the two membranes composing the amniotic sac.  We went to the hospital, really expecting to be sent home again.  Stupid me thought I was just having cramps.  They were actually contractions, and I was in labor.

At this point, the cerclage stitches needed to come out, or my cervix would rupture.  Removal of the stitches was supposed to be an easy, quick procedure, not requiring any anesthesia...just a speculum and a snip of the stitches.  But, this caused me so much pain.  The doctor couldn't get the stitches out.  The surgeon performing the initial cerclage put in more than one stitch, and must have tied them really, really well.  All together, I believe there were three stitches, and the third, partially removed stitch was only found after delivery.

The physical pain was excruciating.  They told me the pain was amplified because of the infection.  I had a fever over 101, but didn't feel it.  All I felt was the frequent cramping just below my belly button.  Even when I found myself timing the frequency and duration of the cramps (every 5-10 minutes, for 15-20 seconds) to help me get through them, I still thought they were cramps, not contractions.  No medication could ease the pain.  They started me on one drug that I don't remember the name of.  I then got 2 doses of morphine, and it didn't even take the edge off.  I wasn't allowed an epidural because of the infection. I finally got a pudendal block and a pain pump clicker, but by then, it was too late.

Immediately after the stitches were removed, I dilated to 4cm.  After two hours, I had not progressed at all, so was given a drug to induce labor.  Now that was the drug that worked immediately.  Induction drugs are known for the intensity of their effects.  The contractions got much, much stronger, and it still seemed that the pain meds weren't doing anything at all.  I gave up on the pain pump clicker.

After what I guess was an hour or two, I felt the baby coming out.  With my husband holding my hands, and the nurses holding my legs, I began pushing.  Whether because of the pudendal block or her tiny size, I really only felt the final exit.  My water never broke, and she was born in the sac.

The physical pain ended immediately, but the emotional pain was immediate, and I know will continue for a very, very long time.  Any pain our baby girl felt was also over, and for that, I was grateful.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 4

July 27, 2012: 20 weeks + 4 days

Last night was a rough one, physically. Back ache and some cramping.

This morning, I felt better.  I thought that I'd listen to the lullaby station on Pandora and have some quality time with the baby.  The second song to play was "You Are My Sunshine".  I call my husband Sunshine, and smiled when it came  on, but the second verse (below) had me in tears.  This verse pretty much sums up my days right now.  I'm trying so hard to be strong and optimistic.  But whenever I try to picture the future with my little girl - baking cookies, tea parties, etc., I can't help but think we may never get the chance to experience those things.

You are my sunshine 
My only sunshine 
You make me happy 
When the skies are grey 
You'll never know dear 
How much I love you 
So please don't take 
My sunshine 

The other night dear 
As I lay sleeping 
I dreamed I held you in my arms 
When I awoke dear 
I was mistaken 
And I held 
My head 
And cried 

I've shed so many tears this week, I could fill a swimming pool.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 3

20 weeks +3

Woke up to go to the bathroom, and couldn't go back to sleep.  Like a little kid worried about monsters under the bed, real life demons invaded my head.  Lots of worries and what-ifs; even some tears.  As usual, as soon as I got back in bed, I needed a snack.  Yet, I couldn't go get it.  I was haunted by a music video I haven't seen in nearly 20 years.  The video features a happily expecting couple.  One night, the mom gets up for a snack.  While in the kitchen, she hemorrhages, and she and the baby died. Where did this memory come from?

Today, I plan to do a little bit of research into other treatment options, and whether there is any added benefit in conjunction with the cerclage.  As I mentioned before, knowledge can be a double edged sword, but I have to do it.

I also need to set mini goals.  The idea of laying here for the next 20 weeks is overwhelming.
Goal 1: Make it to the next appointment on Tuesday.
Goal 2: Make it to 24 weeks (8/20)
Goal 3: Make it to the 3rd trimester (9/8)
Goal 4: Make it to 30 weeks (9/24)
Goal 5: Make it to 35 weeks
Goal 6: Make it to Thanksgiving/37 weeks TERM!!
End goal: Have a happy, healthy baby girl

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 2

July 25: 20 weeks + 2 days

I woke up in a much better mindset today.  We have a little system set up to keep me occupied: several crafty projects, beverages/snacks, books, etc to keep me occupied.  I watched several episodes of HawthoRNe on Netflix today.  I'd never watched it on television, but gave it  chance today.  Not bad, so far.  Craft projects are kind of hard when you're laying down, but I'll figure something out.  All this time, I've been collecting little projects to make once we knew if Baby was a boy or girl, and now I can't go to the fabric store to pick out fabric, yarn, or the like.  I'm also assuming I can't sew, since I also am not allowed to drive.  (Same seated position, leg movements)  Kind of a bummer, but it only means that Baby might not get all the cute homemade things I had planned.  She'll still be loved and taken care of.

Despite the situation, I have a lot to be thankful for.
1) Baby is still thriving.
2) No bleeding, cramping or worrisome symptoms
3) That despite the appointment hotline's rigid rules for scheduling visits within prescribed "windows", we had the first appointment available as soon as I turned 20 weeks.  I don't know what would have happened had the visit been later in the week.  We also had a weeklong visit to the in-laws planned for next week.  I can't help but keep thinking what would have happened if our appointment had been delayed in the least, but thankful that is was not.
4) We got an attentive ultrasound tech.  She could have easily completed the exam and passed the images off to the doctor.  I've read many posts on various pregnancy boards where the tech wouldn't say anything at all because they're not allowed to "diagnose".  I wanna bake this woman a cake, seriously!

Day 1 Recap

Yesterday was the first day of bed rest.  I was successful at staying in bed, but it was not a good day emotionally.

The Backstory
On Monday, all was well.  What was supposed to be a happy and exciting day ended terribly.  We were scheduled for a routine 20 week anatomy scan, better known as the big gender reveal ultrasound.  I made some homemade cinnamon roll muffins and joked with my husband that it was a sign -- "sugar and spice and all that's nice" muffins in hot pink and purple muffin cups. The appointment started beautifully.  The ultrasound technician was going through the scan, had scanned baby's heart, and was pretty sure that it was a girl.  She was trying to get baby to uncross her ankles for a better look, when something about the feet caught her attention.  She kept saying that they were just too low, and called in the doctor.  In a nutshell, baby's feet were essentially where my cervix should have been.  The cervix was very short, and the amniotic sac was bulging through.  I was referred immediately for a cervical cerclage, but the doctor was not optimistic that there was enough cervix left to stitch.  In so many words, she essentially implied that our baby was going to die.  People always say how life can change in an instant.  In just ten minutes, what had been an amazingly easy pregnancy had turned into our worst nightmare.  Luckily, the surgeon who performed the cerclage was able to gather enough cervix to put in two stitches, but I was put on bed rest.  Given that I'm only 20 weeks pregnant, this is going to be a long ride.

Tuesday, July 24: 20 weeks +1 day
Today was my birthday, but I didn't feel much like celebrating.  My husband gave me a card telling me what a great wife I was, and he signed it from him and the baby, which made me cry.  I also didn't feel much like having the nice beef kebab dinner that we'd planned.  I spent the day pretty much wrestling with my emotions.  I was happy that our little girl was still cooking, but extremely upset and frustrated.  How was it that our little girl was practically falling out of my body, yet I had no clue?  Where was my mother's intuition?  From my research, I know that an incompetent cervix occurs without symptoms, but that doesn't rally make me feel better.

I also am wrestling with my career choice.  Not on the employed vs. stay-at-home level.  I'm currently in my 5th year  of a PhD program in epidemiology, where my focus is on preterm birth.  So, in addition to knowing too much, I have too much information at my fingertips.  Way more than Dr. Google will tell you.  So, academically, I know that while births at 20-21 weeks do have a chance at survival, I also know that 24 weeks is really considered the lower edge of viability.  I also know that some places won't even try to apply any medical interventions to a baby born this soon, unless the baby manages for a certain period of time on their own.  But, as her mommy, I can't deal with the statistics of it all right now.

High/Low:  I woke up without any pain, so didn't take the prescribed Percocet.  I also didn't want to take such a heavy duty drug and mask any important pain.  I started having some cramping in the afternoon, so we returned to the hospital to check things out.  Baby girl was fine, as was my cervix. The cramping was due to our inability to find some ancient, uncommon medicine at any of our local pharmacies.  I was told to take Motrin, and sent home.