Tuesday 10-6-09 G made me call my OB because I had been miserable for days with severe swelling to my legs, feet, face, hands (I could hardly walk- it was like my legs were tree trunks that didn't bend and my fingers would hardly bend), and I was having a horrible time breathing and was very winded. On top of that, I had been having moderate to excruciating back pain in between my shoulder blades, particularly on the right side, enough to make me lay on the couch and bawl in pain. So I called mainly about the inability to breath consistently, and they said I needed to go to the ER, as they may need to do a chest x-ray. I got to triage at Hoag (straight from work- oh how I wish I would have stopped at home first to change, shower and grab stuff and driven thru McDonalds!), and the nurse took my blood pressure, which was 178 over something- ridiculously high (mine is usually around 114 over something)- so she had to call up to maternity to see what to do given the high BP and the severe swelling. They made me come up to maternity and admitted me for observation. I never got the x-ray, but I had an EKG, which was fine. The nurse on the 5th floor did a protein dip and it was +3, which is high. They ordered labs- the first ones were bad- uric acid is supposed to be 6, and it was 8.7. The labs for liver enzymes and platelet count came back fine, which was good. I had to have the fetal monitor and contraction monitor on my belly (I was apparently having contractions that I didn’t feel), and a very painful check of my cervix. I had an IV of fluids, glucose and antibiotics, as well as those compression leg things that are hooked to a machine so they pump up and down like when they take your blood pressure. This was to keep the circulation going in my legs since I was so swollen. I also got a steroid shot in my butt to develop baby's lungs (I would get another one the next day). I had only eaten a granola bar the entire day, but they wouldn't even let me have ice chips! I was STARVING. You don't deprive a pregnant lady food! The whole day the hospital staff had been talking to my OB, who had been talking to my perinatologist to decide what to do. My OB then came in to see me and explained that I would have to stay overnight for a 24 hour urine collection. My OB said her plan at this time was to keep me on strict bedrest for at least a few more weeks (possibly in the hospital), but it was possible a c-section would be necessary immediately if my numbers came back horrible. I didn't feel very positive when, during the urine collection, one of the nurses said she wouldn't be surprised if my kidneys were failing based on the amount and color/smell of my urine...nice. The neonatologist from the NICU also came and talked to us, just in case, to let us know that if we were to deliver this early, baby would likely be in the NICU for 3-4 weeks. :( After all this and being hooked up to IVs, monitors, leg compressors, etc., there was no way I could sleep so the nurse gave me an Ambien at about 12:30am. I think it did help me sleep for maybe 2-3 hours but I was wide awake again by 4:30am. Wednesday 10-7-09 My 6:30 a.m. labs came back better so everyone seemed fairly positive that I'd be able to keep baby inside for a few more weeks. At this point, I was focusing on whether I'd have to do bedrest at the hospital or be able to do it at home...not even thinking of delivering a baby! All of a sudden, at midnight, two nurses come rushing in our room saying that my 24 hour urine sample results were really bad (we later found out it should be 400 and it was over 8,000!!!) so they needed to immediately hook me up to magnesium sulphate (because my numbers were so bad, they thought I might start seizing), and I’d be delivering via c-section at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Talk about a scary way to be woken up. I felt so out of it and scared, I didn’t even ask questions.
"Mag" as they call it, is the most evil drug. It BURNED going in and my hand and arm hurt the entire night. You basically feel like you’ve been hit by a truck…extremely hot and flushed, loopy, uncomfortable, very weak, shaky, very difficult breathing- almost flu like symptoms. So that is how I felt all night…not that I could have slept anyway knowing I was going to go in for a c/s the next morning. I spent the morning feeling even worse, and I will admit that I was soooo scared to go in for the c/s because I didn’t understand how you could survive major surgery if you felt like that going in.
I went in for surgery around 8 a.m., and I had to get a spinal rather than an epidural. It was funny because there was a student nurse in the room, and while the anesthesiologist was prepping the spinal, he said to the student "geez, do you want to see a severe case? Come here, you won’t see this much in your career." THAT is how ridiculously swollen I was. I was really nervous because my legs would not stop shaking uncontrollably so I was sure he wasn’t going to hit the right point! It’s not horrible, but it did hurt a bit. Then my legs start to get warm and eventually feel really heavy and uncomfortable. At this point, G was allowed in the room. The funny thing is, I was so scared or shocked or whatever that I really had no emotion- I didn’t say one word the whole time, and I didn’t want anyone talking to me even though G was trying to be so sweet and say such lovely things to me (I later learned that another lovely side effect of the mag is that you are totally emotionless- nice way to give birth to your first child!). They didn’t even tell me they were starting so I thought they were still doing prep work when it begun! It doesn’t hurt at all, but you do feel lots of pressure, tugging and pulling, which is just a really weird feeling. I also thought they had cut in the wrong place because it all felt like it was going on right under my breasts rather than down where it should be (I have the scar to prove that yes, they did cut in the right location!). At 8:41 a.m., we were blessed with a 4lb.6oz., 17 1/4 inch perfect baby girl. They pulled her out and didn’t even show her to me! Immediately they took her over to the side, but she apparently had A LOT of fluid in her lungs so it was understandable. Finally, I got to see her beautiful face for about 3 seconds and she was whisked away to the NICU while they continued to work on me (G went with the baby so I was all alone, but I couldn't have cared less because at this point, I was so tired that I just wanted to close my eyes- aside from the drugs and mag, I literally had not slept since Monday night). They wheeled me to recovery where I had to stay for an hour- I got scared again in there because the nurse said I should be able to move my toes in about an hour, and I definitely could not do that- I felt nothing for at least 3 hours so of course I thought something was terribly wrong! They finally put me back in my antepartum room, where I’d stay all night. My parents and Katie were there, but I honestly wanted no visitors- I had NO idea how I’d feel after the c/s. TERRIBLE. I could not keep my eyes open (which lasted the entire day), I was weak, groggy, extremely loopy- ick. I must have laid in my room with my eyes closed for like 5 hours. The good news is that while I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, I didn’t have pain so that was nice. My nurse (who was so awesome and really got me through the day) eventually came in and said she had to put panties and pads on me and change my "pee pads"…I tried to just move up my head to put a pillow behind it, and I got extremely nauseous and almost threw up. While I was almost throwing up, it hurt my stomach, so then I became terrified to have to lift up my butt. I made her give me anti-nausea medication AND morphine drip because I was so scared! It turned out to not be too bad. She then allowed me to have some ice chips (I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since about 10 p.m. the day before and its now about 5 p.m.?). I have never tasted anything so delicious…I was so thirsty! Unfortunately, those started to make me nauseous so I had to stop eating them. You really have to ease into anything that goes into your stomach, even if it’s just water! My OB wouldn’t let me leave my room so I didn’t get to see Ella the entire day…I had only seen my own kid for about 3 seconds!
Ella had jaundice, but she was breathing on her own now- she went straight from the c-pap mask to breathing on her own- she skipped the nasal canula (sp?) so that was good. As of 11:10 a.m. I still hadn't seen her. I finally got to hold my beautiful baby girl at about 3 p.m. Even though they had stopped the mag drip by now, I was still pretty out of it so it really hadn't even hit me yet that I'd just given birth!
That night, while I was holding Ella, she was breathing really hard, which the nurse thought was related to gas or GI issues…however…in the middle of the night, the neonatologist came into our room, which we knew couldn’t be good. The neonatologist never comes to your room. He said that Ella had a fever, which they were treating with antibiotics, and they thought she may have an infection, but they didn't know why so they were doing tests. They did a chest x-ray which showed some, which he removed. It was SO scary to get woken up like that.
The neonatologist came in about 10 a.m. and told us that Ella had pneumo-thorax, which means air came out of her lung that was in the cavity, and they put a needle in and took air out. It’s not super common, but it does happen. It can be continuous or a one time thing. He said hers was a one time thing, but it was possible that it could happen again. She was still breathing heavily, but her skin looked good, her numbers were good, and herwas getting better as well. Her weight went down to 4lbs., and took a long time to creep back us since due to the pneumo thorax, they didn't feed her for a few days. I was discharged from the hospital on Sunday 10/11/09, but we were there every single day for 16 days until Ella was allowed to come home on October 23, 2009! She was 4lbs. 13oz. I have to say, despite the not so great birth experience and frightening pneumo-thorax incident, it was overall a great experience thanks to the wonderful nurses who took care of me and NICU nurses who took care of Ella. Honestly, they were SAINTS. I could not have made it through this whole experience without them, and I gained a whole new respect for nurses and the work they perform. They were AMAZING. There is no way I could ever repay these women who took such impeccable care of my baby girl around the clock, but I hope they know that every NICU parent appreciates them more than can ever be expressed in words. Every tear during TTC and shot during infertility treatments and scare during the hospital stay and pain during recovery was SO worth it because now I get to look at this beautiful face every single day!