One Last Near Death Experience And A Baby

We scheduled the induction for last Friday, the 17th of June. The baby was expected to be born the next day, the 18th, at 36 weeks and 5 days gestation.

The plan was cervidil to efface and dilate the cervix overnight, then pitocin to trigger labor starting Saturday morning. The cervidil didn’t do much–it effaced me from 100 percent to 50 percent but only dilated me to 1.5, which is not great. Regardless, we started the pitocin.

Over the course of the day we gradually stepped up the pitocin dosage. By dinnertime, we were near the maximum dose and the contractions, which had been fairly weak but consistent, suddenly stopped. No contractions at all. I dozed off, in fact.

But the doctor was unfazed and we continued to increase the pitocin dose. We hit the maximum dose and the contractions were still pretty light. The doctor checked me and I was only dilated to 3.5. At this point I was pretty sure we were headed for a c-section and I started panicking. We had talked about pain relief and the idea was I could have a single dose of a narcotic painkiller before we moved up to the epidural. At that point, having been in progress on the labor for slightly more than 24 hours and with the real possibility of a c-section hanging over my head, I was ready for the narcotic, more for the anxiety relief purposes than for the pain relief situation.

The doctor wanted to move straight to the epidural, on the theory that if we *did* end up with a c-section, the anesthesiologist could use the existing epidural port to get me the appropriate pain meds, saving us all some time and sparing the baby a bit of the narcotic. And, of course, in some cases the epidural helps move labor along by relaxing you.

And that’s where it all went to hell. The epidural went in reasonably well–it was more unpleasant than I remembered from the previous babies–but once it was in and they started pushing the pain meds through it, my blood pressure dropped to dangerous levels. They added more pitocin to the IV because the pitocin tends to increase blood pressure and put me on oxygen and I was barely holding onto consciousness.

They finally got me stabilized and we held on the max dose of pitocin for a couple of hours to see what it would do, and in the end, the answer was nothing. Nothing happened. And so, as I had predicted and feared several hours earlier, we had to do the c-section.

They increased the pain meds in the epidural, suited my husband up for the operating room, and rolled me out. The husband had to stay outside the room while they prepped me and made sure the epidural had worked. Had it not completely numbed me, they would have had to put me under general anesthesia, and they don’t allow family members in the operating room if you’re knocked out like that.

It was a strange sensation. You know when you go to the dentist and they numb you and it feels like your lip is huge? It was like that, only for my legs and hips. It made transferring me onto the table a bit rough, but as it turns out, the epidural did work and someone went and let the husband in.

There were a lot of people in the room. My doctor, another doctor, the anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthesiologist, my nurse, another nurse, and a pediatric nurse for the baby. Despite my anxiety about my preemie, apparently they didn’t feel that they needed anyone from the NICU. The policy is that babies who are older than 34 weeks gestation just get the same treatment as a term baby, and the NICU people don’t come down unless the baby has an issue.

And so they did the surgery. The baby was born and was a boy, and we heard him cry, which was reassuring. But then almost immediately, the blood pressure dropped again, and so did my respiration and heart rate. The doctor, apparently unfazed, continued to sew me up while the nurses fought hard and brought me back.

As I came back around I started to feel nauseous, and the angle of the table was not great for vomiting, since my head was slightly lower than my torso. Have you ever tried to vomit uphill? It’s not really feasible. They put a bucket next to my head but I couldn’t get to it, and so I was vomiting bright green bile (since I hadn’t eaten in more than 24 hours) and it was choking me. Terrible situation, just awful.

When it was finally over they took me back to my delivery room where they sat with me for two hours to make sure I wasn’t going to die, I suppose. I was shaking uncontrollably for most of that time, and refused to hold the baby because I was afraid I’d drop him. Eventually they put him on my chest and stood over me to make sure that we didn’t lose him, but for the most part that entire time my husband was doing all the baby stuff, which is fine. I’ve had children before, he hasn’t, so I’m glad he got to experience all of it. We’re formula feeding, so he did the first feeding, put on his first diaper, and gave him his first bath.

Then they put me in recovery and pumped me full of percocet. I spent 24 hours chained to my bed by the IV and the catheter, and for that entire time the husband did all the baby care.

The good news is that the baby is perfect. He ate well, he had no issues with his blood sugar, and he mostly was breathing well. It was a little dicey for the first few hours, because it seemed like he had some fluid in his lungs–which is apparently common in c-section babies because they don’t get the benefit of being squeezed until all the fluid gets out of their lungs–but by morning the fluid was all out.

We spent three more days in the hospital, recovering, but we’re home now and doing fairly well. The husband is working half days from home this week, since I’m still banned from doing anything that isn’t directly related to baby care. The baby mostly sleeps well, although we’ve had a couple of bad nights, and he continues to be a good eater.

Next week the husband goes back to work and near the end of next week the older children come back and get to meet their new little brother.

I would have liked another girl, but I have no complaints about the baby I got. The blood pressure continues to be high, and probably will be for another several weeks, so I continue to take the blood pressure medicine. It took nearly a week for the swelling to go down. Despite having a 6.5 pound baby, I was only down 2 pounds when I got home from the hospital, so I was retaining more water than before I delivered. That’s stopped now, finally, and I’m back to my pre-pregnancy weight. In fact, I’m two pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant. I’m down to 212.2 now.

 

 

Near Death Experiences and the End of the Road

On Monday afternoon, my blood pressure spiked and stayed high for more than two hours. I called the specialist and he sent me to the hospital and assured me that I would be there for the next week until I hit 37 weeks and could have the baby. Or potentially even earlier, if the blood pressure could not be contained.

We wandered down to the hospital and went into labor and delivery where we sat in triage and the blood pressure was all over the place. They gave me some extra blood pressure medication, which brought down the numbers, and my own doctor was on call and he ended up sending me home once I was stabilized. It was boring and annoying for the children, but at least I survived.

The next morning I saw the specialist in his office and he was distinctly annoyed that I was out of the hospital. He told me that instead of delivering after next Tuesday when I hit 37 weeks, I should deliver BY Tuesday, BY the 37 week mark. On Wednesday, when I saw my regular OB, they scheduled me for my induction.

And that is today, Friday. We go in tonight for some cervidil to help dilate my cervix since my body is in no way ready for this baby, and then first thing tomorrow morning they’ll start me on the pitocin which should stimulate labor. Hopefully we will have a body by the end of the day tomorrow. Less than 48 hours (hopefully) until the baby comes.

The older kids are going back to their dad’s house this morning, so they’ll miss the baby’s birth, but that’s just as well since they’d have had to be in the delivery room and they might not have enjoyed that as much as they thought they would.

The next time I update this, I should have a baby. Hopefully it won’t need to go to the NICU, since it will be almost but not quite term.

 

Being an Incubator

After last week’s triumphant visit to the specialist where I got to drop my blood pressure dosage, it seemed like everything was getting better. The lower dosage meant that I felt fine during the day and wasn’t suffering so much, since the side effects of the medication are very severe.

The blood tests that were run on Monday seemed to confirm that I was getting better. The liver functions had improved slightly, and although the platelets had dropped slightly, they were still within range, indicating that my kidneys were still working.

But then, the crash. The blood pressure started climbing again. Eventually it popped up to the 130/105 range, which is bad. The end result was that the doctor told me to put my dosage back to where it was before. To make it easier, he suggested that I take both of the pills at night, which might theoretically reduce the daytime symptoms.

Unfortunately, that’s not how that worked at all. Instead, the zombie effect came back three days in and the other symptoms did, too, the dizziness and the muscle weakness. I’ve been miserable and the kids have had a lot of nothing to do because I’ve spent the last couple of days sitting quietly and blinking, because of the medication side effects.

I saw the specialist’s nurse this morning and begged for a different medication with less terrible side effects. She was dubious, since we’re so close to the end of the pregnancy. But she promised to ask the doctor at some point and let me know. Otherwise, I will just go to the lower dosage because I can’t live like this. And we’re only a week away from when the kids go back to their dads, at which point I can put the dosage back up without too much guilt.

Meanwhile, the baby is suggesting that it might want to come a bit early regardless of the blood pressure. We had some weird leakage on Wednesday afternoon that might have been amniotic fluid, but no continuous leak, then we had several hours of real contractions, which eventually stopped on their own. Neither of these are things that happened with the last baby so we’re just holding on and waiting to see what happens next.

All of this speaks to the ongoing issue I’m having, which is that I’m primarily an incubator for the baby at this point. I’m trying to keep the child alive and growing, even at the cost of my own ability to do anything or think. It’s rough going.

Unexpectedly Good News

After all these weeks of suffering and misery, I have some good news.

The bloodwork continues to decline slightly, the protein in the urine continues to rise slightly, but overall the system continues to be mostly stable.

As a result, I can move to taking the blood pressure meds only at night, avoiding the unpleasant zombie-like state I’ve been living with for the past month. And more importantly, I can skip the ongoing 24 hour urine collections unless the quick urine tests they do every week start to look much worse.

And as usual, the ultrasound indicates that the baby is still fine.

The specialist upgraded his estimate for the baby’s delivery from next week to three weeks from now, when the baby is considered full term.

Basically, this could not be better.