Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reliving It

I woke up that morning like nearly every other morning for the past 9 weeks.  Took a shower, dressed, dried my hair and took up residence on the couch with my growing belly.  After nearly 10 weeks on bed rest the end was in sight!  My c-section was scheduled in two days and everything was ready!  Our saint of a babysitter would be coming early Thursday morning to take the kids to school as we would need to be at the hospital at 5:30 am.  My parents would be arriving in the afternoon just in time to pick the kids up from school and bring them to the hospital to meet their baby sister.  I had gift bags prepared for the nurses, my overnight bag was only missing a few small items, I even had ingredients prepared to make muffins to take to the nurses Thursday morning (one batch for the night shift nurses getting ready to go home... one batch for the day shift nurses coming on... as their fellow friend and coworker I knew the way to their hearts.)

I figured I had come this far, my placenta was only a marginal previa (the fact that it had been completely covering my cervix weeks before, combined with my preterm contractions that I had been taking medication for were the reasons I was labeled high risk and put on bed rest.) I had been a good bed rest patient.  As good as can be when you are the mother of a preschooler and a second grader and the wife to a busy working husband.  You can only ask for so much help before feeling like a burden and taking on small tasks yourself. Joe took "Aubrey drop-off" duty, delivering her to preschool that morning before heading to work.  My friend and neighbor who had been taking Brendan to school with her daughter in the morning happened to be out of town that week so Brendan's drop off fell on me.  Then straight back home and back onto the couch.  

Until I started thinking about the few things I still needed for my overnight bag and the few items we needed from Costco.  I had stopped taking my contraction medication the previous weekend with the OK from my doctor since I had reached 37 weeks and would be "fine" if I went in to labor at that point (aside from the c-section that would still need to be done related to the placenta previa.) So I had started contracting fairly often again but nothing painful or labor-like.  I figured a quick trip to Fred Meyer to get my last few items and a trip to Costco would be fine.  I'd come right back and plant myself back into my spot on the couch that was beginning to bear a striking resemblance to a permanent mold of my backside.  No big deal.  I'd feel less stressed and everything would be ready to go.  So I made the two trips, came back home, packed up the few things I had purchased, put away items from Costco and made myself some lunch (a ham sandwich, snap peas and a peach... this is how specific my memory is of that day.) I heaved a sigh of relief, grabbed my laptop and plopped back down onto the couch to settle into an episode of Parenthood on Netflix.  But 5 minutes into my show, shortly after 1:00 in the afternoon, I felt a slight pop and a small rush of fluid between my legs.  Panic set in as I tossed the laptop aside and rushed to the bathroom thinking "please don't let it be blood, please don't let it be blood" knowing that, regardless, my next stop was going to be the hospital.  Thanking God with a silent prayer that my water had broken with no signs of bleeding, I lost all sense of mental control as a flood of thoughts overwhelmed me: 

"crap! what do I do first?!" 
"change my pants?"
"call the doctor's office?" 
"call Joe?"
"did I remember to pack underwear?" 
"are the baby clothes in my bag?" 
"crap! my bag isn't done being packed!" 
"who's going to pick up the kids?!" 
"this wasn't in the plan!!!"  

For a few short seconds I was seriously paralyzed without a clue of what to do next.  Eventually I got it together.  I called the hospital to let them know that I'd be coming in.  I called Joe and got no answer.  


Fortunately, being pregnant and on bed rest had given me a bit of priority as far as Joe and his work were concerned.  We developed a system wherein if I called and he didn't answer because he was busy that was fine.  But if I hung up and immediately called back it meant I needed him NOW (never mind that I accidentally forgot about this system and unknowingly abused it just a couple weeks prior when the plumber came out to fix an outdoor hose bib and I couldn't answer his questions... when Joe called back after the second call asking "honey?! is everything ok?! what's wrong?!" I remembered the system and immediately felt bad!) So here I was, using our "system" and immediately hitting redial.  

Still no answer... you've got to be KIDDING me! 

I stared at the phone in my hand and the paralyzing flood of thoughts started to return.  Fortunately for me, that only lasted a few seconds before the phone rang in my hands and I answered my husband's return call.  He had been getting ready to head out on an afternoon site visit by bike and planned on leaving his phone when his coworker heard it ringing (several times) and figured it must be serious.  My timing was impeccable. Instead of a bike ride, he was on his way home to take me to the hospital.  

On the way I called my friends in desperation for help with the kids.  One agreed to pick Aubrey up and keep her overnight.  One would pick Brendan up and deliver him to another friend who would keep him overnight.  I have amazing friends.  

I was triaged and admitted and apparently in luck.  Not only was my good friend Melissa working that day (who I had already chosen to be my nurse for Thursday's c-section) but my doctor was on call too!! When I asked who would be assisting my doctor (yes, I had chosen my entire team... when you work in the field it comes as a privilege and I felt most comfortable in these two women's care) I was told that said doctor was seeing patients in the office but had been notified and given the option of heading over to assist anyway (let me kill the suspense and tell you that she came... and I was forever grateful and honored.)   

I walked to my room, settled in, signed all paperwork, IV and meds started.  All the necessary prep for a c-section.  The realization hit me that I had forgotten the camera (I felt lucky I had remembered putting on pants at that point) but our modern technology came through for us as we handed off our phones for the nurses to use instead. Then I was wheeled down the hall to the OR while Joe waited in the hall for me to be prepped before coming back to sit at my side.  The spinal anesthesia was taking its time to set in but the team continued with preparation anyway.  The doctors were scrubbed and ready and the test "pinch" was given to make sure I couldn't feel anything.  So I think it came as a surprise when I cried "ouch!" and was still able to lift my legs.  The doctors gave a frustrating look to the anesthesiologist and asked him to please make me numb even if it required an epidural instead of a spinal (another spinal would have dropped my blood pressure to dangerous levels and my doctors and I refused to allow him to put me to sleep as that would require Joe waiting outside the OR for the duration of the procedure.) So I sat back up for an epidural placement just as the spinal anesthesia began to take some effect.  Joe was brought in and the surgery started but I felt a nagging fear that the anesthesia just wasn't right.  Minutes later I heard my sweet baby cry and Joe left my side to be with her.  But it was during the "repair" parts of the surgery that I started to feel more than I should have been feeling.  Joe brought sweet Violet to the head of the bed as I kissed her sweet face and grimaced in pain simultaneously.  I could feel my insides being "man handled" and I was trying to just deal with the pain. My doctors apologized profusely as they continued their repair.  The anesthesiologist kept repeating "it's normal to feel a little queasy" and I wanted to scream "I don't feel queasy, I feel pain you IDIOT!" but refrained.  The fortunate part is that at least I was still superficially numb, so while my fears that I would feel them stitching me up left my heart rate racing, I felt nothing but relief that their hands were finally out of my abdomen.  I was wheeled back to my room with my baby in my arms and some good drugs on board and that was the moment I started falling in love.  

I couldn't believe she was finally here.  And all the pain in the world was worth every ounce of her.  

This was a year ago today and yet I'm able to recount the whole story like it was yesterday.  And I relived the whole thing in my memory today as I battled the tears from mourning the time passing so quickly. Happy birthday baby girl... if only I could keep you little forever... 

  Violet Alexis 
Born 10-22-13 at 3:56 pm
6 lbs 6 oz. 

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