…and my ridiculously slow return to the land of the living.
Wednesday, April 14
I had my 37 week appointment at 6:15 p.m. I had been on bedrest due to pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure, major swelling and protein in the urine), but the weather had been amazing, so I wasn’t exactly the best bedrest patient (we took Avery to lunch and then to the library, and while she napped, Ryan and I sat outside on the patio reading books and did a little yard work).
At the appointment, I noticed my knees had disappeared. It’s pretty common to lose sight of your ankles at the end — especially with pre-e — but losing the knees can’t be a good sign. I had also gained more weight, for a grand total of 40 lbs. Um, not good. Then they took my blood pressure. After the nurse managed to wipe the look of horror off her face, she said she’d wait a minute and try taking it again. Um, gulp. She took it again, but it didn’t matter. 195/104 is BAD.
The doctor came in and said she didn’t like how things were looking, and that she wanted me to head to L&D; (again) for monitoring. And that if things didn’t improve, we were looking at a birthday TONIGHT. Cue the hormonal breakdown. Well, only I didn’t break down. Quite the opposite actually. I walked out of there like a zombie. Baby? Tonight?! But what about May 1? What about my meeting tomorrow? What about the nursery that isn’t quite finished? Um???
Somehow I managed to call my parents to pick up Avery (it was practically bedtime so we decided a “sleepover” was in order…and ice cream…I’m all for a bribe to ease the pain of a very confusing situation). We said our goodbyes because it was pretty obvious things were not going to improve and we would indeed be having the baby that night. We took our time getting ready at home, but I was sort of panicked. I had packed my hospital bag, and luckily after lots of nagging just a few hours before, Ryan had packed his too. But there were so many odds and ends too. Cameras, laptop, power cords, cell phones, pillow, etc. Finally we were ready, and got to the hospital around 8 p.m.
The checked us in and got us set up in our room. We joked about getting the corner unit and how private it was. So true since we were there much longer than we’d ever thought possible. The nurses started an IV (one of a zillion) and I got changed into one of those lovely gowns (again, one of a zillion I’d go through during my stay). Ryan and I watched part of the Tiger Woods E! True Hollywood Story, and then it was time. Around 10 p.m., they wheeled me into the operating room and got started.
My doctor and the nurses said they’d gotten me the very best anesthesiologist, but I beg to differ. The spinal sucked and hurt like hell going in. Then, instead of feeling all warm and fuzzy, I felt prickly and tingly. C-sections suck because you’re in there with the team while they get everything ready to cut you open (and while they talk about their recent trip to Aspen…um, shut up). SO bizarre. Once I was on the table, super sucky anesthesiologist started another IV “just in case” (cuz that’s what you want to hear before you go into a major surgery) which ended up blowing the vein about an hour later. Fun. But finally they brought Ryan in and put up the drape.
After way more tugging and pressure than with Avery, Gavin was born at 10:39 p.m. He cried immediately. So did we. It felt like such a long time coming. Such an incredible relief that he was finally here.
Recovery wasn’t too bad initially. In fact, I don’t remember a whole lot of it. So, while the anesthesiologist’s spinal sucked, he totally redeemed himself with his after-surgery concoction. Kudos, pal. Seriously. In fact, the stuff was so good, I wasn’t able to wrap my head around the fact that we’d had a BOY, not a girl. Every time I’d talk about him, I said “her” or “she.” Ryan was about ready to slap me. But it was pretty clear that I wasn’t in denial and it was just the drugs. Proven by the fact that when Ryan told me it was time to feed him, I once asked for a piece of cake, and another time told him to give Gavin some stickers. ?! Gotta love hallucination-inducing drugs.
Saturday, April 17
Unfortunately, the good feelings and fun times didn’t last long. By Saturday, it was clear something wasn’t quite right. I had a high fever, still had protein in my urine, my blood pressure was nuts, and my potassium and blood count were seriously low. My doctor was concerned because taking the baby out should resolve the pre-eclampsia, but in my case it seemed to still be there. Not good.
They pumped me full of IVs and pills — antibiotics, iron, blood pressure meds, bags of blood, and potassium (which burns like a mother). Still no change.
Sunday, April 18
Gavin was doing great, but my symptoms went unchanged. So after 4 days — the max for a c-section — Gavin was discharged from the hospital. Luckily, they let him stay (I think they called him a “boarder” or “in-room boarding”) since I was still there. I would’ve lost my mind if Ryan and Gavin had to leave.
Monday, April 19
After more of the same, it was clear all the IVs weren’t doing a damn thing. Something else was wrong…they just weren’t sure what. So, Monday morning, my doctor sent me for a CAT scan to see what was going on inside. And let me tell you, laying flat on a table with your arms up over your head when you’ve still got severe incision pain is SUPER fun. Especially when they tell you to take a deep breath and hold it for 5 seconds. When your doctor suspects pneumonia. Yeah. Good times.
The results came back: I had a touch of pneumonia (totally normal after a surgery since you can’t get up to move around and breath deeply) which would be tackled by the antibiotics. But the big bummer was that I had a very significant hematoma behind my incision. And they thought the hematoma was infected or that my body was attacking it, which was causing the fever. Since the antibiotics were not helping, my doctor said she needed to go back in and get the blood out. Another freaking surgery.
Since I had just eaten lunch (and I use that word very loosely…blech), she scheduled the surgery for 8:30 p.m. I was just excited that we’d solved the problem and I’d be on the mend (and home) soon. But by 6 p.m., my doctor came back and said she was canceling the surgery. After talking with her colleagues and reviewing the CAT scan results again, she was worried that the hematoma was not where she originally thought, and instead, was mixed in with my muscle tissue. If this was the case, the surgery was going to be VERY dangerous. Um, scary! So we opted to do the “wait and see” method to see if it would dissipate on its own over time. And pray it didn’t remain infected. UGH.
Tuesday, April 20
By Tuesday, I was doing everything possible to get out of there. They told me to do breathing exercises, I did breathing exercises. They told me to walk laps around the birthing center, I walked laps around the birthing center (pushing my IV pole the whole way, might I add). I was having so much guilt over the idea of not being home for Avery’s birthday… I just HAD to get out of there.
This was the point that everyone started talking like I might actually go home the next day. This is the day I also saw a nephrologist and an infectious disease specialist. First, the nephrologist came in the morning, did some evaluations and concluded I had something called pregnancy-induced malignant hypertension. Apparently there’s some correlation for some women between pre-eclampsia and post-partum renal failure. Um, fun. But he said there was a new medication that would solve the blood pressure issues almost immediately, and he could put me on meds for the potassium and iron once I got home. He said he was sure I’d go home Wednesday.
The infectious disease specialist agreed that the hematoma was a separate issue and was confident it would resolve itself. He too said he saw no issue with going home Wednesday.
BUT, the one thing they all agreed on (and had no control over) was that I had to stop spiking fevers and blood pressures for 24 hours. Easy, right? Yeah. After that, Ryan and I would practically hold our breath every time they took my temp and blood pressure. I think the nurses did too. But every time I’d have a stretch of great numbers, either a high blood pressure would pop up or I’d have just enough of a fever to ruin it, and we’d start all over again. It was seriously disheartening.
Wednesday, April 21
It was Avery’s birthday, and I wasn’t home. But I still had hopes that I might be discharged before the end of the day. Avery’s visit at the hospital was tough though. I think all the IVs and seeing me stuck in bed (looking like ass I’m sure!) was really scary for her, which of course, hurt even more. But I tried to be understanding and was just so glad to see her face, talk to her, and see her excited about Gavin.
The other bummer about today was that my IVs were junk. They only last so long in their sites and need to be removed. But the question for everyone was do they remove them (and let me go home), or do we need to find new sites? At this point, they’d used practically every site possible. Every vein was bruised or blown. I’d had two in the top of each hand, one in each forearm, one on the side of my hand, and the insides of my elbows were mangled because of the twice-daily (or more) lab draws. There literally was nowhere else to go. And I honestly thought that because of that and because I was “close enough” on the no-fever/no-high bp thing, they’d let me go.
But around noon, the nurse came in with the anesthesiologist. Yes, that one. She said, “He’s here to find the best vein and make sure we get another line in comfortably.” Like they were doing me a favor. I about flipped out and said, “No! There’s nowhere left! I thought I was leaving today!” He said, “No, sorry. Oh, and if I can’t find a vein in your hands, I can easily go through the neck.”
That’s when I completely lost it. I was bawling. Big time. Huge sobs. He managed to get the IV in my hand (which again hurt like a mother… seriously this guy sucked) and actually tried consoling me. Yeah, pal. I’m sure you know how hard this is. Finally he left and my nurse tried to talk me down. I just kept crying, “I want to go home. I want to go home.” She hugged me and told me they were doing all they could, and that I had to stay until it was safe for me to leave. I knew she was right but I felt completely defeated. Ryan climbed in bed with me till I fell asleep.
Thursday, April 22
Right before I went to bed Wednesday night, the nurses let me know that I’d gone 24 hours without a fever and without a high blood pressure reading! So I was fairly sure we’d be going home today, but I didn’t want to jinx it.
First thing that morning, my doctor came in. The labs they drew at 5 a.m. looked great, and along with my good temps and bp, she was discharging me. I practically jumped out of bed and ripped out the IVs. The nurses had to come in and do the final evaluation and paperwork, but I started packing immediately. Ryan had to take Gavin for another biliruben check (yes, he had jaundice and spent two days on the lights while we were in the hospital — because we didn’t have enough drama already) and by the time he got back, the entire room was packed and ready to go.
It was kind of hilarious as we left… the nurses gave us hugs and I swear they were about to break out in applause. I guess when you’re used to most of your patients leaving after 48 hours, it becomes a bit like a Discovery Health special when one of them is there for over a week.
Gavin’s birth was a major ordeal that I’m still recovering from. I’m on 6 different meds to keep everything in check, and I have no idea when things will be normal again. What I do know that I’d do it all again for this little guy, it brought Ryan and I closer than I ever thought possible and… our family is now perfectly complete.
My cup runneth over for sure.