After 32 weeks of mood swings, nausea, vomiting, and acid reflux other than that a
After 32 weeks of mood swings, nausea, vomiting, and acid reflux (other than that a pretty uneventful pregnancy), Nathan (my husband), Charity (my best girlfriend) and I went in for a routine visit and found that my blood pressure- which had consistently been around 110/70- had jumped to 140 over somewhere in the 90's. In addition, I was spilling protein in my urine. And, the horrible swelling in my feet and later hands had also moved to my face (of course I didn't realize this because I see myself all of the time.) These combined led Jacqui, one of my nurse-midwives to take blood and send me home (it was a Friday) for a 4 day period of bed rest. The week prior I actually had not been feeling well and had stopped by the midwives office at VUMC but test wise, everything was fine. Still, I had a feeling something was not quite right.
The 4 days had passed and Nathan and I went back for a follow-up a to find out the blood test results. My blood pressure had gone up, the proteins were still present as was the swelling and my platelet count had begun to drop below the norms. Pre-eclampsia had set in. But, we still held onto our hopes of fulfilling the birth plan we outlined in our Bradley class and the midwives continued to support us in those hopes.
2 1/2 weeks, bed rest, and many midwife visits later we found ourselves around 34 1/2 weeks and received a phone call on Christmas day saying we needed to come in and plan on staying. Because we had educated ourselves on the disease and had followed my test results closely, we asked if we could wait until the day after Christmas. Yes, you can wait, they said, but be here at 8:00AM.
We knew all of the ramifications, had asked plenty of questions and knew what to expect when we arrived. We began to alter our birth plan after arriving at Vanderbilt University Medical Center - but only partially - much of what we had we still hoped to achieve. In the end, we only were able to successfully carry out 3 or 4 items from our birth plan, one of which was our promise for flexibility.
Upon arrival I was given a catheter instead of an IV. Because my platelet count was well below the norm they took precautions in case a blood transfusion was needed. I was checked by one of the midwives and was 1 cm dilated. Magnesium sulfate was started as was a continuous monitoring of our yet nameless baby boy. A urine catheter was started, but because of my discomfort we convinced the doctor on call to have it removed and I used the lovely bedpan for the next 30 hours. 12 hours, 3 doses of cytotec (yes we used it and were comfortable with the way it was used) and some somewhat successful attempts at accupressure later (after admittance), I had only dilated to a 2. Lori, one of our midwives did try another method of induction of inserting sticks of seaweed into the open part of my cervix, but no success. So the pitocin was started about 13 hours after our arrival in the hospital.
Luckily I did begin to have contractions and holding my husband's hand and with his soft words of encouragement I was able to move to 4 cm with no problems with the pain. But, I had a headache that grew worse and worse and became very nauseous and in the middle of the night was given - after much deliberation - stahdol and phenigren and was out for a few hours.
Though the nurses were surprised at how lucid I was, after 24 hours of the mag sulfate and early labor, everything external became quite a blur. However, my visions became increasingly real. I had suspected that the veils between the world of Spirit and the world of man became thin during labor ( and other times of great distress and pain) and my theory held true in ways I could not imagine. One of my friends had told me that labor was much like a vision quest and what she said she was true.
But, despite my lack of awareness, Nathan stayed on top of everything. Not only taking care of me during the first 24 hours in every way including holding my hand but also helping a couple of the nurses fix the monitor when it went haywire.
28 hours after check-in, it was recommended for blood pressure purposes that I receive an epidural. After discussing it with Nathan and Charity, we agreed it was best. At this point we all still hoped for a vaginal delivery and kept on going. After the epidural was given my blood pressure dropped signifigantly. Because the baby was accustomed to that bp, his heart rate dropped from the 130's to 90. Suddenly there were people everywhere and the told us we were going in for a c-section. OK. But, after injecting me with a drug to bring my bp back up, the baby recovered and we were allowed to labor for 7 or 8 more hours. But, as things went, the epidural was one sided which made the labor pains worse than when they where all over. So, we went through several more attempts which finally took just prior to our being wheeled in for a c-section.
After 38 hours I had only dilated to a 4. We were all exhausted. Me, Nathan, Charity, the midwife. I was taken into the OR to be prepped while Nathan put on his "space suit" as he called it. The c-section was done and out after what seemed like an eternity a little baby was produced screaming his head off. Due to his prematurity, he had difficulty breathing and was taken to NICU. He was put on a ventilator and was very agitated. He was also given surfactant (spelling?) to stimulate his lungs. Nathan was able to go to the NICU eventually and spent most of his time in that area.
We still had not named him but had narrowed it down to Noah or Nicholas. Sometime in my drug induced state I decided on Noah. It was just as well - we didn't know it at the time, but when the nurses found out what two names we were debating on, they decided he looked like Noah and began calling him by that name. It means peace and comfort and we know that he actually chose the name - because that really isn't a name we would have ever thought we would have chosen.
It was 24 hours later before I was able to go to see the baby. The NICU nurses moved quite a bit around to be able to accomodate my bed being wheeled in as I was moved from L&D to postpartum care. I was still very sedated from the 38 hours plus of mag sulfate and then morphine.
I don't think anything in my life has been as hard as seeing my child who has been exclusively with me for 8 months, now seperated and lying in a bed hooked to wires and tubes instead of in my arms. But, I soon was back in morphine land and much of the next day was spent attempting to just get out of bed and get some food into my system after 3 1/2 days of not eating. On that day, the pumping also began. Thank the Goddess for my blessed husband who not only worked with the lactation consultant but basically pumped me during that time taking little drops of colostrum in a jar to the NICU to rub on our baby's lips.
It was Saturday night, practically 48 hours later before I was able to be wheeled into the NICU and actually hold my baby. The next evening we were able to do Kangaroo care with him and I attempted to get him to latch on and actually nurse. By Monday morning (4 days after the birth) I was released and Noah was moved into Intermediate care (still part of the special care nursery). Nathan and I were devastated to go home without our baby. But, we did spend that night - New Year's with him after going home for a shower and a change of clothes and we spent the rest of the week travelling back and forth spending about 8 hours a day with him. In the meantime he developed jaundice and was given phototherapy which cut back on the amount of time we could hold him and he battled keeping his temp up which delayed his release as well.
Finally, after 9 days in the nursery, baby was released and we took our 4lb. 12 oz. baby home. But, as things go, a week later he was admitted into the hospital in Murfreesboro for a low temp - 95.2. After two days there he was fine. He is doing great now and so are we. I am getting over my soreness and have found breastfeeding to be pretty so easy once the baby came home and we had all relaxed a little. Nathan is a great dad and spends lots of time rocking and reading to the baby.
We are thankful to our midwives who monitored the baby and me so closely during that time. We are thankful to the preeclampsia.org website which gave us lots of info on my illness. It took more than a week for my bloodpressure to return to normal and even longer for the swelling to go down. The midwives tell me that I might have a better pregnancy next time, but that I have a good chance of developing preeclampsia once again.
I know that there are many lessons for our little family to be learned here and many of the people who participated in our birth learned many lessons as well. Nathan and I know we have been strengthened individually and as a couple by our journey into parenthood and are thankful for what we learned in our Bradley class. The first night there we stated that whatever our birth experience was we knew it was the one for us. All we wanted was a healthy baby. Those things still stand true, though it has been a difficult road and like it or not, we were somewhat disappointed by the turn of things... but, we will survive.
Noah Allen Croy
Weight: 5lbs. 2oz.
Length: 19 inches