We were ecstatic to find out we were going to have a baby. The first
We were ecstatic to find out we were going to have a baby. The first time we saw him was on our one year wedding anniversary. He was about the size of a blueberry so we nicknamed him Blue. He was conceived on Christmas Day and we thought he was the ultimate Christmas present.
My pregnancy was completely normal. Prior to pregnancy the only medical problem I had was Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It was controlled with Metformin. I stopped taking it after 12 weeks gestation, per my doctor's advice. My endocrinologist also agreed it would not make a difference to take it past 12 weeks, as there was no evidence in the literature that it would make a difference.
At about 22+5 weeks I noticed swelling in my feet and hands. I was so swollen I couldn't wear my wedding ring on my pinky. I took my blood pressure at work and it was elevated. I was normotensive throughout my pregnancy and even prior to it.
My doctor placed me on Labetolol. Less than a week later I had to be admitted. By blood pressure was running in the 150s/90s. Personally, I did not feel anything different. My blood pressure was high, but I had no other symptoms. I was admitted to a hospital in Los Angeles and the physicians there told me that I am not presenting like a typical patient with preeclampsia. Internal medicine also came on board to figure out if there was any other organic reason for my elevated blood pressure and they found nothing.
My proteins were slightly elevated (2+ on dipstick and 324 on the 24-hr urine collection). Although that was enough clinical evidence to diagnose me with severe preeclampsia, those labs were very borderline. In addition, I had a UTI from the foley catheter, so the 24 hr urine collection sample may have been elevated due to infection. A week later and I still had no other symptoms. Baby Blue was completely normal in all of the diagnostic tests. He would even kick the monitors and run away because he probably felt cramped. My attending was happy with his development. He had even learned to open and close his hands. She told me it was a good sign of neurological development.
Nine days into my hospital stay I started to get what I felt like a gas bubble underneath by breastbone. I was asked every day, multiple times a day if I had right upper quadrant pain. I didn't. My nurse gave me TUMS. I burped, and I felt better. After lunch the following day, the same thing happened. Then my blood pressure started spiking. Hours later the pain became unbearable. I heard and saw a fluster of people coming to me. I heard bits of information about my labs coming back very abnormal. My blood pressure spike as high as 232/110. I was in a hypertensive crisis and I felt like I was being stabbed with every breath I took, no matter how shallow it was.
The week before, NICU spoke to my husband and I about the chances of Blue's survival should an emergency have to take place. We knew what would happen to him if he had to be delivered so young. It could have been denial, or it could have been the fact that I felt fine until that day...but we didn't believe it would happen. They took every precaution they could to save him: Betamethasone to speed up lung development as soon as I hit 24 weeks, the chief of neonatology personally tried to help him breathe. But it was all too much for Baby Blue. He was born alive, but his little lungs just didn't have time to catch up with him. He was 12.25" and 1lb 7oz.
My husband and I didn't want to see him or hold him. It was too much for us to handle. I was on morphine, magnesium, and the epidural from the emergency c-section. I barely remember the events of Blue's delivery. I remember being pulled and tugged. And I remember the neonatologist telling my husband he tried for several minutes to help Blue breathe, but he was unable to save him.
After I was discharged I had a followup appointment with my OB, who is also an attending at the hospital. He told us there really was no other choice but to deliver him. They did not even have time to induce labor. I probably only had a few hours left to live. If they did not deliver Blue, both of us would have been lost that night. He also did mention that future pregnancies may be tricky, as there is no telling what's going to happen. I may have a completely normal pregnancy, I may have preeclampsia with HELLP again but at a later gestational age, I may have it all over again and have a similar outcome or worse. Hearing that there is a possibility that we should not even try again, given the aggressiveness of the disease process, is disheartening to say the least.
My husband and I are good people. The kind who should be given a chance to add something wonderful to this world. I would do this a thousand times more, go through the pain a thousand times more to save Blue, or have a healthy baby the second time around. It is unfair.
I feel sad to not have known my son, and that I will never see him grow up to see his dreams realized. I feel angry that this opportunity was taken away from us. I feel guilty that perhaps, it is my fault the he did not survive. What hurts the most is he was doing just fine in there. He was healthy and developing well. It was my health that was declining. No matter how many times I replay the events in my head, and I hear my physicians' reasoning, there is always that lingering feeling of: What did I do?
It has been 1 month and a few days since Blue's delivery. He was an amazing person. So many people looked forward to meeting him. Knowing him and feeling him grow inside was the best experience I could have imagined. He was our first born. I didn't know it would be possible, but knowing him has made my husband and I love and appreciate each other more than before.
As for me, I am still healing. Slowly but surely. I underwent a Classical C-Section, which is a much larger incision than a modern c-section. In addition to that, they had to make a vertical incision along my uterus, which is not the desirable way to enter a uterus due to scarring and problems with future deliveries. But Blue was so small they had no choice. I can move around, fairly normal at times. But the physical pain is still there. I can't be around babies, pregnant women, or even see or hear about friends in baby or newborn land. It's a deep scar and one that will stay for a long time.
Does it get any easier? I don't know. The day to day gets better. It's better when I have friends or family around. But whenever there is quiet, whenever I go to his bedroom and see his baby urn with his name on it, it's there. The pain is as intense as the day he died. Will we ever bring ourselves to open his memory box the hospital gave us, to look at his picture and examine the features we've longed to see? Maybe one day. But not today, and not tomorrow. My mom saw his pictures. He had my husband's nose. His feet were about 1.5" long. We are planning on burying him on his due date. Until then, he stays at home with us.
After surviving a very traumatic first pregnancy with a nightmare delivery (30 hours of magnesium-induced hell, ending in an emergency c-section) and even more debilitating recovery, one would think I was DONE having children. Let's be ...