Thursday, July 12, 2007

"So what exactly happened?" - The (really) Long Version

About 5:15 am the next morning (Monday, February 11th) I woke Aaron up.

Me: Honey, I've been having some back aches and the doctor says I should go to the hospital to be checked...its probably nothing, do you want to come with me?

Him: Do I need to?

Me: Well, its probably nothing but I'll leave it up to you.

Him: Well, my battery still isn't recharged so I'll stay here.

Me: Well, its probably nothing but if you wanted to come you could.

Him: Let me know how it goes.

Me: Its probably nothing...but if it IS something you wouldn't have a car.

Him: I'll get dressed.

So off we went. The whole time I'm expecting a rather embarrassing experience where something totally obvious and benign is happening and I'm sent home"to rest."


At the hospital they took a bunch of swabs to test for various things then put me on a fetal heart-rate and contraction monitor for an hour. Aaron and I napped...the shifts changed...the new midwife came in. I had only had one contraction that showed up on the monitor...with a bunch of other "irritable uterine" contractions. It appeared everything was alright but just before they sent me home the midwife checked my cervix...

...which was dialated to a 3-4cm.

Everything sped up after that.

"We're sending you to Boston."

"We're giving you a shot to mature the baby's lungs."

"We are going to try to get you to 28 weeks, its better if you can get that far."

"This drug we're giving you to slow the contractions will make you very hot."

I only knew a 3-4 cm dilation was bad because just that week I had gotten brave enough to read the "Labor and Delivery" section of my pregnancy books. Aaron only new it was bad because I burst into hysterical tears.

It was such a blessing to have the specific midwife on call at the time. I had never met her before but it turns out that the past year she had given birth at 28weeks and she handled Aaron and I perfectly. She calmed me down as much as possible, told Aaron a little bit of what to expect (still with the hope I would be on bed rest for awhile) and then when he asked me what I wanted him to bring from home she gave him a list of insightful things like "toothbrush" and "change of clothes." That was beyond what I could think of at the time.

After the ambulance delivered me to the hospital in Boston (Tufts - New England Medical Center) I was set up in a delivery room. Aaron showed up an hour and a half later after stopping to get stuff at the house. (It all went by really quick...but I was so anxious and glad when he made it. After that I pretty much didn't let him leave unless he was hunting down a nurse to turn off the incessant beeping from various machines).

(BTW - My first ambulance ride solved the age old question about what route is fastest to Boston. IF it is during the day (not rush hour) then taking Route 1 is faster then taking 93. However, if you are an ambulance there is no toll...but if you are a car then there is a $3.00 toll... so take that into consideration.)

While Aaron was getting to the hospital he made the necessary phone calls to friends and family. When people (i.e. my Mom and Mindy) saw my number show up on the caller ID and heard Aaron's voice they immediately knew something was wrong.

Aaron made those calls because we needed their prayers and we asked the people we called to spread the word. I don't know everyone who prayed for us, but we felt the effects of and are beyond grateful for, each prayer given. In my past, when I would ask people what I could do to help, and they said "Pray" I thought they were just being polite by not asking for help. Now I know that in a situation like this...they mean it! The prayers offered for a loved one, and for a stranger, have a definite power behind them.

I was also given a blessing, the words of which I can't remember. I do however remember the feeling of calm and reassurance I felt and which was so important that day, and the weeks to come. A few days later, when we were facing the first of our parenting challenges, I wrote myself a little reminder about those feelings so that I could remember them when I was no longer feeling calm.


By 2:30 that afternoon I had dilated to 6cm and the contractions where irregular but speeding up. They took me off the magnesium sulfate because it wasn't working and they wanted to avoid potential side effects. Ironically, the contractions slowed down after that.

A Neonatalogist came by to talk to us about what the baby's prognosis would be if she were born at that gestation (26 weeks). He was another bright spot in the experience. He was very honest yet hopeful and gave us a lot of confidence. He was also just plain nice.

Unfortunatly, in the middle of our discussion I thought my water had broken and I was really panicked. The OB staff (it is a teaching hospital so there is always 3x as many people as really need to be there) came in and it was determined that I had a "partial placental abruption" which means that the placenta had partially detatched from the uterine wall...I won't go into too many details but that was indicated by a lot of blood. This may be why I started contracting, the blood had pooled behind the placenta, or it could have been as a result of the contracting. No real answer.

The baby warmer was all set up and we all were waiting for the immenint delivery. We hoped I could go till 8:30 that night so that the steroid shots would have at least 12 hours to work...the ideal would be 48 hours but it was just too much to hope for that.

That night was very short and very long. At some point I was measured at 9cm dialated. I felt like delivery would happend with in the hour...all night.

Yet when the day nurse started her shift the next day...there I was. So she gave me the 2nd dose of the steriod. Literally, every minute counted as it worked on the baby's lungs. In fact she gave it to me about 1/2 hour early because I was so close to delivering.

Then the day shift ended and back to the night shift...who was also surpised to still see me there.
And then finally, exactly 36 hours after the first steroid shot was given, I delivered our baby.

She cried.

I was so afraid she wouldn't cry. She cried and wiggled...the neonatalogist kept exclaiming gleefully how much she was moving around. We had made it.

I'm not sure why but I had known that the baby was safe inside of me, and after meeting the neonatalogists, that she would be well taken care of when she arrived, I was most scared of the delivery.

The nurses showed her too me once they had taken their first assessment (by the way, apgar of 6 at one minute and 7 and five minutes) they showed her to me, all bundled up in a blanket, then they wisked her away to the NICU and the waiting hands of the nurses who we are terribly indebted to.

Well, here is the part that is perhaps too honest. After they took the baby to the NICU they got me cleaned up and took me to a recovery room. I hadn't had any real sleep. or anything to eat, for over 48 hours. I was very excited to have some pizza Aaron had stashed for me in the fridge and then he left in time to catch the last train and I fell sound asleep. The too honest part? Well, I can't remember perfectly but as I sit here tonight I don't remember thinking too much about that little baby in the NICU. Afterall, I wasn't expecting to be a Mommy for another three months at least, the whole thing had been so unexpected (as I'm sure it generally is) and I was oh so tired.

However as I slept soundly, on a mattress about 4,000x more comfortable than the L&D bed, I had my first mommy moment. Sometime in the middle of the night a white coated woman woke me up to have me sign a permission form to give the baby a blood transfusion.

Who was I to give this permission? What made me all of a sudden someone's mother?

In the morning when I woke up I was gripped with fear. While I had been in the hospital there had been a big snow/ice storm and the temperature was in the single digits when Aaron left the night before...what if he didn't make it home!! In a panic I text messaged him to see if he was awake, and alive. It was 5:30. He called me immediately. HE has woken up gripped with fear, what if something had happened to the baby over night? He didn't have the hospital's phone number so he couldn't check. Well, he was safe, I was safe, the baby was safe.

It was Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Laughter or Fettucini

Was it the dinner we ate Sunday? The fact that we laughed the entire evening? There has to be something that caused the pre-term labor, but we'll probably never know what. I've narrowed it down to those possibilities, and only these.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Making Of

In June 2006 I was just to the point that I was considering ending treatment to investigate adoption. However, our doctor recommended IVF, saying it was the fastest way for me to be a mom. We waited briefly for the insurance approval and then off we went. We found out we were officially pregnant on Sept. 11, 2006.

Overall the pregnancy was easy. In the beginning I got queasy from 11a-4p everyday. This was while I was at work so Aaron didn't have to deal with much whining (according to me), so according to him the pregnancy was a piece of cake.

I really loved my belly as it got rounder.
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Though it sounds odd, one of the things I loved about pregnancy was the extremes: the extreme hunger, the extreme fatigue, the extreme anger, the extreme laughter.

I guess you can say, I never knew what to expect next.

Slow Start

Tessa was due three days before our 6th Anniversary.

We had a lot of time as just a couple, before she came. As in so many things, this was not according to our plan. We had been "trying" for just under three years when we finally got pregnant. In theory three years doesn't seem that long, but believe me, it was 35 months too long.

It was over 40 negative pregnancy tests too long. It was 134 self administered injections too long. It was many crying, praying, begging nights too long. It was dozens of friends happy announcements too long.

It was a long, long time.

In the same breath that I wish we wouldn't have had to wait so long I am also grateful for a few of the things that resulted. For one, I am grateful for my appreciation for my sweet daughter. I don't think it is fair or truthful to say that "infertiles" love their children anymore than "fertiles." That makes no sense. However, I think I may have the upper hand when it comes to understanding what a miracle the life of a child is. I know so much more about the reproductive cycle then I ever wanted to, and frankly, it is a miracle any of us are here! So many things need to be perfect for conception and gestation to occur. Babies really deserve to be awe-inspiring.