The 12 Days of Preeclampsia: The Birth (Part 2)

The 12 Days of Preeclampsia: The Birth (Part 2)
In the hospital. Don't I look pretty?

Day 12 (May 12, 2011) Mr. C’s Birthday!: It seemed like a normal day (including stomach, chest and back pains with swollen feet and legs). In no way did I expect to give birth to my first child on this day.

The day started out quite exciting. My sister-in-law’s boyfriend (now husband) was all over the news. The day before he rescued a baby from the Fox River. He even bumped Oprah’s photo off into the corner on the cover of the Chicago Sun Times. It’s awesome that he is on the cover of the newspaper the day Mr.C was born!

I had an 11:30 am appointment with my OB to see what was wrong with me since I’ve been having pain and swelling for almost 2 weeks. I told my co-workers, “I’m taking an early lunch to see my doctor. Be back in a bit!”

Within the 15-minute drive to the doctor, I spent about 12 minutes of it crying over the loss of my dog who passed away the week before. I will never forget this car ride. As I approached the professional building, I was trying to regain my composure but it was a much-needed release. I was so overwhelmed with mourning the loss of our dog, trying to sell and buy a new house and dealing with my most uncomfortable pregnancy.

Upon my arrival at the OB’s office, I did the mandatory pee-in-the-cup. When only a tiny bit of dark yellow, almost orange, urine came out after drinking 2 large cups of water that morning, I thought, “This isn’t good.”

I went in with the nurse to my exam room. We chatted and I told her what was going on. My weight was up. My hands, feet and legs were swollen. Then she tried to take my blood pressure and couldn’t get it. She tried it a few times. She stopped and said she was going to get some one to help her. She called in the phlebotomist, whom I’ve gotten to know well. She finally got my blood pressure. They both looked at it with concern. The sweet smelling phlebotomist said, “Lay down on your left side and we will be right back.”  I said, “I’m on lunch! I need to go back to work.” They ignored me and left the room.

About 20 minutes later, my wonderful OB came in to see me. He sat down and got right to the point. He told me that I had extremely high blood pressure, protein in my urine (hence orange urine and why we pee in a cup every visit) and that I have preeclampsia.

Huh?

He said, “Drive yourself over to Hinsdale Hospital right now to be admitted. Go straight up to Labor & Delivery. They are waiting for you,” and he handed me a script.

I broke down for a moment. I told him about our dog dying and how overwhelming the last 2 weeks have been.  Then I sucked in my tears and started asking him some questions:

I asked, “Can I drive myself to the hospital?”

He replied, “You drove yourself here, didn’t you?”

“How long will I be in the hospital?”

He answered, “I can’t say right now, they need to run some tests. You could be in the hospital for weeks on bed rest or you could have him today.” (Foreshadowing).

“I wanted to have my baby at LaGrange Hospital. Can I go there instead?”

He replied, “Hinsdale has the NICU. You need to go there if the baby is born early.”

I didn’t need much convincing. I immediately went into “mom mode” with the attitude of “LET’S DO THIS.”

In the elevator, I called my husband and told him what was going on. He left work immediately. I got in my car and made the short drive to Hinsdale Hospital.  It was so strange to drive myself to the hospital with the feeling that my life was being put on hold. My computer was left on at work. My lunch was sitting there at my desk. I was in the middle of a project. We were packing up our house that weekend to move in 2 weeks. And now I have to be admitted to the hospital? Great.

In the parking garage, I did circles, for what seemed like forever, looking for a parking space. I left my car there. I went straight up to Labor & Delivery. Luckily, my sister and a handful of my friends had their babies at Hinsdale, so I was quite familiar with its location.

The nurses were at their station and they were waiting for me like my doctor said. They were so nice, pleasant, and welcoming.  They shuffled me to a L&D room which I’ve never seen before. Since I was only 29 weeks along, we hadn’t had the chance to take a hospital tour.

I was handed an over washed hospital gown and they told me to change. By the time I was dressed and made myself comfortable in the bed, my husband was there. In the meantime, I called my boss and told him what was happening. In the most sincerest form, he said, “Good luck with that!”

A handful of the sweetest nurses surrounded me, getting me prepared. They told us that they were going to run some tests to see the status of my preeclampsia. They repeated what the doctor told me: ideally, I want to hold on to the baby as long as possible by being on bed rest but if my preeclampsia is really bad, they might take the baby today. In the meantime, I was getting a painful steroid shot to help my baby’s lungs develop. Then, the nicest, funkiest, pink haired phlebotomist accompanied by a short Indian intern, came in to take my blood to start the tests. Afterwards, we were going down to Maternal and Fetal Medicine to get an ultrasound and some other tests. I was looking forward to seeing the baby again.

My husband accompanied me, while the nurse pushed, on a long wheelchair ride to the lower level. The doctor saw us right away. She did an ultrasound and she said the baby looked good but then got a serious look on her face. The nurse came in with my lab results. The doctor left for a minute. I turned to my husband and said; “I think they are going to take him today.”

The doctor returned to the room. She explained to us that along with my preeclampsia, I have HELLP Syndrome.

From www.preeclampsia.org: HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Both conditions usually occur during the later stages of pregnancy, or sometimes after childbirth.

HELLP syndrome was named by Dr. Louis Weinstein in 1982 after its characteristics:

H (hemolysis, which is the breaking down of red blood cells),
EL (elevated liver enzymes) and
LP (low platelet count).”

My blood test had the above results. She continued to tell me that it’s most likely that I would have to deliver the baby soon. The pregnancy was making me sick. The baby will have to be delivered so I could get better.

The nurse brought us back up to Labor & Delivery. My parents and my sister were waiting for us. The nurses had talked to my OB on the phone and said we would be delivering today. My doctor would arrive around 5pm for the delivery. They started to get me ready.  I needed to go on an IV medication of magnesium. Since I was going on the magnesium, I needed a catheter.  Yep, I took the catheter with no pain medication. I sucked it up for Team Baby and… it wasn’t too bad.

While the nurses were hooking my baby bump to the monitors, the baby started to roll up into a ball towards the bottom of my belly, a feeling I was having on and off for the last week. I asked the nurse if I could be having contractions. She said, “Lets find out!” She put on the contraction monitor and there they were: contractions! Baby knew there was something wrong and it was time to come out.

The neonatologist came in to talk to us about the delivery. She told us that I would be having a c-section while under anesthesia. I would be out completely for the birth and my husband could not be in the operating room. I could not have an epidural. Since my platelet count was so low, my blood might not clot. They didn’t want me bleeding in my spine where the epidural would be inserted. She continued to assure us that babies born at 29 weeks have a high survival rate and low percentage of birth defects. She told us about the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and our baby will be there for a while, usually close to the due date.

After that we had some time to ourselves. I made some phone calls to friends and family. My sister-in-law and her hero boyfriend came to support us.

Then I stopped my husband and said, “We should name the baby.” While sitting together, alone, in a room full of machines and monitors, we discussed the name of our son. It was a fairly short conversation as there was only one name that we agreed on and didn’t argue over. Mr. C was the name and his middle name was after my dad, and my husband’s grandfather and uncle, whom both have passed.  We were pleased and excited to tell our family.

Our family rejoined us in the room and we told them the baby’s name. Then my OB came in to check on me and to do the final prep for the surgery. He reassured us that everything would be fine. My husband asked everyone to leave so we could have some time together before the delivery.

The nurse wheeled my entourage and I down towards the OR. Lots of kisses and hugs were given as I said my goodbyes and I told them not to worry, even though they would anyway.

The OR was a very scary room. This was the first time throughout the entire day that I started to get scared. My OB was there but was very serious. The anesthesiologist was giving me oxygen and getting my IV ready as they strapped me down to the table. He leaned over me to get my IV started. I said, “ You smell nice.” He replied, “That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me all day! Now count back from 20, sweetie.”

On May 12, 2011 at 6:55pm, Mr. C was born. He was 2lb, 7oz, 14 inches long.

I woke up briefly during the ride from the OR to intensive care in L&D calling Mr.C's name. My husband was there. He told me that Mr. C was fine, breathing on his own, and he was going to see him soon.

I was in intensive care in Labor & Delivery for 2 days. I was on the IV magnesium and morphine.  Since I was on heavy medication with a catheter, I could not go to the NICU to see my baby. I waited 2 days to see him. On day 3, I got to hold him. On day 52, we got to take him home.

 

Mr. C is a year old now, weighing 21lbs 5oz, 28.5” long. He is sweet, funny and very healthy!

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