So let me set the stage. I am a drama queen, after all, and this story had lots of dramas. *eye roll*
When the kids and I got back from our cross country trip last summer I had a sneaking suspicion I was expecting. We'd decided in June to start trying, I was hoping it would take a few months, but there was a big fat positive test and that was that. And almost in that moment the nausea set in. I'd been slightly sick with Andrea and Peter, fairly sick with David, but it was nothing compared to this. I lost a lot of weight between 6 and 18 weeks. It wasn't fun. I was pretty miserable. I let everyone know how miserable I was. And then I was asked to give a talk in church in November. In the course of my studies, I realized how whiny I was being, and how miserable I was making everyone else in my family. I began praying for the courage and strength to bear, with grace, whatever discomforts I was experiencing. Ha. Haha. Heh. Don't do that.
After the nausea finally abated my pelvis started splitting. And everything just hurt. Walking was painful, sitting was painful, lying down was painful. Walking, though. It was pretty bad, and it just got worse. Because I was trying to gracefully bear (ha. haha. heh.) my discomforts, I tried not to complain. I failed. A lot. Although I never mentioned anything to my midwife or doctor...
In December I started getting a weird spasm, on top of a hacking cough. The cough was terrible enough, but that pain in my side was intense. But it wasn't constant, and I figured it was just some random pregnancy thing. I dealt.
By February the cough finally went away, but the random spasm turned into a sharp, stabbing pain in my right side. Every time it hit I'd have to sit and catch my breath. My pelvis was separating. Braxton Hicks were pretty regular.
Things finally reached a head the last week of February. My random spasm was no longer random, it was constant. It was tender to the touch, as was just about the rest of my body. But, not wanting to be a drama queen, I didn't mention ANY of this to the midwife. I also wasn't comfortable talking about it with her, I don't know why I just didn't fully trust her. If it had been Sarah I think I would have... Either way, its done.
On March 7th (Tuesday) poor Jonathan came home to a wreck. The kids were arguing and throwing things at each other. No dinner was on the table. And I was so overwhelmed with the pain, fatigue, a migraine, and hormones I was in a corner sobbing. That was when it was finally said: "THIS is not normal. You need help." He was right. Aches are normal in late pregnancy, but severe, debilitating pain is not.
The next day (Wednesday) I stayed on the couch, I tried to rest, every time I moved I winced. I was scheduled to meet with a dr at my practice the next day. The goal was to have her assess me and then prescribe some pain killers that would actually work so I could clean my dang house before Emma got into town. Jonathan got kids settled for bed and suggested we watch a movie. As the movie started I had the thought "You should pack an overnight bag for the kids. Just in case." It nagged at me for a bit before I finally decided that no, I didn't need to do that. I'd get my pain killers, get comfortable, Emma would get in town, and then sometime the next week I'd have the baby. I enjoyed the movie (Dr. Strange).
Thursday morning I woke up in so much pain. The kids quietly went about their morning routine and got off to school without any complaint. I sat down ready to go back to bed at 9:00 a.m. and was very grateful that I had an hour before I needed to get myself and Peter down to the car and head out for my dr appt. I again had the thought that I should pack an overnight bag for the kids, just in case. Again, I dismissed it because I just knew I didn't need it. I instead took a leisurely shower (hot water helped with joint and back pain) and got dressed. As Peter and I were heading out the door I glanced at my hospital bag, mostly packed, and had the thought "You should bring that, just in case." I decided it wouldn't be worth the pain to carry out because I wasn't having the baby until the next week. St. Patrick's Day, that's what we were aiming for, right?? Ha. haha. heh.
So I get to my appointment, I try not to move to much. At this point I'm trying not to breathe too deeply because it is killing me. Peter watches a movie on my phone, and I finally get called back to a room. In a rush I explain to the nurse what is going on, crying the whole time, and I say "I just want some pain killers that will work so I can function." She takes my blood pressure and comments, "Well that's a little high." I think, no DUH! I'm in pain, no kidding it is high. The doctor comes in and I explain what's going on all over again. She takes my blood pressure. And then she says, "Before I give you pain medication I'd like you to go to the hospital and be monitored for a bit, just watch that blood pressure for a while." I'm so tired I can't argue. I got checked out and drove around the corner to the hospital.
On the drive over I call a friend who rearranges her entire day to come get Peter. I called Jonathan just to keep him updated. When he asked if he needed to come to the hospital I said no. "They are just going to monitor my blood pressure for a bit and then send me home. No biggie, stay at work." When my friend got to the hospital to get Peter I told her that I'd drive by and pick him up on my way home from the hospital. She looked skeptical, but I assured her that nothing was happening and I'd be headed home with my pain meds soon.
Well, I got situated in the room, hooked up to every wire and contraption and monitor ever, and then had my blood pressure read every 30 minutes. Baby was a stinker, and had so much fluid around her she kept swimming away from the monitors. Unfortunately because of the pressure concerns baby HAD to be monitored constantly. Lots of plans were discussed, I asked for medication again and again, but they really wanted to know why my side was hurting so badly. After a round of IV fluids they were able to get their answer: my liver had had enough of being pregnant and was starting to act out. The pain I'd been feeling for a month and a half was my liver warning me that it didn't like what it was being required to do and it was quitting. (If it wasn't my placenta with Peter, it was my liver with this baby. Geez.) I was originally under the impression that my urine tests had come back fine, but after the IV fluids settled apparently they were finding proteins in my urine. At that point they came to me with a solid plan: One more high blood pressure reading and they were going to induce. If it was normal I'd go home. I waited the extra 20 minutes, and the next reading was 160/78. With that I was done. I was formally admitted as a laboring mom and they started talking methods of induction. At that point I called Jonathan and told him he'd better get an overnight bag together for the kids, I was going to be induced. Oh, and could he please throw a couple more things in my hospital bag and bring it? Thanks, honey.
Funny enough, I'd been texting people this whole time, Emma included, but didn't tell them I was in the hospital. I figured there was no point, I'd be going home. Ha. haha. heh.
So on the evening of the 9th they started the induction. As I was not dilated AT ALL they didn't do pitocin, but started something else that would kickstart things. I dozed through the first two doses, uncomfortably strapped to a million machines, and finally got something for pain around 3 a.m. At 6:00 I asked for the epidural. I was a 4, and terribly uncomfortable because I couldn't be unhooked from anything longer than a bathroom trip, and the baby kept moving away from the monitors and the nurses had to come in every few minutes and readjust. I was so tired, and mad and scared and in pain. So the epidural was a sweet relief. About 9:00 the dr decided to break my water because I just wasn't progressing like I should and they couldn't keep the monitor on the baby. That intensified things instantly, and even with the epidural I was blowing through contractions, concentrating as much as I could on relaxing and focusing on letting my body do what it needed to. I got one extra boost of the epidural when I was an 8. And then at 10:45 Jonathan said, "I'm hungry, I'm going to just run down to the cafeteria to grab some breakfast." I told him NOPE! He wasn't going anywhere. I told the nurse I was feeling lots of pressure, and a few minutes later I was told it was time to have a baby. Elizabeth Anne was born at 10:54 a.m., 8 lbs and 19.5 inches long.
Within four hours of birth she was transferred to the Special Care nursery, and she spent an intense week at the hospital trying to get her blood sugar under control. It was rough. I've never done so much walking the same day I gave birth, but I had to do it. And I didn't stop. I spent two days back and forth from my room to the nursery, spending every moment I could with Elizabeth, and then the rest of the next week making the trek between the hospital and home a couple times each day. It wasn't fun. And that experience is a whole other post, maybe I'll write it out someday.
So lessons learned from this whole experience:
1. Do NOT ignore your body. It WILL tell you when something isn't right, and things will get way worse if you don't listen.
2. Ask for help. I have lots of friends that are like family, they were always asking what they could do to help. I should have asked for more help.
3. Miracles are real, and blessings provide relief and peace.
4. Nurses know what the best hand lotions are. Aveeno is very popular, and for good reason. ;)
I'm glad I'm on the other side of this entire ordeal. It is crazy to me that this all happened seven weeks ago... I'm still recovering. My liver is still angry with me, and I need to treat it nicely for a long while. No smoking, no drinking. (ha) At my six-week postpartum check up my midwife and dr asked why I hadn't said anything about the pain I was in. I told them I didn't want to be whiny and complain. So instead I didn't pay attention to a liver that was falling down on the job and allowed myself to get really sick. Its really stupid. In my attempt to handle discomfort with grace I turned the entire situation into a mess. I'm just grateful it wasn't worse. I'm glad I spoke up when I did. It could have been so much worse. And I obviously don't know what "grace" actually is. *eye roll*
And now I do the postpartum dance with emotions and hormones and crazy. I cuddle with my new little girl, an adorable little thing (seriously little! She still doesn't weigh as much as Andrea did at birth!!) with so much hair! And I mourn the loss of my dream birth, something that I'll never have. I blew my last shot and now I'm sad about it all. And then I'm just so glad I'm not pregnant any more, and so glad I don't have to do that again. That was so painful. SO painful. All of it. And it took its toll on my entire family in some really negative ways. Those poor big kids of mine, they really stepped up and helped out. But they also did a lot of wall-building and coping that wasn't healthy for them or good for us as a family. And it is going to take a lot of time for some of that to heal.
So I'm just grateful that things have slowed down some. The constant flow of visitors has ebbed, and we are able to quietly go back to our routine and norm, this time with Elizabeth. Life is good, and its getting better all the time.