Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Journey of Faith, a Story of Hope... Part 1

I have been meaning to write this for quite some time now, but I haven't been ready.  However, for the past week, since we made our first visit back to the UWMC to show Andrew to his doctors and nurses, I have not been able to stop thinking about writing this story.

There will be some overlap to previous posts in writing this story, but bear with me, it all plays a role.

When I found out I was pregnant, I experienced the usual thoughts and emotions that I imagine any expectant mother would have.  You think lovingly of this tiny little being growing inside of you, and you touch your stomach all the time looking forward to the day you will feel those first movements.  You worry about the possible problems and then you focus on the joy of your new baby to come.

I knew from the beginning of my pregnancy that I was "High Risk."  I had a big red dot sticker on the front of my chart that signaled that fact to all the doctors and nurses.  I was high risk for several reasons; first of all my mother had a very difficult time carrying a baby to term due to an incompetent cervix and a tilted uterus.  My sister had blood pressure problems in both her pregnancies that led to early deliveries (4 and 3 weeks respectively), I had a history of high blood pressure and heart issues that had been under control for the past 5 years, and last but definitely not least, I was in the Advanced Maternal Age Group.  The fact that I would be 36 years old when the baby was born bumped me into that group.

My very first appointment ruled out a tilted uterus, and it was determined that we would monitor my blood pressure closely and also have more frequent ultrasound appointments to check my cervix.  At 12 weeks I had the first round of genetic screening done, and my risk factors came back the lowest that any woman of any age can have.

We progressed along, and all my tests were good, and my cervix was showing no signs of incompetence.  I was relaxed and feeling like we were going to cruise along through this pregnancy just fine.  

                                                   12 Weeks - All is Well

About halfway through my second trimester I began having contractions.  Nothing serious, just Braxton Hicks, but the doctors told me that if I had 6 or more in an hour I had to call them.  And they said that I could not continue to work the hours I was working, I had to cut down to only 8 hours a day.  Later that week, I arrived at work and promptly had 8 contractions in the first hour I was there.  I called the doctors' office and was told that they wanted me to come in.  I called Matt and told him and he said he'd meet me there.  I took Lucie with me just in case I wasn't coming back to work that day.  Sure enough, my instincts were right.  After an exam which determined that my cervix was still closed, I was told to go home for the rest of the weekend and take it easy.  I was not on bed rest, but I was supposed to sit down with my feet up as much as possible.  On Sunday I decided to go to church, and it was my week to sing on the Worship Team.  I explained to everyone that I was supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible, so we brought a stool on stage for me to sit on.  All morning long I was having some fairly sharp pains in my cervix.  It worried me a bit, and I talked it over with my friend Rachel.  We decided that I should call the doctor just to be on the safe side.  After talking with Dr. Mallory, I decided to go get checked out at the Childbirth Center because my motto was (and still is) "I'd rather over-react than under-react.  It was determined that I was fine, I had an irritated nerve as a result of the exam I'd had on Friday.  At that check though my work hours got cut from 8 a day to 6 a day, and I had to take at least 4 15 minute breaks during that time.

I continued on that path for a few more weeks until we hit the Bump in the Road that was my Placenta Abruption.  From that night on my life consisted of hospital rooms and bed rest.  Even during my first few days in St Joes, and the subsequent bed rest at home for the next couple weeks, it never occurred to me that I would have any real complications.  I honestly thought that we'd be able to stick it out and that I would deliver a few weeks early (my goal was 37-38 weeks) and that I'd have a 5-6 pound baby.

The day I was transferred down to the UWMC I realized that the likelihood of making it to 38 weeks was pretty minimal.  But I was still determined to do everything I could to get as far as possible.

                                                       34 weeks - Bored and Pregnant

After my first few days in Seattle, all was calm and we were chugging ahead with the plan of "Stay pregnant until 35 weeks, and then look at delivery."  Then things were so stable that they bumped it out to 37 weeks.  We knew that chances were good that our son would go to the NICU for a couple days, and then we would be headed home.  I had never even entertained the notion that my baby would not follow that pattern.  Honestly I thought that chances were good that we'd skip the NICU all together.  That was not meant to be...

Throughout this whole period of hospitals and bed rest, I was completely at peace.  I was relying heavily on my faith and trusting with all my heart that God was in control and that He was taking care of us.  I don't know what I would have done without my faith.  I know that I wouldn't have maintained my good spirits during 7 weeks in bed, I wouldn't have been so at peace, and I wouldn't have been able to so easily give up any semblance of control that I thought I had over my life and my circumstances.

We had a number of doctors and nurses comment to us about our great attitudes and how well we were handling this.  We kept saying the same thing in reply, "What other option is there?  What good would it do to be angry or upset?"  If I had been angry or upset I wouldn't have been trusting in God.  That's not to say that I didn't have my moments where I doubted myself.  The logical, rational part of me knew that I had done everything I could to keep myself healthy and the baby safe, but there were a few moments where the logical, rational part of me was AWOL.

I won't go into the birth story again, but there are a few parts of that day that I didn't mention in the previous post.  From the time that I was induced, and began bleeding again, I had the 3rd (I think) verse of Amazing Grace stuck in my head.  "Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come.  Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home."  At shift change that afternoon, my wonderful morning nurse went home and my evening nurse came on.  It was a sweet woman who had been my nurse a few times in Antepartum, and her name is Grace.  I thought that was so perfectly appropriate that Grace would "lead us home" down the final hours of my pregnancy.

And I have to end Part 1 with a funny story... I knew that I would have to take my belly button ring out if I had to have a C-Section.  That was something I was not looking forward to because I was afraid that if I had to keep it out for too long that it would start healing up again, and I knew I would have to let it go because at 36 I wasn't going to wait for it to completely heal up, and get it pierced for a third time and go through that healing process again.  When Dr. Maserie gave us the news that we were moving to surgery immediately, I held off as long as possible and took it out at the very last minute before they wheeled me down the hall.  When they brought me back to recovery, I was shaking from head to toe.  When Matt came back into my room to check on me, I asked the nurse if I could put my belly button ring back in yet and she said that I could.  I, still shaking fiercely, took the ring in my trembling fingers and managed to, by Braille because I couldn't see my belly (nor could I sit up), get the ring back into place.  Then came the fun part, putting the threaded cap back on.  I tried several times and couldn't get it because I was shaking too hard.  Then my poor frazzled husband tried, but alas he was shaking too  much too.  Finally between the two of us working together, and after several deep calming breaths which stilled some of the shaking, we managed to get the cap threaded back on.  I had to laugh at how ridiculous that must have been, I was less than an hour post-op, I had not seen my son, I had no idea what was going on, and all I could fixate on was that stupid little piece of steel.

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