Should I carry?

I can’t help but think this would all be easier if I just try to carry our embryo… Am I crazy? Is it irresponsible given my history? Maybe I’m just already overwhelmed with the surrogate process… which is just beginning. What if I at least talk to the high-risk OB team again…? Eric isn’t thrilled with the idea, he does not want another nicu stay.

Nadia’s Birth – Part 3

I’m really hoping this is the last part of Nadia’s birth story!  I’m in the middle of scalding milk, washing pump parts and dishes, and dreaming of the 50 million other things I should be doing though, so hopefully I can focus long enough to write the rest of this… We did get Nadia’s crib and dresser up and into her room today.  Although the room in general is still a disaster and nowhere near ready to be called complete.  I still need to order a rocker and a small table too.  And crib bedding.  And most everything else.  So basically I just have a crib, dresser, and area rug ;). You know, the important stuff! I’m still feeling so overwhelmed with everything there is to do.  How long are my hormones all messed up?  Eric told me a couple of weeks, and then added, it’s been a couple of weeks, as if I should be all ‘normal’ now.  I don’t feel normal…

So I’m in the ambulance, the sirens are on, but surprisingly, it’s not all that loud inside, believe it or not.  One of the nurses was timing my contractions, which were about three minutes apart at that point.  I was still receiving the IV magnesium, but they don’t take the baby monitors along, which I thought was odd…

The critical care nurse with the ambulance team was really, really sweet.  I wish I could remember her name and somehow send her a thank you.  She talked to me throughout the entire ride, told me all about her SIX children, two sets of twins, how one set came early, etc.  The nurse who came from Allen Hospital with me wasn’t nearly that sweet!  I mean, she was polite, but certainly was just doing her job. The conversation on the ride was nice, took my mind off the contractions somewhat.  Wait, no, that’s not really true.  I know I stopped talking during the contractions.  It was so difficult not being able to really move on the stretcher.

We arrived in record time at the University.  I remember feeling embarrassed as I was wheeled out of the ambulance and up the elevators to labor and delivery on the 6th floor.  There were a lot of people just hanging out around the labor and delivery entrance, and for some reason, I feel really silly all strapped to the stretcher… Eric wasn’t with me yet as he followed in our vehicle. As soon as we got to L&D I was wheeled to a room and the ambulance team helped move me off the stretcher and onto a bed.  All my IV tubing was removed, as apparently hospitals have different tubing, so my IV was left in, but my meds were stopped.  (And I swear this is why my contractions progressed, but thus, I am not a doctor, so what do I know.) The very sweet critical care nurse gave me a hug before she left and wished me all good things for my delivery.

I remember two nurses specifically asking me a ton of questions, all the same I had been asked this morning.  I really wanted to scream, it’s all in my chart, just open it! I tried to be nice, but I was in pain and moody, of course.

I think it was around 5:45pm when I arrived at the University, but I could be a little off, my mind wasn’t really with me. As the nurses were starting fluids and magnesium a familiar face popped in, the head of the NICU, Dr. Bell, who is also the father of Eric’s best friend.  I think I mentioned him before, as we’ve gotten to know him well over the years through Eric’s friend and also because of our NICU stay with Nora.  He asked where the heck Eric was and if I wanted him to hold my hand until he arrived.  I did, and I didn’t.  I mean, I know him, and a familiar face was nice, but I wasn’t sure I felt all that comfortable with him in the room.  So I politely told him I was okay…

Clearly I was not okay though… I asked the nurses again for pain meds, and they said they would see if I could have something after the doctor checked me. I was like, okay, where the hell is this doctor, as I know there are at least 30 OB/GYNs plus residents here at the hospital right now.  No idea how long I waited, several painful contractions, I know that, and finally a doctor, I’m pretty sure a resident, came in and introduced herself. I don’t remember her name, but she was super nice, I have to admit.  She checked me, I was 6 cm, so at that point their plan was still to stop my contractions, and thus they said I could have a little of something in my IV for pain.  But they had to order it, and wait for it to arrive from the pharmacy.  Like seriously people??

So lots of people were in and out of my room at this point, the resident who checked me was setting set up a table at the end of my bed with lots of scary looking tools, which she swore were not for torture.  Yes, I asked her that. There were maybe five or six people around what looked like a NICU incubator in the corner of the room, the two original nurses were still there, plus a few more, and I also remember a random old guy, who I was later told was the actual OB on my case.  Funny how he didn’t actually do anything!

Eric finally arrived…

One of my original nurses walked in carrying my pain meds!  I was so happy.  For all of about 5 seconds.  She said they had to check me again before I could have it.  What???  I was at 7 cm, and they decided at that point they couldn’t stop my labor and I was having the baby.  And therefore I couldn’t have the pain meds.  I shit you not people, I begged her to give it to me.  And she very sweetly put her arm around me and explained how it would harm the baby’s respiratory system, and since my baby was a preemie, I just couldn’t have it.  I think she was trying to make me understand it was best for baby, and I know that now, but at the time, I certainly wasn’t thinking clearly!  I’m fairly certain I told her I’d pay extra for the pain meds…

I asked what else I could have, and they said an epidural…  Great, wonderful, that sounds wonderful.  They went to get anesthesia.  Several more contractions.  Eric was asking me how he could make me feel better.  I think I said to knock me out.  All the sudden I tell Eric I feel like I need to throw up. He grabbed me a random container, I tried to throw up, but since I hadn’t eaten all day, well, I was throwing up nothing but spit really, which I think is actually worse than really throwing up.  Then, I felt a strange sort of gush.  My water broke.  Not sure if it would have on its own, or if it was somehow the pressure of me throwing up…

The resident checked me again and I was at 10 cm, no time for an epidural.  I. WANTED. TO. CRY.  No way was I having another baby without pain meds.  I am weak, I’ll be the first to admit that!

Oh, did I forget to mention they did a quick bedside ultrasound when I arrived at the University and confirmed baby was head-down.  Otherwise I think they would have been prepping me for a c-section.

So the very sweet resident tells me I can push whenever I feel the need.  Okay…  I really only pushed twice with Nora, so this part of the birth process was somewhat new to me.  But surprisingly, pushing was a relief from the pain of the contractions.  I’m sure many of you understand, and for those of you who don’t, I’m not sure how to explain it.  I mean, it was still painful, but somewhat better.  I think I pushed for maybe 30 minutes, and I’m quite certain between each contraction I told Eric and the entire team that I was giving up and couldn’t do it.  Of course they were all very sweet and encouraging and told me what an awesome job I was doing.

Finally, at 7:13pm, so not all that long after arriving at the University, Nadia Louise was born, all 3 lbs. 13 oz. of her, 16.75 inches long. She was taken by the NICU team immediately for them to access. The very sweet resident did let Eric cut the cord this time though!

I remember instant relief once Nadia was out.  They did give me pitocin to help get the placenta out… Do they give that to everyone?? There must have been several students in the room at that point as well, as I remember the resident who delivered Nadia explaining about how you never pull on the cord for the placenta, or something like that.

The neonatologist very quickly brought Nadia over so we could see her, we snapped one picture, and then they took her to the NICU.

I remember telling the resident this was the second baby I delivered without cute toenails!  Next time I will be prepared.  Well, if there is a next time.

I needed some stitches, and I tell you, it seemed like they stitched FOREVER.  The resident was really funny though, she said she was making everything ‘pretty’ so I kept telling her to carry on and take her time!

Once me, and the room were all cleaned up the nurse brought me some food, I think a sandwich, potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie.  Doesn’t sound all that interesting, but I was starving, and I hadn’t had real food, because of the gestational diabetes, in weeks.  So yes, it tasted amazing!  I ate while I texted a few family members and friends, Eric was calling some family I think.  About an hour later Nadia was stable in the NICU and Eric and I were allowed to see her.

I don’t think it had hit me yet at that point, that we had another baby in the NICU.  Walking in there, again, felt surreal.  Maybe I was in shock, or denial, I don’t know…  I hadn’t been to bay 1 since Nora was very sick the second time during her stay.  Even the smell of the place brought back (bad) memories.  Even washing our hands upon entering gave me flashbacks of our days there with Nora.

When we walked into Nadia’s room I could have sworn it was Nora.  Maybe it was just the setting, all the same cords, the familiar sounds, etc.  Or maybe they really do look a lot alike.  Nadia was almost a pound more than Nora at birth, but I swear she looked just as tiny in her warmer bed.  Her eyes were closed, greasy with whatever it is they apply at birth, she was intubated, although breathing over it for the most part, had several lines into her umbilical cord, and I think an IV in one of her hands, although I can’t remember now.  She looked very sweet and as I placed my finger in her hand she tightened her tiny fist, just as I remember Nora doing the first time we met.

Nadia’s nurse gave us an update on her, basically that she was doing awesome.  Which scared the heck out of both Eric and me.  That’s exactly what they told us with Nora, and then a week later Nora was diagnosed with meningitis.  Neither Eric nor I really wanted to get too excited about Nadia doing so well, really for fear we’d be disappointed later…  And like all NICU stays, we’ve had our ups and downs so far, and still aren’t out of the water.

I’ll share more later, details of my stay before being discharged, and also more on my feelings regarding the NICU and bonding with Nadia.  I need to pump soon and finish the dishes, and the million other things on my list 🙂

Pre-term Labor Update – 28w6d

Just a little update, don’t expect great things as I’ll admit, I’m feeling a little out of it.  The side effects from the magnesium seem to be bothering me more today…  Blurred vision, difficulty focusing, feeling cross-eyed, like I’m in dream land pretty much.  So hopefully some of this makes sense and is spelled correctly.

We made it another day pregnant, it’s Sunday now, and tomorrow morning I’ll be officially 29 weeks.  Another day is another day.

Aside from the magnesium side effects, I’m feeling rather out of sorts here.  I’m sure many of you can relate…  I feel trapped in this hospital room, in this bed really, as I can only get up to pee, and with help to unhook and reconnect all these monitors and drag my IV pole along.  And you know how I hate depending on others!  Eric has been here most of the time, although he’s been snoring through the nights!  Good thing the nurses are here!  He’s been great though, silencing all the darn alarms on these monitors and such!  He actually left a bit ago to take Kona to my moms, at least for tonight so that he doesn’t have to keep running home to let her out.  I really hate dumping her on my mom and step-dad, but I’m very thankful of them for helping.

I finally got some sleep last night, as I finally accepted a sleeping pill from my nurse.  They check my vitals, temp, blood pressure, reflexes, listen to my heart, and check my pee every hour, so when I say I slept, that is relative, but there was some sleep, which is good.

My contractions are still coming and going, some more painful than others.  I actually didn’t notice anything strong during the night, but since I’ve been awake today I’ve felt quite a few and several made me wanna say, ouch.  I keep looking at the number on my external monitor contraction thing, but for the life of me I don’t understand the correlation between my pain and the number it displays, so who knows!  Baby looks great for the most part, two nurses did come in during the night to get me to change position and check oxygen levels, as her heart rate seemed low for a bit, but all seems better now.  They are avoiding checking my cervix for fear of aggravating it, so no idea if I’m still dilated to just 2cm or not.

So the plan for today has not changed, magnesium continues until 9pm tonight, antibiotics continue until God knows when.  I haven’t had any more pain meds, but I’ll surely be asking for some should I feel more uncomfortable.  I’m feeling a lot of the contractions is my back, which is totally not fun!

I was feeling a little selfish last night, guilty too.  We met with the NICU doctors yesterday afternoon, and it was the first time I really wanted to bawl my eyes out  The team was really, really encouraging, giving us great statistics on 29 week babies delivered here at UIHC.  Who knew this NICU has the best survival rates in the country!  The docs said at 29 weeks she would probably need help breathing, but perhaps only be intibuted for maybe a week and then oxygen in other methods.  Respiratory issues are not their largest concern with 29 week premies though, their brains are.  Apparently brain bleeds are common, although I’m not sure I remember, or understand why.  I do remember them preparing us by explaining how we might not get to see baby right away if she is delivered this early, as the NICU team would take her immediately.  Also, we probably wouldn’t be able to hold her for at least a week until she’s more stable.  All that said, I know everyday we can keep her inside is best.  My guilty feelings come into play there though…  I honestly can’t picture my current state being my life for weeks or months…  These contractions coming and going, some quite painful.  I guess seeing an endpoint with a normal delivery seems realistic to me.  But going on like this for how long?  Well, I guess there is a part of me that just wants her to be born if that’s what my body wants.  But again, welcome to motherhood, it’s not about me, it’s about what’s best for her.

28w5d ~ Pre-term Labor

I’d like to write a wonderfully creative post about my experience during the past two days… but instead, I’ll just get to the point.

I worked all day yesterday, but felt different, just off, not right, tons of pelvic pressure, the same feeling I experienced a month ago.  (I even texted Eric yesterday afternoon that I thought baby girl wanted out soon…)  It being Friday I high-tailed my ass outta work at 4pm and headed home, the only thing on my mind being to change into comfy clothing and relax in bed.

I was home by 4:30, changed, and in bed before 5.  I laid on my left side thinking it was best for baby but the pressure continued to build and by 5:30 when Eric called that he was heading home from work my lower back and abdomen were in pain.  I was thinking to myself, this can’t be right… who could feel this way for eleven and a half more weeks until their due  date??  I tried walking around, stretching, laying in different positions, but nothing helped, just lots of pain, pressure, and tightness.

When Eric got home he called labor and delivery and spoke to the on-call doctor…  She suggested we come in, just as a precaution since I’m still considered high risk due to my shortened cervix.  Looking back, I really should have packed a bag!

When we arrived around 7 we were taken to a triage room in labor and delivery, I changed into a gown, a quick history was taken, and my cervix was checked.  My 1.3 cm had disappeared, nothing left, and I was dilated to 2 cm.  A very quick ultrasound was done to check baby’s heartbeat, which was great, amniotic fluid in tact, so good too, but still breech.  I moved to a labor/delivery room at that point to be admitted.  Not how I thought my Friday the 13th would turn out…

You can probably guess the next several steps.., I was hooked up to an external fetal monitor to track baby’s heart rate, and another external monitor to track contractions.  An IV was started (twice, damn tiny veins) and these nifty massaging cuffs were put around my lower legs.  I basically settled in to a very uncomfortable bed, tethered to several devices, for God only knows how long.

So the plan is this:

  • I’ve been receiving magnesium by IV since last night when I arrived in an effort to stop my contractions.  They recommend limiting this medication to only 48 hours for two reasons.  One, that’s how long the steroids take to help mature baby girl’s lungs, and two, any longer than 48 hours and magnesium has adverse effects on baby, something about thinning her bones, but don’t quote me on that!
  • I’ve also been receiving IV antibiotics and lots of fluids.  Seems fairly standard…
  • I was given the first steroid injection last night at 9pm, and the second I’ll receive tonight (Saturday) at 9pm.
  • Sunday at 9pm the magnesium will be turned off and we’ll see how my body reacts.  This does not excite me, as I have no faith that my body will obey.  I will say that my contractions have slowed since last night, but they have certainly not stopped.  Pain meds are finally working though.  Thankfully 🙂
  • I’ll for sure be in the hospital until Monday morning so they can see how I do off the magnesium.  How my body reacts though is a complete guess at this point.  There are other medications to try to stop labor, but the high risk doctor who met with us this morning doesn’t recommend them, the risks just don’t outweigh the benefits at almost 29 weeks.  She did not go into those risks and I didn’t press the issue.

I guess the real vibe I’m getting is this…  If my contractions stay calm and I don’t dilate further once off the magnesium, there is a chance I could go home, but most likely on bed rest.  The other option is delivery of baby girl if my contractions start back up Sunday evening into Monday.  They stressed that our level 4 NICU is amazing and that at 29 weeks baby girl would actually be one of the larger babies there.  Not sure this is comforting, but okay…  Side note with delivery, it would be a c-section unless she decides to flip in the next two days.  Somehow I don’t see that happening, but okay on that note too…

Eric stayed here with me last night as he has this weekend off.  Unfortunately he needs to work this week.  It’s spring break though, so the surgery schedule is light, thank goodness.  He ran home last night to get me a few necessities, and he just left again to let Kona out and shower.  As nice as it is to have him here, I guess I could deal with him sleeping at home overnight.  It’s only a few days and he snored all last night anyway!  I actually slept zero, but more because of the contractions and pain.  I expect to zonk out soon.

I guess physically I’m okay.  The contractions were rough last night but tolerable now, as I’m fairly certain all my pain meds have worn off.  The magnesium makes you feel super warm though, like burning up!  I’ll be glad when it’s turned off tomorrow evening.  Oh, and no showering.  WTF.  I feel nasty and icky and I’m sure I look even worse.  And my legs haven’t been shaved.  And I didn’t get a pedi!  I needed more time, that’s for sure!

Emotionally, I don’t know…  I like knowing what’s to come, having a schedule, so it’s killing me that we left last night, rather in a hurry, very unprepared to not return for a undetermined amount of time.  Being I take care of everything at home, well, I assume many of you can imagine how I feel right now.  And I need to email my boss.  What does one say when they have zero idea what the future holds?

I’ll end here for now, not that I don’t have more to say, but because I think I need some sleep, having been up now well over 24 hours now.  I know several close friends have offered to visit, and I’d love to see you, I really would, but let me see how I’m feeling after I get some sleep 🙂

I’ll update again soon.

20 Week Anatomy Scan – Good & Bad

First the good…

Baby is perfect!  It was so fun to watch her wiggling around during the ultrasound, sticking out her tongue and swallowing some of the amniotic fluid.  She was sure busy!  The technician was very detailed, measuring each organ and body part and explaining all in detail.  She estimated baby’s weight at about 14 oz. today which is right on track developmentally for 20 weeks.  We received several cute pictures, but I’ll post those separately once I have a chance to upload them.

I did ask about movement, or rather my lack thereof, being it’s been on my mind so much.  The tech confirmed I have an anterior placenta, meaning it’s in front of the baby closest to the front of my abdomen and thus the reason I haven’t felt much movement yet.  My doctor confirmed that since I have an extra barrier between baby, I might not feel definite movement for a few more weeks, but that I shouldn’t worry.  The ultrasound confirmed baby is healthy and active.

So now the not so great…

One of the measurements the ultrasound tech needed was the length of my cervix and whether it was closed or open (dilated).  Thankfully it’s still closed, not dilated, but it is much shorter than it should be at this stage of pregnancy.  Basically the cervix should be about 4cm throughout pregnancy and shorten (efface) during labor.  Well, mine is already effaced to 2cm, which is apparently not good.  At first the tech thought maybe she just wasn’t getting a good view of it, so out came the dildo cam.  Yes, and here I thought I was finished with ‘those’ ultrasounds.  Oh the memories!  The second ultrasound showed the same though…

My doctor explained the risks of a shortened cervix at 20 weeks, mainly miscarriage and pre-term labor.  My regular OB contacted a high risk physician and it was decided that for the time being we’ll try progesterone suppositories, as they have been known to stop effacement (further shortening of the cervix).  The problem though is, nothing has been known to increase the length, so getting to 40 weeks could be problematic.  Side note, I’ve heard from fellow IVF bloggers that progesterone suppositories are nasty messy, but in this case going back to the injections isn’t an option, as we need the localized effect of the vaginal suppositories.  My directions are to use them nightly, beginning tonight.  I’m sure I’ll have some great stories for you all soon!

So going forward…  I pray the progesterone stops the shortening of my cervix.  In three weeks I’m to return for a repeat ultrasound to check my cervical length.  If it’s the same, I assume I’ll stay on the progesterone.  If it’s shorter we’ll have to be more aggressive.  My doctor mentioned perhaps bed rest, steroids, stronger medication to deter labor, etc.  I didn’t ask a lot of questions about what’s to come, maybe I should have.  For now, I’m going to focus on the next three weeks.

Eric was with me today during our ultrasound and appointment, and thank God, as he understands all this medical stuff so much better than me.  Problem with him sometimes though, is that nothing serious really seems to phase him, as serious to him is about dead.  He did seem worried today though…  As we walked out of the doctor’s office he said, “We just need to get to 30 weeks for baby to be healthy, that’s only 10 more weeks.”  Um, frankly, I’m still holding out for my 20 more weeks.  I am not about to assume at this point she’s coming early, nor am I ready, on any level, for her arrival in 10 weeks!