All posts for the month January, 2011

Premature Birth-Part II

Published January 28, 2011 by The Creative Outpost

The magnesium was working and contractions were better, and I was no longer dilating.  The side effects were hard, and I was in a magnesium haze and could barely see.  My blood pressure cuff was constantly activating and leaving bruises in its wake.  Technicians were taking my blood frequently.  The problem was, they were using the same spot and mutilating my arm.  I wasn’t even aware of the problem until I came off the magnesium a week later. 

I now was experiencing my first taste of real hunger.   Magnesium is a muscle relaxant, used to relax the uterus and thus stop contractions, which in turn slows everything else down.  Any food other than jello and broth is strictly prohibited.  And let me tell you, I begged for food quite shamelessly!  As the magnesium level started to lower, my vision came back, blood pressure came up, and I was allowed to eat!

The celebration was short-lived.  Contractions resumed relentlessly, and the staff rushed to start a bolus of magnesium.  Unfortunately, they missed an important step.  They forgot to check the magnesium level in my blood before they started the bolus.

I sat on the edge of the bed, basin in hand, prepared for what was to come.  I was being a good sport.  I would have gone through anything for my baby.  It never even crossed my mind to be concerned that I had a new nurse.  She had never followed me through the magnesium process before.  If she had, she would have realized, I took it like a champ.  I would vomit, settle into bed, and suffer in silence. So as my family gathered around, the bolus was started.

This time was different.  Something wasn’t right.  I felt myself going numb and paralyzed from the feet up.  I tried to tell the nurse that something was different.  I looked around in panic to my family to do something.  They were all scared, as they knew too that something was amiss.  The nurse informed them that I was only panicking from the side effects of the magnesium. 

I was struggling to breathe.  I gathered one last ounce of strength, opened my eyes, and told my husband that I loved him.   I remember thinking it didn’t really matter what happened to me, because there was no way my baby could have survived.  He surely must have been deprived of oxygen or had some other horrific consequences from the ordeal. 

With a rush of activity, personnel came into my room and stopped the bolus.  Blood results were in.  The magnesium was dangerously high and the bolus should have never been administered.  My OB doctor that had no bedside manner came in without ceremony, stood at the end of my bed, formulating his speech.  I managed to open my eyes for a moment to take in his agitated profile.  He stated that the magnesium was the only thing that had been working for me, and I had blown that option.  He turned on his heel and walked out.  The sting of his words still ring in my ears.  I had completely failed my first task as a parent. 

Have you ever had a moment in life when the light shines brighter and the angels sing?  That is exactly what happened when my next visitor breezed into my room.  He was an OB specialist.  He came to my bedside and admitted honestly that they had almost killed me.  That the magnesium was too high in my system, it was suppressing my respirations and could have stopped my heart.  He then introduced and new regimen of treatment without the severe side effects.  The medication allowed me to carry my baby for another week.

When all this started, I was 27-weeks gestation, and now was at 29-weeks gestation.  I know this doesn’t sound like a significant amount of time, but it makes a huge difference.  Two weeks allowed time for three steroid injections, which significantly improves a baby’s lung development.  This is vital for a premature baby

My son was now at 29-weeks gestation.  Contractions slowed down, and I was even dreaming at this point of reaching full-term status.  Imagine it, getting to hold your baby when it’s born, and take it home with you.  The dream was so real.  I could picture every detail in my mind!

Things didn’t stay on that blissful course.  The baby started showing signs of distress.  I started to run and a low-grade fever, and he started to become tachycardic, which could be indicative of infection.  Infection was the worst case scenario for a baby in-utero.  In the matter of thirty minutes they were breaking my water.  After trying to hold off labor, by any means necessary, it was time to deliver and let the NICU take over his care.  Was I ready?  Could I do this?  How bad was this going to hurt?  However, as with everything else I had been dealt, I resigned myself for a sudden vaginal delivery.  Thirty minutes later, my son’s heart rate became alarmingly high.   Change of plans.  Emergency c-section.

Before I knew it, I had drapes in place, arms strapped down and bright lights shining in my face.  I remember hearing the nurses comment that they hated doing c-sections on patients that had stomachs smaller than theirs.  As the surgeon made the first incision, the procedure went very fast.  She pulled out my son, and he made a small squeak in protest.  He was promptly handed over to the experienced hands of the NICU team. 

I was mentally tolerating the procedure well.  Physically, I had developed some complications.  I had started to bleed profusely.  When you hear a surgeon on tv use the words “blood and stat”, it’s not a good sign.  Fortunately, my surgeon was amazing and got the bleeding under control.  I had no more physical complications after that scare.

My son was born at 29-weeks gestation and weighed 3 lbs 6 oz.  He was beautiful! We spent eight weeks in the NICU and went home with a healthy son.  My pregnancy was complicated from beginning to end, but at the end of it all, I feel very blessed!

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