Premature Birth-Part I

Published December 26, 2011 by The Creative Outpost

When a woman is expecting a child she feels all kinds of wonderous feelings.  She has expectations about how her pregnancy will go and how it will feel when she meets that someone special. I like so many others began my parenthood journey with ideals about what to expect.  We were very lucky when trying to conceive.  The first time I ovulated, after stopping contraceptives, we conceived.  I was so excited.  I already loved my little bundle from the beginning.  Two weeks into our news I was vomiting day and night.  It didn’t seem to matter what I ate, it just came back up.  Through all this I was still awed by the whole process of being pregnant and growing a life.  Twenty weeks into the pregnancy the extreme nausea and vomiting halted as quickly as it started. 

My health had definitely improved, and I was eagerly reading all of the weekly updates on how my baby was developing.  Even though I was 25-year-old nontraditional student, I was finishing up my last semester in college.  My baby was due May 5th and it was only early February and by this time I was 27-weeks along.   As I had previously experienced first hand, everything when pregnant seems magnified by 200%.  For example, if you have acid reflux it takes on a whole new meaning.  Therefore, when I was sitting in class and started having stomach pains, I wasn’t alarmed.   I had a classmate help me down the steps of the school and went off to my parents for a visit.  The pains were intense and came in waves, but I have had intestinal cramps that hurt that bad so honestly I assumed something would pass and I would be fine.  My mother was not concerned but did jokingly ask if I was sure I wasn’t having labor pains, which was ridiculous as I was only 27 weeks and truthfully barely had a baby bump that was only visible to the discerning eye.  I decided to head home and needed gasoline first.  Conveniently, there was still one full service station in town.  As I was sitting there watching the service attendant put fuel in my car, I was really getting concerned that if he didn’t hurry I wouldn’t make it to the restroom, but at last he was done and off for home I headed.

At home I curled up in the fetal position on the couch “no pun intended” and waited for the pain to pass.  My husband was a farmer and came home for lunch and sat on the couch and ate a sandwich.   Our 12 lbs black cat, quite without ceremony, sat on my back using me as a heating pad.  As the pain progressed I made a trip to the restroom and tried to speed things along.  No results, which quite frankly, was a blessing.  Growing up if I had any kind of ailment my mother would have me take a relaxing bath.  At this point I was willing to try anything to make the wave of pains stop.  So I hunkered down in the tub waiting for its magic to start.  As you guessed, it didn’t help.  I was having sharp pain in my lower abdomen at this point and could not get out of the tub, so I called in my husband.  At this point, he starts to get concerned and called my mother.  They agree it is time for me to call the doctor’s office.  I spoke with our nurse, she was patient, used to dealing with overreacting expecting mothers, and told us to come in just to check things out and put our minds at ease.  I remember thinking as we drove to town, that I would probably expel gas and be fine and extremely embarrassed for going in the first place.

At the doctor’s office all of the staff was humored by having to strap me into the belts for monitoring.  They left the room and came back to check the strip and send me home.  That’s when a flurry of activity began and a nightmare and blessing began.

The doctors started to question my symptoms.  I described the pains that came and went and the localized pain I was having in my lower abdomen.  They looked at each other and said”smiley face pain” with a dreaded look.  They quickly rushed me to the local rural hospital and began the usual course of treatment with Brethine injections.  They quickly realized this was not slowing the contractions down, and I was dilated to a 2 cm and effaced 90%.  They called the local NICU and sent me by ambulance with the doctor at my side with a NICU ambulance following.  I remember laying on the stretcher with my mind whirling unable to comprehend what was happening.  It was a surreal feeling.  I wasn’t sure at that time if at 27 weeks gestation if my baby would survive.  At the well equipped hospital they started me on a bolus of magnesium.  As the IV medicine hit my vein, my body was ravished with waves of nausea and intense flushing over my entire body as I vomited violently.  The bolus tapered off and I settled in trying to absorb the magnitude of what was happening. 

see Premature Birth-Part II

Greener Pasture

Published February 25, 2011 by The Creative Outpost

We have all felt it, the pressure to want something we don’t really want.  Our society says we should want to have that “someone special” but what if we don’t?  Or at least what if we don’t all the time.  I find myself sitting on the fencepost trying to decide which pasture to jump into.  Truthfully, maybe sitting up here isn’t so bad.  I can watch the folly of those around me and make bystander observations. 

When I was married and interacted with single counterparts, I was always curious as to whether the content ones were really that happy.  They would work and go home, and pursue what I assumed to be lonely unfulfilled activities.  My heart ached for them.  My marriage was the ideal option. Wasn’t it?

So after my twelve-year marriage ended abruptly, I was alone for the first time.  

Now flash forward one year post divorce.  I am starting to think the people my heart ached for have things figured out.  Zen perhaps.  When I accept being alone and embrace it, I can achieve satisfaction from my current lifestyle.  When surrounded by social standards and expectations, I falter.  I even tried a dating website without success. 

So the question is becomes am I truly happy alone or trying to convince myself that I am?  For now I will straddle the fence, whilst dangling my feet, watch and maybe someday have a moment of clarity.

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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