Friday, April 27, 2012

The Birth - the final chapter of "That Crazy Week in April."

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Okay, let's see... where were we...

Oh yes, my husband's hernia repair, then his ruptured appendix complicated by sepsis the week the baby was due.

The surgery was done last Tuesday, exactly one week before my due date. My husband's doctor was so proud of himself for being able to do a very gnarly appendectomy laparoscopically. Apparently the infection was really bad and he was sure he'd have to open him up and do the bowel resection. He brought by pictures from the procedure to show just how awful it was. I think my husband is doing a post on that, so I'll let him share those lovely details. :)

The surgery went well. What turned out to be the bigger struggle was sepsis, and the resulting electrolyte imbalance and crazy massive abdominal swelling. It took days for them to get my husband all balanced out. He's still retaining tons of water. Meanwhile, I did my best not to go into labor.

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(He says he was really tempted to write "fire" above my name in his room.)

That first night in the hospital I avoided going up to labor and delivery to be checked out. But the second night, Friday night, after staying up most of the previous evening freaking out about sepsis, I couldn't put it off anymore. My doctor had asked me to go get a non-stress test done while I was there. Since my contractions were getting painful I thought I should follow her advice. I got checked in and explained the whole situation, including my self-diagnosis that these contractions were caused by external factors (dehydration, fatigue, a long crappy day...) and that they would eventually peter out.

I sipped my pink pitcher of juice and listened to the baby's steady heartbeat.

It stayed rhythmic and constant. Most of the time. But with one of the contractions, the heart rate went way down. I paused, craned my head around so I could see the monitor, and thought "that can't be good." The heart rate was around 80 beats per minute, when it should have been closer to 120.

The night nurse came in right away. I was the only patient there that night; it was nice to get such immediate attention.

"I'm concerned about that heart rate," she said. "I want to keep you here a little longer to see what happens."

I was happy to oblige!

One deceleration of the heart rate turned into a handful and my doctor was called. My progression was checked. 3 centimeters, right where I had been earlier that day at my weekly prenatal examination. They talked together and to me about what the options were, and just how bad the random decelerations were. Nothing was clear-cut. I was kept overnight. Since the baby's heart rate was going back up and he seemed to recover well, my doctor decided that it would be okay for me to hold off on delivering — as long as I checked in for non-stress tests on a regular basis. I agreed, and put myself on bed rest for the remainder of Saturday. I spent the whole day laying on the couch in my husband's room as they tinkered with his treatment plan.

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(The hospital food gets an A in my book.)

I went up to labor and delivery again on Sunday for another test. The heart rate was steady and everything looked perfect. That evening my husband was finally released and we went home to hopefully let him recover enough for him to make it to the big event. We talked that night about our options — about being induced, in case the stress was too much for the baby. The hard part of making the decision was figuring out the timing. My husband was clearly not doing very well yet. I wanted him to be at the birth, but he was drugged and pretty much immobile at that point. It would be much better for him to delay the delivery. There were other things to consider as well -- we wondered when would we be able to send home our parents who had come to help out and had stayed much longer than anticipated. We were also concerned about how this whole thing had affected the other children, and the negatives to drawing it out even longer. A balance needed to be found.

"There's just so many factors to consider," I said. "There's the health of the baby, the stress on our parents, the stress on our kids, not to mention your physical state right now."

My husband looked at me. "You're worrying about too many people. Everyone that really matters is right here, on this bed, right now."

At that very instant, the cat jumped up onto the bed and purred. Well played, Pepper. Perfect comedic timing. We burst out laughing.

Yes, Pepper, you really matter, too.

My doctor was happy to see me on Monday morning, reassured that she hadn't made the wrong decision to let me wait out the delivery. I was checked and I was still progressing very slowly. The non-stress test at the office was going smoothly, right up until the end. The baby decided to have a big, long deceleration — enough to get me sent to the hospital right away.

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That's me, in the upper right hand corner. You can see a minor deceleration (the blue line) at the left of the strip.

I packed my hospital bag — again — and headed to labor and delivery. My poor husband was barely able to sit upright in the car on the way over, but he was determined to be there. The whole nursing staff knew who we were before we got there: the couple with the appendectomy from downstairs and the pending birth. We were treated with the greatest kindness and attention. They were awesome.

Again I got hooked up, was given a pink pitcher of ice water, and we listened to the baby's heart rate with the contractions. An hour or two passed, and the result was that the baby was again having random decelerations — and again, was recovering well enough from them to buy me some time if I wanted.

"Okay, what do you want to do?" asked the nurse. I wished someone would just tell me what to do, instead of giving me options.

I looked at my husband, in pain in a chair in the corner, and listened to the heart beat in the background.

"We'll wait it out one more night. But that's it. Go ahead and schedule the induction for the morning."

We collected our belongings and went back home again. My daughter was tired of the bait and switch routine. She did not appreciate that I came home, again, without a baby. I was getting pretty frustrated with the whole situation too! But at least we knew that Tuesday would be THE day. The 24th — my actual due date.

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When we got to the hospital the next morning, my progression was checked again. And again, I was declared to be slowly progressing. (I wonder at what point I was officially "in labor", since I had been having regular, sluggish progression for days.) My doctor was fantastic. She was on the same page with me about pitocin, and agreed that breaking my water was enough to get my labor going. She also thought that she could work it so that I wouldn't need to have an episiotomy this time. I wanted to hug her! The water was broken, and a few hours later, I was progressing nicely.

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The whole time we were there the baby would have random, major heart decelerations. Some of them scared me — and the staff. Sometimes the baby's heart rate would drop into the 50's! Each time, my anxious nurses and doctors would rush in and watch to make sure his heart rate recovered. Apparently the nurses spent the greater part of the day huddled together at the nursing station watching my strip, which could have been used in a CE course about abnormal fetal heart rates. The general consensus was that the decelerations were caused by some sort of cord issue, but not a serious cord issue. It was a very tense morning and an emergency c-section loomed over our heads with each deceleration. We all celebrated when I made it to 10 centimeters without needing surgery, and pushing was finally an option.

My doctor was called in and we agreed to start pushing — even though laboring down for a while would have been an easier route. We all wanted to get that baby out and stabilized as soon as possible.

Besides, I was a good pusher. Or so I though. My other babies came out with just a few contractions. But this guy — he was not coming out easily! I had to work for that delivery. After two hours of intense pushing, he finally cried hello to the world. His cord was wrapped loosely around his neck, but that didn't seem to be the problem. The staff was a little disappointed that we don't really know why his heart rate would decelerate with every third or so contraction like that.

He was nearly 2 pounds bigger than my other children, at 8 pounds 8 oz. No wonder he was so much harder to get out!

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My husband sang Happy Birthday to him as he got cleaned up.

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What a reward, after such a long, intense week.

I love him so!

The stress and the staff dissipated.

We were alone, just the three of us.

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My husband had made it to the delivery. The baby was here, safe. All was well.

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This is what happens when it's the fourth child, and the delivery is a little chaotic. We forgot to pull the going home outfit out of my bag before it got loaded in the car, so he left the hospital in standard-issue shirts as both top and pants.

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I don't often wax spiritual here on my blog, since it's such a personal thing for everyone, but if I've learned anything over the course of this whole month it's that prayer is powerful. I'm one that believes that anyone, no matter what religious or non-religious background, has the opportunity to ask for help from a higher being. When my husband first felt seriously sick, before we knew about the ruptured appendix and all that would follow, he asked for a blessing of health. My bishop came over with another person from church and they blessed him. In the prayer, he was comforted and reassured that he would get better, and that he would be there for the birth of his son.

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I was also given a blessing that night. I didn't think much of it, since in my mind my husband had the flu and he'd be better soon. He was the one who needed the extra help. I was blessed, among other things, that I would have great strength beyond my own in being able to handle the birth. I thought that was odd. Why would *I* need strength? Everything was going great for me! But oh, how I've needed that strength. That blessing proved to be so very useful, if for nothing more than that I was able to hold it together and not completely break down into a ball of overworked hormones. I recovered from this birth in record time. In spite of the epidural, I was up and walking around a few hours after the delivery. By the next morning I was ready to go home. They told me I had to wait 24 hours after the delivery — but I didn't need to! It's been such a fast recovery. With my others, I could barely move the next day — yet here I was, asking the staff to push the paperwork though as quickly as possible. I've felt that strength. And I've felt the comfort that comes when other people pray for me. Seriously — thank you.

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I've learned that there's access to help from a higher being during those darkest hours. But I've also learned that it's not a bad idea to ask for help BEFORE things are their blackest and bleakest. And it's probably a good idea to say thanks for the help given.

Thanks, You. :)

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I'm still recovering, and I'm still an overworked ball of hormones (and apparently, not particularly nice at the moment — approach at your own risk!) but we're moving toward normal.

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And this baby is such a good baby!

He nurses easily!!

And he sleeps!!!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baby time!

I'm having a baby today! My husband is now out of the hospital, running home to get the things I've forgotten. I'm so thankful we were able to hold off on the delivery until he could be here.
I'll post details and pictures soon. Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers, it's been a crazy, crazy week. My children have handled all the changes and comings and goings amazingly well. And now, it's time to add another birthday. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Blessing in the Butchering

Why is it that blessings always seem to come gift-wrapped in a trial?

A long time ago (three weeks) in a hospital far, far away (2 1/2 hours), my husband was sliced open to have a hernia repaired. He came home, curled up in his own bed, and tried to get better.

He tried. He really did. And he did get better, for the most part. But then on Saturday night, something went wrong. The nausea and stomach cramps of a flu bug hit. He rested and tried to get better. Again. Sunday was no better. In fact, it was worse. The nausea turned to vomiting, the cramping turned to downright pain. It was a nasty flu bug.

On Monday, he was able to keep some food down. He was finally starting to get better. There was still a lot of pain near the hernia repair site — we figured it was due to the throwing up aggravating the site of the surgery. But he was keeping food down. He was getting better.

Or so we thought.

After some prayers for help and health and a clear understanding of what was going on, by yesterday morning, we knew that something was seriously wrong — and it wasn't the flu. An ER visit was necessary.

"I think it's an appendicitis," my paramedic said.

"But you just had surgery," I replied, "it has to be something related to that. I mean, what are the odds that you would have an appendicitis RIGHT after having abdominal surgery in the same area? My money's on it being a complication from the surgery."

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We walked into the ER and they took care of him right away. He was on intravenous antibiotics in no time. I commiserated with the nurses about how we were here for him, not me, and how ironic it would be if we ended up in the hospital at the same time. I asked if they could wheel him in for the birth. They said there's a first for everything.

He drank his glow-in-the-dark juice and we waited for the verdict from the CT scan. I left to pick up the kids from school. I anxiously waited for news about what was going on. It's the not knowing what's wrong that kills me. And the waiting. And the not knowing what's going to happen next.

Finally, he called to let me know the results — he was going in for surgery as soon as possible. Best-case scenario would be an appendicitis that they could fix laparoscopically and he would be home soon. Worst-case scenario was that the mass of infection that showed up on the scan was a perforated bowel and they'd have to open him up and do a partial bowel resection. He would be in the hospital for a week. The surgeon was leaning more towards worst-case scenario and wanted to prepare my husband for the prospect of a major surgery.

Resect part of his bowel? Ugh. The better of the two options would be a short, hour-long procedure. The bowel resection would take at least twice as long. They wouldn't know for sure what it was until they got in there. That's all I knew.

I hoped and prayed that he won the earlier debate, that it was an appendicitis. He went into surgery and again with the waiting. I joked with my friends on line about us being in the hospital at the same time, in the same recovery room, watching Netflix together — and how that might be the closest thing to a date night we'd get with the new baby.

He went into surgery right as I put the children to bed. My mom, who came to help with a completely different hospitalization, stayed with the kids while I went to greet my husband when he came out of surgery.

I got to his room an hour after they took him into surgery. Another hour passed. And another. I began to worry that he had to have the longer of the two surgeries. I had never prayed FOR an appendicitis before, and hopefully I won't have to again. The nurse had no news for me. Finally, four hours after taking him away, they rolled him back into the room.

The verdict — a ruptured appendix, but the bowel looked great. Everything was taken care of laparoscopically.

Thank goodness!

What are the odds that he would have a random appendicitis just three weeks after having a hernia repaired? Could the repair have caused the appendix to become infected and burst? I'm not sure. But two surgeries in one month is crazy bad luck.

Here's the truly crazy thing, though...

He's out on workman's comp for the hernia repair and has at least three weeks left before he'll be allowed to go back to work for that.

He gets paid his full salary while he's out on disability.

He doesn't have to use vacation time or sick time to heal from the hernia, or this ruptured appendix.

He doesn't have to use vacation time or sick time to be home for the birth of the baby.

Maybe the crazy bad luck is really a blessing.

I think so. I feel that it's a blessing. I'm comforted. The timing really is a blessing.

After they brought him into his room for the night and the nurse finished poking and prodding, we relaxed. That's when I noticed that I was having some painful contractions — lots of painful contractions. I knew why I was having them; it had been a long day. They were triggered by the stress of it all, not because I was ready to deliver. At least, that's what I was telling myself.

The nurse kept asking if I was okay. I told her I was fine, mostly because I knew that if they took me to triage to check me out, they would certainly keep me overnight. I needed to be home, sleeping in my own bed, and I needed to be able to wake up in the morning with the kids to show them that everything was okay.

I know the way my body acts during the final stages of pregnancy, and I was fairly certain that the contractions — even thought they were three minutes apart and lasting for nearly a minute and getting painful — would eventually dissipate if I could just relax. Laying in a stiff hospital bed would not be relaxing, and the fetal monitoring bands themselves would put me into labor. But if I were at home, the external causes for the contractions would no longer be there and the cramping would go away.

So, I asked for a blanket and laid down on the couch next to my husband. I got as comfortable as possible and timed the contractions for an hour. Eventually, they did start to dissipate. When the contractions stretched out to five minutes apart I felt like I could leave without having to just drive right back. Real labor doesn't slow down due to external influences. (I don't recommend doing what I did to anyone — the only reason I didn't get checked is because this is normal for my pregnancies. And I was absolutely determined not to deliver this little man without my husband!!)

I made it home, got in bed, and the exhaustion took over.

This morning, I woke up smiling. Actually, I woke up because my own snoring woke me up. But when I looked over at the empty bassinet waiting next to my bed, I smiled.

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I waited to feel the little guy move, just to know he was okay in there. He gave me a good kick after a few minutes. Then I texted my husband to make sure he was okay, too. All was well.

They'll have to keep him in the hospital to marinate him in antibiotics for a while yet, but he's okay. He's lucid and not exploding on the inside anymore. And he might be ambulatory enough to come to the delivery room should the need arise.

But so far, there is no need for that. All I need to do is take it easy, go visit my invalid, and hurry up and wait for phase two of That Crazy Week in April.

Thank you for all the prayers and good thoughts, they are greatly appreciated and greatly felt. I don't know how this week will end, but as of right now, I feel relieved and peaceful.

I downed half a flat of Oreo's, too.

As a grandpa many greats ago once put to music, all is well, all is well.

(Aside from the whole two major surgeries in three weeks with lots of pain and nausea and withdrawals and fevers and multiple unnatural incisions and general crappiness. But compared to what the surgeon feared last night, all is well!!)

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!


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You can find the birth story here!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dear Tooth Fairy,

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter was a success for the most part, with one teeny tiny fail...

Last week was fun! In addition to my son's third birthday, we had our good friends and their family stay over for Easter and games. They helped pass the time while my husband continued to heal. Although, I'm not sure how helpful all of the laughing was on his incision.

Nightly games were a success — the children slept for the most part, adult(ish) conversation was had, and candy and antacids flowed freely.

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The egg hunt was also a success.

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Decorating eggs was a success too, if you overlook the fact that I had some cool projects involving dying them with kitchen scraps and silk ties lined up that never happened. But there were eggs and they were colored, so we'll call it a success.

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Easter morning turned out well, too. And yes, the kids slept in the clothes they wore the day before. Something had to give!

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Pictures in dress clothes — hey, at least I took pictures. I was pretty tired by this point, and the kids were clearly on a sugar high. :)

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Easter dinner — I got as far as making the rolls before my body gave up. After some discussion with those involved and the refusal of my legs to hold me upright any longer, we postponed the feast to Monday.

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I just couldn't do it. Instead, we had left-overs on Sunday. My kids are so flexible about things like this! They didn't care in the least. They rarely do. How did I get blessed with such easy-going children? I'm glad no one was disappointed. And dinner the next day turned out great. At least that's what I was told. This pregnancy has altered my sense of taste a bit and everything seems bland to me at the moment. This is the first pregnancy where I've had that particular side effect.

And now, we have a week of relative calm before the (presumed) birth of our newest little man next week. It's time to tackle some nesting projects and take on the annual battle of de-grassing the floors.

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It's a tough battle this year, since there were a total of 7 Easter baskets filled. I'll declare the grass the winner if, at some point, I have to take a pair of scissors to the vacuum roller bar.

(My money's on the grass!!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One April birthday down, one yet to be determined.

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My soon not to be youngest turned three last week.

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This is how he communicates with the cat. He head-butts her. It's very sweet. I'm going to miss that when he grows up.

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This is his table, all set up. We had a simple family party for him. I'm going to miss the ability to throw a birthday party for my little guy when he grows up.

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The first thing he did when we let him in the room was give me a big hug and a "tank you, mommy!" I'm going to miss that sincere gratitude and sweetness when he grows up.

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He had a great time with his brother and snaggle tooth there. Hopefully they'll continue that relationship when he grows up. And I hope that tooth comes out today!!

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Happy birthday, baby dude!

Enjoy being the youngest while it lasts!
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