Thursday, October 30, 2008

OCTOBER 17th, 2008

Lauren Faith was born on October 17th, 2008 at 11:33am. She weighed only 625 grams (approximately 1lb, 6oz) and was 12.8" long. She was born at 24 weeks - she arrived 16 weeks early. This is the story of how she got here...

After being released from the hospital on Monday afternoon (October 13th - Ben's birthday), I was feeling much better. The contractions were pretty much gone and I was thankful to be home. The following day, I felt almost normal but still weak. Despite feeling pretty weak, I decided to make some dinner for the family as a way to make up for the past few days that they had to endure without me. I was getting little episodes of contractions here and there but it wasn't anything I felt that warranted another hospital visit. After dinner, I began feeling the contractions more intensely. It started getting bad. At around 10:30 pm, we called Ben's brother, Geoff, to come downstairs and watch Christian for us so that we could go to the hospital. Ben called my doctor and told her that we were on our way to the hospital because I was having contractions. She said she'd let the hospital know and got off the phone. As we got to the hospital, Ben put me in a wheel chair and wheeled me into Labor & Delivery Triage. My contractions were getting so strong - I went in moaning and groaning, wincing with pain. They put me on the fetal and contraction monitor again and gave me a shot of Terbutaline - an asthma medicine that also helped to relax the uterine muscle. The contractions seemed to lessen almost immediately. Then I began to feel very jittery and noticed my hands beginning to shake - the nurse told us that this was a side effect of the drug. As long as my contractions were gone, I was happy. At around midnight, my doctor came to see me. She had been delivering another baby so we had to wait until she was finished before she could come see us. She saw that the Terbutaline worked and didn't seem that worried. She also checked to see if there were any changes to my cervix. She said I had dilated to 2cm but that my cervix was still hard so that was a good sign. She advised me to double up my dose on the Procardia and to get another shot of Terbutaline. So they gave me 2 pills of the Procardia and another shot of the Terbutaline and had me under observation for another hour before they let me go home. During that hour, my contractions were almost all gone and Ben and I were laughing and talking as if nothing was wrong.

Finally, they let us go home at 2am. We were so exhausted. Then, at around 6am the following morning, the contractions started again. I took a double dose of the Procardia and it seemed to somewhat help. At around 10am, I began to feel it more so I called my doctor and she prescribed an additional med called Indomethacin. I called Geoff and asked him to go get the prescription for me. He came back with the prescription and I took it immediately praying for some relief. Just in case anything was about to happen, I let my friend Janet know to be on standby. I also called my friend Judy. She offered to come visit and have lunch with me. I managed to take a shower and I laid in bed moaning and groaning. Eventually I began to cry because the contractions were beginning to get more intense and more frequent. I waited nearly 45 minutes for the medicine to kick in and still nothing. So I called my doctor and they told me to go to triage right away and that the she would meet me there. As soon as Judy came, we left for the hospital. I got wheeled into triage once again. They put me up on monitors yet again, called my doctor and gave me another shot of Terbutaline. The terb seemed to work and my contractions were lessened almost immediately. My doctor came and she checked my cervix but this time, she said I was dilating more and I was getting softer. She consulted with my perinatologist and they both agreed that I would get admitted for at least 48 hours for observation and would start me on magnesium sulfate via IV - something my OB was hesitant on doing because of the side effects.

They started an IV on my right hand and began to pump me with magnesium sulfate. For the first 30 minutes, they pump it at a high dose (called Loading) and then ease it down. I've never had an IV pump through my veins that hurt as much as that did. It made my entire arm ache with a coldness that felt - evil. I instantly began to feel heavy and it was beginning to be difficult to breathe. It felt as if someone ripped the skin off my chest to leave it exposed...and then stuck a giant chest-sized 30 lb Salon Pas on the raw skin and left it there to burn. I was thankful that I had someone there with me - Judy helped to keep my mind off of the effects by trying to tell me stories and distract me. 15 minutes passed. I was so drowsy. The nurse was trying to be encouraging and let us know we were half way done before she was able to lower the dose. I felt like I was dying - I think I had said to Judy, I think this is what lethal injection must feel like. Finally, the 30 minutes had passed and the nurse was able to lower my dose to the maintenance dose. Then they finally transferred me into a room back in the High Risk Unit. So I got admitted back into the hospital Wednesday afternoon, October 15th.

They stuck monitors back on me and Judy hung out with me until almost 5pm. Then, Ben came with food and since the IV was done on my right hand and it hurt so bad to even twitch a finger, I was basically confined to using my left hand. I wasn't able to sit up on my own so I was propped up with pillows with the bed upright. I joked about needing Christian's bib to eat my burrito as I was dropping food all over my hospital gown. Ben left around 7 to go pick up Christian from his parents house and take him home to put him to bed. At around 10pm, Ben came by to drop off some of my things, a laptop and dvds. I tried to watch Sex and the City on the laptop but I couldn't even keep my eyes open so I finally went to sleep. I was waking up every hour to go pee. I was so drowsy from the magnesium, I just used the bedside commode. Each time I'd use it, I'd see blood. It seemed to get worse. I survived the night.

The 2nd day, Thursday, I was even more doped up than the day before. I couldn't eat, couldn't drink, couldn't move. My friend Janet came by for lunch with some udon - I was so hungry, I was looking forward to eating. But when she got there, I couldn't even open my eyes to look at her let alone hold a spoon to drink any soup. The smell actually started making my stomach turn so I ended up not eating any. She briefly stayed with me - I don't even remember if we talked and then she left.

My contractions started to come back again. My nurse explained that if I had more than 5 contractions an hour, that my dose of magnesium would increase as that was what my doctor had ordered. I had experienced 6 or 7 within 40 minutes - she was really hesitant to increase my dose as she saw how useless I had become. She called my doctor. Then my perinatologist came to see me. He saw how drugged up I was and told the nurse not to increase my dose, otherwise I'd become toxic. Instead, he said to give me a shot of morphine as well as terbutaline. Oh. My. God. I think that was the closest thing I ever felt to hell ... seriously.

As if the feeling of not being able to move, open your eyes or breathe wasn't enough, the morphine heightened that feeling even more. It was to the point where I had to keep reminding myself to breathe - otherwise, I'd just lay there silent and totally immobile. They decided it was best if I not get up and pee so the nurse put a catheter inside of me. Also, because my breathing was so compromised, they put an oxygen tube in my nose. So imagine me in a hospital gown, my stomach strapped with monitors, my hand connected with IVs, an oxygen tube in my nose, a pee bag, a finger pulse monitor plus leg massagers that were stuck on my calves to massage my legs because they didn't want me to get blood clots. Then the Terbutaline kicked in - my heart was racing so hard as I was laying there twitching - all the while, I'm still contracting. I stayed like that all day. I was so thirsty. But I wasn't allowed to drink anything because of the risk of getting fluids in my lungs - some side effect of the drugs. The nurse came in to check my reflexes and my lungs about every 20 minutes. Suddenly, I felt nauseous. I grabbed a cup and started to salivate and spit and then all of the sudden, I heaved and threw up yellow bile that tasted metallic. Like sulfur. It was the magnesium. The taste would not leave my dry mouth. At around 4 or 5ish, Ben had come to see me. I was so glad he was there. He got me a cup and bucket and toothbrush and I was able to brush the taste out of my mouth. I was so nauseous and thirsty and hungry. He fed me ice chips.

He stayed with me for about an hour aand massaged my feet. I was actually able to fall asleep for a little bit. Then, he left to go pick up Christian from his parents house and take him home to put him to bed. At around midnight, the nurse asked if I wanted to call Ben and have him come and stay with me... "just in case". For a brief second, I thought, why bother him but then I got another contraction and it convinced me to call. Ben came right away (Geoff stayed at our place overnight until his mom came in the morning to get Christian ready for school). Our nurse brought a cot for Ben to sleep in. We tried to go to bed. I think I dozed off and on.

Then at around 6 in the morning on Friday, October 17th, my doctor's partner came in to check on me. My contractions were getting stronger and closer together. My cervix was getting even softer. She told me that they had given me every drug under the sun to try and stop my contractions but my body was just not responding. She said that sometimes, the body knows better than doctors that the baby might be safer out of the womb than inside for whatever reason. She then said that she didn't have any other choice but to stop the magnesium and just let my body take its course and go into active labor. I felt like I was giving up. I was willing to lay like a vegetable in the hospital for 4 months, if that's what it meant to keep my baby inside. I was willing. Yet, my body was not. At 6:30am, they pulled the plug on the magnesium. There was a bit of a silence in the room. I felt defeated. There was a sense of doom that hovered over me - I couldn't believe what was happening. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was going to deliver our baby girl very soon. They transferred me to Labor & Delivery. As they wheeled me in and then scooched me to the new bed, I recalled my last delivery with Christian. I was hoping that it wouldn't be as long and painful.

My doctor came to check on me. She saw how much pain I was in and asked if I wanted to get an epidural. But I was afraid that the baby was already so drugged up with the magnesium that it wasn't worth the risk. She assured me that epidurals wouldn't pass to the baby and it'd be okay to get one if that was my concern. I finally caved and requested one.

A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist came and I explained to him that with my last delivery, I was able to feel everything and that I was afraid that it would happen again. He said he'd do whatever he could to try and prevent that. They asked Ben to leave the room and made me sit up and slouch my back while holding a pillow against my stomach. My nurse held me throughout the entire process and I was grateful. Her name happened to be Faith - a word that kept popping up during the week I was in and out of the hospital. When I saw her nametag, I immediately knew that Lauren's middle name was going to be Faith. There were just too many confirmations with that word.

I requested that I be given just a small dose of the epidural - just enough to keep the edge off so I was still feeling the contractions but not as strong...yet, still feeling some mild discomfort.

Faith asked if we'd like to see the chaplain. I said yes. She put the order in but we weren't sure when she'd be able to meet with us as she wasn't on call until 11am.

Ben's mom came to see us. As soon as she came into the room, she grabbed my hand to comfort me and all I could say was, "I'm sorry" and we both began to cry. I wanted her to be there with us when we prayed with the chaplain.

My contractions were getting worse and we were still waiting for the chaplain to call back. Ben's mom decided we couldn't wait and prayed for us.

At around 11am, my contractions jumped to another level of pain. I knew then that I was going to be delivering soon. Faith notified the neonatal team and my doctor. My water had broke and I felt warm gushes come out as I was contracting. She then asked Ben's mom to leave the room and the neonatal team came in. A couple of other L&D nurses came in as well. I felt so vulnerable and exposed as strangers were basically prepping their supplies near the foot of my bed while my legs were wide open. Yet, I was grateful that they were all there. I knew that my baby and I were in good hands.

Faith put an oxygen mask over my mouth and made me breathe in and out. As soon as my doctor came in, they turned on these bright lights that seemed to glare directly into my eyes, pulled the stirrups out of the bed, placed my feet in, had me put my arms around my thighs and told me to push the next time I got a contraction. It was chaos as I was moaning through the oxygen mask, the lights directly in my eyes with Ben by my side and over a half dozen people watching for my baby to come out from in between my legs. I was so scared of what was happening around me. I didn't want the baby to come out - not now, please, not now. I prayed to God to please let her be please save her...that all of our friends were praying and praying for this please make this baby a testament of his faith that he'd follow through and answer everyone's prayers and let her live. But not just live but live healthily as if she were a full-term baby.

I felt a contracting creeping in - this was was about to happen. I began to push 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. Inhale and push again...1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. Inhale one more time and push and then I felt more warm gushes and then pressure and then the baby come out. It was over. I was no longer pregnant with my baby. The neonatal team grabbed her and you could hear them quietly working on her. Ben and I just sobbed quietly. Why didn't I hear her crying? Was she alive? Please God, let her be alive, please. We just cried and cried. All the while, my doctor is delivering my placenta and trying to figure out what caused this whole premature labor as she's examining my uterus.

Finally, someone from the neonatal team told us that she wasn't crying because they had to immediately put a breathing tube down her throat because she wasn't breathing on her own but that she was alive. Ben and I both sighed of relief. About 15 to 20 minutes passed and they had done everything they needed to move Lauren to the NICU. The team began to rush her out of the room not even realizing that I hadn't even seen her. Faith finally stopped them and asked if I could peak at her for a few seconds before they wheeled her away. They gave me a peak. She had one eye open and she was amazingly tiny and absolutely adorable.

My doctor held my hand for awhile and tried to say some positive things. She said that Lauren was in good hands - that the team of doctors in the NICU, especially the ones who were initially treating her, were incredible.

I felt good about the whole birth process. Given the circumstances, the whole thing couldn't have been more perfectly orchestrated.

After my doctor left, Ben's mom came in and we all hung out in the room for about an hour. Then, I got wheeled in to my recovery room. I was surrounded by new mothers with their babies rooming in with them while I laid there with an empty womb and no baby. I felt a little sorry for myself. That night, Ben and I slept in the room listening to other babies around us cry all night long.

So that's how our little daughter came into this world. This was a long read, I know. But I wanted to put in as many details so I would never forget them. This is more for my keepsake so that one day, I can show my daughter of the adventure we went through together.

Lauren is in the NICU - she is now 11 days old. If she were still in my belly, I'd be 26 weeks pregnant. She is hanging in there...

We still don't know what caused my body to go into preterm labor. I don't know that we ever will but hopefully they'll be able to find out if I'm at risk for any subsequent pregnancies should we decide to try and get pregnant again later down the road.

To all of my friends - Thank you all for your prayers, emails, calls, texts and visits. You have no idea how much your support means to us. I know I've been super busy to reply to some of you but please know that I couldn't be going through this without you. Please continuously pray for Lauren's recovery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I got released from the hospital last night. The doctor sent me home with a Procardia prescription and orders to drink 3 liters of water a day plus bed rest. I'm gonna go see her on Thursday so she can continue to check my cervix and make sure it doesn't continue to dilate.

It feels so good to be home. Unfortunately, there's not much I'm allowed to do. I can sit up for meals at a table, I can get up to go to the bathroom and take a shower once a day. lol... I'll try to follow some of the rules but seriously, I can't just lay around the house and do nothing. It's driving me nuts.

I plan on picking up Christian from school this afternoon so I'm really excited about that. Unfortunately, I can't pick him up and he's been asking me to pick him up and sit on my lap and he wants to get all physical with me and there's nothing I can do. It breaks my heart. He's only this young, this size once. I want to just pick him up and hold him in my arms and have his head relaxed in the crook of my neck as I smell his hair.

Through this whole ordeal, I've realized how much I take things for granted and I'm learning I need to slow down a bit and just embrace this pregnancy and take care of my body before I can take care of everyone else.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And her name is....


I just knew that this pregnancy was off a little...I just always had a feeling that something was not right. First, my early spotting and cramping to my abnormal AFP result. But thankfully, those were both resolved - polyp removal and false positive test result (yay!). And now, we come to another hurdle but I'm staying positive that things are going to be okay, just like the other incidences.

I've been in the hospital since Friday morning for preterm labor. I was having mild cramping on Tuesday with super barely-there mild spotting and thought nothing of it. Then Wednesday night, it got a little stronger. Thursday night, the cramping came between every 5 and 10 minutes and realized that I was having contractions. I didn't sleep. I just curled in a ball switching from left side to right side. Friday morning, I called the Dr.'s office - My doctor was out for the day so her partner saw me. She checked me, probed me, ultrasounded me - I was 1cm dilated and my cervix had thinned to about 1 inch when it should be around 3 to 4 inches at this stage, plus I was spotting and then there were the undeniable strong-ass contractions that were killing me every 7 -ish mins. She said I was to immediately go to the hospital (which is like a block away) and get admitted to the Labor & Delivery High Risk Unit - they were expecting me. She scolded me a little with a "I really wish you came in 2 days ago" remark. I felt dizzy, scared, holding back the tears afraid that if I started to cry, I wouldn't stop - instead, I had a constant lump in my throat and the contractions were keeping me busy.

I got to the hospital, they took me into triage - they put an IV thingy in me and put me on a fetal and contraction monitor. They immediately started me on antibiotics (in case the baby had any infections) and gave me 2 pills of procardia - some blood pressure medicine that also relieved the uterus from contracting. About 30 minutes later, I was put on a wheel chair with all my IV stuff and wheeled to the High Risk Unit. They gave me a steroid shot in my butt which was to help the baby's lungs and brain develop faster in case she had to be delivered early. The pills made me dizzy, light headed and nauseous. I hadn't eaten anything all morning so I began feeling queasy. On top of that, the dr had ordered me to be on a clear liquid diet (in case my contractions got worse and I had to deliver "trouble" via cesarean). I was so hungry and nauseous, my mouth began to fill up with saliva in huge amounts and I was gagging and spitting it out into a paper cup. I begged for crackers. The nurse convinced my doctor to just let me have solids and she said okay. After I ate, I felt much better.

I was in good spirits for awhile. Texted some friends, was chatting with the nurses. And after awhile, as I sat in my hospital room, hooked up to the IV and monitors, listening to my baby's heartbeat it started sinking in. She's only 24 weeks. Not even, actually she's only 23 weeks and 5 days. She can't come out now, are u kidding?? At that age, she has a 50% chance of dying and a 50% chance of being delivered. And most likely if she made it, she'd either end up dying or have long term damage if she survived. The doctor said she was only 1 lb and 6 oz. They wanted her to ideally be around 3 lbs before she came out so they were going to do whatever they could to delay the labor for as long as possible. The NICU was also prepared in case anything happened. You know, it's really nice and comforting to know that everyone is preparing ahead of time, "just in case", but it scared me more than anything because it made it that much more real.

The procardia seemed to work - my contractions disappeared for a full hour - I hadn't had a full hour of relief for almost a day so I was really happy. Then, it came back - not as often but it came back. I started feeling discouraged. But they said it takes awhile for the body to really accept the medicine so I stayed hopeful. They gave me another dose 6 hours later. It helped to reduce the contractions. But at evening time, I started feeling the contractions slowly creep back. When it was time for my next dose, they took my blood pressure and said it was too low 90/40? (a side effect of the drug) so they were going to hold off another hour. (ugh). I finally got my next dose and went to bed. Throughout the night, the nurse said I was getting contractions but luckily I didn't feel them.

This morning, the weekend on-call doctor and my perinatologist came and did a thorough ultrasound and gave me some good news. Baby was swimming in plenty of fluids so that meant no rupture of the membrane (yay!) and my cervix was found to be thicker than originally estimated. They measured it at 4.2cm (about 1.65 inches) instead of 1 inch. Not that much thicker but hey, I'll take what I can.

My body is responding well to the procardia - blood pressure is slowly stabilizing - probably cuz they lowered the dosage to every 8 hours instead of every 6. Significantly less contractions now. They took the fetal monitor off my stomach which is another good sign. I'll be here for another 24 to 48 hours under observation and continue to take the procardia and antibiotics.

Thanks to all my friends who have texted, emailed, called and visited me. Without you guys being there for me during this time, I don't think I'd be doing as well as I am. I feel so blessed being surrounded by my family and friends through this whole ordeal.

Trouble, my little baby... please don't tell me this is a taste of what's to come when you're actually out here in this world. I know you're really wanting to come out already and begin your mission to make your mommy suffer but, my love, you must first get bigger and healthier. So stay in there for 3+ more months. Just enjoy swimming around in mommy's uterus and I promise, I'll be a good mommy to you and take good care of you. I love you my daughter and I'm looking forward to the day I'll be holding you in your arms.