Journey To Motherhood

Mamas on Bedrest: Why I’m so thankful I had my 2 high risk pregnancies

November 24th, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Mamas!

Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa are not far behind!

I know that many of you will spend these holidays on bed rest and that is a bummer to say the least. I wasn’t on bed rest during the holidays with either of my pregnancies, but was on restricted activity with my son so I do have a bit of an idea of what you are going through.

For me, the more major complications came when I was delivering, especially with my daughter. For those of you who know my story, you know that I bled heavily after I delivered my daughter. (They didn’t write hemorrhage in my chart as technically I didn’t bleed enough to have hemorrhaged. Go figure!) After my daughter was delivered via emergency c-section at 36 weeks and 6 days, she was whisked away to the nursery because she was having trouble breathing and had fluid on her lungs. Meanwhile my uterus was atonic. It wasn’t contracting and was sluggish and spewing blood like a punctured water balloon. Once my daughter was delivered, all hell broke loose in the delivery suite! Staff members started walking briskly hither and yon and there was a steady clang as new instruments were dumped onto the operating tray from their sterile packages. The former chatter that had been going on as my daughter was being delivered ceased. The room became eerily silent and from over the blue veil, I could see the very intent and focused eyes of my doctor as she contemplated what she needed to do and gave orders.

For a while, things didn’t go very well. Every time she tried to stitch up my uterus, blood shot upward like Old Faithful Geyser. As I laid there, I thought, “I can’t believe that after all I went through to have this baby, I may not make it to raise her.”  I had had surgery to remove uterine fibroids prior to becoming pregnant with my daughter because I had had a miscarriage and they thought that the fibroids were the cause. I had taken progesterone prior to that surgery and had blown up like a ballon. But the surgery went well and I was pregnant 3 weeks later.  However, by 6 weeks of pregnancy, I was sick as a dog and could not hold down a thing so I stopped eating. As time went on, I was able to eat about 10 things; applesauce, ginger ale, hot dogs, oatmeal, apples…but as late as 32 weeks, I had only gained 10 lbs. I felt sick the entire 9 months and didn’t get relief until the day after my daughter was born.

The intense nausea wasn’t the only problem. At about 14 weeks, I began spotting. Panic set in as I feared the worse-I was losing another baby. My OB did a thorough check and we never did find out why I was spotting, but it eventually stopped. At about 20 weeks, I started having cramping. I told my OB who said they were Braxton Hicks. This being my first pregnancy, I trusted what she said and kept going. But she did begin to mention bed rest and I knew that this wasn’t a good sign. I talked this over with my then husband who was traveling internationally for work. I also alerted my mother and mother in law to see if they could fly in to help me out. But at subsequent office visits my daugther was quiet so we held off on bed rest (Despite the fact that she seemed to be always looking for the exit!!) I was forbidden from traveling outside of Austin at 28 weeks and just kind of laid around after that. I went into active labor at 36 week 6 days and my daugther was coming fast so I was admitted and she was delivered.

Things went much better for my daughter and I once she was on the outside. I got pregnant 2 years later and lost that pregnancy at 9 weeks. Devastation. I really wanted another baby, but I was 39 and both my OB and husband were thinking I had better quit while I was ahead! After grieving the loss of this pregnancy for 9 months, I made a pact with my husband that whatever was in progress when I turned 4o we’d go with it. And if I was pregnant and lost that child, We’d stop. Well, my son was born healthy and hefty at 7lbs 2 oz at 39 weeks via c-section. I was 40 years and 4 months old when I gave birth to him! While his pregnancy and delivery were much less complicated, I most certainly did not bounce back after having him. In fact, I still felt pretty crappy 3 years after I had him! After checking blood work, physical exams and saliva tests, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism-finally. Once my thyroid hormone was replaced, I felt much better. I never really returned to my pre-pregnancy state and have been since diagnosed with perimenopause. I have since settled into this “new normal”.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because these pregnancies changed me. They changed my outlook on life as a clinician and as a woman. I was a physician assistant prior to getting married and having babies and my entire demeanor had been detatched and matter of fact. It’s how I had been trained. “Don’t get too emotionally attached to your patients,” I was told by attending physician after attending physician at Duke University Medical Center where I did my PA training. Oh how this changed as I lay on the table, watching my own blood spew upwards! I had been trained to use words and phrases like, “You’ll experience some discomfort after the c-section.” Discomfort my a–! I was in major pain! And as for “being a bit emotional” from the hormones-I was a raging BITCH! I vaccerated between fear and panic and intense melancholy. Looking back, I probably had antepartum depression with my daughter and I definitely had post partum depression after I miscarried between pregnancies. Neither was diagnosed and quite frankly, no one ever asked me how I was doing emotionally. Looking back I am amazed that I came through those years as “sane” as I am (sic). But after each pregnancy, I vowed that no other woman would have to go through what I was going through-and at the very least, she wouldn’t have to do it alone as I did.

I am thankful for my pregnancy experiences. I don’t know if I would have been as thankful a mom if I had breezed through pregnancy. I was on a mission to “get it done”, and pregnancy and childbearing are so much more that checking something off a “to do” list. Arrogantly, I had seen women labor and struggle through pregnancy and often thought, “Geez, she’s making such a big deal out of something so natural!” Oh Yeah, the arrogance of ignorance!!! It’s so easy to be caviler when you’re not the one on the table doing the work! And it’s because I did lay on the table and truly believed that I would die without holding my daughter that I feel so deeply for you all. They tell us not to feel in our medical training, but I just can’t imagine how clinicians are expected to care otherwise? You have to feel to care.

This Thanksgiving, you may not feel so thankful for being on bed rest and that’s okay. But one day down the road, you’ll be able to look back and see the blessing in this time. For me, it’s Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. I never would have started this service had I not so wanted it for myself when I was “going through”. I am so thankful for all of you mamas who stop by and allow me the great honor of being a little bitty part of your lives in one of the most important times in your lives. I stand with you and I stand for you and I am here because I was once where you are now. Happy Thanksgiving and may you all be richly blessed!

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Mamas on Bedrest: Jessica-Lyn’s Journey

August 16th, 2013

Mamas,

It is with great pleasure that I share with you this guest post by none other than our own “former Mama on Bedrest” Jessica-Lyn Jardine. Some of you may have had the pleasure to interact with Jessica-Lyn, she is an active member in our community and has been a wealth of information, support and inspiration. She gave birth to a little girl on July 2, 2013 but until she shared her story, I had no idea of the long and arduous road she has traveled. But she tells it so much better than I do, so without further ado and in her own words, here is Jessica-Lyn’s Journey.

 

Finally, after losing our first pregnancy we were pregnant again. The weeks went by, tense and scary but we had made it past the risk of miscarriage. We were well into the safety zone and so excited. Our first daughter! My husband had two sons from prior to our relationship and I had been told for years that I couldn’t get pregnant due to a myriad of reproductive issues. What a triumph. His first girl! After the 13 week clearance we started picking out clothes, planning the baby shower, picking out names but decided we would wait to see her beautiful face to name her.

We made it to 20 weeks! How amazing, twice as far as our first pregnancy. 21, 22…it was flying by, then one BEAUTIFUL July morning I awoke to pain…I thought I had to poop and tried…for about an hour. It felt like bowel cramping and I didn’t know much else about pregnancy risk than early miscarriage. We were broke at the time and my husband  had work that day for the first time in a long time and I didn’t want to lose that by keeping him home or taking me to the hospital. I let him sleep, tried to calm my stomach, tried to tell myself this wasn’t happening but finally woke him up whit those words I never wanted to say again…”I think something is wrong.” 

We drove to the nearest hospital because our birthing center was almost 2 hours away. I thought maybe I had a bladder infection but once we got there and I used the restroom I knew I was losing her. I had started to bleed and was feeling what I knew were contractions by that point. They checked me in…slowly…him-hawing away, thinking it was just a bladder infection as well. The doctor that had assisted my first pregnancy and loss was on call and I didn’t want to see him, that in itself felt like the worst omen I could face at the time…but there he was with his absolute lack of bed side manner. It took them hours to admit me; my mind was racing the whole time. I felt completely out of control. They finally did an internal exam. If course the nurses couldn’t tell me then and there…even though they had 5 times the compassion of my dr, they had to get him to tell me the news. I had gotten up to use the restroom at this point and mid pee they came in and rushed me into my bed and put me in the Trendelenburg position. He did his own internal exam and said in very broken English,

“ I can feel baby parts”….

WHAT!? Like, they dislodged, like…WHAT?! And then “let me put this into perspective for you…your baby isn’t viable yet, you can stay here and we can offer comfort care or you can go home, she will be born and she will most likely be alive, you will have to cut her cord or tie it with string, then you will have to put her in the freezer. You should discuss with your family what you would like to do with her body” Um…WHAT?! No…I’m past the point of risk, I’m almost into my third trimester, I’m only a couple weeks from viability!!! No..no..no..this isn’t happening!

“You have less than a 10% chance of your baby surviving at this point and if she did her quality of life would be no good…but she is alive…she is kicking me…right now?”

Baby parts…back to the baby parts.

“Your cervix has opened prematurely and is fully dilated for her size I can feel her legs and other parts inside the membrane but it is bulging out and to maintain the pregnancy would put you at risk for infection”.

So, there was my diagnosis (finally, thank you) and I lost it. I threw things, I hit things, I yelled, I told him to get the &*$! Out of my room and to never come back-and he didn’t. 

12:40 pm, 36 hours later, I held my baby girl as she died. I was just as excited to see her as I would later be with our son…she was beautiful. Perfect. Her eyes were closed but she had hair…little eye lashes…long fingers like me. She was a perfect angel. I lost a lot of blood trying to deliver the placenta. I felt like I was dying and I saw in my husband’s eyes that he was feeling the same. There she was…our daughter. Dotty Susan Jardine was 383 grams and 11 inches long. She lived for somewhere around a half an hour. The longest and shortest time of my life. 

After that I melted into the background of whatever life I had. I felt emptied. Some days I would wake up thinking “I am over reacting, she wasn’t even viable…” Other days I would wake up thinking she was still inside of me. But all day I felt empty. I eventually went back to work and tried focusing on that. Despite our efforts of birth control (pill and natural planning) I became pregnant again the following December, a boy. I couldn’t accept that it wasn’t a girl for a long time and was actually very depressed for a while, but was excited regardless. Aside from cerclage placement, 7 months of bed rest and one preterm labor scare that landed us in the hospital. I had a healthy pregnancy in and out of the high risk maternity ward. 

Murphy was born at 3:14 am September 16 2010. He looked just like her. I was ecstatic to be a mother, I was up an out of the house less than a week post-partum. I was finally doing what I was born to do. He grew up, more and more, and then by surprise (despite using protective barriers) I was pregnant again just as he turned 2. How am I going to do this with a toddler? Well, I don’t know how I did, but…we did. Thank god for Jeremy, he did everything.

We knew it was a girl from the start. More bed rest, cerclage…the same drill. Her pregnancy was much more emotional for me, like reliving all the feelings of dotty’s gestation over again. Making it into my third trimester was the most amazing feeling. I thought for sure she would be early. I was contracting every day since 13 weeks and shortening/thinning out at every ultrasound. At 6 months I transferred my prenatal care…I had been seeing the same doctor that delivered Dotty (why, I don’t know…lack of choices in our area) but I also felt superstitious in a way that I can’t really explain. During Dotty’s pregnancy we had planned a water birth at the birthing center I never made it to. With that doctor that was impossible. So after watching The Business of Being Born I got the courage to call the midwives of Sutter Davis-again. I was accepted for care with joint care by the perinatal specialist I had seen for Murphy’s pregnancy.

I started feeling so much more empowered immediately. Everything stabilized after that, too. My cervix stopped funneling and actually gained 1 cm in length. The perinatologists graduated me from their care and I was strictly a patient of amazing loving midwives! The weeks went by…36, 38, 40…41. OH MY GOD! A whole other realm of worry. Now I was CERTAIN that my body was broken in both ways, I couldn’t keep babies in and I couldn’t get them out! (Mind you these were just my hormonal feelings…) What a mind eff. I fought with my emotions every single second. I had worsening SPD and could hardly sleep, I was worried she was going to be still born or otherwise suffer some tragedy. Luckily she was a heavy mover and I never (truly) had to worry…but…pity on those who tried telling me otherwise!  Hah! 

Ten days overdue I couldn’t take any more. I drank half a bottle of castor oil, I took black cohosh, I drank red raspberry leaf tea all day long, I had sex…sex…sex…it was the most mechanical sex ever. “Can you put your prostaglandins in me, please?” Ugh. I bounced on the ball, I stimulated my nipples until they were raw, then I pumped. I had painful contractions all day long but they never progressed to the point of calling the midwife. That evening they got a bit more painful though so we headed down. Got checked in and I was only 3 cm. I tried walking the halls –with my amazing toddler and friend/photographer- to keep the contractions coming but they eventually slowed down, they swept my membranes and “sent me home”. We rented a hotel for 2 hours. Around 5 am I couldn’t handle the pain anymore. We headed back. I was having so much cervical pressure I thought for sure I was dilating. Nope…3.5 cm. My body was broken, for sure. My body was a lemon. I was going to need a c-section or at the very least to be induced. I was losing my mind. I actually WANTED a c section at that point. I hadn’t slept in two nights and they had given me Vistaril to try to calm my nerves but it did the opposite, I was tripping pretty hard when they told me,

“Oh yeah, that happens to some people”.

Awesome. Now I was exhausted, nervous and tripping! So they gave me something to counteract that, cut out the pain, and let me rest. Those were the only drugs I had the whole pregnancy. I slept (between contractions) for three hours. I felt AMAZING. After I woke up, Candice (friend/photographer) brought me some goodies that totally revitalized me. I felt like I could do it again and was getting sort of excited. They checked me…4cm. well, that’s a little progress! We discussed breaking my waters, I *felt* like that was the answer so she went in. after a few minutes of poking with the “crochet hook” she had to use her fingers to break them they were so strong and bulging. After that things kicked in.

Jessica-Lyn at BirthI pooped…it was awful. But it got things going. I showered and was sent to the halls again to walk it out. Two laps later I was surging with the most intense cramps. I was pouring sweat. It was awesome. It was time. I went back to the labor room and Jeremy came in with food, I told him he needed to leave with it and was totally alone. I had a few contractions and stripped my clothes then the nurse came in and she could tell. They started filling the tub and took me to the tub room. I had a few contractions before I NEEDDDEEDD TOOOO PUSSHHHH and waddled my way over to the tub and jumped in! I grabbed the opposite side and bore down. Hard. And pooped again…poop happens. Her head came out…a couple times. I turned over onto my back and pushed..i felt her hair. It was the softest thing I’ve ever felt! I could feel it floating around. I didn’t feel like I was really there. I pushed a couple more times and there she was. My daughter. Our daughter. I looked at Jeremy…I don’t remember what I said. She was finally here and that’s all that mattered. 

Blossom Meadow-Isobel Jardine was born at 4:00 pm on a Tuesday, July 2nd. I feel like our angel has come back to us in so many ways. The post-partum period has been hard, I don’t feel as connected to her as I did with our son. I’m just now coming out of some serious baby blues…it’s been an emotional time getting to this point. I’m just glad she’s safe and sound. The pictures we got from Candice Learned Photography are ones of the most special parts of this whole journey. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to have captured that moment…I feel so whole.