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The Story of Gracie’s Arrival

On Sunday, April 3rd, I hopped in the shower to get the day started.  We were going to run some errands like stopping at the supermarket, and I wanted to do some stuff around the house to get ready for the baby.  As I was in the shower, I started to run out of breath – like I had been doing some heavy exercising.  I kept turning the hot water down, thinking maybe the water was too hot, but in the end of things, I had to call Jim to help me get out of the shower and help me to the bedroom.  I could do nothing but cry, begging for the pregnancy to be over, even though it was only 35 weeks.  Fortunately, I had an appointment the next day with the nurse practitioner at the ob/gyn office, so I figured I would go in and let her know what was going on and see if we could move my scheduled c-section up from April 29th to something sooner.

I arrived for my doctor’s appointment the next day feeling very tired, very sick, with a spinning headache and feeling that out of breath feeling I had in the shower the day before.  By the time Marianne – the nurse – came in, I was nearly in tears.  She asked me how I felt, and the flood of tears just started coming.  I explained that I didn’t really know what was wrong, but I definitely didn’t feel well, and I didn’t think it was normal pregnancy stuff.  She checked my blood pressure, and found it pretty significantly elevated, and then told me that she was worried because I was so worried.  She said there had been visits previously when she was really concerned about me because of blood test results or blood pressure levels, but seeing me sit there in a panic made her panic and she wanted to go talk to the doctor.  She phoned the doctor on call, Dr. White, who told her to send me immediately to the hospital.  She came in and told me she didn’t know if they would keep me, but just to be safe, she wanted me to go to labor and delivery to be checked out.  She hugged me and wished me luck, and told me she might see me in a few days for my next appointment.

I phoned my mom, who had Eilis, and told her I was headed to the hospital.  I then started calling Jim.  He did not have his cell phone on, so I kept getting his voice mail.  I ended up trying to arrange for Bob, my stepfather, to pick Brighid up at school, and for my sister to try to reach Jim via email to let him know he needed to come home.  My mom came and met me at the hospital, and after a little while, Dr. White came in and they did a quick urine dip.  I had +2 protein, blood, and some other stuff in the urine dip, and my bp was elevated.  Dr. White said she was going to admit me for at least a day, probably 2 days, just to run some blood work and to see what was going on with my blood sugars in a controlled setting.  They had been going up and up in the previous days despite diet.

The next morning, Dr.Colella came in to visit me and go over the blood work and the 24 hour urine results.  Everything was pointing to pre-eclampsia, which is what I had when Brighid was delivered.  I asked him what the plan of action was, and he said that they would move my c-section from the 39 week mark to the 37 week mark, and he would keep me in the hospital until the baby was born.  UGH!   That meant two weeks in the hospital!   He apologized, but he said that with pre-eclampsia, even if I was feeling good, it could get serious very quickly, and he would rather I was in the hospital when or if that happened.

I have to say, I had a few breakdowns.  I was worried about the kids and the stuff at home that I had left undone.  With Jim’s eyes being the way they are, I knew I wouldn’t be able to have him stay with me into the evening, plus I figured he would have a hard time filling my shoes in the way the kids were used to me filling them.  There were a few nights when Brighid called upset because he wouldn’t order  nachos with no meat or let her order only french fries at the diner.  No matter what I phoned home for, he felt like I was checking up on him rather than missing my kids, missing him, missing home, and wanting to feel like I was still part of running things. 

The nurses were beyond wonderful.  I loved them all, and on the few nights that I had a breakdown, they were there sitting with me, talking to me, and getting me through.  I was hooked up with an endocrinology group that had me on a sliding scale for insulin shots, and some days I got 4 shots, other days I got as many as 8.  My sugars were being tested 7 times a day.  They were two really nice doctors, but oh the pain they caused!

Finally, Dr. Grossman put me on the surgical schedule for Saturday, April 16th for 9 AM.  While it was so nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel, it was scary to face the surgery.  Things also seemed a little more stable to me – my BP was pretty under control, my sugars were controlled with the extra shots, and I was feeling fine.  I was getting weekly visits with my perinatologist via a wheelchair escort, and while I didn’t want to stay in the hospital any longer, my concerns turned towards making sure the baby would be okay.  I was assured by nearly everyone that there was no benefit in keeping the baby in any longer than 37 weeks, and the tests showed all indications that the baby was fine.

On Friday night, April 15th, my favorite night nurse Lisa came in.  She sat on the bed, went over everything that would happen the following morning, and told me that she would be the one to start my IV in the morning so I didn’t have to worry about someone hurting me in labor and delivery.  She told me she would be in at 5 AM to do the pre-surgical labs, and do the IV, and then hook me up so I could get a shower.  She brought me a snack at around 10, since I could have nothing to eat or drink after midnight, and told me she wouldn’t bother me the rest of the night for anything so I could get a good night’s sleep.

I woke up before 5 the next morning, and got anxious when Lisa didn’t come in right at 5.  When she did come in at 5:45, she said she waited as long as she could so I could sleep longer.  UGH!!   My roommate woke up as well, and wished me good luck and best wishes.  I got my shower and noticed that I had broken out with a yeast infection under my belly and around my legs.  Oh well, they’ll worry about it in surgery.  I phoned Jim to let him know things were moving more quickly than they had told me they would, and by 7 I was on my way to labor and delivery.

I want to say that I am what they call a “bad stick”.  As a result, I dread having IVs put in.  Lisa put one in that seemed okay, didn’t hurt too much going in, but the longer it stayed in, the more uncomfortable it became.  In labor and delivery, they began the IV drip, and my hand started swelling at the IV site.  Apparently, the IV had gone through the vein, and the fluids began dripping into my hand instead of into my vein.  That meant taking out that IV and starting another one.  Four sticks later, with both of my arms aching, I was in tears.  Jim finally arrived, and I was already stressed about things not going well, and shortly after, my stepmom Ann arrived.  Dr. Colella came in to wish me luck, as he was going off duty, and he answered a few last minute questions.  Dr. Mackey came in and let me know she was there, and there was a slight delay, so I might not go in exactly at 9, but that was okay.  I was too panicked to worry about what time I would go in for surgery.

In what seemed a short time, they came in and walked me to the OR.  I kissed Ann and they told her where to go to wait for the baby, and they told Jim to wait for me as they got my spinal started.  When I got into the OR, I found out that I needed to have another IV started.  Oh my gosh.  The tears began flowing before I could hop up on the operating table.  I already had bandages on both arms from failed attempts, swelling my my right hand from the fluid that had collected, and I could not imagine where else they were going to stick me.  Then, they were going to have to start the spinal.  With quiet tears already flowing, the nurse came over to where I was sitting and told me to curl my back so they could start the anesthesia.  It was all I could do not to start sobbing, and by the time the spinal was started, my nose was bleeding.  The nurse brought me a gauze to clean my nose up, and they laid me back on the table until the spinal started to take effect.  As soon as I could no longer feel anything, they put a catheter in.  My BP by this time was pretty elevated, but then they let Jim in.  He took a seat next to my head and they began prepping me for surgery.  They put a ton of betadine over the yeast infection, and as the doctor performed the surgery, they chatted pleasantly.  At 10:24 AM, arriving without a sound, came Granuaile Frances.  They immediately removed her to the warming table to suction her, and she finally started making some noise.  Her APGARS were 7 and 9 – the 7 a result of her not starting to breathe right away.  They brought her over to me, wrapped and tiny, and actually gave me quite a few minutes to visit with her before they removed her to the nursery.

Jim and the baby went ahead to meet my mom, Brighid, and Ann, and the doctor continued to perform my tubal ligation.  This would be my last baby 🙁   What a tough decision that was – and it still brings tears to my eyes as I’m holding Granuaile, watching those first baby smiles, knowing they will be my last. 

At the nursery, she weighed in at 7 Pounds, 2 Ounces, and was 19.25 inches long.  She has thick, dark hair – so different from either of my other two babies!  

The decision was made to keep me on in labor and delivery on a drip of magnesium sulfate.  The meds, combined with the duromorph (I think that’s how it’s spelled) that was used in the spinal as a pain killer, made me nauseaous.  Any time my bed was raised at the head, I had the urge to throw up.  My mom, Ann and Brighid came back to my room and they made some phone calls to let people know the baby arrived and that I would not be in a room for visitors until the next day.  Jim stayed with me in labor and delivery, and my mom took Brighid home.  She told me to call her and let her know when she could bring Eilis back, and before she could get home, the nurse came in with the baby!   Within the hour, my mom, Bob, Brighid and Eilis were in the room holding the baby while I struggled not to throw up in front of everyone.  The nurse tried two different meds in my IV to help the nausea, and I dozed on and off.  The next day, I was moved to a mother-baby room, and the real recovery began.  They don’t spend as much time catering to you there, but I did get to spend a lot of time with the baby.  They brought her to me in the morning, and she stayed all day.  They took her back at night and brought her in for demand feedings. 

The best part about this mother baby unit was room service!   They gave you a menu, and you called and ordered what you wanted and what time you wanted it.  You could also order trays for any guests that came to visit, so Jim and Brighid got to eat dinner with me until I was discharged.

Grace developed jaundice, but it wasn’t bad enough to keep her.  We came home on Wednesday, April 20th, and then had to bring her back on Friday and Monday for a bilirubin check.  It was fine enough by Monday not to have to bring her back.  She also lost a bit of weight, so we had to keep an eye on that as well.

We have made a pretty good adjustment at home.  Her big sisters seem to love her a lot, and she gets very attentive when they come in the room.

After a long and rocky reproductive road, I have to say I have mixed feelings about it being over.  I love being a mom, and I know in my heart I could have easily welcomed however many children God sent our way.  Financially, however, and in fairness to the children we have, it just didn’t seem like an option to continue having children, facing so many complications.  Grace is a miracle – conceived just days prior to me deciding not to have any more children, and arriving safely despite my age and my diabetes.  We are all so lucky to have her.