tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the category “surviving bed rest”

Our last night together

In less than 12 hours I will have given birth to my fourth and final child at just 31 weeks gestation. Tonight is our final night together.

Yesterday, a chain of unhappy news began around noon time and I had to begin processing my emotions quickly. An ultra sound showed that the baby did not appear to be growing and that there was restriction in the cord blood flow. In short, the placenta was beginning to give out because of my preeclampsia. The specialist informed me that I would not make it to 34 weeks and that the probability that they would need to take the baby within the next week was very high. I’d be lucky if he made it to 32 weeks. Another ultra sound was scheduled for Friday and we would go from there. Later that afternoon, as they monitored the baby’s heart beat, there were many dips that worried them. The doctor decided that I should be monitored again first thing in the morning, before I ate breakfast, in case they needed to preform a c-section. This news, paired with the fact that he was barely active all day, led to a nervous night of little sleep during which I was convinced it would be my last night pregnant. By the time I woke in the morning, my little guy was already stirring for the day and let me know he was doing okay. His heart monitoring still had its dips, but he was moving. I was on the monitors for a much longer amount of time (most of the day), but it made me feel better knowing he was being watched. In the afternoon, a friend visited and during that time my nurse came in to check on me several times. I knew something was up because she seemed anxious for my visitor to leave.

At about 5:30 tonight, the nurse informed me that the baby’s heart rate had dipped pretty frequently and for longer amounts of time during the afternoon monitoring. All the nurses were biting their nails as they watched this. My nurse contacted my doctors and specialist and they decided that tomorrow needed to be the big day, it was too risky to wait.

So, this evening I have laid here, under constant monitoring, thinking about that fact that these are my last pregnant hours. It is as if he knows this because my little guy has been the most active he has been since I entered to hospital almost two weeks ago. He is flipping and flopping and kicking and jabbing me in every direction. I can see my belly move as he gives me a good kick or elbow. He wants me to know he is there and for me to remember how it feels to have him inside me. He wants us to have this one last night together to just be together in a way we will never be again. This is my fourth and final pregnancy, after tomorrow I will never be pregnant again. Even if I wanted another child, my body has made it clear that it can not handle pregnancy anymore. Once I am wheeled into surgery at 10:30 tomorrow morning, my last baby will be cut from my body and a whole new struggle will begin. I know that at 31 weeks, with all the technological advantages, my baby has a good survival rate, but I also know that there are always unknowns out there and anything could happen. I know that, though statistically low, there is a chance that these last hours of my baby beating me up from the inside could be the last moments I have with him ever. I also know that the reality of tomorrow is that I will probably not get to hold or touch my tiny child once he is pulled from me and that he will have to fight his battle without me for at least the first 24 hours. I also know that this will probably be the hardest thing about tomorrow.

I know my guy is tough and he will receive the best care possible once he is out, and that he is probably safer outside of me at this point because they can help him if he is distressed, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to keep him in a little longer and have him all to myself. So despite being exhausted and knowing I should get some rest, I can’t help but remain awake, spending my last hours with my baby before this experience ends and I am never again pregnant. I’m just thankful that he is humoring me and keeping active to keep me company.


Trying to feel normal in and abnormal circumstance

The best part of my day, in this new life I am living, is when I get to shower. As a mom of three young boys, getting a warm shower has alway been an unfrequent luxury (especially if a hair wash was included), but now that I am hospital and bed bound, showers have taken on a whole new form of luxury I hadn’t ever imagined.

It might sound bad that I’m picking a shower over talking to my kids as the best part of my day, but I’m just trying to be honest. I Skype with my kids for almost and hour everyday and it is definitely my second favorite part of the day, but it still isn’t as good as a shower. When I Skype with my kids, I get to see them smile and hear them laugh and watch them be silly, which I love, but I also see their little bellies that I can not zurbert, their little checks that I can not kiss, and sometimes I even see them get hurt or hurt each other and I can not comfort them. As much as I love seeing them and look forward to it each day, it is still a reminder that I am stuck here in a hospital bed and they are at home, going to bed each night without cuddles and kisses from mommy. When our Skype visit is all done, I feel both happy and sad and just miss my boys that much more.

Showers, on the other hand, those are a whole other experience. Taking a shower is the one solid block of time each day that I am actually able to get out of bed and be out of bed for any length of time. While I am in the shower, I can temporarily forget that I am bed bound in a hospital. I let the water wash over me, relaxing my neck and back muscles that are cramping from lying all day in a few limited positions. I get to wash my hair, something that I don’t get to do often enough at home, and temporarily, I am able to wash away the stench of hospital on me. My belly feels lighter when the water sprays on it even though it is not actually being support by any buoyancy. My body is free of all the machines I am hooked up to throughout the day to monitor the baby and me. I feel as close to human as I can. When the shower is over, I don’t Immediately crash back to reality, I milk the time I am out of bed. I pretend as though I am prepping and primping for a normal day. I lather up in cream and go through my skin care regiment. I put on fresh, normal clothes, and even blow dry my hair (another rarity at home). By the time I’m done and do have to finally crawl back into bed and get rehooked up to machines, I look so refreshed and clean, nurse might actually confuse me for a visitor instead of a patient. If it weren’t for my concern over my baby’s health, I might even consider taking advantage of that one day and sneaking out for some fresh air and non-hospital food.

Pregnancy’s unexpected curve ball

Each pregnancy, like each child, is different. A mom might experience some similarities between pregnancies or they may all be completely different. For my first three pregnancies, they were pretty similar and uneventful. I experienced extended periods of nausea and varying amounts of puking with each one. The only thing to stand out from one pregnancy to another was that in the last month or two of my last pregnancy I developed high blood pressure and was put on medication. Still, nothing big or concerning. Of course, after having three healthy and relatively problem free pregnancies, I should’ve realized that a fourth pregnancy was pushing my luck and something was bound to go wrong.

From the first blood pressure check at my first doctor’s appointment at 10 weeks along, I have had high blood pressure. This isn’t something that I normally have when I’m not pregnant and again, I only had issues with it for the last month or two of my third pregnancy, but not since then. After months of making excuses for it and trying to just relax, I finally had to go on medication for it. After a month and a half of medicine and adjusting the amounts, my blood pressure was still very high (I can’t imagine why considering I have three boys six and under at home). The doctors continued to monitor me and set me up to see a specialist. On Thursday night, a little over a week ago, I developed a headache that was pretty bad and just wouldn’t go away despite ice and Tylenol. By the time I went to bed, I could literally hear my heart pounding in my head and I was having shortness of breath. My blood pressure was about 174/101. I decided to wait it out over night, mostly because it was late and I had three sleeping children and no one to watch them if I were to go to the hospital. The next morning I felt a little better, but figured I’d better call my doctor just incase since we were headed into the weekend. My doctor wanted me to come in to be checked out and monitored, which I pretty much expected. What I hadn’t expected when I left my house that morning was that I wouldn’t be returning home for possibly more than a month and that I’d be no longer pregnant when I did return.

I was only 29 weeks and 1 day when they admitted me to the hospital over a week ago. At first I was told it was just going to be a 24 hour monitor of the baby and me. However, it quickly became clear that there was no way I was leaving anytime too soon. Even scarier was that there was a very real possibility that my baby was going to be delivered in the next 24 hours at just barely 29 weeks. My doctor was so convinced of this possibility that she wouldn’t let me have anything more than ice chips for at least 24 hours and that was only after several nurses begged for some on my behalf.

They started me on a magnesium drip to bring my blood pressure down. For those of you who have never experienced this, I hope you never have to. As soon as they start the drip, an instant sensation of burning creeps through your body starting at the IV sight and traveling until it has reached every vein in your body. As it reaches your chest and stomach, you begin to feel violently ill and like you are going to pass out. Then your face begins to burn and feel like it is melting off despite the fact that your body is shivering and cold everywhere else. I eventually passed out for a bit and awoke to a reprieve from the violent nausea I was feeling, but my face continued to burn while the rest of me shivered. It was very hard to remain conscious for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. During this time, I attempted to call and text family members (including my husband who was home caring for the kids) to let them know what was going on. I’d eventually be overtaken by another wave of magnesium and feel the burning sensation creep up the base of my neck and eventually wash over my head making it impossible to keep my eyes open. When I did close my eyes, it was like I was on some sort of horrible acid trip or something (I can only assume, since that is not something I ever experimented with). I would see crazy colors transforming into different shapes behind my eyes. I felt limp and heavy, like I couldn’t move, but then I’d suddenly feel like I was falling, jerking my eyes open to find myself still in the hospital bed, all the while, my face was on fire.

After about 24 hours, they finally took me off the magnesium. My face began to cool and I was able to remain conscious for longer amounts of time. They’d brought my blood pressure down enough that I was no longer at risk of stroke and the doctor even agreed to let me eat something, though she warned that there was still a risk of needing to deliver until they had my blood pressure permanently stabilized. It still took about another 24 hours to get the magnesium completely out of my system and during that time they began experimenting with different drug combos and amounts to try and find something that would permanently keep my blood pressure at a safe level.

As I regained my faculties and was able to finally think again and even allowed to shower, the reality of what was happening and what laid ahead of me began to sink in. Not only did I have severe chronic high blood pressure brought on by pregnancy, but I was also diagnosed with preeclampsia. The baby was doing fine at the moment, but because of this diagnosis, both mine and the baby’s health were at risk of going downhill at anytime. Preeclampsia can severely affect a mother’s vital organs, such as the kidneys and liver, as well as affect the placenta and the babies growth. The only cure for preeclampsia is to deliver the baby. At 29 weeks, that was not a good option, so instead, the baby and I were going to need to be constantly monitored. This meant, I was going to be on bed rest in the hospital until the baby came. Of course, all these health problems also meant that I was not going to be able to make it to 39 or 40 weeks and that the new goal was to try to make it to 34 weeks before they would take the baby.

I am now 30 weeks and 2 days and they seem to have finally discovered a drug combination that is holding my blood pressure steady without leaving me unable to function. My doctor is optimistic that I will make it to 34 weeks, but my condition is unpredictable and could change at anytime, so each day I keep this baby in is another small victory. My blood pressure is down enough that I only have to be monitored every four hours instead of every hour. The baby is monitored 2-3 times a day for about an hour and I have a weekly ultra sound. I am still confined to bed with the exception of being allowed to get up to use the bathroom and take a daily shower. My boys are at home with their dad and my mom. I get to see them on the weekends and we Skype nightly. Aside from trying to keep sane while laying in bed the next several weeks, I am in the process of coming to terms with the fact that my baby will be born a preemie and spent time in the NICU. I do feel like putting my story out there for others to read and hearing about other people’s similar experiences is helping me to cope and mentally prepare for many of the possibilities and realities of the weeks to come.

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