Monday, February 12, 2007

Day 2 of the BFN, Thursday cont.

Before I continue with the BFN, I've been thinking about how, during the first night and next morning in the hospital, I had NO CLUE that the pregnancy was in danger. I knew I didn’t have the flu and I reckon we were thinking about an infection but not in my wildest catastrophizing did I imagine how bad it was. I was thinking maybe the cerclage might need to come out and maybe I’d end up on bedrest but these were my worst case scenarios. When fancy doc first told us about the possibility of an infection in the amniotic fluid, I was COMPLETELY SHOCKED.

Back to the BFN, I was on my way to the OR to have the cerclage taken out. When I got in there, I saw what I thought was a carrier for a tiny baby. It turned out not to be. We pretty much were expecting the baby to come flying out once the cerclage was removed. I had the epidural and then got spread-eagled further than I ever thought possible. I distinctly remember the awfulness of having my knees practically at my ears under the bright lights with a bunch of people with their faces in my crotch. I asked for a sedative but whatever they gave me was very mild. Too bad I didn’t have the same anesthesiologist I had this go-round; I would’ve been unconscious. The horror of being in such a vulnerable position knowing that this procedure was the beginning of delivering my daughter is indescribable.

I recall also that I didn’t want to be too heavily sedated because I wanted to be awake and present during the delivery. Even if my baby was going to die, I wanted to remember the delivery. It was all I was going to have left of the pregnancy and I thought it would be my only vaginal delivery.

At some point during the procedure, a nurse came in to tell me that my mother was in the hallway outside the OR and was making a pretty big scene. You can only imagine how this compounded the awfulness of the situation. Frankly I have a hard time even being around my mother and I did not want her at the hospital at all. I had been very clear about that when I told her not to come. She completely ignored me.

The nurse said that she was pretty upset and was waiting to see me when I came out of the OR. She had staked out the door. The nurse took me out a different door so I wouldn’t have to deal with her immediately. Rocket Man had to go talk to her. It makes me angry just thinking about how astonishingly inconsiderate she was being.

When I got back to my room, my dear friend (DF) had arrived. DF had the pleasure of witnessing my mother’s scene outside the OR. Basically my mom had pulled the old “my baby” routine and was going off about how her baby (me) was in there (the OR). DF had to deal with her and explain that I had asked her to be present for the delivery. My mom went off about how my friends had always been more important to me than her. Duh, none of my friends ever slapped me in the face repeatedly when I was a little girl or beat on me when I was running out the door to kindergarten. I could go on here but I won’t.

Basically my mom threw a gigantic “poor me, my daughter doesn’t want me here" scene as she staked out the door to the OR. Then when DF tried to talk to her, she got mad. Then she did the arms folded, puss on her face routine while she tapped her foot and verbally abused the nurses. Unfuckingbelievable.

Rocket Man spent an hour talking to her while I heard about her horrifying scene from DF. Suffice it to say that DF had heard about my mother for five years and she heard many gory details as we went through some very deep personal work in our graduate program. You know when you tell a friend how awful somebody is and then they’re all, “Oh your mom’s not that bad.” Well that didn’t happen. My mother had WILDLY exceeded her expectations and I KNOW that she was expecting a really crazy person. We actually laughed about it. But then I had to talk to her.

She came into the room doing the “I’m sorry, I’m a bad mother, I shouldn’t have come here, I’ll just leave without talking to you, nobody would care if I die, poor me routine.” I asked why she didn’t listen to me when I said, “Do not get into that car (and come here).” She said, I shit you not, “I didn’t get into the car. I took a taxi.” That was her answer. Never mind that she completely disrespected my needs and wishes on the single-worst day of my 35 years, she was pulling some infantile, semantic bullshit in a mind-boggingly, pathetic attempt to justify her behavior. I couldn’t believe it then and I can hardly believe it now. Mercifully, she didn’t stay long and then it was back to the business of delivering the baby so the infection didn’t kill me.

The next thing that I remember was the worst round of shaking and fever. As it did each time, every three or four hours, it came on suddenly. I got really cold and despite the pile of heated blankets, I shivered violently for 20, maybe 30 minutes. I had to keep something in my mouth so my teeth didn’t clank together; it was way too hard to fight the shaking the keep my jaw still. I tried sometimes to stop the shaking by bracing my whole body and resisting with all of my might but it didn’t even work and it was incredibly exhausting. I tried having Rocket Man lay next to me, or was it on me, to keep me from being so cold and to stop the shaking; that didn’t work.

After I stopped shaking, the nurse took my temperature. It was 106.1. The blankets came off and a frantic effort began to bring the fever down. I was at a maternity hospital so they didn’t have a giant ice-pack type thing to put me in. Somebody was dispatched to try to find one. Rocket Man, DF and our current amazing nurse went to work on me.

They stripped me naked and bathed me with cool washcloths. There was some kind of device blowing cool air on me. I think I started to check out a little here but I do remember it. I actually felt very peaceful and much better now that the shaking had stopped. I was staring at the lights on the ceiling and talking about how I saw a Charlie Brown-looking figure in them. I know they probably started to worry about me even more after I said that but I insisted on it and showed RM what I was talking about. He did see it so maybe I wasn’t losing brain cells by the trillions.

The fever scared the shit out of everybody. After it came down, I checked out. RM and DF later said that I was talking complete nonsense alternating with talking to my living daughter who of course wasn’t there. I lost my sense of time and where I was in the room. I recalled things that hadn’t happened. It was the middle of the night when the fever happened but I don’t think any of us slept much after that. Once again they gave me an ativan that didn’t help me sleep at all and the blood-pressure thing checked my bp automatically every 15 minutes. It was another hideously long night. All hell was breaking loose outside. The flood waters were rising on the worst flood our county had seen in 25 years.

The next day was all about waiting for the baby to come out. I was getting all kinds of meds to induce labor but it wasn’t happening. My cervix wasn’t dilating. They didn’t want to do a C-section because of the danger of spilling all of the infected fluid into my intestines, etc. Also, I was in no condition to undergo a major surgery.

Fancy doc was getting extremely nervous and it started to show, not that I noticed. He came back frequently to check my cervix. I was terrified of the prospect of the C-section and I was also afraid that the delivery would coincide with a fit of fever. I kept trying to talk the nurses and doctors into giving me more drugs to keep the fever down. The drugs didn’t help prevent the fever but I thought that they could if we timed them to head off the fever.

A nurse, one of the ones that I didn’t care for, came back on shift and needed to do something with my IV. Maybe she needed to move it, maybe she was actually drawing blood, but she did it as badly as she had when she first put my IV in. That was another time that I cried out in pain. I’d already been through botched catheters, IV insertions, countless needles and blood draws, a thousand blood pressure band tourniquets, an epidural, a surgery to remove the cerclage. I about lost it when she botched whatever she was trying to do with that needle. I started crying. I hadn’t been crying much. I had been in survival-coping mode.

Shortly after the bad needle, I started having trouble breathing but was afraid to tell the nurse because I thought they might do an emergency C. I told her anyway. Shortly after they moved me to intensive care, which was convenient because my organs had started to fail. I didn’t know until later why the nurse kept frowning at the bag of pee coming out of the catheter. There apparently wasn’t much coming out because my kidneys were shutting down. They also kept checking my blood pressure and asking ME if I knew if I had low blood pressure. I thought this was odd since it had been taken a thousand times in the last two days. The alarm kept going off because my blood pressure was so low.

My veins and arteries were constricting. The bacteria had gotten a foothold in my bloodstream and I had gone into septic shock. I didn’t know at the time how serious this was and how easily I could’ve gone into a coma. On the bright side, the intensive care nurse was incredible.

There was a very creepy moment where the intensive care doctor came in and examined my neck. I didn’t know it at the time but he was checking my veins to prepare for putting in a central line. Since my blood pressure was falling, they wouldn’t be able to use my collapsing arm veins if they needed quick access to my heart and lungs. They needed to put a central line in my jugular vein. That was freaky. I didn’t know why creepy doc was there but I remember him looking at my neck. It freaked me out at the time and it freaks me out retroactively.

Fortunately that morning an infectious disease specialist had been consulted and my antibiotics were redone, maybe just in time to save my life. After they checked my neck, I started to turn the corner. I don’t think I had any fever fits after that.

Fancy doc had been coming in all day to check my cervix. At some point after midday, I started having labor contractions. Having had two scheduled C-sections, I had not had the pleasure of having real contractions. They hurt. A lot.

I was in labor. I was in quite a bit of pain despite the epidural that had been in since the cerclage removal. The anesthesiologist came to check the epidural and added some more meds. It didn’t help. I was in real labor and was having painful contractions. The epidural wasn’t taking the edge off even. It got worse. The anesthesiologist said to call him in 15 minutes if it didn’t get better. It got worse. I called him in 5.

Looking back I wonder (duh) why it hurt so bad. Maybe it was because of the hell that my body had been through and that I hadn’t slept for two nights and I was fresh out of septic shock. Maybe it was because labor contractions are apparently (I’ve heard) as painful at 23 weeks as they are at full-term.

At some point, fancy doc came in to check my cervix and I swear he jammed his hand up me so ruthlessly that I burst into tears from the pain. He expected that my epidural would be numbing the pain so he didn’t think twice about ravaging me. That fucking hurt. I was nearing the end of my tolerating-all-of-this-painful-invasive-shit rope. He bellowed about why the hell my epidural wasn’t working. I had been wondering the same thing.

Oh yeah… for a long while during the labor contractions I wasn’t complaining because even though they hurt, they were bearable and… this part is really sad… I could still feel the baby kicking. I felt her thumping around regularly throughout the two-day ordeal and I wasn’t ready to part with her. I hadn't complained for a long time because I wanted to feel her before she got forced out of her toxic home.

Looking back it's amazing that she was still alive. The infection had brought me close to the brink of survival but she was still hanging in there even in a placenta full of deadly bacteria.

She was 22 weeks, 5 days old. Before the delivery I had fleeting thoughts of maybe, just maybe she could make it. Maybe she could be one of the youngest babies ever to survive. I knew better but there were brief moments of irrational hopes.

Backing up a little, once the contractions got really painful, I was ready for the meds to kick in. DF talked me through them and let me squeeze the life out of her hand. I switched to the bedrails.

RM was in the hallway talking to bad-timing-brother-in-law (BTBIL). I considered leaving this part out but it was part of my experience. I adore my BIL but he has notoriously bad timing. Immediately following my first D&C, back in 2003, we were scheduled to go away for the weekend with RM’s 3 brothers, one of the girlfriends, and his dad. NEVER EVER in a million friggin’ years would I have considered going but for the fact that we were going to have my son’s 2nd birthday party. We planned to have his party on Sunday, after his nap and before our three-hour drive back home. I only went on the trip because I wanted my son to have a nice party.

It was the most miserable weekend of my life. Nobody spoke of my situation ALL WEEKEND. It got worse when BTBIL left us stranded at a lake, unable to go back for a nap when the little birthday boy got tired. When BTBIL and his girlfriend finally came back and we took our son back for his nap, he was so overtired that he threw up in his crib and wouldn’t sleep. By the time we gave up on the nap, we had time for a super-quick cake and presents. Then we had to drive all the way home with BTBIL while I seethed.


Bad timing indeed. To his credit, he really is a good guy and he came to the hospital to bring us some stuff we needed like a clean shirt for RM who naturally hadn’t planned on a four-day ordeal in the hospital.

It just figured that he showed up while I was in full-blown labor with zero painkiller about to deliver a baby that was going to die. After 45 minutes, DF went to retrieve RM. I wanted him there with me and not in the hallway with his brother.

I kept calling for the anesthesiologist and he finally returned and was once again completely mystified. Eventually he thought to check the place where the epidural was inserted in my back. It wasn’t connected. Mystery solved. I had probably sweated out the epidural during the big fever. We got it hooked back up and that was the end of the pain and the end of feeling my daughter alive.

At some point after waiting all day, it was determined that my cervix was ready. It was time to deliver the baby.

My ob/gyn was going to do the delivery. She was the doctor who never told me that a LEEP procedure could cause incompetent cervix and despite the fact that I got pregnant two short months after the LEEP, she never checked my cervix to see how it was holding up. I no longer have a relationship with her but at the time I was thrilled to have her at the delivery. Her father-in-law was dying so we thought she would have to leave but she ended up staying and I was very grateful. We’d been through a lot together during the nine years she was my doctor.

Enough for now. Not looking forward to the next part. I hope you'll keep commenting if you can and reacting if you want. Ask questions if you have them. It was much better to have readers engage after the last BFN post than not say much after the first.

I hope I'm not scaring the shit out of you all. It was really an extremely rare series of events that caused this to happen.

I realized that on the day that I was writing this I was 22 weeks and 3 days pregnant. That’s exactly how far along I was when I went to the hospital with the fever.


Blogger Bianca said...

I don't even have words... dear god!

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No words to say how my heart feels for you. Thank you for sharing this. I think of you often.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What a nightmare for you to to relive, even in memory. How you endured this I have no idea. The fact that you could even try again after this shows such strength. It is truly an unbelievable and sad story.

Your last entry had me listening to Live. I've heard that song a thousand times and never ever thought about the lyrics. A whole new meaning now....

I am at 22 weeks and 1 day, so I find an extra horrifying layer to this story, but in an abstract way (god willing). For you this is visceral. I hope it is helping you to unravel this story on paper ( paper that is).

6:12 PM  
Blogger ladybug said...

your story is so completely heartbreaking... and yet it is so compelling to read, but not really in a morbid way. you have survived what i think any woman would rank as *the worst* and while it is scaring me a little bit, i think it will be something i carry with me into my venture towards getting pregnant and having a baby...

and i think maybe this is your wee daughter's legacy. her mama is one hell of a strong woman, and sharing your story and yoru baby's, is sharing that strength with all of us.

did you name her? i havent read much of your archives recently, and i sadly dont recall if you have shared her name.

thank you so much for opening up your heart and soul with us...for trusting us to hold your story in our hearts with respect and reverence.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous kari said...

it's your lurker again. your story makes me cry.
i hope that by writing this now, getting it all out as you head out of this nightmare week, it somehow cleanses your spirit for the rest of your current pregnancy.
oh, and i know that irrational feeling that maybe, just maybe, the docs are wrong and your baby will live. i thought that even when an ultrasound showed my daughter was already dead.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous kari said...

sorry, i do have a question. are you seeing the same doctors this time? going back to the same hospital?

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thankyou for sharing your story. Not putting 'values' or 'degrees of sadness' on anything, my worst sadnesses were two 1st trimester m/c's, and I can't fathom this. I deeply wish you all the best and all the happiness for you.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

You are a very strong woman, and so brave to relive this unimaginably painful time with us. Thinking of you often.

9:17 PM  
Blogger K77 said...

Nightmare, absolute fucking nightmare. The sheer terror you must be living with every day is just unreal. No wonder you call yourself WTF. I honestly cannot fathom living through such horror and surviving. I'm sorry this happened to you and your family. And your mother turning up like that? She sounds crazy as hell.

10:37 PM  
Blogger lagiulia said...

This sounds like an incredibly horrific, mind-boggling experience that no one should ever have to go through. I am just amazed that you have had the will and determination to pursue pregnancy again and can only imagine how hard it must be to go through it. My thoughts are with you.

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Drowned Girl said...

Heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous j said...

Thank you for continuing your brave streak and letting us follow along on this horrific journey.

6:27 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I will be checking back for the next part.

7:43 AM  
Anonymous steph said...

This is so much more than the summary you gave us way back when. As bad as it seemed when it was a paragraph, the actual telling of the story is amazingly incredibly horrific. I can't find the words to tell you how much I feel for you. Each time it seems like it can't get worse, it does. Feeling LC kick in the absence of epidural relief is heartwrenching. I have always heard it is the worst pain to lose a child, and reading this I truly believe it. It seems especially cruel that you went through so much pain for so long knowing she would die, and there was nothing you could do about it. My heart goes out to you. You are stronger than I ever knew. I hope you are bedresting. Telling this story must be exhausting, but hopefully it feels good to get it out. I'll be checking back to hear the rest. . .

7:55 AM  
Blogger Truck Driver Wife said...

Thank you for sharing your story. There are some out there that have similar stories. Sending hugs. My heart hurts for you.

8:04 AM  
Blogger Bri said...

I am here. I am not feeling brilliant with words today, but I am here and wanted you to know I am thinking of you.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Trista said...

Still here, reading, crying

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am another lurker. and i am sitting here and feeling shocked and saddened. k

4:34 PM  
Blogger Estelle said...

I just finished reading all of them, and I can't even imagine. It's definitely heartbreaking, and totally fucking obscenely unfair.

7:29 AM  
Blogger wendy said...

Like most of the other commenter's, I don't feel like I have any adequate words, other than thank you for having the courage to tell your truths. It honor's your beautiful little daughter's memory, to hear how hard you fought and how much you wanted her. I am not a very religious person, but i do pray that you get to take home this baby that you are currently carrying, and that he/she helps to heal your heart a little bit. I will be thinking of you and checking back, often, as well.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Truck Driver Wife said...

I am praying that the nightmare stays away during this next week or so. Hang in there. You are almost there.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Ah, hon, knowing the bare outline was one thing; hearing the entire tale is something else entirely. Many women would have not have the strength to even contemplate getting pregnant again after going through your ordeals, yet here you are.

Despite your worries about mother/daughter relationships, despite your horrific history, you are stronger than you know. And you make my heart hurt.

And though I (obviously) don't know RM, between you and Char he sounds like such a fantastic man, and a wonderful partner to you. The thought that kept popping into my head while I was reading about BFN was about him, about how terrifying it must have been for him to not only know that his unborn child was going to die, but that his wife might, too. Much virtual love and respect to RM.

2:20 PM  
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12:05 PM  

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