This year Thanksgiving holds a very different meaning for me! The last 2 weeks if my life have been a whirlwind, and I am so thankful to be on the other side, but it couldn't have happened without some truly amazing people in my life, but my husband Daniel in particular.
Daniel and I were expecting our first child to arrive near the end of October and we were crazy enough to think that buying a new house and moving in Sept was 29 was a good idea! There were some bumps along the way with the house purchase, at one point we were going to move into the basement suite for a month, but somehow it all worked out. The owner of the house found a place, and we moved in Sept 29. Now came the task of setting up a new house. Being 9 months pregnant, everyone would "yell" at me when I picked up a box. I'm not one to sit around and watch, but I had to learn how to accept help. My parents, Daniel's dad, my brother, Daniel and I managed to get a lot unpacked before calling it a night. Thankful for helpful family members.
The next week brought MANY appointments for me! Being a high risk pregnancy, I was being followed VERY closely. Monday I saw my OB, Tuesday I had fetal monitoring and an ultrasound and Wednesday I had a consult with an anesthesiologist (which is standard if you have asthma). All these appointments went perfectly well and everything was great with me and baby...until that night! Early in the morning I woke up with really itchy hands and the soles of my feet. I have never been that itchy before. When I look at my lower legs now, I can still see the scratches and bruises from when I was seeking relief from this itch. In the morning I had to deal with the alarm company (a saga I wont bore you with the details, but it was a 2 day ordeal) and I tried to make an appointment with my Dr or OB about my feet. My Dr was at a conference and the OB said to deal with my Dr...so off to a clinic I went armed with some info from Dr. Google. After waiting for almost an hour and half, the Dr had no idea and basically told me to come back tomorrow if it was still itchy and no mention for what Dr. Google said. Hind sight is 20/20 and I should have asked about my hunch, but instead I went home to suffer through another itchy night. Friday I was back at a different clinic and this DR did have the same hunch that I did and ordered the blood work needed to confirm the condition, but it was so late in the day, it had to wait until Saturday. First thing Saturday morning I was off to the lab and feeling like we were on a good path.
Daniel decided that Saturday was a good day to begin painting the baby's room, so he spent most of the day working on that project while I rested and and did some small projects around the new house with the help of his mom and dad.
Sunday morning I woke up and just wasn't feeling right. Baby was normally very active before I ate breakfast and Sunday morning I didn't feel much movement. I didn't think too much of it at the time. After breakfast when I still hadn't felt much movement, I started to be on alert. Throughout the day, I just wasn't feeling well, so I spent most of the day on the couch resting while Daniel was hard at work finishing off the paint in baby's room. I tried to do a kick count (6 movements in 2 hours), but I was so tired, I would fall asleep. Again, hind sight is 20/20 and we should have gone to the hospital then. Around 1:30, I went upstairs to talk to Daniel about getting ready to go to the soccer game. (We are BIG Whitecaps fans and they were playing a huge game against Portland that night.) We were sitting on the floor of the just finished baby's room when Daniel looked at feet and told me that we needed to go to the hospital. My feet had turned a weird brown/purple colour. Me being stubborn, told him we could go after the game, but luckily he insisted that we go before hand. So I made a quick call to triage at the hospital to let them know were were coming and I could tell that the nurse on the other end had concerns. We got ready to go in our 'Caps gear, hoping that a quick trip for fetal monitoring was all that would be needed and we could head to the game after. Boy were we wrong!!!
We got to the hospital around 2:30 and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor. I mentioned to the nurse that I had done blood work the previous day and that there were somethings that were slightly off. Daniel mentioned about my itchy and purple feet, but the nurse didn't think it was a big deal. Baby had a strong heart rate of around 140, but I was still not feeling many movements. In the hour and a half before the Dr. came, I think I felt maybe 3 movements. The nurses kept coming and checking to make sure I wasn't feeling movements and they kept changing my position to see if we could get more movements, but nothing seemed to help. The heart rate was staying pretty steady, not the usually accelerations and decelerations that you get when baby is moving. Having done weekly fetal monitoring for 5 weeks, I learned a lot about what they are looking for in a healthy baby.
Around 4:30, the Dr. came to check on us. He was concerned that there was a baby with a good heart rate, but a mom that wasn't feeling many movements. The tried some things to stimulate the baby, but nothing helped with the movements or a spike in heart rate from one. He decided to do an ultrasound to see if maybe I wasn't feeling movement, even though movement was there. His theory was that maybe the placenta had moved and was acting like a cushion. During the ultrasound, the Dr, resident and nurse didn't say much, but I could tell by the look on their faces that they were concerned. At this point it was decided that they were going to try to induce 3 contractions in 10 minutes to see if baby responds, and I was admitted. A nurse came over and told me that they needed to plan for a c-section "just in case" and to remove all my jewelry and sign a few more forms.
Around 5:35 we were admitted and taken to our room. I told Daniel that it was going to be a while and that he should probably put more money in the meter and go and get himself some food as he had not eaten since breakfast. Once he left I asked the nurse started explaining what was going to happen and then all of a sudden she says "No, we are doing this now!" Scariest 6 words of my life! Next thing I know, codes are being called and nurses and doctors are being paged and I have an oxygen mask on. The nurse lifted the oxygen mask long enough to give her Daniel's phone number to tell him to get back up to the room ASAP! The next few minutes are a blur, but I do remember nurses and doctors running down the halls to meet us, Daniel running behind the bed and me lying on the bed crying because no one was telling us what was happening. I knew that we were headed to OR 8 as that was repeated over and over in the pages being called, but beyond that...I knew nothing. I knew Daniel had made it up but I couldn't see him.
We race into the OR and arrived there at 5:50 and there is a team of about 15 waiting for us. As soon we we arrive, they start working on me. In my panicked state, I did manage to hear someone ask if they wanted me sitting or lying and when the answer was lying, I knew that this was no ordinary c-section. I was going to be put under general anesthetic. There was one nurse who held my hand and wiped my tears and I asked her to confirm that I was having a general anesthetic and she said yes. Next thing I knew there was a screen up by my face and I could feel people working behind the curtain to prep me for surgery. Last thing I remember was a mask going over my face.
I know how scared I was being wheeled into the OR, I cant even begin to imagine what Daniel was feeling. He was told to gown up and that they would try to get him in, but no one cam back to get him. Neither of us got to say "I love you" before the OR doors closed, he had no idea what was going on - the last he heard was a nurse telling him to drop everything and get back to the room ASAP! The next 15 minutes must have been the scariest of his life not know what was happening with his wife and child. Phone calls were made to both his parents and my parents. Not only to tell them what was happening, but also to provide Daniel with the support he needed. At 6:05 our beautiful daughter entered the world and a nurse finally came out to tell Daniel that "It's a girl and she came out screaming".
Daniel and Ayla were taken back to the room, and I was sutured up and sent to recovery where I would remain for the next 3 hours. I think the weirdest part for me was waking in recovery. I opened my eyes and asked the nurse the following 2 questions before I fell asleep again 1) Is my baby ok? 2) What did I have? Having not found out the gender ahead of time, I was actually one of the last among the family to know that we had a beautiful daughter, Ayla, who weighed in at 5 lbs 9.7 oz and was 18 inches long.
Back in the room, Daniel and Ayla had 3 hours to bond before I got to join them. A Dr (or nurse, I am not sure who) had come to talk to Daniel about what had happened. They will not know exactly what happened until the placenta comes back from pathology, but when they opened me up, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. I believe this is hat was causing all my itching as my body was try to deal with the toxins. The blood work that I had done the day before showed that I was negative for the syndrome the Dr believed I had (cholestasis) as my numbers were slightly low and if it was cholestasis the numbers would have been sky high. There was also blood in the amniotic fluid which the Dr's believe is either from a placental abruption or the placenta pulling away from the uterine wall.
Seeing my daughter for the first time was such an overwhelming experience. After everything we had been through in the past 4 hours, just to hold her was AMAZING!! I think I cried, tears of joy, for at least 20 minutes when I got back up to the room. There were no words needed, just hugs and kisses.
It really didn't hit me how desperate the situation was until I started to process what happened. The first few people I called when I got back in the room were probably just as shocked as I was that she was here! The next few days I did a lot of reflecting, trying to process what had actually happened and deal with the guilt inside me. The truth is, Ayla is lucky to be here and be healthy! This hit me several times, including 2 days after her birth when I was alone with Ayla. Daniel had gone back to the house to set up furniture and unpack boxes. Ayla was lying on my chest sleeping and holding my thumb tightly. I was apologizing to her for not protecting her and promising that it would never happen again. She kept squeezing my thumb as if to say, its ok. For about 30 minutes she help my thumb tightly and even if I tried to pull it away, she wouldn't let me. The other time the reality of the situation hit me hard was early one morning as I was having a conversation with Meg Unger about her son (who was just diagnosed as cancer free) and I typed the words "I get it, my daughter almost died" that the enormity of the situation really hit me. Even as I type this 2 weeks later, I have tears streaming down my face, because I didn't do my job as a mother. It is my job to protect her, and I wrote off things to being so busy with move and not feeling well.
I have replayed the events of that week and day on my head so many times and looking back on it now, I would have done so many things differently. I should have called the hospital on Thursday when my feet and hands were itchy to the point that I was leaving bruises and scratched and the clinic didn't know why. We should have gone in Sunday morning after breakfast when I wasn't feeling well and she wasn't moving much. Instead, being stubborn, I told Daniel "it's not a big deal, we can go after the soccer." I didn't want to be one of those moms who calls the hospital for every little thing. Now I know, you have to. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. As my Dr told me "things change in OB so quickly."
I am so fortunate that everything worked out, and I am thankful that there were people/events along the way that saved my daughter. As much as I wanted to deliver at Woman's, being at Surrey was amazing. I had to be there because of the NICU. Luckily, we never had to use it! Surrey also has the staff on site to handle emergencies like ours, again so thankful!
The staff at SMH were incredible, especially nurse Aly who literally saved her life. Aly was monitoring her and she was the nurse who called the code that started the chain of events. Aly was calm, efficient and knew exactly was needed to be done. Unfortunately, Aly wasn't back before we were discharged, so I never got to thank her in person. I asked the other nurses to pass on my thanks to her. When we get the birth announcements, I will take one to her with a bag of Lifesavers (thanks Meg for the idea), as that is what she is.
|Proud Dad making phone calls|