The Final Weeks & Birth Story
~ February 19 - March 10 and beyond . . .
Week 38 . . .
I started this week feeling very run down, still extremely tired from the previous hectic workweek, the shower, and as always, a far too short weekend. Monday morning, as my alarm went off, I simply did not feel like I could face going in to work, I was feeling so sluggish. Instead of doing the right thing and toughing it out, I gave in to the little voice in my head that told me to stay in bed with Aaron. "You're 38 weeks pregnant, you deserve a day off . . ." A near comatose sleeping Aaron gave me his blessing to ditch work, and with that I called into the office and let them know that I was feeling under the weather, needed to stay in bed, and that I'd be in tomorrow. Irresponsible, maybe, but boy, did it feel nice. Turns out, my instincts are impeccable, and the day off was more necessary than I ever could have imagined.
We spent the morning sleeping, then laid around the house being lazy until we had to leave for our appointment that afternoon at the OB's office. Dr. Abbott was out that afternoon, so we were scheduled for a routine check-up with his associate, Dr. Hess. I started the appointment with my usual weight check and urine sample, and then we met with the nurse to take my blood pressure and check the baby's heart rate. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary as we were sitting waiting for the doctor to come in and talk with us, until the nurse bustled back through the door saying she needed to do another check on my blood pressure. We asked her what was going on, and she said that my urine had come back with protein in it, which can be one of the warning signs of pre-eclampsia. She checked my blood pressure again, this time double-checking it back against my blood pressure history. Turns out that it was up quite a bit from the week before. We waited together, wondering what was going on, until Dr. Hess came in. He did my physical check, and let us know that I hadn't made much progress at all in that department; I was only 1 cm dilated, and no more effaced. He asked if I had had any contractions, any other signs of imminent labour, which I had not. I could see him mentally checking off a list of things in his mind as he was going through all these questions. He noticed my insanely swollen ankles, and asked about that, was this a normal amount of swelling, etc? I had certainly been ridiculously swollen for a few weeks now, and told him about that. He checked my chart, and then made the decision that he wanted to have us do further lab work to check for pre-eclampsia. Between the high blood pressure, the swelling, and the protein in my urine, he was concerned that if we didn't get everything checked out now, it could become a serious problem later. He talked about the labs he wanted me to have done down at the hospital, and mentioned our possible outcome: inducing as early as Thursday or Friday of this week. I sat listening to him, stunned at the idea that something could possibly be wrong with me. Besides feeling tired, I hadn't had any problems or felt that anything was amiss. The appointment ended with Dr. Hess sending us to the hospital to get set up for my lab work ASAP, and with another appointment for me to come back in on Wednesday to talk about the results.
Aaron and I drove over to the hospital to get further instructions. One of the tests the doctor had called for was a 24-hour urine analysis test, which involved me collecting all my urine for a full 24-hour period. Lovely! It was like doing an office urine sample, only ten times worse! They gave me collection container for my bathroom, and a big jug in which to store it all, which I was told to keep refrigerated at all times. The next day, after a full 24-hour's worth of samples, I was to return to the hospital to have blood drawn. We left the hospital, Aaron with a very straight face upon threat of death if he made even one crack about my pee jug. I thought about the logistics of it all. Obviously, there was no way I could go in to work the next day, either, as I'm sure there are serious health violations involved with carrying around a container of urine (so gross) at all times! I called the office again, caught my coworker just as they were shutting down, and let them know what was going on. I definitely would not be in Tuesday, but, providing that I didn't die of embarrassment or anything else, I would be in Wednesday morning, though would need to leave at noon for my next scheduled OB appointment. Everyone was very nice about it, very understanding, and I was even looking forward to my little break from work. Too bad the cost of it all had to be giving blood and peeing in a cup!
I made it through the 24-hour collection process with relatively little inconvenience, and even survived another blood withdrawal without too much pain. Though the thought of having this baby sooner than later was a very nice one, it still never seemed real to me that I might actually be sick, and that this might actually be a problem situation. Aaron and I enjoyed spending a little extra time with each other, talking about the baby, the hospital stay, etc. Wednesday came, and I dragged myself out of bed and into work. Everyone was surprised to see me actually come in, though I had told them I'd be there. They were interested to know what was going on, when could we expect to have the baby, etc. I let them know that my plan as of then was to go to my appointment that afternoon and see what the doctor had found out. If we were going to induce, obviously I wouldn't be back for a while, though the most likely outcome I could foresee was that everything would be fine, and I would continue working for at least the whole of next week, albeit shorter days due to my blood pressure. Because no one was sure what was going to happen with my schedule just yet, they went ahead gave me a card, balloon, and gift card to Target early, which was very, very nice. I tied up all my loose ends at work, and then left for my appointment, promising to let them know as soon as I found out anything.
Aaron and I drove back over to the OB's office, and were taken back to have my blood pressure checked. It was still unusually high. We had expected to talk with Dr. Hess again about the results of my tests, but as my luck would have it, he had been called out that afternoon, and there was nothing Dr. Abbott could tell us because he hadn't seen the results come in yet. Aaargh! This was the first time that I felt concerned, because Dr. Hess had talked about possibly inducing as soon as that very next day depending on the results, and now we were completely in the dark. Dr. Abbott was leery about telling us anything without first having conferenced with Dr. Hess about what we had discussed at the appointment on Monday, so we left with an assurance that they would call the hospital immediately to make sure my results were sent over so that Dr. Hess could call us the first chance he got the next morning. We left the office a little disgruntled, and I called into work to let them know that the results hadn't come in yet, so I needed to wait at home the next morning for the call to come. Another day off, and still no baby. Nice as it was to have some time to relax, I still felt a little stressed about completely falling through at work all week.
We drove over to Target to pick up the last few things we needed, a necessary distraction to help ease the tension a little bit. Perfect time to use our gift cards, anyway! We bought the baby his very first cd player, then picked up a nursing camisole for myself (like a nursing bra, but in tank top form), and we also splurged on the movie Walk The Line. Charlie loooves Johnny Cash (really, he does!), so we thought it would be fun to save the movie for our last night in the hospital, and all watch it together. That was a nice thought, though we still had no idea just when exactly our hospital stay was going to be . . .
I woke up early the next morning, knowing that the phone could ring at any time after 8:00, so I unplugged the phone in the bedroom to let Aaron sleep, and went out to doze on the couch in the living room, waiting for the call. Around 9:00 it rang, waking me up, and causing me to A.) panic, B.) fall off the couch, and C.) knock the phone on the floor under the coffee table and out of reach to answer it. When I finally had relocated the damn thing, it turned out to be just Chelsea sending me a text message asking if I wanted to go to dinner later that night. Aargh! I re-situated myself on the couch, and proceeded to wait/doze. Finally, just a little before 11:00, the phone rang again and it was Dr. Hess. The results had come in, and showed that I was indeed mildly pre-eclamptic. Though it wasn't a huge danger, he had gone ahead and scheduled us for an induction that following Monday morning. He gave me some brief instructions, said that the hospital would call us very early Monday morning to let us know the schedule for that day and when to come in, and said that Dr. Abbott would meet us there on Monday. Because of my Group Strep, they were comfortable having me come in that morning as early as possible to get started on the antibiotics, and once the first dose had been in my system for about four hours, we would begin the induction and let things go as they would from there. He sounded very comfortable with the scheduling, and set us up with one last routine blood pressure check/stress test for Friday afternoon. I felt no reason at all to worry, and was looking forward to having a baby on March 6th.
I woke Aaron up, who tried initially to ignore me and continue sleeping, until I dangled in front of him the elusive date that his son would be born. He woke up then, and I explained everything. We were satisfied that I certainly was not in any real imminent danger to my health, and that the baby was still healthy, and were very happy about the prospect of getting all this over with in just four short days. I then called my parents, let them know the news, called work and told them I would indeed not be back this week at all (or for several more weeks to come!), and then called up friends to let them know. Initially, it was so exciting that I really just failed to notice that I was not feeling so hot myself at all. As the day went on, I felt worse and worse, and finally was forced to face the truth: I had a cold! Appalling time to catch a cold, right when I really needed to be at 100%! I took some doctor approved cold medicine, took a nap, and then went about a relaxed evening by having dinner with Chelsea, and coming home to watch TV and rest.
After a nearly sleepless, horrible night, Friday morning I was in the full throes of a really awful cold. My throat was raging, just killing me like I had not experienced in years, and I was losing my voice. The congestion at that point wasn't so bad, and I didn't have a fever, so I went out for some throat spray to try and relieve some of the pain. We went in for our appointment that afternoon, and had my blood pressure checked again. It was down a little bit, and the 20-minute heart rate stress test on the baby came back fine. Dr. Hess came in and met with us briefly, going over everything we needed to know about the induction process. I asked him about my awful cold, and he told me just to rest, that it was going around, and that I would be fine for Monday. We went back home, and I continued to feel worse and worse and worse.
Saturday morning came, and I had not slept again the night before. I was miserable, even more congested and achy than the day before, and soooo tired. I tried to crawl back into bed with Aaron and nap late that morning and early afternoon, but could not fall asleep for the pain I was in. Completely exhausted, I started to get really anxious about facing labour and birth when I was feeling this bad, and started to panic. I cried and cried, and Aaron, try as he might, could not console me. I hadn't really eaten anything since dinner with Chelsea a few days before, and I was hungry, but couldn't swallow anything. On top of it all, I was so tired that nothing he said or did made sense to my irrational brain. My mom had called at one point, and he talked with her, asking what might help me to feel better. So then she came over to the house too with some mashed potatoes and orange juice, and sat with Aaron, helping me to get comfortable and eat easy thing to get something in my stomach. They tried feeding me, hydrating me, giving me lozenges and hot tea, etc., and then left me alone to fall asleep to the boring Saturday afternoon TV. I could feel my whole body on the verge of completely passing out, but still, sleep did not come. I could hear Aaron creeping around the house quietly for a good few hours, thinking I was sleeping, trying to get a few things cleaned for me. When he peeked his head in to check on me, to his chagrin, I was still awake. We talked about what I wanted to do, and decided that, because I had felt a little better from eating, what I might need was to get up out of bed, and eat more. He offered to make my favourite, the lemon pepper chicken he makes just for me, and that did sound awfully delicious. So Aaron went off to the store to buy the supplies we needed, and I got on my feet, and took a nice, hot shower. The plan had been for me to sit with him in the kitchen, keeping him company while he cooked, but by the time he had returned from the store, I was sitting on the couch, completely drained from simply taking a shower. So he cooked for me alone while I sat there, still not able to fall asleep, just waiting for him to come back in and attend me. I was able to eat a little, and made it through a movie with him, but then it was back to bed with me for what turned out to be yet another sleepless night.
I tossed and turned in bed, still unable to sleep while my throat became more and more raw, to the point that I could barely even swallow a sip of water. When Aaron came to bed, I let him know that I was going to wake him up early and have him call into the doctor's office to see what they wanted to do about my cold from hell. He agreed, fell asleep, and I lay there still, miserable. I tried moving out to the couch, and sleeping propped up, but that was pointless as well. By 7:00 in the morning, I was in such agony that I couldn't stand it anymore, and gave up trying to sleep. Aware that it was still really early, I decided to wait another hour before calling into the office, so that it was at least in the range of normal business hours. I tried taking a hot bath, hoping the steam would clear my head a bit. No luck. Finally, desperate and completely unable to speak, I woke Aaron up, and had him call the doctor for me (poor guy, the abuse he takes).
Aaron got through to the answering service, which sent on the message to the doctor on call. Dr. Hess called back within a few minutes, and talked to a miserable, tired Aaron while I sat even more miserably by, waiting to find out what we were to do. The doctor told Aaron to take me in to the hospital, to the birth and labour unit, and said that he would call ahead to let them know we were coming. He wanted us to get a Strep throat test done, as well as check my blood pressure, and do another stress test on the baby. So we got dressed, and drove over to the hospital, where the nurses had a room ready for me. They had me put on a gown, get up on the bed, and strapped me down to a big monitor. They checked my throat culture, checked my urine, checked my blood pressure, and checked the baby's heart. Miraculously, everything came back fine. Who knew that finding out you did not have Strep throat was worse news than finding out you did have it? Not having Strep meant that there was nothing they could do for me, nothing they could give me, nothing at all to help me sleep and rest and feel better. They suggested Nyquil, hot baths, lots of water, lozenges, even my prescription muscle relaxants. I'd tried them all, to no avail. I knew there was something more wrong with me than just a normal cold, but there was nothing to be done. Then I got more bad news. Because I was feeling so awful, and because my blood pressure had somewhat stabilized, they decided to move my induction date back to Thursday, the 9th. As much as I had known that there was no way I could go through labour as sick as I was then, it was still a huge let down. I was so disappointed and frustrated by that point that I just lay in the bed and cried. Aaron, as patient and saintly as ever, helped get me up and dressed, and took me home without saying a word about the disappointment he himself must have been feeling. Once home, Aaron tucked me back into bed, and tried to get me comfortable. He brought me some water, and helped me drink it. Exhausted both emotionally and physically, I finally started to doze. Through my haze, I heard Aaron talking to my parents on the phone, explaining what had happened. I felt awful knowing that there was all that much more disappointment, having to tell them that the baby still wasn't going to be here for several more days. Shortly afterwards, my dad arrived at our house, bringing food for Aaron to eat, and a pot of hot Mexican chocolate for me to try and drink. As horrible as I felt, there's nothing quite so nice as a comfort drink from my childhood. The heat soothed my throat, and the tryptophan from the hot milk worked its magic, and soon thereafter I was able to get some sleep for the first time in over three days.