Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

My anniversary. The one I share with North Austin Medical Center, not my wonderful husband. The anniversary of the day that I went to work, like any other day....and never came home again.

October 7, 2009 I went to work, taught my first graders, feeling fine...except for the leaking. It didn't hurt, it wasn't much, but I (unwillingly) made a dr. appointment anyway. I went in, talked to the dr. and I saw the panic in his face when he noticed that I had no amniotic fluid. My dr. is awesome--he's calm, cool, and tells it like it is. He's also a smart ass...and I love that. I'd never seen him worry, never seen him show fear/shock, until that moment. Then I was terrified. The terror didn't stop there. He told me he wanted me to check in upstairs. To the hospital. He was thinking that I would go through weekend and get some I.V. fluids and head home. "So I'll miss the game Saturday?" I asked. "Yes, " he smirked. I'll also never forget something else he said to me, "You have a better chance of losing this baby than keeping it." I was glad he told me that...someone needed to prepare me for the reality of the situation. No sugar coating, please.

The panic was worsening. I was bawling. I called Russ who left work and headed to the hospital. I called my Mom who was there in 10 minutes with me. I called my "save the day" mother in law who picked up Riley from school. I called my team who had to pull together sub plans for me.
I was in shock as my favorite nurse, Judy, stayed late to check me into the hospital and walk me to Labor and Delivery. I really didn't want to be there because I didn't want to deliver my baby at 22 weeks. My day there was a blur. Lots of questions, constant fetal monitoring, I.V. fluids and antibiotics (to prevent infection for baby and myself), and lots of prayer.

That night I met a new doctor. My neo-nataologist who didn't sugar coat a thing when she gave me the blow that I would be staying in the hospital until I delivered my baby. Until January 30th? That sent me reeling. The safest place for me was the hospital, they assured me. Constant monitoring, and if anything happened, I was right there. I was there to protect me and the baby from the pending infection.

Some medical background: My water broke at 21 weeks. Normally women go into labor within 48 hours of their water breaking. Having such little amniotic fluid, my baby was in great danger of not having fully developed lungs, amongst many other things if he was born 18 weeks early. There was a tear in my aminiotic sac that leaked amniotic fluid. Sometimes the tear can repair itself, but that is not common. I prayed mine would heal and the sack would fill back up. That never happened. I did get more fluid (it's baby urine, did you know that?), but it was always low. Being that their was a tear, they felt the safest route for me was to stay in the hospital where Baby and I were surrounded by medical staff who could give immediate care to both of us. The risk of infection was high.

I think I was basically in shock the first 48 hours. Everything that I needed to do raced through my mind. Everything that needed to be taken care husband, my son, dinner, laundry, my job, my lesson plans, my students, their parents. This list goes on forever. I had to look at my life...and remove myself from the picture. That was an adjustment.

As I adjusted, I got to know my nurses very well. They became my girlfriends. My doctor came to visit me every morning. My cleaning lady visited me every day too. The cafeteria friends who delivered food. Every day someone came to see me, thank goodness. My mother came almost every day. Some days I would just tell her not to come, though I knew she wanted to. She was also caring for Nana at the same time and between the two of us, she was exhausted. She was also taking Riley duty at my house some days.

Russ, Mom, and my mother in law shared Mommy duty. This was tough on all of us. We all know grandmothers don't follow Mommy rules and this was very tough for Riley to understand. It was hard on all of us, but I am so thankful that we had them to help. Russ spent many nights with me. I was so thankful to have him there. I wished he could be there every night, but Riley needed his Daddy more. I had to let him have his Daddy.

During the day I didn't read like I thought I would...I think I couldn't focus on a book long enough to get through it. I only read two the entire time I was in the hospital. Magazines, yes--I could be distracted and read them. I watched Ellen every morning and Jimmy Fallon at night. In between, HGTV and Food Network were background noise.

I obsessed about Baby's development by googling "23 weeks and 2 days", "24 weeks and 1 day" every day. Wondering where baby was in the scheme of developing. I read (what seemed like) millions of stories about pre-term deliveries. Some of them hopeless, some of them hopeful. I looked for photos...some I wanted to see, to prepare myself, but some I didn't. I never knew what I would get into and that frightened me.

I was overwhelmed with visitors. Every day either my mother or my husband were there. Almost every other day, an additional friend or family member came. That was overwhelming. My friends, family, and co-workers really showed up to support me through this. Visits, calls, emails, books, cookies, meals, flowers, my awesome stylist was sent (by my team) to give me a blowout in the hospital, pedicures a la Sonia, gifts for me (and my entire family), fall decorations, Christmas trees, movies, and even a surprise Bunco! I've never felt more loved. Never felt more completely overwhelmed with the generosity of family, friends...and even some strangers.

All in all, this experienced changed me. For the better, I hope. I'm no longer ignorant to pre-term complications, pregnancies, and births. We made new forever friends in that hospital, in our time of fear we had each other to talk to. The Bett's and the Desormeaux's are friends I will have forever. Our boys will tell stories and play together one day. They each have their similar but very different story to tell. We are all so lucky to have each other...and our boys. The hospital staff, I can't say enough about my nurse's (well, most of them), doctors, the security guard, the housekeeper. They kept me going. I looked forward to their visits every day, every week. In a way, I miss that.

This post could ramble for eternity...and it just might, but important thing is that we made it. Russ through his journey, me through mine, Riley through his, and Kace of course. The thing that I always knew while I was in the hospital was that God would protect me. He had a plan. Yes, it differed from mine at the time. Every night I went to bed, I felt safe. Safe and comforted. I knew we would be okay.

Today...October 7, 2010, we are better than okay.


Boyz3Mommy said...

I'm glad it's a "happy" anniversary and not one that you look back on and hurt every time. Even though it was one of the hardest times to ever witness you going through, in a way...I miss our little slumber parties at the hospital. Only because I got to spend alone time with you and haven't been able to do that since we were very young adults. I love you. I love that you are one of the strongest people I know. You are amazing and so is your family.

rachael... said...

I'm so glad you wrote all this down...even though it wasn't the happiest time, it's a part of your family's story now. And it's a story with a very happy ending!

P.S. You forgot to mention Bunco at the hospital! ;)