Thursday, June 21, 2012

My pregnancy was a surprise. While my husband and I knew we wanted children our original plan was to wait a few more years. When my birth control pill failed we were shocked but still excited that we were going to be parents.  My first and second trimester went great.  No complications whatsoever. At the beginning of my third trimester I started noticing minor swelling in my feet and legs. It was the weekend when I noticed so I contacted the on call nurse. She told me not to worry that swelling was normal. So I put it out of my mind.

Everything went downhill at my 31 (almost 32 week) appointment. I felt fine and I was excited because it was a Friday and I got to leave work early to go to my appointment. The following day my husband and I would be heading out on our “babymoon” We would be traveling up north over five hours away. I sat down in the doctor’s office and my doctors nurse asked me how things were going. When I told her I felt great other than some swelling.  She had a look of concern on her face and said, “swelling already? At 32 weeks?”  She checked my blood pressure and said, “have you ever had high blood pressure before?” I said, “never” She rushed out of the room because she wanted to check the protein in my urine. She came back in. My urine was fine. My blood pressure was checked three more times and only dropped when I laid down.
My doctor came in and explained that high blood pressure can happen in pregnancy sometimes. He didn’t seem too concerned but he wanted to do an ultrasound to check fluid levels and Isaac’s growth. The ultra sound showed normal fluid levels and he was measuring on the small side but not to the point of worry. I of course was freaking out. Isaac had always measured larger. In fact he was always measuring a few days ahead and now he was measuring a few days behind. My doctor reassured me that everything looked fine and sent me in for blood work. When the blood work came back everything looked great so I was given the ok to go on vacation as long as I took it easy (which was the plan anyway). We had to be back in a week for another check up. My doctor mentioned that at 35 weeks we’d do another growth check and if the baby hadn’t grown we might have to him out.

Once I was back from vacation I continued to be monitored. They had me coming in twice a week. My blood pressure sneaked back up when I went back to work so I was put on a low dose of medication. We’d also do NST’s (non stress tests) and ultrasounds to check fluids. They had me do a 24 hour urine collection. The day I was doing this I started to have blurry vision. I called right away and they told me to not to back to work until I had my results. The results confirmed I had pre-eclampisa. I was officially put on bedrest.

At week 34 my doctor was on vacation. It was the longest week of my life. I had decreased movement which scared me. I kept calling the nurses and they kept telling me things were fine. Baby was also passing the NST’s. Fluids looked good.  I couldn’t wait until my doctor was back.

My mom went with me to my 35 week appointment and my husband made the 1.5 hour drive to work. I was the first appointment of the day.  While the doctor had mentioned the possibility of an early delivery I never thought I’d be admitted the same day I had my appointment. So I told my husband to go to work. We did an NST, which Isaac failed. They tried everything to wake him up with no luck. The decided that they’d do the growth scan and then try the NST again. Before the growth scan started my doctor said he would like to see Isaac measuring at least 5 pounds. Our biggest fear came true. There had not been any growth since the last scan. Isaac was measuring at 3 pounds 12 ounces. He had something called IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). There would be no need to do an NST and I burst into tears when I was told that he was going to be born that day. My mom called my husband and a few other family members and I was admitted the hospital.

The original plan was to have me take a drug to prepare my body for labor, then induce me the follow day. My son had other plans though and as soon as I was hooked up they noticed he was in distress.  I had a c-section a few hours later. He was born weighing 3 pounds 4.5 ounces. He was 17.75 inches long.  He needed a little oxygen at first and it was determined that he needed a NICU. Unfortunately, the hospital we were at didn’t have one so he was airlifted to the nearest one (1.5 hrs away). I was able to hold him and see him for about 10-15 minutes. I was after all still recovering from major surgery.
I took his leaving surprisingly well. It’s something that I look back on and can’t believe how strong I was on that day.  I still had to be closely monitored. My blood pressure was through the roof. I had to be put on magnesium. After about 24 hours I was finally off the mag and moved into new room. That’s when the emotions of the whole experience hit me. For some reason the hospital staff found it logical to put me, a mother separated from her newborn, in the same hallway with other mothers who just had their babies. All night long I heard babies crying. It was hard.

I finally made it to the NICU three days later. Isaac had been breathing on his own pretty much since he got there. He was seen as a feeder/grower.  His doctors made jokes several times that he was the most boring baby in the NICU because all he needed to do was learn to eat and grow. I really wanted to breastfed Isaac.  I had been pumping every two hours (and every 3-4 at night) since his birth. It was a week after Isaac was born that we decided to try breastfeeding. It went okay. We continued to work at it though and whenever he’d have a great day we’d add another nursing session. We’d have our good days and tough days with it. It is extremely challenging to teach a preemie how to breastfeed because they get really tired really quick. Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy. While it was both mentally and physically exhausting I refused to give up. Once he was nursing five times a day my husband and I “roomed in” and Isaac was discharged the following day. We spent 21 days in the NICU. He left weighing 4 pounds.

Isaac is now 3.5 months old (the photo is from when he turned 3 months old)  and he weighs 10 pounds 12 ounces.  He smiles all the time and loves “talking” to us. I still struggle emotionally sometimes with the whole experience of how he was born and the milestones he has yet to reach that others the same age or younger have met. I have a hard time when I think about other milestones like sitting up, crawling or walking and how he will likely be behind in these things too.  I think the story of his birth will be something I carry with me for the rest of my life. I feel that the emotions will always be raw.  In the end I have a healthy little boy and I love him to pieces and I wouldn’t change my experience for anything. It has made me a stronger mother, woman and wife.  


Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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