Our Judah Story-Part 5-Labor

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My doctor greeted us as soon as we got to the hospital to brief us on what was going to take place. They would insert the medicine into my cervix every 6 hours (I think that’s right). The medicine takes 3 to 4 doses before it starts to really work, so we shouldn’t expect anything to happen until the next day, at the very least-sometimes it even takes days. I just remember thinking that I could not stay in that hospital room waiting to deliver this sweet little baby that I wanted so badly, but didn’t get to keep.

After our talk with the doctor, there was a buzz of activity. Blood had to be drawn, IVs inserted, X-rays, blood pressure, and temperature all taken. I sat there on the bed, while everybody kept hovering around me, asking me this, inserting a needle for that. I don’t actually know how many people were in and out of that room, but it felt like hundreds. I was sitting there, kind of in shock, praying my heart out to keep my head on my shoulders and one of the nurses mentioned that I seemed to be doing exceptionally well for somebody going through what I was going through. I shrugged and said, “I’m trying.” She looked at me with compassion in her eyes and tenderness in her voice, “Oh honey, you don’t have to try and do anything.” I think it was the first time in my whole experience that somebody actually gave me permission to not be strong. I know nobody expected me to handle everything-I had placed those expectations on myself, but there was something so freeing in her words. I so needed to physically hear those specific words. I think about this instance often, even to this day, even when it’s something not at all related to Judah. Even now, those words still speak to me, breath life into me. Amongst the muddle of everything else, this was a moment of clarity. A truly Divine moment.

We had some time to invite people into our room. We were really selective about who we wanted to be there. We called our pastor to come out, along with one other close friend. I had worked with our pastor’s wife, Sandy, for years at Starbucks. Despite the 20 some odd years difference between us, she was one of my best friends. When we had worked together, I saw her 5-6 days out of the week. Sandy had lost babies before, and I told Blake to ask her to come too. I needed her to be there with me. When they arrived she sat down on the bed next to me. We didn’t talk much, but she grabbed my hand and told me she knew the pain I was feeling. And it hurt. She prayed with me and cried as she sat beside me on that cold mattress. That was the greatest comfort I felt our whole time at the hospital. Knowing that another momma saw me, knew my pain, and felt it with me. She did the best thing she could have done.

When things finally started to die down, they had to insert my IV. My body was so shriveled up and dehydrated, and I was shaking so badly, that they had the hardest time hitting a vein. I don’t remember how many times they stuck me, or how many nurses they called in to try and get the job done. All I remember was how painful it was and how inconceivably cold I felt. Finally, after several failed attempts, they called in the anesthesiologist, who numbed my arm, and then used an ultrasound machine to find a vein. I was so relieved. After my IV was successfully inserted they had to give me magnesium to keep me from seizing. I was on it the entire time we were in the hospital, and it was miserable.

The night was getting later and I was exhausted, so after my second dose of medicine was inserted, we decided it was time to try and rest. I had asked for some medicine to help me sleep, because, despite my exhaustion, I was restless. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but I started to feel my body tighten. I was having contractions. My nurse had just told me that even though it was my second dose, I wouldn’t start to have contractions yet. I called her in to let her know. “Yeah, that can be normal. Nothing is going to happen tonight, though, so try to get some rest. If you keep having more, let me know.” She left the room, and the contractions started to get stronger. I told Blake there was no way I could sleep, I was far too uncomfortable. A few minutes later, I called her back in. “That can be normal,” she said, “call me back in if you start to feel something like you’re wearing a tampon.” A few minutes later, I got that tampon feeling. I called my nurse back in and told her what I was feeling, “It’s probably nothing, you won’t be going into labor tonight. Let me know if it doesn’t go away.” A few minutes later, I felt a slight trickle down my leg. I called my nurse in yet again, “I think my water might be breaking.” “I don’t think so, it’s too soon, but I’ll check.” Sure enough, she checked and thought she maybe saw the sack. Since it was so unusual, she called in yet another nurse to check, just to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. The other nurse, also baffled, said she was pretty sure it was the sack, but they should call my doctor and have him check.

Probably about 30 minutes later, my doctor arrived and confirmed what the nurses suspected. My water hadn’t broken, but it had torn and was leaking. He explained that I wouldn’t need an epidural for the delivery, but they had to get my placenta out, and that part could be excruciating, I might want one for that. It wasn’t a hard decision for me. I wanted that epidural. I had had one when I was in labor with Lane, and I remembered it didn’t hurt nearly as badly as I had expected it to. However, when you don’t have serious labor pains to distract you, an epidural is outrageously painful. I remember somebody saying to me, “Good for you for getting the epidural. Your heart is hurting enough, you don’t need your body to feel anymore pain.” For some reason, I really appreciated that comment.

Before long, they asked if I wanted them to break my water the rest of the way. I said yes. I wanted this terrible experience to be over as soon as possible. My doctor broke my water and before we knew it, the time had come to push. I pushed twice, and delivered my sweet, lifeless, tiny baby. He was 7oz. I was so out of it, I remember only a few things: I threw up, I heard fluid gushing and spilling, and my doctor told me he was so glad I had gotten that epidural. He was having a really difficult time getting the placenta out, and the pain from that would have been unbearable. At some point, they got the placenta out and everything cleaned up, then everybody left the room. Blake had gone out to get our parents from the waiting room. I was laying in bed, holding our baby, still and breathless in my arms. I remember being unable to keep my eyes open because my body was so shot, and I felt guilty about it. When everybody was back in the room, I offered for somebody else to hold him. I don’t know who took him. But as I lay there, with everyone crying and laying their hands on me and speaking love to me, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I’m sure it was the medication, or the trauma I had experienced, but everything felt so unreal, so dream-like. It was probably 3:00 in the morning before I finally fell asleep. I don’t remember. All I remember is wishing it was a different time and I was in a different place.

Our Judah Story-Part 4

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Honestly, so much of everything turned into a blur at this point. I felt as though I got sicker by the moment. I remember lying in bed every night, wondering if I was even going to wake up the next morning. Or, if I did wake up, would it be in a hospital bed? Would I wake up paralyzed? Was I going to stroke or seize as I slept? It was completely and utterly terrifying. I really think what kept me going was the thought that Lane needed her mommy. I couldn’t die, because my 10 month old daughter couldn’t grow up without her mom.

At my MFM appointment, they told me that I also had preeclampsia. But, the thing was, in order to “technically” have preeclampsia, you have to be 20 weeks along, which I was not. They said the earliest case of preeclampsia they had ever seen was 18 weeks. I still wasn’t that far along. But sure enough, I had preeclampsia. I cannot even tell you how many times I heard “This is so rare, we’ve never seen this before, this is a case for the books, etc…” I kept thinking about that medical show that used to be on T.V. where weird things happen to people and they get really sick and then it’s usually some really weird form of some rare something or other. I don’t even remember what it was called. But I felt like I would be a perfect candidate for that show.

I don’t know how much time had passed, not much, but we went in to get a second opinion. As it turns out, my brother and his wife go to church with an MFM. My sister-in-law has known him her entire life. He’s a good family friend. They gave us his contact info and gave him a heads up as to what was going on. We got in touch with him, and really just wanted to ask him a few questions. We didn’t think going in to see him was a possibility. But God is good, and Dr. Harry talked to my husband and told him he would open up his office early so that we could get an appointment in with him-it was even covered by insurance. Better yet, he and my doctor had done their residencies together. They knew and respected each other-they were simply in different networks. He was truly a Godsend.

The morning came to see Dr. Harry. We went into his office and met the ultrasound tech. She got everything started and told us our baby was a little girl (more on that later). I was SHOCKED as I had spent my entire pregnancy knowing my baby was a boy. When the doctor came in, we did a crazy in-depth ultrasound. I didn’t even know it was possible to go so in-depth. We looked at baby’s heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, etc. His heart was too small, I think, he had fluid on his brain, he was missing some organs. I don’t even remember everything that my sweet baby had wrong with him-there was so much. And then Dr. Harry turned to me, looked me straight in the eye, and said something along the lines of, “I don’t know what you usually look like. But I can tell you right now, you don’t look good at all. You have to deliver this baby. You cannot stay pregnant any longer. I know we serve the same God. And all life is sacred, and all life is precious. But Lindsay, this baby has a 0% chance of survival. This baby is not going to live. And if you don’t deliver-and soon-I mean you need to start the process today, as soon as possible-you WILL end up in the hospital. And it won’t be because of something small like high blood pressure. You WILL end up in the intensive care unit because of kidney failure, or a heart attack, or stroke, or a lung collapsing, or something MAJOR like that and it will be a long, tedious recovery-if you even recover at all. Doctors make up reasons for women to deliver their babies early all the time, but this is truly one of those rare cases where your pregnancy will kill you-and baby-if you don’t deliver in time.” And then he grabbed our hands, bowed his head, and prayed with us.

Before he let us leave, he made us go back to another room so that they could take my blood pressure and monitor me a little bit. He told us over and over again that we needed to call my doctor THAT DAY so that I could be admitted. I was ready to go, I knew how badly I felt, and I knew the whole time that I was never going to have that baby. But for Blake, he was still in shock-entirely and completely overwhelmed. He wasn’t quite sure he was ready for me to deliver. Everything was happening so quickly. We decided we could probably wait just a little bit longer. Dr. Harry must have seen our hesitancy, because he went ahead and called my doctor on his own. He told him how sick I looked and that I needed to come in as soon as possible to have an emergency delivery.

A couple of hours later, we received the call from my doctor that it was time. We needed to come in so that, at the very least, they could monitor me. He told us we could take a little bit of time, but no more than a couple of hours-the sooner I was there, the better. I don’t remember what we did in that time or even how much time we took. I only remember that driving to the hospital felt like we were driving to Death Row.