Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Every Birth is Beautiful: Even the Really Hard Ones

(Harrison's birth story) 

It has been a minute since I have posted anything. Really I feel like it has been a while since I have done much of anything. I have been wanting to share Harrison’s birth story and all the craziness surrounding that week, but good intentions only go so far when you are recovering from a cesarean and adjusting to having a toddler and a newborn. I will preface this story by saying we are doing well now. There have been hiccups here and there, but I am blessed with a super helpful husband who has been right there in the thick of things with me for feedings, cleaning, diaper changes, and listening to me whine more than he would probably like. Today was our first day with Daddy back at work, and while I know every day won't be a "good" day, I am so thankful for a smooth transition so far.

On to the story...

Two and a half years ago my c-section with Henry went so smoothly I had decided early in my pregnancy with Harrison that I would have a repeat cesarean this time around. A lot of people would disagree with that decision, but I knew what to expect and my family could be here ahead of time to help with Henry. I had it all planned out. They would arrive a couple of days before I was scheduled to go in for surgery, and I had thought of it all. I would have my sister paint my toenails, I would curl my hair the night before, and I would get up in time to put on some makeup so I felt like my best possible self after surgery. My family would be there to stay with Henry when we had to leave early that morning. They could take him for donuts (his favorite) and then bring him to the hospital in his ‘I’m the big bro’ shirt to meet his baby brother. I had pictures I planned to take in the hospital, and my 3-4 day stay would give me ample time to get them edited.

Then life happened. Other than us having a baby, literally NOTHING went as planned.

It all started a month earlier, after Henry and I made a trip to Arkansas. I came back with my left foot swollen for no apparent reason and the worst cough I have ever had in my life. That horrible cough kept me up at night for weeks and led to me injuring a rib in the middle of the night. It sounds ridiculous, but after two cesareans I am certain that whatever I did to my rib was worse than recovering from either one of those surgeries. I went to my family doctor for the cough and my foot, my OB was aware of it all, and no one was concerned. I was given cough medicine that didn’t work and left to heal on my own…except I didn’t. Just after I started feeling some relief in my rib, Henry got sick. Of course he was wiping snot on my shirt and coughing in my mouth, so I got sick again. Though I didn’t cough nearly as much or as hard this time around, it only took one time to hurt my rib again. I was so frustrated with not being able to sleep because of coughing and rib pain, and I was so tired of waking up every morning with a swollen foot and no one seeming to be concerned. A lot of tears were shed, and I was totally over it.

Fast forward to Monday, April 22, and I was in so much pain my husband stayed home from work to help me out. I was trying to baby my rib and rest as much as possible, but early in the evening I started having pain so bad I couldn’t get a breath. I called my MIL to come over, and shortly after she arrived Nicholas and I headed to the ER. I felt silly going to the emergency room, but I knew I couldn't tolerate the pain all night, much less another week and a half until my scheduled delivery. I was certain they would tell me I had just pulled a muscle (like everyone else kept telling me) and send me home. Boy, was I wrong...

I was so tired of feeling awful and no one giving me answers or acting like I was experiencing anything out of the ordinary. I was just plain cranky about it, so when the nurse practitioner asked if there was anything else going on my response was a sort of snarky, “Well, my foot has been swollen for 4 weeks, and no seems to care.” Thirty minutes later I was having a Doppler on my left leg. Thirty minutes after that I was diagnosed with DVT and waiting for the on-call OB to talk to an OB specializing in high-risk pregnancies to determine if they would be taking the baby that night or the next day.

You could say things escalated pretty quickly.

I immediately started thinking of all the things that were not going to go as I had planned. My family didn’t even know I was there because I thought I would be sent home that night. My toenails weren’t done. My legs weren’t shaved. I had zero makeup on and had come to the ER in lounge shorts and a tee shirt with nothing but my wallet and a limp ponytail. I had told Henry I would ‘be right back’ to keep him from melting down when I left. Oh, and I had four blood clots in my leg. What?!

After a short wait they had decided on a plan. They would place an IVC filter to catch any clots that might break loose and perform a cesarean in the main operating room with me under general anesthesia. I would not be awake, and my husband would not be allowed in the room. My family would be on the road during all of this, and I was just praying it all went smoothly so I could wake up to meet my baby and introduce him to his brother.

Luckily it all went so quickly I didn’t have a ton of time to stress or worry. I was admitted and, by the grace of God, somehow managed to sleep those few hours before doctors and nurses flooded my room in the morning. I went to the ER around 8:00 p.m. on Monday night, and at 10:00 a.m. the next morning they were wheeling me into the operating room. There were so many people present during the surgery, I couldn't count them. There was the doctor who placed the IVC filter, nurses from the main OR, nurses from labor and delivery, my OB, and multiple anesthesiologists, to name a few. I was poked, prodded, rubbed from all directions, but I was so thankful to have my OB there holding my hand through all of the preparation and the first procedure (I was awake for the IVC placement). At 10:46 a.m. Harrison Lee was born, though I don’t remember it, and when I woke up I was in the recovery room with my husband and sweet baby. That was the goal. It was crazy and wild and unexpected and scary, but he was safe and healthy.

After surgery I was finally in a room with my people, and my family arrived soon after. I never went to the labor and delivery floor so the other doctors could monitor the blood clot situation. I had x-rays and CT scans and more blood drawn than I thought I had to give. I was cleared of PE, placed on blood thinner, tested for everything under the sun, and determined to have the cold virus. Because of this, Harrison wasn’t even allowed to go up to the nursery for assessments and labs, and we had labor and delivery nurses with us at all times on a totally different floor. They were the biggest blessings during our stay following surgery, and I am so thankful for Marissa and Amber. (Anyone who will dump your urine bag and clean your bottom all while joking and laughing like an old friend is amazing. These girls were so fun and uplifting, and I will NEVER forget them.)

I still have blood clots and won’t know if they are dissolved until the end of July. My foot is still swollen and no one seems to know why (since a swollen foot apparently isn’t typical with DVT). My rib is still bothering me, but it isn’t as bad as it once was. However, despite everything that has happened since March, I have a healthy baby boy who is getting chunkier by the day. I have had my husband home for four wonderful weeks to help me keep my sanity with a toddler who has struggled with the adjustment. I am beyond thankful for all the doctors and nurses who kept us safe during the whole experience, and mostly I am thankful to God for the pain in my rib. If not for that I would never have gone to the ER and most likely never found the blood clots. It wrecks me to think of what could have happened if they hadn’t been discovered before surgery, but I won’t allow myself to get caught up in that. Things most definitely didn't go as planned, but I am choosing to find the beauty in our story. There may not be a beautiful video of his birth story (like I made for Henry), but my babies are safe, we are finding our groove, and God is good.


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