Friday, July 27, 2012

Heaven Welcomes Home an Angel Part 2

Well as promised, here I am with the remainder of my little hero's story.  I decided to finish his story a year from the date we were told the heart breaking news rather than on his birthday.  I want his birthday blog to be a happy one. As happy as it can be with him being up there and all of us down here.

So after hearing my options which were to be 1) admitted right there and then since we were already in labor & delivery, 2) go to my scheduled c-section date of August 18, or 3) go home, and return on Monday.  Well there was no way I wanted to be admitted right there and then. That wasn't in the plan.  Then again, neither was this, but I wasn't thinking that at the time.  All I knew was I didn't want to be in the hospital anymore - at least anymore that day.  That day - July 27, 2011 at 3PM was supposed to be a happy afternoon, but instead it became a continuous nightmare.  Plus we had 2 little ones with us too.  That meant having them sleep in the hospital with us or have my husband and them go home while I as alone in the hospital.  I know I did NOT want that either.  Our plan was to have our friend/doula be there with us on the day that AJ was supposed to arrive so that my husband could be in the operating room with me and the kids were with someone they knew.  Again... that WAS the plan.  Silly things plans are. (I will post about that another time).

I knew I didn't want to wait until my scheduled date either, because that just didn't seem safe to me or logical.  Doing so would just give me the false hope that they were all WRONG and that AJ was alive.  But when they told me there was fluid around major organs already, I knew they weren't wrong.  That's the drawback to being the child of physicians.  Being able to understand the body language of the doctors and the whispering about certain things not being where they are supposed to be.  I knew that option was not a viable one for me because I may be "okay" now, but who is to say that my body won't turn on me again.  After all it already turned against my son, so what was to stop it from going the next step?

That leads us to the option I did take, but with a slight modification.  Since the 27th was a Wednesday and the weekend was approaching, the on call OB thought it would be best I come back on Monday.  However, I decided that wasn't going to work for me either because it is just a shortened version of option 2.  I decided (with much prompting from my parents) to return on Friday, July 29.  So with that, I was discharged and my family and I left the hospital in tears and I was completely numb.  All while they told me this news, I was also still in school finishing my Master's program, so I had that weighing on me too. But I will digress from that for the moment. 

I remember my husband driving as I was in no condition to be behind the wheel.  We didn't go home immediately.  Instead we went for a long drive just crying and thinking maybe they are wrong, but that can't be since they used four different machines.  We ended up at the Poulsbo Waterfront Park - a favorite of ours since the kids love playing in the gazebo.  I just sat in the car crying and I sent a text messages to my best friend from high school and another friend - both of whom had losses.  I also sent a message to our friend J, who was going to be there on the scheduled date in August and I had to ask if she could be there earlier than planned.  Again... with the plan.   I don't recall much of the conversations with my three friends, but what I do remember is just saying to the two who have had losses "I completely understand now."  And with that they knew. 

Telling friends was one thing, but how were we going to tell our parents?  We decided to tell them the next day.  So Thursday, was the day of all the dreaded phone calls.  First I called Nurse K who has been with me through all three pregnancies and scheduled to come in Friday morning to speak with her about getting me on the c-section schedule for Friday.  Then I called my parents who are in South Dakota.  I called my mom first (I think).  I know she was alone in her factory.  I really didn't know how to tell her other than they couldn't find a heartbeat and that he had passed.  At that point, I can envision my mom slumping in a chair completely shocked.  No one outside of my husband, our doctors, myself, and our friend knew we were having another boy.  I don't remember much of that call either other than her asking if I had told my father yet.  I said no and he was my next call.  And so I called my father at his office.  He knew I had a check up the day before, so he asked about that and I said the only thing I could think of - they couldn't find a heartbeat.  As soon as I said that, my dad went into what I would call his bedside manner for a practicing physician who has to deliver bad news to a patient.  Again, I am drawing a blank at the conversation.  I just remember calling or emailing my sister next.  Strangely enough I don't even remember doing that.  I think I was on autopilot after being so numb. 

I then emailed my instructor for the class I was taking at the time and letting him know what had happened.  He was very understanding and said for me not to worry about any of the deadlines anymore and to just turn in the work by the end of the term and I wouldn't be docked for being late.  He also said to not work on the group project anymore as I was dealing with more than enough.  I am thankful for having an instructor who had compassion for the issue at hand.  I apparently passed the class, but don't recall how since I don't recall turning anything in, but I must have. Plus my husband who finished the same program earlier in 2011, did my online homework for me. LOL.

Okay... (sorry this is long, but I don't want to forget any of the details I do remember, so forgive me if I babble through or get off on a tangent).  I know we did other things that Thursday afternoon, but I can only see snippets of it.  I recall my husband dropping me off to meet with our friend J for dinner and to make the arrangements for the next day and he took our other two kids to the park to play.  Eventually Friday came rolling around and we headed to the hospital. 

We first met with our friend who took over watching the kids while my husband and I met with Nurse K to just talk and cry.  She then asked if we would like to have the chaplain from Bangor to visit with us.  I said yes. Father C arrived and sat with us for as long as he could.  He prayed for AJ and us.  Then I asked if it was okay to be furious with God for doing such a horrendous act.  Father C said who better to place your anger upon than God.  He can handle it. Oh and believe me I was ANGRY with HIM for a LONG LONG LONG time. (That will be another post).

Then it came time to admit me to labor and delivery and get all the paperwork rolling on that.  It was probably about noon when I was put in a room and started filling out all the papers that were supposed to be filled at the next check up. But since that didn't happen, I was doing it all before they wheeled me in to the operating room,.  The anesthesiologist offered me a medication that would wipe out my short term memory and I thought how cruel is that.  Why would I want to do that?  Of course I rejected that and off to the OR we went.   When in the OR, they administered the anesthesia and hooked up all the machines to me.  It took them quite some time to put the catheter in so the medication's time clock was ticking away and they had not even begun to operate yet. While that was happening I recall joking around with the anesthesiologist.  He asked where I was from and I told him a combination of NYC and South Dakota. He then asked what was in South Dakota, and I said "Cows. Maybe a few pigs."  That lightened up the mood temporarily.  Then I remember "arguing" with the same anesthesiologist about having the announcement bell made to say "Baby Boy Arriving."  I am not sure of the terminology, but I know it is a Naval thing.  Anyway, they told me that they usually don't do that in times like this out of respect for the grieving family, but I said no.  I told them he is still arriving.  Albeit not the way we wanted, but he was still arriving, so they agreed to do that and I am glad because I remember hearing it. :)

Finally, the doctor who was going to perform my c-section, Dr. C came in and began.  Somehow I still kept expecting that all of them were wrong and that I would hear a cry when AJ was born.  I knew that wasn't a possibility, but stranger things have been known to happen in the medical world.  As Dr. C was performing the surgery, he said that I already had a rupture.  So then I thought not only am I going to have a stillborn child, but they are also going to have to do a hysterectomy now too. As if things weren't bad enough.  But thankfully after another OB/GYN came in to look at what Dr. C had seen, they determined they didn't have to go to that extreme.

At 3:32 in the afternoon of July 29,2011, our Angel AJ was born.  He may not have been born the way we wanted him to be, but he was there.  He was/is beautiful.  He is perfect - a mini version of his big brother.  He was 5 pounds 8 ounces and 19.75 inches long at 35.6 weeks old. 

After he was born and the closing process began, I recall the medication starting to wear off to the point of being able to feel Dr. C doing whatever it was he was doing to close me up and getting the sensation back in my right leg enough that I could wiggle my leg and touch the nurses.  They eventually did something after I couldn't take the pain anymore and the next thing I knew I was back in the room with my husband and he was holding his son.  The hospital sent someone to take pictures, which I am so thankful for.  Granted they are tough to look at, but I am grateful for them.

Eventually our friend J had to go home because she had three of her own to take care of.  At that time, my husband went home with our kids and I had time with AJ.  Father C returned to perform a special blessing for AJ.  To this day I wish that blessing was to make him alive again, but sadly it was not. The next day Dr. C came to check on me and explained a little more about the rupture he had seen when he was delivering AJ.  He said it was about a 2 inch gash and on a uterus that has gone through three pregnancies in 2.5 years, that is a significant gash.  He then asked if I had felt any pain, cramping, spotting, or bleeding or any of the things that are associated with a uterine rupture.  I said no, but should I have?  I mean, if I did, then perhaps AJ would be here right now.  He said he was shocked I did not feel anything, but wasn't totally surprised because of how AJ was presenting himself on the table.  Apparently, the reason I didn't feel any of the usual symptoms was because AJ had lodge the right side of his head in that gash.  Dr. C said a gash like that with a uterus as thin as I had would normally be catastrophic on the mom as well, but for me to have survived is somewhat of a miracle. 

AJ is truly my hero.  He saved my life.  He knew what he had to do to save me so that I could be here for his daddy, big sister, and big brother. He knew I would be sad for a long time, but he knew we would meet again.  He knew he served his purpose in that brief time.  He knew he would always be loved by us and God and that he will NEVER be forgotten.  What a smart little boy he is.  I can only hope I make my heavenly and earthly angels proud.

So there you have it... My hero's 35.6 week life story. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Heaven Welcomes Home an Angel - Anthony James Part 1

With 12 days to go, I think it is time to post AJ's story.  This will be the first and only time I will probably ever delve into the nitty gritty of his life story.  Albeit a brief one, it was an amazing one.

  The holidays of 2010 had just come to an end and we rang in the new year.  James had just turned five months old and his big sister was 21 months old.  It is hard to believe now that they are 2 years old and 3 years old.  Anyway, 2011 was met with open arms.
  Shortly into the new year, we all received our flu vaccinations and a couple days later I began to feel a bit off.  I thought it was just a reaction to the flu mist as it was the first time I had taken it.  Turns out, it was not a reaction to the mist at all.  I was pregnant (again).
  Unlike the other 2 pregnancies, this one came as a total shock to my husband and I as I was still nursing James and my cycle had not returned yet.  After confirming the home pregnancy test at the hospital and getting the EDD of August 25, 2011, immediate thoughts of how are we going to do this began to settle in my mind.  By that date, my husband was just about to retire from the Navy after 20 years of service; James would be just a little over 13 months old; Sophia would be 29 months old; and I would be finishing up my Masters Degree program.  How was I going to handle a toddler, a 1-year-old, a new born and finish my program?  I realize now, that seems like a lot of whining for a 30something year old, but it was truly what was going on in my mind.
  As the months went on, the effects of shock began to wear off and feelings of happiness took over.  One morning while I was feeding James (he had been weaned a little earlier than I hoped), Bill and Sophia were having a daddy/daughter morning.  Bill saw the baby names book on the table near Sophia.  By then we already knew we were having another boy, so I wanted to make sure he had the same middle name as his big brother and dad (James).  So, Bill flipped through and asked Sophia to tell him when to stop and point to a name.  She pointed to Anthony and so that was it.  Big sister named her baby brother. :)
  When we heard his heartbeat for the first time, all my fears of how it was going to be come August 2011 were replaced with hope and determination.  I didn't know how we were going to do it, but we were going to manage.  All the appointments went well.  His heartbeat was strong.  I wasn't gaining a lot of weight.  I was managing to finish my school work.  All while taking care of an infant, a toddler, and a household.  The only thing that seemed to be of concern to Dr. B and staff was AJ's enlarged placenta.  They ran all the tests they knew of that could cause an enlarged placenta, and all came back negative.  Nothing was wrong - except for his placenta.
  They had me do all the timed glucose tests. And those came back fine.  Although they came back fine, they were still concerned about the possibility of gestational diabetes, so they had me see the nutritionist to get a diet that may help and do the finger prick 4 times a day.  I did all.  I did all the tests.  I changed my diet.  I did the finger pricking to to the point that I wasn't feeling it anymore.  And still no answer or change to the placenta issue.  However, everything else was going well.  He was progressing along perfectly.  Dr. B and staff decided to just keep an eye on the placenta at each appointment to make sure nothing was changing or causing distress to AJ.
  We surprised everyone come Easter 2011 when we sent a card from the kids - all 3 of them. :)  I remember my mom calling to find out the due date, as she thought it was in November 2011 since we told them April.  She was shocked (just like everyone else) to find out that it was in August.  She was a little concerned for me since this was my third pregnancy in less than three years and I have had two c-sections already.  But at the same time she was happy to have another grandchild on the way.
  Mid-May we went on a train ride to Chicago for my cousin's wedding.  We all had a role in it - even 10-month old James. ;)  Sophia was a flower girl.  Family there were shocked about the pregnancy, but were happy too.
  June 2011 was pretty uneventful as far as the appointments were concerned.  The placenta was still being watched, but AJ was doing well  We had a 3D/4D ultrasound done in Bellevue since we had one done for the previous two pregnancies.  Now I must say I am glad we did that since that is the only video we have of AJ alive and kicking.
  A few weeks later we celebrated James entrance into the Catholic family with his baptism at St. James Cathedral in Seattle.  My parents were able to make the drive out from South Dakota for that celebration and to help celebrate James' first birthday.  I remember my mom saying  that I was already presenting low and she didn't think I would make it to my scheduled c-section date of August 18.  She thought, I would go into labor by the end of July.   It's quite uncanny to think how freakishly right my mom was about us welcoming AJ by the end of July 2011.
  Two weeks after we celebrated James' baptism and first birthday,  I went in for my 36 week prenatal check up.  I remember it was July 27 - a Wednesday afternoon.  All four of us were there.  Bill (my husband) was watching James and Sophia in the waiting area since there were toys that were keeping them entertained.  Dr. B and the corpsman did all the routine vitals.  Then it was time to check on AJ and I noticed the mood in the room change.  Dr. B tried to play off the first Doppler to being finicky because it needed new batteries.  So he got a newer one, and his mood was still the same.  He then got the portable ultrasound machine and immediately turned the screen away from me.  It was at that moment I knew he was going to give me the worst news of my life.  He brought in Dr. D - an expert ultrasound tech and OBGYN, and he confirmed what Dr. B found.  Then they broke the news to me.
  I remember feeling so numb.  It was as if I left my body and didn't want to return until they changed the finding.  But they wheeled me to Labor & Delivery and put us in a room.  They brought another ultrasound machine - and nothing changed.  My immediate thought was DAMN! Of course I was hoping the ultrasound machine in Family Medicine was wrong, but unfortunately it wasn't.  Then they had the on call OBGYN talk to me and give me options.  I could 1) be admitted right there and then, 2) go home and come back after the weekend, 3) go to my scheduled date.  I opted for the go home option, but come back on Friday.

This is where I will end part 1 of this heroic angel's story.  Part 2 will come in 10 days....