Thursday, October 29, 2009

A year we'd like to forget

Warning: this is a pretty long post. I wanted to give an in depth exlpanation of what we've been experiencing and I also wanted to make sure I had a record of the events that have taken place with our little baby boy up to date. BUT please read :)

May 13th I took a pregnancy test and had a positive result. I couldn't believe I was actually pregnant especially with everything that we went through with Colten. I found myself happy, but extremely nervous and anxious.

Everything was going really well. Naturally, with all my pregnancies and an exception of Colten, I am very lucky. I don't get any kind of morning sickness, maybe occasional fatigue, but other than that I have it REAL easy. I found out that I had been exposed to the Human Parvo Virus, also known as fifth disease. This virus isn't normally harmful UNLESS you are pregnant. We had a few suspicions that I could have contracted it, but didn't know for sure until I took a blood test and the results came back positive. I was extremely concerned. The day the results came back was July 3rd. That night I had contractions, heavy bleeding, and was convinced I was having a miscarriage (that being one of the side-effects of the virus if pregnant). I couldn't believe I was going through this again. I was so petrified that we would be experiencing another loss. We rushed to the E.R. to at least have a peace of mind whether or not the baby was ok. At the time I was nine weeks along and knew nothing could be done and if it was the worst case scenario we would have to let nature take its course.

At the E.R. they did an ultrasound and found out the baby was completely fine. The baby looked great and as far as they could see, there really was no explanation for the bleeding and they released me with the advice to just take it easy. I had a regular prenatal check-up scheduled and was referred to a specialist. The consequences for the baby of the virus could be anemia and also problems within the brain. We had gone to the specialist to follow up on any of the possibilities. From what he said everything with the virus was looking ok. BUT upon looking into things in depth he had found I had a HUGE blood clot in my uterus which would explain the bleeding.

He wasn't very optimistic. He was now more concerned about the blood clot over the virus. I guess it's very common to have a blood clot while being pregnant, but they normally don't get so big and tend to take care of themselves. Mine took up over fifty percent of the space in my uterus. I found myself crying at the end of the appointment, convinced that the result of what was supposed to be a happy event, was just going to be another heartache. We continued to set our future appointments as if my pregnancy was going to continue, and it did. I made it to my next prenatal and specialist appointments.

Everything started looking good and the blood clot looked to be shrinking. We were ecstatic thinking things could be taking a turn for the best. About two weeks went by after my specialist appointment. I was eighteen weeks along and I woke up in the early morning to what I thought was bleeding again. It wasn't bleeding this time and I was a bit confused. I made a couple trips to the bathroom. The third trip is when things got real scary. I had left a trail that went all the way across my bathroom and ended in a BIG puddle in front of the toilet. I yelled for Scott and told him we needed to get to the hospital right away because I believed my water had just broke.
We ran over to labor and delivery at the hospital where they did a number of tests along with an ultrasound. The baby looked great. They did a test to confirm as to whether or not it was amniotic fluid. The test results came back negative. We were told it was probably just a build up of mucous. I was really confused because I had never heard of that before, but was relieved everything was fine.

Again, two weeks later, I went to a check up with the specialist. Immediately the ultrasound picture looked different to me. The technician asked me if I had been leaking amniotic fluid. All the fears and concerns I thought could be pushed away and forgotten came rushing back. I told her that in fact I had an incident and made a trip to the L&D two weeks previous. The specialist came in and informed me that I had virtually no amniotic fluid and it had probably been a result of my water breaking. The cause of my water breaking was from the blood clot. Again, here we were facing a very grim outlook.

So, what could result from this would be: going into labor at any point, contracting an infection in my uterus as the result of no amniotic fluid as to which they would have to deliver the baby no matter the gestation, the baby passing as a result of cord compression, and if the baby would make it to viability the next concern would be lung development. With no amniotic fluid it is extremely hard for the baby's lungs to develop, amniotic fluid is a key component. At 24 weeks is when the baby's lungs start developing "branches" of the respiratory "tree" as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help the air sacs inflate once the baby hits the outside world.

My doctor informed me that if we make it to 34 weeks we would deliver the baby. There is a chance though that when he is born he wouldn't make it because of pulmonary hypoplasia (improper lung development). All we could do is hope for the best and take it one day at a time. I had previously been on partial bed rest then had contractions and bleeding. After that my doctor ordered full time bed rest.
I'm now 26 weeks along. The doctors are surprised each time I come back in and am still pregnant. The baby moves a lot and is still growing. With all of the ultrasounds they have been doing, all of his vital organs, not including his lungs, all look adequate. The lungs are something they can not see by ultrasound though. Even with a CT scan, or any other measures they would use to examine his lungs, there is no way to be able to track the development. That is something we will have to wait to find out at birth.

Professionals consider the baby viable at 24 weeks gestation. The specialist sat down with us to go over any and all options. The first option he gave us was for me to be admitted to the hospital full-time until the birth of the baby or seeing a significant drop in his heart rate multiple times. The other option would be outpatient care and go to the hospital twice a week for a non-stress test. I wanted the best for the baby, but really didn't see it being the best option for me to be in the hospital full-time. So, that's what we chose, to stay home. Immediately after my appointment with him they gave me a steroid shot which is supposed to help his lungs.

On Friday, the 16th of October, I went in for another test and when I was about to walk out the door the nurse decided to take my temperature. The thermometer read 99.8. It became a concern to them that the low-grade fever could be an onset to an infection. They decided to admit me to the hospital overnight for observation. A few hours after I had been settled into my hospital room they took my temperature again and it had decreased. They pumped me full of antibiotics and so graciously hooked me up to an I.V. My normal doctor and specialist both were out of town and as a result of that I would be communicating with the doctors on call.

The initial thoughts of me just staying overnight turned into staying until Sunday. Then from that it turned into me staying until Tuesday when my primary O.B. would be back in town. They had me all hooked up to an I.V., a monitor for the baby's heart-rate and a monitor for any contractions. The first night I was there the monitor had recorded a significant decrease in the baby's heart rate for almost three minutes straight. They watched it closely and had decided if it had taken one to two more dips they would have delivered my baby via c-section that night. The nurse came in and had me change positions. Luckily after that we had no other scares.

The worst part of my hospital stay, including all that I was bound to, was that my children could have ABSOLUTELY no access to my room because of flu season. I was devastated. As far as I could tell they were going to keep me in the hospital for the entirety of my pregnancy. I couldn't fathom the thought of not seeing my children and that in itself would have been the result of my insanity.
My husband stayed with me the first three nights while my mother stayed at our home with the children. We had devised a plan so that we could at least "see" each other, even if our view was 150 feet away(no exaggeration). The only good thing I could say about staying at the hospital was my view.

It was beautiful. The room had a north facing three pane window that looked over the valley. I could see the mountains and the hustle of the thousands of people who went about their daily lives. There also was an area with grass, fountains, benches, and statues on the hospital grounds. That is where I would stand at the window, cell phone to ear, and I.V. in tow to "see" my children. The thought of this experience still brings tears to my eyes and a tug at my heart.

I guess it was the unknown that hurt the most. The unknown of EVERYTHING. How long would I have to stay in the hospital? How long would it be until I could see my children in person again...smell their smells and hold them in my arms? After being in the hospital, for who knows how long, would the outcome of this oh-so delicate process would I FINALLY be able to hold my little newborn in my arms or be heart-broken and have to pick up the pieces again? I knew if I would stay in the hospital that I would truly go insane, but I knew I would adjust and be helping the chances of my little baby's survival.

My mother came to visit often while Scott would take over for the care of our children. They tried to do whatever they could to make me comfortable. Scott brought my laptop so I could still try to keep in touch with the "real world." He also brought magazines and upon my request, a Cold-Stone chocolate ice cream with roasted almonds in a waffle bowl. My mom had taken the children to Thanksgiving Point on Saturday where they had loads of fun. Her gift to me was a vase with flowers, a card, and a halloween sign that had a witch on it and said "Best Witches." She's always so thoughtful.

My doctor paid a visit to me on Tuesday and had an in depth conversation with me. He felt comfortable leaving it at my discretion as to whether or not I thought I should stay in the hospital. He felt that knowing us really well, having delivered 2 of my babies already, and with me being only 24.5 weeks along, he was really okay with whatever my decision would be. I chose to go home. I knew what the signs were to look for with an infection and I would continue my bi-weekly non-stress tests. There was an important lesson I learned from that hospital stay. We have to find the positive in everything. When first being on bed rest I was depressed thinking of all I was missing out on . The hospital bed gave me a new perspective and I longed for my couch.
Ultimately, I know that there are a few things I can do to make this a positive outcome and I am taking those measures. I also know that it is not in my control what my story will be. Having been through the loss of a child once before only confirms that to me over and over again. I know Heavenly Father STILL and ALWAYS has a plan for me. I REALLY don't want to lose another child, but know that He is in control and KNOWS what I can handle.
I continue my multiple doctor visits, non-stress tests and bed rest praying that all will go well. I continue to intrigue the doctors as to why I have not delivered yet and I hope to keep them guessing. Each day he stays in my tummy is another day on my side. Each Tuesday is the mark of my new week....this coming Tuesday I will be 27 weeks along. The closer and closer we inch along the more and more optimistic I become. My fingers are permanently crossed. My ULTIMATE goal is to make it to 34 weeks. If I can't make it that far I hope for 30 weeks. We'll take whatever we get, but I am now preparing myself for a baby who will possibly spend an extended period of time in the NICU.

My spirits are good and I have been just trying to take it minute by minute....enjoying each movement of the baby, relishing in the fact that I feel his hiccups or when he decides to roll over a bit. I will be keeping everyone updated on my blog of this new experience. Thanks to EVERYONE for all of your help, love and concern!