Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Story of My Little Monkey, Part I

How do I begin? My hubbie and I got engaged on our 2nd date after knowing each other for about 2 weeks. We've been together now since November 2006, so almost 5 years! Crazy. We got married on September 6, 2008, so we are coming up on our 3-year wedding anniversary. Before we got married we started trying to get pregnant. It wasn't a full-on commitment, just "if it happens we will be excited." I found out I was pregnant in May 2009 and we were ecstatic. We were going to wait the obligatory 3 months to tell people but couldn't keep it a secret for more than a few days. When we finally got to the doc's for an ultrasound, things didn't feel right. I had been feeling truly awful for a week or so, and my hubbie was having panic attacks fairly regularly. I think some part of us knew that something was wrong. I will never forget the image coming up on the screen of... nothing. Just a yolk sac. No baby. We stared in disbelief, then I started bawling when the ultrasound technician told us that there was no baby, just a yolk sac that hadn't progressed. We then had to wait for the OB to review the images, and come tell us what she thought. She said it was possible that I wasn't as far along as I originally thought, but since I was quite sure of my last period (I am very aware of my cycle, kept track of it, etc.) it most likely wasn't going to progress and I was going to miscarry. I had a blood test just to be sure, and waiting for those results over the weekend was horrid. The results said that my HCG levels were dropping indicating my body was preparing to miscarry. Instead of waiting for an interminable amount of time to naturally miscarry we decided to go for the D&E. It was Thursday July 19th, and there were no complications. The analysis of what was inside me was just undetermined, no obvious reason for miscarriage, most likely just some kind of problem with the fetus so nature took over. It was the worst time of my entire life. I cried daily. I quit my job and laid in bed all day. My husband's anxiety got worse, we spent some time in the ER because of it. I couldn't function. We had to move into a different apartment because everything in the current one screamed at me YOU FAILED! YOUR BABY DIED INSIDE YOU. We thought it was a girl, we were going to name her Madeleine Hannah.

Life goes on, and you have to too. I finally started psychotherapy again in the fall because I was barely functioning. My sciatic nerve had been acting up again really badly that summer, and I was working as a bartender and at a grocery store so I was on my feet a ton. My therapist was great, she helped me get through the winter intact. I started smoking again (I had quit a month or so before I got pregnant). I figured, who cares? Why not smoke again? I was angry with my body. I felt like it had violated me, let me down, caused me so much soul-ache and terrible pain.

Then in late winter we started talking about trying to conceive again. I wasn't sure if I was ready or not, but my hubbie was. I had a feeling in early March that I was pregnant, even though my period was only a day or two late (which wasn't all that unusual). I took a test that night and it was positive. We both started crying, and we were so happy, but also aware of what could happen. We committed to waiting to tell people until after the first ultrasound. We didn't quite make it that long but only told a few close friends/family. The first time we saw my little monkey was on my birthday April 16th 2010. I cried with joy, my hubbie grinned from ear-to-ear. He said, I told you, the baby is fine, everything's going to be OK. He just knew, deep down, where I was often unsure and afraid.

My pregnancy was pretty typical in the beginning months. All day and night nausea but no vomitting. I gained weight, was very hungry all the time, drank lots of water, etc. Then in mid-July, the day after my friend's bridal shower, something went KAPLOOEY in my back. I started having severe back, leg, and ankle pain from then on out, pretty much constantly, and it only got worse as my pregnancy progressed. AND at the end of July, after attending a family gathering in rural New Hampshire, I had what I thought were mosquito bites on my abdomen and thighs, but they were EXTREMELY itchy, and got bigger/worse as the days went on. I went to the doctor and the ER several times because the itching was so bad I was in tears pretty much every day.

Finally in August I was sent to a dermatologist down in Portland. They almost immediately recognized what I had as Pemphigoid Gestationis (also called Herpes Gestationis though it has no relation to the Herpes virus whatsoever). They did a skin biopsy and a little while later I was officially diagnosed. I had to go to a specialty OB/Gyn in Portland because at that point with the PG diagnosis I was considered a high-risk pregnancy. I had to have alternating biweekly ultrasounds and non-stress tests to make sure that the baby was growing well/normally, and that the placenta and amniotic fluid looked normal. Everything was fine. The doc wanted to induce me at 39 weeks if I hadn't gone into labor naturally by then. Sometimes moms with PG go into preterm labor, in fact some estimates say it's as high as 1 in 3. Oh, and I forgot that I had to take prednisone for the remainder of my pregnancy. Once we got the right daily dosage, the "plaques" cleared up and I haven't had a recurrence since.

I had contractions that I could feel from the middle of my pregnancy on. On Thursday October 14th I started having somewhat painful contractions (they hadn't been painful at all before) that woke me up about every 45 minutes to an hour all night. Friday at work, I felt really weird. I said to the woman I was training to temporarily replace me that I felt different, though not necessarily in labor. My due date was November 8th. Then Friday night was the same, not many during the day, but consistent painful contractions all night long. Saturday night they were closer together. I was starting to worry that I was going to have to go 3 more weeks with that happening every night (I was at 37 weeks)! On Sunday my best friend had a Scentsy party at her house, and I decided to go. I got dressed and took some pics of my belly, as it felt urgent that I do so.

At the party I was cranky and tired. Sunday night the contractions were 10-15 minutes apart all night, and even more painful. In the early morning I started timing them, and they were about 5 minutes apart. I had a tiny bit of bloody show, and I immediately called my midwife. She said it was up to me but I could come in and they could see where I was at. So we went in at around 4 am. I was at about 3 cm and the contractions were still coming. At noon I was at about a 4 to 5 cm she said, so she suggested I go home and try to rest. Came home, laid down, but it was very hard to rest with contractions coming so close together. My husband says he heard me over the monitor talking to the baby inside me. I said "we're going to get through this together." That night my feeling was that I hadn't really progressed- I sensed that the contractions weren't productive. But I was exhausted and wanted information. So we went back to the hospital at 7 pm, she checked me and I was still at 5 cm.

Now things get pretty blurry, so many hours of contractions it seems. My midwife was concerned because I hadn't slept really in several days, so she wanted to "sleep" me. They gave me a dose of morphine and visipristol to hopefully help me sleep through the contractions. Unfortunately it didn't work really, but it helped just enough I guess to give me some strength, though I was pretty groggy. At 5:30 am I asked to go in the waterbirth tub. I didn't really care for it, I think because I was so groggy. At that point I was still not progressing, I was EXHAUSTED and really at the end of my rope. I asked my midwife for some pain medication- she gave me a half dose of nubain which helped take the edge off the peak of the contractions, for a little while at least. Then I was 7 cm, then I was 8 cm, and they broke my water because I was feeling the urge to push. Soon after I was at 10 and I could start pushing. The contractions were only coming 5 minutes apart, man that part of my labor was the hardest. I didn't want to push because it hurt so much. BUT I did it. They gave me some pitocin at the very end to speed up my contractions. Finally they were starting to see his head, I felt like I was never going to make it, but everyone was so encouraging.

The ring of fire, wow. Then the pressure once his head wasn't going back in, and then it came out and I did a few small grunt pushes and out he came. Let me tell you it was the most wonderful feeling of instant relief and joy. There was some meconium in the amniotic fluid so they had to suction him. He was so beautiful, big head of hair, nice ruddy color, just the most wonderful creature in the entire world.

I'm really proud of myself, even though it wasn't an NUCB. And I'm so grateful to the OB staff and my midwives, they were amazing. When all was said and done I realized how wonderful they are! The nurses were phenomenal as well. All so supportive, helping me with breastfeeding, and ANY questions I had. Can't believe I'm so blessed. AND I forgot to mention, no tearing/stitches! YAY!

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