saturday, march 7

grab a glass of wine, this is a long one…

this is where my memory gets fuzzy but things get interesting.  before i could wrap my mind around what was going on i was settled into a room for what we thought was going to be awhile.  both of our parents were now aware of what was going on and were on there way to st. louis (minus my dad who was stuck in an ice storm somewhere).  i asked if dr. p would be coming down to talk to us and answer our questions to which the nurse replied, "he has actually just left for florida."  "ummmm seriously not cool."   thankfully we weren't left in the dark and dr. m from the same practice came down and let us know that he was sticking with us until dr. p came back.  he answered as many of our questions as he could (in the vague doctor kind of way) and we waited for what was to come next.  

because i looked like a junkie with bruises covering many of my veins, it took 3 nurses and many more pokes and prods to finally get an iv started in my hand.  i felt like a pin cushion but figured i better get used to it.  it was late afternoon by now and i kindly asked if i could eat lunch.  "no.  in case we need to do anything emergentely you will not be allowed any food today."  "ok, excuse, me but shouldn't it be illegal to hold food from a pregnant woman."  how rude.  
after i had finished imagining the sugar water running through my iv as a huge plate of pasta, doctor unknown came in and explained what would be happening.  "we need to get you started on magnesium sulfate."  "sounds official, why?"  "it will help prevent you from seizing."  "ok, if you think it's absolutely necessary."  doctor unknown had a very serious personality and i knew there would be no cracking jokes with him although i wanted to very badly.  he went on to explain that the mag, as it was commonly referred to, would run for 48 hours and that it would be a drug that i would not enjoy.  that would be the understatement of the century.  the initial loading dose would make me feel flush.  "ok i can handle flush."  it would make me nauseous.  "no problem, i'm used to nauseous by now."  it would make my muscles very weak so i would be confined to my bed.  "ok, now this i'm not sure i can handle.  how do i get to the bathroom?"  "you don't.  you will have a commode."  "uhhh, homie don't roll that way."  "i will be crawling to the bathroom if i have to."  my kidneys weren't working so hot at the moment anyway so how many times could i possibly have to go to the bathroom in the next few days.  if anything i would make jastin carry me.  for better or worse right?

before i knew it my mom was there with plenty of hugs, books, magazines and even a new outfit for adali from the gift shop (i think every time she passed by the gift shop that week she picked up a new outfit).  that evening jastin and i had the conversation of whether he should stay the night or not.  i thought it was completely pointless for him to stay.  he, of course, insisted on staying and ohhh boy i am so glad he did.  the resident also came in that night to do an ultrasound because they were having trouble keeping adali's heart rate on the fetal monitor and wanted to take a quick peek and make sure she was looking ok.  i think the ultrasound lasted over an hour because she was in such an awkward position it was hard to get a good look at everything.  she left with reassuring news that even with everything that was going on she was looking great, measuring great and her heart rate was right on target.  phew!  now i could relax and get some rest.  errrrrrrrrrrrrt.  that's me slamming on the brakes.  i quickly realized that you don't get much rest in hospitals.

i had forgotten completely about that oh so special drug mag they needed to put me on.  the nurse came in and explained that she needed to start it and that once she gave me the loading dose that i would feel flush.  "no problem.  shoot me up."  yep, it got warm in the room and i felt flush but nothing unmanageable…until a few hours later when it felt like acid was creeping through my hand and up my arm.  i woke jastin up and explained what i was feeling.  he needed to get the nurse fast.  this couldn't be normal.  she came in, i explained what i was feeling and she just stared back at me with the most puzzled look.  it kept creeping and was becoming more and more painful.  the nurse flushed out the iv and it got better.  jastin went back to sleep and i went on watching tv.  the pain came back with avengeance.  i woke jastin up again and by this time i was crying.  i seriously could not take the pain.  it was like my hand and arm were being burned from the inside.  we called the nurse again and her solution was to switch the iv to the other hand.  i wasn't sure how she was going to make this work considering you couldn't see my veins through the bruises, but she did.  another loading dose, more flushing and i felt much better.  and then about an hour later it started AGAIN.  this time i was crying so hard i was starting to hyperventilate.  i had never felt pain like that in my life.  ever.  jastin went to let the nurse know.  i turned to him and screamed, "if you don't take this flipping (not the real word i used) iv out, i swear i am going to pull it out myself."  he pleaded with me to just wait until the nurse got in.  she came in and i told her the same exact thing i told jastin.  a resident walked in and had the same baffled look on her face as the nurse did.  she had the nerve to remind me that the loading dose would make me feel flush.  "yeah lady, i got that.  i felt the flush you speak of.  this isn't flushness this is acid you are shooting through my veins.  if one of you doesn't take this iv out RIGHT NOW, i will pull it out myself."  they kindly saved my arm and stopped the mag.  the resident stomped out like she was going to find her mommy to tattle on me.  i didn't care.  i could breathe again.  before i knew it the resident was walking back in my room with her attending and the nurse.  "uh oh, i think i'm in trouble."  they stood at the foot of my bed and doctor unknown proceeded to tell me that i had severe pre-eclampsia ("yeah i get that by now") and you absolutely need the magnesium sulfate to prevent you from convulsions.  "doc, the only thing that will make me have seizures is that crap you keep trying to pump into me."  doc says,"if you don't agree for us to start the iv back up then there really isn't much else we can do for you."  "well then bring me the papers to sign out because i am not letting you do that to me again."  yep, i came this.close to signing out against medical advice.  i was one of "those patients" that doctors come home and complain about.  they hated me.  i apologized profusely to both of them but i just couldn't deal with that kind of pain.  doctor unknown finally said he would look into alternative medicines and come back when he had more info.  he came back and let us know that they were going to give me doses of dilantin but they were unsure of the effectiveness because st. johns has always used mag.  "does anyone use dilantin?"  "we found some research that shows the university of texas does so we are contacting them for dosing."  i thanked him, he looked at me very annoyed and walked out.  the nurse came in the middle of the night and began the dosing of dilantin.  all i could say was thank you.  i reached over turned up the volume of the fetal monitor and fell asleep to the ticking of adali's heart.  so far, it was the only thing going right.   "sweet dreams baby girl."

**  friday i woke reminding myself that it was a new day.  i was looking forward to a trip down to the perinatologists office for a high level ultrasound to again check on adali.  it had been a little while since my last high level ultrasound and i was excited to see our baby in high definition.  our dear friend ron, jastin's fellow resident, happened to be visiting when they came to get me for the ultrasound.  i demanded he come along for the ride.  he had to see up close and personal the precious pictures that would emerge on the screen.  so he did and we made a little party out of it.  we ooooed and awwwwwed at every little thing she was doing on screen.  sucking her toes, moving around.  to us, she looked fabulous.  if you have ever had an ultrasound you know that the tech is not allowed to tell you what they see, good or bad.  she was just clicking away doing her own thing the entire time we were having our little party.  we sat in the dimly lit room and waited for the perinatologist to come in and confirm that we have the cutest baby alive, but when she came in she had the look of "you have a sick baby."  and we did.  my heart sank simply by the look on her face.  i had to remember that i JUST saw her and she was gorgeous.  i had listened to her heart beat all night long.  she seemed to be the only one doing well in this whole process.  until now.  "honey, your baby isn't getting what she needs from you anymore."  it is better for her to be outside of you than inside."  "but i still have a long way to go.  how could she possibly live if she is born this early?"  i lost it.  it was as if everything started to happen in slow motion.  my mind immediately went back to the week prior when jastin and i took a trip to the science center with my parents for the body world exhibit .  i had sat there staring at what my baby looked like inside me at that very moment.  i read the plaque underneath.  " at 27 weeks gestation your baby is considered viable."  back to reality, "when will you take her?"  if everything goes ok tonight, we will deliver her tomorrow morning."  "ok, if that is what we have to do, let's do it."  it was explained to us that she wasn't getting the nutrients and blood flow that she needed from the placenta to continue to grow.  she was only measuring 25 weeks gestation.  the perinatologist continued to say over and over again that time was better than weight.  what she meant was that the fact she was so little didn't matter as much as the fact that she had fought to make it to 28 weeks gestation for her precious little lungs to develop.  truth be told, she had probably been fighting for some time which tore me to pieces more than anything else.  but, in the end, it helped her because she would know how to fight once she was born.  

the rest of the day was filled with emails and calls to friends and family to let them know the plan.  adali was schedule to begin her arrival at 10:00 am the next morning.  my dad drove non stop through an ice storm to make sure he didn't miss the birth of his first grand child. he made it and by that evening the room was filled with all the people that mattered in our life….oh yeah and the guy right outside the window of my room fixing whatever he was told to fix.  when i say right outside the window i'm talking his hard hat kept knocking on the window close.  i didn't mind.  he had a job to do. and it made me laugh.  i thought about opening the window and proclaiming to him and the rest of the workers that i was going to have a baby the next day.  

friday was also filled with more fights over mag.  "damn the mag."  the perinatologist whom, at this point i had grown to trust and respect, came into my room after learning the ordeal from the night before and said that she was unsure the effectiveness of the dilantin because st. john's had never used it and did not feel safe continuing it.  she explained to me that i had 2 options.  i could either restart the mag via iv or i could choose to get a shot every few hours (9 of them in total) with a 20 gauge needle.  "i'll take door number 2 please."  "seriously, you want that many shots over the iv."  "yep."  i pleaded with her to understand that i can handle pain but i cannot handle what that felt like in my veins.  "i think she saw the look in my eyes and agreed to write the order for the shots."  i had already had one precious shot of steroids to help develop adali's lungs and would be getting a second dose that evening…what's another 9 shots on top of that.  a few hours later in one last ditch effort to persuade me to choose the iv, dr. m, the perinatologist came in with a 20 gauge needle to show me what i would have shot in my tush every few hours.  she said she had an idea.  she would have an anesthesiologist, "the best in the entire hospital," she claimed, to come start an iv in a large vein in my shoulder.  after much convincing and truthfully after seeing the size of the steel rod i had agreed to have shoved in my tush over and over,i agreed on one condition.  "if it starts to hurt at all you take it out right away.  no hem-hawing around this time."  "deal."  he came in (i was sweating).  it worked.  no pain and i was getting what i needed to stay well enough to see my baby be born in less than 24 hours.  after pleading with god to answer my prayers i again fell asleep to the sweet sound of my baby's ticking heart.  i needed my rest.  tomorrow was a big day.  

**  i woke up on saturday immediately filled with anxiety.  THIS was the day. whether we were ready or not, we would meet her in just a few short hours.  the nurse came in and asked if i was feeling ok.  "i guess i am all things considering."  "do you feel any tightness in your abdomen."  "not compared to my ankles, why?"  "well, you were contracting pretty steadily last night….about every three minutes actually."  i didn't feel anything that i thought would be a contraction but i assume that's why they kept coming in the room and checking the fetal monitor.  it wouldn't change any of the plans so i prepared as best i could for what i would deal with later that day.  jastin and the nicu team had prepared me for the sights and sounds in the operating room.  "she will be little.  she will not cry.  she will not be able to breathe so we will need to intubate her.  we will make sure you get to see her before we take her to the nicu but it will be brief."  my response through tears, "please, don't worry about me.  just do what you need to do to make sure she is alright."   before i knew it i was being prepped for my epidural, which for the record, i did not enjoy one bit.  i didn't like the lack of feeling in my legs.  it suddenly hit me that i really had no control over anything that was happening, even with my own body.  hugs were given to everyone that chose to stand with us in this journey and off to the operating room we went.  

no lying, i was scared.  if not for 2 people i would never have made it through the next 45 minutes.  jastin was my rock in the operating room.  holding my hand and telling me everything that was going on behind the curtain.  the other was the nurse anesthetist.  i felt safe with him behind me.  i warned him i didn't feel well and he made sure that when i did get sick (yes i got sick a lot in the or) he would be right there for me…and he was.  he also took it upon himself to video tape the most amazing birth ever.  seriously, it was amazing.  they delivered her entirely in her sac, laid her on my stomach and then broke the sac, all to cause the least amount of trauma for her and help prevent brain bleeds.  it worked.  at 10:19 am i heard dr. m announce that we had a baby girl.  i could tell jastin was torn between staying with me and making sure adali was ok.  i told him to go be with her.  shortly after, they brought her over to me, let me kiss her and away she went.  i went with her for a brief second (in my dreams).  i was so exhausted.  once i knew she was on her way to the nicu i allowed myself to close my eyes.  by the way…c sections take a lot  longer in real life than they do on tv.  i kept asking jastin if they were done yet.  "almost.  they have a few more layers to sew up."  "come on.  seriously,how many layers do i have."  finally they were finished putting me back together.  once in recovery i waited for jastin to give me one last update on how she was doing and mid update i was off to dreamland again.  this time as a mother.  life would never be the same.

as you know from the rest of the blog, our journey is now a happy one.  one i am so glad i have gotten to share with all of you.  i learned a lot about myself and my marriage during the days right before and right after adali was born.  i helped bring a life into this world and i was more determined than ever to make sure that my daughter would grow up and know the same joys about motherhood that i have gotten to experience.  jastin and i grew as a couple through our experience.  it wasn't always easy.  there were some very tough days.  but i believe more than ever that we were meant to be.  in good times and in bad.  forever.  i love my family.  

because this post isn't long enough i thought i would share some fun facts that never made it to the blog.

1.  if you do the math from when jastin and i got married (5/19/07) to the day adali was born (3/8/08), she could very well be a honeymoon baby.  

2.  i did not know this at the time of adali's birth, but my obgyn and both of my perinatologists have been featured on the discovery health channel for tv shows dealing with high risk births.  i was in very good hands.

3.  when adali was born we had 2 things for her, a blanket and 1 outfit, both gifts.  

4.  my uncle works as a nurse anesthetist at st. john's and was scheduled to be with me for the delivery of adali.  because that would be weird and is most likely a conflict of interest, he made sure i was in the best hands possible.  thanks uncle tom…i love you!

5.  american idol got me through my time in the hospital.  embarrassing but true.  

6.  View after adali was born i was moved to another floor away from other mothers that would get to spend time with their babies.  i had the only room at st. johns with a bay window.  my window is in the left of the picture and this is my view.  i must have had serious connections.  ha.  
7.  i lost all of my "baby weight" in the first week after adali was born.  let's just say my kidneys started to work again.  

8.  when adali was at st. johns she was in a nicu that was simply one big room overflowing with babies.  not exactly the serene environment for healing.  when she was at cardinal glennon she had a private room in their newly remodled nicu.  

9.  every time you came into the nicu you had to scrub up to your elbows and take any jewelry off.  they had safety pins to pin to you to make sure your jewelry wasn't lost.  i have a safety pin for each day adali was in the nicu.  i am just trying to think of a creative way to incorporate them in to a keepsake.  jastin's dad had to wear a glove over his left hand every time he came to visit because he couldn't take his wedding ring off.

10.  all of the babies in the nicu had very cute homemade name tags outside of their rooms.  adali didn't have one for the first few weeks we were there.  i thought it was because maybe they thought she was too sick and didn't want to waste their time.  i finally learned after asking why all of her labels and name tags said "baby girl" was that we had not properly registered her and they didn't have her name in the computer system.  ha, thanks for letting me know.  she finally got her cute little name tag and all felt right with the world.  

11.  i pumped every 3 hours from march 8 until june 20 when i finally stopped producing enough milk for adali.  i pumped in the middle of the night, behind a curtain in her room, in the middle of the living room (the mailman got a disturbing show one day) and pretty much wherever i had to to get the job done.  i grew to hate it but knew it was what adali needed.  i am glad i got to do it for the time i did.

12.  i had the exact same thing to eat every day for 2 months in the cafeteria at cardinal glennon, grilled chicken sandwich with american cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles and mayo with fries.  

13.  jastin and i left the hospital to grab a bite to eat one evening and as we were turning on to the street in front of the hospital we witnessed a drive by shooting in broad daylight.  full on, arm out the side of the car shooting at a gas station of all things.  me being the good samaritan idiot that i am, i made jastin follow them to get their license plate number.  once i realized they didn't have a license plate (what criminals do) i wised up and told him to back off.  we found out that someone was shot and was receiving care at the hospital next door.  if your going to get shot, i guess 1 block from the hospital is the best place.

14.  at the end of april dr. sadiq was scheduled to come back on service and he was doing rounds with dr. alhosni to go over the status of all of the patients.  they stopped outside of adali's room and began to talk about her care.  what they didn't know is that i was in the room laying down on the couch behind the curtain and could hear every word they were saying.  dr. alhosni proceeded to tell dr. sadiq that he needed to work hard to get adali home sooner rather than later because he was worried about the declining mental stability of the mother.  all i could do was chuckle.  i certainly couldn't argue with him.  every day i left the house to go to the hospital i would wonder how i was going to make it through the day.  it wore on me and i just wanted my baby home.  less than a week later she was home and i had dr. sadiq to thank for keeping me sane.  before we leave for georgia i plan to return to the nicu and make sure he knows just how much he meant to me.    



8 Comments ( Reply )

  1. Sara T says:

    Jamie – Amazing Story!! You are a strong woman and a wonderful mother (not that you needed me to tell you that!)

    (Very cool factoids at the end too!)

  2. Grandma Donna says:

    Jamie, I know how hard retelling all of this was for you- it brought me to tears. You are an amazing mother to Adali and she will always know your love!

  3. The Thoele's says:

    Happy Birthday Adali!
    Hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. Jenn says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADALI! Oscar and I have been following your blog since last year. We’re so happy for you and your very special first birthday! Jenn & Oscar

  5. Katherine (from the studio) says:

    Happy Birthday, Adali! It has been such an amazing journey watching you grow in this past year (even if it has only been through this blog)! Congratulations on one big year down, with such an incredible journey ahead for your family! :) I hope that you all had an amazing day celebrating such a cute little girl!

  6. Aunt Kia says:

    We’ve been thinking about you all day. We love you so much.
    Kia, Andy, Kessa, Sephine, Chilton & Beale

  7. Happy Birthday, Adali! This story will be an amazing gift to her someday, Jamie. She’s lucky to have you!

  8. Allison says:

    I’m a friend of Sara Thoele who went through the same thing 3 years ago. My Gabrielle was 4.2 at birth and we made it to 32 weeks but preclamsia was the culprit – I can relate to so much of your story, especially the Magnesium! I was in the hospital for 2 weeks before delivering though. Sara sent me your blog after Adali was born and I check in regularly – God surely tests us doesn’t he?
    Allison Vonderheide (Stewardson IL)

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