Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Surprise! Ella has arrived!

So...a lot has happened since my last post. A. Lot. So this is going to be a really long post, because as I mentioned, a lot has happened. When I posted last Monday, Jan. 24, I had just been readmitted to the hospital because my blood pressure at my weekly doctor's appointment was high again - 160/117. At the time I posted, I thought that I might get to go home on Tuesday. Obviously, that didn't happen. So...here we go.

On Tuesday, I was still in the hospital and waiting for the doctor to come around for my update. I sent Kyle to work because I didn't think there was any reason for him to sit in the room with me all day. He left the hospital around 9:15 a.m. About 10 a.m., my doctor and midwife came to my room and ran through my situation. Basically, my pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH), which I was diagnosed with the previous week, had become preclampsia and was approaching severe preclampsia, and they had made the decision to induce me. I panicked because I was only 35 weeks 2 days, but they assured me that the baby would be fine and that it was better to get her out now instead of waiting. I then picked up the phone and called Kyle, who had been at work for 45 minutes, and told him he needed to head back because it was time. I called my mom and told her to put her bag in the car and call my sister because the doctor had decided to induce me. Things were rolling.

They injected labetalol into my IV, which was to lower my blood pressure. It didn't work, so they started a magnesium drip into my IV, which was to prevent me from having a seizure due to my high blood pressure.  I was also receiving fluids and an antibiotic drip. The antibiotic drip was because I had not been tested for strep B yet, which all pregnant women are tested for in week 36. I obviously didn't make it to the 36-week test, so it was a precaution. And since I was being induced, they started a pitocin drip. Count them out. I was attached to an IV with four bags hanging off the pole. The magnesium drip was painful because it was a high concentration and they were pumping it in so fast - I didn't cry until the nurse turned it on, and it burned so badly that I couldn't stop crying. She would turn it off and on so that I could have a break from it. After we got through the first bag of magnesium, they started using bags that were half the concentration and dripped at a slower pace, so it was much more tolerable. The magnesium made me a little loopy and slightly nauseous, but the bigger problem was that it would pass to Ella. They said it was safe for her, but it would affect her. They started my drip on Tuesday morning, and they left me hooked up to it until Thursday.

Around noon on Tuesday, they wheeled me into my labor and delivery room. At 1 p.m., they broke my water. It was absolutely disgusting. It felt like a huge warm gush of water, and it didn't stop. After while, I had to go to the restroom, so my midwife helped me out of bed and wheeled my IV pole with me. But when I stood up, more amniotic fluid started running onto the floor. My poor husband. I'm glad that I was too consumed in what was going on to look at his face, but I'm sure he was horrified. My midwife was laughing, and then Kyle was laughing, and all I could do was say, "What's going on?! Oh no!" So then the midwife had to mop up the river I left behind me. Luckily, the magnesium had also doped me up to a level that made me less sensitive than usual, so I quickly got over my embarrassment.

My contractions at first weren't terrible, so I told them I wanted to wait before receiving the epidural. I honestly had been dreading the epidural for as long as I can remember - I hate needles, so the thought of one going into my spine was dreadful. I told my midwife that I wanted to be in enough pain that the epidural was worth it. Around 4 p.m, I started to waiver. Kyle challenged me to hold out until 4:30, so that is what I aimed for. At 4:45, I pushed my call button and said I was ready. I had had enough. They then hooked up an internal monitor to accurately measure my contractions, and they had already reached 100 in strength. Yeah. That's right. It made me feel much more justified in calling it quits. By the time the anesthesiologist made it to the room, I was ready to saw my body in half, so I was VERY ready for the epidural. The nurse sat me up and bent me over, and she told me to hold onto my knees and try not to move. Kyle stood in front of me, and I hooked my hands in his pockets. The nurse told me to take a deep breath, and then I felt the needle go in. The anxiety of the entire process was way worse than the actual epidural. It wasn't bad at all - definitely worth it. About 10 minutes later, I didn't feel anything at all. I could see the monitor and watch my contractions approaching, reaching 100 again, and then passing, but I didn't feel anything. I actually took a power nap for about an hour. The magnesium was also to blame for this - it became increasingly difficult to focus, and I threw up while I was in labor. Then I developed what they call a hot spot, which is a place where the epidural doesn't quite reach, or where it is no longer effective. My hot spot was in my lower right abdomen, and it felt like a thousand knives were plunging into that one area. The nurse gave me several boosters of my epidural, and she had to call the anesthesiologist twice to come back and deliver more medicine directly into my back. The spot never went away. It eased up a little when the meds were injected right into my back, but I still always felt my contractions there. All I could do was grip the side of the bed and breathe. Yay labor!

When I got the epidural, I was dilated 4 cm. A few hours later, I was at 6 cm. Three hours later, I was still at 6 cm. My midwife, Deena, said that if I hadn't made progress in a few hours, we would have to talk about a c-section. They were worried about my labor elevating my blood pressure to a certain level, and cautioned me that, at some point, we may have to call it. So Deena made me lay on my right side, and she put a stirrup in the air. I had to put my left leg in the stirrup, laying with my leg up in the air, to try to move things along. Three hours later, I had reached 9 cm. Very shortly after that, I knew it was time to push. I honestly felt like the baby was going to come out any second, so the nurse paged Deena, and within 5 minutes, she was back in the room, rolling me onto my back, telling me how to push. I pushed through four contractions, which in total lasted about 10 minutes, and 13 hours from when we started, at 1:54 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 26, Ella was here. 6 lbs 8 oz and 18.5 inches long. And you know what, I didn't feel a thing. I didn't feel a bit of Ella's delivery. At least, not that I remember. I felt a little bit of pressure, but that was it. It wasn't bad at all. And the sound that child made when she first cried... I can't explain it. It was the most amazing sound I've ever heard, and I immediately burst into laughter and tears. But things still didn't go as planned after Ella was delivered.

They immediately took her over to the table set up for her, and the NICU nurses started working with her. The nurse took my temperature, and I had a fever. That meant that I couldn't hold my baby. They cleaned her up and handed her to Kyle, but I couldn't touch her. An hour later, they wrapped her up and let me hold her for 10 minutes, but I couldn't touch her skin. Then they took her away. She went upstairs to get a bath, and everyone went upstairs with her to watch. The moms and dads stayed upstairs, and Kyle, my sister and his sister came back to my room. The nurse came in and got me ready to go to a recovery room. They said that they were going to keep Ella in the nursery, and when the pediatrician made rounds in the morning, they would bring her to me. Morning came around, and Ella never came. Then, the doctors came in and told me that she had been sent to the NICU from the nursery because she was having desaturations, which meant that the amount of oxygen in her blood decreases below a certain level. They said it could be a result of her being premature, but that it was most likely due to the amount of magnesium she had received from me. The magnesium had acted like a muscle relaxer, and it had impaired her breathing enough that she needed more attentive care. All I wanted to do was go and see her, so they checked my blood pressure, and it was through the roof. They told me I couldn't go anywhere until it reached a certain level. At this point, everyone had got to hold Ella for longer than I had. That didn't do much to help my blood pressure. At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, the nurse came in with a wheelchair and said I could go and see her. I later found out that Kyle had gone all Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment" and told them that if they wanted my blood pressure to go down, then they would find a way to let me see my baby.

So Kyle and I went upstairs and I got to see Ella for what felt like the first time. She had an IV in her hand and was hooked up to a few monitors. It broke my heart, but I was glad that I was finally able to hold her. I was only allowed to stay for 45 minutes, so I stared at her for the entire time.

We went back to the room, and I hoped that Ella would be well enough soon to come and stay with us, but it wasn't in the cards. She ended up staying in the NICU for the entire time. On Thursday, they removed my magnesium drip, and it made a world of difference in how I felt. I was able to take a shower and focus my eyes. I was also able to walk upstairs to the NICU instead of being wheeled up there with my IV pole. I was also moved to a new recovery room, off the postpartum floor. It had a couch for Kyle, which was better because he had been sleeping in a chair. In the two weeks I was in the hospital (the previous week for high blood pressure, then this week for blood pressure and delivery), I never spent one night by myself:) By Friday, I thought I was going to be discharged, but my blood pressure was still high, and I developed a blood clot in my leg. So I was stuck for another night, but I didn't mind because Ella wasn't going home either.  She was still in the NICU so they could monitor her magnesium levels and breathing. We did find out on Friday that her blood cultures came back negative for infection, so they removed her IV. Still, the thought of leaving and not taking her with me was unbearable. But that's what happened. On Saturday, I was discharged, but Ella wasn't quite ready yet. Her magnesium level was still a little high, and she was spending her second day doing phototherapy for jaundice - basically she had a tanning bed light over her to help her bilirubin levels. Her breathing had been better, and she hadn't had any desats that they were concerned about.

We thought we were going to do her car seat test on Friday, but the doctor said she would probably fail, so we did it on Saturday. Any infants born prior to 36 weeks or who experience respiratory problems are required to take the car seat test. The test requires the parents to put the infant in their car seat, properly strap him or her in, then monitor her vitals and breathing for 90 minutes. If she desets below the required level and doesn't normalize within 20 seconds, she would fail the test. My girl passed with flying colors. And because we were waiting on the nurse to come back and confirm, she went 10 minutes past the 90-minute mark. Her daddy teased that now she was just showing off:)

Passing the car seat test, along with her decreased magnesium level and improved bilirubin levels, meant that she was ready for final inspection. Kyle and I stayed at the hospital until midnight, when we had to leave my recovery room. We stayed at a hotel across the street because neither of us wanted to go home without her. Both of our parents went back to Alabama for the night to repack and rest, and if Ella was cleared to go home the following morning, they would be on their way back. My sister and her husband came up on Saturday to see Ella at the hospital, so they stayed the night at our house and met us at the NICU on Sunday morning. The doctor came by and cleared Ella - FINALLY, our girl was going home.

Brittney and I dressed her up for her trip home, and Brittney and Nick were our photographer and videographer for the hospital departure and home arrival. Ella didn't mind her car ride home, and we finally got to our house around noon. That's when it set in. Our family was finally together and whole and where we belonged.

Now I'm the happiest and most terrified I've ever been. All I did at first was stare at her. Now I can leave the room and not take her with me - as long as someone else is holdng onto her. Nighttime has been the most difficult. If I fall asleep, I wake up every 20 minutes to make sure she is ok. If she breathes loudly, I wake up. She is on a 3-hour schedule, so she eats at 12 a.m., 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. We've been to the pediatrician twice now, and her weight is back up. When we left the hospital, she was down to 6 lbs, but she is back up to 6 lbs 6 oz, which is great progress. The doctor also said her lungs sound perfect, and her jaundice is completely gone. So far, our girl is doing great. Our moms have been with us since she came home last week, and they are going to be with us all next week too. Kyle went back to work on Tuesday, and I wasn't quite ready to be on my own yet:)

So that is where we are now. I celebrated my first birthday as a mommy, complete with a card and gift from Ella. She even signed it with a hot pink footprint for me. Our families have been coming and going, everyone coming to meet and hold our girl. And despite the fact that everything was in the same place it was when I left our house last week, everything has changed. My entire outlook, my priorities, everything...I had no idea that so much would be so different. My love for her and Kyle have completely changed everything about me, and I wouldn't have it any other way. So now, I am transitioning the blog from the ups and downs of pregnancy to our new life with Ella. It's going to be even harder now to update, just because a new baby means there are less hours in the day, but I will do the best I can. If I go a week or two without anything, you know why:)

In the NICU

With her Aunt Britt. You will see the velcro patches she had to wear for her shades during her jaundice tanning sessions.

Car seat test:)

On her way to the doctor

On her way home from the hospital after four days in the NICU