The Days Following Daphne

Yesterday, I gave you a glimpse of how labor went for Miss Daphne.

This part of the story is long, but it is helping me process it and will serve as a good reminder that my family is perfect just the way it is.

It was almost immediately after giving birth that my blood pressure started evening out. I also was not feeling the magnesium that much anymore, and we started the countdown until I would be off of it. They require that you remain on magnesium drip for 24 hours after you deliver. This means you are still stuck to the bed (with the catheter), and you do not get any food, still. With George, I remember that day after was the worst. I was delirious and felt like I was swimming the whole day, never mind that I couldn’t go see my boy since he was in the NICU. Since Daphne never left the room, I like to think that made things go a little smoother for me that next morning. I just started going stir crazy counting down my 24 hours.

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My mother-in-law brought George to meet Sister early that morning. He didn’t really get that it was his sister, and he kept pointing to my belly when we would say Sister. He called her Baby the whole time. He was more excited about all the digger books that we got him for the occasion. He did give her a sweet kiss and then tried to poke her in the eye before he left.

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My dad was the next visitor. He was there for most of the day just hanging out holding his grandbaby. Both Tom and I were able to catch a few zzzz’s while he was there.

Then that afternoon, I took a turn for the worst.

When you give birth, the nurses will check your uterus to make sure that it is distended or not out of place. They push super hard, and it is not comfortable at all when they do it. However, I do not remember it being this painful when I had George. I had to grab on to the handrails of the bed and brace for impact each time they checked my belly because it hurt so bad. But they said that everything felt normal, and I was looking great.

I was also starving at this point since it had been over 24 hours since I had real food. My nurse got the approval that I could have clear liquids, which included strawberry jello and a popsicle. That was the best damn jello I have ever had.

I started to have some heavy bleeding, which also alarmed me because I barely bled at all after George. The nurse said for now it looked normal and there were no clots coming out, but she said she would keep an eye on it.

I began feeling really faint and like a huge weighted blanket was being put on my body. I wondered if it was because I ate the popsicle and jello too fast and thinking maybe it was my blood sugar levels freaking out on me. I remember turning to Tom and telling him that I didn’t feel good and I was going to pass out. Tom said I was really flush, and my blood pressure went down to a 49/39. He called the staff in, and I can remember there all of a sudden being around 10 people in our room. I felt some gushing like I peed my pants, and they realized that I was basically bleeding out.

They pushed on my uterus, and oh my the pain. Even giving birth and contractions cannot compare to this pain. They determined that I was hemorrhaging. Once everything was out after the birth, my uterus was supposed to contract. Because I had a blood clot though, it wouldn’t fully contract. So each time it would try to contract, it would just fill up with more blood.

It seemed like a lifetime was going by while they made a decision on what to do and continued checking everything. I know they were asking me questions and telling me things about what they were going to do, but I just remember being hazy.

I remember telling Tom that I was not doing well and telling him that I loved him. I was going in and out at this point because I recall Tom begging me to answer him and to stay with him. It was an out of body experience because I was yelling back at him, but nothing was actually coming out of my mouth. He just kept leaning over my face and kissing my forehead telling me that he was there and that he loved me.

There was a moment that will haunt me for some time. I looked up at the ceiling and said a prayer to God thanking him for letting me get Daphne out safely and to help Tom take care of them. I was having a hard time breathing and things were fading quickly for me and I felt like I needed to make peace with it. I am not trying to be dramatic; I really thought I was dying.

Tom said this is when I was in shock.

They gave me a ton of pain meds (morphine, fentanyl, and ephedrine). Let me tell you though, they did absolutely nothing for the pain I was about to endure. The doctor had to go elbow deep in my vagina to dig out the blood clot. THE WORST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. The pain was excruciating, and it brought me out of the daze I was in moments before. I felt like I was in a horror film where they were trying to get an alien or demon out of my body with no mercy. I was kicking and screaming just hoping it would stop. I am in tears just recalling it. I also am still having nightmares every time I close my eyes because it was so horrific.

I almost wish that we had taken a picture of the blood clot. It was like a whole other baby was in there. The largest piece was about the size of a large grapefruit, and then there was several smaller remnants that came along for the ride. It kind of looked like a ball of yarn after a toddler gets a hold of it. One big mass, and then a tangled mess unraveling around it. Many of the doctors and nurses told us that it was the largest blood clot they had ever seen.

It was estimated that over the course of the ordeal, I lost about three pints of blood. I had to have a blood transfusion, which is a first for me. It really brings home being a blood donor.

Once they had the clot out, the gave me a huge shot in my leg to get my uterus to contract fully this time.

It took me a while to feel back to normal, but with the new blood, I was starting to stabilize again.

I feel extremely fortunate for the staff that was on hand, and my husband for talking me through the whole thing. I thank God that He pulled me through so I could continue being a mom to my sweet babies. It is because of these moments that I will never again have another child though. It’s not that I can’t, and I feel very fortunate that I did not have to have a hysterectomy because the clot was so bad. This is just not something I can risk happening again or put Tom through. I have told Tom that if I even mention a third kid to pull up this post as a reminder that this is not a safe idea. The gravity of this ordeal is just not something that I feel like I could overcome again.

Soon after the transfusion, I was back to counting down the time until I got off the magnesium so I could get some mac and cheese.

Tom’s side of the family came that evening to meet little Miss. This was nice to keep me distracted because I was not able to sleep because every time I tried all I could see and hear was myself screaming from them pulling out the clot.

Not much happened next until early in the morning when they came to do their 24 hour check on myself and Daphne. I was doing much better which meant getting off the magnesium and having some Kraft mac and cheese. But Daphne was losing too much weight.

So they made me start pumping to supplement after every nursing feed. Pumping and nursing meant that I was basically milking every hour, which also translates to no sleep.

Her weight and my blood clot got us an additional night stay for observations.

We were moved to a post-partum room, and Tom and I just waited it out watching hours of Law and Order and Alaska Bush People.

My blood pressures were amazing (if I do say so myself), and all our doctors and nurses were even astonished how quickly I bounced back after everything I went through. And Daphne gained a few ounces over that 24 hour stretch.

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Saturday came and so did our discharge paperwork.

Apparently May was the time to have babies though, and our paperwork did not get sent right away. Because of protocol, since we were still there at noon, I had to have all my vitals checked again. However the nurse tech did not make it to our room until 2:00. (Our discharge paperwork was done minus the doctor’s signature at 11:00 am, but again because of the overwhelming number of births, our paperwork was not an immediate priority).

My parents happened to come to the hospital at that time as well.

So the unexpected vital check and waiting for the past 2 days to leave, on top of having to perform a good blood pressure in front of a group…well let’s just say did not happen. I had two readings that on paper would have signified that I was having a stroke (193/127).

Needless to say, they wouldn’t let me leave. I had to have my blood pressure checked for the next four hours every 15/30 minutes. I also had to do some lab tests with my urine and blood to make sure I was not still pre-eclamptic. Apparently 70% of patients with pre-eclampsia during pregnancy will develop it after the birth as well. The first two hours I did fine, and they were down to a more normal rate. But the longer, I was there they started climbing again. All I could think about was that they would never let me leave, and I would psych myself out into a bad reading.

Tom really was a saving grace here. He helped with the readings, and talked me off the ledge many times to keep me calm. He also advocated for me when it was hitting that four hour mark after we were supposed to leave initially, and I was working myself into a tizzy. We just wanted to be home and be able to tuck George into bed for the first time in four nights.

We finally were given the green light to go, and I would have to come back in for a follow up to determine if I needed medication.

I have had two very different pregnancies and two very different labor experiences. However, both were traumatic in their own rights. I am now confident that our family is meant to be just the four of us, and Miss DC completes our family dynamic.

I am eternally grateful for nurses like Amy, Christine, and Amber who were instrumental in my safety throughout the whole ordeal. Amber never left my side during the whole birth process. She was there from the moment they started the pitocin until well after Daphne was born. She was a delight. Christine was our day nurse and really was instrumental in helping me stay comfortable after the blood clot situation and got me some sweet snacks before my 24 hours was up. And Amy helped us get out of that joint and was an advocate for us as well when doctor’s wouldn’t even come to our room to tell us they were keeping us “hostage.” She also let Tom really take the reigns with taking my blood pressure so I wouldn’t experience as much white coat syndrome. They really made the experience as easy as possible.

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I am more in love with Tom after watching him become a dad for the second time. I know I would not have gotten through all of this without him encouraging me all the way.

I thank God for gifting me the chance to be Daphne and George’s mom. It is the greatest gift I have ever been given. They make my world complete.

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While it wasn’t easy, we made it home safely, and we are now trying to figure out our new normal.

I have so much more to share about how things are different this second time around, how big brother is doing, and just all the pictures I can manage to get of this little nugget.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and kind words that you have shared with our family. While this blog is mainly for me to remember, I enjoy being able to share pieces of our journey with each of you.

Daphne’s Birth Story

It’s hard to believe that she is finally here!

Our Daphne Christine.

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While we had an induction planned, everything about this birth story was not planned. But what birth story is?

A couple weeks ago, my doctor scheduled our induction for Saturday, May 20th, because he didn’t want me to go a day past 37 weeks. Last Wednesday (May 17th), I went in for my final check up. Knowing we only had a couple days, we got everything squared away at the house, and I had everything done that I needed to do at work before I headed to this appointment. That day was also Tom’s last day at work before he started his paternity leave, so we felt good about the finality of this pregnancy. I even brought my hospital bag with me that day wanting to be more prepared.

I just had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be leaving that appointment without a baby.

And sure enough, Daphne and I both didn’t pass our tests that day. She didn’t practice breathing during the ultrasound, and my blood pressure was too high for my doctor to let us go even two more days until our induction. So I checked into Labor and Delivery, and Tom met me there within the hour after securing George plans with his parents.

We got to our room at 5pm, and I was calm about the whole ordeal at this point. We were having a baby!

They started hooking me up with the IV. They checked my cervix, and I was already dilated to a 3, which is awesome that I was already there naturally. Because of my blood pressure, I was being put on magnesium again. I was really hoping to avoid this because of the bad and awful reactions I had with George. And because of the magnesium, I had to have a catheter. Ugh…

My in-laws brought George by after picking him up from the sitter’s. When he walked in the door, he said, “Mommy hurt?” So many emotions right there. It just hit me that my little baby boy was all grown up.

Soon after they left around 7pm, they put me on pitocin and got the party started. I started having contractions coming together almost immediately. I was also really feeling the magnesium. I was freezing out Tom because I was burning up so much and kept asking for the air to be turned down. The weird thing about magnesium though is that it was just my face that was on fire.

Since I was not allowed to walk around, at 11 pm I decided to get an epidural. It just seems silly to have to deal with all that pain to be able to do it more naturally when nothing about magnesium is normal. The only reason I wanted to try naturally was so I could walk around during labor, and that just wasn’t an option. Give me the drugs then! This time was a lot harder for me to get the epidural. It was much more painful of a process. Tom was in there this time though so that was nice to be able to hold his hand.

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At 12:30, they came and checked my cervix again and broke my water. I was only at a 4. I was a little upset that I wasn’t progressing faster, but I embraced where we were at.

I started shaking uncontrollably at this point. It was like I was cold, but I was hot from the magnesium. I just remember repeating to Tom, “I can’t make it stop.” I shook like this well after the birth was over. This was awful to not feel in control of your body at all.

The nurse had me flipping sides every few minutes in between contractions to help activate Daphne. Every time I had a contraction, her heartbeat went way low. They thought that the umbilical cord may be wrapped around her neck.  I just remember being exhausted after every flip because it was so hard to move my legs due to the epidural it was taking all my strength to rotate. At one point they had me on all fours to help alleviate some of the contraction pain. The thing that they don’t tell you about epidurals is that it doesn’t take away all the contractions like one may think, and you still feel ALL the pressure.

I was having contractions every few minutes and some severe pressure in my hooha. Finally at 3:00 am, the doctor came back in to check on my progress.

It was no wonder I was feeling pressure, because Daphne was crowning and her head was making it’s way out! Her heart rate was going down during contractions not because of the umbilical cord, but because my vagina was wrapped around her neck. So they got everyone into position quickly, including my legs into stirrups.

Seven minutes and 6 pushes after they said let’s start this, Daphne Christine was born at 3:20am and laid on my chest.

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They waited a couple minutes to cut the umbilical cord while she laid on my chest. It as so magical to have this moment. We never got this with George since he was whisked away to the NICU so quickly after birth, so this was amazing to have it this time around.

Once Tom cut the literal cord, they took her over to do her tests while they did finished cleaning and stitching me up.

They did struggle to get the placenta out. And when it did come out, it was very apparent why I needed to have this baby early. It was in shreds. Tom said it looked nothing like when I had George.

But soon it was over and Daphne was back on my chest avoiding the NICU completely as a pre-term baby at 36 weeks and 4 days. Here she was already passing her brother on tests. She weighed 6 lbs and 6 oz, and every bit was beautiful.

I remember dozing off a little bit before the sun rose, but after that I was trying to nurse her every hour or so. Tom and I also admitted that it was so very weird to have her in the room. People kept commenting that it was easy for us since it was our second time and knew what to expect, but we both were like uh no the last baby I didn’t get to see for almost two days after he was born. I don’t know how to do these first few hours of life business!

So after about  7 hours of labor, our precious baby girl made her debut into this world.

While she is now born, the story does not end here. The next couple of days were just as eventful and every part of this birth story. Before this week, I had contemplated having a third kid, but one particular part event of last week has me saying there will never ever be any more kids in our future.

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But you will have to come back for that part of the story. For now you can enjoy those baby cheeks!

George’s Birth Story

This has been a whirlwind of a week.

I never thought that a week ago I would be sitting here to tell this story. I was just posting our 36 week update!

But here we are.

Today George is 5 days old.

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Let’s start at the beginning shall we.

Monday morning at 8:30am I had another check up with my doctor. This was also the day that George had officially been cooking for 37 weeks, which was a huge stress relief to know he was out of the premie category. (By a day mind you…)

At this appointment, they checked my blood pressure like usual and found it at a level that was seriously crazy dangerous. For two hours, I laid on a cold hard observation bed while they checked my blood pressure every 30 minutes and watched George on a heart monitor. While my blood pressure went down, it wasn’t much to get us out of the woods. George, by the way, was just having a ball in there and passing all his tests.

At 10:30am, my doctor came in and said “Let’s have a baby today.”

Oh my. Our due date is September 15th.

SEPTEMBER. It is August.

She said that because of my protein level increasing from 400 to 2000 in one week and my blood pressure, she didn’t want to prolong it because I would soon get really sick. That would not be good for George either. Fortunately, I had already started dilating and was measuring at 2. She said that is great news for an induction because it should go much more smoothly since my body was already preparing for it.

Still 3 weeks early…

She directed me to go to the hospital immediately, and they would put me on some medicine for my blood pressure and induce me sometime that evening.

To add to the complications, Tom was not in town because he was doing an interview in Missouri. So obviously my panic level went up knowing he was not at home and 6 hours away.

My doctor knew he was out of town and explained that the labor probably wouldn’t start until late this evening which would give him plenty of time to get back.

So I left the doctor’s office and decided to go home first instead of straight to hospital. I know I am a rebel and didn’t follow her instructions. I needed to get myself together….Holy cow this is 3 weeks early! Plus there were all the bags to get and the dogs to give some love to.

I called Tom, and we figured out a game plan to get him back ASAP. To be honest, he figured it out, I just cried on the phone.

The best thing for me was to get home and collect myself in our own space for just a bit.

Luckily we had packed the hospital bag that weekend so there wasn’t a whole lot more that I needed to do at home besides last minute toiletries and getting the dogs squared away. Also we had not put the car seat in the car yet, so that needed to go on the list too. To be real with you, I just threw all the stuff in the car, and Tom took care of it later at the hospital.

I decided to relax a little at home to buy more time for Tom to get back to TN so I didn’t have to be in the hospital by myself for long. Also there was just so much processing that I needed to do to keep my blood pressure down.

So I ate some lunch, knowing that as soon as I walked in those doors I would not be allowed food. (Little did I know I wouldn’t have food for 2 and a half days…)

I went through the house a half a dozen times to make sure I had completed our pre-baby list and the bags were complete. I played with the dogs for just a bit after packing the car since they could tell I was panicked which makes them panicked. I gave them a pep talk and told them the next time we came home we would have their brother.

Then I headed towards the hospital but with one more pit stop on the way. I still had not bought nursing bras since they say to wait until your last few weeks. I was going to do that later this Monday anyway at the local maternity store. Well I didn’t have time for that so I went to Target to pick up some cheapies (which I am regretting now..but I was on a time crunch). Also the Target here has the worst selection of everything, and my sizes are always picked clean. Finding nursing bras was no different, but I bought a couple that would make do until I had more time to invest.

Going to Target on the way to deliver your baby is totally normal right?

I got to the hospital at about 1:15 and then proceeded to wait in the registration lobby until 2:30. Nothing like sitting in a waiting room to make your anxiety rise.

I finally got up to Labor and Delivery about 3pm on Monday. I was put in a bed and hooked up to the blood pressure cuff and told to relax.

And I started my fantastic meal of ice chips galore as I waited.

Tom got to the hospital around 6pm. At this time the on-call doctor came in to discuss the course of action. He was a big creeper and seriously talked more about us having 12 kids than worrying about the one we were having right now. He weirded me out so much, and I just wanted my own doctors to take care of me. So we kept asking when the on-call switched to see if I could hold out. (Not even kidding…he was that awkward.)

Anyway, at 10pm they put me on an IV and a magnesium drip. I also got to experience a catheter for the first time. The magnesium is supposed to lower my blood pressure so I can safely deliver George. The bad side is that it is the devil. It makes you feel like you are physically on fire. It slows down your whole system and just makes you feel really sluggish. But it was getting my blood pressure down so there you go. I also had to be on it for another 24 hours after the birth, so I was in sluggish fiery hell for 2 and half days…Magnesium makes you feel so awful about life.

At midnight, they started giving me pitocin. They started with a 2, and they would increase it gradually every hour or so to start inducing the labor more naturally.

A couple hours later, I was in non-stop pain. Contractions are real friends. I can’t even explain how awful they felt. Unfortunately because of the pitocin, I was also not having any break. There was an hour there that I had non stop contractions for the ENTIRE 60 minutes. Remember that time when my doctor said that labor would go more smoothly…uh yea about that.

So they pulled the pitocin back and gave me some pain medication so I could sleep for a little bit.

This is where the timeline gets really blurry for me. The magnesium was taking it’s full affect on me, and I had no idea what time it was. I just knew that I felt like poop and wanted this to be over.

Sometime Tuesday morning, I got an epidural. I had originally wanted to wait as long as possible to get an epidural to see if I could do it naturally and also so I could walk around during labor. Because of the magnesium, I had a catheter so I was not allowed to walk around anyway. Because our plans had changed and I wasn’t able to be mobile at all, and there was so much misery, I figured let’s have at it. Give me those drugs.

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Getting an epidural was not bad at all pain wise. Unfortunately right where they stick it in, my back is super ticklish. I can think about someone touching it and my back will start spazing. So it took us a little while for me to take the epidural. Luckily, my nurse was amazing as I cried into her neck from feeling like a spazing idiot. Really I had the best nurses all week. Amazing staff.

Also I made it to the on-call doctor change. And as my luck would have it, my doctor was on call. She is amazing, so I am glad the labor went long so I could have her helping me through this.

I finally dilated to a 6, and as my doctor was checking my cervix she accidentally broke my water. This wasn’t a bad thing, she just hadn’t intentionally gone down there to do that. It was pretty humorous when it happened. I was a gusher, so my doctor was covered. Whoops.

We then had a slight emergency happen. My blood pressure skyrocketed then plummeted super fast. Both George and I were in distress randomly. George’s heart beat went really crazy low and all of a sudden there were tons of nurses in the room helping me get on all fours to get George moving again. It was an intense couple of seconds as we waited for him to get more active.

I then threw up a couple times because of my blood pressure going nuts.

At this point, I was put on a oxygen mask. I had this well after the labor ended.

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The next hour was much more calm and they backed the pitocin down again so I could rest some more and relax a little.

Unfortunately, I started feeling the contractions again. Excuse me, isn’t that why I got the epidural so I don’t have to feel this awful pain?

They upped my epidural juice. Also known as magic. I could still feel everything, but there was no pain. I didn’t have control of my right leg though. It was a log.

At around 4pm on Tuesday, I had dilated to an 8 and my doctor said it was time. So we went over what Tom and I would do during labor, and we got that party started.

I would push 3 times during a contraction and then we would take a break. My doctor and labor nurse were awesome and during the breaks we were talking about our dogs and the Army since both my doctor and nurse were Army spouses. They did a great job at making me feel real at ease.

Also Tom was absolutely amazing during this whole thing! I have the best husband, and they really don’t give the husbands enough credit during the laboring process.

I may be delusional, but I thought the actual pushing part was the easiest part of the labor. That one hour was nothing in comparison to the previous 16 hours of craziness. The pushing was hard don’t get me wrong. I was out of breath and exhausted, but I at least wasn’t writhing in agony as much as I was during the wee hours of the morning before.

After about 4 large pushing sessions, my doctor said that if George didn’t make it out on the next point she would have to use the suction cup tool (it has a technical term, I just don’t remember what it was) to help him get out.

George was being stubborn so the suction cup went on his head.

And then just an hour after we began pushing, George came out!

At 5:17 pm on August 26th, Tom and I became parents to the most beautiful little guy.

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I came home from the hospital on Saturday, but we were not able to bring George home with us. While it was heartbreaking to come home without him, he has needed his time in the NICU.

We are hoping to have him home on Tuesday. He has a couple more tests to pass, but come back later this week for the full story of our NICU journey.

Glad to finally meet my August baby! He apparently wanted to be more of a summer baby than a fall baby.

This is also why they tell you to be flexible with your birth plan and have no expectations. Something is bound to change.