Sunday, February 12, 2017

Update from the Disappearing Blogger :-)

Enjoying finally looking pregnant during the first week of November
Looking at my old post dates, I'm having a hard time believing that I haven't posted since early November which seems like yesterday....but a lifetime ago, too.

I guess I should just jump in.  Figuring out where to start is the hard part, though.

On November 18, 2017, my husband's family had a small party for Thanksgiving.  I had a blast.  Since the food at holiday parties is richer than I'm used to and I was 25 weeks pregnant, I was annoyed, but not surprised that I started having gas pains after the meal.  That night was miserable, but I adjusted my diet, got more exercise, and took some pregnancy safe anti-gas medications.  I was still much more gassy than usual, but that's pregnancy for you.

On November 23, 2017, I was working on a blog post when I smelled rust.  While I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on, blood started gushing out of my nose.  I ran to the bathroom, grabbed a ton of toilet paper and applied tons of pressure.  The bleeding stopped within a few minutes.  Honestly, it took longer to clean up the blood on my face, hands, shirt and the drips I lost control of when rushing through the house than it did to stop the bleeding.    I told my mom about the bleeding - it reminded me of the one time I broke my nose - and she asked if I had had elevated blood pressure at all during the pregnancy.   I hadn't had any elevated blood pressure.  In fact, my blood pressure had been 110/70 at my last OB check up about 10 days before.

Thanksgiving came!  My mom and brother were going to meet my husband and I for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.  Nico had to work on the farm so it was just Mom, Mike and I for dinner.  The restaurant was closed so we went to IHOP.  I haven't been there in years and was thrilled to have Red Velvet Pancakes.  My stomach was acting up a bit from time to time, but a heavy starch sounded amazing.  My super-kind mom left a huge tip for the waitress since the restaurant was slow.  The waitress was touched and we all chatted for a bit.  I made some kind of joke about the fact it was completely dark at 6pm at night; did I mention winters in Michigan suck?

That night, my stomach was still gassy, but around midnight I started having sharp pains by my belly button.  The pain was keeping me from sleeping.  I wondered if I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions, but it didn't feel like my entire uterus was tightening, just the uppermost part.  I spent an hour trying various remedies that my OB had sent home with me - walk, rest, drink water- and realized around 2am that I was still awake, miserable, and - oh, yeah - the pains seem to have a rhythm to them.   I dug out the emergency number for my OB's practice and called.  One of her partners strongly recommended that I go to the hospital to get checked out since premature labor needs rapid treatment.

I went to the hospital.  I wasn't having contractions - just some disordered Braxton-Hicks.

The nurses took my blood pressure.  It was 206/115.  I had developed severe pre-ecclampsia in 10 days.  

I was attached to an IV, had blood drawn, the works.  The nurses had a hard time getting my blood pressure to drop;  turns out I inherited paternal family's ability to ignore beta-blockers.   Eventually, my blood pressure went down to "higher than ideal, but not dangerous" and I was sent up to L and D for a few hours of monitoring and then they would send me home.

That was the plan, anyways.  There was one piece of information missing: my blood work hadn't come back.  When it did, everything changed.

The blood work showed that my liver enzymes were extremely high while my platelets were dangerously low.  Not only did I have severe pre-ecclampsia, but I had developed an extremely rare syndrome that can occur with pre-ecclampsia known as HELLP.   My liver was becoming extremely overactive.  This causes it to start digesting itself while destroying red blood cells and platelets.

I knew what HELLP was.  HELLP kills women when left untreated from seizures, strokes and uncontrolled bleeding from liver ruptures.  HELLP kills babies by having the placenta detach before birth and leads to torrential bleeding.

I had walked into the hospital critically ill. If I hadn't gone to the hospital, Jack and I would have been dead in hours to days.

There is one cure for help: immediate delivery of the baby.  The problem was that I was 26 weeks, 1 day pregnant.

The doctors and nurses worked a miracle.  They were able to stabilize me long enough that I received two doses of betamethasone to speed my son's lung, skin and intestine development.  I delivered Jack by emergency CS 28 hours after I got the first dose of betamethasone.  That's 32 hours after I called my doctor or 40 hours after we left IHOP.
Jack's baptism at 4 days old. He weighs 1 pound. 5oz.

Jack weighed 1 pound 12 oz and was a whopping 12 inches long.  The neonatologist held Jack next to me for a few minutes so that I could give him a kiss and tell him how much I loved him, how glad I was that he was safe and that he was totally worth all of the pain of the last 28 hours.

I can't really describe the last 11 weeks.  Maybe someday, but not now.

Jack's done well.  His lungs were still very, very underdeveloped.  He spent a month on a ventilator followed by two weeks on NIPPV and three weeks on CPAP.

The pictures are easier to focus on and I do like showing off my handsome son.
Holding Jack for the first time.  He's a week old and weighed about 1.5 pounds. That was the day after I went home from the hospital.
The smaller the baby, the more people needed for basic care.  Notice the arm waving free in spite of my husband and my best efforts.......

"Feisty" is good; Having a 2 pound baby who tries to lift his head and pull his ventilator tube out....not so good.  Hence the hand I have clamped on

Doing "containment" to help Jack feel secure.  He always likes having hands on his feet because he could kick at them.
Jack's around 3 weeks old or 29 weeks gestation in the picture.  He's on a ventilator still.  

Jack's first Christmas as Santa's newest elf.

Jack dressed as a vampire in honor of his fourth blood transfusion.

Jack's sharing some bonding time with my husband.

Jack's on NIPPV or CPAP in this pic.  He started regulating his body temp at a very young age so he'd overheat during skin-to-skin if we put a real blanket on him.  Hence the bandanna.
The most "Jackian" photo we have so far!  Dude does not like having his arms contained and will break free of any swaddle known to man...

Actually, this might be the most "Jackian".  Notice the hand shoved free of the swaddle and a leg held at a 45 degree angle.  When your kid is attached to monitors, you can use a weighted beanbag to make him feel safe....and keep his pacifier in place.

You really do get used to all the tubes and cords attached to your kid.  When I look at this picture, what I remember isn't the medical things but starting to cry when I came in Jack's nursery because Jack was in a real crib.
We dressed him for the first time at 35 weeks gestation (or 9 weeks after he was born).  It took me 20 minutes mainly because I'd never done a kimono style onesie before
When Jack was switched to a nasal cannula for oxygen, I felt like we had a changeling baby; I had gotten so used to the hat and mask for the NIPPV and CPAP that seeing his whole face and head was startling and wonderful.
Reading a book aloud on sustainability for my Master's.  The neonatologists were always telling us how good it was that we read to Jack; I've never had the heart to tell them that I read aloud because staring at a monitor while Jack was asleep was very, very boring.
Being able to pick up and hold my son without needing medical backup has been amazing!  Holding him when he was on a ventilator required at least 1 respiratory therapist and two nurses to safely transfer him to and from the isolette.  When he switched to NIPPV/CPAP, we only needed one nurse.  Now, I can pick him up whenever we want to or whenever he needs some cuddles.
Jack's Mafia enforcer face  :-)
"No, really, Dad.  The nurses said I can stay up all night.  Don't you believe me?"  I think we'll be seeing that face a lot :-P

Jack's sleeping in his dinosaur position in his dino jammies!


  1. 206/115!? Holy smoke!

    I'm relieved that you received medical attention in time to save your life, and that you and the little guy are alive and healthy. Congratulations on your new arrival!

    1. Thank you! No one signs up for an insanely dangerous end to an otherwise uneventful pregnancy - but we were super-lucky to live near the best regional NICU on our side of the state. Jack shared a small-baby-room with parents whose child had been flown in from as far away as the Upper Pennisula of Michigan (8+ hour drive north) and southern Ohio (8 hours or more south)

  2. Oh my goodness! I'm so glad you got medical attention when you did! Congratulations to you, Nico, and baby Jack!

  3. What a cute little fellow! I am glad you are both doing well. Thanks for sharing the photos of him.

  4. Sending good vibes to you and Jack!!!

  5. Oh my goodness!!!!!!! I'm SO glad you both are okay, SO glad you went to the hospital that day! Congratulations on your sweet baby :)