The Man Child would be 10 years old soon after the birth of my second baby. While the years passed between the birth of The Manchild and my little “Lucy”, I went through many changes myself; I had moved several times, quit a job I stayed at for several years even though I was miserable, went back to school full time, got married, earned my associate’s degree, and enterered a nursing program in order to earn my bachelor’s and start working as a nurse. Little did I know that there were other things planned for me, and while my daughter is now 2 years old, I am still trying to get through nursing school 4 years later!
Lucy’s Birth Story
After The Manchild was born and time passed, I knew that things would be different if I had another child. I would be more educated in my options, and have a better, more open dialogue with my doctor throughout the pregnancy. I would not just blindly accept whatever was given to me.
The pregnancy went as well as we could have hoped for; no complications, I had started CBE classes, including Hypnobirthing, talked to my husband and mother about what I wanted and how they could support me through the process, wrote a birth plan and discussed it with my Dr., who was supportive.
When I was around 25 weeks, I just didn’t feel good and I started to swell. “That’s normal,” they said, “yes, even this early.” In the next week or so I had a few extra trips to the Dr.’s office to check the blood pressure because I had a few headaches in addition to the swelling. “Still normal,” they said. I was sent for some blood work, just to be sure and get a good baseline, just in case. In the few weeks that followed the swelling became worse and worse, and overall I just didn’t feel good. At my 30 week appointment, my blood pressure was somewhere in the range of 130+/90 which was quite a jump for me, and there was a little protein in my urine. I sat in the exam room and waited for the doctor to come in. “Are you still working?” she asked as she entered the room. “Yes,” I said cautiously. “Not anymore,” she said. I asked about school, I had just started my second semester of my junior year. She shook her head and told me that I would spend the rest of this pregnancy on bed rest, that is, after a trip to the hospital for some testing.
As I headed over to the hospital, I called work to let them know I would not be in… for a while. I wondered what would happen with school, I was so close to being done! I spent the day in the hospital hooked up to the monitor with regular BP checks and waited for blood work to come back from the lab. No, I didn’t have a headache, and no I didn’t see any floaters. I was sent home with a 24 hour collection bottle, strict orders to stay on my left side, and no, there wasn’t a need for me to monitor my blood pressure at home. This all happened on a Friday.
I went home and stayed on my left side, and monitored my BP anyway. By Wednesday, I decided to call the Dr.’s office as it was getting worse. This bought me a trip to the L&D floor for a non-stress test and more blood work. It was around 5 p.m. when I arrived there, and the Dr. working that evening was one who was on staff at my regular Dr.’s office, but I had only seen her once or twice.
This Dr. was pretty abrasive; after the lab tech came up and drew some blood, she decided to talk to me about my birth plan. She told me that it was nice that I had taken the time to write the birth plan, but I needed to understand that things change, and it is normal to experience pain and use medication during labor and delivery. I told her that I understand that I may not have everything I am hoping for due to emergency situations that may arise, but I had talked to the other Dr. about it already, and she was comfortable with my plan. My pressure was reading around 150/100 on the monitor, and the Dr. asked the nurse to get another reading with a larger, manual cuff. The nurse came back with a bariatric cuff that was sizes too large for my arm, and got a reading that was lower than my ‘normal-not-pregnant’ BP. The Dr. said that since my blood work was normal and she was more comfortable with this pressure, she was going to send me home. “But that BP is not right,” I said, “It is lower than anything I’ve had ‘normally’ in years”. She pretty much ignored what I said and told me that she was comfortable with sending me home, and I should just call if I have any more problems.
After arriving home, I continued to monitor my BP, which still lingererd around 150/100, both with a wrist cuff, and my manual cuff which definitely fit me. I parked myself in bed on my left side, and watched some TV. Shortly after 11 p.m. I began vomiting, so I called in to the Dr. on call. I told her that my pressure was still up around 150/100, and I was now vomiting. She told me to head in to L&D at the hospital. I called my husband (who worked second shift) and told him he needed to come home and take me in.
After some time in triage, they transferred me to a room and monitored the baby and my BP, still getting readings around 150/90. They called in to the Dr. with a report, and she asked them to use the larger manual cuff again. I explained to the nurse what had happened earlier and I was not comfortable using the larger cuff, and I had brought my own that had markings that confirmed that it was the appropriate size. She seemed to agree that the larger cuff was not giving an accurate reading, but the shift changed and a new nurse came in and told me that I seemed to have a stomach virus and I would have a liter of IV fluids and be sent home. She had an extremely difficult time getting the IV in, and ended up placing it in the antecubital (inner elbow) area, which was quite uncomfortable. After the first liter went in she said I could have another liter, or go home. Since I was frustrated, exhausted, and miserable, I decided to just go home to the comfort of my own bed.
When she removed the IV, my arm started to bleed… a lot. The nurse thought this was unusual, and asked me if I have ever had trouble with IVs before. I said no, and just held the cotton ball with a lot of pressure to try to get it to stop. When we arrived home 15 minutes later, the IV site was still bleeding, and I told my husband I thought this was very strange. After finally getting it to stop bleeding, I decided I was going to have a conversation with my regular Dr. the next day, and went to bed.
Thursday morning I called my regular Dr. and expressed to her my serious discontent with the way things had been handled the previous evening, and told her that I would not be going back to L&D if the Dr.s on call and nurses could not figure out how to take an accurate BP. She said she would note my file and suggested that I bring my own manual cuff to future visits so that there would not be any questions, and she would call a prescription in to the pharmacy that would hopefully help get the BP under control.
Friday morning came, and I got up to head in for my regular weekly appointment. I felt miserable, and started vomiting in the shower. My husband and I headed right in to the Dr.’s office (I had an 8:30 a.m. appointment). As soon as we walked in I told the receptionist I had been vomiting, and could they go ahead and send me back to an exam room, she looked at me and said, “I can see you aren’t feeling well.” They sent me back to the exam room and we waited for the nurse practioner to come in. When she came in she said that I was reading +4 for protein in my urine, and she was sending me right over to the hospital for labs.
Because I had not been feeling well for weeks, and I had been brushed off a few days ago as still being fine, I guessed that the lab work would come back and I would just be sent home, so I told my husband I would try to find someone to pick me up so that he could go to class. He waited with me while they drew some blood, and I called my father to see if he would be able to come pick me up.
There was a different Dr. on call this day, and he said he wanted to check the lab work to see what was going on, there was a possibility that I may need to be transferred to a larger hospital. I don’t remember a conversation with the Dr. or the nurses where they specifically told me, even after the blood work came back, how sick I was.
The Dr. left, and I heard the nurses chit-chatting at the nurse’s station that she would expect it to be a lot higher than 75, especially with the dehydration… she came in and told me that my labs were back and she was going to have the Dr. come back and take another look at me. When he came back he said that he had called ‘the big’ hospital and I would be transferred, and he explained that I was going to have an IV of magnesium sulfate started and get a shot of steroids that would hopefully help the baby’s lungs develop, just in case they had to deliver early. I would have one shot today, and another in 24 hours. The ambulance came, and transferred I was…
When I arrived at ‘the big’ hospital, I had another non-stress test, another set of labs, and an ultrasound. I asked the Dr. what the bottom line was, becuase up until this point, I didn’t really know what was going on, other than I was sick. He said that the bottom line was that I was not going to be pregnant fro much longer (I thought to myself, not much longer, so now I’ll have to stay here a couple of weeks on bed rest?). I asked him what “not much longer” meant, and he said that hopefully they would be able to hold the delivery off at least another 24 hours so that I could get the second shot of steroids, but it was all dependant uopn my lab results.
Shortly thereafter, the Dr. returned to my room with a brood of other Dr.s and said that as soon as an OR opened up, I would be having an emergency C-section… my platelets were at 62,000… I thought for a second… platelets, they should be 150,000+… and I looked at him and asked him if I was going to bleed out when they cut me open. His response was that it was a serious concern, and I may need to recieve blood products.
I talked to the anesthesiologist who said I would have to be under general due to the risk of bleeding with a spinal, and the NICU Dr.’s came in to explain the baby may need respiratory support since I was only at 31 weeks, and what I should expect when I came out of surgery. It all happened in a whirlwind. It was like a dream… the next thing I knew I was being wheeled in to the OR joking with the anesthesiologist about making sure I was really asleep. When I woke up they told me I had a baby girl who was doing well in the NICU, only needing a CPAP at this point.
I had to stay in bed for the next 24 hours, because of the magnesium sulfate, so I didn’t see Lucy until she was a day old. When my wonderful nurse wheeled me in to the NICU to see her, it was amazing. The intensity of everything that happened did not hit me until the next day when I went into the NICU by myself to see he; I was so overwhelmed with emotions and just started crying. Her nurse came over to me and said, “she is doing great, you know that, right? She is OK.” I nodded yes, regained composure, and started to learn about what I should expect in the days to come.
I was blessed to have a wonderful nurse when I was transferred to the ‘big hospital’, and we were even more blessed that our Little “Lucy” had ABSOLUTELY AMAZING nurses her entire stay in the hospital.
This birth experience could not have been any more different from what I was hoping for, but I learned a lot through it, and am grateful that we were blessed with a healthy baby who just needed some time to grow and learn to eat before we could take her home with us!