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February 10, 2012 / Mettā Reiki Center

New Labels.

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Wow.  My last post was on August 30th.

 

I’d love to say I hadn’t posted because I just got bored with blogging, or keeping a journal of what was going on with my pregnancy just wasn’t that big of a deal to me anymore, but that is far from the case.  Sometimes situations have a way of snowballing out of control, and even now it takes a lot of concentration to look back and figure out just what the hell happened.

 

This is the beginning of somewhat of a “focus change” for this blog…the satire will still be here in great excess, but along with being focused on the experience of being an “Older Mom”, I now have the labels of “NICU Mom” and “Preemie Mom”.

 

God, I hate labels.

 

Our Little Spartan’s due date was February 2, 2012.  She is sitting next to me now, and today’s date as I am writing this is February 10, 2012.  Her “gestational age” is 8 days old.

 

Actually, she is 11 weeks old.

 

I’ve learned that there are big differences between “actual age”, “adjusted age”, and “gestational age”.  I’ve been told that up until 18-24 months, her actual age doesn’t matter nearly as much as her gestational age.  

 

For the record, from the perspective of the mom instead of the medical provider – the actual age does matter.  Every day of that “actual age” is a victory, and most of the moms I have spoken with share this viewpoint.

 

After August 30th, things moved very quickly.  We found out we were going to have a little girl (which reminds me, I need to send an angry letter to that Intelligender company).  We had beautiful baby showers.  Lion King and I were married on November 5th.  Throughout all of this, I had begun to notice some strange symptoms that I called the doctor about and was told were “normal for pregnancy”.  After a while, I just began to assume anything that was happening was “normal for pregnancy”.

 

Some of this may be fragmented – it’s been an emotional few months, and I want to make sure I get as much of this experience “blogged” for someone who may need to read it – but I may jump back and forth timewise, so please forgive me if that does happen.  There were several times in the past months where I thought, “I wish someone would have been completely straightforward with me about what was coming, instead of telling me “just take it a half day at a time and everything will be fine””.  There were also times where I was overwhelmed with information – especially pictures of premature babies that would throw me into hysterical, sobbing panic attacks (that did nothing good for my blood pressure) – and I wanted nothing to do with any other “shared experiences”.

 

What I do know is that every experience like this is different.  The difference of a few days in or out of the womb makes huge differences in a baby and how they are able to progress.  Please take this as nothing more than a documentary – it’s not meant to be advice (God knows I had no clue how to do much right at this point in my life), and know that each experience is completely different, even though the pain is probably a great deal similar.  As another “NICU Mom” told me, “It doesn’t matter how short or how long your baby has to stay in here.  If your baby is in a NICU and you have to leave without them, you have seen the gates of hell.”

 

The strange symptoms started with a weight gain that was unexplainable, considering that I was keeping down about 50% of what I was eating, and craving fruit, vegetables, and very little sweets.  The bacon cravings that were the source of many jokes between my husband and I were diminishing while my cravings for watermelon, bananas, and spinach salads were skyrocketing.  Between two doctor visits that were two weeks apart, I had gained over 14 pounds, when under normal circumstances and with my normal metabolism, I should have been losing weight.  My total weight gain by the time I made it to week 29 of my pregnancy was over 70 pounds.  Forty pounds of this weight gain was gone within 72 hours of the birth of our baby.

 

My blood pressure was out of control, bringing me into the doctor’s office frequently to see numbers higher than 200/110 when I was at rest.  The nurses would have me lay on my side for 15 minutes to as long as a half hour to get a normal reading, at which point the doctor prescribed a pill to take twice a day.  The doctor reminded me not to take my blood pressure during the course of the day, because it would be high, but to take it after a period of resting.

 

The “common sense” part of me had, by that time, apparently shut down.  Now that I look back, I think, doesn’t the baby have to deal with that high blood pressure throughout the course of the day?  Are we worried about what the numbers look like on my chart or what is happening to my child?

 

Other symptoms followed.  Headaches – unbelieveable headaches that would put me in bed for days.  Pain in my hands so severe that woke me from nightmares of someone sticking my arms in open fires – when the pain wasn’t there, I had almost completely lost my fine motor coordination from the swelling.  My engagement ring and wedding ring didn’t even fit on my pinky finger.  I had uncontrollable movements starting in my legs, then in my arms.  Dizzy spells, feeling faint, palpitations, irregular Braxton-Hicks contractions that started around 18 weeks (about the same time I really started feeling the baby move).  All of these I reported to the doctor.  All of these, I was told, were “normal for pregnancy”, so I trudged on, figuring that other moms had been through this, so by God, so could I.

 

On Saturday, November 19th, I was at work completing a consultation with a wonderful family (I work as a Hospice nurse).  I was busy organizing discharge plans, medical equipment, social work and chaplain support, determined to make this patient’s discharge home as seamless as possible so he could spend time with his family.  I began to feel faint again, and put my head down on the nurses’ station desk.  Then I started to feel something different – I felt my chest get tighter and tighter.  I tried to concentrate on the stars I saw behind my eyelids, strangely thinking that would help me stay conscious.  I felt the baby kicking, and reassured myself that since I could feel movement, everything was fine.  I excused myself back to my unit to catch my breath.

 

The nurses on the Hospice Unit were not impressed with my management of the situation, and insisted I be checked out after finding my blood pressure to be 172/118.  I called my obstetrician and left a message for the on-call nurse to call me back.  After about an hour with no call back, I went to the bathroom and looked down to find that I had begun spotting.  I felt the tightness in my chest again and decided I was tired of waiting for an on-call nurse to call me, that I would get to the ER to be checked out. Probably just need some blood pressure medication and an ultrasound to make sure our baby was okay.  No big deal.

 

My friend at work insisted I go down in a wheelchair since I felt faint, and a student nurse walked me down to the emergency room.  We approached the desk, and I calmly presented my identification and card from my obstetrician, explaining that I had just had some blood pressure problems and a little spotting, and would just liked to be checked out so I could return to work.

 

The girl behind the desk hurriedly picked up the phone and overhead paged, “I need someone from Labor and Delivery to ER Triage, stat!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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