Superstitions: Friday the 13th and Lucky Number 33

I don’t consider myself to be a superstitious person…until I realize I am.  On February 13th, a Friday, I was released from the hospital after one night.  I was admitted because Baby A was small and had some flow issues from his umbilical cord back to his placenta.  After overnight monitoring, they decided I could go home and just report to the Maternal Fetal Medicine office twice a week for ultrasounds and non-stress tests.  As we left the hospital I had wanted to say, “Maybe Friday the 13th isn’t all that bad after all!” but we were driving home and I figured it would be best to wait until we arrived home safely, just in case.  A few short days later I was admitted to the hospital again because the flow issues continued and Baby A hadn’t really grown.  This time I was there for the long haul.  I could write an entire post on how miserable I was living in the hospital, but I will spare you.  My husband started bringing in the crock pot and cooking homemade meals for me once I was sick of the hospital food.  I was scheduled to have an ultrasound with growth scan on Friday, March 13th.  That also happened to be the day that we reached 33 weeks.  I’ve always considered 33 to be my lucky number, and I have no idea why.  My ultrasound showed the same flow issues, and the growth measurements showed no change over the last two weeks in Baby A’s size.  They estimated him to be about 2lbs 12oz, or the size of a typical 29 weeker.  We had also seen, in both babies, the potential that they could have coarctation of their aortas that could require heart surgery.  The doctor told me not to eat or drink anything and said he was going to talk to the team and he would get back to me.  He returned with the news that we would be having a scheduled c-section that day around 3pm.  An hour later, there was an emergency and we were told our c-section was pushed back and it would be sometime that evening.

I was running on adrenalin.  I was excited but incredibly nervous as well.  I knew that delivering the babies at 33 weeks meant they’d be going up to the NICU, likely until they reached 40 weeks.  The OB for my office that day was a doctor I had never met before, I wish my doctor from MFM could’ve delivered me.  I was taken to the OR, Kyle was left in the hallway while they inserted the spinal to numb me.  I was shaking uncontrollably.  One of the anesthesiologists was super great with me and basically held me while the whole thing was happening.  After it was in, I was laid down and exposed and Kyle was able to come in.  I decided I was going to tell my toes to move, so I did, but they didn’t move (obviously).  I had a small panic attack.  I felt like I was in some horror movie where I had been put in a bathtub and given a drug that paralyzed me and could just see the running water coming up to my mouth and nose and I couldn’t get away from it.  That’s a tad dramatic, but I didn’t like it.

When they began to perform the c-section, I had the weirdest sensations in my body.  I wasn’t in any pain but could feel all kinds of pulling and pushing.  At 4:58pm, Porter was brought into this world weighing in at 2lbs 12oz, just as predicted.  He was whisked into a room off of the OR to be assessed by the NICU team.  Baby B was stuck way up in my abdomen so they had to push her down, again the weirdest feeling ever.  At 4:59 they pulled Winter out of my belly by her leg, she was 4lbs 4oz.  She had some immediate bruising from being pushed  and pulled out.  She was also whisked into the other room and Kyle went with them.  I thought that would be it, that I wouldn’t get to see my babies.  Kyle came back with pictures and one of the NICU Nurse Practitioners surprised us and said that I should get to see the babies.  For a few precious seconds they held Porter next to me so I could see him and Kyle snapped a few pictures.  Then they brought Winter over and showed me her head full of dark hair.  And then they were gone.

Birth Story

Porter (left), Winter (right)

 

I was left behind while they closed me up, which seemed to take forever and I was wheeled into recovery.  At some point that evening, they wheeled my hospital bed into the NICU so I could see each of the babies.  I don’t really remember much, luckily Kyle took a ton of pictures to show me later.

Long story short, I never considered myself to be superstitious, but it turns out I am.  Friday the 13th isn’t always bad, for me it’s a lucky day.  And my lucky number finally made some sense.  I had made it to 33 weeks pregnant exactly when my babies decided they had to make their grand entrances into this world.  Within a matter of a minute, our lives have been forever changed.

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The Heart is the Matter

A few days ago, while undergoing an ultrasound to check on Baby A’s umbilical cord flow, the ultrasound tech said, “I’ll be right back.”  She left the room and I knew this wasn’t normal.  She returned with the Perinatologist and showed her my ultrasound.  They were talking about our son’s heart.  I heard things like ‘I see dilation’ and ‘the flow should only be going one direction’ and ‘narrowing’ among other things.  The doctor calmly told me that she wanted to contact one of two Pediatric Cardiologists who works with our hospital because she isn’t an expert on the hearts of babies.

I immediately went into a panic.  What did any of this mean?  What is wrong with my baby?  We waited and waited and heard nothing.  The next morning I was taken back to the ultrasound room for an echo on the baby and told that they would be making a disc for the cardiologist to review.  We waited hours and heard nothing.  In the evening, I asked my nurse if she had heard anything.  She checked the order and told me that it likely wouldn’t be looked at until the following day.  Two days had passed before we were given the chance to see the cardiologist.  He told us the disc was empty and I’d need another ultrasound.  So back down I went to the ultrasound room and had another ultrasound performed.  Hours later, the doctor finally came in to talk to us.  It was a lot of big words and fancy mumbo jumbo that really went over our heads.

We will not know for sure until our children are born, but the ultrasound showed a narrowing of the aorta (coarctation of the aorta is the official name).  It isn’t affecting the baby much while in the womb so this issue by itself would not require us to be delivered early, but obviously Baby A has other issues as well.  Once the babies are born, they would do an echo on Baby A to get a better look to see if the issue needs intervention.  The doctor explained, after verifying who our insurance company is, that he would recommend us to go to CHOP or Hershey Medical after our baby is born, assuming he needs intervention.  It could mean heart surgery.  HEART SURGERY.  on a baby.  maybe even on a preemie.

He assured us that this is a fairly common problem, and the surgery is very low risk.  But heart surgery is still heart surgery, right?  It sounds pretty scary to me.  Basically, they’d go in and remove the narrow part of his aorta and either sew the two ends back up, or add a patch and sew the two ends to the patch.

This was right about the time I started wondering what we had done to deserve this.  Could I have caused this?  Is it karma for something I’ve said or done in the past?  Hearing things like this about your child, it shakes you.  It makes you wonder why in the hell some crack whores are able to get pregnant and birth healthy babies but the person who has wanted it for as long as they can remember, can’t.

Someone said to me after I discovered I needed IVF that things like this happen to people like me because I want it so badly; that if something like this happened to them, they’d give up and just go without kids.  At the time this response really got under my skin.  I’m realizing how true it really is though.  It’s unfair, but true.  Because I so desperately want a family, I will have to fight more obstacles.  They say nothing worth having ever comes easy, right?  So we will fight, Baby A will fight.  When he’s born, maybe there will be nothing wrong, maybe he won’t need surgery.  But if he does, he will fight through that too and we will fight along with him.

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New Living Arrangements

Hospital 246

 

I haven’t posted an update in a while so let me tell you how things are going.  On an ultrasound a few weeks back they had discovered that Baby A was measuring tiny and had umbilical cord flow issues.  I spent a night in the hospital and was released the next day with plans to make twice weekly doctors appointments.  I was going to the doctors Monday’s and Thursday’s to check the umbilical cord, brain flow and heart rates (mostly – they were checking for other things too but I can’t remember everything).  At my appointments they saw some slowing of the flow from the baby back to the placenta (resistance), at another appointment they saw pauses in the flow from the baby back to the placenta (absent flow), and finally at last Thursday’s appointment they saw some reversal where the flow was actually coming back towards the baby instead of heading to the placenta.  The doctor made the call to send me to the hospital and he was pretty clear that it was very likely I would remain there until I delivered, whether that be the following day or the following month.

I’ve been living in the hospital since then, which is super hard.  They are monitoring me closely by performing non stress tests 2-3 times a day with an ultrasound afterwards, if needed and dopplers (the ultrasound to check the flow) every other day.  They also made me do another 24 hour urine collection test because the last time I stayed in the hospital I had elevated levels of protein (there shouldn’t be any).  As it turns out we’ve determined that I have preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy.  As the days have gone on, the ultrasounds look a little better each time, which is great!  At some point though, we anticipate that me or the babies will take a turn for the worse, but for now bed rest is helping.  The doctors are weighing the advantages and disadvantages daily to keeping me pregnant vs. delivering the babies.

The unknown is really hard for me.  I like plans.  Remember that New Year’s resolution post where I said I wasn’t going to make plans anymore?  Well, I want a plan.  Unfortunately, it’s just not possible.  The doctors gave us goals.  The first goal was to make it 12 – 24 hours beyond my second dose of steroids which they gave me Friday and Saturday.  Yay, we made it beyond that point!  Our second goal is 32 weeks, which will be on Friday.  Our long shot goal is 34 weeks – which a few days ago really did seem like a long shot, but if the babies keep responding well to bedrest and we can keep my preeclampsia from moving into the ‘severe’ range, may be more possible than we first assumed.  A doctor even mentioned 36-37 weeks to me today, which hasn’t been on my radar for a few weeks now knowing that there were some issues.

Living in a hospital is no fun, but let me tell you – my doctors and nurses are doing such an amazing job taking care of me, helping me, making me feel comfortable and explaining everything in detail. I’ve had visitors, flowers, strawberries and desserts brought or delivered.  My husband is here as often and as long as he can be.  I’ve started binge watching Parenthood on Netflix, and I’m hooked.  I should probably be doing something more productive with my time, like writing a book or something awesome, but for now I’m just trying to get through the day without weighing myself down too much.

Here are some baby pictures.  Baby B (our daughter) is on top and Baby A (our son) is on the bottom.  Both babies have hands in front of their faces and little Baby A is all smushed but it’s something.  🙂

Hospital 247

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