Blue Christmas: Part 2 “The point of no return”


As I check in at the hospital’s main admittance desk, my tears well up. I know it’s so stupid but I can’t help it. I call my beyond shocked husband telling him that I’m being admitted (feels like I’ve “been here, done that” a “few” times before). I text my mother in law, who has been such a great help through out this pregnancy, as well.

With only a few weeks before Christmas, who knows what will happen…

As I sit and wait for my hospital room to get ready, I know logically that I have to stay put, for a healthy pregnancy, a healthy me and a healthy baby! I’m still starting to entertain the thought that maybe I’ll be released in a day or two (since I’m pretty sure by now my symptoms are NOT pregnancy related) and we can STILL fly “home” to Sweden. But I heard what the PA said, I really did, and I try to turn my thoughts around (being a slight control freak and maniac planer makes that extra hard).

It wouldn’t be the worst to stay home and take it easy over Christmas. I wish I could just snap my fingers and be transferred right to my parents house though, so I can relax there, (wouldn’t that be awesome!) but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. I know the long flight would take a toll on me and my now enormous body and obviously I don’t want to jeopardize anything. The PA is right what IF something goes wrong during the flight! What IF my cyst burst with not only extreme pain following but bleeding- I would think something is wrong with the baby-and so would everyone else. And what IF it wasn’t the cyst at all and something WAS wrong with the baby…

No, definitely better not to take any chances, better safe than sorry and all that…

Not what I was hoping and planned for but…

I have been known to dislike change buuut after a shift in thought process and a clear headed analysis of the situation I have also been know to change my mind, my plans and eventually able to “roll with the punches”.

And I’m also known popularly to make the best of any given situation. This is safe and good and we will just spend a wonderful Christmas here (hopefully not in this hospital) and spend NEXT Christmas in Sweden!!

My room seems oddly familiar, it’s private and behind the nurses station, around the corner from a fridge (which I know hosts yoghurts, cranberry juice, jello and stale peanut butter crackers), a large scale and a storage room for wheelchairs. The room is rather large but the window faces a brick wall and a little bit of black roof…
Even though I’m sure (in fact I know…for a fact) that these rooms pretty much all look the same-I feel like I’ve been here before…
I feel like I “lived” here before- as in the 36 days of hospital bedrest before my daughter was born…

When the nurse comes in I immediately recognize her as well. She doesn’t seem to recognize me but as I glance at her “staff” card hanging around her neck stating her name and her credentials I greet her with a “nice to see you again Eva” in Swedish…

It’s the swedish nurse who took care of me on and off after my water broke only 29 weeks pregnant with my daughter!

I completely bombard her with questions in Swedish and by the time her shift is over we both agree that I have a nasty stomach bug (as evident by the hours of nonstop vomiting and my kid Ss beng just as sick at home) but that it’s NOT pregnancy related, (but since my condition affects the pregnancy and the baby’s condition), I should stay 24 hours for observation, (but be released to be able to re-plan the holidays with my family).

As she checks my temperature and my vitals we chat about everything from family to pregnancy to travel, to various illnesses (she is a nurse and we are in a hospital after all). Of course I see the opportunity to pick apart every part of my four pregnancies (as well as miscarriages) and my different complications (poor woman), seeking out honest, down to earth responses in my first language!
We are really bonding and she is quite interesting. She makes me “promise” not to come back before I’m at least 39 weeks, saying babies actually NEED to stay in that long to be “fully cooked”.

The night nurse seems to resent our closeness and as she is taking over AND is about to set an IV I try to connect with her as well (but no such luck).

It takes five nurses to try to set the IV (my poor arms and hands are bleeding and black and blue by the time they are done-and they still don’t succeed). They fear I’m dehydrated but as they can’t give me fluids and I’m not allowed to eat yet (unable to keep even small sips of water down) they call for the expert!

For him, I have to wait, it’s after midnight when he comes in my room. “Him” being the anesthesiologist, sets the IV like it’s nothing and tells me to call him “Doctor Hurt Less”
“Be sure to ask for ME when this baby is ready to come out, around 39 weeks” (why does everyone keep saying that!?)

I have to spend an agonizing 3 days in the hospital without my family, until my fever is down, I’m no longer dehydrated and until the baby “behaves” on the monitor (being hooked up to the machines yet again checking the baby’s heart rate, fetal kicks and movement and mama’s contractions). After 24 hours I have contractions big enough to suggest preterm labor (probably caused by dehydration) which earns me another 24 hours.

After 48 hours my blood test results come back suggesting “a severe” iron deficiency.

When I finally get release it is with stern orders not to travel, ESPECIALLY out of the country…
They set me up with iron infusions straight through an IV at the “hospital main” twice a week until my iron levels stabilize. With those appointments plus my stress tests at the doctor’s office three times a week – I’m going to need a lot of help watching my other little ones at home!

When I get back to my family and all the packed suitcases, I get sad (and spend a weepy hour Skyping my mom, even entertaining the thought that the family could go to Sweden without me) but we all regroup, talking about the summer and next Christmas.

My family and I take a short vacation to “Knott’s Berry Farm” and spend an amazing Christmas with the family we have here. Not according to plan but definitely cozy, fun, warm and memorable!

It might not be white but it still is wonderful!!

Close calls and crying wolf…

So I’m at the ultrasound, by now more worried about any abnormalities than the sinking water, since by now I’m already over 35 weeks and at every check the fluid is low but always seems to be enough!
I go through the routine of telling the ultrasound tec that “no, thanks, we are not finding out the gender” even though I have seen her before (I know she sees so many patients and she might have forgotten however) because to find out so close to meeting our little one would of course be disappointing.
She doesn’t say anything about the amniotic fluid being TOO low but does ask if I have experience increased leakage lately?
I’m not going to answer that, I know I get to see a doctor later and if she questions the fluid, I will have to go from there!

At the non stress test my baby is sleepy, they give me cold water and then juice to try to wake it up but to no avail. Nobody seems too concerned but I do keep an eye on my clock as my mom has already texted that she boarded the plane in LA and I know I need to be out of here pretty soon…

They try to stir the baby with a buzzer which does worry me a bit- not that it will hurt baby but that it’s seems so unresponsive. After an hour, I’m released and thankfully baby has started kicking! I still need to see the doctor and I officially realize that I will be late to pick my mom up. How ironic since I promised her that I had plenty of time and would be there for sure. I’m thinking about the added time of her getting out of the plane and getting luggage, keeping my fingers crossed, I will get out of here very soon!

Nop….

So, the doctor explains that she is very sorry but she feels that she has to send me on another trip to triage because my fluid IS on the border of dangerously low and of course thinking about the added infection risk and risk to baby (still not ideal delivering the little one at only 35 weeks) I have to admit to the random leaking. She thinks I will be fine if the amniotic sac is still there and full enough but she isn’t willing to take any chances, especially given my history.

I make my way over to triage again feeling somewhat defeated, I made it this far. I text my mom what’s going on, hoping she won’t worry and knowing she will understand. Then I call hubby, explaining that, sorry he has to cancel his last appointments to go pick up his mother in law!

At triage they are busy and I keep feeling bad that there are women in there with way bigger problems (and frighteningly smaller tummies) than I, some in immediate danger of delivering unimaginably early. Of course me and my huge frame, feeling fine, are not prioritized, which prolongs things.

I hope my mom turns on her phone as soon as she lands and that my darling husband will be able to locate her and help her with her bags and to the car, not that she needs any help- a seasonal traveling pro by now!
She might get slightly disappointed I’m not picking her up, thinking about the Starbucks and some mother daughter conversation I promised her but I know she will be more worried about the fact that I was sent to triage, probably or at least hopefully for no reason…

Except, there is (almost) always a reason of course, but I keep feeling that this long emotional pregnancy has been full of close calls but miraculously baby and I have made it this far. Since I still have almost 2 weeks to the safe 37 week zone (and three to the ultimate goal of full-term surviving even that week) I do worry however that if they think I’m leaking to much, thinking about the baby not having enough and the infection risk that they will put me on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy or even (gasp!) decide to take baby out!

Not getting ahead of myself I try to calm down saving my phone battery to hear from mom and husband that she was picked up okay, hoping to be released in time to meet them both at home. I try to focus on how excited I am to be able to show mom our new house and to hopefully get a few stress free weeks of hanging out, a lot more help, yummy home cooked meals and a few outings before this baby comes!

After I have been seen by a register nurse, they monitor my contractions and baby’s heart beat while they wait on the fluid results . She checks me and tells me that, yes! My bag of water is definitely there and from what she can tell intact!
Only there is a slight problem with that…it would all be great, except I’m not like other pregnant women (what else is new…!?).
My water bag was completely intact as my water ruptured with BOTH my other pregnancies as well…

Let me explain! (If I can because it is kinda confusing). My bag was there and seemed intact both times, except it had a small (tiny) tear in the upper quadrant with sweet daughter. It also tore with a little trickle (no gush mind you OR the telltale sign of continuous leaking with darling son) but with me being 37 weeks then and things progressing naturally after a few hours, nobody worried about that. BOTH times I was certain my fluid was NOT broken. BOTH times I thought it was a case of some embarrassing urine leak (or gross; discharge). BOTH times, I didn’t want to be a bother or even mention my wet underwear, because it didn’t follow ANY rules of ruptured membranes found online (don’t even want to admit how many times I have googled this during THIS pregnancy!…talk about embarrassing!)
But I’m glad that my husband and mom urged me to mention the leaking in my previous pregnancies, especially with my daughter!

At 29 weeks, the positive results for amniotic fluid was a big deal and the seriousness of the situation of labor looming beyond real. She was and is truly a miracle, since most (over 80% go into spontaneous labor within 24-48 hours and something like 90 within three days, we were incredibly lucky). They were able to stop my labor back then with drugs (that horrid magnesium) and constant monitoring and every intervention imaginable and it DID work. She was so tiny and underdeveloped when my water broke (read; slowly, randomly trickled) I don’t even want to think about the alternatives to the amazing little girl we are so blessed with!

So as this (know-it-all…sorry I’m sure she deals with neurotic mamas all the time and is in fact very knowledgable) nurse tells me, I most likely came here for no reason, I try to tell her about the quadrants and the small tears and the trickles as well as my previous experience…

Well, that backfires and she snaps “are you trying to tell me how to do my job?”…

Okaaay….

It’s not like I WANT to be right, (actually quite the opposite) but I have so much experience with premature ruptures of membranes at this point, I could probably write a whole new dissertation on this very topic!
I know she doesn’t know this…or me…and feels offended as I ask to talk to the physician on call.
This guy is nice and at least knows what I’m talking about as I red-faced tell him about my soaked underwear and low fluid levels. He agrees about the probability of a tiny tear. I means doctor DID send me here, I’m NOT paranoid NOR crazy!
He turns serious then, since my baby is still considered a preemie he offers to do a more comprehensive test and even suggest the dreaded bed rest at the hospital if the test comes out positive. I try to deliberate with myself, knowing that I know every danger and will know if my water completely breaks, if I start developing an infection and obviously if I go into labor. I also know my mom is probably already at my house and I will be able to, with her help, relax and take it easy following all the doctor’s orders from now on and we are so so close to being okay and out of “preemie-hood”. So I deny further testing and am forced to signs consent form releasing myself from the hospital (against the doc’s recommendation of further testing) but I do (of course) agree to see my doctor the very next day- as well as every day this week to closely monitor baby and the fluid!

I can’t wait to see my mom and my family as I drive home in the darkness and we get a whole week of good days and the fluid levels as well as baby are cooperating before the next close call…

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As the last trimester approaches…

When I got to take my son home from the hospital I felt like everybody was insane- they trusted that this brand new human being would be safe with me, ME?
Yes, yes, I had some experience and loved babies and in the back of my head I knew that you didn’t have to go school, get an advanced degree or a certificate in order to procreate or to take your offspring home but yet again, maybe there SHOULD be some requirements here!!!
And there was my instructional manual, shouldn’t they after all come with one? Wasn’t that my parental right? Where were the laws for this stuff?
And the mandatory classes?

I had a faint memory of some breastfeeding class that was optional (you heard me, optional) that I had slept through in my pain killer induced haze after he was born and therefore missed, like “okay, it’s optional to keep this tiny human alive with my body…or not”.

I looked down at my first born with wonder, did they really expect me to take care of him…you know FOREVER? It’s not that I didn’t want to, because even if I didn’t exactly felt that overwhelming unconditional, all consuming love the second he was born (im terribly ashamed to admit this) red faced and screaming- him (well, let’s be honest both of us) and with 18 brand new stitches in the worst place you can think of (me, definitely me) I did now already love him with all my heart. But it was because of that love I wasn’t ready to take him home yet, he was just born YESTERDAY after all (and he had already been poked and prodded so much I already felt like I had failed in the mother department). Why wouldn’t they let me stay for at least a week or two? (Or you know a year) in case something went wrong? I mean I hadn’t even gotten my real milk in nor had I mastered diapering his tiny behind…and oh horror, don’t get me started on the all essential “swaddle”.
At least keep us in this safe environment until you are sure we can make it in the outside environment (by the way what “car seat test- the nurse barely glanced at the thing, only checking that we had it- shouldn’t they at least arrange a “ride along”?)

I know many Moms have been talking (and indeed) writing about this very topic but you certainly don’t realize how real it becomes when they wheel you out after having delivered (such a fancy word for what it really entails) that (there is now way I will describe him as “tiny” here) human through what seems to be an impossibly narrow tunnel (breaking all sort of stuff in his way) and he is laying there in your arms. Wrapped up in blue and pink, naked and glorious and completely new and you feel such pride- like “I did this, I made him” (with some slight help but that couldn’t be further from your mind because YOU did this, no one else) and everyone around you smile and some congratulate you (as they should because you just popped out a human from your very body). It’s not special it happens everyday, every moment by most women but yet it is so very VERY special- life’s biggest miracle!!!
And even though it’s messy and ugly and long and hurts like HELL, you somehow want to it again and again! (And again- damn endorphins) and right afterwards (complications and all) you swear- with an angelic smile “it wasn’t that bad!!”.

Be careful what you wish for I guess…

Because you really don’t want to stay in the hospital and you really want to take your baby home with you when you leave.

Everything was different with my second born. Everything was different with my daughter! An even though everything turned out great in the end (and she is now the most precious, sweet, charming, funny, stubborn, determined almost 2 year old little princess), it somehow wasn’t fair. To leave the hospital in day two with a perfectly healthy (well minus a collar bone) baby is something every mother should be able to experience (worries and all). Because as soon as you become a mom, you step up to the plate and you become a MOM and you should be able to take responsibility for that life you created right away (multi-colored poopy diapers, sore nipples, no sleep and all). You should NOT have to be in the hospital for weeks and weeks without your loved ones (and air) for the last trimester of your pregnancy (without the ability to even go to the bathroom… or forget about a shower). You shouldn’t have to cry and worry that there is something majorly wrong with that tiny human inside you (or check her heartbeat with a huge band around you attached to beeping monitors) around the clock, or be wheeled the bi-weekly ultrasounds (scaring you more than informing you) or be forced to eat hospital food for a grand total of 39 days. You shouldn’t have to google diagnoses and conditions and treatments options for your baby before she is even born, or meet with social workers and psychiatrists and specialists or count the days she is kept in there with joy and hope but apprehension.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for catching the fluid around the baby being low in time, I’m thankful for our hospital stay, every shot for baby’s lungs, contraction stopping medicine and blood draw (well…) every nurse and Doctor and specialist and ultrasound but most of all I’m thankful for that little baby girl being able to hang on in there for as long as she did!

The relief when she was born alive and well (finally breathing) and perfect was naturally the best day of my life. Amazing!!!

What came after with the 16 days in the hospital for baby, the monitors, the trouble breathing and eating, the beeping machines and cables, the fear and the massive weight drop- to my life-threatening infection and added hospital stay were less than amazing but we MADE it!!!

We were amongst the lucky few- this I know! Looking around at the babies who were born much earlier and/or had it much much worse and their poor parents made my heart sink and my body ache. The NICU is not a fun place whether you stay days, weeks or months but some definitely have it better than others. We were lucky for sure and just thinking about what could have happened…

I’m almost to that dreaded week 29 in my current pregnancy and I’m hoping and praying that things will be great!
It is however bringing up a lot of feelings (how could it not). I know I might make it to 41 weeks this time, that every pregnancy is different, that I’m under the best possible care and that I’m taking all sorts of preventative measures. I will be fine and so will the baby! This I feel in my heart! – but that little, tiny doubt is devastatingly real…

I’m not writing this to be negative, to seem fearful or ungrateful or to throw myself a little pity party- I’m simply writing this to be real and to share with you what I am feeling as I’m approaching my last trimester with this baby…
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