Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My baby

Five years ago this spring, I was having some health issues. My thyroid was still not fully stabilized. My sweet toddler girl was still nursing. I experienced an ovarian cyst the size of a very large eggplant that not only torqued but ruptured on Leap Day and resulted in five agonizing hours in an Emergency room and the surgery that filetted me from hipbone to hipbone to remove that cyst along with the ovary and fallopian tube it had consumed. We were working to adopt Micah and in the medical issues my body had expelled my IUD. Everyone was convinced that the accident was related to the cyst and its complications. So, at the follow-up appointment from that surgery, my doctor immediately put another IUD in place. I knew with bringing Micah home and all of the medical issues he would face (long before we knew of his behavioral issues), I was done having babies.

When I started throwing up in May, II joked that maybe I was pregnant. I remember upchucking nothing but an apple at a soccer tournament weekend and growling at II while hunched over in that parking lot that he was NOT funny. By the end of May, I had developed a consistent pattern that everytime I went into the sun and got overheated, I got very sick and started puking. On Memorial weekend, I made a point of staying in the shade, drinking plenty of water and sprinkling that with a bit of sodium throughout the day. It did me no good. I didn't actually vomit, but I was miserable sick afterward just the same.

I told II that I was absolutely certain that I was not pregnant, but something was clearly wrong. Since I could not remember my last period, not surprising with all of the stress of the medical situation combined with Micah's homecoming, I knew that was going to be my doctor's very first question. I didn't feel like paying the $30 he would charge to run a pregnancy test to prove I was definitely NOT pregnant. I wanted to skip over that nonsense and get straight to what the heck was going wrong with me. So, I told II to run out and get a pregnancy test so I could tell my doctor I took one and it was negative.

II knew I had a history of obssessing over pregnancy tests and trying to see lines that weren't really there. So, he splurged and bought one of those digital tests. He figured the "not pregnant" would answer the question once and for all. I took the test, tossed it in the bathroom and told him to please set a timer and read it at the appropriate time. I was so certain I was NOT pregnant that I didn't even bother to stick around to have it read. I was busy trying to make my appointment with my doctor for the next day. I truly thought II was messing with me when he came out with a puzzled look on his face and that test in his hand. HONESTLY, this was NOT funny anymore.

Except, for those of us who don't know the story, that digital test did not clearly read "not pregnant." The appointment with my doctor was traded for an appointment with my OB/Gyn, a doctor I thought I would only ever be seeing again for annual exams. The first ultrasound, done that same day, showed a baby about to enter the second trimester....and an IUD in my cervix. The IUD was never seen on ultrasound again, but that baby continued to grow and take over our lives.

I guess I could have been devestated. I had left quiverful mentality permenantly and was DONE having babies. I had already had my "surprise" baby when I had accidentally started ovulating after my doctor stabilized my thyroid. I had an 18 month old baby and she was definitely my last baby. She wasn't meant to be but she was my statistical "OH MY." We were good. Besides that, there hadn't been opportunity to do much more than pretend to be a couple since Micah came. There had certainly never been any true amorous adventure. I'm sure we all heard in school sex education that it doesn't take completion to make a baby, but who really ever believes that. Hadn't been my experience in years of marriage, that's for sure.

Yet, there I was. The test said "pregnant." The doctors kept laughing. My sister insisted I couldn't possibly handle another high risk pregnancy and Micah. My response to her was simple. I've obviously done everything humanly possible to not be in this situation, so I guess I now get to figure out HOW to accomplish this. I was pregnant...right after we brought Micah home, and with a body that just had no business sustaining a growing life inside of it.

When my perinatalogist sent me to the hospital for a medical induction when we all thought I was likely 37 weeks pregnant, her last statement to me was that she spent most of that pregnancy thinking she wasn't going to get both of us to delivery alive and it was an honor to know she had caught this high blood pressure that was starting to shut down my organs before it got bad enough that anyone would expect one of us to not survive it. Since we never knew when the pregnancy began, we also didn't know until after his birth that he was actually 33-35 weeks gestation. It wouldn't have mattered in the decision to bring him into this world early, since my liver and kidneys were showing signs of shutting down. My OB said she could send me home and put me on bedrest and give me one last week, but only if Micah was not in the home. Since we all knew getting rid of Micah by that point was not an option, she informed me I was having a baby that day.

My sweet baby J did not want to come into this world. He did not want to give up his safe and cozy home for the outside, and he did not handle that transition well. Knowing my preference to hold my body together, my OBs (a pair of Havard trained sisters) truly did everything in their power to give us a natural, or even a vaginal birth. Throughout that night, everytime his heartrate dipped, they came running in to manually scratch his head and convince him to wake back up. Yes, his heart dipped into the 40s, but it recovered when they scratched his head, so they continued to try to slowly coax him into this world. The next morning, his heartrate dipped back to 40 and this time he did not recover when they scratched his head. He hadn't been able to tolerate more than the tiniest dose of the pitocin for the 15 hours we had been there anyway. I knew in the same instant they knew that he was not coming anyway but surgically. I didn't know that I would bleed beyond the point of sustaining life, that it would take my OB 1.5 hours to save my uterus and to bring in the portable x-ray to try and find that IUD that went missing. Pregnancies that proceed with the IUD in place have a 50% rate of causing fetal death, and it's not always early in the pregnancy. It's a risk that is considered acceptable because the rate of actually getting pregnant while on an IUD is considered the stuff legends are made of. Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody who has an IUD baby. No one actually knows the mom of the IUD baby....except me. That the IUD went missing in the second trimester never made anyone feel better, because I did not see it come out, which meant it could be anywhere in me or him.

Still we survived. I truly believe if my OBs had not been convinced I was serious about no more babies they would have taken my uterus to prevent a repeat. One sister did valiently attempt to convince me to get sterilized if they had to do surgery. However, given my health risks, I was not taking on even the neglible risk of the auto-immune diseases that can come with sterilizing me. We opted instead to have II sterilized or as I joke I had him snipped. I did not walk out of that experience without needing more than just recovery though. I actually needed the very substance of life I now fill my patients with every day that I work. I required three units of blood to recover. They wanted to give me four but I was nearly up to normal after three and refused the fourth unit.

My sweet baby J had an even rougher time surviving what happened that day. He was not ready to enter this world. He was what we call a late-term preemie and he had all of the issues they cite these babies are at risk for. He had jaundice. He had reflux. He still suffers from respiratory issues. Yet through all of this, I cannot imagine my life without this ball of energy. He's barrelling his way towards four and a half now, and he's just as amazing to me today as he was the day I first held him. He has been such a cohesive influence for his siblings. He's not spoiled as I believe his big sister would have been had she remained the last caboose. Furthermore, he alleviated my one fear of stopping with L, that she would grow up with no playmate of her own in this world, as a defacto only child with half a dozen older spoilers masked as siblings.

Last week, this bundle of insanity declared he was having a sleeping in day. He was NOT going to get up. I did later confirm that yes Daddy did read him Dr. Seuss before bed because he was not going to get up that day. We struggled to get him up. The babysitter struggled to get him to stop being angry that we got him up. He wasn't done being angry until the next day when he was able to have 'an undepants day.' I watch this sweetheart grow and I realize how fast and how completely my life is changing. He is potty trained. He sleeps through the night. He is self propelled. He's even learning to clean up some of the messes he likes to make. He has interests and likes and before I am ready will be all done with cuddles. I call him the last of his tribe. He is my last baby. Most days I am fascinated but excited to see this extra earthling be in our precense.

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