Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ode to life! Part II

My foot slipped on the snow as Larry half-drug, half-carried me to the car. My legs wouldn't hold me up. I had no strength. Tears rolled down my face as the effort actually caused me physical pain. A fresh wave of nausea rolled over me, but I had nothing left. My stomach was empty -and had been for weeks.
I had begun to feel felt run down and dehydrated (literally the DAY I became pregnant). At first I thought I was just ill. Maybe the flu, maybe a bladder infection! I kept having to run to the bathroom, after all. Then the nausea began, and for reasons that I will not mention here, I did not think that I was pregnant. One day I was fine and the next I was violently ill.
It began to impede my job. I was not any longer able to work, and as I spent a few days home alone, I began to slip very quickly.
Then I lost my job. (How can an employer fire someone on medical leave? Well, that is a story for another day.) Lost my benefits. Since Sweet Geek and I weren't married yet, Baby and I were not eligible to be added to his plan.
I was so exhausted that I couldn't even get myself food or care for myself. That fed into my weakness and created a downward spiral of dehydration and lack of nourishment. By this time I knew I was pregnant, and just tried to get through every day. My Sweet Geek moved me into his apartment because I was so ill that he did not want me to be alone all the time. If something went wrong he wanted me to have someone nearby. He was working 2nd shift, and took on as many hours he could to pay my bills and his too. And so Larry worked as many 10-12 hours a day to pay for COBRA, and I continued to spiral downward as I had to be alone every day.
Nothing seemed to work. No matter what I got in my stomach, it came out, and I just hoped that enough stayed down to keep my baby alive.
And then there was no chance of even that.
I would retch for hours and hours every day, and could not keep anything down for more than a minute or two. Larry would give me ice chips, I was almost too weak to even move, and I would immediately vomit. So he took me to the emergency room. I will not mention the hospital, just in case someone reading this will be offended, but when I talk to people, I tell them to never go there. They did not do any tests on me. I think they only took my blood pressure and temp. Then the Dr (while very clearly not listening to me OR my Sweet Geek), told me that this was normal, and to go home and get some popsicles. That was his remedy. popsicles. Lovely. So we tried it. Please pardon my grossness, but the only thing worse than dry heaving is vomiting red popsicles.
It didn't work! No! Really! That is SO shocking and surprising! (note sarcasm)
A couple of days later, (Sweet Geek thinks it is more, and he may be right. Things were a little foggy, but I KNOW it was not much after that. And this is MY blog -so I will tell from my perspective. Na-na-na-na-naaa-naaaa!) he came home from work and found me on the bathroom floor. I could not get up. I would painstakingly pull myself up to vomit, and fall back to the floor. I could not even crawl. I was ashen, and had been retching for hours. I had not urinated on over 18 hours. Larry called the aforementioned hospital, and they were completely unconcerned. "Just give her ice chips and call her DR in the morning!"
"No!" he said, "I HAVE been giving her ice chips and she can not even keep that down!"
"Well, this is normal with pregnancy. There is nothing we can really do for her. Just call her Dr in the morning." Click.
So he called over to Zeeland Hospital. I will mention this one. Now, it is important to note that in Boy Scouts, his troop had a paramedic trainer come and basically she trained them, and they all passed tests comparable to the written tests that actual paramedics take! He KNEW that I was not well! He was right.
After describing what was going on, they told him to bring me RIGHT in. "Do you need an ambulance?" they asked. "You don't want to mess with her life and the life of your baby!" she told him.
So that brings us back to the trip to the car.
He had to help me dress. I could not even lift my arm of my own volition. I had been wearing a bathrobe for days. The he had to help me down the stairs from his second-floor apartment. I honestly do not remember the stairs. I sort-of came to when the blast of cold air outside hit me. He carried me to the car and rushed to the hospital. When we got there he pulled up to the door and hopped out. He walked up to the door and told them that he was the one who called and he needed a wheelchair.
They said, "She needs a wheelchair?"
"Yes." he replied, "She can't walk!"
All of a sudden they snapped into action. Two nurses came running out with a wheelchair, and took me straight in. They had me in a bed, and began checking me immediately.
There was this test that they did, where they take your blood pressure laying, then sitting, then standing. I was so weak that Larry had to steady me as I say, and Larry and the nurse had to literally hold me up on either side for the standing portion. I cried the whole time they stood me up. It was painful to even try to stand. Everything was painful. I hurt from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. The tried over and over to find a vein,and finally used a butterfly and put the IV in my wrist. Over the next five hours they put FIVE LITERS of fluid in me. My kidneys had shut down, and they were VERY concerned that they would ever begin working again. I was there for 13 hours and was still unable to urinate. They wanted to check the baby, and intended to do an ultrasound, but (Those of you who have had an early ultrasound, know what I am talking about.) my bladder was not filling. Eight hours later my bladder was still empty. So, (again..sorry for the grossness) they had to cath me. If you can, over the course of your life, avoid a catheter -DO! It is incredibly unpleasant. That is puting it mildly. I will not SAY the kinds of words that express the amount of disdain I had for the cath at that moment!
The moment of truth.
Was I sick because it was twins?
Was the baby still alive?
Would she be OK? (I KNEW it was a girl from the very beginning.)
"Dear God!", I prayed, "Please let the baby be ok! PLEASE, God! PLEASE!!!"
My hear cried with desperation! I WANTED my girl.

Now, it is important to note a couple of things. First of all, as mentioned before, Larry and I were not married. Coming from a Christian Conservative family, I had GIANT fears about that fact. I had heard horror stories about families that turned their backs on pregnant daughters. I must admit that I was afraid of being completely disowned by my parents. Don't mind me. I was full of hormones. Now that I am a mother, I would never do that to one of my kids, but when it is the first time, you don't know. You are full of fear.

However, abortion was NEVER an option! It was never even discussed! It was unthinkable. NOT an option. That being said, I CAN understand the fears that spread themselves over these young women who are afraid to tell their parents. I was afraid to tell MY parents. When you do not believe in LIFE, and the fears latch on to you, I can imagine that abortion would sound like an option. A fix. A remedy.

Another thing to note was that this pregnancy was killing me. Being pregnant put me in VERY serious condition. You know, it was jeopardizing the health of the mother! MY health. And yet, as they mentioned that option to me, my entire spirit revolted at the very thought, and I found myself nauseous again. NOT FOR ME! I will risk my life to give my baby a chance to survive! There was no question. None.

I laid on the ultrasound bed. The first thing they did was find the heartbeat.

Have you ever had that before? You mothers out there? There is NOTHING in the world as beautiful as hearing and seeing the beating of a little heart inside you. I NEVER got tired of that sound with all three girls.

And as I think about that moment with all the fear and worry about her being OK, my eyes fill with tears, and I am sure that I would have cried then too! But the tears would not come. I was too weak and dehydrated. But that sound went straight to my hear, and implanted itself in the very deepest part of my soul. My heart was gone. I was in love. I became a mother -not just a pregnant lady. This was my baby! And she was fine! I will never forget it.

I was admitted for three days, and as my doctor told me that he NEVER had a patient admitted more than once for dehydration, somehow, in my heart I knew that was not going to be the case for me.
There are a handful of women who are allergic the the pregnancy hormone. I am one of them. So over the course of the pregnancy, I was hospitalized 4 more times. One time my potassium had dropped so low that they were worried about a heart attack. The IV burned all the way up my arm, but eating bananas was not an option. I would have had to eat 45 bananas every hour for 3 hours to bring it to the level it should have been.
Another time, I had an allergic reaction to an anti-nausea medicine. It was the LAST option. Not one other medication even took a dent out of my nausea. I lost control of my muscles and they would contract randomly. I felt like a freak.
They would try a new medication, and we would ask, "Will this harm my baby?", and they would say, "We don't know. There are no studies on using this medication while pregnant, but if you don't survive, it won't matter!"

So we prayed, and cried and prayed some more. And my mother prayed, and Larry's mom. And she was SO active! I was barely 3 months along, and I actually felt her move! As she grew, Larry would play games with her. He would poke my belly, and she would find that spot and poke him back. Then he would poke somewhere else, and she would poke him back in the same spot. People don't believe me, but it is true! She also would know when he was coming home from work, and would kick me awake when he was making his way up the stairs! Daddy's girl. But we did know that the medications still presented some risks -including increased infections, birth defects, and a number of other things. So, every time I thought of her, me heart cried to God for her protection.

So it began! The contractions were every 10 minutes. Two trips to the hospital, and I was not progressing. I will share this story another day, but all said, I was in labor for a full week before she was born.
So, exhausted, it was time to push!
Out she came, screaming -quite loud, actually! Even the nurses commented on her set of lungs! (Takes after her mother! Do you think she will be a singer like me?) But she knew her Daddy's voice, and he was talking to her. Every time he said anything she would suddenly get quiet and move her head towards his voice. The nurses told him to stop talking because she needed to cry!

Ten fingers, ten toes. Heart sounds good. Eight pounds. Healthy. HEALTHY!

I looked at her in my arms, and thought, "I would do this 50 times for her!"

And we chose a Hebrew name for her: Eliana. It means, "God has answered our prayers."

Out of this unexpected pregnancy (full of fears), and the beyond difficult pregnancy (that put my life in danger) and the real concern for her being normal, we received the greatest blessing we had ever had! And the difficult pregnancy made her all that more precious to us!

Just see!

She was worth it. LIFE is worth it! I would not trade her for the world! I thank God for her, and I am SO glad that she was given to us. We are blessed.
We chose to give her life! And full life is exactly what we got back!

Eliana: God has answered our prayers.
He answered prayers we had not even prayed yet.


Kyla said...

I love hearing this story! Eliana's pics make her look a lot like Noelle...

Dawn Marie said...

I happened today to see two next to each other, and they look just the same, don't they!? Thanks for following my blog!