This is the default first post for every WordPress blog theme. I thought it might be appropriate here, too.
A brief recap of the events of the past two days, starting on Wednesday, May 8:
Mandy was half asleep and half awake at about 7:30AM, and I was sound asleep. Suddenly I woke up to Mandy exclaiming, “Omigod!” Me: “What? What? Where?” Mandy announced that she had just felt a huge rush of water. I thought maybe it was just typical third trimester stuff, but she lifted up the blanket and it looked like somebody had just poured a gallon jug of water onto the bed. (Thank goodness for waterproof mattress covers!!!) Yep. Mandy’s water broke. Good morning!
We sat there for a moment, stunned and not really knowing what to make of this new development. Mandy would be 32 weeks along tomorrow. We expected an early arrival since Mandy’s fluids were high… but not THIS early. After a moment we gathered our senses and phoned Labor & Delivery at our hospital. They redirected us to L&D at the hospital at which we were actually going to deliver. We knew the baby had some complications, so our perinatologist recommended we deliver at the larger sister hospital since it has a pediatric surgery team. After Mandy got off the phone, I brought her some towels and she swam out of bed.
I called Mandy’s mom so she could come over and drive us to the hospital. This is, more or less, how the conversation went:
Me: “Can you come over?”
Her: “What? Why?”
Me: “Can you come over?????”
Me: “Mandy’s water just broke.”
Her: “I’ll be right there.”
See, UCLA doesn’t have a journalism major, so I never learned not to bury the lead. I corrected my mistake in my next call, to Mandy’s cousin, which went:
Her: “Hi sweetie, what’s going on?”
Me: “Mandy’s water just broke.”
Since we were only at 32 weeks, we didn’t have our hospital suitcase packed yet. Stupid! Once I was off the phone, I packed a bag, which really means that I stuffed my giant camera/camcorder bag into my backpack along with a handful of underwear. Then I shoved the cell phone chargers in, and fresh toothbrushes… and realized I was out of room and had to get a duffel bag. In retrospect, a suitcase would have been smart.
What also would have been smart was to have the bag packed in the first place. As it was, I was staggering around the house trying really hard not to pass out. I have chronic stomach paralysis, and on Sunday I got really sick and couldn’t keep anything down. On Monday, after I had the same problem, I wound up in the ER for five hours getting IV fluids. On Tuesday I managed to choke down some mashed potatoes, half a banana and some toast along with a bunch of broth, and I was still getting sick. So by Wednesday morning, I hadn’t really had anything substantial to eat in several days. You can imagine how awesome it was to totter around the house like that. I have a procedure scheduled for June 5, which will be temporary at best, but June 5 would at least have given me a month to get stronger and feel better before the baby showed up.
Fast forward. We had an uneventful ride to the hospital, thankfully. The traffic wasn’t terrible, and we were able to use the carpool/express lanes. Mandy started having some little cramps, but nothing really severe. When we got to Labor and Delivery they put Mandy in a room and did an exam. She was about 1 cm dilated. Nobody seemed particularly concerned, and they said we would wait and see what happened and if it looked like she was going to begin labor then they would give her some medication to provide some “neuro-protection” and slow things down. They also said they may put her on antibiotics and steroids. Most importantly, they said she was not leaving the hospital until she had the baby. They could try to delay labor for a few days, but she was, as they said, a “keeper.”
Gradually, Mandy started to have more cramps, which were basically non-stop, and intermittent irregular contractions which got progressively worse but never seemed very consistent. Mandy’s mom and brother were there with us for a few hours and then we sent them home to pack a real suitcase with things we might actually need over several days in a hospital. The next couple of hours were pretty ridiculous. I tried to have a few bites of Mandy’s rice and fish (hospital lunch, woo!) and wound up losing it half an hour later. So Mandy’s in one room having labor pains, and I’m in the next room hacking up my “lunch.” Joyous. Then later, my doctor called in between contractions and advised me to stick to an all-fluids diet until my procedure in June. Yeah.
Mandy didn’t get too much attention throughout the several hours we were in labor and delivery. We saw an L&D doctor a few times but the neonatal doctors had not yet come to see us to talk about how we should proceed. Mandy had been advised she would most likely need a C-section because the baby was breech, but we were hoping by some miracle the baby would flip.
At around 3:15PM, when the contractions were getting seriously miserable for Mandy, another doctor finally came in, saw how much Mandy’s demeanor had changed in a few short hours, and did another exam to see how much further Mandy had dilated. Roughly five minutes later, Mandy was in the operating room.
It all happened so quickly. The doctor examined Mandy and said she was 10 cm, completely dilated. She said they should call in the other doctor. They decided they would take her for an emergency c-section. Then after a few seconds she told Mandy not to push and started asking for other doctors. The attending came in and told Mandy “Whatever you do, DON’T PUSH.” Somehow it went from there to “let’s just do a crash” and “CODE C! CODE C!” and the room was full of people and there were doctors and nurses running down the hallway putting things on as they came, and suddenly I was alone in the room. One of the nurses came back a few minutes later to give me a brief update: stay put and someone will come for you. They wouldn’t let me be in the OR since they were going to put Mandy under general anesthesia. So I just sat there looking lost and confused.
Mandy’s mom and brother returned while Mandy was in surgery, and we all waited in the empty L&D room. After maybe 10-15 minutes, someone came out and told me the baby was out and that they would be wheeling her by us on the way to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A few minutes later they rolled her out. She was… tiny. And perfect. Her little eyes were open and she was looking right at us (big blobs, I’m sure) as if to say, “What the effing eff just happened?” Then I followed the docs to the NICU. They told me they had to do compressions on the baby because her heart rate had fallen, and then they had to intubate her. She had a tube down her throat to help her breathe, but she was partially breathing on her own.
Later on in the day, the docs confirmed the complications that we had suspected. More on that later. She now has two tubes going down her throat – one to help her breathe and one to compensate for the fact that she can’t swallow right now.
The next few hours were just kind of blurry. More family showed up, and since I was the only person who could access the NICU at that point (plus one guest), I became the Ferry Godmother, walking back and forth across the entire hospital floor to accompany various family members to and from the NICU. Considering that I only had three juice boxes and a cup of broth the entire day (not counting the rice and fish, yeah), I don’t know how I got through the day without passing out.
Eventually Mandy woke up, and we had a little party in the recovery room; I think at one point there were four or five of us hanging out in there with her. Nobody else was recovering, so why not? Eventually they moved Mandy to her postpartum room.
Mandy didn’t get to meet the baby on Wednesday. She was knocked out completely (usually they do local anesthetic for a c-section) and couldn’t go to the NICU until she could get into a wheelchair.
After an exhausting day, Mandy and her mom and I crashed out in the postpartum room. I should really say that I crashed out; I don’t think Mandy or her mom got much sleep.
Thursday was basically a long stretch of visitors and trips to the NICU. Mandy FINALLY got to meet the baby once she was able to be up and in a wheelchair. It was a sweet moment. During the same visit we got to meet with the surgical team that will be working with Leah. We learned that she will indeed need surgery, which they want to put off until she is a little bigger. Specifically, they are thinking about doing the surgery at three months… once she reaches term. So we’re really talking about five months before they can do this surgery – and she can’t leave the NICU until it’s done. Meet our summer commute.
Today was another exciting day. Baby Leah spent her morning getting a g-tube inserted, and Mama Lisa spent her morning getting fluids and anti-nausea meds in the ER. AGAIN. Mama Lisa is tired and hungry but doing better and still subsisting on broth and juice. Baby Leah pulled through her g-tube surgery and is now kicking back in her little NICU sunbathing cubicle and wearing an eye shade with sunglasses printed on it. She looks way cool. Mama Mandy is progressing in her recovery, and will be released tomorrow. We’ve applied for some local temporary housing for families with children who are sick, and hopefully we will be able to stay close by for a couple of weeks. It’s not too expensive per night, but it’s going to add up over five months even if we only stay a week per month. I guess we’ll play things by ear.
Speaking of ears… Leah’s are really cute.