Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting it all out in the Open Part 3

The best things about the SICU include morphine, a comfy bed, and the crunchy ice like you get at Sonic. The worst things include a very similar experience to prison and still no food. My plan: act like I feel wonderful, act alive, act happy, and find a way to break out of this place so I can lay eyes on my first born.

Supposedly, a mother's milk comes in very quickly after birth and the lactation specialists want you to begin pumping/feeding very quickly after. Okay. I can do this. It has been only 2 hours since I almost coded on the operating table. I love my son more than anything and I want to do everything possible to ensure he is healthy and has a fighting chance. Yuh right. I had 3 IVs; 2 in one arm and 1 in the other. How was going to pump my own bubbies? Que my mother and my husband. Yes, that is right. My mother took the left and my husband took the right. "Massaging the upper part of the bubby helps the milk drop," says the lactation specialist. Great. There I am with my mother and Stephen hold the bubby pumps and massaging my bubbies. Not awkward at all. And if that wasn't enough, Stephen was cracking "milking the cow/cow utters" jokes making my mother laugh and pissing me off in the process. Ahh, the good times.

Stephen was exhausted. He hadn't slept in days, but being the supportive husband I have always known and the new amazing father I have prayed to God for since I was little, he kept up juggling a wife in one building and a newborn in another. I don't know if I could ever be as strong as Stephen was during this chaos. He almost lost his wife, his son, and much more important his sanity. He kept it together for his small family like a true king. I am blessed to call him my best friend, lover, husband, and father of my child. He grew so much during this time not because he had to, but because he felt the call.

Baby Monkey's stats:
Mattox James Walker
Born January 14, 2011
1:57 am
1 lb. 7 oz.   12" long
25 weeks gestational

Stephen kept me updated with Mattox's progress. He was on a ventilator and doing beautifully. He told me how proud the doctors were of his accomplishments being such a small preemie. I later looked up the terminology for Mattox's size. He was a micro-preemie. The smallest of all small preemies. I watched video of my son. I watch footage of my husband beaming from ear to ear as he changed Mattox's first poopy diaper. And I saw the horrible face and funny noise Stephen made when he realized how sticky and black that poop was. His diapers were so small that they didn't even fill up the palm of my hand. I was in love.

I was released back to labor and delivery the following morning. All I could think about was getting a shower, getting pretty, and getting to meet my baby. Walking around 24 hours after a c-section is not advisable. You feel like you are about to rip completely in half so you can image this shower scenario. The nurse and Stephen helped me to the bathroom. At this point so many people have seen your hooha and bubbies that you just don't have any modesty left. Let it all hang out! Nope. Not me. I don't want a sponge bath by some nurse. I can do it. Maybe? Maybe if Stephen helps? I excused the nurse after she placed my bare naked booty in the shower. Okay bath me, Stephen. Now poor Stephen had come straight from the airport (He went to the National Championship! War Eagle!) to the hospital and he was low on clean clothes as it was. It took 10 seconds of him trying to wash my hair before his clothes were drenched. I turned to grab the soap only to turn back around to a naked Stephen. Uh, what in the world? So there I was naked with my naked husband in the shower with NO lock on the door. I am sure if a nurse would have walked in we would have definitely made it in to the Book of Naughty Things that Couples do in Labor and Delivery. Oh the stories we have heard.

I was famous or was I? Walking down the halls of the hospital people would look at me with pity in their eyes and ask if I was okay or how I was feeling. What the hell? I feel fine. Oh, you just saw my scarlet letter. Yes, that is what I had. During my c-section the doctors thought it would be a good idea to install a large tube directly into my jugular and attach it securely to my neck with stitches. Oh, it screamed "Something bad happened to me and yes, you know me as the mother who coded on the table during childbirth." That's one cool thing about this phenomenal hospital. All the nurses hear what everyone is doing through these tampon looking things around their necks called Voceras. Voceras, when they are working correctly, help the staff communicate with each other throughout the hospital. Thank you God for broadcasting my complete run in with the medical law over tampons! I am famous. I hate attention, especially this kind of attention. Where is my rock? Hide my voice.

The emotions I felt when I first saw my baby can not be explained. He was so much smaller than I ever imaged. He grabbed my hand and wrapped his tiny, perfect hand around my pinky. He had my heart. Until you become a mother you really can't understand a mother's love. There are no words to describe it. I wasn't ever going to leave him and I promised I would do whatever I could in my power to make him healthy and safe. It was so much easier when he was inside me. I could protect him. Everything scared me now. His hospital room was full of machines and wires. It was all state of the art, medical and, above all, intimidating.

Time to pump, pump, pump! Did you know that babies have to eat every 2 hours when they are born? That meant I had to pump every two hours 24/7. This was my job. This gave Mattox a fighting chance to build an immune system and I wasn't going to let him down. Oh, and did I mention it hurts to pump? It does. My pump and I became best friends. After spending hours and hours listening to its hum at 3:30 in the morning, I swear it started mooing at me. I am a cow. Stephen said we should just put me on an inversion table and milk me like a cow. Haha. He tasted my milk on his own accord. He said it tasted like sweet water. Men.

The day of my discharge quickly approached. Some say I just didn't want to leave, others call it a freak accident. I call it an extremely stressed, new mother attack. This is how it goes. The doctors came in and removed all the tubes and IVs that had inhabited my body for what felt like a lifetime. The nurse gave me a pain pill and I decided to close my eyes while I waited on my breakfast. NOT a good idea. Once again I wake up to a million doctors and nurses surrounding my bed, an oxygen mask being forced on my face, and another damn IV stuck in the side of my hand. Here come the tears and, as expected, a longer stay en el hospital. Joy. My blood sugar had dropped to below 14. Yes, that is right. 14. This has never happened before. Being a momma is hard work and that is my excuse.

Okay. In this case, fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you!!! Later that evening my blood sugar dropped again. This time Stephen got really angry. Yeah, Stephen angry kind of makes me laugh too. But this time it was the hospitals fault. They shot me full of insulin and then the doctor on call refused to come to my room to check me out and fix it. Oh boy. People got in trouble, We had major heads of departments and important people apologizing aka asking us NOT to sue them. Stephen and I have so much power. Wow!

I was finally discharged the following morning, and believe me I didn't stay around for breakfast. I was out the door to first, see my baby and second, move into my lovely, dated apartment in downtown Birmingham. I told you I wasn't going to leave my baby!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting it all out in the Open Part 2

Looking back on this momentous week I feel that it wasn't my life. Like I am having a complete out of body experience or maybe it's just me never wanting to accept that the following events could ever happen to me or anyone I know.

Tuesday evening my overly cautious mother made me dinner while I snoozed on the sofa. She woke me up  in a panic claiming that I had been wheezing. After assessing the situation. We went back to the dreaded East Alabama Medical Center Emergency Room. Here was the situation: I couldn't breathe, my chest hurt, my ankles (what ankles!) were the size of tree trunks, and did I mention I couldn't breathe.

The next few hours were a bit of a blur, but three things I was completely sure of. 1.) The doctor was a complete and total ass. 2.) The nurse saved my life. and 3.) My condition was NOT good. Thanks to my mother's voice the doctor finally agreed to do a chest x-ray which revealed I had a ton of fluid surrounding my lungs, heart, and all those other important organs that perform functions which help you, well you know, live. That good for nothing doctor wanted to send me home and now he is telling me that he thinks I have congestive heart failure. WTF. I was finally admitted. More tests, more blood, more annoyances....blah blah blah....... prison. And the doctors still didn't know what was wrong with me. Monkey was doing what monkeys do and chilling. I on the other hand did not have CHF, but I needed constant oxygen and I felt like I was dying. The verdict, "Umm, we could let you go home because we think it is you being a bad, brittle diabetic and a wimpy, pregnant woman, but let's send you to UAB just be safe." Uh, what?

To make matters worse I just wanted a shower and my pajamas, but now I get to be taken to Birmingham in an ambulance equipped with oxygen, needles, and two very talkative, sweet, talkative EMTs. Yeah right, I was NOT going to ride up there without Stephen in that ambulance with me. Like that made a difference. He became BFFs with both EMTs and completely ignored me the entire two hour ride to Birmingham. Why hasn't my husband lost his voice? Oh that's right, he keeps his on a short chain around his neck. Ugh.

UAB's facilities were phenomenal. My night nurse walked into the room and introduced herself as April Love. Wait. What? I know you. Long story short April's mother was the receptionist at my elementary school and with an overly cautious mother you KNOW she and Ms. Love had become best friends. Also April and I had taken dance lessons together and my mother knew her grandfather from Auburn University. Small freaking world. Although it was a little weird letting April perform her "duties" as a nurse on me as a pregnant woman. Oh well. I hadn't even shaved my legs!

There is something about teaching hospitals that must be said before you choose one to attend. There are actual doctors in these hospitals that look like they just went through puberty or just got their driver's license. Never mind the fact that some and maybe majority of them are your age and younger. When did I get so old? It's a little life jolting when you are trying to hear about some life threatening illness you have just been diagnosed with from a two year old with a pacifier. Woah. Disclaimer: The doctors, and nurses for this fact, were absolutely wonderful and professional at UAB.

Back to my life? So the options for my diagnosis were either congestive heart failure or preeclampsia. I was down on my knees praying that I had congestive heart failure because all I wanted was Monkey to be safe and have the best chance at a normal life. Around 2 am Thursday morning, I awoke to someone telling me that they want to inject me with something like sodium potassium windex that will help Monkey's lungs develop quicker for his delivery. Um, what? Wait! STEPHEN! MOM! tears tears and more tears. Shot in the butt. (J- I said, what what in the butt!) Ok. So after all of these repeat tests at UAB complete with blood, x-rays, and heart images, I have severe preeclampsia. So you are telling me that it is not me being a bad, brittle diabetic and a wimpy, pregnant lady? Ok. We are going to induce you this evening after we run a few more tests. No

I have to mention my day nurse, Milea. She was the best, supportive, and loving person alive. She gave me tons of information about labor and delivery, the RNICU, and what to expect when having a 25 week baby. She held my hand while I endured an epidural. And let me tell you, no man alive could have taken that mile long needle in the middle of their back without shedding a tear. Success. After the epidural, they induced and all I could think about at this point was how gosh darn hungry I was. I hadn't eaten anything since Tuesday at lunch and it was no Thursday evening. Personally I think this is cruel and unusual punishment for a non-pregnant person, but a pregnant person. Pure torture. They should be arrested and thrown into Azkaban.

I "labored" for several hours and finally told my mom and dad to go to their hotel to rest because the doctors didn't expect anything to happen for hours. After they left I started to feel the worst PMS cramps of my life. And sure enough with me being a "wimpy, pregnant lady" they barely made blips on the fetal monitors. This sucks. At some point Monkey did not want cooperate anymore. What baby would? Being taken from a plush bed where you have food served to you, nobody would want to leave. Monkey completely breeched himself and started having irregular heartbeats. The next few minutes went by in a flash. I was being pushed to surgery, lifted on a table, and prepped all within 5 minutes. Enter Stephen wearing orange and blue scrubs. Exit Stephen wearing orange and blue scrubs. When the doctor started to make the incision, I realized I could feel everything. It was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life. Side note: I feel now that I could be in a knife fight or a gang brawl and survive! I was quickly put under anesthesia.

Waking up I realized I couldn't breathe and there was something down my throat and there were people all around me and someone pushing on my chest. Get this gosh darn tube out of my throat so I can breathe. What the crap are you ALL doing around me? At this point, I was told Monkey was doing great. He cried when he was born which is not common because of preemie lung development. I was also informed that I stopped breathing on the table and my heart slowed. Oh yeah and they called a code on me. These last two sentences are NOT good sentences. They called a code. I almost died on the table and they don't know why and they don't know why I came back. Thank you God for not calling me home yet. They wheeled me to the Surgical ICU to endure more needles, blood, and tests.

 The life of parents with a baby in the RNICU.......

Getting it all out in the Open Part 1

Stephen and I had talked about having a baby on many occasions. It usually found its way into our conversations when a bottle of wine and starry nights clouded our brains. The thought of a large family made us happy, but the time to start was never very clear. When we found out we were pregnant I knew a few simple truths. Were Stephen and I mentally ready? Maybe?!? Were we financially ready? Never! And were we blissfully in love with a few growing cells in my belly? YES!

It was going to be hard. Being a diabetic for twenty years had certainly taken its toll on my body and there were so many ways the baby could not develop correctly. Doctors. Doctors. Doctors. I was instantly put on an insulin pump and not long after my endocrinologist congratulated several times on being in the top ninety-five percent of healthy pregnant, diabetic women. You would think that life would be perfect. But behind closed doors extreme "all day" sickness filled the toilets, never left the couch, and didn't touch food.

Every visit to the doctor was a complete and total ordeal. It would take me hours to get ready. Get upstairs. Sit. Undress. Sit. Get in the shower. Sit. Get out. Sit. Dry my hair. Sit. You get the picture. I felt like pure and utter shit. My heart would race, I couldn't catch my breath, and if I exerted any kind of effort I would then I have to sit for 10x the amount of time it took to initially exert the effort. Life was miserable, but every 24 hours meant one more day closer to meeting my beautiful baby.

Somewhere in the midst of my daily struggles I forgot to talk. I really don't know if forgot is a good word to use when talking about my voice. It's not like someone forgets to open their mouth and let their opinions flow. Maybe it was hiding out in the backseat of my xTerra; stuck back there with old clothes, fabric swatches, and potting soil remnants from my last attempt at trying to have a green thumb. Why is it back there? Where is my voice when the doctor asks me how I feel and I need so scream, "I feel like I was trampled by Cam Newton or hit by Thor's hammer!" Sitting on the table looking pretty, clean, and classy was all that I could do. Where had my voice gone?

The holidays were a difficult time because my lack of energy and my limitations from my growing belly. Finding out the sex of the baby is a moment that will forever be engraved in my mind. Laying on the table with the cold, icky gel on my belly, and sweat beginning to bead on my forehead my thoughts about the next few moments began to overtake me. Okay. If we have a girl, she will have the cutest clothes, be the biggest slut (uh-oh), and I will spend all my time making her beautiful leaving no time for Momma. If I have a boy, my father and Stephen will be blissfully happy, he will be athletic, strong, and smart. Oh Lord. Here we go. The nurse touched the wand to belly and immediately said, "It's a boy. He has his legs spread and he's playing with it." Stephen's face was priceless. I literally thought he was going to do back flips in the ultrasound room. He was beaming like a proud father. We instantly nicknamed this non-cooperative, ADD baby in my belly, Monkey. We are so blessed.

I was hospitalized before Christmas for what they thought at the time was preeclampsia. High blood pressure, protein in my urine, dizziness, extreme weight gain. 3 days at East Alabama Medical Center felt like a 100 year prison sentence. Unnecessarily being woken up at all hours of the night/day does not help anyone get better. After days of tests, blood, and annoyance, the doctors decided that I was a bad, brittle diabetic and a wimpy pregnant lady. They said I should push myself. Where the hell was my voice? I knew what I was experiencing wasn't normal pregnancy or diabetic complaints. I need my wand. Accio voice!

Early January I was diagnosed with the sniffles. It stunk. Every cough, sneeze, or blown nose resulted in me having to change my undergarments. Meanwhile, Stephen is blessed to have best friends and family that paid for his trip to the National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona. War Eagle! He left me in the care of my overly cautious mother to go have one last hoorah before the baby was born.

The next few days will fly by...........