The Big F*cking Nightmare, Day 1

i tried to link to this post from my old blog but i couldnt figure out how to do it. this post was written in february 2007 when i was 20 weeks into my subsequent, subsequent pregnancy. i dont dare read this right now.

“How did i get there from here? Long story. Day 1 of the BigF*ckingNightmare” February 2, 2007

My big belly post isn’t sitting very well with me. I didn’t mean for it to come out like, “Oh wah wah wah look at my big, beautiful belly. I look pregnant at six weeks, cry me a river.”

What did I mean? I’m not sure. I did mean to communicate something to the effect of, “Sweet jesus, look at the size of my belly. This is what happens when you are pregnant six times. More specifically, this is what happens when you have three deadbabydisasters.”

I think the heart of the matter for me is this: I’ve been thinking a lot about losing LC and what an epoch disaster that whole thing was. I think the physical experience of having the belly back and feeling a baby kick again has brought me back to the time just before my pregnancy ended so disastrously.

I thought that Christmas was the time for the really awful memories to surface because that’s when it happened last year. But as I approach 22 ½ weeks, which is when the disaster began to unfold, I am finding myself thinking a lot about what happened.

The belly is a reminder. I love the belly but I know all too well that it could be gone tomorrow, leaving me another white plastic box of ashes in its place.

I think this is why I have mixed feelings about the belly. It reminds of how I felt my baby kicking when they told me she was going to have to die. I felt her kicking while I was being induced so I could deliver her. So she could die.

Having the belly is bittersweet. Feeling her kick sometimes brings me to the verge of tears. I can’t lie in bed feeling her kick without wondering if I will end up there again sobbing uncontrollably because she’s gone. Going to bed without her was the worst. I cried myself to sleep for weeks and weeks. Being pregnant with a girl again is a trip down memory lane that I’d rather not take. I think the baby being a girl extra-reminds me of the BFN (big fucking nightmare).

Rocket Man can’t touch the belly without me feeling the uncertainty of the whole situation. Nobody can comment on the belly without me thinking, at least fleetingly, about how the whole thing could end in complete and utter devastation for all of us. I can’t fathom surviving another loss.

My kids are so into this baby. The moments of joy that I’ve experienced in this pregnancy have been watching them talk and sing to the baby. My daughter gives the baby her biggest and cheesiest, chipped tooth grins as she coos to the baby and tries to “pick her up.” They’ve each birthed many many babies out of their own bellies, often at the dinner table.

This has to happen.

I think it’s also time to start writing down the miserable story of what happened. Hopefully it will be cathartic and then I can put some of the fear behind me.

It all started way, way back.
Way back in the days when the grass was still green and….
Oops. Wrong story. Neither one ends well.

Basically when I was pregnant with LC (pregnancy #4), everything went pretty well until my 19 week ultrasound. The first trimester was a little rough. I was miserably nauseous all the time and I couldn’t eat anything that didn’t pass the “burping test,” that is, I considered how it would be to burp potential food source up for hours after consumption. Bowl of cereal? Pass. Just about everything else? No way. I have long described myself as savory-toothed, as opposed to sweet, so this was hard for me. So was all that burping.

But anyway, I made it through the first trimester. I worried about the baby dying and me not even knowing about it for three weeks as in my first deadbabysurprise two years earlier. That baby, pregnancy #2, died at 7 ½ weeks but didn’t bother to notify me until 10 ½ weeks when I started spotting. Deadbabyultrasound #1. I had an unconscious D&C the next day. Looking back, I really had it pretty good. Except the 3-week-dead baby. That really undermined my confidence in future pregnancies. So much for no news is good news.

I was also pretty worried about having a blood clot like with my daughter. The blood clot was my third pregnancy, right after the missed miscarriage. I started spotting and went for an u/s and the doctor diagnosed a large blood clot in the placenta. She said it was probably going to end the pregnancy. The bleeding went on for 10 weeks, on and off, sometimes bright red and terrifying, sometimes brown and old-looking. I was freaked out most of the time. I saw a psychic during the bleeding and she said if the baby did survive, she would have physical problems. After hearing that, I was terrified until my daughter was delivered, 5lbs, 14 ozs of the smallest and fiercest creature I had ever laid my eyes upon. I digress.

So with LC, I made it through the first trimester and to 19 weeks with minimal spotting, no crumpled up babies on the u/s screen. So I basically went skipping into my 19-week Level II u/s, thinking “this has been remarkably smooth sailing.” We knew there was trouble when the technician started frowning at the screen and seemed to be fretting over something. “Interesting,” she said. Interesting is not a word that you ever want to hear during an u/s nor do you want the technician to go get the doctor.

Turns out my cervix had pulled a disappearing act. Four centimeters is generally considered an acceptable length for a pregnant cervix. Mine was 1.7 centimeters. I had no clue what the hell was going, having had no cervical problems whatsoever during either of my full-term pregnancies (son-pregnancy #1 or daughter-pregnancy #3). The doctor that came in said my cervix was dangerously shortened and that we should see a specialist ASAP to talk about having my cervix stitched closed aka cerclage.

Enter fancy doc. I spoke to his trusty medical assistant that night on the phone. She asked me lots of questions, trying to get to the bottom of the case of the missing cervix inches. I had no clue what the problem could be. She asked me if I had had an abnormal pap smear. Oh yeahhh. I had had an abnormal pap smear. Two of them in fact and both fairly recently. I told her about the first funky pap and then the second, follow-up pap that also came back funky with high-grade funkiness. The second pap involved a bigger scraping that was meant to remove the bad cells. The results showed bad cells on the margin so my doctor recommended that I have a LEEP procedure done. “Ohh the LEEP procedure,” says trusty assistant. She had identified the culprit.

The LEEP procedure had been done in late April of 2006. The procedure basically uses an electrical loop to lop off part of the cervix, ideally the part with the bad cells. It was quite unpleasant but it turned out the margins were clear and I promptly forgot all about it and about cervical cancer. Trusty said that the LEEP procedure can cause incompetent cervix. Since the LEEP took place long after my daughter was born and a mere two months before I got pregnant with LC, the mystery was solved. But we had a problem.

We met fancy doc the day after the u/s. He said he thought I would’ve lasted another week or two before I would have gone into pre-term labor and lost the baby. We decided pretty much on the spot that I would have a cerclage put in the next day. He mentioned a miniscule, 1% or so, risk of infection from the procedure and that cerclage didn’t always prevent pre-term labor. Bed rest was discussed.

I had the cerclage put in the next day. I think it was December 7, 2006. The procedure went okay. I was in a lot of pain afterwards and asked for more painkiller. Still a lot of pain, then more painkillers. Unbeknownst to me, the painkillers basically disabled my bladder and so I couldn’t pee when I tried to. After several hours, like 4 or 5, I was in so much pain (from a hugely full bladder which I couldn’t empty because of the pain meds), that I had to have a catheter put in. A liter of pee was drained from my bladder. I left the hospital shortly after and went on my merry, well not really way.

I saw fancy doc a week later and he didn’t love the look of the stitch and so he put me on “do as little as possible, rest as much as you can,” modified bed-rest, house arrest, whatever you want to call it. My dad came out to stay and help us for the duration of the pregnancy. I was about 20 weeks at that point. It was mid-December.

We cancelled our trip to Mexico and went on a little getaway at a fancy hotel in the city instead. I had a great big belly. I got all dressed up and reveled in the fun of being pregnant. I laid around a lot, feeling the baby kick. We knew that we were having a girl (I had a CVS back in the first trimester). Upon hearing that the baby was a girl, I had been just as shocked and admittedly disappointed as I was this current go-round. By 20 weeks, I was well over it and was looking forward to meeting our younger daughter.

I was worried about pre-term labor and I was paranoid about possible symptoms. All of the normal stretchy and pully feelings were magnified. I had a burning feeling that seems like it might be a bladder infection. I made extra efforts to drink a lot of water and cranberry juice. The feeling came and went. Christmas came and went. I specifically remember having the burning feeling three days after Christmas. I thought about calling my ob/gyn but I had an appointment to see her the next morning so I decided against calling.

That afternoon, it was December 28th, 2006, three weeks after my cerclage was put in, I was 22 ½ weeks pregnant. I made goulash and was grumpy. I went upstairs to lie down and came back a few hours later. I was irritated that nobody had started getting dinner on the table. We ate the goulash; it was pretty good, lots of sour cream, minimal peppercorns. Our seven-year-old neighbor ate with us. Rocket Man was planning to meet some friends in the city to watch a basketball game.

After I finished my goulash, I got cold. I put on a sweater or something and layed down on the couch (our brand-new couch that we had just gotten a few days before0. I was still cold. My mom got me a blanket and I started shivering. I sent her to inform Rocket Man that I was cold. I imagine he was like, “yeah, okayyy” but he came and sat with me. I started shivering a lot. Soon I was shaking pretty violently. I had a pile of comforters and blankets on me.

I remember saying goodnight to my son while struggling to keep my teeth from clanking together. I imagine that he was pretty freaked out. After he went to sleep, RM got me something to put in my mouth to keep my teeth from clanking. It was too hard to hold my jaw clenched, resisting the clattering.

Rocket Man called the after-hours clinic. The doctor on-call seemed like she was going to dismiss it as the flu going around but I was yelling, “Tell her about the cerclage.” By then I had stopped convulsing and my temperature was pretty high. The thermometer was so slow, we just gave up on it at 102.7. She told him to bring me in. I saw this doctor five months later and she told me that she didn’t think I would have survived if she hadn’t told him to bring me to the hospital.

We left for the hospital, in the dark, Christmas lights blazing on the cul-de-sac, me with a comforter wrapped around me. I distinctly remember saying to RM, “We better not be coming home without her.” He attempted to assure me that there was no way that would happen. I might have even been reassured. I couldn’t have had any idea of the nightmare that was coming our way.

We got to the after-hours clinic at the hospital and the nurses started checking me out. They monitored the contractions that were occurring I can’t remember how frequently. My temperature was up still. They did a vaginal swab to culture. After a while decided to use a catheter to get a clean urine sample. That was the beginning of days of invasive horribleness. The nurse wasn’t very good at catheters and it hurt like a mo’fo. She didn’t get it right the first time and had to torture me again, spread-eagled. It was quite painful, two nurses working on me. They finally got it right.

We waited. I was reading a book. I was reading The Adventures of Auggie March; literature, for chrissake. I really felt pretty okay. The fever was down, the shaking had stopped long ago, the contractions were mild and infrequent (I thought they were Braxton-Hicks). I was pretty sure I didn’t have the flu because I felt fairly normal.

After a few hours of being there, the urine sample came back clean but with an elevated white cell count. We met the doctor who told me to come in and she said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you but if you were my sister, I’d keep you here.” That was the second part of her decision that I guess saved my life.

I was very grateful to this doctor afterwards and tried to switch to her when I got pregnant again. Long story short, six months later, she was responsible for my horrifying bathroom delivery of my 11-week-old baby boy into my hand and then the fully conscious, completely unsedated D&C to complete the job.

But, at the time, we liked her. I was checked into the hospital and we debated about whether RM should spend the night or go home so the kids would see him in the morning. We decided that he would spend the night even though he had to sleep on sack-of-springs excuse for a cot. We called my parents and told them to just tell the kids that we left to see the doctor really early in the morning, before they woke up. My son was nearly 4 ½ and very perceptive and sensitive. My daughter was only 18 months and completely clueless.

I don’t remember when the next round of fever and shaking hit. Probably sometime that night. Each time it came on quickly and I shook VIOLENTLY for 30 minutes or so. It felt like forever. I tried sometimes to brace myself and slow the shaking but that was SO exhausting. The nurses covered me with heated blankets and I convulsed like crazy until I stopped. Then the blankets came off and the fever was way up. It happened this way each time, every four hours or so.

They gave me ativan to help me sleep. It didn’t help. Ativan isn’t a sleep aid. I don’t think I slept at all that might. Maybe I dozed off every now and then. I think that was the night they began checking my blood pressure automatically every 15 minutes. How the hell would I have slept anyway? I’ll never see one of those blood pressure things again without being reminded of the whole deal.

I’ll have to ask RM if anything noteworthy happened that night. The next morning my doctor showed up bright and early. I wondered if I would be charged the $35 no-show fee. I hadn’t spoken to her since the cerclage and since we realized that the LEEP was probably the cause of my disappearing cervix. I inquired about why I didn’t know that that could happen. She said it was very rare.

She said they didn’t know what was wrong with me but they were waiting for results of the vaginal swab or the blood culture or something. We waited.

Later on that morning, I think around 9 or so, fancy doc came in. He said that they suspected there may be an infection.

in my amniotic fluid.

They would be doing an amnio to draw some fluid for testing.

This is the part where my world stopped turning.

If there was indeed an infection.

in my amniotic fluid.

there was no way to treat it.

without the baby coming out.

asap.

but she was too little to be born.

22 weeks, 5 days.

she would die.

she had no chance of surviving.

Fancy doc left. I wailed. WAILED. NOOOO, NOOOOOO, NOOOOOO. I freaked. I wigged. I sobbed hysterically. I kicked, I rocked, I held onto my belly for dear life. That was the worst thing I have ever heard in my life. Shocking. Horrifying. Impossible.

A team came in to do the amnio shortly after. I saw my baby girl alive for the last time on the u/s. She looked perfectly healthy. She was kicking and wiggling and looking heartbreakingly sweet and adorable. They gave me a picture.

Fancy doc drew the fluid and said that it smelled good, which was a good sign. He left us with the tiniest shred of hope. He said we could expect to hear the results in the afternoon. Five, six hours maybe.

We waited.

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~ by complicatedmama on December 29, 2007.

2 Responses to “The Big F*cking Nightmare, Day 1”

  1. I’m so sorry. That looks so empty when I say it, but I don’t have any better words.

  2. I wish I knew what to say. I read this yesterday and balled my eyes out. I’m so sorry.

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