Day 2 of the Big F*cking Nightmare

I wrote this post in February 2007.

“This is the second part of my recounting of how we lost our baby at 23 weeks. This took place last December, 2006.

I remembered that during the first night in the hospital and the next morning, my contractions were constantly being monitored. At first I thought they didn’t really think my contractions were real. The nurse would come in every now and then and glance through the pile of paper that the machine spit out. Nobody seemed to care about the contractions. I didn’t think much of them either.

At some point during the first night in the hospital, they started noticing them. They gave me medicine to slow or stop the contractions. I had an IV in me from the get-go so all the drugs went in through there, although I swallowed plenty of pills as well.

At one point they gave me a serious drug to stop the contractions. I don’t know what it was but they said it might burn my arm a little. A little?? There were only a few times during the four days in the hospital that I actually burst into tears from the pain. That was one of them. It burned like the inside of my arm was on fire. An icepack helped a little but man I remember how much that hurt. Looking back I guess my uterus was trying to save itself by forcing the baby out.

During the interminable wait to find out if I had an infection in my uterus, I don’t really know what we did. We called a few friends. Mostly I laid in bed. I don’t think I got out of that bed once from when they admitted me until after LC had been delivered. I had a catheter put in at some point and I had an IV the whole time so I didn’t eat anything.

While I waited, I was lying down watching the door open to see whose shoes would appear under the curtain. I was anxiously and dreadfully awaiting one of my doctors to show up. I didn’t watch TV. I certainly couldn’t read. I cried. We speculated. We waited.

After what seemed like forever and what was actually probably six or seven hours, my ob/gyn came in. She had that look on our face and I knew right away. I don’t remember what she said.
The look on her face spoke volumes and I knew it was bad news.

Fancy doc was also there. I remember what he said. After they broke the news and told me what would happen, he leaned over and put his hand on me and said, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

I’m sorry for your loss.

My loss wasn’t even dead yet. She was still kicking and thumping around in there.

I HATE “I’m sorry for your loss.” Since then I really, really hate it. I know that people meanwell but to me it feels so sterile and impersonal and devoid of feeling.

My loss? My baby girl that wasn’t even dead yet?

While the doctors were horrifying me with the bad news, there was a baby being born across the hallway. I was on the maternity ward so life was going on around me.

The baby was literally crying its first cries while I was hearing that mine was going to die. This definitely added to the horror of the experience but I do recall that when I heard that baby cry, I felt that I knew with utter and absolute certainty that I would one day hear my newborn baby cry. I don’t really believe in God the bearded man in the white robe but if I did, I would believe that it was the grace of god that brought me that certainty.

I kept hearing the Live song, Lightning Crashes.

Lightning crashes,
a new mother cries,
her placenta falls to the floor
the angel opens her eyes
the confusion sets in
before the doctor can even close the door
lightning crashes, an old mother dies
her intentions fall to the floor
the angel closes her eyes
the confusion that was hers
belongs now, to the baby down the hall
oh now feel it comin’ back again
like a rollin’ thunder chasing the wind
forces pullin’ from the center of the earth again
I can feel it.
lightning crashes, a new mother cries
this moment she’s been waiting for
the angel opens her eyes
pale blue colored iris,
presents the circle
and puts the glory out to hide, hide.

The certainty that my moment would come, again, has abandoned me at times but I remember that feeling. It was also strange that in the outside world it had been pouring rain for days and that waters were rising for the worst flood in 25 years. Landslides, thousands of lost homes and businesses, downtowns under 4 ½ feet of water, $110 million dollars of damage in our county; it was an epoch disaster in the outside world as well.

The horrid reality of the situation was overwhelming. Oh yeah and I was going to deliver her vaginally. Both my living children were delivered by scheduled C-sections. I had a large fibroid removed from the wall of my uterus, back in ’99, so after that my ob recommended scheduled c-sections to eliminate the 10% chance of uterine rupture. So I was never supposed to have a vaginal delivery at all. I wanted to and I wished that I could. I used to care about that a lot more than I do now.

When they told me that I would have to deliver LC and that it would be vaginally it was like salt in a gaping wound.

I would have to deliver my baby at 23 weeks, knowing that she would have no chance of survival. And I would be having the vaginal delivery that I always longed for. I was going to go into labor and push out a baby and my doctor would hand her right to me.

But then I would have to watch her die.

Isn’t it ironic?

Isn’t it so much more ironic than “10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife?” That’s not fucking ironic. That’s inconvenient.

“No smoking sign on your cigarette break?” Ironic? No. Bummer? Yes.

I do love Alannis but I have always thought she could have dug a little deeper for those lyrics. I digress.

During this nightmare that I wasn’t waking up from, I was having godawful convulsive fits and then spiking fevers that went higher and higher. 103, 104. They always told us the temperature in centigrade so we didn’t always do the math. The fevers were high and my doctors were freaked out.

They originally thought that the infection in my amniotic fluid was e.coli.

Oh yeah and how could I forget this? How did I get e. friggin’ coli in my placenta, you ask? More irony. From my own goddamn ass.

E. coli is present in the colon, rectum, stool, etc. and is also a major cause of your garden variety bladder infection. It is often found in the vagina which I learned is actually a pretty filthy place on a microbial level. The bacteria that I had turned out not to be e.coli but rather proteus mirabilus which was even nastier than e.coli.

The bacteria found its way from my colon or whatever into the vagina and then through the comprised and stitched up cervix and across the friggin’ placenta where it could no longer be treated with antibiotics. I had been taking all kinds of antibiotics since I walked in the door of the hospital the night before but none of it could help save the baby. Apparently, an infection in the amniotic fluid is untreatable when the placenta is intact. By the time you know you have one it is too late.

The baby needed to come out as soon as possible because the infection was a deadly one. It could easily get a foothold in my bloodstream and cause septic shock, coma, and death.

Now on Thursday afternoon the tide had turned and instead of trying to stop the contractions, gears were shifted and labor was going to be induced. But first the cerclage had to come out.

During the day we had called my parents and told them what was going to happen. My mother, whose emotional dysfunction is legendary, was in hysterics. She wanted to come for the delivery. Now this is a woman that I had a hard time seeing on my wedding day. Not in a million fucking years would I want her present at the birth of a viable baby even. For her to be there when I delivered LC was NEVER EVER an option that’s for damn sure and I told her in very clear terms, “Do not come to the hospital.” When she said she just had to jump in the car, I said, “DO NOT GET IN THAT CAR.” She’s so wacked out on xanax that I didn’t want her driving our car anyway and endangering her life or the lives of innocent motorists. Nice that I had to deal with her self-centered infantile bullshit at such a horrible time.

I also called my dear friend and she was going to jump into her car, at my request, and drive two hours to help me through the delivery. I think we all expected that the baby would be delivered shortly after the cerclage came out.

The next thing that I remember was being wheeled out of my room towards the OR so the cerclage could be taken out. As the nurse wheeled me out the door, she paused in the hallway and started crying. She said that she had a baby at home and was just so sad for us. We all cried in the hallway. We were really touched by this nurse.

I didn’t look up on the way to the OR for fear of passing brand-new families.

That’s it for today. Writing this has been harder than I thought.

I appreciate the comments. I know that it is hard to think of something to say. I have trouble thinking of what to say when I read the horror stories.

I do encourage anybody reading this to say something especially lurkers. I kind of feel that if I can say all of this and you are reading it, you can say something. Just please don’t say “I’m sorry for your loss.” Curse words are encouraged. Questions are welcome and encouraged. Interaction is good. Just say what you think or feel.

Please don’t feel like you have to comment now that I’ve said this. I don’t want to shame you into it. I just encourage readers to speak freely and react and respond.”

This is the third part of the Big Fucking Nightmare, also written and posted in February 2007.

“Day 2 of the BFN, Thursday cont.

Before I continue with the BFN, I’ve been thinking about how, during the first night and next morning in the hospital, I had NO CLUE that the pregnancy was in danger. I knew I didn’t have the flu and I reckon we were thinking about an infection but not in my wildest catastrophizing did I imagine how bad it was. I was thinking maybe the cerclage might need to come out and maybe I’d end up on bedrest but these were my worst case scenarios. When fancy doc first told us about the possibility of an infection in the amniotic fluid, I was COMPLETELY SHOCKED.

Back to the BFN, I was on my way to the OR to have the cerclage taken out. When I got in there, I saw what I thought was a carrier for a tiny baby. It turned out not to be. We pretty much were expecting the baby to come flying out once the cerclage was removed. I had the epidural and then got spread-eagled further than I ever thought possible. I distinctly remember the awfulness of having my knees practically at my ears under the bright lights with a bunch of people with their faces in my crotch. I asked for a sedative but whatever they gave me was very mild. Too bad I didn’t have the same anesthesiologist I had this go-round; I would’ve been unconscious. The horror of being in such a vulnerable position knowing that this procedure was the beginning of delivering my daughter is indescribable.

I recall also that I didn’t want to be too heavily sedated because I wanted to be awake and present during the delivery. Even if my baby was going to die, I wanted to remember the delivery. It was all I was going to have left of the pregnancy and I thought it would be my only vaginal delivery.

At some point during the procedure, a nurse came in to tell me that my mother was in the hallway outside the OR and was making a pretty big scene. You can only imagine how this compounded the awfulness of the situation. Frankly I have a hard time even being around my mother and I did not want her at the hospital at all. I had been very clear about that when I told her not to come. She completely ignored me.

The nurse said that she was pretty upset and was waiting to see me when I came out of the OR. She had staked out the door. The nurse took me out a different door so I wouldn’t have to deal with her immediately. Rocket Man had to go talk to her. It makes me angry just thinking about how astonishingly inconsiderate she was being.

When I got back to my room, my dear friend (DF) had arrived. DF had the pleasure of witnessing my mother’s scene outside the OR. Basically my mom had pulled the old “my baby” routine and was going off about how her baby (me) was in there (the OR). DF had to deal with her and explain that I had asked her to be present for the delivery. My mom went off about how my friends had always been more important to me than her. Duh, none of my friends ever slapped me in the face repeatedly when I was a little girl or beat on me when I was running out the door to kindergarten. I could go on here but I won’t.

Basically my mom threw a gigantic “poor me, my daughter doesn’t want me here” scene as she staked out the door to the OR. Then when DF tried to talk to her, she got mad. Then she did the arms folded, puss on her face routine while she tapped her foot and verbally abused the nurses. Unfuckingbelievable.

Rocket Man spent an hour talking to her while I heard about her horrifying scene from DF. Suffice it to say that DF had heard about my mother for five years and she heard many gory details as we went through some very deep personal work in our graduate program. You know when you tell a friend how awful somebody is and then they’re all, “Oh your mom’s not that bad.” Well that didn’t happen. My mother had WILDLY exceeded her expectations and I KNOW that she was expecting a really crazy person. We actually laughed about it. But then I had to talk to her.

She came into the room doing the “I’m sorry, I’m a bad mother, I shouldn’t have come here, I’ll just leave without talking to you, nobody would care if I die, poor me routine.” I asked why she didn’t listen to me when I said, “Do not get into that car (and come here).” She said, I shit you not, “I didn’t get into the car. I took a taxi.” That was her answer. Never mind that she completely disrespected my needs and wishes on the single-worst day of my 35 years, she was pulling some infantile, semantic bullshit in a mind-boggingly, pathetic attempt to justify her behavior. I couldn’t believe it then and I can hardly believe it now. Mercifully, she didn’t stay long and then it was back to the business of delivering the baby so the infection didn’t kill me.

The next thing that I remember was the worst round of shaking and fever. As it did each time, every three or four hours, it came on suddenly. I got really cold and despite the pile of heated blankets, I shivered violently for 20, maybe 30 minutes. I had to keep something in my mouth so my teeth didn’t clank together; it was way too hard to fight the shaking the keep my jaw still. I tried sometimes to stop the shaking by bracing my whole body and resisting with all of my might but it didn’t even work and it was incredibly exhausting. I tried having Rocket Man lay next to me, or was it on me, to keep me from being so cold and to stop the shaking; that didn’t work.

After I stopped shaking, the nurse took my temperature. It was 106.1. The blankets came off and a frantic effort began to bring the fever down. I was at a maternity hospital so they didn’t have a giant ice-pack type thing to put me in. Somebody was dispatched to try to find one. Rocket Man, DF and our current amazing nurse went to work on me.

They stripped me naked and bathed me with cool washcloths. There was some kind of device blowing cool air on me. I think I started to check out a little here but I do remember it. I actually felt very peaceful and much better now that the shaking had stopped. I was staring at the lights on the ceiling and talking about how I saw a Charlie Brown-looking figure in them. I know they probably started to worry about me even more after I said that but I insisted on it and showed RM what I was talking about. He did see it so maybe I wasn’t losing brain cells by the trillions.

The fever scared the shit out of everybody. After it came down, I checked out. RM and DF later said that I was talking complete nonsense alternating with talking to my living daughter who of course wasn’t there. I lost my sense of time and where I was in the room. I recalled things that hadn’t happened. It was the middle of the night when the fever happened but I don’t think any of us slept much after that. Once again they gave me an ativan that didn’t help me sleep at all and the blood-pressure thing checked my bp automatically every 15 minutes. It was another hideously long night. All hell was breaking loose outside. The flood waters were rising on the worst flood our county had seen in 25 years.

The next day was all about waiting for the baby to come out. I was getting all kinds of meds to induce labor but it wasn’t happening. My cervix wasn’t dilating. They didn’t want to do a C-section because of the danger of spilling all of the infected fluid into my intestines, etc. Also, I was in no condition to undergo a major surgery.

Fancy doc was getting extremely nervous and it started to show, not that I noticed. He came back frequently to check my cervix. I was terrified of the prospect of the C-section and I was also afraid that the delivery would coincide with a fit of fever. I kept trying to talk the nurses and doctors into giving me more drugs to keep the fever down. The drugs didn’t help prevent the fever but I thought that they could if we timed them to head off the fever.

A nurse, one of the ones that I didn’t care for, came back on shift and needed to do something with my IV. Maybe she needed to move it, maybe she was actually drawing blood, but she did it as badly as she had when she first put my IV in. That was another time that I cried out in pain. I’d already been through botched catheters, IV insertions, countless needles and blood draws, a thousand blood pressure band tourniquets, an epidural, a surgery to remove the cerclage. I about lost it when she botched whatever she was trying to do with that needle. I started crying. I hadn’t been crying much. I had been in survival-coping mode.

Shortly after the bad needle, I started having trouble breathing but was afraid to tell the nurse because I thought they might do an emergency C. I told her anyway. Shortly after they moved me to intensive care, which was convenient because my organs had started to fail. I didn’t know until later why the nurse kept frowning at the bag of pee coming out of the catheter. There apparently wasn’t much coming out because my kidneys were shutting down. They also kept checking my blood pressure and asking ME if I knew if I had low blood pressure. I thought this was odd since it had been taken a thousand times in the last two days. The alarm kept going off because my blood pressure was so low.

My veins and arteries were constricting. The bacteria had gotten a foothold in my bloodstream and I had gone into septic shock. I didn’t know at the time how serious this was and how easily I could’ve gone into a coma. On the bright side, the intensive care nurse was incredible.

There was a very creepy moment where the intensive care doctor came in and examined my neck. I didn’t know it at the time but he was checking my veins to prepare for putting in a central line. Since my blood pressure was falling, they wouldn’t be able to use my collapsing arm veins if they needed quick access to my heart and lungs. They needed to put a central line in my jugular vein. That was freaky. I didn’t know why creepy doc was there but I remember him looking at my neck. It freaked me out at the time and it freaks me out retroactively.

Fortunately that morning an infectious disease specialist had been consulted and my antibiotics were redone, maybe just in time to save my life. After they checked my neck, I started to turn the corner. I don’t think I had any fever fits after that.

Fancy doc had been coming in all day to check my cervix. At some point after midday, I started having labor contractions. Having had two scheduled C-sections, I had not had the pleasure of having real contractions. They hurt. A lot.

I was in labor. I was in quite a bit of pain despite the epidural that had been in since the cerclage removal. The anesthesiologist came to check the epidural and added some more meds. It didn’t help. I was in real labor and was having painful contractions. The epidural wasn’t taking the edge off even. It got worse. The anesthesiologist said to call him in 15 minutes if it didn’t get better. It got worse. I called him in 5.

Looking back I wonder (duh) why it hurt so bad. Maybe it was because of the hell that my body had been through and that I hadn’t slept for two nights and I was fresh out of septic shock. Maybe it was because labor contractions are apparently (I’ve heard) as painful at 23 weeks as they are at full-term.

At some point, fancy doc came in to check my cervix and I swear he jammed his hand up me so ruthlessly that I burst into tears from the pain. He expected that my epidural would be numbing the pain so he didn’t think twice about ravaging me. That fucking hurt. I was nearing the end of my tolerating-all-of-this-painful-invasive-shit rope. He bellowed about why the hell my epidural wasn’t working. I had been wondering the same thing.

Oh yeah… for a long while during the labor contractions I wasn’t complaining because even though they hurt, they were bearable and… this part is really sad… I could still feel the baby kicking. I felt her thumping around regularly throughout the two-day ordeal and I wasn’t ready to part with her. I hadn’t complained for a long time because I wanted to feel her before she got forced out of her toxic home.

Looking back it’s amazing that she was still alive. The infection had brought me close to the brink of survival but she was still hanging in there even in a placenta full of deadly bacteria.

She was 22 weeks, 5 days old. Before the delivery I had fleeting thoughts of maybe, just maybe she could make it. Maybe she could be one of the youngest babies ever to survive. I knew better but there were brief moments of irrational hopes.

Backing up a little, once the contractions got really painful, I was ready for the meds to kick in. DF talked me through them and let me squeeze the life out of her hand. I switched to the bedrails.

RM was in the hallway talking to bad-timing-brother-in-law (BTBIL). I considered leaving this part out but it was part of my experience. I adore my BIL but he has notoriously bad timing. Immediately following my first D&C, back in 2003, we were scheduled to go away for the weekend with RM’s 3 brothers, one of the girlfriends, and his dad. NEVER EVER in a million friggin’ years would I have considered going but for the fact that we were going to have my son’s 2nd birthday party. We planned to have his party on Sunday, after his nap and before our three-hour drive back home. I only went on the trip because I wanted my son to have a nice party.

It was the most miserable weekend of my life. Nobody spoke of my situation ALL WEEKEND. It got worse when BTBIL left us stranded at a lake, unable to go back for a nap when the little birthday boy got tired. When BTBIL and his girlfriend finally came back and we took our son back for his nap, he was so overtired that he threw up in his crib and wouldn’t sleep. By the time we gave up on the nap, we had time for a super-quick cake and presents. Then we had to drive all the way home with BTBIL while I seethed.

I SPENT THE POST-D&C WEEKEND WITHH FIVE DUDES TALKING SPORTS WHEN I WANTED TO BE HOME IN THE FETAL POSITION ALL FOR A BIRTHDAY PARTY THAT WAS FUCKED BECAUSE MY BROTHER-IN-LAW IS AN IDIOT.

Bad timing indeed. To his credit, he really is a good guy and he came to the hospital to bring us some stuff we needed like a clean shirt for RM who naturally hadn’t planned on a four-day ordeal in the hospital.

It just figured that he showed up while I was in full-blown labor with zero painkiller about to deliver a baby that was going to die. After 45 minutes, DF went to retrieve RM. I wanted him there with me and not in the hallway with his brother.

I kept calling for the anesthesiologist and he finally returned and was once again completely mystified. Eventually he thought to check the place where the epidural was inserted in my back. It wasn’t connected. Mystery solved. I had probably sweated out the epidural during the big fever. We got it hooked back up and that was the end of the pain and the end of feeling my daughter alive.

At some point after waiting all day, it was determined that my cervix was ready. It was time to deliver the baby.

My ob/gyn was going to do the delivery. She was the doctor who never told me that a LEEP procedure could cause incompetent cervix and despite the fact that I got pregnant two short months after the LEEP, she never checked my cervix to see how it was holding up. I no longer have a relationship with her but at the time I was thrilled to have her at the delivery. Her father-in-law was dying so we thought she would have to leave but she ended up staying and I was very grateful. We’d been through a lot together during the nine years she was my doctor.

Enough for now. Not looking forward to the next part. I hope you’ll keep commenting if you can and reacting if you want. Ask questions if you have them. It was much better to have readers engage after the last BFN post than not say much after the first.

I hope I’m not scaring the shit out of you all. It was really an extremely rare series of events that caused this to happen.

I realized that on the day that I was writing this I was 22 weeks and 3 days pregnant. That’s exactly how far along I was when I went to the hospital with the fever.”

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~ by complicatedmama on December 30, 2007.

6 Responses to “Day 2 of the Big F*cking Nightmare”

  1. What a f*cking nightmare indeed. I just can not get over your story, a rare series of events maybe, but what the f*ck??? The fact that you were able to write about it is incredible.
    I know this story will always be a nightmare for you. Always. I just hope that it gets a little easier each time you have to retell it. Who am I kidding? How could it get easier.
    Sorry I am lost for words.

  2. Your story is hard for me to read. It’s so sad. I can’t imagine how it must feel for it to be YOURS. Fuck. I know what happened to you is very rare, but it just drives home for me how fragile it all is (pregnancy, that is) and how it can end badly at any point. My chiropractor told me a story about a friend of hers whose baby died because of a knot in its cord just 1 week short of her due date. It’s all so scary.

  3. Sometime there are no words. Just know that I am thinking of you today.

  4. F*ck. Just F*ck. It’s like a horror movie. I cannot believe you lived through this….

  5. sorry would never begin to cut it .. so im not saying it.. sorry is a useless word in my eyee anyway…
    my heart does go out to you.. as a mom a woman and a person who has had 2 misscarraiges.
    but your story it needs to be told for your little one to be put at rest pars of it we can learn from i never knew that the infection like that could do so much to a person and child..
    but now while life goes on and your memories keep gathering. i thank you for sharing this with all of us.. i know its hard..
    life is hard..
    hugs you… tonya

  6. I am looking at my precious toddler and crying at what you write, that you should endure this…its beyond what any woman should have to cope with.

    You are so articulate. I won’t pretend to know what you went thru but I really related to what you wrote about your Mother. I have the same problem with my Father and have never been able to articulate it as perfectly as you did. When I was diagnosed with cancer (the same one that killed my own mother when i as 8) he was clutching on to me like it was a funeral …he’s always been the opposite of emotional support. I am still alive some years later so there’s always hope.

    Of course I can’t concentrate to write something as well-thought as I would like to because my toddler is constantly interrupting with requests for attention. For this I am very grateful. Take care along this grieving road, its a very difficult road to negotiate. Be gentle on yourself. Ok I’ve got Dora on in the background now so there is no way I am going to be able to write anything that makes much sense. Sorry! I am glad you are living thru this. That’s the human spirit for you.

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