January 15, 2013 by malaikakerr
In light of Abel’s 3rd birthday tomorrow, here is his birth story. I took this from my old blog, but I’ve gone through and tweaked it some. It’s lengthy, but I honestly wrote it for myself 🙂
Abel Kenneth, just a few days old
Because of my high risk factors, I went in to have non stress tests done 2x a week throughout my third trimester. On Tuesday of the week Abel was born, I went in for my routine testing and discovered that my blood pressure was elevated. I explained to the doctor that I had been having some sharp pains in my shoulder, but that I thought it was from lifting kids while I babysat. He assumed that my BP was high because I was in pain. I was also feeling a bit sick, which was another reason to shrug of the high blood pressure.
Wednesday night was our 3rd wedding anniversary. I cooked a special crab cake dinner at home, but felt too nauseous to really enjoy. At 8 months pregnant, I had just said goodbye to morning sickness the month before, and I was discouraged to be feeling queasy again. I also had a dull ache in my abdomen. We took off to church after dinner to teach our children’s classes, but by then end of the night I was crying for Reed to take me home. I felt awful.
On Thursday, I had another non stress test to check on the baby. My blood pressure was high again, but baby looked fine. I was feeling pretty sick by now. By Thursday night I was throwing up, and had a pretty awful migraine that included floating vision spots. I didn’t think anything special of it though, because I had migraines and nausea all throughout my pregnancy. The stomach pain became worse and worse as the day wore on.
By Friday, I was a wreck. I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I sobbed when Reed left for work, and I think I was still crying when he got home. In addition to the nausea, the pain in my shoulder, and the migraine, the dull ache in my stomach from the beginning of the week was now this awful sharp jabbing. I was miserable! When Reed came home and found me in such pain, he told me I had to go to the ER. I begged him to let me go to the OB’s office instead. I didn’t want to spend the day at the hospital. So, Reed drove me to the OB’s office where they did another non stress test, and more lab work. The doctor said it appeared that I had a virus, but wanted to check on something in my bloodwork. He would call in the morning if anything showed up in my labs, and told me to go straight to the hospital if I felt even a little worse. At that point, I didn’t really think that was possible. I know that if I had been honest about how terrible I felt on Friday, they would have admitted me then.
The pain in my stomach was unbearable. I cried off and on all night. I didn’t know what this virus was, but it was awful! As Reed was getting his shoes on to leave for work Saturday morning, my doctor called. He said to meet him at the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital immediately, saying something about elevated liver enzymes. I remember Reed driving me over there, and all I could think was, “I just want them to knock me out and take this baby so they can fix whatever’s wrong with me.”
As the nurse buzzed us into the Labor and Delivery hall, I naively thought, “We’ll be back– right here!– in a few weeks to have Abel!” They hooked me up to another non stress test immediately. I was extremely uncomfortable due to the pain in my stomach, and the bands for the tests went right across the painful spot. It felt like we were in there for an eternity, and no one told us anything. We began pressing the nurse for more details; we knew she had to know more than we did. Finally, she told us that in her experience, we wouldn’t be leaving the hospital without the baby, and that he would be born in the next day or two. Reed and I were both caught off guard by this news, since we still didn’t know what was wrong with me.
The nurse finally gave me some pain medication (Stadol). I’m not even sure she had even finished giving it to me, and I was able to relax for the first time in days. I’m pretty sure I told the nurse she was my best friend as I drifted in and out of sleep.
The doctor came in, unfortunately after I was loopy from the medicine, to give us more details. I had severe pre-ecclampsia and HELLP syndrome. This explained the pain in my shoulder, my high blood pressure, the throwing up, the migraine, the visual auras, and the pain in my abdomen. All signs of HELLP. To prevent my organs from shutting down, the baby needed to be delivered immediately. The doctor would begin an induction after I got settled into a room.
While most of this conversation is fuzzy in my brain, I distinctly remember my doctor saying he could go over all the risks of my situation if we really wanted, but that we didn’t really want to know. Reed and I took his word for it. Praise God that I was already in the third trimester, and Abel was just a few days from officially being full term. The solution for HELLP is always to deliver the baby, no matter how far along the baby is. If you google the phrase “HELLP Syndrome” many of the resulting websites are dedicated to infant loss and stillbirth.
After being moved, I was put on Magnesium Sulfate. Because my blood pressure was so high, they had to give me this to prevent seizures. I was on it for a few days after delivery because my dangerously high blood pressure took a few days to come down. It put me into the weirdest fog; most of the memories I have while on this medicine are all jumbled up in my brain. I was aware enough to know that I couldn’t process things very quickly, and and I was aware that my thinking was slowed. I almost felt trapped, like I had no efficient way to communicate. It was very weird. My doctor gave me a dose of medication to begin the labor process (I wasn’t due for another 4 weeks, and my body was not ready for labor) that he said should induce labor after 8 hours or so, given in 2 doses. He also told me I would not be able to have an epidural, because I still had blood thinners in my system, which I take for my high risk issues while pregnant. Epidurals and spinal blocks while on my specific blood thinner cause paralysis.
By this point, the stadol was wearing off, and I couldn’t focus on anything but the stomach pain. Later, Reed and I were told that pain was my liver, throbbing. One doctor told me that if I’d waited any longer to come to the hospital, even one more day, my liver would have ruptured. Another doctor said that my lab results were the worse he had ever see in all his years as an OB. That explained a lot!
After a few hours, my doctor came back in to check my progress, and to check on Abel. He shook the baby and was expecting to see his heart rate jump in response. It didn’t. The doctor finished his exam, then told us I’d be having a Cesarean, that my tiny baby wasn’t handling the induction like he’d wanted him to even though my labor hadn’t progressed much at all.
Questions were floating in our minds, we knew it was a very dangerous surgery. Because of my clotting disorder, I’m not suppose to have surgery. (I even still have my wisdom teeth!) It puts me at a very high risk for lethal blood clots during recovery. But to further complicate things, I had taken my blood thinners that morning, which put me at a risk for bleeding too much during the surgery. And, one symptom of HELLP syndrome is the breakdown of red blood cells, which also put me at a very high risk of bleeding too much during the surgery. So I was at risk both for bleeding out during surgery, and developing deadly clots afterwords. On top of all this, because I had taken my blood thinners and could not have a spinal block, they would have to give me general anesthesia during the C-section.
I hate to end such a story so anticlimactically, but I don’t remember much else! They knocked me out and delivered Abel. Because it was an emergency, they forgot to get Reed until after Abel was born even though he was suited up and waiting. Reed says that when they did remember to bring him into the OR, he didn’t know who to go to first, his baby or his new baby. During recovery, Reed was in and out of my room and in and out with the baby. My mom stayed with Abel, whose blood sugar they discovered was dangerously low. They gave him a few special formula bottles, and continued to check his blood for a few hours. He was a tiny little guy, only 5 lbs 5 oz.
When I finally met my precious bundle it was very late, actually the day after he was born. I remember that they wheeled my bed to the nursery and handed me my baby. We met right there in the hall. I looked at him and said out loud, “I want another one.” I wasn’t given the option to care for him that first night, but soon enough he wouldn’t leave my side!
I spent a few extra days in the hospital than most people, and was throwing up again by last day there. I felt like I was going to rip my incision open! Did I mention that in addition to all of this, they were still treating me for a virus? And that they put me back on blood thinners only 12 hours after Abel was born (for another 3 months)? I begged the doc to let me go home, that I would be more comfortable throwing up there. He told me that if I had come into the hospital that day with lab results like mine, they’d be admitting me as a patient. But since they had been even worse the days before and were moving in the right direction, he let me go home.
Back at home I recovered from the emergency C-Section, the HELLP, and the virus. I experienced a terrible side effect from the surgery, transferred pain in my shoulders. It was awful, but thankfully it only lasted several days.
I am so thankful that God saw fit to keep me alive through all of this! I love my precious little one, and would go through it all again for him in a second. I am also so thankful that my mom was able to come down for a few days, and that the wonderful people Reed worked with at Starbucks pulled together to cover his shifts for a week.Reed never left my side! My mom came immediately,I think she understood how serious it was before we did, and was there before Abel’s birth. And now for next time, you can be sure I am familiar with the signs of HELLP syndrome. Praise God that I made it through Micah’s delivery with no symptoms. We’re praying that the delivery of #3 goes as smoothly!