Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Long and Bumpy Road to Motherhood

Sara isn't my first child. In the Spring of 2014, I became pregnant.  Mark and I were elated, and having always dreamed about having children, I began to imagine what life would be like with our baby. Everything was going great, and at 10 weeks, I had a blood test and found out that we were having a boy. We had already agreed on a name, Carter. I was very excited, and ran out and bought a whole bunch of boy's clothes. At 18 weeks, just days before my mid pregnancy scan, I had a large gush of fluid come out. Panicked, I called Mark at work and told him to come home, and I raced to the ER.  I was hoping that it was just something else, like a bladder problem, but deep down, I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, they confirmed that it was indeed my water that had broken. While sometimes when this happens, the pregnancy can be saved, mine couldn't. The cord prolapsed, and our baby passed away. The next day at the hospital, I delivered Carter. We spent some time with him, and then I was released and we went home.

I immediately wanted to start trying again, because I wanted another chance to bring life into the world, and be a mother. I wanted another chance to try it again, because I felt that my body let me and Carter down, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could somehow carry a baby full term. When we got the ok from the doctor, we started trying, and I hoped that I would become pregnant again right away. It didn't happen. We'd try and try, for months. Sometimes I'd be late and I began to get really hopeful. I was obsessed with it. I tried not to make it a wedge that would come between Mark and I, because I knew he was mourning too. But I wanted to have life in me again.

After 6 months of trying, I talked to Mark and told him that I wanted to see a fertility doctor. Being 35 and quickly approaching my birthday, I had a feeling something was wrong, and began feeling like my pregnancy was a fluke, and it would never happen again. He agreed, and we began seeing a doctor. They ran tests on both of us, and I was told that I have a great chance of becoming pregnant again. Except it didn't happen. We discussed our options with the doctor, and I began a fertility drug therapy. They put me on a drug called Chlomid. I tried it for several cycles. It didn't work, and I started losing hope again. The next step was a stronger drug called Letrazol. I tried it, and after 14 months of an emotional roller coaster, I became pregnant again! I had another chance.

Because they were never able to figure out what exactly caused my water to break so early the first time around, I was labeled as high risk this time around, and saw a high risk doctor for weekly ultrasounds. Most people have just a couple of ultrasound pictures, I have a whole photo album full! Everything was going just fine, but this time around, I was a nervous wreck. Every little twinge or ache, and I panicked. I didn't want to be one of those hypochondriac types that constantly bothered my doctors, but they assured me that it was ok.

My 18th week was approaching, and I was very nervous. I was determined to go all the way, but just thinking about how we lost our son at this point, and having his bag of clothes that I had bought in our spare room, that I often went through, made me cry. That week came and went. I started to feel better, but still constantly nervous. Weeks continued to pass, and I finally made it to week 25, which is the age of viability, the earliest that a baby has a chance of survival if born too early. I relaxed a little more.

Finally, I was at the beginning of my third trimester, and at my last high risk ultrasound. All had been well so far, and I was finally letting myself be excited. I had even begun buying things for our baby, who would be a daughter. They did the ultrasound, and then the doctor came in to talk to me. They had found an issue with her brain, where they thought that they saw too much fluid on her brain, and they wanted me to get an MRI for a closer look.

I had to go straight to work, but I couldn't concentrate, and I was in tears. I made the appointment for the MRI, and waited anxiously for the week leading up to it. I prayed that everything would be fine, but I felt like my body was betraying me again. The day of the MRI appointment came, and luckily, everything turned out to be just fine. It was just bad positioning on the ultrasound.

I went into labor naturally 2 days before my due date, which was on July 22nd. All day Wednesday, I labored at home, and that night, went into the hospital to be checked. They told me I still had a while to go and sent me home. My water broke early the next morning on Thursday. We went to the hospital, and the next 2 days where a whirlwind. I got my epidural pretty early on Thursday morning, but did not start pushing until about 9 pm that night. I pushed, and I pushed. For 5 hours. Sara's head was turned awkwardly, and she was stuck. After each contraction, there was no progress. Finally, in the middle of the night, they took me to get a C Section.

Sara was born on her due date early in the morning on Friday, and at first, appeared completely healthy. Mark noticed that she was holding her right hand awkwardly, but the doctors didn't seem too concerned. We went back to our room and to our routine of the nurses coming in and out and lactation helping me get breastfeeding established. Every time we tried a feeding, Sara would go into a screaming fit, and sometime early Saturday morning, I noticed that after every crying fit, her whole body would shake. I thought it was hiccups, because she had been prone to them all through my pregnancy. Except she wasn't making that normal "hiccuping" sound. She had these shaking fits more and more often, and I began to feel like something was very wrong, and alerted a nurse. I was right.

They rushed Sara to the NICU. Because I had just had surgery, I couldn't go, so Mark went with her. That was agonizing for me, and I couldn't believe what was happening. After several hours, I finally found out that with her head being stuck, and all the pressure from the pushing, had caused major head trauma. They brought me to the NICU to see her, but she was about to be transferred to another hospital. I said goodbye to my baby, and I didn't know if I'd see her alive again. Mark went with her, of course, and I had to stay at my hospital for another day and a half.

The next week was very long and stressful. Sara had several tests, which included an MRI, CT scan, and two EEG tests to watch for seizure activity. She had a brain injury and had to be put on medication to control the seizures.  She also had nerve damage to her arm from the way her head had been turned while I had been pushing, which had caused the problem that Mark first noticed. I didn't know if my baby would ever fully recover, and if she'd ever be a normal child, or if she would have cognitive disabilities.

We finally got to go home, and try to get back to normal. Luckily, the medicine kept Sara from having more seizures, and she seemed pretty normal, making eye contact, and even smiling at me at just a few weeks old. Unfortunately, we were never really able to get a good breastfeeding habit established, so I nursed her sometimes, but had to start pumping and also feeding her formula. I started falling into a routine, and enjoyed motherhood.

Finally, after a follow up MRI and EEG, I can happily say that Sara is doing great, and is on the road to recovery! She is such a happy baby, and has even started daycare, where all of her caregivers just love her! The last few months have seemed to fly by, and I can't believe everything that happened. Hopefully, it will all be behind us, and she'll never have another problem due to this injury again. And I am now hopefully and happily getting ready to try to give her a sibling!

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