Friday, December 20, 2013

32 wks 6 days

After "risking out" of midwifery care, I met with my new OB. She tracked my (impressive!) contractions, ordered an ultrasound and another fetal fibronectin test, told me to take it easy and sent me home. Neither she nor I were feeling too worried about anything.

Next day I got a call from her office. The test was positive, my cervix had shortened, it was possible that the baby might be on her way. They sent me to the hospital for a shot of steroids to help jumpstart her lung development and to get me on a Magnesium Sulfate drip to slow the contractions. 

One thing lead to another over the next six days. The Magnesium Sulfate depressed my central nervous system while the IV they gave me caused my body to overload with fluid. I began to struggle to breathe. They did a chest x-ray, an ultrasound of my leg and arm veins, an EKG, an arterial blood gas test, an echocardiogram. They put me on oxygen and took a million different vials of blood. They found fluid in my lungs (pulmonary edema) and a problem with my heart valve. They gave me furosemide to clear the fluid, but then I diuresed too far and my heart started to go into the danger zone. They rehydrated me with another IV, ordered another echocardiogram, more blood tests, another x-ray etc. 

When things finally stablized they let me go. I had 14 new holes in my arms from needles and cannulas. I saw white spots in my eyes when I stood up. The nurse told me, in the kindest possible way, that I could have died.


That's the quick and dirty summary of how it went down. I thought, as it was all happening, that I'd want to eventually write it out in vivid detail, but honestly, sitting here on my third evening home, I realize there's no real point in dwelling. It happened, it sucked, it's (hopefully) over.

Instead I'd like to talk about gratitude.

Over those six days I was in hospital, while I stared out the window or talked with the (very sweet) nurses, and while Jared sat or slept or read to me from the cot next to my bed, packages kept arriving at our home. They piled up on the porch. When I was released, I sat in our bed and Jared brought me box after box to open. These were presents, for the baby, for me. These were hand me down toys and homemade blankets and perfume and new nightgowns and fancy chapsticks and baby socks and little patterned dresses and boxes of chocolate. I opened them one by one, tissue paper spilling over the side of the bed, and I almost couldn't stand it. It was too much. It was this physical representation of the overwhelming love and support we've been receiving lately. And it was just a tiny portion of it.

There's nothing like a good struggle to make your realize how fortunate you are. Over the past few months, our friends and family have outdone themselves. Just when I think we've reached the peak of being cared for, I find there's a new level. As things have become harder for me, more and more people have come forward to pitch in. I can hardly keep track of their kindness. They have brought us home cooked meals and takeout; they have washed our dishes and done our laundry and dusted our tables and vacuumed our floors; they have cleaned the insides of our kitchen cupboards; they have flown in from other states to purchase and assemble ikea furniture; they have driven me to and from doctor's appointments; they have walked and played with and minded our dog; they have bought us groceries and put them away; they have called, and texted, and sent cards, and showered us with absurdly generous gifts for the baby; they have come over just to sit on my bed and gossip. All of this, often over and over again, without a moment's hesitation, always with a smile, and I seriously can't understand how I got so lucky. How do I have so many amazing people in my life?

Before this experience I had a hard time ever letting people help me at all. I was proud of taking care of my own business, of joking about hardship, of rarely "burdening" others. I was independent (and maybe a little aloof?) Deep down this was connected to a feeling of not deserving help, as if good deeds were tallied and reciprocated accordingly. What, after all, had I ever done to earn people's love and support and care? 

I realize now that that's not at all how the world works. People take care of you out of their own love and goodness, not because you've earned it. No one is keeping score. I hit the jackpot in the friends and family department, and I married an amazing man. I am lucky, pure and simple.

I don't know how I'll ever repay everyone. Likely I won't. There's no matching what has been done for me in these past months. So for now I'll just say: THANK YOU.

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