Monthly Archives: September 2011

This is not going to be easy

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24 weeks. The point at which a fetus becomes viable. Before 24 weeks, most hospitals will not take any kind of life saving measures for babies born that early.  I was at 20 weeks. I had to stay pregnant for a minimum of 4 weeks to even give my sweet baby a shot at having a life outside my womb.

The stark realization of what we were up against was starting to sink in as we headed into the hospital. We got there in record time and headed straight to Labor and Delivery. Labor and Delivery. This is where I was being sent. I neither wanted to labor or deliver that day. I wasn’t even supposed to be setting foot in this hospital for another 20 weeks. We got up to the third floor and quickly checked in. The receptionist joked that I didn’t look like I was supposed to be there for a few weeks yet. I told her “I’m not, please pray for my baby.” She looked me in the eye and with such compassion and sympathy said, “I most certainly will dear, I certainly will.” A nurse escorted us to a room and told me to change into a gown. As I walked in and inspected the hospital room I couldn’t help but notice all of labor and delivery equipment. It suddenly hit me. All of it. The horror of our situation, how scared I was, the possibility that I could go into active labor at any moment, the fact that I was in a room where they could deliver my 20 week baby if need be… all of it.  For the first time since we were told I was  “miscarrying,” I allowed myself to cry. I sobbed hysterically and just kept saying “I’m not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be here.” I pulled myself together enough to change into a gown and sat myself on the most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever plopped my booty on.

As everyone in the room attempted to calm me down, in walked a very handsome doctor. Oh great, I’ve always wanted a good-looking guy inspecting my hoo hah and chatting with me about my cervix. And that’s exactly what happened. Dr. Lantz quickly “got to work” and examined me. He didn’t give us any indication if what he was seeing was “salvageable” or “beyond repair.” I held Keith’s hand and just kept praying “Please God save our baby.” With the exam portion of the visit over, Dr. Lantz moved on to another ultrasound. He asked us if we knew the gender of the baby. We told him that we were supposed to find out that day, but our plans obviously changed. He said that he would let us know what we were having if he could tell on the ultrasound. Even though he had given us no real answers, this was the first ray of hope that we had been given since the day started. Knowing the gender of our baby, to me, meant that there was still a possibility of having a healthy baby boy or girl when all was said and done. For the second time that day I was able to see our wiggly, squiggly baby. Dr. Lantz pointed out different things on the ultrasound. We saw hands and feet and an itty bitty face. He checked the anatomy of the baby and told us that the brain and organs were developing normally. When he went to look for female/male organs he told us that the baby was crossing his/her legs and he couldn’t see what he needed to see. For months all I wanted to know was if we were having a boy or girl. It’s amazing how quickly priorities change. All I wanted to hear from Dr. Lantz that day was “we can save your baby.” He then continued the ultrasound and  measured my cervix. He told me that I was only about 3 cm dilated. Well, so far the news is better than at my doctor’s office! We breathed a SMALL sigh of relief and I didn’t hesitate to ask Dr. Lantz what our options were. He told us we didn’t really have  option(s) if I wanted to keep this pregnancy. He would need to do an emergency cerclage and sew my cervix shut if we were going to give this baby any fighting chance — this was our ONLY option. There was no reason for him to feel that there was anything wrong with the baby, and no apparent reason that I should be miscarrying, so in his professional opinion, a cerclage was feasible and could work. Keith and I immediately agreed and I told him to do whatever he needed to do to save the baby.  He told us that he would come in at 7am the next day to do the procedure. He wanted to give me about 24 hours to make sure that I wasn’t miscarrying and if all looked the same in the morning he would put in the cerclage.  We just had to make it to Thanksgiving and this baby had a shot.

After the longest night of my life, we had made it. 7am. Dr. Lantz came in and smiled at us and asked if we were ready to go. I told him I was more than ready and thanked him for being there on Thanksgiving day. He did a quick exam to make sure everything was still the same as the day before, and then told the nurse it was ” go time.” Everything was happening so quickly I didn’t really have time to be nervous. Keith was allowed to come into the OR with me, so I was comforted knowing that he’d be holding my hand through all of this. I was wheeled in to the OR where I was given a spinal block, and a run down of all the possible risks and complications of the procedure, including having my water accidentally broken a potentially going into labor. After informing me of all conceivable issues that could arise, Dr. Lantz reiterated that this really was the only shot my baby had. I took a huge deep breath and said, “ok then, let’s do this.” The procedure was, well, super awkward. It was quick though. I was out of the OR in half an hour and back in the hospital room to recover. Dr. Lantz came in to debrief us on how the procedure went. He said that I was about 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. Since the cervix was so thin he didn’t get the suture in as securely as he had hoped. For now, however, my cervix was closed. Dr. Lantz told us that he was unsure that the cerclage would work for long, but told me that he did everything he could for us and we should go home.  He then concluded with important post op instructions. In order to give the baby the best shot at getting to viability, I was instructed to adhere to strict bedrest. I was to lay completely flat on my back and only get up to use the restroom.The only other time I could get out of bed was to shower every other day. I asked Dr. Lantz how long he thought I would need to be on bedrest. Couldn’t my cervix just heal itself with lots of rest? No. He informed me that I would need to be on bedrest for the duration of my pregnancy. For some reason, after everything we had just been through, this might have been the biggest bomb dropped on me. 5 months in bed? How was I going to manage that? It was Thanksgiving… was I supposed to spend the holidays in bed? I knew I would do anything, ANYTHING to save this baby. But 5 months of bedrest seemed like the most daunting thing to ever be asked of me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it.

I had to quickly accept that this was going to be the hardest thing I’d ever done, but if it meant that I would be holding a sweet baby when all of this was over, I would lie in bed for as long as I possibly could.  I envisioned a healthy, crying newborn being placed on my chest. I envisioned rocking and singing to my beautiful child. I envisioned a house full of young laughter. I envisioned loving a little person more than I had ever loved anything in my entire life. These thoughts and my incessant prayers would get me through… but I knew this was not going to be easy.

**Special thanks to all of the people who supported us through our scary hospital stay over Thanksgiving. My cousin Sarah who made sure Keith and I got to the hospital and then stayed with me and kept my spirits up the whole day. To our amazing nurse, Gail, who was the most comforting and wonderful nurse I could’ve ever hoped for. To my Aunt Trina and cousin Mandy who drove all the way from VA to come be with us on the day of the procedure. And of course, the biggest thank you of all, to Dr. Lantz, who is solely responsible for saving sweet Kaleb’s life. A lot of doctor’s would not have gone forward with a cerclage with the state of my cervix, but Dr. Lantz did. We owe him so much.  We will be forever grateful for the support, love and comfort you all brought to us during one of the hardest and scariest days of our entire lives.

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And so it began..

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We had just returned from vacation. Mexico was amazing as per usual. My cousin’s wedding in California was way fun. But when I got off the plane in Baltimore, I had this feeling that something just wasn’t right. My stomach wouldn’t settle, my clothes fit uncomfortably, I was more irritable than usual and just felt off. That morning we returned, I unfortunately had some previously scheduled work appointments. When we got home from the airport, I showered, and quickly readied myself for the day. I picked out my favorite skirt and blouse ensemble, but as I put it on I realized it did not fit as nicely as it had before vacation. Really? Eww! I was in a hurry so I didn’t have time to think to much of my recent weight gain. As I ran out the door I yelled at Keith and told him that I might need a doctor’s appointment for my persistent upset stomach, to which he replied, “…or I’ll just go buy you a pregnancy test.”  I laughed it off and headed out the door, but the whole drive to work I kept thinking “could I really be pregnant!?” What are the chances after moving across the country from Colorado to Maryland that the first few weeks that we lived here I would get pregnant? I thought it was a long shot so I didn’t think about it the rest of the day. When I returned from work, Keith was there waiting to greet me with a home pregnancy test and a big, cheesy grin on his face. I rolled my eyes and told him it was impossible but decided to placate Keith’s curiosity and take the test. While we waited the three minutes we discussed the improbability that it could be positive….. but it was.  We were in fact PREGNANT.  After 2 years of “trying” and not succeeding, we took the leap of faith and moved across the country, only to immediately find ourselves with child. We were thrilled and knew this baby was a God thing. It was a sign we were meant to be in Maryland.

The first trimester flew by as I had the busiest fall season of my life. Every weekend I had a wedding or event I was working, we moved into a new townhome, and were anxiously awaiting the holidays. The day before Thanksgiving we were going to find out the gender of the baby, and we were headed to Colorado for Christmas. So much to look forward to! We had planned a big “reveal” for announcing the baby gender to our family and could not have been more excited. The night before the “big” appointment, Keith and I discussed names a bit and wondered how to get the baby as active as possible, so we were sure to find out what we were having. The next morning, I woke up at 5am. I could not get back to sleep. It wasn’t so much that I was too excited to sleep, I just couldn’t get back to sleep! I went downstairs and watched the morning news and kept eyeing the time. At 6:30, I finally decided to just go ahead and take a shower and get ready. I went into the bathroom and started the water. As I readied myself for the shower, I noticed something was terribly wrong. I was bleeding.

I immediately woke Keith up and called the doctor. As I sat in my kitchen waiting for an advice nurse to tell me what to do, I was convincing myself that everything was fine.  The baby was doing somersaults and literally bouncing off the walls. There couldn’t be anything to worry about if the baby was so active, right? I was told to head in to my doctors office right away, but not to worry too much because it sounded like the baby was fine. Once at the doctors office, I was run through the usual myriad of formalities just like every other appointment I’d had over the past 5 months. I was weighed, measured, and then set up for an ultrasound. The doctor came in, chatted with me about our gender appointment, and checked me out, just like she had done numerous times before. She kept chatting and acting casual, but then said “can you excuse me for a moment.” She stepped out and Keith and I just looked at each other. Did this mean something bad? Should we be worried? I chose to believe that the doctor just needed to blow her nose, or answer a text or something simple like that. After about 15 minutes of waiting in absolute worry, the doctor came back in. She started chatting again about the baby and the pregnancy and then turned on the ultrasound machine. I breathed a sigh of relief because she was acting as if everything was fine. She showed us the heartbeat, and we could see our sweet baby wiggling and squiggling around. The doctor then turned off the ultrasound machine and faced me. She put her hand on my leg and said “I really hate to have to tell you this, but from everything I’m seeing from the exam and the ultrasound, you appear to be miscarrying. You’re cervix is dilated about 4cm and there is no way to save the pregnancy.  I’m so sorry.” Umm.. EXSCUSE ME? You just showed me a perfectly healthy tiny baby bouncing around in there and I’m WHAT!? Keith and I looked at each other in horror and I immediately began firing questions at her. She explained that second trimester losses happen for a variety of reasons and it was in no way my fault. She said that we could either go to the hospital for a D and C to terminate the pregnancy, or we could go home and wait it out. I was infuriated. How could she be saying these things to me. TERMINATE? This was not even in my vocabulary. I demanded options. I demanded that she find someone who would save my baby… or at the very least explain to me why this was happening. She kept saying “it’s not your fault.” I kept saying “I’m not losing this baby.” She excused herself from the room and I looked over at Keith who was just as broken as a man could be. Tears streaming down his face with the look of absolute defeat. I on the other hand was irate. I told him ” doctors are wrong all the time. She’s wrong. I’m not losing this baby.” When the doctor came back in, she told us that we needed to head to St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, where a Fetal and Maternal Specialist would be waiting to evaluate our situation further. We thanked her (for what I don’t know) and rushed off to the hospital.

A day that started out so exciting, so full of great expectation had quickly turned into our worst nightmare. I’ve never prayed so much and so hard in my whole life as I did on November 20, 2010. A day that changed my life forever.