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I had had an OB appointment on Monday, April 14. The non-stress test showed some contractions, but they were disorganized at best. Kinda like our lives with two three-week olds. We were back to our old plan, which was to deliver on April 21. My itchies were coming back but I figured I could manage on over-the-counter meds for seven more days.
On Tuesday, April 15, that plan changed. Kinda like our lives with two three-week olds. The previous evening, the itchies were back to pre-steroid levels and I was pretty sure I would NOT be able to manage on over-the-counter meds for seven more days. I was instant-messaging with my sister, who convinced me to call the doctor and ask for meds. So, reluctantly – because I didn’t want to seem wimpy – I did.
I was at an AT&T store exchanging my third blackberry in ten days when the nurse called me back: “Dr. McC doesn’t want to do another steroid pack so you’ve moved to the head of the class: she’s delivering you tomorrow. Be there at 8:00 a.m. for a 10:00 a.m. delivery.”
“SHIT, really?” I say.
So I called the Beloved on my barely charged blackberry. “Hey, my phone is about to go out, but I wanted to let you know you need to change your schedule and call your parents because we’re having the RJBs tomorrow.” And then I called my mom to tell her she was going to have to miss her PALS training class so she could be here for the delivery of her daughter’s twinfants. You know, the kind of calls you make everyday.
Wednesday morning now, 7:00 a.m. We took the the last belly shot before heading to Starbucks for the Beloved and then to the hospital. RJBs were going to be on the outside in a few short hours and it was hard to wrap my head around that. It felt like we were just going to a regular doctor’s appointment.
8:10 a.m. Catch a last glimpse of my belly in the reflection of the hospital entrance’s sliding glass doors. Ride up the elevator to the Labor & Delivery floor.
8:20 ish. Get hustled into a holding room, gown up. Our pastor came by and visited with us and prayed with us, which was friggin’ awesome. Then I got on the monitors and we listened to the RJBs heartbeats via non-stress test for the last time. The Beloved’s mother and my mother were with us while we waited, later joined by the Beloved’s step-mom, and her brother and his wife. It was really awesome having that kind of family support, all of us packed into a holding room that could have well been a resident call room.
9:45 ish. Dr. McC comes in and introduces herself, tells us the plan for procedure and then the nurse comes in behind her and kicks everyone out. This was it – we were headed into the operating room for the spinal block. I had read about them, and how they get administered. But nothing I had read prepared me for the well-endowed nurse to shove my head against her chest, holding it there with one hand, while she clasped my hand with her other. I started to wonder if it was going to hurt her more than it was going to hurt me. The anesthesiologist rocked, though, and I didn’t feel much of anything, except my legs getting very heavy very quickly.
Having the sterile screen up between me and my belly was a bit unnerving. I mean, I KNEW my babies were about to be delivered, but I’m kind of a visual person, so not being able to see was a little bizarre. Instead, I asked Dr. McC to talk through the procedure, which she did. The Beloved and my Mom were in scrubs, standing to my left shoulder, peeking over, watching what I could not see. It seemed to take forever to cut through and pull and tug and the various inside layers of me. Years and years I had been waiting for this moment, waiting to hear a baby wail, and suddenly time was taking it’s sweet ‘ol time. Go figure.
10:20 a.m. And then, out of nowhere, I hear a baby screaming. Our son. I couldn’t catch my breath. I wanted to stand up and hug everyone in the room. I could hear my mom and Jennifer ooohing and ahhhing. I looked into their eyes to see if I could see the reflection of my son. Tears made it clearer. And then, the doctor sending him peeking over the screen, I saw him for the first time. I was amazed and awe-struck and incredulous. Did he really just come out of me?
10:21 a.m. I could hear several voices about me, surgical staff moving around, Jen and Mom chatting, the anesthesiologist telling Jen to “get ready to take the picture”. And there she was, so much smaller and just as beautiful. Peeking over the screen at me, and then moving off to their bassinets for APGARs and clamps and cleaning. Did they really grow inside of me?
I couldn’t breath. I wanted to stand again. I wanted to move. I couldn’t see the babies, but boy oh boy could I hear them! I was in tears. Jen was taking pictures of the babies. She brought them back for me to look at. I was bleeding – a lot. My blood pressure dropped. I lost consciousness. My mom reassured Jen that it was going to be o.k. The anesthesiologist brought me back – they’re good like that.
I encouraged Jen and my mom to go out with the babies. They were doing so well, the staff allowed them to the waiting room before heading to the nursery. Jen wanted to stay with me, but I told her they were just closing me up and to go be with the babies. The close lasted forever, it seemed. I got nauseated and dizzy – blood pressure dropping again. I’m just glad I never had to endure morning sickness. My stay in the recovery room was a little longer than usual due to the blood loss, but I was in my room about 4 hours later, waiting on the babies.
The birth experience was surreal and precious and incredible and amazing and a gift from God – all at the same time. It was exactly as it needed to be, as it was supposed to be, and I honor the experience for what it gave us – two beautiful children that we get to watch over for years to come.
In preparation for birthin’ babies and because my doctor had been insisting that I spend more time in bed with my feet up
for the previous six weeks, I started working from home on March 31. See? I listen. Eventually.
And in return, that’s the day the itchies started. At first it was tolerable. But then it was flirting with annoying. So at my April 3 appointment, I mentioned it to my doctor. And she suggested I try an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream. I was already using Caladryl but found that drying agent in that was counterproductive to my daily-expanding belly.
IT WASN’T HELPING. By Sunday April 6, I was waking myself up in the night having scratched my belly raw, bleeding. At that point, the point beyond intolerable, I was trying Caladryl, 1% hydrocortisone, Aveeno bath wash, wet wash cloths, ice packs and prayer. Every two hours, twenty four hours a day. I was getting rare 5 minutes of relief in each section. I told the Beloved that I was demanding delivery.
So on Monday, April 7, at our doctor’s appointment, I mentioned the symptoms and then lifted my shirt. I ended up with nurses coming in JUST TO SEE THE CONDITION OF MY BELLY. We did the non-stress test monitoring, and thankfully, the RJBs were doing GREAT! But my blood pressure had crept up to 140/90 (no doubt in part due to the tension of the itchies). I actually cried at the doctor’s office. SO UNLIKE ME.
Doc thought it was PUPPPS. OR…my liver was shutting down. And I was all “Oh, that? no, that’s just my SANITY.” So she had some blood drawn. In the meantime, she gave me a prescription for a topical steroidal ointment, as well an oral 6-day pack steroid. The topical would pass through to the RJBs, but she told me that a low dose steroid, for a short period, would not harm them. Sure, I said, they’ll just come out 7 pounds, hairy, and talking. But I was willing to try anything if in return it meant that we kept them in the oven a little longer. We agreed, though, that we’d touch base again on Thursday, April 10, and if need be, we’d deliver on Friday, April 11.
On Tuesday, they called to tell me that we’d have to re-do the blood work because the lab didn’t prep the sample correctly. I still wasn’t feeling better. AT ALL. And every time I put that topical steroid on I felt guilty for giving the RJBs something after having gone this far without so much as a Tylenol for a headache.
In my day job, one of the things I do is risk management. And we’re in renewal period right now. And I’m in contact with brokers locally, and, through them, in negotiations with underwriters both domestically and overseas. People actually listen to me – CRAZY! Even our Counsel. So one would think that I could convince a 5’2″ physician to deliver me, right? Not so much. She was set on term delivery at 37 weeks. And, of course, so was I, provided she could get me some relief.
So I had to go in yesterday morning to have more blood drawn. Except by yesterday, I was actually feeling better. So my argument for delivery was not so compelling. I did, however, convince them to let me see the available doctor (mine isn’t in the clinic on Wednesday’s) and get my what-would-have-been today’s appointment out of the way to save me a trip. Agreed.
I’m happy to say I’ve been scratch-til-I-bleed-free for two days. Which equals a 1000% improvement over four days ago. Oh, it still itches and burns. But nothing some over-the-counter Sarna and Aveeno Anti-Itch lotion can’t handle to make it at least tolerable. I think after this morning, I’ve officially weaned myself off the topical steroid ointment and will only use it under acute circumstances. I saw my acupuncturist today, too – to “remove heat” and something about “the winds”. Um, ok, so long as it helps me stay off the topical steroid.
All I can say is that if I had known enemies, I wouldn’t wish this upon them. And bless those women who have to deal with more severe versions or those who do not get relief and go weeks with the condition. I experienced ten days of it and was prepared to deliver the RJBs myself if necessary.
Here’s a photo two days after I wasn’t itching/scratching as bad. And those aren’t stretch marks down there on the bottom of my belly, those are scratch/nail marks where blood has pooled at the surface. Like I said before, pregnancy ain’t all pretty.
After some meds and relief, this is me in the final approach to delivery: