Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My nurse just brought me a latte…

So, I wasn’t going to do blog posts of all the wonderful things my nurses, doctors, support people, etc, do and say, that make hospital bed rest a bit more tolerable, but on a daily basis, I’m humbled by the generosity, and kindness, of my care team.

Their giving, thoughtful nature was evident immediately upon my arrival after the rupture. When I say I had a full room of people, I mean FULL of people. They were all there to do a job, but they worked so well with each other, displaying a working relationship I’ve rarely seen. And I would say that I’m a fairly harsh judge, due to the years I worked at a major university teaching hospital, one known for not only medical excellence, but outstanding patient care as well. I had amazing coworkers, who clearly cared for each other, and their patients.

I obviously hadn’t planned on this (the rupture and subsequent hospitalization) happening, and therefore hadn’t charged my phone or iPad before coming into the city to do some shopping. That night, one of the nurses came in and said that she and her husband had just purchased a new iPad, and that I was welcome to use it. WHAT?!?! Who offers a patient, a stranger, something like that? I told her that I had my own, but it wasn’t charged. Before I knew it, she was back with a charger; she had her husband bring it to the hospital for me to use. I also found out that the doctor on call was going to run home and grab her charger for me, if the nurse’s husband wasn’t able to bring theirs in.

The nurses find ways to make everything better, even with a simple smile, or a wink. My first visitor was a nurse. She worked in my high risk OB’s office when I was pregnant with Kate, and when she heard that I’d been admitted, she asked if she could come in and visit. Several other nurses have stopped by to say hello, just because they happened to be at the hospital (picking something up, teaching a class), and wanted to run up and see how I was doing, or as some have said, see if I am still pregnant.

The doctors are wonderful, too. You’re supposed to see whoever is rounding that particular day, but in addition to seeing that doctor, my doctor makes a point to stop in as often as possible, just to check in. Her colleagues have been wonderful, and I’m glad they were made aware of my case, before any of this started. Not only have I received a high level of care, I’ve also received a lot of hugs and comforting words. As with anything, I have favorites, but all of the doctors are great, and if worse came to worse, I’d honestly feel comfortable with anyone from that department at delivery.

All of the lactation consultants at this hospital are also RNs. There’s one in particular who worked with Kate and I, extensively, both while we were here for delivery and for weeks afterward. She doesn’t work at this location very often anymore, but when she was here and saw my name on the board, she came into my room. She didn’t know why I was here, and we hadn’t talked in over a year, but she must have known it was a bad situation. She walked in, hugged me, and just cradled my head, as I broke down and sobbed. She ended up visiting with me for hours, and made sure I had her cell number. She also knows that my mom has Kate, and that my husband is overseas, so she offered to be with me for delivery, and said to call anytime, day or night. As if that weren’t enough, she and her husband came to see me on Christmas Eve, and brought me a gift.

The charge nurse has been wonderful, too. She has spent a lot of time in my room, just talking, and seems to know all of the right things to say to someone in my situation, which as no one has to point out, but sometimes do, is extremely rare. She also took on the responsibility of calling the local funeral homes to ask questions about making arrangements for Baby A, so that I wouldn’t have to.

One of the first days I was here, my doctor came bouncing in with Christmas decorations, and decorated my room a bit. She also brought in some books for me to read, books that she chose based on my interests. Even Santa stopped by last week, bringing a small gift for Kate.

I could give example after example of what my care has been like, the attitude of the staff, the way they’ve tried to include me in things (a staff potluck on Christmas Eve, coming in to paint my toes) just so I’d have a few minutes of normal.

And that brings me to today. I think word has spread through the floor that I love Starbucks. Daily, one of the nurses or doctors offers to bring me a latte (not a small offer since there’s no Starbucks in the hospital.) My day nurse and I were talking about Starbucks and coffee in general. She offered to run downstairs to the espresso cart to get me a drink. I repeatedly told her it wasn’t necessary, but she insisted. She just brought me a latte, and refused payment. P, it’s my treat next time.

If anyone has ideas of things I could do for the staff, to show my appreciation, please let me know. I have a basket of Lindt truffles and other candy out for them, but I’d like to do something else, something more tangible. They deserve it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guess where I’m spending Christmas, and hopefully the next seven weeks?

December 14, I had an appointment with my high risk OB. Her plan, at that time, was steroid shots (for Baby B’s lungs) at 34 weeks, amnio to check lung maturity at 35 weeks, then schedule the c-section depending on the amnio results. She’d also met with her department to discuss my wishes with them. Basically, that I don’t care what the department policy is, or who’s on call, I want her at delivery. Everyone was in agreement that under the circumstances, that was okay. The meeting also brought them up to date on my case and history, information that would prove invaluable in the coming days.

Two days later, last Friday night, at 26 weeks 5 days, I was at the mall with my mom, grandmother, and Kate. All of the sudden, I felt my water break. Blood, amniotic fluid, and a mad dash to the hospital. I’d called ahead and they were expecting me in L&D. I had a room full of people, starting lines, asking questions, making phone calls, blood work, ultrasound, the works. The ultrasound showed that Baby B had a good fluid level and strong heartbeat, and it appeared that it was Baby A’s sac (the “non viable baby” as he’s called, tears) that had ruptured. Then the contractions started.

I was put on a very high dose of Magnesium Sulfate. I’d heard of this med before, but wow, nothing compares to the experience. To be honest, the details of last weekend are a little fuzzy; that is a strong drug and I was so, so sick. Imagine the worst flu you’ve ever had, hot flashes, inability to control your limbs, light sensitivity, vomiting. Yeah, that’s Magnesium Sulfate.

Back to Friday. So yeah, I was now contracting every two minutes and SCARED. It takes A LOT to scare me, especially in a medical setting. I was terrified, shaking, and even tearful. I know 26 weekers can survive, but I really wanted 35 weeks, and still do. While they worked on me, they had the NICU team come in. After speaking with the neonatologist, I thanked him and said I hoped to not see him for 8 weeks or so. The look of disbelief on the staff’s faces was too much. They said they were just hoping for 48 hours at that point, enough to get the steroid shots in for Baby B’s lungs. I also found out they chose the Mag Sulfate because it offers “neuro protection” and because I was on heparin. I couldn’t believe this was happening, most of the time, I still don’t.

Over the weekend they tried to make me comfortable and prepare me for the worst. I am happy to say that I was able to get the two doses of Betamethasone (for lung maturity) and eventually the contractions stopped, so I was weaned off of the Mag, though not before becoming violently ill Saturday night. They did blood work several times a day to test my Mag levels, which I later found out were sky-high. In addition to the contractions, infection is a major concern. The sac that provided a barrier of protection is gone, so I’m getting Erythromycin and Amoxicillin every six hours, vitals every two. The other big concerns are cord prolapse and placental abruption, though one doctor said the risk of abruption goes down after 24 hours of PPROM, so I’m way past that.

After passing the initial 48 hours, people seemed to relax a bit, and then it was time to make longer plans. My perinatologist is out of town, but my high risk OB spoke with his partner. The perinatologist said that he absolutely wouldn’t let me go past 34 weeks. Her response to him was that she was just trying to get me to 30 at this point. I’m sure I was visibly disappointed when she told me that, and I mentioned that I’d hoped for 35. She said no, but that if I make it to 30, we can set new goals.

Strict hospital bed rest is hard. And before I explain, I KNOW I’m in the best place, and I KNOW that every day I’m here, is a day Baby B is not in the NICU, but yes, this is tough, so now I’ll whine, a bit. For the first several days I had multiple IVs, a catheter, 24 hour monitoring of Baby B, and zero privileges. As in, you do not get up from bed for any reason, none. Want to brush your teeth, the nurse brings your toothbrush and a Styrofoam cup. Need to go to the bathroom, voila, the foley catheter is already in. Want to stretch your legs, too bad, you’re hooked up to the sequential compression device, which inflates every five seconds, yes, I counted. Little by little, the doctors have “liberalized” my privileges. I’m now catheter free and depending on which doctor is rounding, I get sitting showers of either 2, 5 or 10 minutes.

The loss of independence has been hard, very hard. I’m used to doing things myself, when I need to. If I go to the bathroom, I have to ring for the nurse, then have monitoring upon returning to bed. My meds are brought in on a schedule. Food is eaten in bed. I’m dependent on everyone for everything. That is hard.

Kate is doing well, under the circumstances. We are VERY lucky in that this (PPROM) happened here. My mom and Kate are close, so she’s enjoying her time with Nana. They visit often, but it’s difficult. She’s too young to understand, and this is a scary place for kids. We’re getting the room decorated and hopefully with more time, she’ll become more comfortable. I’ve just never had to be away from her before, so this is tough.

I’ll be updating the blog a lot more often. As of today, I’m 27 weeks 6 days, and still planning for a 2012 delivery!

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Very sad update

I apologize for taking so long to update. I wish I could go back and do things on my schedule, but I was trying to be sensitive to other people, and give my husband time to inform people of our devastating news, versus having them read it on the blog. It turns out that he did notify everyone; they’ve just chosen to remain silent, whatever. I have MUCH bigger concerns at this point.

Our sad news, we lost Baby A in November, during my 22nd week of pregnancy. The grief is overbearing at times, but I have to be strong for Baby B. She is doing very well, continuing to get at least one ultrasound a week and looking great.

And for the next blog update, you won’t believe where I’m spending Christmas.