Friday, March 26, 2010

Seven and A Half

Remember when I had said there were many things that went right during a time when many things went wrong? Just when I thought I was at the brink, exhausted, stressed and really wanting to start my day over, I recognized one of the nurses taking care of me was a family friend. Angela had switched her shift and came in for a co-worker. No accident. A friendly, comforting face when I really needed one, another angel.

Angela, the other nurses and doctor jumped right into gear. Instantly hooked up to monitors, I felt  relief when I heard my daughter's steady heartbeat. Oxygen and seeing my husband calmed my breathing. The doctor talked to us about our situations, the contractions and options. The contractions were a concern and based on the last few hours, we had no real prediction on what was going to happen. Our last resort to stop the contractions was a  magnesium sulfate drip. I really didn't want that option because the side affects are similar to a nasty hangover. I don't like a hangover on a good day and this certainly wasn't even close to one.

Once stabilized, I was transferred to a labor and delivery room with Angela right by my side. As a precaution they gave me a steroid shot to strengthen our daughter's lungs in case she arrived early. I am here to tell you, that shot hurt. And I needed another one in 24 hours. In my lack of knowledge, I didn't realize a mother gets a steriod shot if there is chance her child will arrive prematurely. A babies lungs are one of the last things to develop. Time in the womb is what a baby needs, there is a definite reason and process for why we carry a baby nine months. I was seven and a half months along.

I remember thinking all was ok. The contractions were going to stop, I was going to get some rest and I was sure I would be released home the next day, on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy.

Monday, March 22, 2010


“I need to push!” I screamed. A few other choice words to the youngster sitting next to me and he suddenly turned ghost white and moved to the front of the cab where he quickly called the hospital. The driver turned on the sirens and picked up speed. “Thank you gentlemen,” I thought to myself.

In labor and delivery at Swedish Hospital, I started to cry the ugly cry. A huge sense of relief came over me that I was now in the hands of people I knew, people who could take care of the two of us, and people who had dealt with and understood the scary day we had just lived through.

As the doctor and nurses gathered around me, checking us out and hooking us up, I caught sight of the face I had longed to see every second of the last 24-hours. Ray, my husband had arrived right when we got there. All was ok. We were all going to be ok.

Friday, March 19, 2010


It was almost midnight and very dark out with no traffic. As I looked out the back window of the transporter, I had a sense of where we were and how much longer we had until arriving in Seattle. My inner clock told me half an hour.

My contractions picked up. I kept thinking, “This isn’t happening.” Again, thank goodness I had already delivered another baby so I knew how to breathe through my contractions as well as time them. I looked at the young gentleman sitting next to me. I could tell was nervous about transporting a pregnant lady. I asked him if he thought I should time my contractions. He stuttered and said, “Yes.” As we counted together, all I could say to myself was, "This isn’t happening. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.” My pain was increasing and the contractions were coming faster and closer together. I was beginning to hyperventilate as my imagination finally connected the dots and began to run through the scenario of not making it to the hospital in time. I knew we would both die if I delivered without a C-section. I would be damned if my daughter and I were going to die in the back of a transporter after everything we had been through with a young, nervous paramedic watching us go. We weren’t going to die. Period.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Longest Day

October 4, 2007 was the longest day of my life. An unexpected life circumstance had tested my internal strength and faith and reminded me I was not in control. It would seem to be one thing to face that with yourself but when you have an unborn, helpless child growing inside of you, it takes the learning curve to a whole new level.

The nurses started to prep me for the hour drive to Seattle. As they unhooked the monitors that allowed me to hear my baby’s heartbeat, my calm began to dissolve. Mixed emotions flew out of control. I was scared. I was looking forward to arriving at Swedish Hospital but dreading the long transporter ride. I had made it this far and felt as safe as I could under the circumstances. Was the decision to move the right one? Was I putting my baby at risk? Dee Dee and her husband waited with me until the transporter came. My contractions were still hovering and manageable but I had been unhooked from the medication for 45 minutes before they came to pick me up.

Phew! Finally, I was loaded and ready to go. On the road, I was able to talk to my husband who had landed from Anchorage and would meet me at Swedish Hospital. We were on our way. There were two young gentlemen transporting me. One drove, the other sat in back trying to make small talk with me. At that moment, I wondered if he had never been with a laboring woman. Kind as he was, making small talk was not something I was interested in.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I was now all alone in my hospital bed, trying to be brave when I really wasn’t feeling brave at all. I focused on the sound of my baby’s heartbeat. The fast rhythm brought me comfort but it also unleased a flood of tears. It was just the two of us now and I felt I had let her down. What was next for us? What was she going to do? What was I going to do? I knew bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy was a given but how would I do that? I had a child and a husband at home, I had a job, I had commitments. How could I do all that from a bed. Given the risks that faced me, I couldn’t imagine stepping foot out of this bed until a team of doctors had reassured me everything would be alright. Night came but I could not sleep. The hospital seemed eerily quiet after all the day’s chaos. I was coming down from my adrenaline rush, trying to process the day, and was happy I made it this far.

My best friend Dee Dee, and her husband appeared at my door and we shared a laugh about how my daughter’s personality was already beginning to reveal itself. Dee Dee always sees the positive side in crises. I didn’t want to admit how terrified I was (I don’t easily share my feelings with others) but Dee Dee knew how scared I was, which is why she drove down. I love that about her. She has amazing intuition and thank goodness she followed it even after I repeatedly tried to tell her I was ok. She knows me well enough to know we need no words when we are together, just the presence of being. She and my father are my first choice for companionship in an emergency. They are calm, level headed and make you laugh.

The shift change came at the hospital and we were notified an on call obstetrician would make his rounds in a little while. The three of us were becoming increasingly uncomfortable as we began to realize there were no obstetricians, pediatricians, anesthesiologists or surgery nurses in the hospital. They were all on call and it would take a minimum of half an hour to assemble a team if we went into distress. This reminder of our vulnerability began to gnaw at me. Whatever nerves I had left, frayed even further as the night doctor ran through the possible options of what the course of action would be if something happened. None of them sounded too promising to me. My husband was still not at my side and I was overwhelmed at the idea of making any decisions without him. Just when I thought my sailboat was coasting a little bit from the breeze off the shore, our plans changed again, for the better. I was able to speak to the doctor on call at Swedish Hospital and she agreed I needed a hospital that had the right staff and resources if I needed to deliver. I knew once I got there, then everything would be ok.

It still didn’t occur to me I could deliver early, but my instinct said I needed to be in a place that could handle my needs. I was a bit of a dreamer. I thought they would observe me and send me home to bed rest. That would be a piece of cake after this day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The evening progressed with its up and downs. Plans came and went so often I stopped keeping track. Would I stay the night in the hospital here or an hour away in Seattle, would I be air-lifted to Seattle or  transported via ambulance, would I have this baby girl tonight? Lots of questions with no certain answers.

My father was with me by now and had received the very good news that my husband had managed to catch the last plane out of Anchorage. The final plan was I was going to stay the night in the hospital and my team would decide what to do in the morning. My dad and I were relieved because the thought of taking an hour car ride to Seattle where I lived, when we didn’t even know for sure if my bleeding had stopped or had just slowed down because I was lying down, was not something either of us wanted to find out. When the doctor came in and told me I was there for the night, for the first time in six hours, I sighed a breath of relief.

We seemed stable for the night and I convinced my father to go home. He refused but somehow I convinced him to go. I confidently told him not to worry, my husband was on his way, and I would not be alone if our circumstances changed in the middle of the night. No one knew what our daughter and my body were going to do. Even though I was still contracting, it seemed we were out of immediate danger. Just to be sure, I was given one more round of anti-contraction medicine and that kept the contractions at bay. Good thing this was my second child for I knew the signs of labor and what my body was cueing me during this journey. That seemed to be all I knew for sure.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seinfeld Moment

I was given the maximum amount of anti-contraction medication but even so, I was still having consistent laboring. Plan B, C, D – were all discussed and finally, it was decided I should be airlifted to the hospital in Seattle but at the last minute the team decided I was not critical enough and I didn't get a ride. Not critical enough? My baby was probably coming 9 weeks early. To me, that was critical. I have never ridden in a helicopter and thought it might be an interesting way to take my first trip but then came back to reality and realized a medical evacuation is not a good thing.

I was fretting over not having any clothes to wear. I look back and think to myself, ”Where was I planning on going?” The medics had cut my clothes off and threw everything away, including my shoes. I lingered in a Seinfeld moment as I kept worrying about how I was going to get clothes in case they decided to send me home that night. I didn’t want to walk out of the hospital with a gown on that did not cover my pregnant body. I did had some dignity left!

It must have been clear to my obliging father that this was upsetting me because he made his way to Fred Meyer and bought me sweats and slippers. In the back of my mind, I knew I wasn't going anywhere but it was my way of coping. New sweats and slippers was my way of clinging to the hope that everything was fine, that I was fine, and that Katie was fine.

Monday, March 1, 2010


My bleeding had stopped and my daughter was still cozily tucked in the safety of my womb. I was prepped for a C-section just in case we needed to roll. I was relieved to learn my husband was on his way, my father headed to St. Pete’s to be by my side and my mother headed towards my home to care for our son. My angels from work were still with me. Good. There was a definite sense of control. The initial winds of the hurricane had settled down. We were out of immediate danger and my goal was to figure out what to do next.

Lying down automatically stopped the bleeding but the doctors were not sure if the bleeding ceased because I was in a bed or the bleeding had truly run its course. In truth, I was not too keen on finding out the answer. To put it mildly, I was terrified. I thought since the bleeding had stopped, I had some time. What was I thinking? I started having contractions and they were a few minutes apart.

Time is something we either want to linger longer with or hurry and move through. I needed time, we needed time. My husband wasn't there, my father was still in route, my best friend and her husband were on their way but I wanted them by my side to hold my hand, wipe my tears, make me laugh and help me cope with the decisions we faced. My body was determining the time of what would happen and when. I remember staring at the clock on the wall in front of my hospital bed watching the hands move so slowly. Each minute seemed so long to me because it came with uncertainty for our future. Would the contractions stop? Would we be airlifted to Seattle? How long would my daughter survive based on the wild ride we had been on the past few hours? Would my husband make it in time? Would time be my friend or enemy?