The month of September has been busy! Soldier Boy had a good friend come visit us over Labor Day weekend, which coincided with Soldier Boy’s birthday. It was great fun, with us capturing many pictures at the sights of the island, namely Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona, as well as a driving tour of the island.
I went in on Tuesday, September 11 for the first of that week’s two non-stress tests. Because I had been slowly seeing my blood pressure increase over the previous weeks, I had my hospital bag packed in the trunk of my car, knowing if my blood pressure was too high, they would be admitting me to the hospital for potential bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. Sure enough, Tuesday was the day they decided to admit me – my blood pressure, although not “severe” at the time, was still too high for them to feel comfortable to send me home.
Upon admittance, the hospital did their routine growth scan of Skeletor. During that time, they observed some concerns that one side of the heart (the right side) was slightly larger than the left. So, before being admitted to Labor & Delivery (where they would read my blood pressure for over an hour and a half, at consecutive 15 minute increments), I was informed I would need to see the pediatric cardiologist that afternoon, if possible, for an in-depth ultrasound. At that point, I started contacting Soldier Boy, asking him to come to the hospital. Thankfully, the pediatric cardiologist had a cancellation that afternoon, and Labor & Delivery was “gracious” enough to let me go downstairs to have an in-depth ultrasound completed. The pediatric cardiologist shared the same concerns from the growth scan, and informed us of the following:
1.) He couldn’t tell for sure based on the ultrasound, and wouldn’t be able to give us a definitive answer until Skeletor was born;
2.) The right atrium and ventricle appeared larger, and it could be “nothing”;
3.) Or, it could be a result of the veins and arteries (specifically the pulmonary artery), and if that was the case, would require immediate surgery upon birth – had I not been 36 weeks, they would have sent me to San Diego to a Children’s Hospital, where I would deliver, and he would have his surgery. However, because I was 36 weeks, they would evaluate and likely life-flight him (with me) to San Diego upon his birth.
Then, I was re-admitted to Labor & Delivery, and I wondered how effective it was for them to take my blood pressure at that point! Upon consultation with all the professionals involved in my care, the team decided the best idea was to induce me the following Monday, when I hit 37 weeks, given the heart concerns for Skeletor, and my blood pressure. The admittance to Labor & Delivery came with a need for a 24 hour urine protein sample need, which I started at approximately 1500 on September 11th.
My water broke on its own at 0600 on Wednesday morning, September 12, 2012, rendering the rest of my urine protein collection useless. At that point, the medical center will allow labor to proceed for approximately 17 hours if the family wants, before inducing. However, given my blood pressure readings, the delivery team started magnesium sulfate on me right away to ward off seizures and/or stroke, the antibiotic for the Group Beta Strep test since my results hadn’t come back yet, pitocin by 0900 or 1000 that morning, and after throwing up several times during contractions, I got my epidurals (yes, they had to adjust it at one point) by 1300. The nurse attending to me messed up the initial GBS antibiotic, given me a penicillan based antibiotic, to which the bright red bracelet on me read that I’m allergic – the burning sensation in my throat was interesting, and I am so glad I brought it to their attention, as opposed to assuming it was a reaction to the magnesium (which made me feel feverish, and is a common side effect). Of course, once she realized her error, she was quick to make the correction, and very attentive to me after that!
Skeletor was born at 1622 on September 12, 2012. In the delivery room were several OB’s monitoring my progress, and the nurses attached to them. There was also a team from NICU which consisted of the Chief of the Pediatric Unit for NICU (approximately 5 more doctors and/or nurses), and several other professionals who kept poking their heads in. The NICU team was present because Skeletor was born at 36 weeks and 2 days, as opposed to 37 weeks, and to ensure he could get to his echo-cardiogram with the pediatric cardiologist. Given his apgar scores, on the way to NICU, Soldier Boy (whose mission was to not let Skeletor out of his sight) overheard the Chief of Pediatric NICU inform a team member that they could tell the life-flight team to stand-down – apparently they had been placed on standby for the likelihood that Skeletor would need to fly to San Diego. Given the magnesium I was on, I would have had to stay behind while they life-flighted my little boy and his dad to the mainland.
Sure enough the concerns from the previous day’s ultrasound were not present at the echo-cardiogram. However, they spotted something else (I don’t remember, since I wasn’t part of that conversation), which required a visit on September 13th to the cardiologist again. The concern they spotted at the first echo-cardiogram was also not present on the 13th. The cardiologist came upstairs after that second ultrasound, and explained that he would like one more visit at the one-year baby check-up, but at this point, Skeletor was being given a clean bill of health.
Skeletor did not require a NICU stay, thankfully!! Instead, he was able to room-in with me, first in Labor & Delivery for the 24 hours of needed magnesium administration, and then the 24 hours of post-magnesium monitoring in the Mother/Baby Unit. My blood pressure had one “severe” spike, but the OB attending to me felt confident that if I continued to have moderate blood pressure readings, I could be discharged without medication.
The morning of September 14th, at my OB check in Mother/Baby, the OB found a heart murmer that had never been present in me before birth. I jokingly stated “oh, pregnancy induced heart murmer!” She acknowledged that sometimes it happens, and she was okay with my being discharged that evening if my blood pressure continued to read decently – but, she wanted me to follow-up with a cardiologist. So, I will be scheduling one of those appointments for myself in the next 1-2 weeks. We shall see the outcome.
Upon discharge time, it appeared that the OB I had spoken with had not put in my discharge paperwork, and had written in her notes that she was contemplating keeping me in the hospital an extra day. Given the fact I hadn’t seen her since 0700 or 0800 that morning, I was livid that she would keep me in the hospital longer than I needed because there wasn’t anything else they were going to do for me until the following morning’s discharge! After pointing it out to them, and telling them I could assure them my blood pressure would begin to go down when I was home in my own environment, with my dogs, and pointing out to them I had answered all the answers to the standard pre-eclampsia questions (no headaches, no changes in vision, and no right side/under the ribs pain) before they could ask them of me, the OB felt confident I could go home. Skeletor was cleared by the pediatrician to go home “upon Mother’s discharge”, but at the last minute we had a jaundice scare, that may have required extra treatment (the unit informed us jaundice is common in premature babies). Thankfully, the second blood draw for jaundice revealed Skeletor’s levels still did not meet the level of criteria needing treatment, but they were going to check at the post-discharge 24 hour pediatric visit again, and would potentially re-admit him.
We got home at around 2300 on September 14th, after having been in the hospital since September 11th.
Skeletor’s post-discharge pediatric visit went well. Initially, the pediatrician used some forehead thermometer reading for jaundice levels, and became concerned, requesting the blood draw again. So, for the fourth time (at least) in three days of life, Skeletor had another heel prick (which he HATES). We sat tensely in the waiting room until the pediatrician came back with the results 45 minutes later, informing us that although the level had gone up by 1 one point since discharge, he was still 4.5 points under levels requiring treatment. So, we had an all-clear, clean bill of health to go home for good! The pediatrician educated us on signs of bilirubin levels getting too high, but we are optimistic we won’t need to seek ER services.
Talk about a LOT of prayers answered for this week!! Soldier Boy and I have been overwhelmed with emotion given the outpouring of support, prayers, and help given to us during this very scary time for our family!! People have come out of the woodwork to ensure we are supported and have what we need at our disposal. We will never be able to fully express our gratitude to friends, family and complete strangers who have provided so very much to us.
We are truly blessed in so many ways…