Thursday, September 29, 2016

Prayers Requested

When I wrote my last post here, I thought the next thing I wrote would be an announcement of our baby's arrival. I never imagined that I would be writing this post.

Yesterday evening I was released from the hospital after spending five days in the maternal-fetal specialty unit. I came home with empty arms and a heart filled with grief. I had been rocking my homebirth, but after fourteen hours of labor, I developed serious complications and had to be rushed by ambulance to the nearest trauma center. There I was quickly evaluated and taken straight into surgery where the surgeons worked for over an hour trying to save me and our sweet baby. It was touch and go, but I made it out of surgery. Our beautiful little girl did not.

We've gone over and over things with the midwife team and the team of specialists at the hospital trying to figure out how things went so wrong. The doctors said there was no way of knowing that it might happen, especially since I didn't have any of the classic warning signs, and that it was just bad luck that it happened. The first sign that anything might be wrong was when I passed out. They even relieved my guilt that my decision to birth at home rather than a hospital might have played a role in all this by telling me that things happened so fast that the outcome would have been the same regardless of where I was.

They credited my midwife's quick actions for saving my life. She called an ambulance as soon as I passed out and argued with the ambulance staff about where to transfer me. They had wanted to take me to the local hospital, but she insisted on the trauma hospital that's a little further away. It turned out to be a critical decision. One doctor told me that I likely would not be here if I had transferred to the local hospital since I needed a massive transfusion of blood and the local hospital doesn't keep that much blood on hand.

Our family is reeling right now. To lose our child and nearly my life as well was something we never anticipated happening to us. I keep hoping that I'll wake up and find that this is just some terrible dream, but unfortunately, it's all too real.

Our oldest is terrified to let me out of her sight. She refused to leave the hospital and camped out in the chair beside my hospital bed. Now that I'm home, she finally relented and went to school today, but only after repeated reassurances that I was going to be okay and that Steve would watch over me.

Steve would spend hours every day at the hospital with us before returning home to feed our animals and put away all the baby stuff we had gathered so I wouldn't be faced with it once I was able to come home. Now that I'm home, he's been hovering over me like a mother hen refusing to allow me to lift a finger. Since I have to walk several times a day to prevent blood clots, he supports me as a I hobble around. It's hard for me to feel so helpless, especially since I can see how exhausted he is trying to take care of me.

Even my mom, who I'm normally not on the best of terms with, has been great. She drove over and spent an entire day with me at the hospital. Thanks to the pain medication making me groggy, she spent a lot of time just watching me sleep, but it was nice knowing she was there. Now that I'm home, she said she'll come over and stay if Steve needs help taking care of me until I'm back on my feet.

My midwife and her assistant have been wonderful. They call or visit daily. Since Steve doesn't want to leave me by myself right now, they're even coming over today just to sit with me while he runs errands and picks up our daughter from school. While I was still in the hospital, they came to the house and cleaned so Steve didn't have to deal with the mess from the labor. Then they helped him pack away the baby stuff.

The hospital was nothing short of amazing. No matter how busy they were, everyone from the doctors right down to the lady that delivered my meals took the time to sit with me and talk, pray or just listen. Instead of taking the baby right away, they fixed it where she could stay with me until I was ready to let her go. Steve and our oldest bathed her and dressed her in a beautiful dress hand-made by a hospital volunteer. A photographer came in and took pictures of the baby with each of us. A grief specialist came in and worked with us to make some keepsakes.

Since finances are a concern right now with Steve out of work, they arranged a variety of financial assistance for us. They found a program to pay my entire hospital bill since we lost our health insurance when Steve was fired and we couldn't afford the COBRA payments to keep it up. They arranged assistance to cover the funeral costs. I had a counselor during my hospital stay and they've arranged for outpatient counseling for all of us at no cost now that I'm home. They even made sure I had my prescriptions filled before I was released so we didn't have to worry about coming up with money for them.

It's hard, but right now we're just trying to take it day by day. Everyone keeps asking what we need, but having never been in this situation before, we have no way of knowing what, if anything, might help. So for now we're just asking for prayers.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Baby Update and Other News

My due date has now come and gone and we're still waiting on baby. I'm not too worried because I suspect the date was wrong anyway. Due dates are based on a typical 28 day cycle and I have irregular cycles. My midwife agrees and said as long as me and baby are doing okay, she's not worried about the date.

I didn't realize exactly how lucky I was to get her until my appointment today when she mentioned I'm her last client before retiring. Actually, she had already made the decision to retire just before I contacted her, but after we talked, she decided to take me on anyway. I'll forever be grateful to her for that because after interviewing most of the homebirth providers in the area, we were running out of options.

I've been in prodomal labor for two weeks now. It's a new experience since I didn't have it with my daughter. The first week, it wasn't too bad. I'd have mild, irregular contractions for a few hours that stopped on their own. Occasionally, I'd have a second round later in the day, but everything always stopped before bed so I could sleep.

This week, though, they seem to be picking up steam. They're still irregular, but are starting to hurt more, and are lasting longer before going away. The other night, I was up and down all night with contractions, but they stopped around 7 in the morning.

The baby continues to move lower, although he/she hasn't engaged yet. The midwife said the baby is in "launch position" but may not engage until actual labor begins. With all the pressure, I'm definitely waddling these days. Steve was kind enough not to point it out. Our daughter, on the other hand, has joked that our ducks are going to start following me around, thinking I'm the momma duck. I told her I'd be sure to remember that comment in the future when she starts having her own kids.

I still haven't had a baby shower, which is a bit of sore point for me. As I mentioned before, a friend had volunteered to throw me one a while back and then bailed on it. I ended up giving in to my daughter, who wanted to throw me one, only to end up canceling it after we realized that we were probably only going to have two people there.

Maybe I'm just being hormonal, but it irritates me. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time helping out friends and family when they've had kids (actually whenever someone has needed a hand). It didn't matter if it was the first kid or their fifth. I've planned showers, did custom baby bump cakes, babysat older siblings, stocked their freezer with postpartum meals and even cleaned their houses. I didn't think it was asking too much for people to come to a little party to celebrate, especially since I made it clear that gifts were not expected.

In other news, Steve lost his job. We had heard rumors that the company frowns on taking leave for medical or family issues, but since they were only rumors, we didn't think much about it. Last month, Steve filled out the paperwork for FMLA leave so he could take off two weeks to be with me once the baby comes. They had to have a date to process the request so they used my due date, telling us to call if needed to adjust the date. The request was approved without a hitch and we thought everything was fine.

Then a week before my due date, Steve was called in to the office and told he was being wrote up for a laundry list of screw ups. Strangely enough, all of the screw ups were on machines he has nothing to do with or had occurred when he wasn't even there. They suspended him for a few days and when his suspension was over, he went in, only to be told he was fired for performance issues.

Obviously, the timing sucks. With the baby due to arrive any day now, Steve is trying to hold off on finding another job right away so he can be here for the birth and at least a few days afterwards. In the meantime, he's been doing some side jobs to make a little money. Thankfully, we live in a state that requires any accrued vacation time be paid when an employee leaves, regardless of why they leave. Since Steve rarely took time off, he's owed close to 100 hours. It will be enough to float us for a little while until he can find something else.