If you’re just tuning in, my last post was about the events surrounding Charlotte’s arrival. I wanted to make sure I documented some of the details of those crazy first days because, let’s face it, it’s something that will only happen once (and it’s not like the parameters of my memory are never-ending. Actual factual: I have the worst memory ever). Charlotte was born early, early Saturday morning and by Sunday evening our new little family was headed home! Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Fair warning, this is another looooong post.
On the following Tuesday (2 days after leaving the hospital) I woke up with a really terrible headache. I am prone to tension headaches and headaches from dehydration so I chalked my pain up to new baby stress and forgetting to drink water. By wednesday night the migraine had become so terribly painful… I was almost wishing to trade it for labor contractions again! Thursday morning I finally decided to call my OB’s office; after heading in for a blood pressure check and finding that it was 192/106 my doctor told us (in a very calm voice so as not to alarm me I guess) to head over to the emergency room and that she was going to call ahead of us and talk to the ER triage nurse about her concerns for preeclampsia (which can apparently occur after you’ve already had your baby, though it’s not so common).
The adventure begins.
We get to the ER. I have to explain numerous times to nurses that I’ve “already had my baby” and “well, apparently it can happen even after you’ve had your baby”. Well, we sat and we waited and we waited. The waiting room was packed (crazy for a Thursday morning!). Charlotte slept perfectly for most of the 2 hours that we waited (I know right?! TWO HOURS before even being called back!). Eventually, though, she got hungry while in the waiting room. Being new to the whole nursing thing, I wasn’t coordinated enough yet to juggle her and a nursing cover and all parts required to nurse her right there (with the whole waiting room looking on). If I could do it over I would have asked a nurse to let me use a room or sit behind a curtain or something, but that didn’t occur to me at the moment. I was just trying to help my screaming child and find any sort of relief from the headache monster. I ended up nursing her in the bathroom (EEK, I know!) and almost cried from the thought of her breathing in those germs (along with all the germs she probably breathed in from the waiting room).
Eventually we were given a room in the ER. Blood draw, urine sample, CT scan (just to be thorough). I was eventually diagnosed with postpartum hypertension and started on magnesium treatment (to prevent seizures) and medication to lower my blood pressure. No relief from the migraine yet. We spent at least 4 more hours in the ER, and of course, my newborn daughter needed to nurse about two more times during those hours. The problem was that the ER nurse placed my IV port at the inside of my elbow so I wasn’t able to bend my arm to hold her, let alone nurse her. Chris is now an expert on nursing and could probably become an excellent lactation consultant, should he so desire, because of all that he had to do to help me. It was certainly a learning experience.
We were finally told we would be admitted and we were moved up to the Labor and Delivery department where they could better monitor my progress and were better equipped to handle preeclampsia issues. My nurse immediately moved my IV port to my forearm so I could move my arms a little better, saying “Those ER nurses don’t know nothin’ about nursing mamas and their babies”! Bless her. I was hooked up to a magnesium drip for more ‘seizure management’. Unfortunately, my body wasn’t able to process the magnesium very well because by the next morning I had magnesium toxicity. I don’t recall this because I guess I was ‘out of it’ but Chris tells me that when the morning nurse came in after shift change she freaked out and began unplugging things, hooking up other things and called for a doctor (I’m pretty sure the word “STAT” was shouted in a very Grey’s Anatomy sort of way). The nurse told me later that when she saw that I was white as a sheet (even my lips) and limp as a rag doll that I gave her 20 gray hairs. My doctors decided that the risk from more magnesium treatment was greater than the risk of seizure so they discontinued the magnesium. Because it was still in my body, though, I was on a strict ‘liquid only’ diet (due to aspiration risk), which, roughly translated meant my nurse got to decide how many ice chips I could eat. Sad day for a girl who loves food.
To add to all of this, the doctors noticed that my creatinine levels (That’s some kidney lingo for those of you out there who don’t know) were very high and they were not sure if it was caused by the stress of the hypertension on my body or if it was something that was pre-existing. More blood draws, urine samples, ultrasounds of my kidneys, etc. No real answers. (Even as I’m writing this 4 weeks later, the nephrologist just told me at my outpatient visit “Well, something is jacked up with your kidneys, but we don’t really know what it is”).
This drama with hypertension, magnesium toxicity, and questionable kidney function went on for 4 days. Also, there was a catheter involved. Vomiting (apparently pregnancy + me = vomiting). Some tears. Begging for food. More tears. Hair and face a mess from not being able to shower (well whole body a mess, really). Bed rest and orders from the doctors that I needed someone with me (especially when it came to taking care of Charlotte). I am sort of able to laugh about the craziness of it now…. sort of.
Throughout all of this, though, Chris was my knight in shining armor. This was a true test of “in sickness and in health” (which oddly enough wasn’t actually a part of our wedding vows, just implied I guess). I’m not sure how he did it, but Chris managed to care for our newborn daughter and care for me (since I was on bed rest and ‘out of it’ for a bit) as well as stay emotionally strong. Not once did he complain. He kept me laughing (with episodes of Wipeout), he kept me relaxed (with a mix on my iPod), he took care of our daughter, and he very smartly kept me in the dark about things that would have made me freak out had I known what was going on at the time. He is truly an amazing husband and I couldn’t be more proud to be his wife.
God truly provided for us throughout this whole ordeal. We actually had to tell people they shouldn’t come visit in order to keep the atmosphere ‘calm’ and less stress-inducing. That’s how awesome our family, friends, and church are… we had to turn them away! There are no words to express how grateful we are for all of the support we received through meals, visits to the hospital, prayer, and family and friends willing to stay and ‘supervise’ me so Chris could have a break.
I guess all I can say is ‘thank you’.