Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Free!

"How can a hospitalized bedridden pregnant woman be free?" one might ask. Let me be a bit dramatic for a moment.

Every 3 days for the past 3 weeks I've been given a new IV, rotating from left arm to right to avoid collapsing any one vein. If I was lucky the nurses would extend the IV one day but really it was just putting off the inevitable--a new IV and another "stick" the next day. Initially the IVs were used to give me quick pain relief and nausea medication. Once I could take oral medicine the IVs remained in place "just in case" of emergency. I was at risk for infection since my water broke and my baby was breech so I was considered "unstable." If anything went wrong I'd need to deliver the baby ASAP and I'd need to have an IV in place. Over the past few weeks I've avoided infection and Baby Hudson flipped head-down. I'm about as stable as I could be with no indication of preterm labor or any other complication. Every three days I've watched my nurses struggle to find my veins and I've watched the IVs go unused, one after another. Did I mention I hate needles? And I hate putting a plastic cover over my arm while I shower to protect the IV? And I hate scraping off the residue from the tape holding the IV onto my arm? With all my complaining I soon learned about the option of having a pick line which can stay in your arm for multiple weeks. It sounded like a great alternative! I repeatedly asked my nurses if I could get a pick line but they said I'd have to ask the doctors. I repeatedly asked different doctors if I could get a pick line and they actually had a better idea--maybe I don't need an IV at all since I'm doing so well! If the anesthesiologists could look at my veins and determine they will be easily accessible in case of emergency then I could be IV free for now. Well folks, I'm free! I can rub my bare arms and roll on my side without worrying about stripping out my IV and take a shower where I get to wash both of my arms. I'm free!

I also repeatedly asked the doctors if I could walk outside of my room. Finally today I got permission to walk to the pantry!! Okay, so it's only 20 feet away from my room which is not that exciting but it has juice and milk and crackers and popsicles! And I can walk there by myself!! I felt so nervous when I opened my door and walked right out. I felt like the nurses would see me and ask questions and make me go back inside. But they didn't. I'm free!

Blessed are those who repeatedly nag the nurses and doctors and anesthesiologists for things they want, for they shall become free.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

27 weeks 4 days

Baby Hudson is going on 28 weeks this Sunday! That's the first major milestone we hoped to reach. Babies born after 28 weeks have significantly fewer complications than babies born earlier. Sure, we're hoping to hold on longer than 28 weeks but we'll take each day as it comes.

Last week my nurse started to notice some arrhythmia in Baby Hudson's heart. Sometimes his heart rate speeds up and is off-beat and other times he skip beats. So the nurse called the doctors and the doctors did what doctors do best: they freaked out. They brought in an ultrasound machine to watch baby's heart. They started making notes on the fetal heart monitor strip. They told me to not eat or drink anything so I'd be prepared if I needed to deliver the baby. And then they called the "specialist." The pediatric cardiologist came in to talk to me. She said she actually sat in on my surgery to monitor baby's heart and he did the same thing during surgery so when the doctors called her she thought, "Oh, I bet it's the woman whose baby did that during surgery." She said if he were to have abnormal beats 80% of the time then she would be worried, but he only does it about 5% of the time so she's not concerned at all. Arrhythmia could be related to baby's developmental age; it could go away after birth; it could be fixed with extra vitamins. For now I get hooked up to fetal heart monitors for 30 minutes every 4 hours to keep a close watch on his heart and make sure he's not going crazy.

We had an ultrasound on Monday to measure baby's growth.  At 27 weeks 1 day Baby Hudson was measuring about 26 weeks 3-5 days. He is estimated to weigh 2 pounds 3 ounces. His ventricles have remained a stable size. He likes to kick the ultrasounds and heart monitors.

Twice a week I have a mini ultrasound to measure my amniotic fluid levels and to check baby's heart. I understand my fluid levels are constantly changing as baby makes more fluid and as I leak more fluid. One day my fluid might be a 6 and the next day it could be a 3. The important thing is that there is some fluid so baby doesn't get distressed. I actually don't care for these ultrasounds much because I don't really trust the doctors who do them. The first doctor today measured and told me I was at a 5.14. The next doctor (just 10 minutes later) said I was a 2.9. I'm pretty sure it doesn't change that quickly, so I'm pretty sure one of those numbers is not accurate. Oh well--like I said, the important thing is that there is some fluid, which there is.

The nurses tell me I'm the "perfect patient," as if that's a compliment, as if I've practiced my whole life to be good at sitting still on a bed, as if I'm destined to stay in the hospital for a long time. I think I'd rather be told I'm a perfect mother or a perfect friend or even a perfect coworker. A perfect patient? Meh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Things in the hospital I WILL put up with:

1. Laying in bed all day
2. Not doing my hair or makeup for 9 weeks
3. Ripping out my arm hairs each time an IV is removed
4. Wearing leg pressure cuffs during the night
5. San Francisco fog

Things in the hospital I will NOT put up with:

1. Laying in bed with fetal heart monitors on my stomach
2. Getting poked 3 times before the IV works
3. Replacing my IV every 3 days even though each IV is never used

Things in the hospital I actually enjoy:

1. Sitting on a chair in the shower
2. Well-balanced meals brought to my bedside table
3. Get well flowers, puzzles, cards
4. Growing my baby inside me more each day
5. Visitors in person or via Skype

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beach Boardwalk

 My room is on the 15th floor of the UCSF Children's Hospital on a hill overlooking the lovely city of San Francisco. If I prop my bed all the way up I can see some of the buildings and the bay which is much nicer than the normal hospital room scenery. The 6th floor of the hospital is the pediatric floor. As of Thursday I have permission to get wheeled down daily to the 6th floor where there is an outdoor patio so I can get fresh air. It is so nice to get out of my bed, out of the bedroom, off of the Labor & Delivery floor, and out of the hospital. And it gets even better than that...
 On Friday the volunteer services group at the hospital put on a Beach Boardwalk party on the 6th floor patio. I had to explain that I actually was a patient at the Children's Hospital, but then they let me go to the party! I was given a lei and a Hawaiian print bag to collect my tickets. We were only there for the last 10 minutes so I only got 7 tickets but it was fun to get out and see the kids enjoying the party. Really, they deserved the party more than I did.

 Fishing for tickets
Mom: "You have to take a picture with the mermaid. Isaiah will love it!"

 Beach photo booth where my mom refused to wear the coconut bra
 We missed the big magic show so Mr. Magician gave us a private performance. He showed us card tricks, coin tricks, and then he read our minds.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ch Ch Changes

Recovering from uterine surgery with a baby still growing inside you kinda stinks but there's been plenty of ups that keep me going. Here's some happy highlights I've enjoyed recently:

Last week my mom ran into an elderly missionary couple here at the hospital. They took down her information and passed it onto the bishop of the ward which covers the UCSF hospital. On Sunday we had a member of the bishopric stop by to bless the sacrament for me and my mom. He then passed our information on to the relief society. Yesterday two relief society sisters stopped by and brought us some Russian pastries from a local shop. They said they'll come visit again and make sure the compassionate service leader in the ward has my name so she can arrange for other sisters to come visit and entertain me while I'm here. Our church is so cool.

Yesterday I received a phone call from Belle. Princess Belle. She called because she heard I was spending the night away from home. She knows it can be a fun adventure but it can also be a little scary. When she has to do difficult things she thinks about how proud she will make her Papa and that helps her. She wished me well on my adventure.

Yesterday I also got permission to have the fetal monitors on me LESS. The gel from the monitors has been irritating my stomach and I can't move much when the monitors are hooked up or else we lose track of the baby's heart beat. I started out with the monitors on constantly, then progressed to two hours on/two hours off. Now I only have to monitor for 20 minutes every 6 hours! That means I get to sleep for longer periods during the night and my stomach feels much better. Yeah!

Today I knew I'd be having guests so I asked if I could wear real clothes instead of my hospital gown. The doctors said yes! I'm feeling more and more normal every day and now I look more normal, too. Uncle Paul and Aunt Sherrie came through San Francisco today with Adam and Sarah on their way to a family reunion in Oregon. It was sweet of them to stop by and pay a visit to a lonely pregnant lady and her mother.
 I took another big step today when I sat in a chair (not my hospital bed) and played a game of Scrabble with my mom.
In the afternoon a nurse came by to invite me to a Maternity Party for pregnant ladies staying at the hospital. I told her I wasn't allowed to leave my room due to bed rest. She said she'd ask permission for me to go to the party. Once again the doctors said yes! I walked all the way across the hall to another patient's room to mingle and sympathize with 3 other ladies. It felt like an addiction support group or something where you talk about your problems. Apparently it's a weekly event I can look forward to now.

Last awesome thing--I was surprised today by beautiful flowers from my Middlebury coworkers.  Thank you Shelsea, Fumiko, Alicia, Katherine!! I miss you gals!! It totally makes my day when people ask for my address and offer to send me anything I want or need. People are SO thoughtful! I can't even say thank you enough to everyone who is helping emotionally with phone calls, emails, visits; physically with books, DVDs, finding a free parking space in the city; spiritually with prayers and fasting, and I could go on and on! For those of you who have asked, here is the best address for where to send things:

UCSF Fetal Treatment Center
Rachel Perry, RN
400 Parnassus Ave, A123
San Francisco, CA 94143-0570

Rachel is one of my awesome nurses who is willing to have things mailed directly to her since it will be most direct and more simple for me. Also, the hospital is very liberal with visitors so you can come visit me whenever you want. There's even free housing available for you if I have enough notice to request it. And I can get you some awesome free hospital food for you in exchange for your company. Have I convinced anyone yet?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Final Hours

Sorry to those of you OCD people who hate blog posts that are out of order, but let's be real--I just didn't have time before surgery to write about how I spent my final weekend of normal life. What would you do if you knew you'd be bedridden and then child-ridden for the rest of your life? What would you do with your final hours?

 We satisfied our craving for brownies and ice cream.

We went swimming in the pool (and I got sunburned, of course).

We played with the niece and practiced being a good daddy.

We went out to eat at Chili's.

We took pictures of the belly.

And then we went into surgery!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Big Day

I took a shower and washed my hair for the first time since Monday. I'm a new woman.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm all made of tubes

I'm all made of tubes and everything bends, from the IVs in both arms to the blood pressure cuff to the catheter to the epidural...

Since I got back from surgery until this morning I've been hooked up to so many things and I don't want to forget them all so here's a brief medical report from head to toe.

Nose: Oxygen tube wrapped around my ears and stuck up both nostrils
Mouth: Constant flow of pills to swallow and jello to eat
Upper right arm: Blood pressure cuff which auto-tests every hour on the 11
Right wrist: Medical wrist band
Right hand: Emergency IV just in case (never used); replacement IV put in today
Left mid-arm: Triple IV for IV fluids, antibiotics, magnesium sulfate (anti-contraction medication)
Left middle finger: Oxygen sensor
Back: Epidural catheter with constant pain control (and a button to push if I wanted more pain meds)
Stomach: Baby heart monitor and contraction monitor strapped around waist
Lower abdomen: Hip to hip gauze and bandage
Bladder: full catheter
Both legs: Compressors constantly squeezing to regulate blood pressure

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Surgery 8/7/12

So much has happened but I guess we'll start at the beginning: Monday evening, after some slightly too-eventful car problems on the way, Isaiah and I finally checked into the hospital in San Francisco. Thanks to Isaiah's parents for driving us into town so late! We wasted no time in getting into a room, changing into my awesome hospital gown and getting an IV in place. Yes, it hurt. And it bled a lot. Then we watched some olympics and the nurse actually let us sleep for a while that night. Around 6 am all the real excitement began. I got a medical history and vitals taken. Two big guys wheeled my little bed down to the operating prep room to get the epidural. The room had a beach scene mural with seagulls painted on the ceiling. I guess that helps you relax or something. Yes, the epidural hurt too, but not that much. Immediately after the epidural catheter went into my back I started feeling really dizzy and nauseous and told the doctors so. They said, "We'll be done in about 2 minutes and then you can lie down." The thing is--when I feel like I'm going to throw up, I'm going to throw up. Thankfully, or unthankfully, Isaiah knows this first hand and rushed the nurses to get me a bucket STAT. Go figure, the instant the bucket was in front of me I threw up. Great start to surgery. Another slight complication came when everybody kept asking about my blood type. Apparently the blood bank was having a hard time matching O- blood with RhoGAM shot antibodies. We waited to enter the operating room until they could verify I had a blood match. They must have found one because after about half an hour of waiting I kissed Isaiah goodbye and entered the OR. This room had constellations painted on the ceiling. Another attempt to relax me, I suppose. There were several doctors including the neurosurgeon, the fetal surgeon and the anesthesiologists setting up in the room. We waited a while for the ultrasound doctor to come set up her equipment. The ultrasound stays on the entire time to monitor baby and make sure he's okay during surgery. One doctor put oxygen over me and told me to take deep breaths. I took a few and thought, "This must not be the oxygen that puts you to sleep because I'm still awake." I don't remember anything else.

When I woke up I saw Isaiah and recognized our original hospital room but I was so tired I fell right back asleep. I heard things periodically through the day as doctors came in to check on me and ask how I was doing. The most important thing I heard was, "Everything went really well." I gave thumbs-ups to indicate I was okay, and I slept as much as I could. I couldn't say a thing--my voice was shot from the breathing tube. I could barely force out a whisper.

I must have been awake around 4:30 when I turned to Isaiah and said, "I think my catheter is dripping. I feel like I just wet the bed." The doctors and nurses, who knew more about catheters than I do, probably knew catheters don't just "drip." My water broke.

Did you know your water can break but it doesn't mean you're going into labor? Me neither.

Most of the time...around 39-40 weeks...when women go into labor...their water breaks...and nobody really knows why it happens. Well we know why my water broke. It's because I had fetal surgery. We also know that now I will stay in San Francisco until I deliver baby. That's a bummer. It's a big bummer. What we don't know is when the baby will come now. Obviously we're concerned about him coming very early. However, we know that my water breaking doesn't necessarily mean I'll be having him today or tomorrow or even next week. In fact, strange as it seems, the doctors said the earlier your water breaks, the longer you tend to stay pregnant. The fact that my water broke at 25 weeks 2 days doesn't guarantee Baby Hudson will be born super early. We have high hopes Baby Hudson will stay put for many more weeks so he can keep growing and developing in the best place possible--in my tummy. We hope we're in the best place for him to get quality care whenever he's born. As much as it stinks to be in a hospital for the rest of my pregnancy, as much as I hate to think about being away from Isaiah and my family, and as much as I want Isaiah to be here when I deliver my baby, the MOST important thing to me now is keeping Baby Hudson healthy. We'll keep you posted on our efforts!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

SF Day 3

Today I learned baby boys develop slower than baby girls. That's unfortunate since there's a high risk of prematurity after fetal surgery. We met with a Neonatologist today who was supposed to awaken us to the reality of having a premature baby. It was actually comforting to talk to her, though, because she knows how to handle premature babies. Doctors can do really miraculous things. We trust our baby will be in good hands at whatever week he's born and forever afterwards.

We also asked the most important question today: Will we get handicap parking? Yes!! Possibly during my bed rest and most likely once we have Baby Hudson. Spina Bifida? We're in it for the parking!

I got my second booty shot this afternoon. The shot, itself, hurt a lot less than yesterday but I felt the after effects for a longer time today.

Finally, what we've all been waiting for...our MRI results...were consistent with the ultrasound, so we decided to do fetal surgery! I check into the hospital on Monday night and surgery is scheduled for Tuesday at 7:30 am. It should last about 3 hours but don't freak out if you don't hear from us until later that night. Until then, thank you so much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. I'm actually a little bit selfish because I love tracking my blog page views and followers, especially right after I add a post. Feel free to view my blog as often as you want so I can rack up my stats. It makes me feel good.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SF Day 2

Today Isaiah said, "It's not as bad as a thought. I thought it was going to be BORING." Easy for him to say because he didn't have to lay in a tube for 2 1/2 hours without moving. I'll be honest--the MRI was not my favorite part of our evaluation.

MRI Experience: I stopped eating at 10:00 in hopes of limiting Baby Hudson's movement during the MRI so the doctor could get accurate images.Near 2:00 I prepped for the exam by changing into my first ever hospital-style gown. I liked it! The large blue pants with a huge drawstring (tie in the front), the large patterned top (two ties in the back), the blue and white striped robe covering everything (tie in the front)...it reminded me a little bit of the boy in the striped pajamas. I wish I had a picture of myself. The exam had two parts: one to see Baby Hudson's brain and another to see Baby Hudson's spine. My job? Don't move. So I didn't move! I didn't even scratch my nose when it itched so bad I wanted to scratch it off my face. For 20 minutes of the MRI I had to hold my breath for 15 second intervals. I felt my baby moving more than ever before but the doctor said Baby Hudson held just still enough to get the pictures she needed. Each picture made a weird buzzing/beeping noise which made the 2 1/2 hours a little less relaxing than I anticipated, but I did fall asleep for some parts of it after extreme boredom set in. I'm glad it's done.

We've now met with almost everyone and we've done all the necessary evaluations. We'll get our MRI results tomorrow. The doctors know we've basically decided to do surgery. As we're accustomed to, we received more surprise news about needing an additional two shots in my booty prior to surgery. Since fetal surgery will take place after 25 weeks, the baby is considered "viable", which means he could be delivered if needed or if my contractions don't stop. With that risk, I need a betamethasone (steroid) shot to help the baby's development. I got the first shot today and will get the second tomorrow. Only after the shot did the nurse tell me it's one of the worst shots. My tush was a bit sore but the pain left quickly. Phew!