DISCLAIMER: Today's post is sponsored by P&G and the giveaway prize was provided by them as well.
When I first found out I was expecting, at the age of 34, I was shocked to say the least. Honestly, I was more scared than anything. I was afraid my body wouldn't be able to handle it, due to the previous back surgeries I have had. I was afraid the baby could have issues, due to my "advanced maternal age". It was a lot to take in. I took three more tests that day and it finally began to feel real.
My brain was reeling. I hadn't had a baby in almost 16 years. Would I even know what to do with this poor kid when it gets here? I had a million and one questions and no answers, so I called to make a doctor's appointment.
The sweet lady on the other end of the line could sense my anxiety and explained to me "Honey, women do this all the time, you will be fine" and they scheduled me a visit for about 7 weeks away. Yes, seven long, torturous weeks. But didn't she hear me?! I'm 34 freakin' years old, my eggs are probably scrambled at this point (or so I thought). You have to get me in sooner. They couldn't. I hung up the phone and cried.
It was two days before Christmas when I took the tests. I knew I wanted to wait to tell anyone, until after we went to the doctor to make sure everything was alright. Those were the longest weeks of my life. Every day I would wake up and wonder if this sweet, innocent little bean growing inside of me was Ok and that's all I could do, is wonder.
It was finally the day I was due to see the doctor. I was super nervous, so we left extra early and got there extra early, so we could sit there and wait. The office was filled with big round bellies, little tiny bellies, all kinds of bellies, bellies as far as the eye could see.
It was finally my turn, the little buzzer in my hand went off, alerting me to the correct door to go to. It was kind of like one of those little "beeper" type deals you get when you go to a fancy-ish steak house, only there was no steak dinner at the other end of this beeper, only lots of poking and prodding.
After doing a routine blood draw and a routine urine test, the nurse left and the doctor came in. She was a kind lady with very cold hands. She walked in and introduced herself; "Hello, I'm Dr. Garrison, the high risk OB here at Vanderbilt and I will be seeing you throughout your pregnancy."
Wait, high risk? Why am I high risk? I don't work on scaffolding or drive a race car or tame wild animals. Why am I high risk? Oh, yeah... "advanced maternal age" got me again.
Dr. Garrison goes on to explain to me that all the "routine" blood work they just did will give us a clue as to whether the baby was going to have one or any of several different "conditions". I remember hearing the words, "trisomy", "downs syndrome", "metabolic disorder" and then I kind of went numb. She also said the word I had been waiting to hear all morning, "ultrasound".
Dr. Garrison leaves the room and the tech comes in. She dims the lights and asks us if we are ready to see our baby. Were we ready? I wasn't sure. I was scared, excited, nervous, everything you could possibly imagine feeling, I was, at that exact moment.
I felt the warm gel hit my stomach. I closed my eyes tight, like a kid blowing out candles on their birthday. I may have even made a silent wish. I turned my head to the monitor and instantly, all the fears I had were gone, when I saw that little crawfish in there, just swimming away.
There he/she was, just as cute as a bug in a water filled rug. I was too early on to find out the sex, but I didn't care. "It" was in there, had a heartbeat and no matter what, I would love this baby.
The tech took a couple of measurements, they gave us a few pamphlets and we left, with an appointment to come back in four weeks, unless something odd showed up in the blood work. Great, one more thing I can obsess about for the next four weeks.
The next few weeks seemed to drag by. I never got a call from the doctor, saying I needed to come in to discuss my blood work. No news is good news, right? I drove myself crazy, trying to do everything just right, as to not "screw this up". The first time I was pregnant was wayyyy back in 1994, a lot of things had changed since then, including me.
At my next appointment, the midwife mentioned the dreaded "D" word and I don't mean divorce. Diabetes. Gestational diabetes to be exact. She asked me if I had it with my first pregnancy. I told her I did, but it wasn't bad, so I managed it with diet, no meds, no finger sticks, no big deal and I was taking way better care of myself this time, so I should be fine, right? Wrong!
Due to my "advanced maternal age", my pancreas was having to work extra hard to keep up with the demands of growing a baby and she explained to me, often a woman will develop gestational diabetes way sooner in subsequent pregnancies, so we needed to test for it right away. Great, another test.
About a week passed when I got the call; of course, I had it. My glucose test came back really high and I "need to come in to see the nutritionist and the nurse to get my glucometer and set up an appointment with the other high risk doctor, who handles all the diabetes Moms.". Wait, what the heck did you just say?
I gathered myself enough to make the necessary appointments and then I just sat there, numb again. This pregnancy was such a roller coaster of highs and lows and fear and anxiety, but I decided I was going to do my best to grow a healthy baby.
I started eating exactly what I was supposed to, I started drinking tons of water. I listened to every tip the nutritionist told me. I started walking more. Parking farther from the door, taking the stairs, little things that I hoped would make a big difference.
The next couple of months went by with no major issues. My diabetes was ok-ish, it was pretty well controlled, the baby was doing great, growing on schedule, kicking a bunch and all was right in my little world. (other than having to stick myself 3 times a day)
I went in for a routine check, where we went over the previous months sugar readings and tried to find ways to keep it under the magic "120". I knew the day was coming, I just hoped we could have waited longer; I had to go on meds. This was a huge deal for me, as I don't like to take meds when I'm not carrying a baby, much less when I am.
The doctor explained to me the risks of taking the meds, she also told me the risks if I didn't take the meds. I left with the script, but I didn't fill it. I went home and I Googled, but not your typical WebMd, I went to the medical review journals.
I read over hours and hours of papers on this specific medication and its safety during pregnancy. I still wasn't sure what to do. The information was very sketchy at best. I then Googled what could happen to the baby (and myself) if the diabetes went untreated. I decided to take the meds.
Everything was fine, right up until the last few weeks. The doctor explained: with diabetic Moms, the babies are often much larger and often would require "a little extra help" when they are born. No big deal. Nothing major, she just wanted me to be aware.
The day I had Micah, I knew something wasn't right. I had just been at the doctor's office the day prior, for a routine ultrasound and non stress test, he looked fine on the monitors and I wasn't contracting, so they sent me home. I was 38 weeks and a day.
The next day he wasn't moving. At all. I poked him, nothing. I nudged him, nothing. I drank orange juice and he finally moved a little, but not like I was used to. I knew babies run out of room near the end and movement slows down, but this was different.
I called the nurse, she said he was probably just napping a lot, to get ready for delivery, but if I wanted to, come on in and get checked out ,just to be sure. Hubby left work and we rushed right over to Vanderbilt.
We went in through the ER, since it was so late and they got us upstairs to a room. They started hooking me up to the monitors. It was all routine so far. The belts and bands were in place. The baby was definitely still ok in there, I heard his heart beating, but it was beating really fast, then it would drop really low. I am not a doctor, but I knew something wasn't right.
The nurses were trying to stay calm, for my sake, but I could tell they were concerned. They kept checking the monitors. My mouth was super dry, but they refused to let me drink anything; that's when I knew it was serious.
They explained to me that we were going to be having this baby tonight. They weren't sure what was going on, but he had to be delivered now. Everyone was scurrying around, unhooking tubes and wires, starting IVs and all kinds of stuff.
We went to the OR, they tried several times to place the epidural, but it wasn't going in, due to the screws and rods in my back. I was ready to ask for a general, right about the time I heard the tell tale pop of the needle puncturing my back and then felt my legs going numb.
The on-call Doctor, who I had never met before, introduced herself. (I still to this day, don't remember her name) She explained everything that was about to happen and she got started. There was light chit chat, nothing major, no worries, everything would be fine, once he was out.
It was just as I had remembered with my first son: scary, cold and smelly (from the cautery tool). It was familiar, comfortable almost, until the Doctor asked for the vacuum, she asked for more hands, more space, a bigger incision. "I need this baby out now!", she exclaimed and there I was, strapped down, being literally cut stem to stern and there was nothing I could do to help my sweet, precious baby. It was the most helpless feeling I have ever known.
They finally get him out. I don't hear any crying. I ask my husband to go check on him. Is he ok? Why isn't he crying? What's going on over there? A team of Doctors are working on him, I hear a small cry. Tears instantly stream down my face, because crying means he's ok, right?!
They whisk him away to the NICU and finish sewing me up. I start asking questions and get very few answers. They really aren't sure what is wrong with him. He's having trouble breathing, his sugar is very low and he has a fever. What? A fever? A newborn shouldn't have a fever, unless he's fighting off some kind of infection.
I was wheeled upstairs, to my room, without my baby. I lay there for what seems like an eternity. The nurses were so sweet. Checking on me every few minutes, checking my dressing, making sure I wasn't bleeding, offering me Sprite. They were amazing, but Sprite is not what I wanted, I wanted my baby or at least to know how he was doing.
They explained to me that I could go see him as soon as I had the feeling back in my legs, but that wasn't good enough for me. I had to get down to that NICU, now! I asked them, if my husband agreed to roll my entire bed down the hall, could I go. They sensed I was not going to stop asking and they reluctantly agreed.
I got to the NICU and they buzzed me in. I was not prepared to see what my baby looked like. I did not expect him to be hooked up to several IVs and monitors and lines coming from his scalp and his umbilical stump. I did not expect to see him just laying there with a breathing cannula in his nose. I was not prepared for this.
The nurses at Vanderbilt were amazing. They came to the other side of the glass, where I was, bed and all. They knew I was scared, they deal with Moms like me all the time. They knew what I needed to hear. They explained to me that even though all the wires and IVs looked scary, they were very important to getting my baby well.
Due to my diabetes, Micah's pancreas was having trouble regulating its own sugar. His little body was used to me doing all the work, when he was still in utero and he was having a hard time. When he was born, his sugar was 20, they usually freak out a little when it dips below 60. He was a very sick little boy.
He came off the nasal cannula within the first few hours, but the IVs and monitors were there to stay. He slept a lot the first couple of days and due to being a "lazy eater", he ended up with an NG tube. It was a very delicate few days, monitoring his sugar, making sure he was steadily moving forward, not backward.
The Doctors and nurses were amazing and were so nice to answer all of my many (repetitive) questions. They reassured me this was a serious issue, but not something he couldn't come back from. They were optimistic, so I was also. He made great strides over the next day or so and they took the IV out of his scalp.
Day four came and I was cleared to leave the hospital, but my sweet little Micah was not as lucky. He would need to stay a few more days, to make sure all was well. Just being cautious.
Leaving the hospital without my baby was tough, but I was confident he was in the best possible hands with the nurses at Vandy. They were my girls. We had a bond; I loved my baby and so did they and you could tell. They told me I could call fifty times that night, if I felt it necessary, to check on Micah. (so I did)
The next day, bright and early, I had hubby drop me off on his way to work and I stayed the entire day, in the NICU, with my baby. The Doctor came by to do rounds and gave me the best news ever... Micah was ready to go home.
We would spend that night in the step down unit, just for a little added security of the nurses, in case I ran into any issues, but for the most part, I was on my own. No training wheels. It was almost like he was really mine now.
We survived the night, no problems. The next day the Pediatrician came by to check him out and give us the OK to go home. She did all kinds of tests, looking him over like a dog at the Westminster show. Finally, he was given a clean bill of health and we were on our way home, just like nothing had ever happened.
My story has a great ending, but very often they aren't quite as "happily ever after" as mine. Did you know that over 10 million children will need the services of a Children's Miracle Network hospital in the next year?! 10 million children. Everything from bumps and bruises to cancer, Children's Miracle Network hospitals are there for kids, but they need our help.
Throughout the month of June, Walmart and Pampers will be donating $200,000 to Children's Miracle Network hospitals across the US. To get more info and make your own donation, you can check out this page that Walmart has dedicated to CMN and their mission.
Have you been impacted by a Children's Miracle Network hospital? Share your story below (in the comments section) for a chance to win a $25 gift card from Walmart. If you are fortunate enough to not have been impacted, you can still enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below, telling me what you enjoy doing with your children. during the Summer.
Health is something we often take for granted, until we don't have it. Take a second today (and every day) to be grateful for the healthy children in your life.
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