What a week.
Last Tuesday I felt sick. I had a terrible headache that was not going away. I immediately took my blood pressure and realized that things were not good for me or for Baby H.
I called Sam and my dad. Called the doctor’s office (and they were at lunch). I tried to stay calm, but I felt myself getting worked up. The tears were flowing and I gathered my purse, a water bottle, and phone.
I drove myself to the hospital with extremely high (later learned “stroke level”) blood pressure.
I have to give a huge shout out to the nurses, doctors, and staff at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. I felt comfortable while worried, and I felt like I was in good hands. Sam arrived after driving (flying more like it) from Fairfield where he was working.
We learned that my blood pressure reared its ugly head again. This pregnancy has been so delicate (and still is), that I was frightened at the thought of it being so high, sticking around, and the possibility of facing early preeclampsia. I knew it was too early in the pregnancy to deal with that and was hoping for the best.
A failed urine test admitted me to Memorial for a night, then transferred me to Barnes Jewish for five days. When the doctor came in and told me that I needed to be transferred my fears were at an all time high. She talked through scenarios that Barnes would be better equipped for and it was in that moment I actually feared for my life and for Baby H.
I was not in good shape. In fact, my blood pressure had to be regulated before I could be transported. I would have done anything to get calm and avoid being put on magnesium, but the best thing while Sam was going home to pack for the both of us and get things in order was my music on my phone.
While I was being hooked up to the IV and also getting ready for my transport (I had a catheter), the nurse asked if I had anything that could help lower my BP. I asked for my phone and turned on Brandi. In fact, I think Sam suggested it too before he left. The top number had to be below 160. I had a hard time getting it regulated.
As music flowed through my phone to my ears, I felt calm. I thought of my big kids (who I would miss something fierce while in St. Louis), I prayed for comfort, peace, and good health. I felt as if I was begging God to perform a miracle for me, but more importantly Baby H. I let tears stream down my face seeing my dad and husband walk out of my room as I prepared myself for the ambulance ride.
What. A. Ride.
I don’t recommend going to the hospital in an ambulance at all. Shout out to the crew who got me to Barnes (but not before we hit a deer, rather, clipped a deer—which did not help the blood pressure). I was never so glad to be out of a vehicle, let alone a gurney that I was strapped down to with a machine to my side.
When I arrived at Barnes it was like another world. They of course knew I was coming and had a little history on me. I did not expect the technology and the advanced room, but was thankful for all the nurses who worked with me and the team of doctors who took my case.
Sam arrived about twenty minutes after I did. I was a mess. On magnesum, in tears, and just down right nervous. I knew he was with me the whole time. The nurses who helped get me settled let me have water (I was STARVING, no dinner and it was quickly approaching breakfast as I watched the clock circle by the hour).
One of the high-risk doctors came in and she was very gentle yet honest with us about my situation. If this was preeclampsia, I was in danger (as was baby). My health suddenly came into focus as a primary concern, the baby second. We heard things like “we can resuscitate at 22 weeks,” and “if your health is declining the baby may not be viable.”
I was 21 weeks when I came to Barnes.
With my mind racing and my heart beating at a rapid pace, the folks at Barnes began to do their thing. I have never felt so safe and so comfortable at a hospital. I knew I was in good hands, and knew that God was watching over us.
Hours passed, we had an ultrasound at 3 a.m. and I could barely keep my eyes open. Sam was in the same boat. We were working off exhaustion and the fact that our baby boy was on a screen right in front of us.
Those hours turned into days. By Friday, I could shower and wear “people clothes” which thankfully, Sam brought for me. When I first arrived I wanted food, but I realized how I longed for a shampoo and shower. I felt comfortable in my clothes, but I just wanted my own bed.
Brandi came again when I had some sleepless nights. I struggled after family visited with me on Saturday. I cried big crocodile tears as I watched my parents, my kids, and my brother and his family leave my room. I fell apart.
Sam picked up the pieces.
I started to feel better and adjust to a new routine of medication to help combat the chronic hypertension. Blood was drawn each morning for testing and I was optimistic (thanks to the team of doctors) that preeclampsia was just a word added to our vocabulary, not a diagnosis.
I even thought about learning to crochet. The antepartum unit at Barnes has a craft room on the floor. I was able to walk down and grab a few materials, leave my floor to do laundry and visit the coffee shop and cafeteria. I felt like a person again.
Sunday night Sam left to come home and pick up pieces here. He had class Monday morning and during that time I found out that I would be discharged. I was so relieved! In a way, I was glad that I would be coming home, but in another way, with lots of emotion, I was worried about trying to come home and implement this new routine with medication and keeping the blood pressure down.
The nurses who looked after me during the long days and even longer nights have been angels. I firmly believe that it takes a special soul and a kind heart to be a nurse. I am forever grateful to the nurses at Barnes (Barb, Stephanie, Ashley, and Amber to name a few). The team of doctors who cared for me and inspected every inch of my records and ran numerous tests to determine a diagnosis are rock stars. The nurses and doctors who communicated and felt that my case needed more attention at Memorial are also rock stars, and I hold all of those folks in a special place in my heart.
While I am home I am still recovering. Adjusting to this pregnancy on blood pressure medication. Monitoring my blood pressure numerous times throughout the day, napping, relaxing, and trying my best to let Baby H bake and grow as much as possible.
The stressors are there: work, maintaining a home, the chaos of daily life, kids, cleaning, chores, etc., but I know I have an amazing support system and outstanding people in my life who are pulling for us and loving us from near and far.
I am glad to be home.
I am glad to have the music of Brandi Carlile that kept me sane and calm as well as comforted in some of the scariest times of my life.
I hope that hospital stays will be in June. AFTER
Lyrics that I held tight:
“I wrapped your love around me like a chain. But I never was afraid that it would die. You can dance in a hurricane. Only if you’re standing in the eye.”
“You are not an accident where no one thought it through. The world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you. You’re nothing short of magical and beautiful to me.”
Thank you, Brandi.