My pregnancy & Ellsie's birth story.... VERY LONG!
Back story: You may not find this relevant, and that's okay, but my dad passed away on January 9th, 2011. Every year I make it a point to visit his grave on the anniversary of his death. In 2013 I sat myself down in front of his headstone and I talked to him. I said, "Dad... you know I don't ask you for a lot. But if you and the Man upstairs could help us out a little bit with this whole baby thing? I'd really appreciate it. You don't have to... but if you could, well... it would be the best thing you could ever do for me. I love you. See ya later." I kissed his headstone, stood up, and walked away.
I found out I was pregnant on February 19th, 2013. My husband and I had already gone four rounds of IUI using Clomid and Ovidrel and one with stronger fertility drugs with no results. We were feeling dejected, run-down, and at least I was feeling heartbroken. We made the decision to take a break over the holidays. So from November-January the only medication I was on was my prenatal vitamin, vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Metformin, and a baby aspirin. My period stayed regular during our three month hiatus so you can imagine my dismay when February rolled around and my monthly visitor was a no show.
I have PCOS. I've been diagnosed since I was 16. I'm kind of an "expert" on it. And my expert opinion is that it sucks. I felt crampy. My boobs were sore. I was moody. I expected my period to show up. And when it didn't I took two pregnancy tests, four days apart, and each were a big fat negative. So, I chalked it up to my hormones messing up again and my body reverting back to it's non-cycle ways. I called my RE and he ordered the necessary lab work. We needed to "fix" me all over again.
My breasts were still sore. I was still crampy. I was still moody. My boss told me to take just ONE MORE test. So I took home a test and waited until the following morning to take it. I put a piece of toilet paper over the result window and went about my morning routine. I almost forgot about it. I fully expected another negative result. I mean, it was only a week after the first two. By all means it SHOULD have been negative so why wait the three minutes in happy anticipation? I picked up the toilet paper, threw it away, and looked at the test. Two lines. Two lines? There's only supposed to be one. Why is there two? "Oh my God." That's all I could say. I just kept repeating it over and over again. I woke my husband up from a dead sleep. He thought I hurt myself (how, I have no idea).
"Do you see the line?!"
"Do you SEE THE LINE???" I really needed that confirmation. I needed to know that I wasn't just seeing things. He took the test, smiled and hugged me. I never cried. I was too much in shock and I still had to go to work.
I had to call my RE back and tell him the good news. All of my lab work changed. They scheduled an appointment for me to see how far along I was, but with the two negative tests and the third positive they knew I had caught my pregnancy early. I had lab work every other day. Each time my lab results showed that my levels were doubling the way they were supposed to. I was more than relieved, but my doctor was still worried about my progesterone level. He put me on 200mg of progesterone a day and my level slowly climbed. More relief.
The first time I saw my baby I knew in my heart that she was a girl. My husband just stared at the monitor. We have a sesame seed. When the doctor turned up the volume and we heard the heartbeat I just sat there. Stunned. I was having a baby. Then... more nervousness. The doctor said my baby was only measuring about six weeks. I smiled, but he didn't. Based on when I told them my period was, I should have ovulated two weeks sooner. Baby should be measuring eight weeks and be significantly bigger. They scheduled another ultrasound for a week. The time went by slowly. I was nervous. Was I already going to lose my baby? When the time came and the monitor came on, there she was. Swimming and moving with a steady heartbeat and measuring right where she would be. The diagnosis was final. I ovulated two weeks later than I should have with no explanation and baby was just fine. My due date stayed firm for October 26th, 2013. Another ultrasound confirmed it even further and I was on my way to a normal pregnancy. We started calling it "Operation Sesame Seed." We did not announce it on Facebook. We only told close friends and family.
My RE released me to my OB at 12 weeks. I was sad to go, but I was excited to continue on this journey. My pregnancy was normal. In fact, everything was pretty textbook. My blood pressure, which was normally a little high, even leveled itself out. I felt GREAT. We found out at week 28 that we were, in fact, having a little girl. My husband was pretty upset about it at first. I actually yelled at him. He told me that I had to realize that he thought we were having a boy 100% for the first five months. Then the ultrasound tech says "It's a girl!" He said he was still getting used to the thought of a girl. Add to the fact that I "Failed" every old wives' tale out there and I could see his point. Even those old wives thought I was having a boy. It took a few weeks, but we decided to name our daughter Ellsie. Meaning Noble and Mirthful (NOT the diminutive form of Elizabeth). :)
I continued going to all of my appointments and non-stress tests. I was actually starting to SHOW around this time. (I'm a bigger girl, so I didn't really show at first). Every non-stress test I had Ellsie would NOT move. It was like THAT was when she decided to nap and the nurses always ended up coming in and buzzing her. I still continued feeling really well until week 31. My blood pressure started going back up. My feet were REALLY swollen. The doctor diagnosed me with mild pre-eclampsia and he put me on a blood pressure medication to level it back out. When that didn't work a second medication was added. I had to set my alarm clock to go off every two and four hours to take the medication. Also during this week, I stopped working and had my glucose test come back saying I had gestational diabetes. My doctor made the decision to put me on bed rest. Now, I'll have you know that this was right before Mumford and Sons came to my hometown and I had PASSES for the concert. I couldn't go. I was really disappointed, but my baby comes first.
At 32 weeks I had a non-stress test where my nerves started creeping up again. Ellsie wasn't moving as much as they would have liked. They buzzed her twice and while I thought she was moving great, the doctor ordered a special ultrasound to measure the amniotic fluid. I went downstairs and waited about twenty minutes. The "special" ultrasound was exactly like a normal ultrasound with different measuring equipment. Everything was fine. She was moving plenty. And there was no cause for me to be concerned. She was perfectly healthy.
At 33 weeks 3 days I started vomiting and getting chills at night. It didn't feel right. I called my doctor and they assured me that it was probably just my hormones fluctuating and that I was pretty close to the end of my pregnancy and sometimes this happened. It was normal to feel like that. I was instructed that if the symptoms continued to let the doctor know at my appointment on Friday (this was Tuesday). Well... the vomiting didn't let up and it did NOT feel normal. I ended up seeing the nurse practitioner since my doctor was in with a delivery. I explained to her that I was still getting chills at night with slight fevers, and vomiting. She ordered lab work for me to have done while I was there.
My appointment was at 1:00pm. My doctor called me at 6:40 pm. My husband was sitting in his recliner watching some irrelevant TV show and I was folding up baby clothes on the couch. We had just finished eating dinner when I got the call.
"May I speak with Jessika Snyder?"
"This is Jessika."
"Hi Jessika, this is Dr. D____. I'm looking at your labs from today and it looks like you have HELLP Syndrome. We need you to come on into the hospital. I called ahead and they're expecting you at 9:00."
"9:00 tomorrow morning?"
"No. Tonight. You're liver enzymes are elevated and your platelets are low so we're gonna get you in here and give you a steroid shot to help with baby's lungs then we'll get you induced. You'll probably have a c-section anyway though since your BP is still high too."
By this point my head is spinning. 9:00 pm is less than two hours away. I'm looking at my husband with eyes as big as saucers (I'm sure) and tears starting to well up.
"You think I'll have a c-section anyway? Can we just do that then?"
"Is that what you want?"
"Well... if you're worried about my blood pressure and you think that's what will happen anyway, can we just do that?"
"Okay... well since we're going that route then, come in and get your steroid shot, we'll keep you in the hospital this weekend. We'll give you a second steroid shot tomorrow night and then have her on Sunday. Sound okay?"
"See you tonight." ::click::
I sat there stunned, not saying anything for the first few minutes. I looked up at my husband and told him, "Ellsie will be here by Sunday. We have to go to the hospital..." I had nothing packed. I immediately called my mom and started roaming around the house in a daze grabbing my shampoo, tooth brush, a towel, stuff for Ellsie to wear home, blankets. Did we have a car seat? No. My mom said she would go out and pick one out for us. I remember telling my mom everything the doctor had said and her saying, "she'll be just fine honey, he's a good doctor." and me answering her back with, "But she's not ready, mom! She's not ready!" I think what I really meant to say was I'M not ready.
We walked into the hospital at 9:00pm on the dot. My room was right by the nurses station. They got me into a hospital gown and I received my first steroid shot at 10:30pm. Then came the task of finding Ellsie's heartbeat with their stupid doppler. Ellsie HATED them and would kick them and "swim" away from them. I think the first night they were in my room every twenty minutes trying to find her. Plus my BP medication needed to be taken every two and four hours and I had on those awesome leg compressors (not). I got little to no sleep that night. David, however, slept like a log on the pull out couch they had in the room for him. Saturday was uneventful in terms of anything going on. I had my mom and David's mom in and out all day. Some of my friends stopped by to visit me as well. Steroid shot at 10:30pm and then another night of somewhat better sleep.
The anesthesia team wasn't in on Sunday so I got another day of rest in the hospital. The doctor came in and told me that he was scheduling my c-section for 11:00 am Monday morning. I would officially be 34 weeks and 2 days.
I was surprisingly calm when the day came. I was also kind of grumpy! This was mainly due to the fact that they took away my water at midnight (I'm a HUGE water drinker). The nurse came in and connected my IV to a magnesium drip. She put a shower cap on my head and made me drink this HORRIBLE shot of citrus yuckyness to keep my stomach acid at bay. I kept saying, "This is going to make me sick!" and for a few minutes I really thought I was going to get sick, but I didn't. My mother has a terrible picture of me around the time the mag drip started kicking in. And trust me, it did not take long. It was to keep my blood pressure regulated during the c-section. It also made me LOOPY! :) They asked me if I was feeling any contractions. When I told them no, they kind of shrugged and told me I was having small ones. Apparently Ellsie was ready to come c-section or not.
I walked with the nurse into the OR. When I saw the operating table in my mind it was the size of a picnic table's bench seat. There was NO way I could lay down on that! However, I had no issues hopping up there to get my spinal. Kelly, my nurse, held onto my shoulders and talked to me while the anesthesiologist poked me. It felt like a bee sting. Not painful (to me) at all. She had to poke me four times to get the right spot. After each poke she would ask, "Jess, how ya doing?" or "Doing alright, Jessika?" I would just nod yes. After the third stick when she asked I actually answered her with "Are YOU okay?" She had to stop for a second because she was laughing, but after that she got the right spot, no problem.
When the spinal was in I instantly felt this warm tingly sensation. It started in my right leg, went all the way up and then down my left leg. Weirdest sensation ever. THEN they tell me, "okay can you lay down?" I must have just stared blankly at them all because in my mind it went something like, "seriously? I can't feel anything from my boobs down. And this table is tiny. YOU lay down." Somehow though that picnic bench sized table was bigger than I thought. My arms were spread out like I was flying and they covered my up with warm blankets. I was pretty cozy until I heard a nurse say, "Hello Dr. W____! Come. Join us!" And I looked at my nurse and asked if I was covered up. See... I work for Dr. W (Ell's pediatrician). Imagine how awkward I would have felt if I was NOT covered up.
Shortly after, MY doctor came in. My nurse looked at me and asked if I was ready. "Where's David?"
"Will someone go get David? Her husband? He's still out in the hall!"
As soon as he sat down by my head my doctor was cutting. I could smell the burning from the cauterization. I only remember talking to David a little bit. I listened for the most part. I listened to my doctor talk to the nurses about going to the Bengal's game after my c-section. Lucky. I want to go to the Bengal's game too. I listened to the steady beep of my heart monitor. I counted ceiling tiles. Then came the tugging. They told me I was feel "pressure," but all I felt was tugging. It was painful. The only way I can describe it was that it felt like they were trying to rip my rib cage out of my body. And then as soon as it started, it stopped.
"Do you hear her?"
"How about now?"
I looked at my nurse like she had two heads. "No."
Then I looked at David, "Do you see her? What color hair does she have?"
"I don't know. All I see is her butt!"
I smiled. Leave it to my husband.
And then we heard them. Tiny whimpers. Quiet, and small, but there just the same. She never really cried out. Even when Dr. W____ was poking and prodding her.
Ellsie Lauren came into the world on September 16th, 2013 at 11:34 am weighing a whopping 4 pounds, 6.8 ounces and measuring in at 16 inches even.
I wanted to sit up. I wanted to rip down that ugly blue sheet. I wanted to see my daughter, but I couldn't. After a few minutes David was able to go take the first couple pictures of her. A few more minutes after that he came back and showed them to me. And then they brought her to me. I wanted to cry when I saw her perfect little face. That's really all she was. She was just a tiny little face in a sea of blanket with a nose smaller than a dime. I was able to kiss her forehead and tell her I loved her and then she was gone.
My doctor finished closing my incision and then I was moved onto my hospital room bed for transport. The good thing about where I delivered is that there's a two hour "rest" period for mom, dad, and baby after each delivery. Once in my room my nurse, Kelly, asked if I needed anything. I wanted water. She brought me ice. She did bring me some water as well, but set it out of my reach. She told me to start with the ice chips and work up to the water. The effects of the spinal wouldn't wear off for about four hours. That, of course, did not deter me from using all of my strength to haul myself up into a sitting position or stare at my toes and will them to bend.
David, being the wonderful creature that he is, took it upon himself to feed me the ice chips. I kept telling him he didn't have to do it. But he insisted. At about the half hour mark he fell asleep on the couch. I then took it upon myself to drink all of my water. I threw up twice. Then I fell asleep for the remainder of the "rest" period.
Ellsie was transported to the special care nursery where she was promptly hooked up to an IV, a heart monitor, apnea monitors, and oxygen. I love the special care nursery nurses. No one is allowed to enter without mom or dad and there are no windows. You need to be buzzed in to enter and mom and dad must have on the matching ID bracelets. Otherwise, it's a no go. So no one was able to see Ellsie without my permission or David's. It took a little bit of the worry away.
Once my spinal wore off my blood pressure was still too high for me to get out of bed. So I was not able to see my daughter the day she was born (other than that small glimpse in the OR). My mag drip made me groggy and tired so I was in and out of sleep all day. David escorted people three at a time to see E in the nursery. Every time he would take someone in they would then follow up with a visit to me. I was shown pictures on cell phones and digital cameras and all were either texted or emailed to me. Poor David didn't get a break for awhile, but I was able to see my little girl in pictures. I just felt empty without her though.
The second day my BP was still elevated, but they allowed me to go see her as long as I was in a wheel chair. I remember looking at her little features and saying, "She's so tiny!" Almost instantly her little eyes opened and she looked at me. Like she was saying, "what took you so long?" I was the first person to hold her. And that meant a lot to me. I loved her instantly.
My little fighter was only on oxygen for 24 hours. Bili lights for 24 hours and a GE tube less than 24 hours. It was like once they put the feeding tube in place that she realized how to eat. I only have two pictures of her with the tube in her nose. She had two apnea episodes. The hospital has a strict 5 day count policy. Each time a baby stops breathing the count restarts. So we couldn't take her home until her 3 week birthday. I was even able to stay in the hospital with her after I was discharged.
Now she's a beautiful blue eyed bundle of energy. She's ready to climb and walk and explore. You would never know (developmentally) that she's a preemie. She definitely defied the odds. And I give a lot of thanks to my dad (remember the back story?). I have no doubt that he played a large part in why Ellsie is here, and why she did so well in the hospital. I see him more and more every day in her. My cup runneth over.
Thanks for sticking it out. I know this was really long, but I'm glad I finally got it all out. :)