Archive | July, 2013

Not Again!

14 Jul

I have been sleeping OK for the last couple of weeks. I no longer wake up in fear and panic over small things three or four times per night. I can finally say I’m getting uninterrupted sleep (even if its only 4-6 hours).

It has become normal for me to not fall asleep until after midnight and if I don’t force myself, I can be wide awake way into the early morning hours. The inconvenience to my daily routine is noticeable. I can hardly leave my home for work by 8:30 am. This is not sustainable. Something has to give.

I woke up at 4:00 am this morning for no particular reason. Heart racing, head pounding and an uneasiness that I can not explain but, it keeps me up. Wide awake. Its been a few weeks since this kind of episode and after falling asleep early at midnight, I looked forward to sleeping straight through to 6:30 am or 7:00 am.

Immediately, I ask when it will end. When will I go back to my 8-hour- per night sleep pattern? There are few things that frustrate me and not being able to sleep is at the top of this list.

One thing is for sure, I have come a long way from March 13th, 2013 when my world was shaken and changed forever but, I am gradually working on becoming “normal” again.

Advertisements

My symptoms

8 Jul

One of the main reasons for starting this blog was to share my experience while I was pregnant with Demilade so that others might have a reference to help them decide when to take action if experiencing similar symptoms. When I lost my baby boy, I was hopeless and I was angry. Angry at my doctors; angry at myself; and eventually, angry at everyone who could have counseled me and didn’t. Women can lose their child and their lives due to pregnancy complications. We don’t like to think about it and definitely don’t want to talk about but, it happens and these realities should be shared when the information is there.

Preeclampsia occurs in 5-8% of all pregnancies  and still births occur in 1 in 160 pregnancies (of which preeclampsia is just one possible cause).  These seem like small numbers but, for those of us who experience it, it is too many and a far too traumatic experience to not be explored further.

I share my symptoms and experience keeping in mind that not everyone will go through the same exact pattern of events as I did and, that some of these events mean nothing for some pregnant women. It is important to be diligent about our own health listen to our own instincts. There is no one who knows how you are feeling but you, no matter how many abbreviations come after the names of so called experts.

I’ll start from the beginning because it might help to piece together the the final diagnosis.

At about 6 weeks into my pregnancy I had severe abdominal cramps which took the wind out of me and knocked me out. The cramps crept up on me and within about 5 minutes because so severe that I could not walk and eventually blacked out. My husband had to throw me over his shoulder to the emergency room. By the time the nurses and doctors in the ER had checked me out, the pain had gone and I felt fine again. Blood tests were done and ultrasounds performed and none of it came back with any conclusive information. I was released to go home about 6 hours later and didn’t experience this again.

At about 4 months, I noticed that I had hardly gained any weight. I mean, I couldn’t keep anything down for the first 3 months but, at 13/14 weeks I was slowly getting my appetite back so I expected some weight gain. When I raised this concern with my OB, I was reassured that it is normal. Especially when a woman is so sick in the first trimester.

At 5 months, I had gained 10 pounds between the previous month and at this point. I remembered reading the weekly pregnancy blogs and being told that more than 2 lbs in weight gain per week was a cause for some concern, so I made sure to mention it to my OB. She again reassured me that this was normal. This is also the time I started experiencing sleepless nights. When I also brought up this concern, I was told that it was to be expected. In all honesty, every other mother I encountered and who gave me that precious unsolicited advice corroborated the doctor’s assessment that the sleepless nights are to be expected. But, what about the fact that I felt like something was sitting on my chest. Or that my poor sister would take midnight walks with me just so that I could feel tired enough to try and close my eyes when I laid down. And when I could close my eyes, I would abruptly wake up multiple times every night, heart racing and sweating profusely. For about two months, I could not calm myself enough to sleep more than 3 or 5 hours every night. I was tired and I was frustrated and it still was not enough of to raise concern from my health care provider.

At 25 weeks I went to the ER yet again. This time preterm contractions were the cause. Unlike the usual interruptions to my sleep, I was awakened this day by what felt like cramping in my abdomen. I knew there would be stretching and shifting so I wasn’t immediately alarmed. When I finally got out of bed to head to work, the pain was still there and constant but nothing alarming. It was not until about 12:00N that day that I realized I was having contractions. They have a rhythm you know. I asked a friend of mine at work who had just had a baby if these could be Braxton-Hicks contractions and she immediately let me know that if they were, they would not hurt.

Contractions are supposed to feel like very bad cramping, this is what I’ve been told for the longest. But how is one supposed to measure the pain when the regular menstrual cramps are a horror to go through. The thing is, I’ve had cramps that leave incapacitated and when I compare the contractions I was having that pain would rank at a 5. My 10 is extreme.  Later that afternoon I went to the ER and was hooked up to a heart monitor for Demilade and then given fluids via IV. For about 5 or 6 hours the contractions were relentless and showed no signs of stopping. Dehydration wasn’t the problem and the baby was not in distress but the contractions kept going strong. Finally after I had been in the ER for about 5 hours a nurse came to tell me that they would give me something to stop them. She gave me one shot of Terbutaline. The most they can give is 3 shots with some time lapsing in between each shot. Nothing happened. The contractions were still steady. 30 minutes later, I was given a second shot. This time the contractions slowed and stayed that way for the next 30-40 minutes. The nurses were confident that they would eventually stop soon and discharged.

The moment my husband and I got back home and prepared to sleep (it was now after 2AM), the contractions came back to the same level they had been all day. They did not end until late afternoon this day. At this point I had had them for over 36 hours.

The next episode was what happened two days before I lost my child. I had all of the symptoms you will find if you google Preeclampsia.

  • Headache for 3 days straight
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in my chest (under rib cage) and back at what seemed like the mirrored spot
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarhea
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Lower back pain
  • Swelling

Other than my trips to the ER, I suffered from sleepless nights and fatigue as a result. I had occasional swelling of my feet but they always returned to normal. Some of my colleagues said my skin looked grey and eyes yellowed. I felt a great amount of stress all of the time. Much more than I ever have.

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor and seek guidance and/or treatment. If a doctor can’t put it together, it is good to know the signs so that you can seek life saving action sooner.

The Preeclampsia Foundation is a great source of information regarding this disease.

I hope this is helpful to someone.

Aftermath…

3 Jul

I don’t know how celebrities do it. All that unnecessary cosmetic surgery. I mean what kind of a person gets cut up voluntarily? I suppose that could speak to a different kind of strength or maybe I’m just being over dramatic, since it was neither desired nor a personal choice for me to get a Cesarean Section surgery.

I have a bikini cut, as I am told. When I get back in shape, everything should look normal again. What about feel normal??? No one ever tells us how it feels to have a scar that you not only see but feel. How is one supposed to feel about something permanent like the scarring from a C-section that  is not planned? The hardness of the area for a few months and you trying to reconcile why you feel so disfigured. It is not a part of you are; who you were rather and, now you have to get used to it or go mad.

After being given Magnesium to prevent any seizures resulting from the severe Preeclampsia  I had just been diagnosed with, I was wheeled away into the OR knowing I was going to be awake during the C-section surgery. However, I did not expect to have a panic attack in the middle of the operation upon I realizing  that I could not feel or move my legs and remembering that I would not be able to do so for another 2-4 hours (as told by the anesthesiologist). No one tells you this. That its not some quick surgery that doesn’t mess with your psyche. Maybe I was the first to react this way. Maybe its because my mind did not have the luxury of focusing on the crying baby that would normally result in this kind of procedure. Maybe my claustrophobia kicked in. Who knows?! I just know it is an awful feeling to be wide awake and aware that you are being cut open and there’s no running away and nothing you can do to speed up the process or simply wiggle your toes.

The trauma didn’t end in the operating room. When I was released to go home a few days later and had to clean the wound on my own, I realized my body was no longer the same. This wasn’t a matter of losing the 35 pounds I put on. I can always exercise the fat away.  This was much more. The scar had hardened along my bikini line and apparently this is how it will remain for the rest of my life. It is a bit softer now and I am more at peace with it always being there but, there are days when the feel of it triggers emotions I cannot control.

I have questioned myself on several occasions. Is it vain of me to feel this way about my physical appearance? I was dealing with too many other things psychologically, physically and emotionally and yet I had time to think about this scar. Beyond the physical damage, it is a constant reminder of what I don’t have in the end and causes me much anger.   If I had my consolation prize, the scars and mental anguish so far would  be well worth it. I am certain these feelings would not be as pronounced as they are now, if at all.

 

Real Complications, Real Voices: HELLP Syndrome

2 Jul

Real Complications, Real Voices: HELLP Syndrome

Mother’s Day Sweetness

1 Jul

I have the best family and friends!

I was extremely nervous about my first Mother’s Day because well, I don’t physically have a child. Its hard for those of us who’ve had children but no evidence of them, to really feel like we are a part of this holiday. I thought about how I would react if I was wished a Happy Mother’s day from others. I knew everyone around me had no idea how to approach this. I didn’t either. It was very sad but, I managed to smile a few times thanks to my parents, sisters and husband who made it a special one anyway.

My sister and her husband took my husband and me out to brunch. A tradition around these parts it seems. I never noticed this until, of course, I too became a mother. All the children and grandchildren dressed in their Sunday-best to treat Mom to a day off her feet. The first time Moms being appreciated by their husbands while both are in awe of their child.  No cooking for Moms on this day. She is truly queen for the day.

I was reminded by my parents when they wished me a happy Mother’s Day, that I really am still a mother. Childless and all. I can’t thank my family enough for the love poured over me. The icing on the cake? My twin sister bringing me a blue orchid. Blue for Demilade. Little did she know that I had just thrown out all of the flowers from friends and family that had finally died. Something that made me very sad; and there she was with new flowers!

Still more, before I could lie down to sleep for the night, my 16 year old sister sends me this poem she wrote:

Our Precious Time”

By: Auntie Kambuza

I love the precious time we had

I love your gracious body that held

My whole being – an eight month term –

A miracle of life, a wonderful sum.

I loved the rubs, feels, and warmth.

I felt your laugh, tenderness, and joy,

The care that mommy and daddy bestowed

Maybe not face to face,

But a deep connection felt,

That’ our case.

Oh, how I miss the compassion that flowed, but

Please know I’m in glory with the Lord.

So please don’t cry, don’t be sad

Because I’m grateful for the time we had.

Forever and always – our unbreakable bond

Will overlap into the Great Beyond!

So to my lovely mama and dada too

Have a Blessed Mother’s Day.

I LOVE YOU!!

– Demilade Christian

Our Precious Time

I Hate Odd Numbers!

1 Jul

Wow! Talk about not being in control of one’s own life. I learned the hard way. A rude awakening, if you will. I am not in control of anything that happens in my life.

The bible scriptures say that no man knows the day nor the hour of his death. Its funny because we also really don’t know for sure when we will enter this world either. I’ve never thought of this until now. Technically, Demilade came into and left this world at the same time. I don’t know when he actually passed.

Before 9:11 am on March 13, 2013, I expected him to make his debut on a nice even numbered day of the week, Sunday. He was to make his first appearance on an even numbered date, the 28th of the fourth month of the year. Everything seemed to be in order according to the way I had imagined the tiny details.  However, God has his own plans for us and sometimes they do not align with our own.

Its such a minor detail but, to me it underscores the strong dislike I have for odd numbered anything. I got married in 2011 and both of us being African guaranteed some back and forth regarding the wedding date. I had a conniption at the suggestion that my wedding day should occur in a month other than June or August (guaranteed pleasant weather and only two even numbered months of the summer). I mean,  wasn’t it bad enough we were getting married in an odd numbered year (although, I comforted myself by adding all the individual numbers: 2+1+1=4. Voila!). Its crazy, I know, but I really do not like anything odd!  I think there is a term for this where one’s mood is affected/determined by numbers or colors. For me, when I can control when an important event happens, I would prefer it to fall on an even date of an even day of the week.

You can imagine how unlucky I felt on March 13, 2013. No adding of any numbers would make me see this as anything but bad. Of course, time and meditation on God’s word will change this perspective. My life was spared on March 13th. It is spared on every odd numbered day that I continue to see a new day. I can never not like March 13th again. Even though it was the worst day of my life, it is also the most meaningful in my life.

I don’t know why I had to lose my child after carrying him for 33 weeks and 3 days. I don’t know why I developed Preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. And I don’t know why none of the doctors who saw me did not diagnose me and get me help, even with glaring symptoms. I will likely never know but, I have learned a valuable lesson: there is only so much we can plan and prepare for and the rest is up to God.

Too late…

1 Jul

I went to sleep on Sunday night, really it was Monday morning between midnight and about 1:30 am, March 11, 2013. This had become normal for me to not be able to fall asleep until very late. I woke up around 2:30 or so from pain in the chest and back. It wasn’t typical pain but it was something I hadn’t experienced before. I got up, went to the restroom and walked about the living room for a couple of minutes. I went back to bed and tossed a while. It took about 1 hour before I was comfortable again to fall back asleep.

I woke up again around 5 or 5:30 with the same discomfort and pain in my chest and back and tossed and turned  again trying to find a comfortable position. This time though, I was also nauseous. So I got up, went to the restroom where I used the toilet. It seemed I had diarrhea. Still feeling like vomiting, I stayed in the bathroom. I laid on the bathroom floor hoping I would get relief by finally vomiting. Nothing happened for about the next hour so, I went back to bed. As I was trying to fall asleep, it was now close 7 am, I had to run to the bathroom to vomit. The discomfort in my chest did not subside and I was still very nauseous. Around 9 am I decided we should head to the doctor’s office as I already had an appointment with the OB for Monday morning.

As soon as we reached the doctor’s office, I told one of the ladies at the front desk that I wasn’t feeling well and would like to use the bathroom. I went to use the bathroom and left a urine sample (which I left at every visit during my pregnancy). When I came back to the waiting area I did not wait too long before a nurse came and called me to b seen by the OB. She asked how I was and I said “not well.” She then took my blood pressure and announced that it was 140(+?)/75(+?) and then said it was good.

The doctor came in a few minutes after the nurse left and asked me how I was, again I said,  “not well.” I explained to her that although, I had an appointment already this morning, I had concerns based on what/how I was feeling at the moment. I told the doctor that I had been feeling sick with chest pains and had been having a hard time breathing. The pain was both in my upper chest and in the back in the same location (rib cage area) it seemed. I told her that I had been vomiting as of about 7 in the morning and that I had gone to the bathroom and it appeared to be diarrhea. I told her that I had a headache over the last couple of days. All of this I said to her while I was lying on my back because it was too uncomfortable for me to sit up even for a short amount of time. Not that lying down made me feel any better.

The doctor quickly offered me the diagnosis of a stomach bug and asked me if I had felt the baby move. I replied that I did feel the baby move but did not feel him kick since Sunday evening. She asked again and I told her the same thing. She then checked for my baby’s heartbeat very quickly and then proceeded to measure my stomach and said that everything looked good. For the stomach bug she recommended I drink Gatorade or lots of water. She also prescribed anti-nausea medication. When my husband and I pressed further, she offered to hook me up on IVs but made sure to let me know that drinking Gatorade would achieve the same results. Frustrated, I opted to do as she said. Before she could dismiss us, I brought up the fact that I had also been having severe back pain separate from the pain in my chest and back that had developed over night. I said that because I am mostly sitting at work, I get unbearable back pain by 2 or 3 pm and wondered if I should be working from home. The doctor didn’t seem to have a response, perhaps, we had taken up too much of her time with our concerns for the life growing inside of me; so my husband reiterated what I had just said and explicitly asked if she could write a note saying that I should work from home as needed. She obliged and said she would prepare the note.

We went back into the waiting room and waited for the note and prescription. We waited a while, maybe 15 minutes and because I couldn’t stand sitting up, I asked my husband to take me to the car so I could sit reclined in the car. I went to the car and my husband went back up to the doctor’s office to pick up the prescription and also purchase Gatorade from the store in the same building as the doctor had recommended.

When my husband came back to the car, he gave me the Gatorade. I drank some. We drove toward home and he picked up my anti-nausea prescription which I immediately took once home and proceeded to lie on the couch and fell asleep shortly there after. When I woke up that afternoon, I was no longer nauseous and had just managed to eat a banana.

Between the last time I heard my boy’s heartbeat at at the doctor’s office on Monday, March 11th and Wednesday, March 13th, my baby had died. Tuesday, March 10th night, I could not go to sleep at all. My husband and I tried to fall asleep around 12:30 am Wednesday finally getting into bed and trying to find a comfortable position. I was having chest pains and back pains again, and having a hard time breathing. This time it was more pronounced. As soon as I seemed to close my eyes, I was running to the bathroom to vomit. It was now 2am and I left the bathroom to wake my husband. We sat in the living room for some minutes and decided to call the OB’s office. The doctor who called back seemed upset that she was woken up in the middle of the night. I explained my symptoms and told her these were the same exact symptoms I came into the office on Monday complaining of. She the asked where I live and told me to go to the nearest ER. My husband then helped me get ready and we headed to the ER. As soon as I was checked in, the nurse looked for my baby’s heartbeat, she could not find anything. Another nurse came to help and she too could not find a heartbeat. Then the doctor in charge came in and he too could not find it. He then told me, my baby was gone. It was too late.

At this same time my blood pressure had risen to levels which could cause a stroke (225/100s)? and were a huge concern to the doctors. I was too in shock, disbelief, and too hopeless to understand the threat to my own life.

On Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 9:11 am I delivered my stillborn baby boy via C-section.

%d bloggers like this: