Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Night My Life Changed

With Libby’s first birthday around the corner, I realized that I never really recounted what happened the night she was born. The following was my experience:

It seemed like a normal Wednesday. Well, as normal as being 37.5 weeks pregnant while on bed rest could be. Wednesdays were my favorite day of the week because Jim and I had our doctor appointments then. I had been having problems with my blood pressure spiking. The doctor and midwife had told me to relax but it was difficult not to worry about how my body was handling the stress of the pregnancy and the effects it was having on the baby. Oh the baby! I was so excited about having the baby. To digress, the concept of me being pregnant and having a child was blessing.

During the summer of junior year of high school I developed an odd rash that the doctors could not explain. My parents graciously took me to various doctors and a specialist in St. Louis. This was occurring during my senior year of high school. It should be one of the best times of my life and my Mom tried to make it that way. I was oblivious to what was really going on. Then my Doctors told me their diagnosis: lupus. It wasn’t full blown but I had symptoms that were similar to that diagnosis that it was their best guess. To make matters worse, they told me I needed to watch for more signs of it progressing and I should not carry a child. They were worried hormones and the changes I would undergo during a pregnancy would cause the lupus to go into full blown mode. So, from that point on I knew I would adopt because I wanted to be a Mom. I never really worried about a spouse not agreeing with this approach because I had not planned to become married. Well, that was true until 2003 when I met my husband Jim. He was adopted so he understood adoption and wanted to adopt his future children as well. In April of 2005 we were married and in early 2006 started talking about extending our family.
I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life terrified that I wouldn’t be around to watch my future child/children grow up so I decided to be tested to see how I was doing health wise. I avoided doctors like the plague so I had no idea if the lupus was worse but I had not experienced any symptoms since that summer/fall of 1997. What we found was that I was given a clean bill of health. My current doctor talked with specialists, even the ones we had seen in St. Louis, and they could not figure out how I was suddenly 100% healthy. I was tested again 6 months later to make sure everything was still clean and it was! So Jim and I changed our plans and decided to see if we could get pregnant.

Everything fell into place. We were pregnant on the first month and were blessed to find out we were having a little girl a few months later. Unfortunately the pregnancy was not a smooth process for me. I had high blood pressure very early into the pregnancy and we kept a close eye on it. As the weeks went on, it kept going higher and higher. I had a very stressful job and that was not helping the situation. In early September (25 weeks into the pregnancy) the doctor ordered me to stop working. Our hope was that this would cause the blood pressure to go down. I rested on the couch all day and only got up when necessary. Unfortunately it did not help and on Wednesday, 9/26, the midwife ordered us to go to the hospital for observation at 5pm.
Jim and I were excited and nervous. We knew there was a chance I would be induced that night and we could have our baby within the next few days. Driving to the hospital we called our parents and gave them the update. When we got the hospital and they hooked me up to the various machines, my blood pressure went even higher into the stroke zone. I was terrified but the baby was handling it like a champ. Her heartbeat was great and there was no cause for concern for her. Meanwhile I started having contractions. We got very excited and had hoped this would be the night! The nurse confirmed we would be having the baby in the next few days if not tonight via a cesarean. I had never been in the hospital much less major surgery so that terrified me. Our Doctor arrived a few hours later around 9pm and told us we had two choices: induce or cesarean. We choose a cesarean just because on my blood pressure and within minutes they were prepping me for surgery. All kinds of thoughts ran through my head. I was terrified but also excited. We were having our little girl that night.

By 10:00pm, way past my bedtime!, I was fully prepped and ready to go into surgery. Jim looked silly in his scrubs but he knew I was terrified so he stood by me as long as he could. Then they rolled me into a room and at 10:34pm Jim and I had a beautiful daughter. I remember when I saw her for the first time I couldn’t do anything but cry. It was all worth it. We already knew what we were going to name her, Elizabeth Ann, but just being able to call her that and see her versus just talking with her was magical. She looked all wrinkly but gorgeous and perfect. Jim got to hold her right away but I couldn’t because they had over done the drugs a bit on me. I couldn’t feel either of my arms and wasn’t confident enough to hold her. It was very frustrating but I knew I would have plenty of time with this new addition to the world. The nurses wheeled me to another room and Jim went off somewhere with a nurse and the baby. After awhile Jim came back with his parents and sister. They were introduced to Elizabeth, who was already being called “Libby”.

The next few hours were a blur. I know I did not sleep and the next thing I knew my parents were standing in front of me with my brother, sister and new little 4 week old niece there. Everything from that point on was just mixed together and I had no comprehension of what day or time it was.

That night may be a memory now but being able to be Elizabeth’s Mom is a gift that I will always be grateful for. She is truly a gift from God that I will always cherish. This has been a wonderful year and I am looking forward to the years to come!

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