So How’d It Go?

Posted in health, Kids on October 17th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Overall, so much better than my fears were telling me it would go.  I had my second cesarean section on Friday, October 7.  Boy was I nervous beforehand!  I figured I would write out the details, just in case we decide to do this again I can look back at it and know what to expect.  So I warn you, if you’re squeamish about medical procedures or just plain not interested, then skip the post.  But if I can make just one person feel more at ease about their impending cesarean, even if it’s future me, then it’s worth writing this all out and sharing the details.

The day of my scheduled cesarean, the hospital told me to arrive at 5:30 AM.  Hubby and I set the alarm for 4:30 and got there a little early so we could visit the hospital chapel and pray together.  Thankfully, Grandma had arrived in town the night before and had our 4 kids at her hotel.  The first nurse we asked did not know where the chapel was in the hospital, which I found strange, but then again, our local hospital is undergoing major expansion and renovation, so I guess that’s the excuse I’ll let them have for the fact that their chapel (when we finally found someone who knew where it was) was just an empty room.  No matter because God listens where ever you are, so we prayed together and went back to the maternity ward where they began to prep me for my surgery.  They put an IV in, which didn’t go very well.  Seems I have great veins in my arms for drawing blood (the  blood techs always ooh and ahh over me and my veins, which makes them weird in my book), but in my hands, not so much.  Getting IVs is always very painful for me, and it bruises up my whole hand.  This day was no exception.  It hurt a lot, and they had to give me 2 holes before they got it right.  Then the nurse comes and tells me that because of the combination of it being my 5th baby and the fact that I had to have a blood transfusion last time that they were going to have to give me a back-up port in my other hand just in case.  So they start doing that, and that one hurts even more.  Next thing I know, I have a golf ball sized lump in my hand – “The vein blew” the nurse told me.  I don’t ever want to hear anyone tell me that something carrying blood throughout my body “blew”, and I still haven’t googled that one to see what it is because it sounds so nasty.  And at this point, I’m near tears thinking that if things are going wrong already, what will happen when they cut me open?  But they finally got my second IV port in, and then after the insertion of the catheter (not a big deal and I will spare the details), I was ready to be wheeled off to the surgery room in a wheelchair.

Luckily I had taken the c-section class at the hospital, so the cold sterility of the operating room did not alarm me, and I also knew that my Hubby had to wait outside until certain preparations were made.  On our way into the operating room, I saw the backup doctor, and he was talking to himself in the hallway in kind of a strange way.  He is known for being a bit different, so it didn’t really worry me, especially since I knew my regular doctor would be there also.  Besides, Dr. Strange delivered my 3rd child, and she was the easiest delivery I had.  I will spare details for what happened next; it’s a bit personal – if you really need to know how they prep a patient for a c-section then take a class at your local hospital.  Then the anesthesiologist came in, and my heart sank when I realized it was the same lady who gave me my epidural during the birth of baby #4 – the epidural that never worked.  She gave me my spinal, and it pinched a little, but much less than an epidural, not really a big deal at all.  My legs started to get tingly, and I was really starting to panic big time.  I kept asking the anesthesiologist if everything I was feeling was normal, and she was so nice and reassuring.   They had a blood pressure cuff on my arm which kept going off every few minutes, and they also gave me oxygen in my nose – I felt very well cared for.  They let Hubby in, and he and the anesthesiologist (so tired of typing that word, think I’ll just call her Dr. Drug from now on) sat by my head the whole time.  Dr. Drug said that they would test me to make sure that I was numb before they did anything, but guess what – they didn’t.  I brought this up to someone after it was over, and they had a good point – they probably tested my numbness but didn’t even tell me about it.  Since it was working, I didn’t feel the test, so they proceeded.  Duh.  It’s just that I was so nervous about the numbing not working after what happened with my epidural; you can’t blame me for being concerned.

The next thing I remember is the tugging and pulling, which is also something for which the c-section class prepared me.  But it was actually much less unpleasant than I had panicked it would be.  It’s just that it seemed to take forever.  They said it would take about 1-2 minutes and according to Hubby, it took 4 minutes.  If you ask me, I would say it took 15 minutes.  The whole time I could hear the doctors talking and I kept asking Hubby what they were saying because I was panicking about the health of the baby and the fact that I was lying there sliced open on the table.  He said they were just discussing their techniques.  My Hubby kept looking down there, past the curtain, and I kept wondering how he could do that – if it were him lying on a table sliced open, I don’t know that I could look.  But then again, I don’t think it was like surgery looks on tv – I was picturing a completely open body cavity, but that’s a different kind of surgery.  I guess that’s why there was all that tugging and pulling.  So anyway, finally Hubby says that the baby is out, but I don’t hear crying, so I begin to panic even more (notice a trend here?  I am a worrywart, in case you haven’t noticed).  But both people seated at my head tell me everything is fine, and then I hear the baby (Luke James) cry.  I feel so relieved, and I can’t believe it’s over.  Except it’s not.  They clean up the baby, and they hold him up in front of my face for about a millisecond, and then they take him out of the room along with my husband and probably about half the staff that was on hand.  At some point, I don’t remember when, but I’m pretty sure it was after the baby was born, Dr. Drug held up a little vial and says, “I’m going to give you this.”  She puts it in my IV, and I find out later that it was Duramorph, a form of morphine.  I’m wondering now if this is something they give all their c-section patients (those who are not opposed to medications), or if I got the “panicking patient” special.  At any rate, after the morphine, my memory gets fuzzy, but I do remember lying there getting sewed up (still not feeling a thing below my chest).  My complaint was that it seemed to take FOREVER because I had nothing to do but lie there, and all I could think about was seeing my baby.  I even got envious of my poor husband, because here I had just gone through this surgery and now HE was getting to spend all this time with the baby and I hadn’t even barely gotten a look at him.  They should really think about putting a tv in there or something…  or would that distract the doctors?  Best not to think about it, I guess.  I had to keep talking myself out of looking at the ceiling because it was reflective, and I could see a little of me and a lot of red there – they ought to fix that too; I would bet that no one wants to see themselves getting surgery.  But finally they were finished, and a few of the staff people worked together to lift my helpless body onto the  gurney for the transport back to my room.

When I got there, there was Hubby with the baby, all excited to see me, and then I finally got to hold our new son.  And he was (is) so incredibly beautiful.  The rest of the day was wonderful.  Slowly my legs began to work again, and I could not believe it that I had absolutely no pain!  It did not resonate with me that I was on drugs.  I did feel kind of loopy, but I didn’t really think much of it and enjoyed the euphoria of having a new healthy baby and the relief that the worst part was over.  Weather-wise it ended up being a terrible weekend to be stuck in the hospital – it was 80 degrees out and sunny, and the grandmas took my kids to the zoo on Saturday, so I had to miss that, but at least they got to go.  When I was released from the hospital on Monday, it was still very nice out for a few days, but I didn’t feel up to going outside and by the time I did, Northern Ohio fall weather was in full swing and I’ve been cold ever since.  Oh well, such is life, and my Hubby had perfect advice when I was bummed about missing the beautiful fall colors (it was amazing how different our neighborhood looked with all the leaves on the ground after just 3 days!).  He said, “There will be plenty more color-changing seasons, but there are only so many baby seasons.”  What a wise, wonderful man!

Back to my recovery in the hospital, it went fairly smoothly, although I did have a lot of pain starting Saturday once the morphine wore off.  The baby was up all night on Friday, but I didn’t mind at all because I just wanted to be with him.  I haven’t watched tv in years, but over the weekend, I watched countless episodes of 3’s Company, Roseanne (forgot about the one where Becky gets into the liquor cabinet, haha!), and Everybody Loves Raymond – you know, shows from when tv was actually good.  I learned about the Prohibition era from PBS, and I also learned that there are conspiracy theorists who believe that there really isn’t gold in Fort Knox – hmm, that’s something to think about I guess.  Luke slept a full 5 hours on Saturday night from 1:30-6:30, and so did I since no one came for my blood until 6:30.  Last time I was in the hospital, I seem to remember them coming for blood every hour on the hour which made it really hard to sleep, but then again I had a lot of complications last time including the need for an emergency cesarean and a blood transfusion.  Sunday night, little Luke decided he wasn’t going to sleep again, and I woke up from my 45 minute nap that night feeling terrible – achy and lots of other pain, and chills because of a fever I was running.  Not only that, but there was a mean nurse who informed me in a not-so-nice way that I was over my limit of acetaminophen, which meant I was not allowed any pain medicine.  That really ticked me off; partly because of the way she said it, and partly because no one had given me any indication that this was a problem.  Had they warned me that I was getting near the limit, I would have declined some of the meds offered to me to avoid this.  Actually, all of the other nurses had been telling me that I should stay ahead of the pain.  They specifically said not to wait until the pain was really bad to take the meds otherwise they wouldn’t work.  The staff must have known I was upset because at 11pm Sunday night, my doctor called my bedside phone personally and reassured me.  And my doctor is the one I credit with my smooth delivery and quick recovery – she has been 1000% better than my previous doctors in every way throughout this process, and for that, I am so thankful.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been resting (probably not as much as I should have, but I have 5 kids now, who can rest with 5 kids in the house??).  Hubby has been amazing at taking care of me AND things around the house, but he also started a new job 2 days after the baby was born, which leaves him with 2 jobs, taking care of the 4 kids and me AND waking with the new baby at night as he likes to do.  My mother did a ton of laundry while she was here, and I’m just now starting to do laundry again a week and a half later, so that helped a lot too.  People from church have been wonderful about sending meals for our family, and that has been incredible.  Not only that, but we also have frozen meals that people sent and that my husband’s mother made while she was visiting for when our meal delivery runs out.  It’s been crazy, but we are managing, and a week and half later, I’ve been out and about and back in the real world.  I still have pain, but nothing extreme, and my 600mg ibuprofen works pretty well for that.  There are 2 complications I had that I was not expecting; one is worthy of a blog post all its own and I’ll get to it next time.  The other is the return of my backaches.  I’ve had a sore back since high school; I worked fast food and had to pop a Doan’s before every shift to make it through.  There are various things that I think caused it, but what does that matter now.  The strange thing is that during my pregnancy, my backaches disappeared.  Most women find new backaches during pregnancy, and mine disappeared.  I didn’t think much of it until I get home from the hospital and experience my back pain again.  This is discouraging because I know the incision pain will go away with time, but the backaches seem to be getting worse, and I have no guarantee that my back will ever feel better.  I guess it’s something to talk to my wonder doc about in my 6-week follow-up.  I already had my 1 week follow-up with the doctor, and she said my incision looks really great and my body is healing well – for that I am thankful.

Baby’s healthy, 4 big sisters and brother are healthy, I’m getting healthy, and Hubby is healthy (even if he needs much more sleep – praying for that to come soon) – what more can we ask for!  Life is good; God is great!

And oh yeah…  everywhere little Luke goes, he has a constant crowd of admirers.  If it wasn’t so sweet, it would be annoying because hey, when is it MY turn to hold the baby?!?  😉

My Lobotomy

Posted in books on February 5th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I just finished reading an engrossing memoir entitled My Lobotomy.  It took me a really long time to read it because I had to put it on hold since another book I had requested from the library came in.  I was number 223 on the waiting list for the other book, so when it came in, I had no choice but to put down My Lobotomy for about a month.  I was reluctant to put it down though, because Howard Dully’s life story is fascinating.  The book details a kids’ life growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s under the thumb of his ‘evil’ stepmother.  As cliche as it sounds, there really is no better way to describe Howard’s stepmom, but ‘evil’ is my adjective for her, not his.  I find it very surprising and admirable of Howard that his memoir never takes a direction of self-pity, blame, nor hatred toward any of the people who were responsible for the trauma he endured as a child and young man.  Rather, the narrative is written very matter-of-factly, and it follows Howard on his fascinating, though tortuous journey through the United States mental health system in the 1960’s.

Howard Dully was forced to undergo a lobotomy at the tender age of 12.  Basically, his stepmother resented him because he was a reminder to her of his real mother, his father’s widow.  So stepmother Lou was determined to get rid of Howard any way she could.  When the lobotomy didn’t turn him into a vegetable, she shipped him off to loony bins, insane asylums, or mental institutions, whichever term would best describe these places in the 1960’s.  This is a picture of an anesthetized 12-year-old Howard getting an ice pick lobotomy:

dully_icepick200

Lou convinced Howard’s father and a doctor named Freeman that Howard was mentally ill.  Well actually, Dr. Freeman did not need much convincing.  He was the ‘father of the lobotomy’ and was eagerly looking for patients upon whom he could practice his ‘procedure’.  The procedure consisted of sticking an ice pick into one’s eye sockets and swirling it around – seriously.  And poor Howard was forced to endure this ‘operation’ as a kid at the age of 12.  His memoir details every aspect of his life; it’s riveting, heartbreaking, and finally triumphant because Howard is now a full grown man who seems like a genuinely nice guy, especially given everything he’s been through and had to come to grips with in his life.

The book starts at his birth and chronicles his early life with his doting biological mother; taking the reader through all his trials and tribulations with stepmother Lou, the lobotomy, his struggles with addiction as a young adult, and finally on his search through his medical records and the touching interviews he conducted with his own father about his role in the events that shaped Howard’s life.  The book also includes the many notes taken by Dr. Freeman after his meetings with Howard and his family, which offer a very interesting and unique perspective…

After I finished this book, I was curious about many of the things I had read about, so I conducted a little research of my own, and I found recordings Howard made about his story for the National Public Radio, as well as some more information about Dr. Freeman and his ice-pick lobotomies…  Fascinating stuff, and I encourage you to check out Howard’s story – the book is My Lobotomy by Howard Dully.  Like I said, it’s truly amazing to me that after all he’s been through, Howard just seems to want to know why it happened, rather than who to blame for it…  an extremely commendable type of attitude which is growing increasingly rare in this day and age and was very refreshing to read about.  Thanks, Howard, for such a compelling read!

Hannah’s Wish

Posted in Kids on January 10th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our 4-year-old daughter Samantha is having her first sleepover tonight.  She’s been here when her older sister had friends sleep over, but tonight it’s her friend, just for Sammie.  Four years old is a little bit young to have a sleepover.  And tonight is the second sleepover in a row since older sister Taylor had a friend sleep over last night.  I don’t usually condone two sleepovers in a row because that would make for a very crabby Sunday.  But this is a special sleepover.

Sammie’s friend, Hannah, is an extraordinary little girl.  She was born with a condition that made her spine grow into her brain.  My daughter knows her from preschool, and then she was invited to Hannah’s 4th birthday party – that’s where we learned of her condition.  In the weeks after the party, Sammie called Hannah to see if she could come over and play, but Hannah could not – she was scheduled to have brain surgery in early December, but it was postponed because she suffered a seizure and was also diagnosed with asthma.  Then she underwent the brain surgery just before Christmas, and Sammie called her to see how she was doing.  For an entire week after the surgery, Hannah was bedridden and in constant pain.  She couldn’t come to the phone, much less go anywhere to play.  Now she’s feeling better, although her symptoms are starting to reappear.  So crabby Sunday, shmabby shmunday – my kids are having 2 sleepovers in a row.

Hannah’s recovery wish was to sleep over at Sammie’s house.  And even if it involved a 4-year-old with a double sleepover, what parent would be able to refuse Hannah’s wish?

He Is Here!

Posted in Kids on July 16th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 days oldAfter months of blogging about my pregnancy, it’s finally over and with the best result possible – a healthy, beautiful baby boy!  His name is Christopher Vincent and he was 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 20.7 inches long when he was born at 2:53 pm on July 11.  He is named for his father (at my insistence because my husband felt it was egotistical of him to duplicate his name – not when others do it, just him for some reason) and his middle name is after the baby’s late grandfather, my husband’s father who passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease when our oldest child was just one year old.  So we’ve been waiting a long time for a namesake for Vincent, and now little Christopher Vincent is here.  He is a perfect baby and rarely cries, although he does seem to have his days and nights mixed up.  Today he slept for almost 5 hours until I woke him up to eat.  But that’s probably because last night he woke up every hour.  I wish I had known he was going to sleep that long because I would have taken a nap!  It’s been difficult for me to sleep at night due to the extreme pain I’m feeling because of the emergency cesarean they had to do to bring little Christopher into the world.

Here’s a warning – I’m going to get a little bit graphic medically here because I feel the need to explain what happened to me.  That way, other moms searching for info about pregnancy, cesareans, etc. can happen across my site, and maybe it will help educate them and ease their fears if they know some things they can expect.  For the rest of you, I apologize, and I suggest just looking at the really cute pictures of the baby and moving on to my other posts.

So I went to the hospital Friday at 7 am to get induced…  I was really excited, but also pretty nervous.  It’s ironic that I didn’t allow myself to get as nervous as I was with my 3 previous pregnancies because my last birth went relatively smoothly, so I figured, why get all worked up when everything will probably be fine?  But it wasn’t.  Well, in the end it was, but until I got to see Christopher, Friday was one of the worst days of my life.  It all started when the nurse couldn’t get my IV in.  I always bruise like crazy from the IV, but they’ve never had trouble getting it in me before.  In fact, I seem to remember writing a post in my blog about what good veins they always say I have.  Anyway, the nurse was trying to “save me a poke” and get a blood sample at the same time she hooked up my IV.  I ended up with two holes on my right hand that swelled up like balloons – and I still had to get the IV put into my left hand.  All that and she STILL had to draw blood from the vein like a regular blood sample, thus not “saving me a poke” at all as she had promised.  But it didn’t matter because I never care too much about the blood draw since I’m used to it and my veins are so easy to find…  but anyway, after all this, I had to make a stupid comment – I said to the nurse, “I hope this isn’t an omen for how the rest of the day will go…”  Idiot.  Apparently I cursed myself because things were just going to get worse. 

The contractions started getting pretty painful and I called for the epidural, which if you don’t know, is a pain elimination procedure (supposedly) administered directly into the spine.  It’s very uncomfortable to receive one, although it’s nothing compared to the pain of the contractions it relieves, provided someone poking around in your spine doesn’t bother you.  Except that mine didn’t work, which I’m told is rare, so don’t worry, just research other options before you go…  But for me, this is where things go from bad to worse.  Once we’ve all determined that the epidural didn’t take, they make a call for the anesthesiologist to come back and discuss options.  Except that, lucky for me (sarcasm), there was a shift change, so the person who messed up my first epidural was no longer around to mess up a second one.  And, of course the new anesthesiologist didn’t want to do one on a patient who had been done by someone else.  And I should note that every time they call the anesthesiologist, it takes forever and a day for them to come because they’re usually doing other patients in the hospital or who knows what.  I wonder if it’s like that at larger hospitals…  Our hospital is quite small, and I’ve often wondered if there are certain aspects of care that could be better as a result.  Anyway, so the 2nd anesthesiologist is explaining my options to me, and she is talking so slowly, I swear I was close to kicking her – I could still feel my legs, after all, and that was their fault, not mine.  As she’s explaining my options to me (not that there were many left), the nurse decided to check me and that’s when she discovered we didn’t have time to do anything – the baby was coming!  The anesthesiologist was shooed away and the doctor was called, but of course with the way things had been going that day, she had gone home and so we had to wait for her to get back to the hospital.  She got there and I was finally able to start pushing, except the baby wouldn’t budge.  I think the pain was worse than it’s ever been, and I could tell the baby wasn’t being pushed, and then the worst news yet – the baby’s heart rate started dropping.  Everyone started running around, honestly, it was total chaos, but I couldn’t even think straight through all the pain.  They wheeled me into the surgery room where there were like 10 people wearing surgery masks all doing different things.  I was actually in favor of them knocking me out – the sooner, the better.  Of course because of the epidural not working, I felt them cut me open, but in retrospect I don’t know if it hurt more than I was freaked out about being able to feel them cut me open.  My arms and legs were tied down and I will be honest – it was a horrible experience – I couldn’t sleep my first night in the hospital because right when I’d fall asleep, I’d have a flashback of the experience and jolt awake.
Then, I smelled something funny in my oxygen mask and the next thing I know, I’m being wheeled out of the room – it was over!  They had gassed me after all – lucky for everyone involved!  But now I’m stuck with the awful recovery process of a c-section.  One of the worst things about it besides the pain is the fact that I can’t lift heavy objects – including kids.  The second I got home, my 21-month-old reached her arms out and said “Mommy!” with a big smile, and promptly started crying when I couldn’t pick her up.  Between the lack of sleep, the hormone changes, and me missing her, I started crying, but luckily grandma saw me lose it and stepped in to rescue us; giving my daughter ice cream to feed me that made it all better for both of us.  Now, only 2 days later, my daughter seems used to not being picked up, and the pain seems to be getting better, finally.  Yesterday the pain was getting worse instead of better; when I woke up, every square inch of my body throbbed with pain, and I couldn’t move at all – it was awful and totally discouraging.  But, I had forgotten that the doctor said to also use ibuprofin along with my pain meds, so ever since I’ve been trying that, it’s been working for me.  But believe it or not, another pain remedy is baby-smelling.  You just sniff the head of the newborn baby and give him kisses and it makes the pain better too!  The worst part of the whole thing is that I had really wanted more kids, but after Friday, I just don’t know if I have it in me to go through something like that (or worse!) again…  But for now, I am enjoying mommyhood immensely, and the girls LOVE their new little brother.  Taylor and Sammie want to hold him all the time, and Sammie especially can’t keep her hands off him.  She’s always petting his head or touching his hands, or softly kissing him…  she is so gentle; it’s very sweet.  And Disney, being almost 2, is getting her own ideas on how to care for Christopher as well.  Yesterday she tried to insist that he be put into his car seat and of course she threw a tantrum when it didn’t go her way…  But overall, things are going great and wil be even better once we unmix Christopher’s days and nights and get some more sleep!

Oh, and one more hint that will give you a fun momento for the baby book.  If you mail a birth announcement to the White House, they will send you a congrats card from the President!  Signed by an intern, of course, but hey, for some people in the ’90’s, that would have been Monica Lewinsky!  Here is the address you send it to, you can also do this for wedding invitations, though I’m not sure the address is the same.  I would just do a google search for “white house wedding announcement” or something like that.

Send your baby’s name, birthdate and address to:

White House Greetings Office
Room 39
Washington, DC 20500