Saturday, January 14, 2012

Baby Blues- The Surgery

Friday (September 9th) morning came quickly. We left for the hospital. The hardest part of Friday was knowing that I was entering the hospital pregnant and would be leaving not pregnant. How strange. We expected to have a long wait time so I packed a large lunch for Dave, brought games, cards and our laptop. We were mid-way through an intense game of W-A-R when our buzzer went off. (Yes, our hospital uses restaurantesque buzzers. Kinda cool.) We were ushered up to pre-op where the nurse put me into a gown and took my vitals. As soon as the gown was on, I lost it. And again, with the pint-sized hospital tissues, I ran through an entire box very quickly. The nurse was going to wait to take my vitals but I just wouldn’t calm down. Instead of “following procedure,” she sat with me and explained how the entire day would work. She helped calm my fears and told me that my husband would be allowed to sit in pre-op with me. (The day before we had been told he would not be allowed in pre-op.) I was beyond grateful as I wasn’t sure I could face this alone. Through shortened breath and heavy tears, she took my vitals and complimented my blood pressure. It made me giggle and I was thankful for her ability to face me without judgment.

After about ½ hour, I was wheeled up to pre-op. This was my first surgery (ever) so I knew nothing of what to expect. I can only describe it as a horse stable like room. Rows and rows of beds with numbers above them; I was number 7. Mu surgery was scheduled for 2pm, which is about when I went up to pre-op. Each time a nurse came over to see if I was okay, I had to answer what felt like a million painful questions. And each time I answered the questions, the tears flowed uncontrollably. Pint-sized tissues? Yes, please!!! I had (and needed) an endless supply. With each answer, my emotions intensified and my tears grew stronger. Here are the questions I answered about 200 times:

· What is your name and why are you here?
· Who is your doctor?
· How far along are you?
· Is this your first pregnancy?

I hated everything about it. Not only was this my first surgery, but it was also a really painfully emotional surgery. Most of my fear stemmed from being put under. I did not anticipate a breathing tube and absolutely lost it when I saw that on the waiver. Call it na├»ve. Call it what you want. I was scared; I went in blind. Dave and I made small talk during the waiting, but I think we were both just masking our fear. He was also fielding texts from my friends and mom about what was taking so long. He didn’t share their impatience with me as I’m sure he knows he would have upset me more. Like I said before, he was (and is) my rock. Even without much small talk, I was comforted just by his being in that big scary horse stable with me.

My tears and emotions hit their peak when the anesthesiologist came over to introduce himself and his team and have me sign the waiver. They never weighed me so I was also concerned he’d give me too much or too little of the drug. I must have asked 1,000 times if he would make sure I woke up. (My husband told me after the fact that it annoyed him.) He was a kind man and held my hand as he said he’d make sure I woke up and guaranteed he put the breathing tube in after I was fully asleep and would remove it before I was awake. I thanked him, of course, through heavy tears. My second worst moment was when the nurse came over to ask about burial of the baby’s remains. We decided to have the baby cremated and buried in Ivy Land Cemetery, with other angel babies who can’t be with their families. Of course this would only happen after the baby’s tissues were tested to determine the exact cause of the fatal diagnosis.

Finally a nurse came over to put my IV in, just fluids to keep me hydrated because I had not eaten in over 12 hours (did I mention yet that they brought me to pre-op at 2pm and didn’t take me back for surgery until 20 minutes to 6:00pm? Talk about waiting impatiently!) I had never had an IV in my hand so she was really gentle and talked me through what she was doing. It was painless and I was proud of myself for getting through it. The surgeon and his team came over to introduce themselves and let me know that I would be going back shortly. They explained what I could expect in the room and told me not to let the cold, the light or the machines freak me out. They explained that not everything was in there for me and that they wouldn’t put the lights on until I was under. About a half hour later the surgical anesthesiologist came over to give me my “cocktail.” The cocktail was designed, I was told, to calm me down before the procedure, so that I wasn’t anxious when they sedated me. I got the cocktail and within minutes was being wheeled to the operating room. By the time we got to the front of the pre-op, I was loopy and everything was fuzzy. I remember saying goodbye to my husband but do not remember kissing him goodbye. Luckily, he remembers. I went to the OR and he went to the 9th floor to track my progress on the hospital’s board. The surgical nurse also assured him that she’d call when the surgery was done and that the surgeon would call once I was set up in recovery (though he couldn’t join me until I was in post-op.) The last thing I remember is someone saying, “I have a dog” to which I replied, “I have a dog, too.” They asked what kind of dog and I said, “A miniature Australian Shepherd.” The next thing I remember I was in recovery.

I remember waking up and being really happy that I was awake but not being able to show my excitement. My body felt very heavy and I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited. I remember asking where my husband was and the recovery nurse telling me “he left.” I remember thinking that he meant he left the hospital and I began to cry. The tears stopped when the pain of him taking the EKG stickers off of my chest began. One had inched its way to my nipple and OUCH did that hurt when he removed it. I’m convinced this nurse was a recovery nurse because the hospital is hoping patients won’t remember his bedside manner, or lack thereof in this case. Once I was “fully” awake, I was wheeled down to post-op. Before I was even in the room I remember hearing my husband say, “I’m here hunny. I beat you.” I remember smiling a huge grin. He helped me into bed and I remember smiling at him, a lot. (He has since told me that I was very happy when I got to post-op. I’m convinced it’s because he was there. He thinks it was the drugs.) The nurse offered me disposable underwear and I remember being really really excited to get them. How cool, right? We spent about 20 minutes (I think) in post-op and then my husband went to get the car and I was wheeled out. I was still groggy but was totally coherent and could function. We drove home and my husband, the wonderful man that he is, helped me in and catered to my every need, which that night was to just sleep. The day after surgery we went to see my godson play his first soccer game. I probably shouldn’t have, as I was in a lot of pain by the time we got home but I wanted to. I think subconsciously I needed to see children living life and having fun. It was emotionally good for me and I’m glad I did it.

I spent the next two weeks recovering at home. The physical recovery was easy. I had no cramping and minimal bleeding. It was the emotions that were tough. I went through slight post-partum (as we were told to expect) and on top of that I was dealing with the enormous burden of having to deal with the entire situation in the first place. It was, I hope, the hardest thing we will ever face.

We received the results of the pathology tests early in November. What a tough two months! It was confirmed that our baby had full triploidy.The doctor told us that the chance this would occur in a future pregnancy was less than 1% and that it was not genetic. What a relief. We both felt tremendous relief and felt like we could finally move forward with the healing process. We had our answer and it confirmed that we had made the right decision for us. While we had (and have) no regrets, and as strange as it is to say, it was nice to hear a definitive, "yes, your baby would not have survived."

My physical recovery is 100% over and I’ve been given the okay to try again, when we’re ready. The emotional healing continues and I’m not sure it’ll be ever be 100% over. In fact, I think my husband has just now started dealing with the emotions of what we faced.

We will forever have lost and will forever love our first baby, our angel baby.

*We never found out the sex of the baby but I refuse to refer to my angel baby as an it.

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