Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Summer of Pregnancy Recap

It has been a year. It has been a serious year. A year that started of with a move, an impermanent move to a friend's house. If that wasn't hard enough living temporarily with all your things in storage, I found out I was pregnant in the middle of May. It was exciting news. Something Evan and I had been praying and working on for two and a half years.

I know that my pregnancy with Kyle was rough; however, I had no one else to take care of and although my house wasn't unpacked until the day that I left to give birth to Kyle (8 months, in case you were wondering how long we lived unpacked), I could lay in bed all day and vomit to my hearts content. Aiden was a dream pregnancy with only one episode of vomiting. I had him at home and I thought, my other pregnancies would be like that. I thought Kyle was a fluke with my gallbladder.

Then we moved into this new apartment, and it was all down hill from there.

I found out sometime after Aiden was born that although I did not have a gallbladder anymore, I could still produce gallstones in my common bile duct.

I had several attacks that would take Evan and I to the ER for pain medication and anti-nausea drugs. The first time I had one, a few weeks after I had Aiden, I remember crawling down the hallway when we lived in our apartment in Taylorsville and wondering what it could possibly be. I had already had my gallbladder out, was it my appendix. These attacks came about 9-12 months apart for the next several years. I thought there was nothing to do but live with them.

Then after I got pregnant with this baby, I knew that it was turning out to be a lot like with Kyle. I was sick. Everything I ate came up, the thought of food turned me off and eating was becoming increasingly painful. I talked to my OB about it, he referred me to a GI doctor that they use frequently. In the meantime, waiting for that doctor's appointment, the ER visits started. I was taking in 300 calories a day, but not all of it stayed down, and a few ounces of liquid a day. I began to lose weight. 

It turns out the doctor they referred me to is the doctor that before I was pregnant with Kyle never referred me to have my gallbladder out, cost me thousands of dollars of tests that never showed any issues with my gallbladder, the doctor who had me have exploratory pelvic surgery, and who finally said I needed a psychiatrist because the pain was in my head. Awesome! Such my luck. The tests he ordered, showed nothing, he was unwilling to admit me to the hospital when my OB wanted to. He wouldn't prescribe me any medication. He finally said, I am done, nothing is wrong.

I saw another GI. He was so nice. But had no room to take me on as a patient and told me the problem was the pregnancy. He would have done a simple scoping procedure to cut open my bile duct and flush it out. Unfortunately, the complication is a 10% risk of pancreatitis. If the pancreatitis occurred late enough in my pregnancy--the baby could die. I had this confirmed this with several doctors who had actually seen this happen to some very unfortunate women. Plus, to top it off, of course, none of the tests ordered confirmed anything. He said come back after I am not pregnant and he would take care of it. 

So I was stuck. And seriously sick. Evan wasn't going to work. I wasn't able to shower. I wasn't getting out of bed. Aiden was learning to bring me his sippy and the soy milk tetra to my bed. I had moved snacks to a shelf they could reach. If the kids were dressed by dinner, it was a good day. Every week, we lived out of the clean laundry basket without it ever being folded or put away. I didn't cook dinner for my family between June and well.....now. I am up to cooking once a week. 

The change came when my OB ordered me home IV fluids and anti-nausea drugs (zofran). This allowed me to take my pain and stronger anti-nausea meds by mouth and keep them down. As I kept blowing IV lines in my arm and under advice from my home health nurse, I asked for a PICC line....

It is a line that goes up my arm, across my shoulder and terminates right close to my heart. They are designed to last up to 12 months. They are used for all kind of conditions such as cystic fibrosis and cancer. I immediately started having some other complications. They landed on a nerve, it took several days to move the line enough to get the pain to stop, I have an adhesive allergy and had to use an adhesive to keep my site sterile--itchy, then through advice from the PICC placement nurse and my home health nurse I was flushing my line with saline. It clotted off, that Saturday I spent 6 hours in the ER unclotting it. Several weeks went by. 

I was getting out of bed. I was folding and putting away laundry. I vacuumed. I cleaned the tubs. I went four weeks without vomitting. I gained the few pounds I lost and 4 more (at 25 weeks I have still only gained 4 pounds total). Then one of my lumens (the orange and white lines coming out of my PICC) started to leak. 

I had to go back in and have it replaced. Luckily, they did not have to totally pull it and replace it, just run a wire up it, pull the line, and thread a new one. It was uncomfortable and took a few more days to get the line to move off that pesky nerve. However, it could have been worse. 

Then on Saturday, I couldn't get a full breath. It lasted for an hour. I called the OB. He said I had to go into the ER because with the pregnancy and PICC line, I could have a blood clot. Evan dropped me off, after an ultrasound and chest X-ray, it was confirmed. I did have a blood clot in my arm adjacent to my PICC line. They kept me overnight and started me on blood thinner shots.

Sunday morning, before I left the hospital. I told my nurse that my left arm had gone painfully numb. She said that was normal. I went home. The pain stayed. My mother-in-law thought my forearm was looking swollen. I called the OB. I had to go back to the ER and he wanted my PICC line pulled this time. I went, they pulled the line, they said the clots weren't there anymore, but I still had to keep up the twice daily shots. The pain in my arm did not get better and my other arm started being painfully numb too. 

My doctor the next morning confirmed the baby is fine. However, even without the PICC line I have to continue the shots twice daily. See the above shot. Twice a day. I still can't do it, luckily Evan is great at it. The needle going in is fine, but the medicine burns for thirty minutes and you can't rub it--plus they bruise like crazy. So now, with a pregnant belly that bumps into everything, it hurts because it is bruised all over. 

Not only that, but with the shots, I have to get frequent ultrasounds to check the babies growth. I also have to have a scheduled induction and continue the shots 6 weeks after birth. I also have to see the high risk OB to decide whether to do another PICC line and to make sure things are okay with the blood thinner shots. So that is what I know and don't know.

I think the worse thing is that I do not feel like myself. I feel like I am failing everyone with my limitations. I am costing us lots of money by being unable to cook most nights. I get lectures from ER nurses about how my pain meds cross the placental barrier and the baby gets them too. I feel like I am failing my boys. They should go out and do fun things--I lost all my opportunities to do fun things I planned this summer and fall is going by fast. Most days I don't have energy to take them out and play and Kyle desperately needs that. We have no friends in our new place after 4 months and our house still isn't unpacked. 

Every place that I turn points out how much I am failing. How far below expectations I am. Someone told me I was lucky that Kyle is 12 days too young for kindergarten, if he was in kindergarten he would be behind because he doesn't read yet. I frequently hear about how much house is not unpacked and totally put together. I make goals and plans, and they come and go without anything happening. And things keep changing, I had Aiden at home, this baby has to be born in a hospital, now she has to be induced too. It feels like it is out of control and there just isn't much joy to hold onto anymore. Not much to be excited about. Good meaning people tell me, "it will all be worth it." And while I am sure that I will love her and cherish her, she is only one of four other people in my family. The other three people have been ignored, disappointed, and affected by how hard this pregnancy has been--that might never be worthwhile. 

There is more to be said, but the meds are kicking in, which is why I certainly don't have many blog posts from this summer. I'll leave you with my arm without a PICC line, healing from the allergic reaction to betadine and adhesive. 


Mallory said...

Wowzers you poor girl. I had no idea. If I lived near you I would just come unpack your home for you :( I hope when this pregnancy ends you will feel better and that your baby girl is perfectly healthy.

Ami said...

OK, I'm just going to come right out and say it: You are in no way failing. I totally understand that your life is not where your expectations are, and that is disappointing. It is sad and depressing, so it is okay that you feel sad about it. If you were healthy and sound and ignoring your husband and boys, I would be concerned about you. But you are sick and in pain, with a lot of odds stacked against you.
What are your jobs? 1) Survive; 2) Incubate that baby; 3) Love your husband and boys.
I'm not there in your house, but I'm pretty confident you are triumphant at your jobs.
I see no failures. And that is my professional opinion.

Shaunel said...

Oh dear. Best of blessings to you and your family. The wonderful thing about pregnancy is that it will end. Hope the last half is 100x better than the first.

Teresa said...

okay, I'm in love with what Ami said and since I can't say it any better, I'll just say "ditto". I have been on oral antibiotics for a couple of weeks and they have been harder on me than usual. I have been so tired and pretty nauseous a and can sympathize a little with the feelings of inadequacy and that I am failing in everything. I haven't worn real clothes, cleaned my house, done anything fun with my kids, etc, and I feel that guilt after just two weeks, so I honestly cannot imagine struggling with it for an entire pregnancy. I know you feel as though you don't measure up, but trust me that those around you wonder how you manage all that you do. Hang in there. I am sorry this sucks. I think you are great.