Friday, October 4, 2013

Guest Post: "Laila's Story"

For months I have gone back and forth about writing this... but I would like to go ahead and document it, at least for my daughter to read when she gets a bit older.

When I was younger, I was told that I would never be able to have children due to PCOS. I accepted my fate and kept my head held high. I would adopt. One way or another, I would be a mommy to someone someday.

I met my best friend turned husband in 2007. When we were married in 2009, we decided we definitely wanted children. I told him they may not be biological if we were to have children and his views on adoption/foster parenting matched mine. We began making about a 45 minute drive each weekend for our foster parenting classes. We were midway through the classes and we were informed that the demand for younger children and infants was high, so we would more than likely never have a child under the age of 16 in our home. We have nothing against teenagers, but we were looking to be able to instill good values and eventually adopt the child we were raising. We had just been teenagers not all that long ago and we knew what the job entailed. Lots of angst, rebellion, and heartbreak is generally what surrounds the teenage years. This isn’t true for all children, but we learned that teenagers in foster homes were more likely to rebel than your average teenager. We discontinued our classes.

We began charting ovulation and I began my monthly blood tests to check for pregnancy. After more and more attempts, and even more failed pregnancy tests, we decided it wasn’t meant to be. Several of my friends at work had become pregnant, and all I could think of was “Why not us?” It was hard. It was 2011 and we decided we were just going to chill out on the “trying to get pregnant” process. Finally have some us time.

 ENTER April 2011. This month was not a particularly hot month, but for some reason, I had been waking up at all hours of the night in hot and cold sweats. I hadn’t missed my period or anything like that, in fact I had just gotten off of it. It had to be my hormones I thought. The week of the 28th, I scheduled an appointment to have a blood test to check my thyroid. I had been feeling ill all week. I was definitely getting sick I thought. At my appointment, she asked if we had still been trying, “On and Off” I answered. She told me I should try and take a pregnancy test as well, just to make sure. I dreaded it. The heartbreak that followed every time I took a test in that office and it came back negative... “Here we go again”, I thought. As I sat and waited for the test to turn, she prepared the needle for the blood test. “OH MY GOD IT’S POSITIVE!!!!!” she yelled. I calmly looked over and asked “What?”  “THE TEST!!!!! YOU’RE GOING TO BE A MOMMA!!!!!!” I began shaking. It had to be wrong. I requested another test. She informed me that the medical grade tests were 98% accurate. I was in disbelief. I took another test “POSITIVE!!!!!” she screamed again. I still said no. I requested the blood test. Those tests are 100%. I was shaking.

I left work early that day; it was my husband’s day off. I had bought a card a long time ago that I had intended to give him when I found out we were pregnant. It said: Get ready for the pickles and ice cream! We’re pregnant! When I got home Jeff was concerned. I told him that I would be right back. I went to the closet, got the card and the 2 stick tests, and wrote my heart out about he was going to be a daddy. I placed the sticks inside and sealed the envelope. I placed the letter directly into his hands. He wanted to know what it was... He shook it and tried to see through it. He had no clue. He opened it and looked right at the tests. “Whose are these? “He said. “Read the letter!!!”. He read it and stood in shock.  He turned to me, searching my face to see if I was about to yell JUST KIDDING!!...and I grinned from ear to ear. He gave me one of the biggest hugs I think I have ever had. In fact, he started cutting off my air supply at one point. He wouldn’t let go. “LET GO!!!!!!!” I yelled. When we pulled away he just continuously asked me if it was real. Over and over again. I told him the tests were 98% accurate and that the blood test would be back tomorrow to let us know 100%. That night we went through one of the largest hail producing storms Tennessee has ever seen. My car was totaled. Thank God for full coverage insurance!! Haha.  The next day the test came back positive!!!! An ultrasound followed and we found out I was 6wks along.

The months flew by. The morning sickness finally trailed off. I loved being pregnant. I was going to have a natural, drug free birth. After watching countless documentaries and reading horror stories about hospital births, we found a midwife and quickly learned my insurance doesn’t even touch midwifery services. We decided at the recommendation of a friend, on a local Obgyn. I would still have the natural birth, but I would simply deliver at the hospital….right? Throughout my pregnancy, EVERYONE told us we were definitely having a boy. The day we were to find the sex, Jeff asked me what I felt in my heart it would be. I said “I think it’s going to be a girl.” BINGO! Jeff’s heart grew 100 times larger that day. A daddy’s girl. He was ecstatic. So was I. I wore pink to work the next day to announce to everyone. We would name her Laila. (Like the Eric Clapton song, but spelled different)

The day was fast approaching. I was huge, and I loved it. I was getting foot and back rubs every night (which is still continuing to this day. Lol...) I was finally on maternity leave. This was the life. But it wasn’t. We wanted our little girl. We walked as much as we could, trying to get labor to start. My due Date was Dec 25th. Our doctor kept throwing induction around, but we declined. She would come when she was ready. Laila was a very busy baby while in the womb. She constantly hiccupped and kicked around.

On the evening of January 3rd, I was sitting at the computer at home, playing an old Sims game, and I felt a pop. Then came the small flood. My water had broken…on its own. YAY!!! I calmly texted Jeff to call me. He called and wanted to know what was up. I told him my water had broken and he needed to come home. I didn’t tell him that when my water had broken that it had a green tint to it, meaning that Laila, being an overdue baby, had her first bowel movement in the womb. Which is a normal thing for babies that are past due, but it makes things a bit trickier because infection can set in quickly. I didn’t want to tell Jeff because he tends to drive a bit too quickly when there’s an emergency. I hopped in the shower, and started to pack. When Jeff arrived, I told him about the fluid, and I moved/ waddled faster than I had in months. Haha!

I had been very adamant about having my female doctor deliver Laila (I think it’s a bit odd when men go into the obgyn practice. Just sayin’); however, she was not on call that night. It was the only male dr in the practice that happened to be on call. Oh well. They got me hooked up to the monitors and I began the journey into labor. The contractions were hell. With no pain medicine, it was by far the worst pain of my life. It was 9 pm. I had read that first babies take a lot longer to be born. Oh my gosh. I labored in bed, on the ball, in the bathroom in the hall. I started shaking, which was completely normal the dr assured me. I was freezing. I started convulsing a bit. Laila’s heart rate was high, and it would not go down. A team of nurses rushed in, and the next few hours were a blur to me. I had about 10 blankets on me and they had begun to give me oxygen. They wanted to give me Pitocin to make my labor speed up. I declined. My actual dr. finally arrived and checked me. I was at 6 centimeters. But then she checked my temperature. It was 103.5 and rising. The baby’s heart rate was too. Emergency C-section she said. I asked what my other options were; she said there are no other options. She said I could either be put to sleep, or take the epidural and be awake to hear her first cries.

The nurse called for the anesthesiologist. A boy, a bit younger than me, arrived to the room. HE was the anesthesiologist….the student anesthesiologist. The senior tech was already in surgery with another patient. I asked the boy how many epidurals he had done. “Enough.” He answered as he looked down at the floor. I turned my back and sat as he pushed and poked, meanwhile having the worst contractions ever. He found the spot…and he messed up. He put it in crooked and it numbed one of my legs.  I was still feeling everything. He wanted to try again. He removed the needle and replaced it. Nothing. Finally the dr arrived and said they would get the senior tech to do it, but there was no time left, I needed to get in the operating room ASAP. Poor Jeff was a nervous wreck the entire time. He tried massaging me, I didn’t want to be touched... I didn’t want to talk. I felt like I failed my baby. But I know it wasn’t my fault... sometimes, in these situations, you don’t have proper thought process.   They rushed me into the room, and the senior tech once again tried the epidural. Nothing...again.  One leg was numb, and they had given me so many epidurals at this point, the left side of my body was numb, and my face was drooping, similar to that of a stroke victim. I was pitiful. FINALLY they did a spinal tap on me and got me to go numb from the waist down.

They finally brought Jeff in (while they were cutting and removing organs I might add). We sat behind a big blue curtain waiting. They informed me that because of the stress she had gone through and the meconium that was in the amniotic fluid, that she would be rushed off to the NICU unit to be tested for infection. We continued to wait for what seemed like a century and then we heard it. The most beautiful cry ever. I hate that she was torn from me violently under bright lights and didn’t get to come on her own terms. Her daddy didn’t get to catch her or cut the cord. But she got here safely either way. Jeff went around and got to her hold her first. Then they brought her around to me after getting her all cleaned up. She was amazing. She had stopped crying by the time the brought her around. They laid her across my chest and she just stared at me. Jeff and I both cried as we held that scrunched up little baby.

Then they took her away.

They wheeled me into recovery. I was refusing pain meds, but I could barely breath it was so severe. My dr advised me to take half a Percocet and some ibuprofen. I felt better. My legs were still numb, and the feeling would not return for 2 days. It would be 6 hours before I could see my baby. I was advised to recover the rest of the night, as they discovered I had an infection in my blood from the fluid. They kept me on antibiotics. Although Laila didn’t show signs of infection, they wanted to make sure. They told me they would be keeping her in the NICU for 7 days for back to back antibiotic treatments. When I went to go see my baby, she had holes in her little bruised hands; she had holes in her tiny little feet, and an I.V in the top of her head. But she looked at me with such wonderment. I began skin on skin contact right away. My milk came in that night and she fed perfectly. Thank God for that. I wanted to feed her on demand, so they paged me every time she was hungry. Every 2 hours. The nurses all gave me kudos for being such a good mommy, even though I was still losing a lot of blood, I went to her every time they called. And I went to her even when they didn’t call. I was in love.  Jeff constantly stayed with the both of us. Taking time with me, going to see her.  He didn’t get any sleep. I love that man.

When they informed us that they were discharging us, we found out through my dr that we could do something called in-rooming with Laila. She would be hooked up to monitors in the room and we would be allowed to stay there with her. The room had a bed that was as hard as a rock. And being a vegetarian at the time, they didn’t understand that I didn’t eat meat. They constantly brought steak and chicken. How annoying.

No one could give us a straight answer on when she would be discharged. But finally, after 7 days, the dr came in and said she had passed her tests and we would be discharged. I immediately began packing. They came in and unhooked her. We got to hold our baby for the first time. No cords. No monitors. It was a beautiful thing.

That night we went home and cuddled our baby. She slept a lot. They said it may take a few days for the medicine to wear off.

Two weeks later, I was feeding her; I burped her and saw a lot of blood running from her mouth. We raced her to our local Children’s Hospital, where she was hooked up to monitors and readmitted. We stayed with her again. After many tests, they determined a dairy allergy. Being a vegetarian, cheese was the only dairy product I ate. But being a mother, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. I asked no questions, and became a vegan then and there that day. After another week in the hospital, we were free to go.

Laila did not get here easily, and her first few weeks of life were enough to make some people lose hope. But we didn’t. Sometimes, life throws you for a loop. That’s life. Don’t let it conquer you or steal your soul. Don’t ever let the darkness creep in, I have come close many times, but my husband and my miracle baby keep me on track. This is Laila’s story. Today she is a healthy baby girl that loves being outside and having songs sang to her.  I would happily lay my life down for her. Thanks for reading.

Bundles of Joy,

Guest Post written by Spen'Sar Custer, mother of 1 from Tennessee. She's also a hiker, outdoor enthusiast, artist, music lover, wife, and a tree huggin', dirt worshipping, happy hippie.You can read more about Spen'Sar at her blog, The Happy Hippie.

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