Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The first day, or...

The very beginning of the end.

Three months ago today, this morning at 10 am, when I got up out of bed to use the bathroom my water broke. We got to the hospital at 10:30, maybe. and they actually made me wait. "Well, we don't know about sending you up to OB. Usually you go right up if you're 20 weeks or more, but you're only 19w3d." This is my freaking hospital. The ER doc did one of those acid tests which came back neg for amniotic fluid (how on earth?) and after they only got one heartbeat on the little handheld doppler, they sent me upstairs to OB and paged Dr. ColdFish.

They set me up in what looked like a monitoring/NST room. The nurse started to set up the monitors for contractions and each of the boys' heartbeats. She got the contractions one going, then the first heartbeat monitor, just fine. It was that second heartbeat she couldn't get. And she tried, used a different probe just in case. We reassured ourselves that that second one was always hard to find. She left just the contraction monitor and the one heartbeat monitor on until the doctor arrived. I was having very very mild contractions, and while the reader was on, the sound of the heartbeat was not amplified in the room.

The doctor did a pelvic, sort of, but was not too invasive (if that's possible with a plastic sterile speculum). It hurt a lot, but he seemed think this was a failing on my part. He went ahead and did a couple of other tests to see if the fluid was amniotic, even though, as he said, they aren't always accurate. Those tests came back negative and/or inconclusive. (So why do they use these tests?)

He did an ultrasound, but warned that it may not be very good, an old basic machine. The hospital radiologist had a much better machine, but he was out, because, you know, it's Christmas. This is my local hospital. I swear to god. I must have been in shock and/or denial to not be completely freaking out at this point.

Jacob came up right away on the ultrasound, his heart beat, I think he was even moving around a little, but there was almost no fluid in his sac. The doctor found Joshua, muttered something about him being smaller, and seemed to have a harder time finding the beat. At one point he thought he got it, and I actually exhaled, but then he corrected, and said he thought it was Jacob's from another angle, or bouncing off something. (With hindsight, this of course makes me wonder how long Joshua was actually gone, since on two separate doppler readings (about 10 or 11 days apart) his heartbeat was harder to find, and was consistently 10 beats slower than Jacob's. This was almost a week after the last check-up, but it seemed, later, that he might have been gone at least that long, based on his condition at birth.)

After this ultrasound, Dr. ColdFish said that he could call the radiologist in from home, if we wanted him to confirm the initial findings that my sacs had indeed ruptured and that it looked like "baby b" had died. He said that it's possible that he was still okay, as it was kind of a crappy machine, and he didnt have as much expertise as the radiologist with the better machine, but "I won't lie to you, this is very..." I don't even remember the word he used. Grave. Serious. Essentially, don't get your hopes up, this doesn't look good at all. He must have said that "baby a's" fluid was very, very low, and that they'd both need more than that for a decent outcome. I remember just kept saying the fluid was very low, very low.

We decided to hold off on calling the radiologist in, unless he came in for something else. It was mid afternoon at this point, so we figured we could wait until morning. I don't know why we didn't say, "hell yes, call him away from his Christmas dinner, my babies are at risk!!" Denial, probably. Or putting off the inevitable.

I got set up in a room in OB, the first of many with a falling leaf on the door. They started me on antibiotics and brought me something to eat, maybe. I had been texting with my friend, JK, the one with the sick father, back east. He had been moved home for hospice and somehow had made it through to Christmas. I let her know that it "looked like" my water might have broken, I think, but very few details as we knew little for absolutely sure, and she had enough to worry about on her own.

At 3:26 pm on Christmas day, I got a text from her that said, "Dad is gone." It shook me. This was my dad away from home when I was in college, since they lived relatively nearby. JK's mom always signed cards "Mom & Dad H." I always had a place in their home. The last time I had been there for a visit, I got the greatest hugs from him, and from her mom. That was the last time I saw Dad H. He had taken our college yearbook pictures, and they came out so good; that day holds some my favorite memories of him, the three of us. And then we went to the Aca.pulco's for the best Mexican food in the neighborhood.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed looking at the text and I gasped, with tears, telling C. showing him my phone. I sent something back to her and we had a few exchanges. That's really all I remember from that night. I'm sure we watched tv or something, tried to eat. The phone calls hadn't begun yet. C went home around 10 or 11 to look after the cats, get some home sleep and take a shower. We had little idea of what lay in store, or when there would be time -- or normalcy -- for such things in the coming days.


c. said...

Living it once was bad enough. Reliving it over and over and over again in our minds is really the most cruel joke of all. Of course, with all this free time NOT taking care of live babies or ouselves, we have tons of time to rehash the horror.

CLC said...

God, what an awful awful day for you- to lose the babies and your Dad away from home. I am so sorry.

Please forgive me, but I have to say this hospital sounds ridiculous!! I know you said you live in a smallish town, but it's like it's completely useless unless you are in good health and/or you are lucky enough to have a successful pregnancy without the need of doctors. I am not sure how you didn't freak out on them. It must have been the shock.

Cliff Evans said...

Please forgive me, but I have to say this hospital sounds ridiculous!!

To be fair, their OB unit isn't bad (assuming you aren't high-risk, they just aren't equipped for that), but their ER is just ridiculous. A nurse at the hospital where we did the delivery called this hospital's ER a "band-aid station." It didn't sound like a compliment.

CLC said...

I hope you didn't take my comment on your hospital as an insult to you and your husband, I was just feeling frustrated for you while reading about your doctor and the not-so-great equipment!! Sorry if that sounded abrasive.

Sue said...

No worries, CLC! My husband and I didn't take it like that at all! Sometimes I can't believe that this is where we live. Another year or so and we'll be done with our degrees and out of here.

As C said, the ER is essentially a band-aid station, and the OB department is decent, but there's no NICU at ALL. Sick babies are air-lifted or sent by ambulance to the city, 40 miles away.

Antigone said...

Does it seem real to you? I still think about that night at the hospital and it seems like a part of my brain just refuses to accept that any of it actually happened.

Sue said...

Antigone, to answer your question, yes and no.

Everything leading up to deliver was surreal, unreal. The night of the delivery was literally like a nightmare, partly because I wound up getting more drugged than I wanted to be, partly because, I think, it was really just too much to integrate in my brain.

There was, and continues to be, this feeling of, "I can't believe this is happening."

luna said...

it's so hard to re-live such a cruel time... my thoughts continue to be with both of you. ~luna