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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cassie's Story Part 1 of 2

And now for something completely different

A big part of my life that I have not shared on my blog in detail is about my pregnancy with my daughter and her birth.  It’s world prematurity day on November 17th, so I thought I would write my story.  For several years I could not really celebrate her birthday without re-living the drama below.  I would think about what was going on on the particular days in the year she was born and remember those stressful moments of my life all over again.  It got a little less painful each year and last year she had to have surgery for a completely different issue right before her birthday.  I was so stressed about that, that most of the other stuff got pushed to the back of my mind.  I still don’t know what’s going to happen this year, but I am hopeful that I will not be consciously re-living it as the days go by.   On to the story…..
I had some complications with my son’s birth, where the placenta was too well attached to my uterus and my uterus tore when they tried to get the placenta out after his c-section birth.   I lost a lot of blood and was in surgery for 3 hours as they repaired the holes to save my uterus.   It’s called placenta accreta.  I was on an epidural during all of this.  I was sort of out of it, but I heard a lot of what was going on as the doctors were talking to each other, calling for more doctors, and calling for instruments that they did not have there in the delivery operating room.  It was pretty stressful.   I spent one night in a segregated ICU type room before I went to the regular recovery floor for ob/gyn surgeries.  I was considered too sick to be on the normal post-partum floor with the other mothers.  I was in the hospital for a week recovering and luckily they let Luke stay in the hospital as well,  since I was breastfeeding.  

After I recovered and went back to work, I realized I really wanted a sibling for Luke, so I did some research and found out that this problem can be deadly.  If it’s bad enough both mother and baby could bleed to death during delivery or before if something were to happen, such as the placenta tearing.  I discussed it with my doctor and they really don’t know what causes it, so she could not say if it was likely to happen again or not.   We discussed that if I got pregnant again, I would need to be prepared that they might have to do a hysterectomy right after the c-section delivery.  It would be way too dangerous to consider a vaginal birth. 
After thinking it through, I decided that I really wanted a sibling for my son, so I tried for another baby and got pregnant again.    I was being taken care of by my primary ob-gyn and a perinatologist  The perinatologist did a higher level ultra-sound than normal to check to see if there were problems with the placenta, and he was worried enough to send me to have an MRI with another specialist.  I was 30 weeks pregnant when I went in for the procedure.  They did the MRI and another special ultrasound, which confirmed my worst fears.  There are three levels of this placenta problem and I had the most severe one, called placenta percreta.    I was devastated and crying.   I was supposed to go into work after the procedure, but I couldn’t because I was so upset.    Basically the placenta had started growing into my bladder and possibly my intestines and it was only going to get worse with time. The baby and I were both in danger.   I’m crying even now as I type this remembering  how sad and scared I was. 

I went home to digest what had happened and my primary ob-gyn called after a few hours.  She has consulted with both specialists and they decided the best course of action was to deliver the baby in four weeks and do a hysterectomy and bladder repair at the same time.  My baby would be six weeks early.   Again, I was devastated.   My need to have another child had put my life in danger and now hers as well.  She would be premature and usually that turns out okay when they are born at 34 weeks, but you never know for sure.  My doctor wanted me to check in to the hospital two days before Cassie was born so I could be given a steroid shot to help develop her lungs before the birth, since preemies often have problem with their lungs.

I went into action mode the next day.  I told my boss I would be taking leave earlier than planned.  I researched premature infants. We visited the NICU where they would be taking my daughter. I called my dad to come help in general and specifically with my son.

The next four weeks were torture.  I felt guilty and I was terrified.   I was instructed to go to the ER immediately if I started bleeding or felt any real labor signs.    I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions since early on, so that was particularly nerve wracking.   Every time I went to the bathroom I was praying that there wouldn't be any signs of blood.  It was horrible, knowing that the baby and I could both possibly bleed to death before we got to the hospital if something went wrong. 

Finally, I checked in on a Saturday, she was to be delivered on Monday.  This was a huge relief.  At least I was at the hospital and if something bad happened, it could most likely be taken care of.   Everyone was prepared.  We had a team of specialists lined up to deliver the baby, do a hysterectomy, and then repair my bladder and anything else that was affected by the overgrown placenta.

On Monday morning, they wheeled me down to put in a catheter and then do another procedure that put some inflation type balloons in the arteries in my legs.   After the baby was delivered, they would inflate the balloons to staunch the flow of blood to my uterus and the placenta as they did the hysterectomy.    I was sobbing the whole time off and on.  I was scared I might not wake up from the surgery due to blood loss or some other problem. I was scared the baby might not be okay.   My back was killing me from lying flat for so long at seven and a half months pregnant -  the procedure to put in the balloons was taking forever.  Finally they wheeled me up to the operating room.   Four doctors were there and more were coming later.  At this point, I was just ready for this ordeal to be over.  They put the IV in my arm to put me under and put the mask over my face.  Fade to black.  


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