I have been bumped to the second page of blogs!! Time to continue the story…….
Friday, September 22nd, 2000. It’s weird how we remember some things so distinctly from our past, but I can’t even remember what I wore yesterday! Anyways, my perinatologist ordered a fetal fibronectin test that morning. A doctor I hadn’t seen before came in to do it. She asked the nurse with her (as if I wasn’t in the room!) if she was sure my bag of waters hadn’t broken because there was a lot of “fluid that wasn’t blood” in the canal. WHAT?!!!!!! She told me I would get the results of the test later that afternoon, and it would be some indication of whether I might give birth within the next two weeks. That afternoon, my nurse removed the iv that had been in my left wrist. It had been hurting, and there had been some bleeding at the sight. She put some meds on it after removing the iv line, but it was really tender. Why they had put it there in the first place was beyond me…..it was in a spot that not immobile. In fact, anytime I even moved a finger, the line would get moved around in my wrist. I can’t clearly explain it…you’d have to see it. Just suffice it to say, it hurt, it bled, and that was not a good thing. The doctor came in that afternoon and told me the FFN had been “inconclusive.”
Michael came that night to stay over with me. I was really missing our dogs, and my doctor said Michael could bring them to just outside the front doors of the hospital on Sunday. I could be wheeled down to see them for a few minutes, then back up to bed. Michael brought me dinner from our favorite Italian restaurant that night. So good!! I still hadn’t gained back all the weight I’d lost, and I was scheduled for another weigh-in on Monday. We watched the Olympics that night, and were getting ready for sleep when my night nurse came on at 11. I got up to go to the bathroom, and by the time I got back to bed, I was freezing. This was weird….I had been hot everyday since arriving and being put on the mag, and now I couldn’t stop shaking. I had Michael turn off the fan, I had him turn the air down in the room. Nothing. I was covered in blankets and still shivering. The nurse came in to do the monitoring and take vitals. I had a temp of 101, and I was having mild contractions. She bumped up the mag (oh yay), and called the on-call peri. They immediately were talking infection. First, he told her to get a urine sample, then told her to get a catheter urine sample. Poor thing. She kept apologizing. I was shivering, I was shaking, I was contracting, and she had to get a catheter urine sample. She just kept apologizing. Then they sent the vampire in with these things we called tobasco bottles, four of them. Filled those babies up for the first time. About an hour later, fever was going up, about 102 then. My nurse came in and said I was being moved to labor and delivery so they could watch me more closely as she couldn’t spend be with just one patient all night. So I was rolled over to the other wing. They gave me Tylenol (which has absolutely no effect on me whatsoever), and monitored me all night. My hips and knees were aching so much, I started to cry. The vampire came back and took two more tobasco bottles of blood. My fever rose to 104. At one point, the nurse grabbed my left wrist and I nearly flew out of that bed. Michael yelled at her to let go….Needless to say, I didn’t get any sleep that night. Michael kept his eyes on the monitor. Through it all, the baby’s heartrate was unaffected. I had gotten the second shot of my third round of steroid shots that Friday morning.
Saturday morning dawned sunny and bright. My peri came in at about 7:30. My fever was “down” to 103, I was contracting regularly. I had an infection. They were sure it was a staph infection, but didn’t know what kind of staph. He wanted to do an amnio to see if the baby was “viable” or if it had contracted the infection. I refused. I was not very rational or nice at this point in time, having given blood all night, running a high fever, aching all over. I told him it didn’t matter to me if they thought my baby was “viable” and that I had been stuck with enough needles….they weren’t putting in one more, as well as I didn’t want to take the chance of introducing the infection if the baby didn’t already have it. He took Michael out into the hall to discuss it with him (I found this out later). Michael told the doctor that he completely agreed with me. I didn’t have the amnio done. Michael left to make phone calls and get something to eat. The nurse came in while he was gone and told me they wanted to put a catheter in to try to stop the contractions. Why does that hurt so much? It didn’t help at all. At 11:30am, my water broke. I asked for an epidural. Didn’t get one, but they never told me why. After all was said and done, the doctor told me they were afraid of slowing down the delivery and giving the infection time to reach the baby. The contractions came harder and faster. They asked me what I wanted them to do for my baby when it was born. WHAT?! I said “I want you to do whatever you have to do to save my baby.” And that was that. I was not doing well. The nearly two days without sleep, the fever, and the pain were taking over. Poor Michael. At one point, he was trying to help me with breathing, and I told him to get his face out of my face because his breath STANK and it was making me sick! Then it was the “rub my leg” and “don’t touch me” alternating when I wasn’t or was having contractions. The nurse checked me, and the baby’s head was right there. I’ve never seen so many people run so fast all at one time. Who knew you could fit three doctors and five nurses into one little delivery room all at the same time? And for a singleton birth! My doc had his back to me when I felt the head coming out. I WAS NOT PUSHING! Michael yelled, and the doctor came back. Okay, push. One push and out my baby came. Isn’t it amazing how one second you go from the worst, most unimaginable pain, to completely pain free? The room was silent. I don’t even remember any apgars, but would find out later they were 5 and then 3. The doctor didn’t even say if it was a boy or girl. I was still shaking. I couldn’t see my baby. I couldn’t hear my baby. Finally, I asked Michael what we had. He looked over. He said “It’s a boy”. Right after that, I heard the tiniest cry, just before the intubated my son. At that moment, I would have told you that I knew everything was going to be okay. I would forget that at some points along the NICU ride, but at that moment I knew it. My son was then taken away to the tiny NICU at that hospital. Michael went with him. He came back with a polaroid in his hand. Ryley Hunter Schweitzer weighed in at 2lbs even, 15 inches long. Twenty minutes later, the neonatologist came in. He said “You have a fighter on your hands….he’s trying to pull his tubes out already…” An hour later, I was wheeled back to my room, no longer pregnant, and more than a little freaked out. The yucky nurse was on duty. GREAT. Just what I needed. She happily rolled in that hospital grade pump, tossed the bottles and tubes at me and a packet of directions and ordered me to pump. The doctor came in. Their NICU couldn’t handle a 26 weeker. Ryley was going to be moved to Alta Bates, Berkeley, 10 minutes away. They wanted me to see him before he was “transported.” Michael and I were taken to the nursery. There lay my baby boy, naked, hooked up to a line on each extremity, vented, and a belly-button line. He looked like a baby bird with thin red skin, covered head to toe in the blondest hair. I couldn’t believe he was mine. I reached out my finger to touch his hand. He grabbed on. I thought “Just like a normal baby would”. The doctors and nurses were saying all kinds of stuff….I don’t even remember, I was just fixated on my baby. They loaded him up in his first plastic box, and he was taken away.
I wouldn’t see Ryley again for five days. I never saw him on the vent except for those few minutes. He came off to CPAP after 36 hours of the vent. I did indeed have a staph infection. I ha
d the worst staph infection you can get, the kind that attacks your heart. It had come from that iv line in my left wrist. I spent five days in that same hospital room as they tried to figure out the logistics of dealing with my infection and yet get me to see my son. Michael would spend the night with me, go to work in the morning, drive home to feed dogs and such, go to Ryley’s hospital to see him and get updates and take video and pictures, then come back to my hospital. I don’t know how he did it. He must have been exhausted. I cried every night watching that video of the son I couldn’t be with when he needed me most. I kept pumping. I got antibiotics in my iv line three times a day. Finally, I got my own picc line (two very bruised arms later). They discussed keeping me there for the four weeks I would need the antibiotics, transferring me to Alta Bates so I could at least see my baby while getting the meds, or sending me home with the picc line and a home nurse who would come out once a week to check on me and I could push my own meds three times a day. Option #3 was finally approved by the insurance, and on Thursday, September 28th, I walked out of Summit Hospital and went to see my son. I held him (on a pillow because he was still so small) for the first time. He was off the vent, he was done with the bili lights, and on CPAP. He was almost back up to birth weight. They were starting to tube feed him. And thus started the journey.
I’m sorry this post has been so long, and if you’ve stuck with it, thank you so much for enduring. I had to get it all out at once or I wouldn’t make it.