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Friday, December 16, 2011

Bi-polar and pregnant: One woman's story, part 2

After a somewhat difficult birth and recovery with her first child, my friend Em continues her journey with her second pregnancy: which would prove more difficult than she ever imagined.

Warning: Em wanted to share her story, and both she and I felt that it might present triggers to those who have suffered through traumatic births or a pregnancy loss.
When my daughter turned two, the baby bug bit hard. So off the meds I went and started the baby making. I knew my Psych’s position and figured it worked so well the last time, we could do it again. I was wrong, so very wrong.... 
For some strange reason, I felt I was never going to hold this child; I was in constant fear of the other shoe dropping. I chose a new OB, one referred to me by many moms in my mommy group. I proceeded to have one complication after another with my bipolar this time. I was severely symptomatic. I was borderline bonkers for lack of a better term.  I screamed, I cried, I raged. I was unable to gain any weight, I was constantly sick with a cold or flu. We did the AFP (which I did with my daughter) and Nuchal fold test - this was new to me and I was super excited to get to see my baby so early. We were going about our business, trying to be positive in the midst of my hurdles. My spouse and I focused on the miracle in the womb. I could handle anything as long as my child was safe.
Then I got the dreaded phone call - my AFP results were positive for Down’s. Or I should say that my chances were 1:45. I lost it, not that I had it to begin with. The shoe had dropped. I was heavily guided and suggested to have an Amnio. I agreed feeling it would be important to have a team ready to care for my baby when he or she was born. I can tell you today I was strong-armed by that genetics counselor that day. I was told the risks were minimal; I was told 1:500 experience a complication. I thought, ‘oh that one won’t be me, it will be ok. They know better than me’. 
We went into a holding pattern after that. I was trying desperately to remain calm and centered; after all I had a 2 year old....Our first appointment was with a genetics counselor, went over our decision, and signed the consent waiver. I was told we could back out after the U/S if everything was good and we felt that was enough. Then we get to the ultrasound. This is always one of my favorite things - I get to see my baby. They did an in-depth level 2 test, checked all vital organs and systems, perfection. We were told to expect a baby girl. I was excited about having two girls - sisters. Yet I was dreading the teen years already, who wouldn’t with two girls? The doctor confirmed we wanted to do the amnio, and we nodded. So began the prep work. He joked about my navel ring and how the pain from the amnio would be less than the piercing. One stick and I had a contraction so we had to do a second sac puncture - I was in pain by that point. The test ran smoothly after that. Went home and rested, napped, checked Facebook - you know, the usual time wasters. I had zero pain, was relaxed and thought we’d get great news on our perfect daughter.
By midnight I had fever and chills, shakes and tremors. I managed to fall asleep thinking I was just cold. I felt as if I was freezing. I woke up alone in the morning feeling off. I couldn’t place it but I felt wrong. I called my OB and begged to be seen, so they squeezed me in. They had the hardest time finding a heartbeat, but swore they heard her moving so all was well. Checked my injection site and stated there was no infection. I had the flu and to go home and drink water, sleep....By 3 in the afternoon I started having pains. I waited, but called in about 4:15 when I realized they were rhythmic and regular - 12 minutes apart. They said I wasn’t resting enough. I got pissed and called the clinic where they did the amnio. Got my maternal fetal (referred to as the M/F doc) doc on the line and he was highly concerned. He told me 600 mg ibuprofen and sleep. So I slept. When I woke 45 minutes later, pains were worse. Then the blood. A tiny amount but I lost it. Called the M/F doc on his personal cell, which he freely gave to me, and he sent me into L& settled, in the gown and the residents start(ed) listening for a heartbeat - with headphones. The second resident arrive(d) to do more of the same. Then they bring in the U/S machine. 
This is that moment, the moment when your life shatters. He looked at me and said, “I am sorry but there is no heartbeat.”  I went into shock and asked what that meant. We all know what that meant but I had to ask. We had lost our daughter.
At this point in editing Em's post, I stopped. I had never experienced these things before, and wasn't sure if the graphic nature of her post would help others or hurt more. I am so in awe of her openness to share this experience - after all, just this last week marked the anniversary of her daughter's death. What should I print? How should I say it? I felt like, even with Em's permission, that I was pushing the edge of an invisible envelope somehow.
I wanted to leave my body. I didn’t want the memories ahead of me, I didn’t want the pain I was feeling  inside my womb and in my heart. I was 75% effaced and 2 cm. Contractions were 6 minutes apart. I was told there were 2 options. Option 1) was to deliver my baby. Option 2) a D&E - this is one step up from a D&C and would require full anesthesia. 
I desperately wanted option 2, I wanted the pain gone. Then we asked the most important question of all - why? To get that answer I would have to deliver my daughter vaginally. 
Em wrote, in detail, the images from her birth: an unmedicated delivery of a baby that was 18 weeks. Perfect. In every way. She felt the urge to push before the epidural was administered, and, as Em put it, "There she was." It was at this point the physician realized - her baby had died from an infection via the amnio. His response: "Shit."
He knew immediately the why. She had died from an infection, introduced via the amniotic needle. I have no memories past this point, I blacked out. I know they put pain meds in the epi so the M/F doc could retrieve the placenta. Yet I have no memory till I woke an hour and a half later.  
That night is the single worst of my life. I woke off and on, crying, screaming. Finally about 6 am I got the courage to hold my little Angel. Tiny and perfect, she was wrapped in the smallest blanket I have ever seen, in a tiny bonnet and dress. Oh how I cried. I kissed her and begged forgiveness for not protecting her....This was my natural childbirth. This experience taught me many things. I learned I am stronger than I ever knew I could be. I learned that questioning everything was the only way to make an informed choice and if I didn’t like the answer to keep digging until I found one I could be at peace with. I also learned my body, my choice, and my decision.
Continued here.
Read part one here.