Saturday, September 22, 2012

In Gratitude for New Life

It is with great joy and much gratitude that Trevor, Jack and I announce that a new baby will be joining our family in May, 2013.  The depth of my gratitude comes from what was one of the most frightening days of my life.  I apologize that so many of you will hear this joyful news on Facebook, but there are parts of this story which will be hard to retell so I hope to share the joy of our new baby with you in person as soon and often as I can.

Last week an ache started forming in my calf that actually caused numbness in my foot.  It felt like a strained tendon or muscle and I dismissed it as such. I borrowed crutches from a friend and just did my best to limp around on it hoping that it would go away.  It was by chance that I stumbled on an article about deep vein thrombosis while researching sources of calf pain.  The article warned that calf pain could be a sign of blood clots forming in the deep veins of the leg, typically affecting only one leg and sometimes causing numbness in the feet.  I have known for years that I have a genetic mutation in my blood that makes it more likely for clots to form.  Pregnancy increases this risk greatly.  It was then I began to panic.  Clots that break free in veins can cause pulmonary embolisms, miscarriage, strokes, and death.  I was to have a routine checkup with my midwife on Thursday and I called to move it up to Wednesday.  Amazingly, she had an opening. 

I went to work Wednesday morning and did my best to move around and stay calm.  When I finally pulled into the hospital parking lot that afternoon, I let out a huge sigh of relief.  I knew that no matter what happened, I would be in a place where people would take care of me and my baby.  I told the nurse who checked me in that my immediate concern was for my calf.  The midwife came in and asked me questions about how long the pain had been there and what it felt like.  She ordered an ultrasound of my leg for 4:30 that day.  Before I left she wanted to check for the baby's heartbeat.  Looking back, she must have known that the danger was real because she seemed adamant that she didn't want me to leave before I heard the heartbeat so she performed an ultrasound on me.  There, on the screen, was our little 7 week old baby whose heart was beating strong and steady.  She printed the photos for me to take with me.

At 4:30 I had an ultrasound of my leg and the technician confirmed that 3 blood clots had formed in the veins of my calf.  She called my doctor who ordered me to be admitted to the ER immediately.  I called my mom to tell her I needed her to come.  I called Trevor who knew I was going in for the ultrasound.  You have to go get Jack, I said.  I'm on my way to the ER.  In his ever calm way, he said he'd be on his way.  We have never been so late to pick up Jack.  When Trevor arrived, he hugged him and wouldn't let go. 

In my room in the Labor and Delivery unit, they began asking all sorts of scary questions.  They inventoried my jewelry.  They asked me who could make decisions on my behalf if I was unable to.  They asked me if I wanted to fill out a form outlining my medical decisions.  I cried and cried.  I cried for missing Jack and Trevor.  I cried for fear that I was a ticking time bomb whose clots could break free at any moment.  But I also cried in gratitude that I was in a hospital where people could help me heal.  The first night I was there, I awoke from a deep sleep and looked at the clock- 3:40.  The next day my mom told me that Jack woke up around 3:45 in the morning crying out Mama!  Mama!  He finally feel asleep at 4am which is when I fell back asleep too.  If there was ever a doubt of the bond I share with my boy, that night confirmed it for me.

They began injecting me with a drug called Lovenox which acts like a blood thinner to keep new clots from forming while helping my body clear the ones already present.  I will inject myself with this drug 2 times a day for the rest of my pregnancy and for 6 weeks after delivery.  I will take a baby aspirin every day for the rest of my life.  Jack did end up making a trip to the hospital and he ran around the room gleefully playing with everything he could reach.

On Friday night, I was released from the hospital which was truly amazing because at first, no one knew whether it would be a few days or a few weeks that I would be under hospital care.  I was greeted at the door by Trevor and Jack.  Tears sprung in my eyes as I looked at the faces of the people who are most precious to me as the reality of all that could have been washed over me.  I thought of all the times I rubbed my leg or hit my leg while it was sore.  All the times when those clots might have moved but didn't.  I was so grateful to my midwife who knew to take that ultrasound so I didn't leave that office fearing for the life of my baby.  I was grateful to have healthcare that allows me to heal myself without breaking my family.  I was grateful to the friends who we did confide in during this ordeal who supported us and told us that they would do anything we needed them to.

Life will slowly return to normal for me.  I will be monitored throughout my entire pregnancy to make sure we're both safe.  They will run labs to make sure my blood is at a good level.  I can already walk around on my legs again, nearly completely free of pain.  My body is healing itself while it grows my baby.  Your prayers, happy thoughts and good wishes for the rest of the pregnancy are welcome and appreciated.

We are so excited for the gift of our new baby.  Expect plenty of excited and happy updates in the weeks and months ahead.  My due date is 5/5/13, three years to the day when I found out I was pregnant with Jack.  Life comes full circle for us if we're lucky.  And my little family is feeling incredibly lucky tonight.