Monday, August 21, 2017

Part 4: The Delivery

“No matter what you’ve been through
Here you are
No matter if you think you’re falling apart
It’s gonna be okay!”
-The Piano Guys, It’s Gonna Be Okay

Nick and I were dropped off in the labor and delivery room and the nurse from postpartum left. We sat down on the couch and waited forever for someone to come in. I eventually put my head in his lap and of course as soon as I did a nurse walked in! She thought it was weird that I chose to be on the couch, but I wasn’t about to climb into that bed any sooner than I had to. We had been in that room 20 minutes before anyone came in. That was 20 minutes that I wasn’t in that incredibly uncomfortable bed!

She got my IV set up and so began my first round of medication. Nick had gone back to our other room to gather some things to keep him entertained while we waited out the rest of my pregnancy. While he was gone the high risk doctor that I saw earlier came in to talk to me. The first round of medication had helped for a little bit, but my blood pressure climbed right back up and they needed to try another dose. She told me it wasn’t looking good that I’d still be pregnant by morning. I asked her how soon they would deliver since I had eaten breakfast and now had to fast until I either delivered or died of starvation! She said the earliest they would deliver was 5pm which was still roughly 7 hours away. I asked her if I was going to be put on magnesium and she told me they wouldn’t do that again until it was time to deliver. What a relief, but still discouraging knowing there was still another round waiting for me. I asked her if she would be the one to do the delivery and she told me that since she only works at McKay-Dee one day a week she was hesitant to do the delivery. Where it was a c-section, she didn’t want to do it and then never see me again. When I asked who the doctor was that would deliver it was someone I hadn’t yet met. And when I asked who the doctor would be that evening it was also someone I hadn’t met. Of course. Just my luck.

 After she left, Nick went back to Logan for a few hours to shower and get some fresh clothes and I wiped away a never ending stream of tears as I thought about how miserable my pregnancy was and how the only thing I wanted in all that misery was the one thing I wasn’t going to get. I really struggled to accept the idea that anyone other than my doctor would deliver. I felt like everything I went through would have been so much easier with that safety net. Instead I constantly had that impending doom hanging over me reminding me that not only did I get to go through all that misery, but I would also be greeted in the OR by a bunch of strangers.

Of course the doctor from Maternal Fetal Medicine came walking in again a little while later and could tell I had been crying. She assumed my tears were stemmed from the prospect of needing to deliver and having a premature baby, which for any normal pregnant mother that would have been the case. But since I’m anything but normal, that was probably the furthest thing from my mind. Instead, through my grief and sorrow, I was mourning the loss of my doctor. I finally had to accept that this was the end. I wasn’t going back to Logan. He wasn’t going to deliver. It was time to put it behind me and move on.

The high risk doctor came in to tell me she felt good about my response to the second dose of medicine. She didn’t think I would end up delivering the baby that day after all, but she didn’t want to let me eat anything just yet because she wanted to make sure nothing changed.  I felt discouraged at that news. Either let me eat or deliver the baby, but don’t make me continue to suffer. I felt nauseas and weak and I had no idea how much longer I’d have to go without eating.

Eventually my sister and niece strolled in from Arizona. Remember how I said they were coming to visit to help me get a handle on my miserable pregnant life? Well, the week their trip was planned couldn’t have been better timing. They were able to take my girls back to my house and have them the whole week they visited. It helped relieve so much of my mom guilt knowing my girls were sleeping in their own beds and having a relatively normal experience in all the chaos of what our lives had become. Plus they did so much for me in getting my house put back together. I will forever be thankful for their service!

Around the time Nick got back to the hospital was the time my sister and niece took my girls and headed to Logan. At some point my blood pressure had crept back up and a third round of medication was pushed through my IV. This time it had improved my blood pressure to the point it was back to normal. The other two rounds of medication had brought my blood pressure down from the threshold that said I needed to deliver, but it still remained higher than normal. Now every time the pressure cuff went off I found myself rolling my eyes that the readings were so good and I still couldn’t eat anything. I felt so sick to my stomach there were times I had to keep my eyes closed so as not to throw up.

Finally around 8pm the nurse got permission for me to have a popsicle. She told me she still didn’t feel comfortable with me eating anything so this was the best she could do and then I was right back to a strict no food or drink diet. It’s amazing how quickly I feel better after a glucose boost. It didn’t satisfy my hunger, but at least it helped with the nausea and feeling weak and faint.

I started hoping my blood pressure would climb back up. I was so tired of the run around. So done with the pressure cuff. I wanted all of it behind me. My blood pressure had been good, but still I wasn’t allowed to eat anything so it was time to be done. I felt frustrated each time it read normal, but eventually it started creeping up. And before I knew it I had reached that magic threshold. Anything above 160/105 and I was headed to the OR. They weren’t going to push anymore medication after that third round. I was so relieved when I hit that threshold and the nurse said she was headed to get the paperwork for me to have a baby. Finally the end was in sight.

The doctor that was going to deliver came in to chat with me. In the conversation I made sure she knew I wanted a tubal ligation and she was surprised because it was her understanding that I didn’t want one. What? Where did that come from? I assured her I did and she emphasized all the risks of having one while strongly suggesting other alternatives of birth control. Thanks, but I want the tubal ligation. Are you sure? Yes, I’m sure. And so she agreed.

When the nurse came back in I told her I still had a shirt on under my gown and I needed a new gown to put on because the one I was in didn’t stay closed. She went and got me a new gown and helped me over to the bathroom since I was hooked up to an IV. She started to undress me and I quickly asked her what her plan was because I wasn’t okay with what was happening. Thankfully she got called away and I hurried and shut the bathroom door and proceeded to get undressed by my grown adult self! Why she thought it was okay to start stripping me down is beyond me. I get that it’s something they probably do all the time, but I don’t. I’m way too conservative to let anyone be up in my business simply because they do it for a living and don’t think twice about it. It just isn’t going to happen.

After I was in a new gown I climbed back into bed while a few nurses got everything ready for me to be moved into the OR. The nurse that had been with me all day handed me two pills and some sort of brown poison as far as I was concerned. She told me to use the drink like a shot to swallow down the two pills. I asked her what it was for and she said to prevent nausea. I told her I was pretty sure I would puke it back up so she got me a puke bag just in case. I sat there for a while with it in my hands trying to convince myself I could take it and telling myself if I was in Logan I wouldn’t be doing this right now. Three pregnancies and this was the first time I had to take such a thing. And I should have protested since nausea medication never does anything for me. But I choked it down and through deep breathing and minor dry heaving, I kept it down.

Finally it was time to move to the OR. They asked me if I wanted to walk which seemed a little crazy considering I was there for high blood pressure, was only allowed to walk to the bathroom for the past 8 days, and was back on magnesium, but ultimately I didn’t want to walk because I felt too vulnerable in a hospital gown with nothing on underneath. I’m not positive how it was decided, but I was transported to the OR on my bed. A wheelchair seemed much more practical, but I wasn’t the one wheeling me around so it made no difference to me. They parked the bed right outside the operating room doors and I walked the rest of the way.

I climbed up on the table as instructed. The anesthesiologist untied my gown and flared it open. He had me sit on the table with my legs straight out in front of me (not hanging off the side, but straight on the table) and told me to curl into a ball without bending my legs. Sure, because that’s easy. I felt so much anxiety because I was expecting a spinal block and how it was done with my last delivery was very different. With the spinal block I laid down on my left side and curled into a ball. Sitting up made me feel so much more insecure and more open for pain. I couldn’t curl up into a fetal position and hide my face. I was just open and exposed and had to take the pain—not like a man, but like a mom giving birth! Then come to find out, I wasn’t getting a spinal block, but an epidural. I had never had one before and so my anxiety climbed even more. I felt scared. I knew what to expect from a spinal block, but I had no idea how much an epidural would hurt and I didn’t feel like I could really brace myself sitting up.

When the anesthesiologist wiped my back to clean it I wasn’t expecting his touch, which was wet and cold, and I jumped. Thank goodness it was only a wipe and not the needle! A nurse handed me a pillow and told me to hug into it. Then the pain came. I’ve never witnessed anyone receiving an epidural so I don’t exactly know what goes on, but whatever it is, it isn’t pleasant. There was pain, followed by more pain and the nurses telling me he’s almost done, followed by fluid running down my back, and then it was done.

I was told to lie down on my back and my gown was lifted to place a catheter. I could still feel everything and since my only experience was a spinal block, I felt panicked that I wasn’t numb yet. When I had a spinal block I went numb almost instantly from the chest down to my toes. With the epidural I could still feel my legs and every touch the nurse made to clean me off to place the catheter made me jump. I could feel it all and I had expressed that I could still feel my legs, but nobody seemed concerned. And then I heard the nurse say that I was flinching with every touch, but still nobody seemed concerned. And then the puking began.

I told the nurse I felt like I was going to throw up, turned my head and out came that brown poison they made me drink; all over the floor. A bag was handed to me and I continued to throw up at least seven more times; all while my lower half was completely exposed and about 10 other people standing around watching me. It was humiliating.

I finally felt settled enough to lay my head back down and the nurse continued to place the catheter, which I could still feel. Once it was placed I straightened my legs which I still had full use of, but they were slightly tingly now. Still I felt panicked that I could feel them at all and expressed once again that I didn’t think I was numb. Finally the anesthesiologist placed a cold, wet cloth on my arm and asked if I could feel it, then placed it on my stomach and I couldn’t feel it. That helped my anxiety realizing I was actually numb where I needed to be. Before that I was horrified at the thought that I’d be cut into and feel everything because I didn’t think the epidural was working. But then again that’s basically what ended up happening.

Before the doctor began the surgery she made me tell her what we were about to do. My tongue was numb and my mind felt unfocused, but I was eventually able to spit out “c-section and tubal ligation”. As the doctor began the surgery she started talking about how impressed she was with my previous scar. She said it was so thin and fine that she could hardly see where to cut. I wanted to give credit to my doctor, but my tongue was still numb and I didn’t feel comfortable talking. I knew I’d feel pressure and there’d be some pulling and tugging, but this time there was also a lot of pain and I didn’t feel like that was normal. It was unexpected that it was hurting so much and so I began to hyperventilate. I couldn’t breathe and I felt panicked and then I began to cry. And I felt so angry that all of this was happening knowing full well if my doctor was doing the delivery this experience would be going much differently. The anesthesiologist told the doctor I wasn’t comfortable and asked if I would like some pain meds. Yes, obviously. The doctor stopped what she was doing and he pushed meds through my IV. A minute or two later the pain was gone and I felt calm again and the doctor got back to work.

At 10:33pm it was announced that the baby was born. She was whisked off into another room and they never even gave me a glimpse of her. I couldn’t believe it. And Nick went with the baby and I was left all alone to complete the surgery. By now I was seeing double of everything so I was more comfortable with my eyes closed, but when my eyes were closed I felt really sleepy and that scared me. I didn’t want to fall asleep. And so I would force myself to open my eyes and keep them open as long as I could. And then another round of puking began.

Thankfully I started dry heaving first before anything actually came out so a nurse was able to get a puke bag to my mouth in time. But I felt frustrated the way the drape worked to keep me from seeing the surgery because it was different from what I knew and far less convenient. In Logan the drape hangs straight up like a curtain. In Ogden the drape was domed over me like a rainbow and I felt like I was peeking out of a little cave. And where it connected to be able to dome over me meant my hands were pinned underneath it because my arms had to be straight out away from my body. I didn’t realize I didn’t have access to my hands until I needed them and then I felt really annoyed that I couldn’t escape the never ending supply of blue sheet. But the anesthesiologist took the sheet down and pushed Zofran through my IV and I eventually stopped throwing up.

As the doctor was sewing me up she told me how impressed she was that I had very little scar tissue and how amazingly well my body seemed to heal from my past c-sections. She and the nurse also went on and on that they couldn’t believe how flat my stomach was and that I didn’t have a single stretch mark. I wanted to remind them that I had never been pregnant past 32 weeks and my laying down was deceiving, but I felt too tired to talk.

Once the surgery was complete they rolled me to one side and the epidural was removed, then rolled me to the other side for who knows what, and then moved me from the table to a bed. And then more puking began. And once I finally stopped throwing up I started to cry because I was so frustrated that I had thrown up so much during the surgery and that everything was so different from what I wanted and knew from my experience in Logan. But I felt like there was finally some proof that nausea medication does nothing for me. Two pills, a drink, and Zofran through my IV and I still threw up over and over again.

And then I was wheeled into a Post Op room where I waited for an hour. The doctor came in after the surgery and told me she felt like I had “mother’s intuition” for insisting on getting a tubal ligation. She told me my uterus was so thin she could see baby’s hair through it. She said had I gone into labor on my own it would have been bad news and she thought it was best that I didn’t have any more babies. After Shelby was born my doctor had said the same thing about my uterus being as thin as his t-shirt he had on under his scrubs, but he thought it was that way because my body was in distress and knew it needed to take matters into its own hands to get the baby out. Either way I never went into labor on my own with any of my pregnancies so it doesn’t really matter.

After she left the Neonatologist that was working on the baby came in to talk to me and Nick came in with him. He updated me on the baby and while he was talking to me I started throwing up yet again. Seriously? What is wrong with me? I was starving, but didn’t feel like I could keep anything down so the nurse brought me a Dum Dum sucker. Gee, thanks.

While waiting out my time in the post op room I could tell that the epidural was wearing off and I started to feel gradual pain. I had asked about pain meds, but wasn’t given any. I felt worried about that because I didn’t want my pain to get out of control, but for whatever reason they didn’t seem concerned. Once my time was up I was taken to see the baby. I was allowed 15 minutes with her while more doctors and nurses talked at me about her condition. And all I wanted was for everyone in the room to disappear and let me and Nick have a moment with our 2 pound 15 ounce babe that was born far too soon because her mom wasn't strong enough to stay pregnant any longer.

Once my 15 minutes was up I was rolled to my room in postpartum and transferred into a different bed. Talk about painful. I asked again about pain meds and none were given to me. My new nurse came in and started talking about who knows what and going over all kinds of information. She checked my stats and pressed on my uterus. And I asked her about pain meds. She read the order and said there was only oral medication listed and since I had been throwing up so much she was worried I wouldn’t keep it down. I felt worried too since I didn’t feel like I could eat or drink anything at that point. So she told me she would call the doctor and see if she could get something ordered for my IV. And then she told me she needed me to get up and walk in the next 30 minutes. Um, I’m in a great deal of pain, haven’t had any medication to help control it, am still on magnesium, haven’t eaten anything all day, been puking all night, and you really think I’m going to roll out of this bed and walk around? She quickly became my least favorite person and unfortunately she was my nurse three nights in a row. She made up for it though two nights later when I had the worst pain in my shoulder and she figured out that it was gas from the c-section that had settled there. For real it was far more painful than my incision.

By 3:30 in the morning she finally came in with some pain medication that could be put through my IV and I cried myself to sleep after she left. I was in so much pain at that point I could hardly breathe and so relieved I finally got something to help control it. Five hours after my baby was delivered I was finally given some pain medication. FIVE HOURS! And all I could think was if I was in Logan this never would have happened.

Lucky for me I was sentenced to magnesium and strict bed rest for the next 24 hours after delivery. It was the same with my other two deliveries, but this time seemed worse. My vision was blurry all day and every time a nurse made me get out of bed and stand, I felt so weak. When they asked me if I wanted to try walking I had the worst fear I would fall over after just having major surgery and how awful that would be. I said no every time because I know how magnesium affects me and it didn’t seem safe to try to walk in addition to being sore from the surgery.

The magnesium was finally turned off after 24 hours and not a minute sooner and it wasn’t long before I felt human again. The night of my surgery was easily the worst night of my life as far as pain goes, but after I finally got pain medication which was only Motrin, my pain was managed the rest of the time. The nurses always commented how impressed they were that I never took anything stronger than Motrin. One nurse explained to me that they give all women Ibuprofen after giving birth. Motrin is a step above that. There was still a stronger option above Motrin and then Percocet which she said most women take two a day after having a c-section. But I honestly didn’t feel like I needed anything stronger than what I was taking. I’ve been blessed to bounce back quickly with all of my c-sections. After Shelby was born I went back to school a week later and this time I went back to work a week later for a training. Soreness from a c-section is nothing compared to seven months of throwing up and feeling like death. Once that goes away all I want is to get back into a routine again and feel like my life is back to normal.

It was two days after baby girl was born before we finally gave her a name. Nick wanted to talk about it sooner, but I wanted the magnesium to be out of my system before we decided because I felt torn between three names and wasn’t at all thrilled with Nick’s choice of middle name! She was always going to be Savannah even before we were pregnant. The third girl was always Savannah. Once we found out she was a girl we didn’t want to announce her name so we started calling her Stella. I love the name Stella too so I had hope that it would grow on Nick. And then Shiloh was a name we had always considered if we had four girls. Savannah, Stella, and Shiloh were equally matched for me, but Nick wanted Shiloh the most. And since I loved all three of them the same we decided to go with Shiloh. I wasn’t so sure how I felt about having a Shasta, Shelby, and Shiloh since it’s kind of a mouthful, but it is what it is. It wouldn’t matter what their names were, I’d still mix them up and call them by the wrong names and even throw in the dog’s name (which I intentionally do to Shasta because she is forever calling me dad)!

Shiloh Faye Hendricks
Born July 19, 2017 at 10:33pm
2lbs 15oz
16 inches long

And the kicker in this whole traumatic experience is that the Neonatologist told Nick the night Shiloh was born that he thought she had stopped growing a week before she was born. I was admitted to the hospital and she was born 8 days later. In other words, all of this could have been avoided had they known she had stopped growing. But surely there’s something I’m supposed to learn from this whole experience. And although there were so many times I wanted to tap out, so many moments where I felt like everything was falling down around me, here I am. I’m still standing and I’m a stronger person having gone through everything I did. And looking back I can see countless blessing I received, especially during those times when I felt the most abandoned. I know my Heavenly Father had my wellbeing in His best interest. I know He knows my heart and my greatest desires and while this was the worst experience of my three deliveries, I feel the least traumatized by it. I’m so thankful to have my health back and know I’ll never go through any of that again that the whole experience almost seems like a bad dream. I’m thankful it’s the Lord’s will and not my own and hopefully someday I’ll be able to have a full understanding of why everything worked out the way that it did. In the meantime I’m just grateful for my husband and my three beautiful girls that I get to have for eternity. Life is good.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Part 3: The Appointment

“Wish we could turn back time
To the good old days
When our mamas sang us to sleep
But now we’re stressed out”
-Twenty One Pilots, Stressed Out

Adulting is hard. I’d far rather go back to the simpler times when my biggest concerns were if the tooth fairy would come and how many days were still left until my next birthday! I want to be tucked in and read bedtime stories, not headed into the appointment that turned my world upside down. Instead I was greeted with bad news and then the stress began.

Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

I’ve said a few times that Romans 8:16-17 is my favorite scripture, but it’s actually verse 18 that I appreciate the most. I like to think of it as a balance scale. The suffering is the heavy burden that adds weight to the one side of the scale while the glory is weight free and rises to the top as the weighted side sinks to the bottom. The greater the suffering, the heavier the weight. The heavier the weight, the lower the scale falls on the one side and rises on the other. The heavier the burden, the higher the glory. Make sense? And so continued the suffering in new, unexpected ways.

Nick and I were called back by the ultrasound technician. Because of my history, my doctor scheduled an ultrasound for my 30 week appointment to make sure everything still looked good with baby and the placenta. Of course everything looked perfect just like when it was done with Shelby. We went back to the waiting room and then were called back for my appointment with my doctor. I had to give a urine sample and when I did it came out brown. This can’t be good. I should mention that being at summer camp all morning, my steps tracker said I had already walked 2.5 miles and since camp was mostly outside, I had been drinking TONS of water before my appointment.

Afterwards I went to the exam room and waited with Nick for my doctor to come in. I sat up on the exam table because I knew the nurse would pop in to take my blood pressure. While waiting I told Nick what my pee looked like and after he googled it he said he wasn’t going to tell me what he read. He didn’t have to. I already knew bad things were unraveling quickly. The nurse came in and said there was protein in my urine and then took my blood pressure. It was high. I knew we’d be headed upstairs to labor and delivery after my doctor came in.

He came in and sure enough he said I needed to go upstairs for monitoring and magnesium. Ugh. I didn’t see that coming. Magnesium is the worst. I said before I hate pregnancy as much as child abuse and politics. Magnesium is right up there too; probably more than the others. In fact, I’m deciding right now that it claims the number one spot on the list of things I hate! New life goal: never need magnesium again!

“We can skip the catheter sample, right? We know it’s preeclampsia. We’ve done this twice before. We don’t really need a direct sample to confirm, right?” He laughed, but reassured me we didn’t have to do a catheter. We stood to leave his office and he hugged me saying he was sorry we were going through this again. I told him I was just proud of myself that I wasn’t crying! He hugged Nick too and mentioned being transferred to Ogden and we went on our merry way up to the second floor. As we walked to the elevator the tears started flowing. I was doing fine until he mentioned me being transferred. What? How is this happening? Clearly I’m in the wrong story. It NEVER occurred to me that there was even a remote possibility that I would be transferred. I always knew there was a possibility for the baby, but not me; not while I was pregnant. I never dreamed of delivering anywhere other than Logan and now everything as I knew it was being ripped away from me. Moving out of Cache Valley was never an option until we were done having kids and here I found myself being forced to leave under the worst circumstances. I felt like a Pioneer being pushed out by the mob when all I wanted was the security of staying where I felt comfortable and safe.

When we made it upstairs to the waiting room I told Nick we needed to find someone that could come assist him in giving me a blessing. I sat down in a chair in the waiting room and his response was, “oh, you mean right now”. Um, yes, right now. Preferably yesterday. We should have already had someone lined up just in case. He sent a text to his sister that was watching our girls asking if her husband could come. She said most likely, but would let us know. I wanted to wait until I knew for sure. I wanted someone lined up and coming before I went back to be monitored. I wanted to sink into that chair and disappear. I wanted to stay in my comfort zone where I could predict my already traumatic child-bearing experience because I’ve done it twice before. Of course I didn’t get a choice and while I wanted to stay sitting there until my story was rewritten and the words “transfer to Ogden” weren’t used, Nick felt we needed to check in. Ugh. And so I stood. And my legs moved. And I went through the motions while wishing I was anywhere but there on the 2nd floor of the hospital.

As we went back to the nurse’s station, they were all friendly and welcoming and teasing me about being the trouble maker that just got sent upstairs. Oh, the problem child. While I’d love to slip under the radar and have a textbook delivery, I’ve yet to be so lucky. And since this is the last baby my body would carry, it was clear I never would. A nurse led us to a room and instructed me to “take everything off and put on a gown”. And so climbed my blood pressure. She then told me not to tie the gown closed. “When you come out, climb in the bed and have the back drape completely open.” Yeah, that’s never going to happen. And so I put on a gown and did up the ties. I debated leaving my garment bottoms on. I wasn’t getting a catheter so why did I need to take them off? Sure, I was about to get a shot in my butt, but they could move my garments for that. Okay fine, I’ll take them off, but I won’t be happy about it! I debated leaving my garment top on too, but it would be in the way of the monitors so I compromised with myself that I would still leave my bra on. And I’m certain my blood pressure climbed higher and higher as I fought this inner battle of feeling so vulnerable.

I reluctantly came out of the bathroom and crawled into the bed. While I wanted so much to be done being pregnant, everything was happening sooner than I wanted. This experience was coming too quickly and life as I knew it was spinning out of control. Monitors were placed across my belly. Baby’s heartbeat was good and strong. They got an IV started. Someone came in and drew my blood. I was given a steroid shot in my butt for baby girl. The blood pressure cuff was set to go off every 15 minutes. And then came the magnesium. Thankfully the bolus that ran for 20 minutes wasn’t set at the highest dose so it didn’t have such a harsh effect on my system all at once. After 20 minutes the dose was turned down, but continued to run for the unforeseeable future. Strict bed rest. No food or drink. Can this day get any worse? What a silly question. Of course it can.

We knew it was a waiting game at this point. Judging from past experience it was all a big game of hurry up and wait. So that’s what we did. Our brother in law arrived a couple hours later and assisted Nick in giving me a blessing. I knew from the blessing that baby and I would be okay, but I also knew that we were going to be transferred. And while I didn’t want to accept it, I felt calm at least for the moment.

Eventually my doctor came in to talk to me about being transferred. Our hospital NCU doesn’t take babies born earlier than 32 weeks. Since I was 30 weeks and things weren’t looking good, my doctor felt it was best for me to go to a hospital better equipped to receive the baby. He told me how hard it would be to deliver her here and be separated from her for a few days after delivery if she was transported and I was still admitted in the hospital. Plus transporting the baby after delivery would be hard on her so it’s better to transfer both of us before she’s born.

My inner dialogue went into panic mode. No. This isn’t how it’s supposed to happen. I don’t want this. Please, I need you to get me through this delivery. Sara, say something. Anything. Tell him what you’re thinking. Tell him you don’t want to go; that you’d rather be separated for a few days than passed around from one doctor to the next until one of them gets stuck delivering you. Tell him you want to stay. Tell him you’ve been feeling abandoned and alone and you need to rely on his faith to make it through everything that’s happening since your faith is pretty much nonexistent right now. Because if God really cared about you, you wouldn’t be facing any of this right now; at least not yet. And there especially wouldn’t be any talk of being shipped off to an unfamiliar place with a bunch of strangers because He’s supposed to know your heart and what you can handle and this isn’t one of those things. Seriously, stop nodding your head and start moving your lips.

But of course I said nothing.

I understood why he wanted me to go. I knew he was doing what he felt was best for me and the baby. I knew he wasn’t actually abandoning me, but it was sure hard not to feel that way. I felt crushed—defeated. The two things I needed to make it through the delivery, my Heavenly Father and my doctor, and here I’ve lost both of them. I felt so alone. So brokenhearted and alone. I was headed into the part of my pregnancy that I was most afraid of and I no longer had my security blanket. Sure I still had Nick, but he wasn’t the one doing the surgery. He wasn’t the one I had to trust with my life. I love him and I need him, but not the same way I needed my doctor.

So that settles it then. I’m switching hospitals whether I like it or not. It’s funny because with Shasta my doctor missed her delivery by a couple of hours due to being out of town. Then with Shelby I was put on bed rest and for the next eleven days my doctor was out of town. It happened to be spring break and I saw a different doctor every day that I was in the hospital. It was miserable to feel like I was just a name on a chart and all they wanted was to get me through the day so they could pass me off to the next doctor. Nobody wanted to be responsible for the problem child. Thankfully my doctor made it back in time to deliver. With Shasta and Shelby both, my doctor was out of town for most of the hospital drama I went through and here he’s finally in town and I’m the one being sent away.

Before my doctor left he made sure to ask me if I had received a blessing. I reassured him that I did, but more inner dialogue broke out. This is why I need you. I need someone to deliver who holds the priesthood. I need that added comfort that if something goes wrong you could channel your priesthood power and your hands and mind would be guided. One of the biggest factors that made me decide to take a chance on Nick before we started dating was the fact that he offered me a priesthood blessing when he hardly even knew me. For the first time in my life someone saw a need and offered me a blessing without me having to ask. In that moment I knew I wanted more of that in my life! And here my doctor just did the same thing. Maybe it wasn’t an offer, but I’m pretty sure he would have assisted Nick in giving me a blessing if I hadn’t already received one. Have I made it clear why I didn’t want to lose my doctor? It was always more than just being in his capable hands; and definitely more than some crazy obsession which is probably what it sounds like with how much I’ve said I didn’t want to lose him.

Afterwards, Nick decided to go ahead and leave so he could gather some things from home, pick up the girls from his sister’s, and meet me in Ogden. And so I laid there in my broken state and waited alone for the ambulance to arrive. And while I waited, the nurse came in and told me she could either place a catheter before I left or they could place one in Ogden as soon as I arrived, but either way I’d be getting a catheter. Ugh. She recommended getting it before the transport because it would be a bumpy ride and there’s no telling what traffic would be like, plus my IV would still be running.  Double ugh. Don’t make me decide. I choose neither. Where’s the third option where Ashton Kutcher comes out laughing that I’ve been Punk’d and I get sent home? I want that option. But of course I know how miserable it is to need to pee while pregnant. Fine, whatever, just get it over with.

And then I waited some more. I was finally allowed a popsicle and I gladly accepted. In my haste to get from summer camp to my doctor’s appointment, there wasn’t time for lunch. Magnesium and fasting are quite possibly the worst combination. Lucky for me I would get to have this experience three times before baby girl finally made her debut.

When the EMT’s strolled in with a gurney my anxiety kicked into high gear. In fact my blood pressure readings while they were there were at an all time high. They pushed so much medication through my IV in an attempt to bring me back down and eventually it worked enough they felt comfortable sending me on my way. I moved from the hospital bed to the gurney and sat there all strapped in for what felt like forever. And although I did my best to convince myself it was no big deal, I couldn’t stop shaking. When I feel nervous I experience uncontrollable shaking kind of like mild muscle spasms. The nurse asked if I would like another popsicle and I knew I better say yes because once I got to Ogden I’d likely be put back on a strict no food or drink policy. But once she gave it to me I didn’t have enough appetite to actually eat it. Funny since I was starving, but I was too nervous to eat anything.

Finally my blood pressure was down enough to send us off. I was disconnected from magnesium (good riddance) and we were on the move. The EMT’s did their best to carry lighthearted conversation and made fun of me when I took a selfie once I was loaded into the ambulance. But I had decided I was going to document this experience and turn it into a positive mind game. And so began my “stay-cation”!

The ambulance ride was anything but pleasant. One of the EMT’s asked me if I had ever ridden in a cattle car (I wonder if anyone ever actually says yes to that question) and then said the ambulance ride felt basically the same way. He wasn’t joking. Although I’ve never ridden in a cattle car, I could very much imagine what it would be like while I was in the ambulance. All that was missing was the smell! Along with the bumpy ride, there was also a window on the side which happened to be to the west and we were headed to Ogden around 7pm. In other words, the sun was in my face the whole way. But one positive was that I got to watch Cache Valley fade away right before my very eyes. It’s definitely a different experience to leave the Valley facing it!

I decided I would keep friends and family updated because I believe in the power of prayer and the more prayer warriors I had the better off I’d be. The whole ambulance ride I thought about what my first post would say and felt pretty proud of my cleverness! But I didn’t end up posting it until the next morning so I’ll wait until I reach that point in the story to share it.

We finally arrived at McKay-Dee Hospital and I was placed in a room in labor and delivery. I wasn’t put back on magnesium (hallelujah) and my catheter was removed (thanks a lot nurse who said they’d place one as soon as I arrived if I didn’t get one before I left), but I still wasn’t allowed to eat anything. Nick, the girls, and his mom arrived not long after I did and it felt so good to see those tiny faces and have Nick there. The girls only visited for a short time before going back with grandma to Bountiful for a week long sleep over. Once it was decided I wasn’t going to be rushed into delivery, we decided Nick didn’t need to stay the night so he left and slept at his parent’s house with the girls.

At some point the nurse explained to me that I would have a different doctor every day. It was my understanding that I would see a doctor from Maternal Fetal Medicine (the high risk doctors) and she told me I would during the day, but in the evenings it would be whoever was on duty. And then came the tears. I told her how awful it was to lose the doctor I trusted and had been there for me through three pregnancies and then be told I’d be passed from one doctor to the next, never to build any kind of relationship and always feeling like I was just a name on a chart. She then asked me if I’d be okay with interns rounding on me. Um, hard pass. It’s bad enough I’ll see a different doctor every day. Don’t throw anyone else into the mix.

Later, the first of many doctors came in to chat with me. I liked her well enough, but I didn’t want her to deliver. And while I was pleasant, I don’t remember anything she said to me. Tomorrow would be a new doctor and I had already moved on. Next. When the nurse came back in she said she had given some thought to what I said about not wanting to be passed from one doctor to the next and asked how I felt about being assigned to the doctor I just saw. Of course it would only be when she was on duty so I’d still see other doctors, but at least I’d see her more often. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. She’s not the doctor I want, none of them are, so what difference does it make?

Around midnight it was decided that I was stable enough to be moved to postpartum. The hope was to keep me pregnant until I reached 34 weeks and it’s cheaper to be in postpartum than labor and delivery so the plan was to stay there until it was time to deliver. Once in my room I was finally allowed to eat again. Of course I didn’t feel the greatest and wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep anything down so the plan was to eat and go straight to sleep. Ha! What a joke. Trying to sleep when you’re a patient in a hospital is impossible. Nurses were in and out of my room regularly for the remainder of my stay. The longest stretch they went was four hours between rounds.

The next morning I made my first of many posts to social media.

“I have the best doctor! Lately I’ve been itching for a stay-cation. Thankfully my doctor has all the hookups. Yesterday he connected me with an ambulance ride to the finest hospital my insurance would cover. Round the clock service responding to my every need, the push of a button and a nurse comes running, every meal served to me, a room with a view… this is the life! My checkout date is still to be determined, but baby girl will most likely be evicted from her vacation home before I am from mine. Prayers for a healthy baby. I’m only 30 weeks.”

I tried to keep that mentality, but as time wore on, my optimism faded. But for the time being, it helped me stay positive. And then I rolled out a new mission. And so commenced Operation: Stay Pregnant Long Enough to Return to Doctor Horsley. The doctor that came in the night before was the same doctor that checked on me the next morning and she didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t transfer back if I was still pregnant in a couple weeks. Every nurse and doctor after that said the same thing except for one. He told me he’d only seen it happen one time in his 20 years of practice and it was a mom who happened to be a lawyer who was able to argue her case with insurance. Insert eye roll. That’s fine and all, but I was ready to put up the biggest fight of my life if it meant I could go back to Logan. Even if I had to foot the bill myself, I was going back!

Later that afternoon I was given a second steroid shot in my butt for baby girl. I’ve been told these shots are pretty painful, but I’ve never thought twice about them. I’ve officially had six of them now (two for each of my babies) and the first five were nothing. Guess sixth time’s the charm though. While it wasn’t the most painful thing I’ve experienced, it was definitely uncomfortable in the burning, pressure kind of way, but not so much in the stinging, gonna scream kind of way! Regardless, I’m glad I won’t ever have to get one again.

Every morning a different doctor would come into my room and talk to me about my blood pressure. They always asked if this was my first pregnancy or my first time with preeclampsia and I always had to explain my history. Same with every shift change. A new nurse would come in and take my blood pressure which would be high and every single time they’d ask, “have you had high blood pressure?” in which I wanted to respond with, “WHAT??? No! That’s so unexpected”. But of course I was always pleasant. I also got wheeled to the Maternal Fetal Medicine office everyday to have a non-stress test done to make sure baby was doing okay. I had two more ultrasounds while there making five total with this pregnancy. While there I always met with one of the high risk doctors. I saw three different ones in my 6 visits before I delivered and I decided if I couldn’t have my doctor deliver, which I was still determined he would, they were the next best thing. Every morning a new doctor rounded on me, sometimes a different doctor would pop in at night to check on me, appointments daily never knowing which high risk doctor I would see, and new nurses at least twice a day, sometimes more depending on which unit I was in or moved to. So many faces. So many times I had to repeat my story. So many reminders why I didn’t want to be there. So much heartache and sorrow.

Friday morning my blood pressure was extra high. They pushed meds through my IV and nothing changed. They pushed meds a second time at a higher dose and still nothing. They pushed meds a third time at an even higher dose and my blood pressure was still too high. A new doctor came in that I hadn’t met before and told me I might be delivering a baby today. She then told me she never recommends a tubal ligation with preterm deliveries because there’s no telling what might happen to the baby and she didn’t want me to change my mind that I would want another baby later down the road or have regrets if my baby died and I couldn’t have more. She told me the only way she’d do it was if I could look her in the eyes and tell her I still wanted one. And suddenly I felt angry. Nick and I had decided long before any of the crazy started happening that this was going to be our last. We had talked to my doctor about it at my very first appointment. I shouldn’t have to defend that choice to anyone, especially a perfect stranger who knows nothing about me or my history. But of course with a smile on my face, I told her why I wanted one and that I wasn’t going to change my mind or have any regrets. It was a good enough answer for her, but I told myself there was no way I was letting her deliver my baby; a conversation I had with myself a few times after meeting a new doctor…or hearing their name and never actually meeting them which happened twice.

After three rounds of meds and meeting with the doctor of the day, I was moved to labor and delivery for another round of magnesium and fasting. I had tried getting a hold of Nick a few times because he had stayed the night at his parents and wasn’t at the hospital yet, but he wasn’t responding. And it made me feel panicked that not only would a perfect stranger deliver this baby, but my husband wouldn’t be there either to hold my hand and keep me calm. Oh the horror. It wasn’t too much later before he got there and it was the biggest relief to see his face. I changed into a gown, this time leaving my garment bottoms on because I was determined I wouldn’t be delivering a baby, and crawled into bed to experience the worst night of my stay-cation so far.

Being put on magnesium typically means being put on strict bed rest, but not to the doctors and nurses at McKay-Dee Hospital. Every time I had to use the bathroom (which was far more often than I would have liked thanks to the fluids they were pumping into me), a nurse would unhook me from all the monitors and walk me to the bathroom while wheeling my IV stand. The problem with magnesium (one of many) is that it slows down all muscle use and the longer it was pumped into me, the weaker I got. At one point I didn’t think my legs were going to hold my weight. My balance was questionable and my vision was unfocused and worsened as time went on. I gave the nurse a good scare when I nearly fell over and after that Nick made sure to assist me along with the nurse. As much as I hate catheters, it seemed a little crazy that they felt the alternative was better.

Around midnight, while in my weakened state where it was hard to concentrate and everything was blurry, I got to listen to a mother scream in pain while delivering her baby most likely without any pain meds. From the sounds of it she was being tortured in the most inhumane way. That’s the second time I’ve listened to a mom scream during delivery while I was on magnesium and struggling to process what I was hearing. The first time was with Shasta.

Since it was evening and a new doctor was on duty, I made sure to ask the nurse who it was with the intention of next asking to send him or her in at their earliest convenience so I could meet the person that could possibly be delivering my baby. As soon as she told me his name, panic set in. Of all the names in all the world, she had to say that one. And although I knew it wasn’t possible for it to be the same doctor, I still felt so afraid that it would be him. I’ve intentionally left out names along the way, especially where my thoughts and feelings towards those people have been negative, because I don’t want what I say to affect their well-being in any way, so I won’t say this doctor’s name here, but I should insert a back story to explain why hearing this doctor’s name triggered some unrealistic fears. Instead I’ll just leave it at saying my first gynecology experience was traumatizing! After the nurse left the room the first thing Nick commented about was the name of the doctor on duty. “Right? Could you even imagine?” And that’s when I started fantasizing that my doctor would magically show up and save the day. I didn’t have anything to worry about because he was going to stop by to see how things were going right as they were getting ready to deliver and instead he would be allowed to do the c-section. Because that happens right? It was totally realistic for me to hope for that! And so I did. Every day after that I imagined my doctor coming to my rescue and relieving me of all the heartache I had been feeling even though I knew it would never actually happen.

Morning finally came and it was looking promising that they would stop the magnesium and I’d be taken back to postpartum to wait out my sentence. I was told I could eat again, but I felt so sick from going so long without anything that all I wanted was a popsicle. When I asked I was told they didn’t have any. Seriously? How is that even possible? Instead the nurse brought me ice chips with snow cone syrup on it. So not the same thing. I eventually asked for orange juice which made all the difference in feeling like I’d be able to eat something without throwing up. And so I was taken back to postpartum. They had actually decided they wouldn’t make us move out of my postpartum room. If I was transferred to labor and delivery we didn’t have to pack up all our stuff, I still had a room in postpartum and that’s the room I always returned to, even after delivering. I was a little worried that we would be charged for two rooms at the same time, but realistically it didn’t matter because we were going to hit our out of pocket anyway and everything after that would be covered 100%.

I felt so discouraged after that awful night of magnesium and fasting. It was truly so miserable and I knew I’d still have to do it again at least once more because once they decided to officially deliver I’d go on magnesium yet again and wouldn’t be allowed to eat due to having a c-section. I didn’t think I had it in me to go through that again. I especially didn’t have it in me to keep going back and forth. One day I might have a baby, the next day I was stable enough to wait out my time in postpartum. It was exhausting. I had officially reached my breaking point. I decided then that if I was moved back to labor and delivery for monitoring, fasting, and magnesium, I was going to think every stressful thought I could come up with to keep my blood pressure high and buy my ticket into the OR. Forget Operation: Stay Pregnant Long Enough to Return to Doctor Horsley. I wanted to be done. I had suffered enough. I couldn’t do it anymore. I’ve done the premie baby thing twice before. It’s all I’ve ever known so I wasn’t afraid of her coming early. And while I knew it would be a lot more complicated with her being an hour from home, I wanted so much to have my health back so I could focus on her and my other kids. As far as I was concerned it was time for baby girl to be evicted.

One morning a charge nurse asked me if there was anything she could do to make my stay better. I told her my frustration with losing my doctor and ultimately having no doctor to call my own because I was just passed around from one to the next. I knew full well there was nothing she could do about it, but with how hard it was for me to leave my doctor, it made it that much worse to not have any doctor. Next thing I knew there was a case worker in my room telling me she understood my frustration and although there’s nothing she could do about it, she wanted to know what she could do to help. Um, you just said there’s nothing you can do to better my situation so why are we having this conversation? The sad thing is I could name every single doctor I had seen at that point and she was impressed I could list so many by name. Isn’t that kind of a sign how important it is to me to have some kind of relationship with my doctor? I’ve seen all of these doctors one time, but yet I can call all of them by name and give details about them because how can I trust them if I know nothing about them?

Not only was I frustrated about the doctor situation, but I wasn’t impressed with how my care was handled either. Being that I had been through this twice before, I was pretty familiar with how things worked. In Logan a nurse would take my blood pressure, get a reading she didn’t like, lay my bed down, make me lay on my side, dim the lights, tell me to close my eyes and think calming thoughts, wouldn’t talk to me, couldn’t talk to them, and take my blood pressure again. In Ogden a nurse would take my blood pressure, get a reading she didn’t like, tell me she wanted to wait a couple minutes before trying again, laugh and chat with me while we waited, ask me questions and chat with me while taking the second blood pressure, then record whichever reading was better which usually there wasn’t much difference between the two. They never told me to uncross my legs, never lowered my bed or made me lay on my side, for sure never changed the lighting or told me to think calming thoughts. They didn’t even care if the TV was on or if I was texting while the blood pressure cuff was going. How is this better care than what I’d get in Logan? I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t there for me, I was there for the baby. We were transferred so she could be in their NICU if she was born before 32 weeks. Although keeping me pregnant as long as possible seemed equally as important, but what do I know.

Tuesday morning I had officially reached 31 weeks and I asked if I could celebrate by taking a wheelchair ride outside. Oh how pathetic my life had become! My blood pressure was almost normal, baby was good, so I was given permission to go for a ride. Before leaving, I used the restroom and noticed some brown discharge. If it wasn’t for being pregnant I would have thought it meant my period was coming so I decided to tell the nurse just to be safe. “So…this is awkward. I used the bathroom and had some brown colored discharge kind of like what I’d expect to see if I was going to start my period. I don’t really know what it means, so I thought I should tell you. I can still go outside though, right?” After telling her about the discharge and showing her the toilet paper because I figured she’d ask, she told me to just keep an eye on it and let her know if it got any worse. And so we were off to the great outdoors. My room had an awesome view of a water fountain and that’s exactly where I wanted to go to take in the fresh air. I wasn’t given a time limit and as far as I was concerned I was going to stay out there until the sun went down. Of course after an hour Nick was bored out of his mind and even in the shade it was pretty toasty so we decided to head back in.

Not long after we went inside, I was sitting on the bed and noticed I felt wet. I wanted to make sure nothing out of the ordinary was going on so I decided to use the bathroom. When I got out of the bed I looked back where I was sitting and there was a great big red spot on the sheets easily the size of my hand, maybe bigger. I didn’t exactly measure it. My heart sunk. I’ve never had any kind of bleeding during pregnancy so I had no idea what it meant, but I figured it wasn’t anything good. I pressed the nurse call button and waited for her to come. When she came in I told her I got up to use the bathroom because I was feeling wet and then pointed to the bed. She asked me if there were any clots when I used the toilet and I said I hadn’t even gone in the bathroom yet because I didn’t want to pull the same clothes back on and didn’t have any sanitary napkins. She called in an Aide to bring me what I needed and I went into the bathroom to clean up while they changed my bedding.

I sat on the toilet and quickly realized there was too much mess for any amount of toilet paper to clean up so I took a quick shower and had to change into a hospital gown since I no longer had any clean clothes to put on. And a hospital gown is what I was stuck with for the next three days before I had fresh clothes again. Ugh. Hospital gowns are the worst. However, I left my bra and shirt on because even with the gown all tied up, it only stayed closed at the ties and the space between the ties remained a gaping hole. I didn’t feel comfortable with my back hanging out so I put my shirt back on.

The nurse wasn’t too concerned about the bleeding, but she called the doctor from Maternal Fetal Medicine to come talk to me. He explained it could be the placenta separating from the uterine wall, but he didn’t seem very concerned either. As long as baby was still doing good and the bleeding lessened then my care would remain the same. Bleeding during pregnancy was new to me and rather alarming, but if it wasn’t a big deal to the doctors or nurses then I guess there was nothing for me to worry about.

The next morning came and I was taken over to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a non-stress test on baby. My blood pressure had been running higher that morning even though I was officially on oral blood pressure medication. They always take my blood pressure when they monitor the baby and this time it was alarmingly high. The high risk doctor came in to talk to me. She told me I’d be headed back over to labor and delivery for monitoring. If they couldn’t keep my blood pressure down with medication I’d be delivering a baby that day. Either way, labor and delivery was my new home until baby came. They wanted her on monitors continuously until I delivered and they don’t have the staff to do it in postpartum.

And so my wheelchair rolled me over to labor and delivery as if I was on a roller coaster climbing to the top of the final peak, knowing it’ll drop me on the other side and all I can do is hold on for dear life and pray I’m still alive when the ride comes to a stop! This is the part where I’d like to turn back and not get on the ride, but there aren’t any exit signs; not for me. My only way out is to complete the ride. And so it began. The wheelchair slowly made its way to the top of the peak and now it’s time for that final drop that throws in the biggest twists and turns, the part of the ride with the most suffering and the heaviest weights on the scale; the delivery.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Part 2: The Pregnancy

 “Because we’re holding our own
In this great big storm
And though we’re cutting it close
We won’t let go
Oh, no I don’t believe
Everything falling down around me
And how we’re holding our own
And won’t let go, no”
-Nate Ruess, Great Big Storm

That’s how this baby #3 journey felt. It’s been a great big storm and somehow baby girl and I have been able to hold on for dear life and pray we make it out on the other side still standing; or at the very least, still breathing.

Getting a positive pregnancy test was both a relief and terrifying! Nick and I have a framed picture hanging in our room that says “I love you because…” and we use dry erase markers to write messages on the glass to each other. I decided to tell him we were pregnant through that. It read, “I love you because… we’re pregnant!” and I left the positive test on the frame (don’t worry, it had a lid over the contaminated part). It wasn’t the cleverest way to tell him and really didn’t make a lot of sense, but it was a little more fun than just blurting it out like I did with our other babies. Two days went by before he finally noticed it and it was the pregnancy test that caught his attention, not the message. I happened to be in the room when he spotted it and said, “what in the world is that?” and walked over to it to get a better look. There was probably a, “does this mean what I think it means?” or a, “did you really hang up a pee stick in our room?” followed by a congratulations and some ogling , but that was seven months ago so I can’t remember. However, I do remember that it wasn’t until a day or two later that he noticed the writing on the glass announcing we were pregnant. Before he only noticed the out of the ordinary pregnancy test. Perhaps our “I love you because…” message board isn’t as affirming as I once thought. Especially since that message remained there until after the baby was born, in which Nick changed it to say, “I love you because… we made a baby”.

Pregnancy is quite possibly my least favorite thing in the world. It’s right up there next to child abuse and politics! I hate it from start to finish and every moment in between. There is truly nothing enjoyable about it for me. By 5 weeks I was feeling sick and by 6 weeks I was throwing up regularly. And although the throwing up lessens, it never goes away. I throw up clear until I deliver… and in this case, during delivery, but that story’s coming. By 25 weeks I start to feel like I can function a little more and force myself to do things, but I don’t feel great and by then my hips hurt so bad I can hardly walk and in fact cry from time to time as I shift my weight and pray my legs don’t give out before I make it to the bathroom…the only thing that I’d get up for when I hurt that bad. There were times I could literally feel my tailbone pop in and out as I walked. I desperately needed a chiropractor, but the very thought of going while pregnant sounded miserable. Then of course there’s the acid reflux and inability to sleep because of it, feeling malnourished because nothing sounds good or smells good or tastes good and most of it gets thrown back up anyway, weight loss, constipation, body aches, extreme swelling, and so on and so forth. And don’t even get me started on what I go through with my deliveries. Don’t believe me? Just wait! I’m not sure why anyone would sign up to go through all of that and yet I did it three times. I still find it hard to believe.

Unfortunately, this pregnancy was by far my hardest because while I was prepared to be sick and miserable, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll it would have on me. When I was pregnant with Shasta I hated my job, didn’t have a demanding church calling, and didn’t have other kids at home. With Shelby’s pregnancy I was a stay at home mom and part time student at Utah State. My church calling was super low key and easy for anyone to fill in when I couldn’t do it. My teachers on campus were understanding of my lack of attendance and worked with me more than they probably should have. And although I had a child at home, my husband was home during the day and by the time he went to work I only had her a few hours on my own before she went to bed for the night. Ultimately with my first two pregnancies there wasn’t much for me to lose and if I did I wouldn’t have cared much.

Fast forward to pregnancy number three and I had a great deal to lose and in fact lost all of it.
  •  I now have two kids in which it was Shasta’s first year of school and my first experience with a child in Kindergarten. And because I was so sick I was completely disconnected from all of it. Nick took her to and from school every day. He helped her with her homework and practiced reading and writing with her. He volunteered to help during a classroom party and made sure she always had clean uniforms. He even attempted to do her hair every morning. He did all the things I should have been doing while I cried that I couldn’t and was missing out.
  • Then there’s my job which I truly love.  I work for The Family Place and love everything about our mission statement. The day I told my supervisor I needed to step back from doing my Kids Empowered presentations was pretty hard. As she and another coworker rearranged their schedules to take over the rest of my presentations that month I cried. It was so hard for me to let those go, but I knew with how sick I already was I couldn’t do it, especially knowing the sickness would only get worse. I also had to step down from teaching my parenting classes in the jail and I cried some more when I gave those up. I loved teaching those parenting classes, especially to inmates who probably didn’t grow up in the best of homes and have the greatest examples. Knowing I was giving them information that was probably new and valuable to them was rewarding in itself. And I was a week out from switching to a new curriculum that I had studied and been preparing to teach and never got the chance because I was suddenly too sick. It’s one thing to be sick and have a desk job, it’s another to give presentations and teach classes. Throwing up in my presentations would have left a lasting impression, but not with the information I wanted them to remember, and throwing up in a confined classroom with the inmates would have put me in a pretty vulnerable situation. It was heart breaking to let those classes go, but it was for the best.
  • Next there’s my church calling. I’m the kind of person who makes the most of whatever calling I have. When I was the bulletin board specialist you can bet it was the most creative, updated, bulletin board the ward had ever seen and I changed it out with every season! When Nick and I were the Ward Historians we took that calling to a new level and probably because of it were made the Stake Historians. I bet most people don’t even know either of those callings exist, we certainly didn’t, but we made the most of it and magnified our calling the best we could. So you can bet my current calling of serving the Young Women is one I don’t take lightly. It’s quite possibly the calling every sister who’s grown up in the church dreams of having! But when the sickness kicked in I stopped attending mutual and the third hour of church which is when the young women meet. And while both of those were hard to lose, the hardest was asking to be removed from the teaching schedule until further notice. Preparing lessons for those girls is something I love and feel passionate about. My mission in this calling is to find something that works for our girls to get them talking and feeling comfortable with each other. Every time I taught I tried something new and different in search of reaching out to them how they needed. I asked the Young Women’s President regularly to please not release me because I couldn’t take anymore losses and she always assured me she had no intentions of letting me go, but it was still a constant fear that she would realize she needed to replace me. And I cried a lot that I wasn’t able to serve the girls the way I wanted to and felt they needed me to.
  •  Speaking of church callings, I’m a very proactive visiting teacher. There’s so much good that comes from visiting teaching that I make it a priority to reach out to those I’m assigned to. It’s important to me to serve and be there for those women in any way I can. Having to report back month after month that I didn’t reach out to those sisters was awful. Yet another thing I was failing at.
  • Then there’s the All Academy Preschool. I worked there four hours a week, so not a significant amount of time, but I loved those 4 and 5 year olds and all the teachers and aides I got to work with. I decided I needed to quit for the remainder of the school year and I cried on my last day because I felt so sick I didn’t want to be there and so sad that it was my last day.
Pretty much I cried a lot during this pregnancy. I felt like I had to watch everyone live my life for me. I lost everything I loved plus all of my social circles and instead traded them in for feeling sick and miserable and constantly hugging the toilet. And I lost everything all at once. It wasn’t gradual, but as soon as that sickness overcame me I couldn’t keep up with anything anymore and had to let it all go. Essentially I went from being really active and involved and surrounded by a lot of people, to only leaving my bed long enough to run to the toilet. And time and time again I was told, “the more you force yourself to get out of the house, the better you’ll feel”, but the days that I left the house for even an hour were the days that I threw up the most and spent the rest of the day trying to recover. I could suck it up long enough to go to a doctor’s appointment or pop into work for a little bit, but the rest of the day was spent trying to recover. I even had to force myself to shower because I was so sick I literally sat on the shower floor and had to talk myself into doing each step. Then afterwards I would dress as quickly as I could and rush to my bed to lay down and breathe through the nausea. And sometimes (most of the time) I’d still end up running to the toilet. If you’ve never thrown up in the shower you should give it a try sometime. It’s quite the experience! But that’s not a picture I want to paint for anyone reading this! And of course I’ve never had any luck with nausea medication working for me. It might start off taking a little bit of the edge off, but eventually it makes zero difference and it’s not worth the constipation.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, my doctor’s office is in the hospital and when I walked in for my first appointment the smell triggered some memories that I had long since suppressed. Suddenly I was right back in the thick of everything that gave me anxiety with my last two deliveries and it hit me that I would likely go through all of that again. For the next month I suffered from traumatic stress. Every time I closed my eyes it was all I could think about. I started keeping a memo in my phone of all the things I wanted to talk to my doctor about to help me feel a little more in control of the situation and a little more prepared for what was to come. At my next appointment I brought up all the things I was worried about with the delivery and he probably thought I was crazy for worrying about things that were still so far out, but talking to him helped me so much and helped ease that traumatic stress.

But still, I cried a lot. I felt like my family was in crisis trying to function with me out of commission. All of our routines and habits went out the window. The only thing we did consistently was family prayer and even that changed to just the girls taking turns on the week nights while Nick wasn’t home and then he took a turn on the weekends. We stopped doing family night, stopped reading bed time stories, stopped singing primary songs before bed and having impromptu dance sessions in the kitchen. All the things I love doing as a mom were gone so not only were we in crisis, but my mental emotional state was at an all time low and trying to function in such a low place while in such high crisis is impossibly hard. And because of it we found ourselves in survival mode. We were literally doing the bare minimum, just trying to survive what would be the next 9 months until our lives could get back to normal.

And so began another loss where I felt completely abandoned and alone. I didn’t understand why everything had to be so hard and why I had to lose so much. Did God forget about me? Was He seeing my struggles? Did He see my tears and hear my pleas? I knew when we decided to have another baby I would be sick, but I wasn’t prepared to lose so much and I didn’t understand why everything happened the way that it did. I took so many hits all at once that in turn my faith took a big hit too. And even though I wanted to ask Nick for a blessing, I struggled because I reached a point where I felt like I lost all faith in my Heavenly Father being there for me. In hind sight I’ve realized He sent a few people to help me along the way, one person in particular who became my sounding board and always knew exactly what to say. She’s so in tune with the spirit and I really value her friendship, but in the heart of my trials I didn’t recognize that she was a blessing.

Fast forward to our big ultrasound appointment. Nick was pretty crushed when we found out the gender. He’s the only boy and his dad’s the only boy so he had his heart set on keeping the Hendricks name going. When we found out we were having another girl he was pretty disappointed. We picked up Shasta from school and the first thing she asked us was what we were having. We told the girls in the car as we were driving home and I asked them how they felt about it. They were excited of course and I asked if we should ask dad how he felt about it. He immediately said no and when I looked at him he was wiping tears from his eyes. And not that it ever took much, but seeing that broke me into tears. I hated knowing he was hurting and I felt terrified to talk to him about it. We had decided this was going to be our last baby and I was going to get a tubal ligation during my c-section. At my very first appointment we talked to my doctor about it and he was on board. But I was very aware of how much Nick wanted a boy and could see how disappointed he was and I was feeling so afraid he would change his mind and want another baby in hopes for a boy.

Several days went by before I got the courage to talk to him about it and I was so relieved to clear the air. I realized he needed to go through a grieving process. He had to let go of the idea that he would have a son and pass on his name. When I told him I was afraid he’d want to have another baby he reassured me that he was still planning on this being the last baby I carry in my body. We both have always been open to adoption and while he would prefer to have a biological son, he knows how hard pregnancy is on me and how much it impacts our whole family. Huge sigh of relief. The tubal ligation is still happening.

Once June came I hit an all time low. I woke up one morning feeling upset about how out of control my life felt. I had a doctor’s appointment and had to take my glucose test. Then at my appointment the nurse struggled to draw blood and had to dig the needle around in my arm. She still couldn’t get anything so she decided to draw blood out of my other arm and I got to walk around with hot pink bandages on my arms for the next 20 minutes or so. Then later that day I went into work for a department meeting in which some very upsetting things unfolded and I felt like I was being pushed out of my job. I left work crying, sat in my car and sobbed and by the time I got home I was pretty inconsolable. I hadn’t been home more than 10 minutes when my phone rang. It was my doctor’s office letting me know I failed my glucose test. As if my day hadn’t been bad enough, that poor nurse I’m sure thought I was nuts as I sobbed on the phone with her and could hardly get the words out trying to ask her questions. She told me I needed to go in and take a three hour test within the next week to confirm if I really had gestational diabetes and while that may not seem like any big deal, to me it was devastating.

While I could have gone in the next morning, I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. After the awful day I had where everything came crashing down all at once yet again, I couldn’t even bring myself to get out of bed the next morning. I cried off and on all day long. I had so many things I needed to do, but I didn’t care. My phone had died the night before and I didn’t bother charging it or connecting with the world in any way. I was supposed to be getting ready for youth conference because we were leaving in three days, but I had no desire to even go anymore. I wanted nothing more than to blow it off altogether, but I knew I couldn’t because they were depending on me. I actually learned something about myself that day. I realized that I could never fully embrace extreme depression because I’m too connected to consequences to stop caring entirely.

Failing my glucose test was overwhelming and I didn’t know how I was going to survive the 3 hour test. Fasting makes me sick when I’m at my best health and not pregnant. And as much as I hated eating while pregnant, if I went longer than 2-3 hours without eating something I would regret it big time. How could I possibly fast for 8 hours, drink the glucose drink which always makes me feel sick to my stomach, and then hang out at the hospital while they draw my blood over the next 3 hours? I was certain I would end up puking while I was there which would render the test useless so what was the point? Plus, what if I failed it? The very thought of my diet being restricted when I was already so limited in what I could keep down was enough to make me cry every time I thought about it. How could I possibly survive the rest of this pregnancy when I was barely surviving as it was? Carbs were my lifeline. Take away breads, pastas, and rice, the things I could always keep down and didn’t cause acid reflux, and I’d lose the majority of what I could eat. And so my state of crisis rose and my ability to process everything I was dealing with went down.

After getting that call that I failed my test, I called one of my sisters who had failed her last glucose test. I sobbed on the phone with her as I told her everything that had happened that day, but took a lot of comfort in what she had to say. I later talked to another sister about how frustrated I felt about how hard everything was and how much I wanted my mom to come help me, but she wasn't able to because of her own health concerns she was dealing with. Since my entire family lives in Arizona, I knew it was asking a lot for anyone to come so I knew it was a long shot. This is the only time I've thought a few sisterwives would come in handy! Haha!

That Sunday evening I decided to attend Bishop’s youth fireside and it ended up being a good thing. He referenced my favorite scripture, Romans 8:16-17 and it spoke to me like it always does. I left feeling good about going to youth conference in the morning. And it turned out going was actually really good for me which I don’t know why that would be a surprise. When I got home from the fireside, my phone rang. It was the sister I hadn't yet talked to. She told me she chatted with my other two sisters and they went through their schedules to figure out who could come to Utah and help me. Turns out she drew the short end of the stick! Haha! I promise she didn't feel that way about coming. But admittedly, as much as I desperately wanted her help, I felt humiliated letting anyone see what my life had become. Thankfully it was still a month out before she would arrive so there was time for my life to straighten out a little before she saw what a mess I had become. Unfortunately I was so busy the next month that there wasn't time for me to gain control in any of the areas I was lacking in.

Here’s how the next 5 weeks went. After failing my glucose test I went to youth conference Monday morning and came back Tuesday afternoon. Then I worked the rest of the week at The Family Place helping with Summer Camp. The next week I had 8 hour trainings every day. The week following that I had a doctor’s appointment Monday morning and still hadn’t taken the 3 hour glucose test because I hadn’t had time. But my appointment wasn’t with my doctor, it was scheduled with a nurse practitioner and I actually found that really frustrating. Normally it wouldn’t have mattered, but because I failed my glucose test I wanted to be able to talk to my doctor. I wanted his help and guidance. Instead I got to listen to the nurse practitioner lecture me about taking the 3 hour test and all I could do was smile and nod. I wasn’t interested in explaining to her everything I was going through. Let her judge me. I’d never see her again so whatever. I didn’t care.

The next morning I shipped off to girls camp. I only stayed the one night and left after testimony meeting the following night. While there my hips hurt so bad and my ankles got SO swollen. And ironically enough, I was assigned to give a devotional on faith of all things. Something I had been struggling with for the past 6 months and here I was supposed to teach and share my testimony of faith to all the young women in my stake. I knew I wasn’t going to share my current experience because it wasn’t something a bunch of teenage girls could relate to, but thankfully I’ve had plenty of past experiences I could draw on and quickly realized I had an experience I knew most of the girls would be able to relate to. After my devotional, throughout the rest of the day I was pleasantly surprised how many of the youth and leaders approached me and thanked me for sharing my experience and testimony of faith. Funny how the very thing I was struggling with was something other people appreciated me testifying of. It was probably God's way of reminding me I still had a testimony of faith even if I was unsure it at the moment.

Anyway, the next morning after getting home from girls camp I went to work and had to work the rest of the week. I had one week left to get my Summer Camp prepared and two of those days were lost because of the 4th of July. The week of the 4th I worked 10-12 hours a day trying to get everything ready in time. The next week was my Summer Camp Monday-Thursday and my 30 week doctor’s appointment was on Wednesday.

To clarify the timeline…
Week 25: Failed my glucose test
Week 26: Youth Conference and Summer Camp at work
Week 27: 8 hour trainings at work
Week 28: Girls Camp and work prep for the next Summer Camp
Week 29: 4th of July and Summer Camp prep
Week 30: Summer Camp and Doctor’s appointment
There wasn’t a single day during that time where I could go in for a 3 hour test and lose an entire day trying to recover from what it would do to me.

I had zero confidence going into my 30 week appointment. Since girls camp I had tons of swelling in my legs and hands which I know swelling is normal in pregnancy, but to me it has always meant something bad. It was hard not to feel paranoid, but I had also never had a summer pregnancy so I told myself that was the reason for all the swelling. On the very rare occasion I would see spots/flashing lights so for a week I went to the grocery store and tested my blood pressure at the pharmacy. Every day it was a little bit higher than the day before, but I figured worst case scenario I’d be put on bed rest so I didn’t feel too rushed to go see my doctor. I knew I had an appointment the next week so I would just wait it out.

On Friday I got a blood pressure reading of 143/87. I felt nervous enough to call the afterhours doctor just to be safe. She told me to come in if it went over 150/90, but otherwise I could just wait until my appointment on Wednesday. Monday evening I got 147/93. Hmmm… one number was above the “come in” mark, but the other wasn’t. I can wait until my appointment. Tuesday evening I checked again and got 159/99. This can’t be good. But everyone I had talked to about my blood pressure over the past week said store machines aren’t very accurate so I felt like I could wait until my appointment the next day. Aside from swelling, I wasn’t aware that my blood pressure was high. I had started checking it because I was worried that I was so swollen and then because every day was a little higher, I kept going back to see where it was. If it wasn’t for checking it, I would have been completely unaware of it being high.

And so Wednesday came. I went in to work at 8:30 in the morning for my Summer Camp. It ended at noon and by 12:15 I loaded my girls in the car and drove them to Nibley so Nick’s sister could watch them during my appointment. Like I said before, I wasn’t feeling super confident about this appointment. In fact, I was pretty sure I’d get sent upstairs for some monitoring and then get sent home on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy so it was better not to bring my girls. Nick had even taken the day off from work just to be safe. I went home to pick up Nick and we headed to the hospital for my 1:00 appointment. And so it began; the appointment that turned our lives upside down in what had already been a great big storm. I didn’t think the storm could get any worse, but boy was I wrong.  Everything up to this point was only the rain and wind. The thunder and lightning, hail and flooding, that’s all to come starting with the next part of the story; the appointment.