I'm suffering from NICU flashbacks ever since my good friend, Shanna, gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Hailey, at 28 weeks gestation. Little Hailey's birth has brought up a lot of what I thought were long gone memories. As such, I'm thinking through what my preeclampsia and NICU expereinces taught me. Here is an essay I wrote about how life can send you an angel in disguise:
When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, Grace, I developed severe preeclampsia. A c-section later and a few days post partum, I was still being treated with a life saving drug called Magnesium Sulfate and a narcotic for pain relief.
I'm not certain which medication gave me halucinations, but I had them. Visions of baby faces, foot prints, and bugs...the creepy, crawling version. Needless to say, I became quite distraught at what was appearing before my eyes. It was 2:00 AM, and I was not sleeping. My husband, Charlie, was stretched out on the equilavent of bamboo mat passed out. I started freaking out, and he didn't wake up. I called the nurse and explained the creepy, crawlies and baby faces/foot prints. All the while, I'm thinking: "Am I insane?"
Soon after, Dr. Giles, a second year resident, walked into my room. I asked him if I was going insane. He said, "I don't know you very well so I can't answer that question." Dr. Giles then turned to the sleeping hump also known as my husband and said, "Hey, is your wife insane?" In his sleepy stupor, Charlie grumbled, "Yes, very." To which, I became a crying ball of post partum emotions, high blood pressure, and tears. The doctor didn't seem too impressed by my description. Dr. Giles discontinued the magnesium sulfate and my PCA for pain relief. By morning, I became a normal emotional post partum mommy, but I didn't see any more visions. Hooray!
The next morning, I remember thinking that doctor was a jerk. He seemed annoyed by being awaken at 2:00 AM and dealing with me, an "emotional" mommy. (Looking back on it, I can see how he was tired, and had probably been on rotation for more than 24 hours.) For quite some time after, I replayed the scene in my head. It was a low point for me in my preeclampsia and NICU journey.
A little more than two years later, I was inpatient in the hospital again pregnant with my second daughter, Meghan. I was almost 27 weeks along with soaring blood pressure, a baby that was too small (IUGR), about 40 pounds of swelling, and the worst headache of my life. Preeclampsia was back with a vengence.
It was day 8 of bedrest, and I noticed that my baby had not been moving around as much. It was a Sunday, and there were several mommies on my antepartum floor whose pregnancies were giving the nurses and doctors much to do. Well, it took what seemed like forever for my nurse to come. She finally came, and hooked me up to a fetal heart monitor. Within two minutes, nurse Yulia was watching and listening to the monitor with a concerned look on her face. She quickly left the room, which gave me some anxiety. When she returned, she walked into the room with Dr. Giles, who was now the chief OB resident.
Needless to say, I was none too happy to see Dr. Giles. I'm not sure what experiences Dr. Giles had been through in the prior two years, but he was a completely different man. His dedication to his chosen profession, desire to answer my questions, and general bed side manner were exceptional. He explained that my baby was experiencing heart decelerations, which meant fetal distress. I would need to be sent to Labor and Delivery to start the dreaded Mag. This also meant that my baby would be coming 13 weeks too soon. 13 weeks! Crap!
I had been trying to prepare myself for this reality all the while on bedrest, but it hadn't quite sunken in yet. I had been a NICU mom with Gracie, but she was only 6 weeks early...small, but mostly healthy. This baby would be around 1 1/2 pounds and need immediate ventilation support. Her chances of survival within the first 4 days would only be 75%. There were so many risks to my dear sweet baby still growing (albeit quite slowly) inside of me...too many to comprehend completely.
For twenty minutes, Dr. Giles sat down in a chair while carefully, quietly, calmly, and lovingly walking me and my husband through what was about to unfold. He also explained that I'd probably have preeclampsia with any future pregnancies. Before he left the room, he walked over to my bed. While touching my hand, he said, "I hope this turns out okay for you Jennifer. Good luck."
How Dr. Giles morphed from "that jerk doctor" into a genuine caring human being I'll never know. But I do know that I'll always remember his kindness and concern. So, Dr. Giles, I pay tribute to your growth and how in the end, all became right in my world. I delivered Meghan Rose the next day weighing 1 pound, 9.5 ounces. She was cared for in the NICU for 79 days, and then came home to our loving arms. Meghan is our living, breathing miracle.
Submitted to Wrapped Emotions for the Gift of Every Moment, Week 4: