Friday, September 16, 2011

The much-anticipated cerclage surgery

Yesterday I had the cerclage surgery that I have kind of been dreading.  The main reason was because of the anesthesia, which turned out to be not so bad.  We got to Florida Hospital around 5:30 am and I got called back about 40 minutes later.  They started my IV and I met one of the nurses named Karl.  He was really friendly so that helped ease my nerves.  Then I met the anesthesia team and they were also really friendly - so far, so good.

Once I got back to the OR they had me sit on a table and prop my feet up on a stool, hugging a pillow - the position for an epidural or a spinal (I had the spinal).  I had heard from my pregnant friends that epidurals (which are very similar to spinals) involve big needles and are painful, so this is why I was dreading it the most.  I was hooked up to a heart monitor that beeped with each beat of my heart, so as they sanitized the skin on my back, I would start to think about a big needle aimed at my spinal cord and the beeps would get faster.  I tried deep breathing to bring them back down because I didn't want the whole room to know how nervous I was.  I'm sure they could see it all over my face though because they were all talking to me about pretty much whatever they could think of.  That was really nice of them. 

The nurse anesthetist numbed the area first, so once she got to administering the actual anesthesia, it just felt like someone firmly pressing on my spine, and it was no where near as bad as I thought it was going to be.  They extracted some of my spinal fluid, then replace it with the drugs that made me numb from the waist down.  Within minutes my feet started to feel like they were asleep, and the sensation spread up my legs.  As I described what I was feeling and asked if it was normal, the nurse assured me it was, and looked very pleased that I was feeling that way.  The surgery team laid me down, hung a cloth in front of my face so I couldn't see anything, and the doctor got to work.  The other nurses and nurse anesthetists talked to me for the next 20 minutes while an IPOD that was on shuffle played everything from Whitney Houston to Lady Gaga.  It was such a relaxed environment and once the surgery was over, I was so happy that it had gone nothing like I thought it would.

In the recovery room, I had to keep trying to bend my knees and lift my hips off the bed to prove the numbness was gone.  After about an hour, I passed that test and got to move to a second recovery room, and Jeff was able to join me.  I finally got to eat some crackers and have some Gatorade, since I was ordered not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before my surgery.  Jeff and I looked at pictures of Jonathan on his phone, and watched an episode of some Gordon Ramsay show where he traveled to India and made Indian food from ant eggs and such.  For my final test I had to use the bathroom.  As I got up to walk over there, my knees almost buckled under my weight.  As I clung to the nurse and Jeff, I was able to make it to the bathroom.  Sadly, there was no action in there and I had to stumble my way back to bed.  I downed the rest of my Gatorade and waited.  After almost 2 hours, a bottle of Gatorade and 1 1/2 liters of IV fluid, I began to worry that I would never be able to use the bathroom (even though I really had to), but I decided I had to try again, and I managed just enough for the nurses to let me go.  I was in so much pain from my bladder still being full and from the surgery that I was not very happy on the way home.  I got feeling back to my hips and abdomen about an hour later though and it was glorious!

Since then, I have been taking Indomethacin to help with the cramping I get occasionally as a result of the stitch.  My entire spine is sore as well, and when I can't take it anymore I take a Hydrocodone and fall asleep.  I try not to take too much medicine for the baby's sake, even though both are fine for pregnant women. 

So, that's my surgery story.  I go for a follow up in 2 weeks to make sure the stitch is holding up and my cervix isn't getting shorter.  I have been instructed to be a couch potato for the next week, which is kind of nice right now because I am still dealing with some soreness.  But once I start feeling better, it will be hard.  I also can't pick my baby up anymore and that it SUPER hard!  But in 6 months, hopefully we will see the fruit of all this. 

The hormones of pregnancy and our experience the last time has made it hard for me to be super positive about the cerclage.  Something like 90% of women who have one carry full term, which is encouraging.  But I can't get rid of this "wait and see" mentality.  I think it will be easier for me to be more positive once I get past 24 weeks (God willing).  I know that God is with me, but I don't know what He has in store for me with this pregnancy and to be honest, that's hard.  I know what the Bible says about worrying, and my future, and God's sovereignty.  Even still, it's hard.  But I am trying to pray myself into trusting Him no matter what, and not worrying about the "what-ifs".  I know my family and friends are praying the same for me.  And so far, this pregnancy is a million times better than the last one, so that should count for something, right?  At least we know what to watch for and are trying to prevent it from happening. 

So, here's to carrying full term!  Only 25 weeks to go...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

 Ten years ago, I was sitting in a classroom at Winter Haven High School.  The words "terrorism", "jihad", "national security", "Patriot Act" - none of them meant anything to me.  Then the principal made an announcement telling the teachers to turn the TVs on.  The image appeared just in time for us to witness the planes hitting the WTC towers and and the towers crumbling.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing - it looked like something staged in Hollywood for some action movie.  I felt scared for our country, and once I learned Washington DC was a target, too, I became very concerned.  Even as a 17 year old girl I knew this was the beginning of a new chapter for our country.

One  year ago, I thought Jonathan would never come home from the NICU as a healthy baby.  He was 70 days old and still on a breathing machine.  We had also just gotten news that he was almost certainly going to be blind unless the hospital would approve a radical surgical procedure to save his vision.  We waited anxiously for over 8 hours to hear the results of the emergency meeting that was called to determine if the procedure would be approved.  Thank God, it was.

On two accounts, 9 years apart, September 11th has taught me that whatever situation is immediately facing me may seem insurmountable; I may have no direction and be powerless to do anything.  But God is not that way.  He is sovereign.  He goes before me and makes a way when I can't see one.  He provides for me in all situations.  I thank God for the experiences He's given me, and in those times He has proven that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  He has upheld me with His victorious right hand.

This Thursday I will have outpatient surgery to have a cerclage put in place in hopes that I can carry Baby #2 to full-term.  I am not scared of the surgery.  I am guilty of being anxious about the rest of the pregnancy, though.  But all I need to do is think back to how the Lord has provided for me, and I am convicted of my lack of faith.  I am thankful for modern medicine, and the extra watch the doctors will keep over me during this pregnancy.  But more than that, I am thankful for the God who never sleeps nor slumbers, and who creates life within me, where no one can see.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Is there a doctor in the house?

A lot of medical things going on in the family right now!

Jonathan has had a cold since Monday, and it has been getting worse as the week progresses.  Last night, he only slept for 1-2 hours at a time and stayed awake for almost 2 hours at a time.  All the while, Jeff was in bed with a sinus infection, so I am a tired girl today!  I took Jonathan to the Dr. this morning and we are doing Albuterol breathing treatments until this passes.  He hasn't had a high fever and he is happy when he is awake, so we are thankful for that!  Jeff is also on steroids and antibiotic so hopefully he will be feeling better soon, too.  It's hard on Mommy when both my boys are sick!

Also, Jeff and I went to the Maternal-Fetal specialist yesterday to see what the plan is for this pregnancy.  Just for background:  I had multiple complications with the last pregnancy that may or may not have caused Jonathan to be born early:
  1. I have a septated uterus (you can Google that), but we didn't know about it at the time.
  2. When Jonathan was born, we discovered E. Coli bacteria had taken up residence in the placenta, anmiotic fluid, and Jonathan's blood stream.  I had no symptoms of this infection, and the body's defense against infection during pregnancy is to get the baby out (otherwise I could've taken antibiotics).
  3. I had/have a weak cervix (the part of the body that keeps the baby in), so when Jonathan got too heavy, out he came.  Also, a weak cervix would make it easier for bacteria to travel up to the baby and infect it.
With all that said, it seems like the most likely situation for me is that I have an incompetent cervix.  This is good news because this can be helped with a simple surgery called a cerclage.  It's outpatient surgery that takes only a few hours and a spinal epidural.  The doctor said if this is the reason why Jonathan came early (and they can't be 100% sure that it is), then I have a 90+% chance of carrying the baby full term.  We are so excited about this, I cannot imagine carrying a baby that far!  We are still waiting to hear the exact date of surgery, but it will for sure be two weeks from now.  After that, the doctors will check the stitch every two weeks or so and make sure it is holding up.

After the surgery, I will have to be off my feet for a week or so.  Luckily, my awesome mom is flying in from Texas to help around the house and we are so excited to see her!  She hasn't seen Jonathan since last Thanksgiving so I know she is so excited, too.  He has come so far since then!

Granny and Jonathan, Thanksgiving 2010

Please keep Jeff in your prayers as he waits for relief from the intense pressure in his head, and pray that Jonathan would start to get better soon as well.  Also, please keep me and Baby in prayer as we prepare for surgery and whatever life for our family will look like after that.

Also, any comments or emails about people you know who have had successful cerclages would be much appreciated and encouraging!

    The Skippers