Thursday, May 31, 2012

This isn't the normal...

That's what they kept telling me the 2 and a half weeks after I had John William.

After I had John Will I was cloud 9, you couldn't scrape the smile off my face or make me slow down, I was running strong on adrenaline and loving every minute of it.  I had John William on Tuesday and we left to go home on Friday afternoon.  My mom was flying in that afternoon and I was so excited about seeing her.  She was all that was missing during delivery- you know everyone needs there moms hand to hold during that!  But know she was coming had me very excited.  She had booked her flight for that Friday thinking she'd have a few days BEFORE our little bundle of joy got here, John Will wasn't waiting!  God totally worked this out, because my mom being there later was exactly what we needed.

Like I said, we went home on Friday the 4th and I was still feeling good, just very tired.  Brett and I were filled with emotions about being home with our son, OUR SON, for the first time all by ourselves (yes mom was in the next room, but still we were in total control!).  The first night was... crazy!  Our sweet little angel decided to stay up all.night.long.  Poor guy was hungry and I just wasn't able to give him enough food.  The next day we went back to the hospital for a weight check and decided to begin supplementing with formula.  We then had a very happy boy.  I was still feeling ok, I was just tired and wasn't hungry for any kind of food, I began making myself eat- well, mom made me start eating.  Sunday afternoon is when my stomach began hurting and my head began pounding, I thought this was all normal.  The next day I started throwing up and just wanted to lay in the bed.  Luckily mom was here to take care of John William, and me.  I was so weak and my head was hurting so badly, I felt like all my numbers inside had bottomed out, so I called the my hematologist and they told me to come on in.  I went in and my numbers were indeed low, but my blood pressure was high.  My hematologist is at the Cancer Center which is connected to the hospital and my OB/GYN's office, so I was wheeled over to their office.  The doctor on call saw me and said that because my blood pressure was so high he was going to have to admit me to the hospital for monitoring.  So then, I was wheeled once again from their office to the OB floor of DCH.  I got hooked up to IV fluids and a bag of magnesium to help with the blood pressure.  My stomach was still hurting so they gave me a dose of Zofran.  The next day I began feeling better but had to stay another night to monitor me off of the magnesium and on the blood pressure medicine they gave me.  My blood pressure came down, but was still on the higher end of normal.  Dr. D came and checked on me every day, encouraging me that all was going to be ok, and that this was probably just continued from the preeclampsia.  She ordered tests to be run on my heart just to make sure, and of course, all was ok.  The next day we got the ok to home.  This was Thursday the 10th.  That morning, while still at the hospital, I began throwing up again.  They gave me some more zofran, but it really didn't help.  I probably should have taken this as a sign to stay at the hospital, but I was ready to get home, and be with my baby!

When we got home Thursday afternoon I ended up going right back in the bed with my stomach hurting.  I had a prescription for Zofran and Phenegren, they didn't seem to work, they really just made me drowsy to sleep through it.  By Saturday morning I was weak as I could be.  I remember Brett asking me how was I doing and I looked at him and muttered, I don't even think I can talk.  So, it was off to the emergency room.  Because I had been throwing up so much, and couldn't keep anything down we knew I was dehydrated so we were hoping they could let us know what was going on and pump me up with fluids.  They ran several tests and scans on my stomach, but nothing showed up.  They gave me 2 bags of fluids and said I probably just had a bug.  They said they'd keep me there if I wanted, but there was really no reason.  So back home we went.  Back to the bed I went.  By this time my mom had gone back home and Brett's mom took over.  Without these two we'd have been in a heap of trouble.  I wasn't able to even hold my head up so there was no way I could take care of a baby, and Brett was taking care of me.. and working.. and dealing with the building of our house.

Monday I had a follow up appointment with Dr. D, and I'm so glad I did.  We went in, me still throwing up, and she pretty much took one look at me and knew something wasn't right.  She wanted to a full scan of my lower stomach and all the things that are in that area (gall bladder, intestines, etc.).  So once again, I was wheeled from her office back to the OB floor of the hospital.  They gave me a dose of Zofran and then another kind of nausea medicine called Raglan.  My body did not like this combination, along with the Compasine and Phinigren I'd been taking all weekend long.  I had an allergic reaction.  It was crazy!  My body just tensed up and I couldn't relax.  I basically would curl up into a ball and my head was going all the way backward until it touched the back of my neck/shoulders and I would shake.  It was like mini seisures.  I was concerned, Brett was concerned.  It got to the point where I couldn't get out of the ball.  The nurse came in and told me they had ordered some Benedryl and I'd have it soon and once I took it I should be back to 'normal' in about an hour.  I took it and was about an hour before I could finally relax, when I did, I was afraid to move in case it started again!  I ended up having to do one more round of Benedryl and the symptoms never returned.

The Doctor came in that night and we finally got some answers.  All my tests came back normal.  There was a little sign of infection near some of the stitches that I got from my 4th degree tear, and that's what they said couldn't started the throwing up.  He said because I lost so much blood during delivery, pumping/breast feeding, and the throwing up my body couldn't catch up.  My body was empty of all the 'good stuff' that it needed to keep going at such a fast pace (or any pace) and it wasn't replenishing itself.  My hemoglobin was still very low and I wasn't making any blood and my key tones were dangerously low. He said I needed fluids, and lots of them.  I was on a liquid diet and I needed to try and eat anything I could, and bump up to solid food the next day.  It was so comforting to hear that I wasn't crazy- and wasn't going to be throwing up and have stomach pains the rest of my life.  There really wasn't one big thing wrong with me, just a lot of little things that continued to add up.  Dr. D assured me that they weren't going to blow me off as a crazy patient, and they didn't.  She did every test until we got answers, and she continuously checked on me.  I stayed another 2 nights and it was time to go home again.  I was nervous.  This time though I was good.  I don't even know how many bags of fluids they pumped in me, but it was alot!  By the time I left the hospital I was eating solid foods, bland, but solid foods.  It took about a week for me to get my strength back where I felt like I could be normal and have fear of passing out or not having enough strength to hold John William in his car seat.  But now, I'm good.

During this time, especially the begining, I was having very real depressing thoughts.  I thought I can't do this.  My body isn't strong enough, they warned me about having children and I didn't listen.  I was so scared Brett and I had made a huge mistake.  I didn't feel worthy.  I don't even know how many people we had praying for us, but I know it was more than I can imagine.  And it wasn't long before I was at peace about everything.  All the negative and depressing thoughts left me, and God reassured me that I could do this, and He gave us this precious child, this gift, because He knows we can do it.  The prayers got us through, got me well, and kept our heads up during this very trying time.

I have to give HUGE PRAISE to my husband.  He spent 10 days in the hospital with me.  He never left me.  He went to doctors appointments with me, dropped whatever he was doing for me.  He had to do some uncomfortable things (things where modesty goest straight out the window) and never complained.  He did whatever was necessary to make me feel better and ease my pain.  He had John William duty and I couldn't even get out of the bed to help him.  He would be sitting with me dealing with work issues on the phone and his computer and answering his other phone to make sure contractors were doing what they were suppose to be doing at our house so we can be move in just a couple weeks.  He slept in an awful chair while nurses came in and out all through the night.  He held my hand and kissed my forehead.  He was definitely submitting to me like he promised he would on our wedding day.  I thank God for my partner in this life, I am so blessed.  He got me through delivery and got me through the weeks to come.  Thank you Brett, I love you!!

Since all of this, I have been back to my hematologist and Dr. D.  Everything seems to be healing just fine and my hemoglobin and other numbers have all gone up on their own, praise the Lord!!!  I go back in a couple weeks, and I feel like everything is still continuing to go up as it should!  I've been able to now get off the blood pressure medicine, I just have to check it on my own to make sure I'm staying in the normal range.  We are so thankful.  Thank you to Dr. D and all the nurses I had at DCH, they all made a not so fun experience a lot better.  We prayed for the right doctors to be in place from the very beginning and God answered that prayer.  Thank you God, the ultimate healer, for getting us through and allowing us to now begin this new normal life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 1, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012, a day I will never forget.. yes, I'm sure details will become fuzzy but this was one of the happiest days of our lives.. Our precious John William came into the world, and our lives will never be the same.  So, in order to not forget some of those details, let's write the story right here of May 1 as well as the weeks that followed- but to be honest, some of those days I'd like to forget!!

--- warning, this is a little lengthy ---

John William was due Saturday May 12, and I had talked with my Dr and we had planned to induce on Monday May 7.  John Will didn't want to wait ;)  The week and half prior to his arrival I had been sick with an awful summer cold.  Coughing, congested, had no voice, and just worn out.  My maternity leave at work was suppose to start April 31 so I'd have a week to 'prepare' for our little one and I had lots of doctors appointments that week anyway, but because of being so sick, it actually started the week before- which turned out to be a very good thing, I was resting because of being sick.

The day before John Will came I had my last appointment with my hematologist to see if my platelets had gone up above 100,000.  For those that don't know, I have something called I.T.P ( Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura), a fancy term for having a low platelets count.  My body produces platelets, but for some reason they all go to my spleen instead of throughout the body.  This is something we found out I had right before we got married 3 years ago, and it really doesn't affect me, I just have to go regularly to my hematologist and get my numbers checked to make sure everything is going alright.  Every once in a while my other numbers will bottom out, but for the most part all is good- God has definitely taken care of me!  Anyway...  Around mid 3rd trimester of being pregnant I began taking steroids in order to boost my blood counts up, and try to make my platelet number above 100,000 (I was at 64,000-74,000 throughout the pregnancy).   We wanted it above 100,000 so that it would be higher of course, but also so that I could receive an epidural- anesthesiologist will not give you an epidural or spinal if it's not above 100,000- no questions asked!  So, I was a little anxious at this last check to see if it was going to reach that magical number!  However, when we checked it, it had only gotten to 78,000.  When I left I was thinking, well we've got another week, maybe it can still go up!

So now we're at Tuesday morning..  When Brett left to go to the gym about 5:00am I started having some pain in my lower back, and was thinking these were contractions, I told Brett as he left to be sure he kept his phone on him because I felt like something may be happening.  I went back to sleep and about 6:45 woke up to continuing to feel these back pains.  Nothing horribly bad, just cramping, and this cramping continued in a regular pattern.  I got up and moving around thinking this is just braxton hicks and it'd go away.  They continued.  I got my handy iPhone out and downloaded a contraction timer app to see what was going on.  I started timing them and they were about 7-8 minutes apart.  I have to say I was getting a little nervous!!  I called Brett to tell him and we decided I was just going to wait until the doctors office opened at 8 and call them.  I continued moving around the apartment just seeing if they'd go away or get closer/stronger.. they pretty much stayed the same.  I called a friend who has a 2 year old and used the same doctor I used just to ask her what she thought, she too said to call or just go to the office- I don't know why I was so nervous to call, I guess I was nervous about it really being time and at the same time I didn't want to make a big deal if it was really nothing!  I called the doctor and they told me to just come on in.  I had had mine and John William's bags packed so I grabbed them just in case and loaded up and headed to the doctor!

I called Brett and told him I was headed that way, and told him just to hang tight at work in case it was really nothing and I'd call him if anything changed and for him to stay close!  I got to the doctor about 9:30 and they took me on back.  I went through all the normal things of a normal check up, but when they checked my blood pressure they were concerned because, for the first time, it was high.  The nurse was so sweet, she just told me to calm down and relax, I was very tense!!  Because I was a 'drop in' I had to see the doctor on call which was not my normal doctor, that had me a little nervous as well.  I love Dr. Ray and her nurse Mandy, they had made the past 9 months great and set my mind at ease about so many things, I was so scared to not be seeing her!  Dr. Dipiazza (Dr. D) was the doctor on call, and now.. I love her too!  She came in and checked me and I was only dilated about a centemeter and a half and about 75% effaced.  She told me these could be real contractions or Braxton Hicks.  She told me I could go home and call back when/if contractions got worse and closer together or I could go to Labor and Delivery and be monitored.  I decided I'd go home and wait there where I'd be more comfortable.  They wanted to check my blood pressure one more time before I left though, and when they did it was still high, so they said I needed to go to Labor and Delivery to have that monitored.  So I called Brett and told him what was going on and he headed toward the hospital.  I got all checked in and hooked up to the machines about 11:00 and Brett and I just waited.  We hadn't called our parents or anyone yet because we weren't sure what the day had ahead of us, and we didn't want anyone making unnecessary trips to Tuscaloosa!

About 2:30 Dr. D came in and said that my blood pressure wasn't going down and began explaining Preeclampsia to me and that because I had that and the contractions we were definitely going to have a baby that day.  She put me on the pitocin to move along the labor and put me on magnesium for the blood pressure which is pretty much the opposite of the pitocin!  I got all hooked up and we called our family to tell them the exciting news!  The anesthesiologist came in to ask questions and talk to me about the epidural-- that I was not going to get to have.  I tried batting my eyes and begging, but it was a no go, my platelets were only at 78,000 so I hadn't reached the magic number.  My only other option was to have a C-Section where I would be put to sleep.  When I get put to sleep, I don't wake up very easily, so I didn't want to do that, I knew if I did I'd miss so much and would be very groggy even the day after.  So then we waited some more.  Dr. D told me I could walk the halls or rock in the rocking chair in order to help speed things up if I wanted.  So I rocked.  The contractions began getting more intense, I remember having one and then afterward looking at the machine that shows them to see if it was really as bad as I was thinking, sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't ;)  By about 7:00 I was telling Brett that I just couldn't do it anymore.  The contractions where hurting so bad, and I just wasn't going to be able to do it.  I wanted them to knock me out and just do the C-Section.  The C-Section would be considered more dangerous for me because of more blood loss, so Brett continued to tell me that I could do this, that he knew I could.  He held my hand tight and reassured me everytime I said I was ready to quit. Dr. D was the same way, encouraging me all along and being so positive saying how good I was doing.  However, I continued to ask for the C-Section... They finally gave in and said ok, however there were 2 sections ahead of me and since there was no emergency I couldn't 'jump' them.  By this time I was about 5cm dilated, and that scared me because I just knew it was only going to get more and more painful! In case you haven't picked  up on it, I have a very low pain tolerance!! So we waited, and contractions got more and more intense, and Brett kept holding my hand and telling me I was doing great and that I could keep going and how proud he was!

Toward the end, I have no idea what time it was, my body pretty much took over, it was so strange how it just started feeling like it was pushing for me, I could tell things were changing!  Brett could to and was asking the nurse to check me again.  I was still asking about the c-section and they told me it was almost time to take me, but she was going to check me one more time.  When she did she told me there would be no reason or time for a section because I was at 10cm and his head was right there, it was go time!  I think this was about 10:00 at this time, and everyone was getting in position, all the nurses came in and were preparing for John Will to be there.  Dr. D came right in and gave me a quick run down of what was about to happen.  Between her and Brett I had the best cheerleaders.  Brett really got me through the pushing, and at 10:25, we had a beautiful baby boy.  I couldn't believe it.  He was here, and all the pain was gone.  It was a beautiful moment.  John Will had a bowel movement after my water had broke so he was taken straight to his 'cart' to be checked out by the NICU nurses to make sure he hadn't ingested anything, all was perfect, and it wasn't long before he was in my arms.  I remember the nurses telling Brett he could take him now, Brett looked at me and smiled saying he was going to bring him straight to me and how much I deserved this wonderful prize.  He kept saying how proud he was of me and how happy he was.  It was such a wonderful time.  Just the three of us (and the team of nurses in there) all gazing at each other.  God is so good.  We are so blessed.

It was now time for those waiting to come and meet our precious angel, we were so proud to show him off!!  Brett's parents and brother and sister were there along with the Boykin family, it was just perfect.  They all came in, ooed and gooed, each taking turns holding him.  Brett and I were still on cloud 9 just soaking every second of this perfect day.  And perfect it was.

So this has been long enough of a post.. I'll post about the next 3 weeks to follow later, long story short it involved high blood pressure and 5 days of throwing up :)  And let me say, the natural child birth thing, not nearly has bad as I had anticipated :)

and now for some pictures..

John William Paulk, 7lbs 3oz 19in long, 10:25pm May 1, 2012

first family picture

Uncle Brian

 Grandma and Grampa (not sure what they'll be called!)

The Boykins

Aunt Ashley

We had so many visitors at the hospital!  We are so blessed!!

my grandmother made the trip with my brother and sister-in-law

my 2 favorite guys!

cousin Candace



our sweet boy!

Granny Angie

Grandaddy Mel