Thursday, August 19, 2010

What really happened?

Wow, lovely response from my first post. Thank you very much for your interest and encouragement!

Many people have asked whether or not we ever found out what caused my pregnancy to end. The answer is "kinda." We know some stuff but of course there are lots of questions remaining. But I can tell you what I know, in case you were wondering.

In my 16th week of pregnancy, just a few days after I felt Donovan wiggle for the first time, I started leaking. At first it was a small enough amount that I wasn't too concerned, but a few days later, there was enough liquid escaping that I decided it was not normal. I called a friend who had experience water breaking at 17 weeks, and what I described to her sounded familiar, she recommended that I go get checked out.

After a long and boring wait in Emergency on Sunday Sept 27/09 the doctor told us that it seemed like it might be amniotic fluid, but he couldn't know for sure. He said that if it was in fact my fluid leaking, that there would be nothing we could do to stop it, but encouraged us not to worry yet. He scheduled an ultrasound for me...not until Wednesday. That was a LONG WAIT. It took the ultra sound tech about 1 minute to find out what she needed to know. I KNEW it was bad news, because she suddenly stood up really straight, conjured up a huge fake smile and said "I have to go get my supervisor, I'll be right back!"

Shit. What could be happening? How bad could it really be? This pregnancy has been great, there is no way anything is going wrong now. These were just a few of my thoughts, in the eternity that she was gone (actually probably just a few seconds) She returned with Doug, and her supervisor. The ultra sound boss smiled kindly and said, "Could you come to my office please?"  SHIT!

They left us alone in an office, and said that my obstetrician had been paged and she'd be calling us right away. When the phone rang, my heart was in my throat.

"It was definitely your water, it broke and there is none left. This is bad, very bad and I'm so sorry to have to tell you this over the phone." I can't really remember what happened next. I do know that she couldn't tell us for sure whether or not the baby could possibly still make it, because more time was needed to see if my amniotic sac would reseal or not. The next day is gone from my memory, I think I went for a fetal assessment later that week. The thing I remember after that is I was at home, Doug's parents were over. Another obstetrician called me. Again, the conversation started with "I'm so sorry to tell you this over the phone." My response was "I don't care, just tell me what's going on. Please tell me everything."

He stammered a big more about wishing he could do this in person, but then finally explained that there was in fact no amniotic fluid left at all, and this would result in the loss of the baby. I asked "So what are the chances of survival?"
"Umm...there aren't any."
"Like NONE? ZERO?" I couldn't believe it.
"Yes, the heart will probably stop beating anytime now and you'll either go into labour naturally or we'll induce you at that time. I'm so sorry."

That doctor ended up being one of our favourite people on the planet, as we worked with him tons over the next several weeks. But at that moment I wanted to scream at him and beat him with a big stick. I hung up the phone and believe it or not, it took me a really long time to cry. Like, a few hours. I explained to Doug and his parents what the doctor had said and then I curled up on the couch and hugged my tummy.
Don't leave me baby, I love you.

And that is pretty much all I remember. As I called some friends and family I made a conscious choice to edit the prognosis. You may remember if I talked to you during that time, that I said "The doctors said he has a less than 10% chance of survival," which wasn't entirely false. Zero is less than 10. But I didn't like telling people there was no way it was going to end well. I felt like it would have been giving up on my baby and also not leaving room for God to do something really cool.

Over the next several weeks, I had many appointments, some to check the heartbeat, which was always strong and steady and some to do more ultra sounds to see if by some miracle the amniotic sac had resealed and started to retain fluid again. Nope. Never an ounce. Week after week our hopes were dashed. We were given the option to terminate the pregnancy; they constantly reminded us of that. I can kind of understand why people would choose that. It is so scary, exhausting and horrible to wait around for the inevitable death of your baby. Worst of all, we were worried that he was in pain. However, we chose to continue. We didn’t find it to be a difficult decision. Donovan was such a fighter and we didn't want to say it was over, until it really was over. Plus the doctors assured us that he couldn't feel any pain, and though he was squished without the water to float around in, he was doing okay. We know that waiting it out was the best choice for us.

We didn't know what to hope for, didn't know what to pray for, didn't know what to do. How do you conduct your life? Many people asked if I was on bed rest. Time and time again I asked the doctors what I should be doing. "Nothing" they said, "Bed rest won't make a difference, but you can rest as much as you like." We just had to wait. I did some puzzles, watched TV, and wow now that I'm thinking about it, that time is so fuzzy in my memory. Sometimes I even thought about what we would do if we had to plan a funeral. I tried to journal, because I knew I'd want to remember that time and those feelings, but every time I tried, I couldn't formulate one single sentence.

The doctors were shocked that Donovan stayed alive as long as he did, and they were also surprised that it took me so long to go into labour. However, they said even if I went several months longer, he still wouldn't survive labour. The mom breathes for the baby while pregnant of course, but it is the amniotic fluid going in and out of the lungs that helps the baby to develop breathing skills. So, no matter how long my pregnancy continued, without that fluid, the baby wouldn't have a chance to make it on his own. The medical term for what happened in my pregnancy was “PPROM: Pre-term Premature Rupture of Membranes.”

Anyway, 5 weeks after my water broke, I went into labour. Surprisingly a 1 pound baby still can require 12 hours of labour, and yes it was normal labour not lighter or easier that full term babies. And I know this because I asked the doctor if a bigger baby would give me even worse contractions and she said "No, because the body still has to do all the same things." The difference was I pushed when only 6 cm dilated, because that was enough room for him to come out. I assume that the pushing part was probably easier, since he was so little, but I actually don’t know because I’ve never delivered a full term baby. He was breech and they knew that ahead of time, so he came out feet first. He was born alive...and the whole room gasped in disbelief. This moment and the couple hours that followed definitely deserve their own post, so I'll just skip to the part that gave us information about what the problem was.

When my placenta came out, it was half normal, and half "dead" and hard. This gave us some information, finally. Doctor said that most likely, the placenta partially detached very early in the pregnancy, or never properly attached at all. However enough of it was still attached to build a baby, at least almost. My water breaking was probably my body saying "Ok, I thought I could do this with only half of a functioning placenta, but I guess not..." Or the other option was the hard part of the placenta actually punctured my amniotic sac. On half of a placenta, even if the water had stayed intact, Donovan probably would have had a lot of extra needs and perhaps not a very easy life. His right foot was clubbed, but other than that everything had been growing properly so far.

So that probably explains why my water broke so early. It does not explain why my placenta was so stupid and crappy and to that we will never have an answer. So that is what technically happened in my pregnancy. Thank you for wondering.

1 comment:

  1. From a medical perspective that was very interesting for me! From a friend perspective, uggh. Those days were hard ones. I am still continually amazed at how you coped.

    Can't wait to meet Donovan in Heaven!