I have had SO many thoughts swirling around in my head about how I can document this huge time in my life that literally, had me thinking about life and death and the possibility of losing my baby or possibly my own life.
Its surreal to be the one telling this story.
I have read SO many inspiring birth stories and pregnancy stories… its strange to me to have a birth story that has affected me so very deeply, and feel compelled to share it publicly.
I firmly believe though- that sharing our stories helps people.
Why is this SO long? Isn’t a birth story just about the day of BIRTH? Well…. this birth literally took up 6 months. As you read— you’ll understand why.
So, it begins. This journey has been so profound for me. Luckily I didn’t wait to write anything about it until now- or my brain and the trauma I’ve sustained would not allow me to remember everything I wanted to.
Some previous posts I suggest reading to understand where we began MONTHS before our delivery.
My previous post about how we found out we were pregnant at the end of May is HERE.
And then our first ultrasound in August 2016 when we found out JUST how slim our chance of even becoming pregnant really were…. this was our LAST chance by SO many threads! Find that post HERE.
And then… when I hemorrhaged and things got worthy of a life and death drama series can be found HERE. This was in September 2016.
And finally, our ACCRETA diagnoses day. The day that our reality changed. The day that God lifted us up and gave us power we had never felt before that would stay with us until, really… well….. maybe it never left…. this was October 2016.
So let us begin this post with the end of October.
Our whole world was changed. Forever.
This was supposed to be our last fight. We both struggle with newborns and the crying and lack of sleep and honestly had been really fighting off the Spiritual desire to have this pregnancy in the first place. But we have learned that God’s plan ALWAYS turns out giving us the most happy life we could ever hope for- and babies grow. 🙂 The crying does stop eventually. Sleep does come back in phases. We knew we’d survive. It just wasn’t going to be fun. But now THIS. This——–> was a whole new playing field. This was NOTHING like we’d experienced before. Our kids never really were part of our previous 4 pregnancies… the pregnancy was kind of invisible before this one. They didn’t really take part in it, or understand it, they just were aware that mom was getting bigger and that a baby would eventually come out of there. But mom was able- she worked out, she could ride a bike, she could go grocery shopping- anything really- except the dangerous stuff, like steep sledding… or bumpy rides… or you know…. But this was different.
In our child’s eyes——All of a sudden mom was unable. Mom stayed home all the time…. which meant… our super fun Family adventure we ALWAYS take in October? Cancelled. EVERY trip we anticipated for the next year- cancelled. Even traveling further than 10 miles from our hospital was not done.
Mom couldn’t go up and down the stairs faster than the average slug. Mom didn’t cook dinner very often anymore… mom didn’t ever go to the store alone…. when she took the kids to a department store to grab something for school and such, that HAD to be done, the kids pushed her in the courtesy wheelchair. Mom and dad didn’t go on many dates.
Mom couldn’t do the laundry, except the folding part. Mom didn’t have a dishes night anymore. Mom didn’t even come to more than the first hour of our 3 hour church services on Sundays then she’d go home and lay down. Mom was always having to lay down…. dad said she was bleeding a lot still. Mom had told us something was wrong. She was at the doctor almost every week. The kids prayed for mom and the baby to keep staying strong and healthy… would the baby die? Would mom die?
I cried many nights thinking of the struggle our children were going through. I emailed their teachers to let them know what was happening so they could extend a hand of mercy when things came back un signed, and projects may be less than awesome, or their spelling tests were atrocious because there just wasn’t home support that was steady.
My dear husband and I had SO many late night talks about Accreta, and what risks were involved and what our new reality was. But, the most frustrating part….what COULD we do? The only thing that seemed controllable, was me staying as inactive as possible to keep from aggravating the placenta and bringing about possible bleeding or another hemorrhage, placental abruption, or preterm labor.
And thats just what we did.
I just laid around from then on. My sweet husband took up my dishes days. He started going to work an hour later every day to get the kids up, fed, lunches made, and out the door with clean clothes on time. He started doing laundry during his nightly TV time- if there was time. He started doing the grocery shopping, and many nights, dinner making. I would sit and direct him for the more complicated dinners… that was interesting. He started doing the mopping and sweeping.
Well- I am forever grateful for my online business as a health coach. I was able to continue working online when I could. I was able to still cheer people on, invite people to join my groups, and stayed motivated to eat healthy while I continued to be a participant in the groups along with my clients. I KNOW that this had a BIG impact on my ability to stay positive most of the time, and have my body not gain huge amounts of weight while I was inactive. This also helped keep my mind off of my situation. I do NOT like being confined. I am a DOER. And this, was proving to be a HARD mental battle. To see my husband gogogogogogogo day in and day out, gave me heart ache. He already had so much on his plate.
I prayed a LOT. I read books about self grace and trials. I learned a lot about myself. I prayed that my husband would have the ability to sustain this pace for the months needed. I prayed that he would not have anxiety for my diagnoses. I prayed that he could have peace.
And you know? God answered my prayers.
He answered me in the form of random people dropping off dinner. THANK THE LORD for neighbors who just serve. SO many of our neighbors helped us a LOT. Dinners, taking Grant, our 3 yr old for playdates several times a week so I could rest peacefully… stopping by just to chat, or bring me lunch…
He answered me by having my hubby’s boss be VERY generous- never complaining about my husband’s need to be flexible with hours and days. Offering several gift cards to restaurants that my husband can eat at for those MANY nights where the food dropped of from a neighbor was not Gluten Free (he has Celiac’s disease) or it was just crazy and dinner was cold cereal for the kids, and he could go get something more substantial for his 6’5″ frame.
He answered me with just sheer power. I saw my husband in a constant state of motion and duty and needing to be very organized and timely and he did it ALL without a hitch. My husband has never been one to handle a lot on his plate for very long. He is human, after all. And this was A LOT. I have seen him crash from heavy responsibility and really long work hours, and seen his anxiety stack up to the point of exhaustion…. but he never crashed. He never said anything about what he was being asked to handle. He never got sick, the kids never got sick, I never got sick although all our neighbors were suffering with the regular winter illnesses- colds, bronchitis, coughs, the stomach bug off and on, fevers… but we never had any of it. I literally witnessed my husband being carried by the hand of a power unseen. Humans are not made to endure high stress and live on adrenaline like it looked like my husband was. Day in, day out. He just kept going. I was amazed. I often asked him if he was ok… ready for a reply of “man, this is hard” or “I don’t know how I can keep doing this” or “I don’t know what to do…” NOTHING like that ever came out. Only, “I’m ok. One day at a time we’ll get through this.” This experience alone, is a huge manifestation of God’s reality and His knowledge of the details of our lives. I FELT an unseen power watching over our children at school and at home. I FELT an unseen power go with my husband to work. I FELT an unseen power calm my very troubled heart. Its not coincidence. Its not science. This is real my friends. There is a scripture that says expressed that God qualifies those He calls. And I witnessed in the most vivid and REAL way- this coming to pass in our home. God knew our struggles, and He provided us with the power we sought out to help us. “Seek, and ye shall find.”
Our appointment with the Dedicated Accreta team/surgeon at the UofUHospital in Salt Lake City, UT came. It was November 9th. We had sitters for our kids, and went down (3.5 hour drive) just my hubby and I for the day. We didn’t know what to expect. We had never, either of us, had major medical needs, and this was an all new experience for us.
We got there and the hospital was BUZZING with….. young people. I didn’t realize that this UofU hospital was a literal school. It is a research hospital- meaning, they are doing studies on MANY medical treatments and procedures currently. They have studies going on ALL THE TIME that their patients can opt in for. Almost all the nurses and Doctors are students on one level or another. The head surgeons and attending doctors all have to be engaged in research and publishing recent articles of their findings each year. This hospital was BIG. Having never needed major medical treatment, I was used to smaller, local hospitals that have most of their stuff all in one building. This hospital had an entire WING dedicated to radiology…. not just a few rooms. There was an entire FLOOR just for maternal fetal diagnostics.
Anyhow- we made our way through the maze of young students hurrying to their clinicals and staff posts of the day- to Maternal Fetal Diagnostics. I was told I needed to come with a full bladder, so that the Ultrasound tech would have optimal viewing of my bladder interface and placenta attachment- so I had to pee….. something fierce. 😉
We waited. And we waited. I finally had to tell the receptionist that I REALLY had to pee, and if I wasn’t called back pretty soon…. I would have to go the the bathroom. She understood- I could tell I wasn’t the first in this position, and she called the Ultrasound people to see if they could take my initial pictures that needed the full bladder, and then I could go pee and they could finish later… 10 minutes later, someone came to get me.
The first words from our ultrasound doctor’s mouth after some initial looking around on the monitor-” Ya…. your placenta is NOT great. Its a bit of a mess in there. ”
After the ultrasound tech made sure baby was doing good, and took pictures of our placenta and LOTS of other things, we were taken to a room for a consultation with the head surgeon who organizes the Accreta Team weekly. (What I didn’t know at the time…. this doc…. is a head surgeon in the COUNTRY. Accreta is just a special interest for him, an area of study. But he is a sought after surgeon in many areas and flies all over the country to perform surgeries and give lectures.) My husband and I both noticed something about the room that gives you chills. Kleenex. Not just a random box of kleenex on a shelf, but this consult table had a special opening in the center— with a large kleenex box, which looked recently used. We both looked at each other and realized that this room is a room where MANY people most likely get news that is life altering. This diagnostic center was for all types of problems during pregnancy- from the mother, to the baby. I am sure MANY tears were shed in that room. I just held my breath, that they wouldn’t be mine next.
The doctor came in. He sat down, and you could tell he was not an amiable, “let’s be friends” sort of guy. As I pondered on this, I figured, you know- someone that has likely lost patients on the operating table, and deals with life and death weekly- probably has to be that sort of guy. And he was. After going through my OB history and basic health stats- he laid it all on the table.
“Well, you have accreta my dear- and not just a small spot. Your placenta is, from what I can detect, in upwards of 60% affected. It seems like all I do anymore is meet with ladies like you. Women who’ve had multiple csections and now face Accreta. I really wish there was more education about the risks of volunteer cesarean births. Baby looks fine so far, and I can tell by how peaceful you are at this news that you already know something about it. I’m here to tell you the facts. I won’t sugar coat anything………” and he went on to explain how this affects the pregnancy, the risks of the surgery to me and baby, and yes, much of which I did already know. Then he went on to tell us what to expect from here on out.
“You’ll need to have your OB in Idaho monitor you every 10 days or so to see how baby grows and monitor any bleeding. If anything changes, likely you’ll be transferred here until you either go into preterm labor, or we will plan to have surgery around 33-34 weeks- somewhere near early January. I’m not going to tell you you need a hysterectomy at this time, since a lot can change between now and 6 weeks in there, and that is a big surgery in an of itself with a pregnant uterus. But- You look young and healthy- and your health history is clean, I don’t expect you’ll have problems unless you don’t stay pretty inactive- in other words, stay home. Complete pelvic rest- no sex, no stimulation, nothing to aggravate the uterus or vagina. Don’t do much more traveling than just a few miles from home when needed. We’ll see you back in 6 weeks to see how the Accreta looks, and make delivery plans at that time.”
And that was that.
We were SO elated to learn that we’d be staying in Idaho unless something went wrong.
SO much relief from this visit. Still anxious about delivering our baby via major surgery- still anxious about the fact we’d NOT be in Idaho to deliver our baby, and YES, it would be delivered 6-7 weeks early, and all that comes with that. Not excited about no intimacy, but if that’s what it takes to keep things from getting ugly- then we are on board.
I was so grateful for my health. I could tell that was a big factor in how these Accreta pregnancies play out, and how closely they feel they need to monitor you. I am so grateful for my health changes 4 years ago. SO grateful for my online business that kept me there!
Thanksgiving came and went- we stayed here in Idaho falls, and my younger sister had a baby the second week of November- and I enjoyed snuggling her during the holiday and feeling excited to snuggle my own baby in a few months.
Our 6 week appointment was set for Dec 21st, and we couldn’t wait for it to come fast enough. We continued our days of just making it through- and it was LONG. I had emotional days thinking of what I was going to endure…. thinking of having a preemie…. thinking of my kids and all they were going to endure… my husband… my BODY… all that was non negotiable… and the risks…. the RISKS.
I was GRATEFULLY added to an Accreta support group online and that my friends- was SUCH a life saver. I was able to virtually rub shoulders with women who were experiencing almost exactly the same emotions, physical feelings, etc. A place to ask all my specifics, and get support on the hard days. These women are STRONG. These women GOT ME. If there is a support group that needs to be given an award of some kind—- this one is it. I was able to see photos of other preemies, hear how they went, what helped or hindered their births and recoveries, what to ask for and expect, things they regretted or wish they would have known…. it was AWESOME. Such a great great resource for me. Google just has scary stuff about Accreta. But this place, this was where you saw the battle fought, and how to fight it. This is where I learned to let myself literally grieve about the struggles and the changes that were coming. This is where I learned to trust that it would be ok. This is where I learned that because I had a team and a great doc—– that my surgery would most likely go really well and my baby would have excellent care, and we’d come out of this in a great place. SO much peace came from that support group.
On to December and the actual BIRTH….
I’ll post that link HERE when I finish writing it. 🙂