Leapster’s Birth: Pre-op

Update: We got home from the hospital yesterday.  We, of course, meaning just my husband and I.  Never in my life had it occurred to me that people leave without their babies.  The NICU is open 24/7, so we can visit whenever we want/have time, but it isn’t quite the same as being able to go downstairs every time I finish pumping.  Leapster is still doing well, although they need to put a PICC line in (a catheter in her arm that goes up to her heart) so that they can continue to feed her enough.  The good news is that they say we will be able to dress her once the line is in.  There’s something exciting about finally being allowed to put her in a onesie.

Once it was decided that Leapster needed to be born, things started to move quickly.  I was allowed a final meal at 4 PM on Tuesday and then transferred back to Labor and Delivery.  Premature babies are less likely to have cerebral hemorrhage (brain bleeding) post-delivery if the mother is treated with an IV of magnesium sulfate for at least 12 hours before delivery.  Magnesium is a pretty strong muscle relaxant (I, of course, tried to explain the physiology to my husband, but he was unimpressed), so once the drip is started, absolutely no eating or getting up, even to use the bathroom.

Yeah, when the nurse told me I needed a Foley catheter put in, I freaked out.  That, more than anything else, scared me.  I assumed I’d be getting my catheter once my spinal block had been administered, which would mean I wouldn’t feel it, but it couldn’t wait until then.  I freaked out a whole bunch over nothing, because while it didn’t feel good, it also really wasn’t a big deal.  My IV also had to be restarted in a new spot because once the nurse had the magnesium running my hand started to swell and burn.  The just-in-case IV wasn’t in my vein correctly and was releasing the mag in to my hand instead.  I pretty much hit my tolerance level at that point, but it had to be done, so I (wo)maned up and took it.  I was also attached to the fetal monitor all night, which isn’t painful, but gets annoying, especially since the nurse had to readjust it every time I changed position.  Leapster did a great job of staying on the monitor for once.  I guess even she knew the whole ordeal was almost over.

Anyways, the effects of magnesium are pretty brutal.  It “irritates” the vein, so my arm was burning for a few days.  It also gives you hot flashes and I had a wicked migraine from it.  It feels somewhere between being drunk and being hungover.  My husband tucked himself in on the couch in my room and we tried to sleep knowing that in another 12 hours we would be parents.  I spent a lot of the night tossing and turning and begging the nurse for a new ice pack for my forehead.  The OB came in at some point to go over the plan for the morning and to tell me that due to the pre-eclampsia I would actually need to be on magnesium for 24 hours post delivery.  That meant that I wouldn’t be able to see my daughter for at least 24 hours since I would be confined to bed while the drip was on and then it would take at least a few hours to wear off enough for me to go to NICU.

That was probably the most devastating news I got that day.

Anyways, for those of you wondering, magnesium is used to prevent seizures in pre-eclamptics and is commonly used to stabilize the patient until delivery. Pre-eclampsia is a weird beast since the only cure is delivery, but the first 24 hours post-delivery are actually the most dangerous time for pre-eclampsia to turn in to eclampsia, thus it requires preventative measures.  And no, I never had a seizure during all this, but definitely better safe than sorry.

Surgery was schedule for 8 AM Wednesday morning, so we woke up at 6:30 to start prepping.  A nurse came in and shaved where the incision would be made (it’s right above my pubic bone).  There’s nothing quite like being “shaved” first thing in the morning.  The anesthesiologist stopped in to say hi (we’d met the day before) and remind me how the spinal worked (it’s not complicated, reasonably sized needle in spine=numb).  Finally it was time for my husband to get dressed in his OR outfit.

That is a sexy paper jumpsuit. And a bit too short in the legs. He could barely get the shoe covers over his gigantor feet.

My husband was told to wait outside the operating room (they don’t let the support person in until after the spinal block is administered) and I was wheeled in to begin anesthesia.  Leapster started kicking away while I was being wheeled in to the OR, which made me so happy since I knew it would be the last time I would ever get to feel her on the inside.  I was, however, terrified of taking a needle to the back without someone to hold my hand.

This has nothing to do with pre-op, I just thought people would appreciate more pictures. This is Leapster the day she was born. She's wearing a CPAP, which delivers pressurized air to help her breathe and lots of lines and monitors. The tube in her mouth is actually her feeding tube since she hasn't developed a coordinated suck-swallow reflex. It looks a lot scarier than it is. The CPAP will hopefully be off in another week or so, but the feeding tube will probably be in for a few weeks.

Up next: where we learn that I have the constitution of an elephant and the anesthesia resistance of one as well.

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About Sarah S @RunningOnWords

Married 20-something in flux and trying to cope by running and occasionally crafting.
This entry was posted in Birth Story, Leapster, NICU, Parenting, Preemie. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Leapster’s Birth: Pre-op

  1. While I know it is hard for you to be home and Leapster to be in the NICU still, this is the best thing for both of you health wise. From the pictures you posted, while she does look little, she does have a little fat, which is a great sign! I bet she will be home before you know it!

    I pray that she grows quickly so she can soon be home with you guys!

  2. Terzah says:

    I was terrified of the catheter too, and while I wouldn’t *choose* to have one again I agree with you the fear outstripped the actuality. I also remember the weirdness of coming home without the babies. We ended up being at the hospital A LOT during that time. Thanks for keeping these posts coming! I’m sure you have, um, other things going on.

  3. Your story is so much like mine with my first 27 years ago. She looks like a fighter 🙂 My lil guy was in the NICU for 6 weeks. Hopefully Leapster is well and big enough to go home soon. Nothings worse than an empty crib.
    I remember a week after his birth, I went to see him and he’d had a “setback” in the night that noone called to tell us about. I went apeshit. We were an hours drive from him and after that I made hubby go get me some clothes and for the next three weeks I slept by his side. I think they let him go home because they were tired of seeing ME lol. Hang in there mom. We’re rootin for ya!

    Oh, one thing, TALK to her. It helps them grow 🙂

  4. Kara says:

    That magnesium drip sounds pretty brutal! Dang, what an ordeal!

    That picture of her with all the tubes makes my heart hurt. I can’t wait until you can cuddle her!

  5. Army Amy says:

    Another cliff hanger, and wow, what a teaser at the end of the post! Now I really want to know what happens next! It sounds like you handled things really well. It had to be so scary. Good job on womaning up. I know it was worth it in the end!*

  6. Nita says:

    Continuing to keep you, Leapster, hubby and all who love you in my thoughts. Way to go, Leapster! Way to go, You!

  7. Wow, that sounds tough! I can’t wait to read the next installment! I am so glad she is doing better but I am with Kara – those tubes make my heart hurt!

  8. Kate says:

    I’m realizing from your posts that I’ve absorbed way more from being around all of these nurses than I even knew. I am so happy for you to have this sweet little girl in your life and so glad it’s all coming together – even if it’s slower than you want it to be. Here’s looking forward to the future where your family is all settled into your new home together!

  9. I am glad you are home and doing well. I am so excited you will be able to dress her soon! Keeping her in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Abby says:

    Remember how just a few short weeks ago you wrote of having nothing to blog about? Look at this pretty incredible story you’ve got to tell!

    By the way, what was that last pre-baby meal? 🙂

  11. Mandy says:

    My heart hurts for you reading this. HUGS.

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