Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Worst Day of My Life

was exactly 2 years ago.

I've been known to exaggerate a little (shocking, I know!). I am not exaggerating at all when I say it was the very worst day of my life. I am very blessed. I have not had very many traumatic days/times in my life. There was a very bad car accident when I was 16... some rough moments fighting for finalization of the adoption, deep sadness when my grandmother passed away... overall a VERY blessed life...

That's not what this post is about. This post is about the WORST day of my life. (Which still ended in blessings... but it was a BAD day.) I'm going to write about it here because I don't have a journal and have never kept baby books. It's probably not interesting to anyone except for me (so feel free to stop reading here) but I'm going to remember it and write it down.

May 22, 2007 was the last day of school for teachers. My LAST day before summer and maternity leave... I had been counting down for so long. I couldn't wait to have time for naps and nesting. I planned about 2 weeks of "down time" and figured after that (the 33 week point of my pregnancy) I'd have to be "ready to go" at any time.

...So May 22 I went to work and was very uncomfortable. I didn't have any pain but I was very uncomfortable every time I moved. At about 11 am I thought something just wasn't right... I called the dr. to try to get an appointment for first thing the next morning. Instead the nurse wanted me to come in for a non-stress test. I tried to negotiate for the next day... but she wasn't having it. So, I told my principal I'd be back "in about an hour" after a lunch break and ran to the doctor. I left my desk a huge mess. I didn't turn in my lesson plans for the year. I didn't turn in my keys or end of the year checklist. I didn't even pick up the National Board mentoring logs (worth $4500!) that were due the next day. I just went.

I sat in the comfy chair, reading a magazine, being monitored for 15 minutes. When the nurse came back I knew it wasn't good. Apparently I was having contractions I couldn't feel. Next came a meeting with the doctor where I was instructed to go straight to the hospital for steroid shots (to develop the twins' lungs in case they decided to come earlier than expected.) Fine. Scary, but fine.

I tried to call Brian... no luck. Tried to call my mom... tried to call my dad... finally started to get a little nervous and had Monica page my dad at work to meet me at the hospital. I got hold of him just as I was parking in the hospital garage. (** On the TOP floor of the garage. With the broken elevator. That no one told me about when I was pulling in to the garage. So I walked down 8 flights of stairs. Having contractions. Alone. Crying. Cursing the garage attendant. Seriously... how do these things only happen to me??)

Okay... so I get into triage, my dad meets me there, I talk to Brian, he meets me there, I get my steroid shots, I get a shot to stop the contractions (which I was warned would probably make me panic due to the increased heart rate and "rush" I'd experience... but I LOVED it... wish I could bottle that energy!) ...Overall I was feeling good. Until the doctor told me I had to stay overnight. Ugh. I had a child at home in her last week of kindergarten! I had a classroom to pack up! I didn't even have a toothbrush with me... NOT convenient... but I was assured it would only be overnight.

It was a LONG night. I had to move rooms twice. I eventually wound up in a room that was "not designed as a double" with a very young, very scared girl who was so close to me I could touch her through the curtain. This poor girl had a condition which required her urine to be collected. So there were bins of urine all over the bathroom and room. YUCK. I felt really bad for her while I listened to her cry all night... but at 6 am I decided "overnight" was over and I was signing myself out. They couldn't MAKE me stay. I had stuff to do!

I climbed out of bed and was MORTIFIED as my water broke all over the floor. The thing is... when you are only 30+ weeks pregnant, feel great, and carrying twins... you don't know what's going on. I wasn't sure if this was really "it". I tried to page my nurse and thought I lost all my shame when I had to describe the problem over an intercom to the entire nurses station. I was wrong. I really lost all my shame when she walked into the room, then stepped back into the hall screaming for a mop.

Want to hear how sick I am? Sick. When the sweet nurse, who had to test my puddle, announced it was amniotic fluid I, for a split second, was SO relieved that I hadn't peed on the floor. Nice maternal instinct right? Want another chuckle? My dear friend Charlotte and I had the same doctor. Charlotte was scheduled for an induction at 7 am that morning. The nurses were thrilled to find my doctor on the floor and I was seen immediately. A month later, as Charlotte and I traded stories, I listened to her irritated account of how late the doctor was and had to admit it was all my fault... something we laugh about now.

The next few (36) hours are the bad part. The doctor came in and I was checked. I was rushed to a Labor and Delivery room, called Brian and my parents, and started meeting with doctors. So many doctors.

The worst part... the worst moment of my life... was listening to Dr. Stone the neonatolgist come in to tell me what to expect. I remember the words "brain bleeding", "permanent blindness", and "underdeveloped lungs". I remember crying like a four year old. Sobbing, snotting, totally out of control. She stopped speaking, handed me a tissue, and waited for me to compose myself. When I managed a breath she said "mental retardation" and "death".

I asked her what decisions I had to make... what my choices were and I was told there were "none". Her team would do whatever was necessary to try to "save the lives" of my babies. I was just being "informed" and asked to sign a lot of paperwork. I guess I checked out for a moment because I remember staring at her really hard. I remember thinking it was strange that someone so pretty could be so mean. I really thought she was just being mean. She didn't say one encouraging word... she never said "maybe they'll be fine" or "maybe they won't need these interventions". She did say "you need to control yourself. Your heart rate it much too high." Then a cardiologist came in and sternly reprimanded me. It did not help.

(*** On a side note, Dr. Stone was an EXCELLENT neonatologist. She was the expert I wanted taking care of my 3 lb babies. I didn't want a "smiley" "feel good" doctor doing procedures on my tiny sons... I wanted a scientist. I wanted someone who wouldn't flinch or second guess herself. I'm grateful for all she did for us! ...But that day I though she was mean... okay back to the story ***)

Then we waited. We waited for hours. We kept waiting and waiting for the labor pains, for the inevitable, to start... which it didn't. We just waited. I was hungry (SO SO SO hungry) and tired and terrified. I cried and prayed. I talked to Brian and my parents and tried to act "normal". I refused to let my best friend come visit. I just waited. It was the worst day of my life.

...But then the next day came... and eventually the worst day of my life led to two of my life's greatest blessings... more about that in 5 days.


Nicole O'Dell said...

Just when I think I'm over the preemie/NICU experience, it all comes flooding back and I dissolve into sobs. It's something you never quite get over, I think.


jag said...

Oh, I remember when you were going through all of this! However, I don't think we ever really "got" the severity of the situation. It was like, "Marcie's in the hospital," but I don't think it quite registered with me. NOW I get it!