I found out on November 1, 2011 that I was pregnant with my first child. This was a surprise but a long awaited excitement to have my own children. Going to the doctor helped ease the nerves of a first time pregnant mom especially because I really trusted my doctor. I’ve always grown up knowing ultimately I wanted to be a mom and a wife and my dream was beginning to be fulfilled.
As each doctor appointment approached we had such a theme of holidays throughout the pregnancy. We conceived on my birthday, found out we were having a precious baby boy on Valentine’s Day, and our due date was the 4th of July. We were so excited to meet our new addition but my biggest concern was delivery.
Each appointment our doctor would always say “text book perfect, nothing to worry about.” My pregnancy was perfect almost too perfect. I had the typical back pain but suffered from back pain previously. I never had swelling throughout the pregnancy; I gained 35 pounds, and craved fruit and vegetables. I ate more boxes of “cuties” (small oranges) than I can count. My entire life I never ate meat until my 2nd trimester. I hated meat especially beef. I started craving delicious burgers and steaks and would eat mass amounts because I couldn’t get enough of them.
My doctor had mentioned the entire pregnancy that he takes one vacation a year and it happened to fall on our 37th week. Our last visit with him, “you are not dilated and will wait until I get back, no concerns.” 3 days later, my husband and I were down at the beach; an hour and a half away from home trying to enjoy our last trip before the baby came. That day, I had some fluid and contractions. I called the doctor and they asked for us to come in. So we drove home with anticipation that our baby Cooper would soon be born. Later that day we spent 4 hours in the hospital to get sent home. It was very discouraging and realized we still had three weeks to go. That Thursday morning, June 21, 2012, I woke up at 4:30 am with excruciating back pain. I woke up crying and couldn’t figure out why it came on so quickly. I laid there for three hours crying uncontrollably because sitting, standing, and laying would not alleviate any amount of pain. My husband realized due to the tears something was definitely wrong. I called my mom at 6:45 and she thought I was in back labor. I was forced to call the doctor and of course they tell you to come in but my fear was being sent home again since we were there three days ago. I was refusing to go in because I did not want to be sent home, I felt embarrassed as I didn’t know what labor felt like. My husband insisted that we go in.
By 7:30 am we arrived at the hospital and the bad news began. They immediately told me I was not in labor and that my contractions where caused from the back pain. They said the back pain was more than likely caused by kidney stones. “Kidney Stones?” I’ve never had kidney stones, couldn’t figure out why they were so insistent. And now….my greatest fear of being sent home was about to happen. They took my blood to verify and made us wait an hour and a half to find out. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Nurse Shannon comes back in and lets me know I wasn’t suffering from kidney stones but will not be sent home…. “You are very sick Tiffany and will have this baby today.” Immediately as she is briefly explaining what is happening they transfer me to a labor and delivery room where not one nurse but eight nurses surrounded me. I’m pricked with IV’s, more blood being taken and medicine being pumped into me. My husband and I were still trying to figure out what I am sick with and what is happening. The medicine immediately started affecting me. I thought if I closed my eyes I would die, I couldn’t breathe, I was slurring my words and of course that scared my husband as well.
What was happening was a rare disease that happens to the mom not the baby. I was deathly ill and it happened so quickly they had to take action immediately. I had a disease called The HELLP Syndrome. Only 2% of pregnant women get what I had. The medicine they rushed into my body was to help prevent seizures which can lead to a coma. After a few minutes passed and I got all hooked up to machines and blood drawn, they finally explained that I was severally sick and the only way to get better is to deliver. I was also told that a small percentage of women get worse after delivery but in most cases that’s rare. As the conversation progressed I was scared and still had so many questions that didn’t have time for answering. Due to my condition I was able to try for a vaginal birth but with absolutely no pain medicine. They were worried about my blood clotting and the medicine I was on made everything worse, so the thought of a vaginal delivery really scared me. The second option was a C-Section, but not your typical C-section, I would be completely sedated and my husband would not be in the room. Both options were not good options. They induced me and I was going to “test” the pain of a vaginal delivery and knew I could change my mind at any point.
A few hours went by and I was only dilated 1 cm and was having terrible contractions equivalent to being dilated to 8cm, the fear of the pain getting worse was not in my control. The doctor came in (mind you this isn’t my doctor because he was on vacation) and she told me I had to rush into a C-section due to my blood platelets dropping so severely. When I entered into the hospital that morning my blood platelet level was at 80; low platelets are 120. My count dropped even more and was at 63, but to do the severity of it all, they had to do an emergency C-section otherwise my blood will not clot and leads to death if it gets to 50 and my little baby has not yet been born.
I was pretty out of it already due to the medicine I was on and was only getting weaker and weaker. I hugged my husband goodbye not knowing if we would see one another again. I was in surgery for over an hour and our son Cooper was completely healthy. I was wheeled back into the delivery room and have no recollection of anything for two days. As mentioned earlier that small percent of women who get worse after delivery was also in my cards. I got worse and worse and ended up with 2 blood transfusions three days later because my platelet count got down to 32. I lost so much blood and had a really hard time waking up for two days. Two days later I finally asked why I was in the hospital and if I had a baby. It was the saddest moment not knowing my child for two days and hugging and kissing him the way you think you should come delivery day.
I was apparently nursing him from the moment he was born because I was adamant I wanted to breastfeed but have no memory of this. Due to my milk supply in the beginning, this was not an issue. After a couple days I wasn’t eating and lost a lot of my milk from being so sick. We had to finger feed, pump and breastfeed every two hours. My days were filled up trying to feed my son and being unproductive. Cooper was born at 6lb 13oz and dropped to 6lb 1oz during our hospital stay. So not only was my recovery extremely important now we had to worry about the health of our baby boy.
Seven days later we arrive home, still worried about my health and recovery as well as Cooper gaining weight. We battled this for 6 long weeks. I lost 46 pounds when I only gained 35 during the pregnancy. My husband had to bathe me for a couple weeks because I was so weak. If this isn’t love I’m not sure what is. I can tell you breastfeeding is not easy, but if you truly want to make it work, I am living proof that you can fight to make it happen. Many times we were close to supplementing but never had to. Today, he is 19 weeks old and is still breastfed and is a healthy little man. My recovery took awhile but at six weeks I wanted out of the house. My husband took me on a hike and I was adamant that I would hike to the top of Multnomah Falls Oregon with my son in a sling. We accomplished this and my recovery finally reached a smooth transition and I felt like a mom and a normal human being again.
I praise the Lord for how he spared my life and also the health of our miracle baby boy Cooper. We love him dearly, and were blessed with him sleeping through the night at week 3; 9:30pm-6:30am. All in all I would never want to experience this again let alone have someone else struggle through all the pain and unknown. Come to find out my back pain that put me in the hospital that day was caused by my liver. If I had not gone in when I did my liver would have ruptured. My whole body was shutting down including my kidneys, liver, seizures, blood pressure and blood count. I must say, the team of doctors and nurses I had were impeccable and were so concerned. Every time they would clock in for shift they were so excited to see me, they were always worried I wouldn’t make it through the night. They thought three different times they were truly going to lose me. I only have The Lord to thank for my life as I hold my tiny child and am home with my husband.