Stitched Up

It is nearing 1:00 a.m. and I have just finally taking my nightly shower. Normally, I do this around 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., but this evening is an exception. 

We just got home from the hospital following my cervical cerclage surgery. As a background for any new readers / followers / visitors:
During my last pregnancy, I lost the girls due to cervical incompetency. This means that my cervix effaced {thinned out, as it does right before delivery} and dilated early, in this case, at 20 weeks of gestation.
What happened during my last pregnancy is not unheard of, although it could not have been predicted, and therefore could not have been prevented. At the same time, my cervix is not "damaged" by any means. Even without a cerclage this time, I could have very well gone through the pregnancy without a hitch; however, to take the safer route, our doctors recommended the cerclage.
A cervical cerclage is a stitch that is placed in the cervix as a reinforcing precaution to avoid what happened last time. If the cervix is like a tube, think of it as a purse string that cinches the cervix shut. This procedure is normally done at about 14 weeks of pregnancy {as to avoid complications earlier on that may lead to miscarriage} and removed at about 36 weeks of pregnancy. 

Today was full of sacrifice in preparation for the procedure. As normal protocol dictates, I was instructed to fast for 8 hours prior to surgery -- no food or drink at all. Surgery was scheduled for 6:00 p.m., but I was told to check in at 4:00 p.m., so I was to fast from 8:00 a.m. on. As you may imagine, it wasn't pretty. You just don't starve a pregnant woman. Still, I managed to survive the day of fasting by keeping myself busy enough until it was time to drive to the hospital. {Note: My mom gave me the best advice. To fight the thirst, I gargled water. Simple solution and it worked!!} 

Not long after checking in, I was called by one of the nurses to get ready for pre-op. After changing into my very attractive paper and plastic hospital gown {why paper and plastic? I'll explain later} and getting me hooked up to an IV, it wasn't long until the nurses allowed J to come in and keep me company. Every several minutes, a nurse would check on me, and soon, the anesthesiologist came to explain his part of the procedure. I was told that since I am pregnant, it would be best to just do a spinal anesthetic, administered much like an epidural, as opposed to sedation. The spinal anesthetic would numb my lower half, but I would be awake during the procedure. This type of anesthetic is safest for the baby, having very minimal, if any, effect.

It seemed like a very long time before Dr. Moore, my OB-GYN, came in to touch base with us. It seemed weird to see Dr. Moore in scrubs, as I normally see him in his office, with chinos and a polo shirt with his lab coat on. About 20 minutes after Dr. Moore saw us, J kissed me good luck as they wheeled me into the operating room.

The OR was as cold as I expected, especially in my thin, disposable garb. Not wasting any time, the anesthesiologist and the anesthesiologist nurse began the spinal anesthesia procedure. Like an epidural, I was hunched over, clutching a pillow, held on my shoulders for support by the nurse. I felt the wasp bite-like sting of the local anesthetic and the burn of the medicine going in. Then, the second poke was the anesthesia itself, which I did not feel at all. As with all procedures that involve needles, only the anticipation was the worst part. After numbing, I was laid down on the operating table. The nurses were so kind and gentle with me, as they set up all the wires, the IV line, my oxygen mask, and provided me several blankets straight from the warmer. Also, they hooked up what looked like vacuum tubes to my hospital gown, and the tubes blew warm air in and throughout my gown, and kept me warm during the 30 minute procedure. Not two minutes after the anesthesia was administered, my legs began to tingle, and about 3 1/2 minutes into it, they felt completely numb, so much so that when they put my legs onto the stirrups, it felt like they were putting logs up. 

The surgery came and went like lightning. It took only some small talk between me and the nurses and suddenly, I heard Dr. Moore thank the staff for a "grand" job. He came over to me and said the procedure went beautifully, and that they would take me to recovery soon. A few moments later, four nurses helped each other toss and turn my limp body over, removing lines and wires before transferring me to the gurney and wheeling me into post-op recovery.

I'd been to the post-op recovery before when J had surgery after breaking his leg in 2009. I was not in there long, chatting it up with the nurses, when J was called in and soon, he was there to keep me company. It was 7:30 p.m.

My post-op instructions were to just wait until the anesthesia wore off and for me to be able to go potty. At this point, I was absolutely beyond starving. What feeling I could get on my lower half was only that of sheer hunger. Thank goodness one of the nurses brought me one of the pre-made meals they had -- and hospital food as it may had been, I gratefully accepted and I ate the ham and cheese sandwich and Lorna Doone cookies heartily. {It came with carrot sticks and I don't eat raw carrots, so I gave them to J, who gladly ate them too} The nurse gave us an extra meal and a few extra juice boxes too. I finished my entire sandwich, a package of cookies, the meat and cheese from the other sandwich, and two juice boxes in about 20 minutes. I was like a starved child from a third world country. 

After all the hoopla of getting settled into post-op seemed like eons. I knew it wasn't a good sign when they exchanged J's waiting chair with a recliner. The nurse informed us that from experience, he's seen the effects of spinal anesthesia take HOURS to wear off. Every few minutes, I would try my hardest to move my legs {the right side seemed to cooperate more than the left} and once those started working, I began to concentrate on the finer motor skills -- moving my toes. Later into the evening, they provided me with a bed pan, in the event that I needed to go potty. I tried four times with that darned bedpan, all to no avail. 

Hours later, with no luck on either going potty or even getting any sleep to pass time, one of the nurses agreed to have me try to walk to the bathroom to see if maybe actually sitting down would help. Despite having moved my legs and toes for several hours already at this point, my legs almost gave out when I stood up. The feeling is like when your legs are asleep... but times 10 -- not so much tingly as it was completely just numb. The nurse joked and asked if I was feeling like I was walking drunk {having two nurses' support holding me up, and having another push a wheelchair behind me just in case}, and I jokingly told them that it had been a while since I had actually gotten drunk, but I imagine it was this way when I was. When I reached the potty, I sat on it for 15 minutes waiting and trying to push, but I got nothing. 

When I told the nurses this, they decided to do a bladder ultrasound on me, to see how full my bladder was. True enough, they found that the amount was 309 {I don't know what unit of measurement that is, but from what I was told, once your bladder reaches about 110, the bladder tells the brain that you need to go potty. Clearly, this was beyond that measurement and I was ready; it's just that my bottom half was too numb to actually realize that it was, in fact, time to go pee}. I was then advised to go ahead and try to walk around the post-op area in order to try to utilize the effects of gravity on my bladder. J was even kind enough to walk with me. After about 7 laps, I tried again and nothing. At this point, I sat at the edge of my bed and spent a few minutes chatting with J and the nurses for a while before starting over. Sure enough, after about 6 more laps and what feels like generations later, I tried again. I could still feel very little, but with enough concentration, I heard the magic pittle of liquid into the pot. I felt like a toddler, celebrating my first wobbly steps earlier, and now celebrating my going to go pee pee on the potty. 

It took all that I had not to sprint over to Mary, one of the last two nurses left on duty, to tell her that I went potty. With J having gone to the car to charge his phone {he was on call for work}, Mary told me that I could get dressed, and as soon as we got our discharge instructions from Dr. Moore, I would be able to go home. 

Another 20 minutes later, I was dressed, my PIC line was removed, and Mary was wheeling me out into the frigid weather outside and helped me into our car. What a relief. I told J that I imagine this is what it feels like to be released from prison. It was 12:00 midnight.

Now we go through the rest of the pregnancy with bi-weekly checkups with Dr. Moore, so that we can closely monitor the baby's and my progress. Now I am back to being able to eat and most importantly, I am glad to be back in my own bed as I am beyond ready to go to bed.

Thank you to everyone who sent text messages, Facebook posts, and Tweets. All our love always...


Ruby Agustin said...

As always, all I could think of is how brave you are ...
all for the great love you have for John (that's why you want to have a family with him!!)!!
I love you, my honeybee!! I am so proud of you!
Needless to say, my prayers are with you everyday and I am looking forward to July when our bundle of joy arrives!

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