D&C 35:17 ". . . and in weakness have I blessed him."

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Part 1)

August 17, 2004
LDS Hospital
Approximately 3 hours after checking in
The lights in my room had been dimmed creating a soft, warm glow. I lay there soaking up the wonder of all that lay ahead. The familiar rhythm of Rob’s snoring kept me company. It was 2 a.m. and I occupied a unit on the Labor and Delivery Ward in LDS Hospital. The room was larger than I’d expected and felt comfortable. It had hardwood floors, a couch, TV, rocking chair, fold-out bed and private bathroom.                                     
             With Rob asleep, I fixed my eyes on the monitor positioned at my right. Its bright screen was alive with information. It depicted two moving graphs, one measured my baby’s heartbeat, the other my contractions. I was captivated by this data. Each time my abdomen tightened, I waited with an eager sense of anticipation for a small peak to crawl its way onto the lower half of the screen.               
              We’d already been there three hours and according to the nurse’s prediction, we had several more to go. I was grateful to have Rob at my side. Earlier he’d read to me from The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency. Although I enjoyed listening to him read, I suggested he get some sleep as I’d need his support in the morning. I also tried to rest, as much as possible, amidst the energy of my swirling emotions—I was about to have my first baby!
My arms ached with excited anticipation—at last, I was going to hold him! I couldn’t wait to see his face. Who would he look like? Would he have blue eyes and blonde hair like me or brown hair and eyes like Rob? How big was he going to be? How much would he weigh?
Amidst the thrill of knowing I would soon get to embrace the baby I planned to call David Robert, I worried about the hardships of childbirth. Just how difficult was it going to be? When should I request an epidural? Would there be any complications? What if there were?
I reminded myself of the many prayers I’d said and the calm assurance I’d received from the Spirit. I decided to have faith. Things were progressing smoothly and there wasn’t any reason for concern. The contractions didn’t even feel painful yet. I needed to relax and wait and enjoy the relief of knowing the pregnancy would soon be over. 
As my contractions gradually got stronger, I noticed the peaks on the monitor’s screen get bigger. Somewhere in the midst of watching those peaks rise and fall, my nurse entered the room. “I’m not sure if I should be concerned. Your baby’s heart rate dropped with the past two contractions, but then quickly returned,” she informed me. 
“Is that a problem?” I asked.
"Let’s try moving you onto your left side and giving you oxygen. Sometimes that helps.”
            The nurse helped me roll over. Then she placed an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. “Let’s see if this makes a difference,” she said. After typing some information into the computer, she left.
I was left alone with my thoughts again. How should I interpret this information? Should I be concerned? What did a drop in heart rate mean? How was oxygen going to help?
Maybe I should’ve asked these questions when the nurse was still in the room, but she handled the situation in such a calm, efficient manner. Because she didn’t appear to be concerned, I decided not to worry.
Now that I was lying on my left side I could no longer see the monitor’s screen, so I closed my eyes. “Relax and wait,” I told myself. 
Suddenly an acute bolt of pain wrapped itself around my abdomen and reverberated through my pelvis. A large, warm gush of fluid rushed out of me. What was that? Something didn’t feel right.
I reached my hand down and brought it back up. It was covered with a vivid, deep red—blood—an alarmingly large amount!

I fumbled around the bed linen, my heart pounding as I searched for the buzzer. As soon as I grasped its cold, hard contours I pushed my thumb firmly against the red button.    “Can you call my nurse, I’m bleeding!” I exclaimed.

“It’s normal to bleed a little during labor,” replied the voice at the other end.
I was surprised. How could they be so casual? I’d begun to hemorrhage and needed help. “It’s not a little, it’s a lot!” I urgently asserted.
“OK, we’ll send someone over.”
It didn’t take long for the nurse to arrive. After one quick glance at the soiled sheet beneath me, she left in search of a resident doctor.
           “Rob you need to wake up,” I called out to the darkened corner of the room, “I’m going to have an emergency C-section.” Instinctively I knew this, even before the doctor’s verdict.
            The resident arrived within minutes. After a brief introduction he asked, “Do you know if you have a low-lying placenta?”
“I did. After the third ultrasound I was told it had resolved.”
“I’m going to need to check your ultrasound records.”
Why waste time looking at records? I was bleeding heavily—something needed to be done! I wanted my doctor, not this young resident who was unfamiliar with my case.
Right then a high pitched beep pierced the air. It sounded the alarm—my baby’s heart rate had plummeted.
            Within an instant the resident’s demeanor changed as he took charge of the emergency. Glancing in my direction he announced, “We’re going to get this baby out of you!” Then he turned to the nurse, “Get Dr. S. on the phone and notify him.” This command was followed by a rapid string of medical orders.
With a hurried pace he stripped the band attached to the monitor from my belly and removed the oxygen mask. Then he rushed my bed out of the room and down the hallway. As I left, I heard Rob speaking to his parents on the phone, informing them of the situation.
            It was a short distance to the operating room. I was surprised to see people already there when I arrived. A slender operating table occupied the center of the room. My bed was pushed up against it. The nurse grabbed my ankles and lifted my legs, while the doctor took hold of my shoulders. In one swift movement they lifted my body from the bed and onto the operating table.
Directly above me, my eyes met with the glare of a bright light. Its intensity made the edges of the room look dark. To the left of the operating table a counter boasted an impressive display of shiny instruments carefully laid out on a blue cloth. Several figures in blue scrubs moved quickly about. I searched for Dr. S., but none of my attendants wore his familiar face.
I felt another warm wave of blood gush out of me. And another. My heart raced so fast I struggled to breathe. Quick, short, choppy breaths were all I could manage. My arms and legs shook uncontrollably. A sick, nauseous feeling churned inside my stomach. I felt dizzy. “You need to relax and breathe deeply,” the nurse ordered. 
“Is, is my baby going to be OK?” I stammered. My voice sounded feeble amidst the urgent activity around me.
A new pair of eyes greeted mine as a figure in blue leaned over me. It was the anesthetist. White hair protruded from the sides of his surgical cap and his face bore the lines of a seasoned practitioner. “We’re prepping you for general anesthesia,” he explained. With quick, well-trained movements he injected something into the IV in my hand. Next an oxygen mask glided over my face—it covered my mouth and nose.
With the mask came a smothering sensation. I couldn’t breathe. I needed to suck air in through my nose or mouth, but I couldn’t. A stifling pressure built up in my lungs. I was going to explode. I needed air! I ripped the mask away from my face. Immediately it was replaced and held down by a firm hand.
            A peculiar, sick sensation crept over my body. I was slipping away. I wanted to fight to stay present. But against my best determination, I soon found myself enveloped in quiet darkness. No longer aware of the medical proceedings. No longer afraid and panic-stricken. All around me was now calm and still. 

No comments:

Post a Comment