Monday, December 27, 2010.
I am scraping the thin layer of ice from the windows on our car. As usual, I am running late for my 8:00 a.m. doctor's visit. As I slide into the driver's seat my right foot slips a bit on the driveway. It's a slick one this morning, I think to myself.
I am done with my 37 week doctor's visit and making an appointment to come back again next week. He has already agreed to induce me at 39 weeks - on January 11th. 1/11/11, I think to myself. Now that's a birthday I can remember!
I pull into the driveway, ready to crawl back into bed. I notice that the trash truck has already been by and decide to pull the trash can up to the house. The second I exit the car my feet start to slip... and I go back and forth between sliding on the driveway, losing and then regaining my balance, until suddenly my right foot rolls the wrong way and I fall into the gutter with a snap! sound. I almost immediately know that my ankle is broken.
I try calling Allen on my cell phone but, as luck would have it, my battery is all but dead. A sweet older gentleman is out walking his dog and he hurries over to ask how he can help. "I live in this house," I tell him, pointing. "Please go get my husband. I think I broke my ankle."
Allen and Coolister have carried me into the house and called 9-1-1. The pain is excruciating. The paramedics come. I am reminding them over and over that I am 37 weeks pregnant and do not want any medications that could even possibly harm the baby. They stabilize my foot and load me in to the back of their ambulance for transport to the hospital.
I am wheeled into a room in the ER where the damage is assessed by x-ray. I am hoping for a dislocation and yes, it is dislocated, but also broken. In two places. The tibia has a part of the end broken off, the fibula is a more obvious break. I am told they will set the ankle where it is dislocated and then the on-call orthopedic surgeon will come in to talk with me about the breaks.
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
This time period is something of a blur because the ER doctor has given me a medication that keeps me awake through the setting procedure but helps me forget what exactly has gone on. Is that confusing? It was for me. For example, one minute they are putting something in my IV and not long after I notice my ankle is bandaged up. I ask Allen when that happened and he tells me it was wrapped when it was set. I had no idea they had set my ankle already although he says I was very vocal about letting them know "my ankle hurts really bad" as they were doing it.
My OB (that's my baby doctor for those who don't know) comes to visit us in the E.R. He reassures me that all will be well and that he and the surgeon are going to consult & let me know what will be the best plan of action.
Word comes that they want to induce the baby ASAP and then perform surgery on my ankle. I am a bit incredulous that I am going to have my baby that day. I ask all of the typical questions - are his lungs well enough developed? Will he be more likely to have jaundice? Do we need to do an ultrasound to check that everything's fine before inducing labor? My OB tells me that 37 weeks is considered full term and that everything will be fine. All I can think of as we wait to be wheeled up to labor and delivery is the fact that we have not decided on a name for this baby yet. We did not bring a camera - unless you count the ones on our phones. I have not shopped for Princess' birthday on January 1st. I have not found Princess a dress to wear after her baptism this Saturday. We have not yet moved Little O out of the pack-and-play bed he has slept in his entire life - which will be the new baby's bed once we get him home. I have not clipped my toenails or shaved my legs. Plus... how do I deliver a baby with a broken foot?! I have never felt so unprepared in my life.
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
The Hospital Waiting Game. (This is not a fun game.) We use this time to talk some more about baby names.
We arrive in Labor & Delivery. I am prepped for induction as the staff awaits instructions from my OB. I am already dilated to a 4 before induction begins - this gives me some hope that my baby may actually be ready to come.
Pitocin (the labor-inducing drug) is administered through my IV.
The orthopedic surgeon's PA (physician's assistant?) comes and tells me what to expect in surgery tomorrow. The time is yet to be determined... but I will have screws and a plate put in. I will have a soft cast for 10 days, then a hard cast for 5 weeks following. I will not be able to bear any weight on my ankle for 6 weeks. Allen and I discuss options for making this work. We can make it work.
Contractions are painful enough that I am ready for an epidural. BONUS: The epidural takes away the pain in my foot. The doctor who administers the epidural is magical in that I do not feel any needle pricks or pain in the process of getting the epidural working.
Not much progress. My OB breaks my water and chats with us for a bit while he watches my contractions.
I tell my nurse that I'm feeling ready. She checks. I'm ready. They call the doctor back into the room.
One push. They tell me not to push any more.
Our baby is delivered and I am amazed at how well things have worked out. I am a mother for the 10th time. It is surreal. This beautiful little bundle of chub and squealy cries is mine. We look at him and decide on a name. It is perfect. He is 8 pounds, 4 ounces. 19 1/2 inches long. Not bad for 3 weeks early.
Allen accompanies the nurses and our sweet little baby to the nursery while I am moved to the Mother/Baby floor. I have been fasting all day (unless you count the apple I ate on my way to the doctor's office this morning at 8:00 a.m.) but they order me dinner so that I'll have something to eat before I have to start my next fast at midnight. I will have surgery on my ankle in the morning but the time has not yet been determined. I am told it will likely be sometime between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., but maybe at 7:00 a.m. Well, okay then.
Dinner. Hospital food is awesome - I'm totally not kidding.
We await word on surgery and continue to work with the nurses to attempt to control the pain in my ankle.
I order more food (crackers, cookies and pudding) to fill myself up before fasting again from midnight until who-knows-when. My kids come to visit. I have never heard the words, "Awww!" and "cute!" said so many times in a 45 minute period of time. They are all in love with their little brother, even Curly who, when asked, "What do you think about your little brother?" answers, "Fine. Can I have a cookie?"
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The fasting begins.
After a night full of baby feedings and checking of vital signs and controlling pain and uncomfortable hospital bedding, I am ready to get this surgery over with. We ask the nurses if they have a time yet. No word, but they'll let us know ASAP.
7:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
The Hospital Waiting Game. I can't help but think about how much we are paying to sit around in this room and do nothing while waiting for surgery.
I ask my nurses, trying not to sound annoyed, when my surgery will be. They call the surgeon but he is unavailable. They call the surgeon's office but they are not helpful. They call the Operating Room and ask when I am on the schedule - I'm not. We are all becoming even more frustrated when word comes - they are ready for me.
I am wheeled down to the OR waiting room. Allen bids me farewell and good luck as I head through the doors. As soon as he leaves my side I am nervous & anxious. I just want this over with. The reality of all that has happened in just over 24 hours is overwhelming and I find myself emotional. I sing the words to "Particle Man" over and over in my head as an attempt at distraction. I do not want to cry in front of all these strangers.
I talk with the anesthesiologist about what's going to happen during surgery. He offers more options than I want to think about. I tell him that I want to be completely asleep during the procedure and that's all I care about. He goes on and on giving me details on why I should opt for a spinal block, etc. and have some pump put in my sciatic nerve to control the pain after. I already told him what I wanted and I just want him to leave now. He finally does.
Still no sign of my surgeon. I sit and watch as person after person is brought in, meets with their surgeon and anesthesiologist and is taken to the OR for surgery. I try to fall asleep so that I can be distracted from thoughts of crying.
WHERE IS MY SURGEON?! Another anesthesiologist comes and asks me to sign a consent form. I tell him that I have already signed one. He asks if I was told that he was my new anesthesiologist. No, I was not told. He apologizes, excuses himself for a moment (to go chew someone out?) and comes back. I actually like him better than the first guy - he's easy-going and down to earth.
My surgeon shows up. I want to chew him out for making me lay there in the OR waiting area for AN HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES but I figure it's best to keep things amiable since he's about to cut my leg open and put some screws and plates in there. I just try not to cry and nod my head when he asks me questions. To his benefit, he IS being very sweet.
The anesthesiologist puts something into my IV, says he'll see me later, and I start to feel tingly as I fall asleep to his singing of some classic rock.
I wake up in the recovery room and immediately ask if anyone has called Allen. They tell me he should be in the waiting area. I tell them to call him. They say they will once we get to my room. I am starting to get frantic again. I somehow feel like everything will be fine if Allen is with me and I need him there NOW. As we walk outside the OR, he is there, waiting. I breathe a sigh of relief.
The details from here on out are insubstantial. So now, here I am at home, my humongously casted ankle resting on my bed in front of me, my 5 day old baby resting to my right, and my life is good.
There are so many tender mercies that have occurred in our lives over the last 5 days. Some things much too personal to share, some details which are overwhelming evidence of how blessed we are.
I love how my kids will sneak into my room just for a chance to hold their new baby brother. I am amazed by each tiny feature and contented half-grin on my newborn baby boy. Broken ankle? Sure, it's inconvenient. And a literal pain. But in the end, all is well.
Seriously, look at that face.
I am so, so blessed.
Happy New Year, everyone.