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Amber Perea: “I Am Not A Good Incubator”

To the men out there, yes, this is a pregnancy post….with a twist to it.  This is NOT a labor post.  My dad’s favorite labor quote is: “Don’t tell me about the labor pains, just show me the baby.”  So no whining here.  But if you aren’t the pregnancy reader type, by all means miss out on an AMAZING read and skip it….wimps…..
Normal is the New Boring says it best: “I am not a good incubator.”  I am right with her.

My husband and I were married 4 1/2 years before my mom strong armed me into stopping birth control.  She said I was almost 30 and I needed to get on it.  Brent and I were happy with a hedonistic life.  And every time we tried to babysit it was a disaster.  We decided we just weren’t ready after every horrible experience.

But I had several friends who took years, or never, to have children.  So when we moved into a house twice the size of the first, we (or I) figured we should get started.  Six weeks later I was on the Octopus ride at World’s of Fun with a friend…and I was green as grass by the time it was done.  Never having in my life been ill over a ride, I thought there must be something wrong.  And then I remembered that I was off birth control.  No Way.  I get a kit and YUP WAY.  Wordlessly I dropped the “positive” onto the table in front of Brent.

“This is all your fault.  Stupid sperm.  Im not ready for kids yet.”

Brent was speechless.  He just kept staring at the darn thing.  I think he was hoping that the current scenario was a bad fantasy.  Finally he looked up, grinned a big huge male grin and said, “Uh, I’m sorry?”

Grrr….

I have the tightest abdominal muscles on the planet.  I had a twenty inch waist when I got married.  Stuffing in a baby was about impossible.  It went inward.  My poor organs were smushed.  I was the most constipated preggo on the planet.  But I never needed maternity clothes, a financial bonus to be sure.  Now I wasn’t unhappy that I looked pregnant, but by month five, my doctor was.  And my ultrasound showed that the baby had mild IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation).  Next followed four months of intensive follow-up, eventually leading to total bed rest.  The baby just wasn’t growing well.  And as I was not anorexic, a drug addict or other problem mom, my GYN was baffled.

We discovered the problem after a 28 hour labor and delivery, topped off with 3 hours of suction. By golly, my GYN was going to pull him out or die in the attempt!   When Garin finally arrived, we discovered that I had a true knot in the umbilical cord.  An unusual complicaton.  Every medical student trooped in (while I was still in stirrups and flashing my best at everyone) to see the amazing sight.  My son could have died from this.  Instead he looked like a sucked in doll.  His poor tummy was sunken with malnutrition.  It was a pathetic sight.

Garin was a handful, so we were just fine with one.  But my mom (again) did not have a granddaughter, which was the TOP ITEM ON HER BUCKET LIST.  And as my mom is the kindest of persons, I felt guilty.  Guilt does strange things to people.  I decided that Garin should have a sibling for holidays and such when he grew up.  Pretty much the dumbest reason to have a kid, but there you go.  Since I was 33 now, we figured it would be much harder to have kids, and decided to stop birth control and see what happened.

Eight weeks later I was in a grocery store, going down the aisle in my typical state of overstimulated blindness, when my body sensed the pickles along the aisle.  I’m not kidding you, I ran over and just started GRABBING pickles. I was in pickle heaven.  Suddenly I stopped.  I don’t buy pickles…… OH NO!

DARN SPERM-DARN SPERM-DARN SPERM!

This time I called him.  I didn’t even need a kit.  I knew.  I bought one, but just for proof.  I told him my story and said it was (again) his fault as I was not mentally prepared.  He said that I had 40 weeks, oh, no, probably 34 weeks, left to get used to it.

This pregnancy was SOMETHING ELSE. I did not have any morning sickness with Garin.  With this one I was sick all day long.  I hoped that meant a girl, but it was miserable.  Then I started vomiting bile.  Now, I am a nurse.  I should know that bile is NOT NORMAL.  But I was in denial.  I never told my GYN.  I just lived with it.  I grew to be an expert at vomiting at 70 MPH.  I had my big bucket on my lap and I would drive and puke without ever looking down.  The things you learn.

The day before all hell broke loose was my worst call ever.  I was at the hospital for 24 hours straight.  I was 28 weeks pregnant and didn’t eat for 18 of it.  I even went and begged the cafeteria to take money out of my paycheck, as I didn’t have any cash with me.  They refused.  They refused a pregnant employee who was stuck at the hospital.

I am still in shock over it.

I had three dialysis emergencies after a long day at work.  Each one was timed perfectly.  As soon as  I walked out, my beeper would page me.  Michelle, our fellow, ever more apologetic, would brief me on the situation.  Each one was a long ordeal.  The last page about broke me.  I was exhausted.  Michelle felt awful for me.  If there was any way we could postpone it, she would.  I dragged myself to ICU, and while there the head Internist came in and thanked me for all the work I was doing.  Our conversation went like this:

“Did you know I have been here 20 hours?”

“Wow, no.  How horrible.”

“Did you know I am 7 months pregnant?”

“Really? You don’t look it.”

“Did you know I haven’t eaten for 16 hours?”

“Nnnnoooo….”

And the last, with unshed tears: “Did you know that I cant feel my legs anymore?”

“Ah, let me get you a chair….”

He did, and helped me with the treatment.  I sat with my eyes closed except when I absolutely had to do something, or give my helpers some directions.  By the end, I could barely stand.  He asked if I needed to go to the ER.  Heck no.  I had an appointment with my GYN that morning in a few hours.

My GYN was horrified over my call and put me on restrictions right away.  Then she saw my blood pressure.  It was high.  I told her about the flashes of light and–finally–the bile.  I was admitted for evaluation.  And not too long after my blood was drawn people started coming in doing all kinds of stuff to me.  There was a nervous air to them.  I know something was up.  Finally a strange doctor came in.

“I have been calling all kinds of people about you.  Your labs show some unusual abnormalities.  Have you been feeling bad?”

“Not really. Im pretty exhausted, but I have been working a lot.”

“Have you ever heard of HELLP syndrome?”

“No, never.”

“Few do.  It is a rare and life threatening complication of pregnancy.  And we are questioning if you have it.”

Well, isn’t THAT crapulous.

To make a long and aggravating story short, I was in liver failure for an unknown reason.  I quickly became very ill.  Too ill to go up stairs, or shower, or do anything other than lay on the bed.  I saw multiple doctors, but because I did not have a textbook case of HELLP, cholestasis of pregnancy or EBV re-activation, no one knew what to do with me.

Finally, my labs were so bad it was just time to take the baby.  And I had the worst bronchitis on the planet–my albumin level was non-existent (the liver synthesizes it, and low levels can lead to infection). On the way, I puked bile four times.  All the staff were nervous.  If it was HELLP, I would bleed out.

To wrap up a long tale, I didn’t bleed out, my labs eventually became normal and no one knows what caused it.  I think it was the start of my inflammatory disease, as I had severe pain in my joints that I did not tell anyone about, and there was indication of severe inflammation with my lab results.  They thought I was infected.  But inflammatory labs can be a cause of a number of conditions beside infection.  Sometimes pregnancy can worsen or bring on inflammatory disease to those who are pre-disposed to it.

My GYN was discussing future plans for children with me on my first visit.  She said DONT DO IT.  HAHAHA, I had a medical reason NOT to have more kids. And since I had a girl, she and I were ON THE SAME PAGE!

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9 comments on “Amber Perea: “I Am Not A Good Incubator”

  1. Well Lori as a parent of 6 and having been through the birth of all of them I can say none were as ‘exciting’ as yours. That you had to work such long hours must say something about your health system as well, though my son is medical person and I know he works long hours at times.
    Despite all that happened to you, you have your son and daughter, and you mother must be as happy as now.

    • Yes, I did good bringing home the bacon….ahh, the girl. And “all’s well that ends well”, so they say. My mom lives to be a “mom-mom”, and my daughter is “craftsy” like her, so they are well matched. While I like to write, my visual art is still in the stone age, although I do a mean stick figure! So having my mom around to help her with craft projects is a precious gift! You are nuts. I cant handle two. Six would drive me screaming from the house. Overactive ovaries aside, I was definitely not cut out to be a mom!

  2. In your case Lori, enough is most definitely enough. I’ve heard of some terrible pregnancies in my time but yours take the biscuit. I have no idea how your children turned out but I’m glad your survived the ordeals albeit with some terrible complications to your health.xxx I send Huge Hugs xxx

  3. I would have been scared out of my mind both times…..I’m so glad you’re alive to tell the stories. Frightening experiences, to say the least!

  4. This made me laugh and almost cry at the same time. For just a second I almost reconsidered reproducing at this age and stage in life.
    Minus the not looking pregnant, you really did have some bad pregnancy luck.

    • But mostly drama! And I will take drama without the bad consequences anytime. And as I looked at a tiny disaster today (a 33 weeker delivered emergently from a sudden severe illness in the mom that turned out to be an enterococcal infection in the placenta), I had it easy compared to this. The child has enterococcal sepsis with MOF and a 5% chance of survival. Prior to that, mom had no problems. Wow.

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