Unfinished Business

In November I attempted to do a little blog series entitled Thankful Thursday, however, my final installment got derailed due to holiday travel, an overtired child, and, let’s be real here, gluttony.  However, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t finish what I started and dedicate a post to the most important little person in my life.  My little Tazmanian Devil.  My baby girl. 

I have to admit that after living with this miniature human for the last year and a half, I’ve grown pretty attached.  While there are days I would sell her to the gypsies for a Dr. Pepper, I can’t imagine my life without her.  And I shutter to think there was a time when I thought she wouldn’t make it into this world.

The choice to start a family was a very deliberate decision for us due to my medical conditions.  Specialists were consulted, medication was tapered, post-partum care was discussed.  The one thing that I didn’t account for was my Crohn’s going completely coo coo for cocoa puffs. 

There is this thing that doctors call the rule of thirds.  A third of Crohn’s patients do really well in pregnancy.  Then another third remain stable.  And then there is the final third that tanks.  And that was me.  (Obviously this means they don’t have a clue.  Three choices each with a 33.3% chance of occurrence?  Hmm…) 

By week 7, I was getting that old familiar feeling, except I had never been pregnant before, so I assumed it was purely the influx of hormones getting the best of my gut.  I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  And by week 13, I found myself in the hospital for the first time to receive IV antibiotics and corticosteroids. (Did you know they can give morphine to preggos?)  Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I was headed back for a return visit.  (Merry F’in Christmas.)

But under the close watch of my gastroenterologist, obstetrician, and a team of other medical professionals, we managed to get my symptoms under control by the end of my second trimester.  I was beginning to gain weight and I could see my belly growing along with my baby.  I was finally happy to be pregnant and was getting excited to meet this little terrorist causing havoc inside me.

Despite a few minor obstacles (gestational diabetes due to my excessive corticosteroid use, extreme heartburn, and the other common third trimester complaints) we had made it through most of the homestretch without major incident.  Until St. Patrick’s Day…

It was at the St. Patrick’s Day parade that I began to notice something wasn’t “quite right.”  I went to visit the port-o-potty and noticed that there was some excessive wetness where maybe there shouldn’t be.  I assumed it was just caused by the 80°+ weather.  To be safe, we huffed it back to the car so that I could go home and rest. 

Fast forward 14 hours.  I wake up at 4am to find I’m…  um…  how do I say this delicately?  I’m…  ummm…  leaking.  Matt had just left for work, so I called the OB’s exchange hoping they would tell me it was nothing and to go back to bed.  But they didn’t.  So, I grabbed armfuls of absorptive materials and drove myself to the hospital. 

Matt walked in about 30 minutes later.  Just in time for them to say, “Yep.  You’re leaking amniotic fluid.”  Shortly after, we had a team of doctors and nurses traipsing through our room debating about delivering a 33 week and 4 day old baby or trying to stave off labor.  Had I been 34 weeks, there wouldn’t have been a question.  Out she would come.  But at this point in pregnancy, every day they are in utero is valuable.  But despite the risks, I was prepped for an emergency c-section.  I barely had time to call my family before they wheeled me into the operating room.

Allison Grace was born at 7:49am.  She came out screaming, but she was oh so tiny.  4lbs 2oz.  17 3/4 inches long.  She looked like a soaking wet chihuahuaua puppy.  Or at least how I would imagine one to look like.  This teeny body covered in pale thin skin that you can see right through.  A disproportionately large head with big puffy eyes.  But she was beautiful.  At least I thought so at the time.  Looking back at her first pictures make me wince a little now.

But she was healthy.  And strong. 

And over the next 12 days, she grew stronger.  She learned to suck, to swallow, and to breathe on her own (all at the same time).  And then they sent her home.  With us.  People that have never cared for a child before, let alone a miniature baby.

Our first night home, I remember sitting in the recliner watching tv with her sleeping on my chest.  It was the most peaceful feeling imaginable.  I couldn’t believe that we made her.

I had hoped that would be the end of our medical disasters for awhile, but unfortunately that was not the case.  My body was apparently very confused and thought I was still pregnant.  Maybe it was due to my extended use of maternity pants?  I guess we’ll never know.

But despite my best efforts to put out the fire in my gut, nothing was working.  And when I wound up back in the ER for the third time in 7 months, I was ready to give my surgeon a call.  I just wanted something to work.  So I could take care of my baby without being stuck in bed with a heating pad.

So, when Allison was a mere 10 weeks old, her momma had her second bowel resection. 

This was not my first rodeo, so I had high hopes that this surgery would solve all my problems.  After the last one, I had never felt better.  But I hadn’t just had a kid before the last one.  And for all of you that have been pregnant, you know that that little monster will lie, cheat, and steal to get what it needs to grow inside you…  Leaving you with very little left for yourself.

So, recovery was a long process…  And my body will never be the same.  I will never have a normal colon.  I will always look like an IED hit my stomach.  But every month gets a little better as I learn how to work with my altered digestive system.

And 21 months after my little girl unexpected arrived into this world, you would never know that she was anything but a normal, happy, healthy child.  For that, I am extremely grateful.

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5 Responses to Unfinished Business

  1. Kristy says:

    Wow, what a story! Thanks for sharing. And a beautiful little girl she is!!!

  2. Not a Perfect Mom says:

    She was a beautiful newborn!

  3. Jules says:

    Yikes! Like giving birth isn't hard enough, right?! You're crazy tough. But Allison is gorgeous! Good work!

  4. Sara D. says:

    I will TOTALLY make you that Dahlia pin. I tend to take on projects in batches, and Lord knows I don't need 10 of them!!! Happy to do it…just email me, sdenckhoff@savoyproperties.com and we'll figure it out. It's next on my list of things to try, so hopefully you won't be waiting until August!! Plus, you're here in St. Louis? Should be no-problemo to get it to you.

    And! You're a member of the preemie club! How similar can we get? I have two of those myself…they were born at 25 weeks, and we always think they looked like cornish game hens.

    Anyway. LOVE the story of Allison…thanks for sharing!


  5. […] years ago, I had just undergone my second bowel resection after being in the throes of a full blown Crohn’s attack for 9 months.  I was angry at my […]