Yesterday morning as I was walking to work, I felt like I had a stitch in my right side. It was weird because I walk a lot, usually much faster than I was going, and I never feel pains like that. But I just blew it off.
The throughout my work day, the pain got worse and worse. By 1 pm, I was in tears and could barely walk, although I was keeping a brave face in front of my coworkers and the residents. I didn't want people to think I was being overly dramatic.
Aaron picked me up early and I laid down in bed. I was miserable. the entire right side of my belly felt like it had been ripped open from the inside, and my entire abdomen was super tender - which was only made worse by a hyper toddler who kept attempting to snuggle and climb on me.
When i got up from bed to pee, I honestly thought I might be dying. It hurt so bad, it took me at least 15 minutes to find a way to get up from our mattress on the floor without collapsing from the pain. After I walked across the house and peed, I felt a little better. It seemed like the pain was worst when I had to move from a position that I had stayed in for a while.
I spent most of the afternoon curled up on the couch, still in pain, but trying to shift my weight every so often. I didn't feel like eating the fabulous casserole that Aaron made for dinner - I was starting to feel chilly and achy, and my eyes were burning. Surefire signs of a fever.
My temp was just a couple tenths of a degree above normal, though. So I relaxed a little bit. I sat back down and did some kick counting. Asher was moving excellently, I wasn't too worried about him. I had no idea what the pain was from, but Asher seemed fine, and that's what counts. But my fever symptoms kept getting worse.
I took my temp again, and this time it was 99.6. I asked Aaron's opinion - should we go the ER, or stick it out til morning and make a Dr's appointment? With the fever (low-grade as it was) in the picture, my mind started jumping to things like uterine infections. Aaron suggested that I call the First Nurse hotline. The nurse who answered encouraged me to go to the ER immediately. She said it could be nothing, but they really need to check for placental abruption whenever there's sharp pain like that. So in we went.
They sent me straight to L&D, which I guess is policy for any woman pregnant with a viable baby. I was hooked up to monitors, an IV, and they took a bunch of blood and a urine sample. I had a gut feeling that everything would come back normal, since I had no symptoms besides pain and fever. And I was right - everything looked great. My temp was higher - 101.7 - and my pulse was high (110s to 130s) as was Asher's (160s-180s) but the rapid heartrates are to be expected with a fever. He was moving plenty and his HR went up when he moved, which indicates a healthy placenta (so they were no longer worried about abruption.) This is when I first started thinking, "So can I go home now?"
Laying in the hospital bed, my pain was practically zilch. When I got up to pee, I felt it, but not nearly as bad as the stabbing, searing pain that had me in tears earlier that day. I wondered if I had just wasted everyone's time.
The doctor on call came to see me. I expected her to send me home, I honestly did. But no. She was worried about appendicitis, given the location and severity of my pain, and my fever. She didn't want me to stay in Grinnell, because if they had to operate and something went wrong, GRMC doesn't have the equipment to take care of a preemie as young as Asher would be. She wanted to transfer me to a bigger hospital in Des Moines.
I thought it was extreme overkill. i didn't feel like I had appendicitis - the pain was along the side of my belly, not down inside where my organs would be. But, as many, many people told me throughout the night, better safe than sorry. They would rather monitor me and have it turn out to be nothing than send me home with undiagnosed appendicitis and have my appendix burst.
The ambulance ride to Des Moines was a long, long hour. Aaron dropped Declan off at Lindsey's and followed right behind us - he said later that he pretty much tailgaited the ambulance. He was pretty distraught. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen my man cry, and last night was one of the most extreme displays of emotion I've seen so far. It was sweet. And a little funny, to me, because although I was the one facing surgery, I wasn't scared at all. I guess I just knew in my heart of hearts that I was fine.
We settled into our room at Mercy - more monitors, more IV fluids (I wasn't allowed to eat or drink, just in case I did need surgery), more blood taken. They brought Aaron a cot and we were both asleep within an hour or so. I couldn't sleep well. I am a restless sleeper these days - I have to move to keep my hips from aching - but I wasn't allowed due to the monitors strapped across my belly. Finally, at 2:30 am, the nurse let me take the monitors off (I had been on for 4 hours and everything looked perfect... I could have told you that would happen) and I was allowed to get comfy and sleep a little. She said that the doctors would start showing up around 5 am to poke and prod.
I woke up at 5, got up to pee, and felt almost no pain. I remember rolling my eyes, because now I was SURE that I was here for nothing. I missed Declan. I was worried about how much this would all cost. I was worried that the doctors and nurses would scoff at me behind my back for coming in for a little ligament pain. But I had to remind myself just how severe it had been on Sunday - that was not normal.
The surgeons felt my belly. The nurses checked my vitals. The bloodwork was back. Nothing was wrong. Fever was gone, pain was lessening (although my belly still felt very achy - the way you might feel the day after a surgery.) I had an ultrasound. Asher is 3 lbs, 13 oz, and perfect in every way. No bleeds in the placenta, nothing. I did notice when she measured his head that it was about 2-3 weeks ahead of the average for his age... But that's to be expected :) I also noticed that he's laying straight across my belly, head on the right, butt on the left, legs tucked.
The head OB came in after reviewing my U/S results, around 10:30. He said that he couldn't see any reason to keep me there. I asked if he had any idea what the pain could have been from. He agreed with me that it sounded like more than just normal pregnancy pain, but that they couldn't find any real cause. A medical mystery. Aaron was (and is) not a happy camper that they couldn't figure it out. I don't really care, as long as the pain is gone.
Anyway, we were going home! Hooray! I started peeling the corners of my IV tape up. I was beyond ready to go home and see my baby. All we needed was word from the surgeon that it was okay to release me, and since they had already decided that I didn't have appendicitis, I thought that process couldn't take long.
I was wrong. We waited. And waited. Finally, a little after noon, my nurse came in and told me I could eat. So apparently the surgeon had cleared me to eat, but not go home? I was confused, but so grateful. I was starving. Aaron went down to the cafeteria and bought us both big, hearty salads, and I got full off maybe half of mine. While Aaron was finishing his food, the nurse came in with the good news that the surgeon had cleared me, so she could take out my IV and have me sign discharge papers. I was so anxious to leave that I literally stood at Aaron's shoulder watching him eat, holding my bags.
We hightailed it home (stopping to get Lindsey a slushie from her favorite truck stop - it was the least we could do after her long night trying to get our stubborn toddler to sleep!) I did notice a bit more pain when I walked, almost like a pulled muscle along my side. But it was still SO much better than the day before.
At home, I was exhausted. My night of interrupted sleep had caught up with me. I laid on the couch and tried to snooze, but Declan kept pushing the Playstation controller in my face and asking for "CHOO CHOO! CHOO CHOO!" (AKA episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine on Netflix.) My pain was significantly worse laying there, but I had faith that when I got up and moving again, it would be back down. Sure enough.
I still have some sharp twinges, mostly when Asher kicks / headbutts me especially hard. But I am going to work tomorrow, just to try, and Aaron will definitely go to work. i am glad the whole episode is over, but it's left me feeling guilty. I just have to keep repeating that if it had been something real, and I hadn't gone in, I would never be able to forgive myself. better safe than sorry. I just wish that the doctors had been a little more conservative and less "OMG lets get you to a hospital with a NICU, you might have surgery tonight AHHH!"
Anyway, this is long enough. I just wanted to get it all documented.