Monday, January 18, 2010

A birthday to remember

Wow... where to start? Before I get into how our weekend went, I just want to preface this by saying that this post will probably be LONG. And possibly a bit scatterbrained. Beyond that, I also want to thank everyone for their prayers, support, and love over these past few days. They were definitely tough, but Josh and I feel so incredibly loved and cared for that there are far more blessings in our lives than we deserve. Each and every one of you has touched our lives with your prayers and yesterday I told Josh that this was probably the most people I've ever had praying for me at one time. That, regardless of the circumstances, was the best birthday gift I could ever ask for. It is so much more than I deserve. So thank you... I will never be able to say it enough.

So now onto the update of the weekend. Honestly, to tell the full story, I would have to start earlier in the week, although I'm not sure what day it all began. Early last week I started having mild pain in my inner, left thigh. I told Josh that I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle, but I could not figure out when I would have done that. As the pain got worse, I also considered (as mentioned in my last post) that perhaps little Jake had positioned himself on my sciatic nerve. Whatever it was, it hurt. And as the week went on, it got worse. Thinking it was one of the scenarios above, I tried all that I could to make the pain go away. I went to the gym, I stretched, and I went on a shopping trip with a girlfriend of mine to "work out the muscle" and get my blood pumping. Just in case it was more nerve-related, I saw a chiropractor for an adjustment. Nothing seemed to be working and by Thursday, I started developing a limp and noticed that my left knee was a bit swollen. I decided that it could be due to overcompensating for my sore thigh. For the most part, I just had a dull ache that was annoying, but tolerable. But by Saturday morning, I dreaded any activity to get from point A to point B. Just going upstairs to take a shower and get dressed seemed like climbing Mt. Everest and I was desperate for a reason as to why I still hurt.

Saturday night rolled around and Josh and I left for church as we normally do. Before we left, he asked if I would prefer to stay home, but I told him that I didn't want to miss church and would just take it easy once I got there. On the way there, he had me call both a nurse and our doctor to see if they had any ideas as to what might be going on. Both of them mentioned blood clots during their calls, but the pain in my inner thigh was what was throwing them off. Neither one of them had ever heard of that symptom for anything pregnancy related, and when I pulled my toe back toward my shin (which is a common test for a blood clot apparently), I felt no pain. Both of them recommended that I keep an eye on it, and if it swelled anymore or became red or hot to the touch, I would need to go to the ER. Otherwise, I could wait until my appointment on Monday. The two of us carried on our merry way and got through the service as usual. I stayed seated as much as possible and only limped around if I had somewhere specific to go. Something was clearly not right. As we drove home, Josh told me that we were going to the hospital. I didn't want to feel like I was overreacting so I told him that we could wait and see how things were in the morning. Lucky for me, my husband overrode that decision and told me that we were going no matter what. He said that the best case scenario would be that I had pulled a muscle and they'd tell us to go home. I am so thankful he didn't listen to me!

The nice part about living in Small Town, Illinois is that hospital visits do not require a ton of waiting. I literally walked in and sat down at registration and by the time Josh had parked the car and met me inside, I was ready to be wheeled to a room. After routine questions, vitals were checked, and my leg was looked at, they told us that we would have an ultrasound to check for a blood clot. As they put it, they'd like to "rule out" a blood clot before going any further. We were wheeled into the ultrasound room and the technician started checking it out. It was a little strange to be in an ultrasound room and not looking at the baby (we really did want to take a peek at our little man!) but it was also very scary. She checked the usual places for a blood clot, but did not find anything until she got up to where the pain was. At that time, what she saw was not good. Josh was able to look at the screen with her as she pointed out everything, but all I could see was their faces. Apparently, the clot she found had grown to the point that it is more like a "worm" as she called it, and filled up a long portion of the vein in my upper thigh. Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is the technical term for the condition and it can be brought on by many reasons. Some people have blood that is just more prone to clots, some have a genetic predisposition to clots, some are pregnancy-related, and some are due to long travel or inactivity. They did not try to speculate what mine was caused by entirely as they will eventually do a complete blood workout to learn more. The good news was that the clot was not affecting the baby and his blood supply was good. In fact, he had no idea that anything abnormal was going on out here. Lucky dude.

That night was a tough one for the both of us. We had very little information beyond what I just told you, but we also got the rundown on the worst case scenarios. We heard everything from "she'll be here in the hospital until the baby comes" to "she'll be on thinners that will prevent her from nursing the baby" and also learned about the fear of a clot dislodging and going straight to the heart and the lungs. Clearly the doctors were on edge about the situation, which made us even more nervous. I was immediately hooked up to an IV of the blood thinner heparin and would need to have blood drawn every 4 hours as they adjusted the levels to make my blood the right consistency. Since the blood is much thicker during pregnancy, mine needed quite a few adjustments to make sure the blood would be thin enough to go around the clot and not push on it at all. As long as blood flows around it, it cannot grow larger and the risk of it dislodging decrease quite a bit. Between the nurses checking my vitals, the lab techs drawing blood, and the fear and nerves, Josh and I barely slept at all. It was a very long night and I was so thankful to see daylight the next morning, even though we were both exhausted.

Sunday morning (my birthday!) Josh went to church as I insisted that I would be fine by myself for the few hours that he would be gone. I had planned to sleep while he was away but I was still very restless. Josh was preaching this week and I knew that he had so much on his mind and I so badly wanted to be there. As ten o'clock approached, I found myself in prayer, sending my love and support to him the only way that I knew how. Through this entire process, he has been a rock and has held me together when everything seemed to be so unclear. I would not have made it through this without him and spent much time thanking God for putting him at my side. During that quiet time, I definitely did not feel alone and much of my fear about the unknown subsided, so in many ways, I am grateful that he went. Both of us took the time apart to get all of our worries out of our systems and I later heard from many folks that it was the most powerful church service they had ever been to. Josh hadn't planned on sharing everything that was going on, but as soon as he was up in front of the congregation, he just lost it. He told everyone what was happening, the church prayed over me, and he delivered a "home run" as I was told later. As bummed as I still am to miss one of the best messages he has ever delivered, I am humbled to know that God used our situation for the building of His kingdom. God can truly take any bad situation and use it for good, and if even one person came to Christ by attending that service, then my hospital stay was worth it. And it is a wonderful thing to have a strong faith that allows us to see the upside to all of this, and there are many upsides for sure.

The day went on with the continued monitoring, but we had an overwhelming amount of visitors and phone calls. Folks from the church brought birthday cupcakes and goodies, balloons and flowers, birthday gifts, magazines, books, and wonderful company. The day flew by as we sat and spent some quality time with people that we don't get to spend enough time with, and that was a nice treat. We really did not learn much that day, but we did know that there was a chance that we would be discharged the next day so we were hopeful for the possibility.

The second night went very much like the first, but I slept much more due to the exhaustion that had set in. I was a zombie by bedtime and the frequent interruptions did not bother me as much. Regardless, we were still both awake very early as our accommodations were not the most comfortable or quiet. The good news was that starting at 9 AM, our first visitor arrived, and we had someone with us all day until we got to go home. Danny, a nurse at our church, stuck around until we were discharged so that she could take notes and make sure the doctors answered all of our questions before we left. She is heaven-sent and we are so grateful to be surrounded by people who are willing to be there for us. Somebody throughout the day mentioned that it must be hard being in the hospital when our family was so far away, but I told her that we felt like our family was here. Again, for those of you who visited, and even those of you who just sent an email, text, or Facebook message, you have no idea how much the support meant to us. You truly got us through these past few days.

So what's next you may wonder? Honestly, we have an idea, but there are still a lot of questions to be answered. As of now, we are home and I will continue to be on blood thinners for the duration of my pregnancy. The safest form for the baby is an injection that I will have to take every 12 hours for the next 8 weeks. I think Dr. Josh is looking forward to his first injection tomorrow morning and although it's not ideal, I can handle shots for awhile if that is what is safest for our baby and me. Obviously, the doctors will not want me on blood thinners when I deliver, so the plan is for me to stop the drugs 48 hours before a scheduled induction so that my blood will have plenty of time to thicken up before labor. I probably will not go to 40 weeks to reduce the risk of the baby coming early before I can get the thinners out of my system. I am also on bedrest, but we are still unclear as to how long and to what extent that will be, although my mobility hinders me from getting up and around anyway. We go to our OB tomorrow, and these are the details that we will discuss and have more answers on after that appointment. Labor and delivery (the original plan versus the plan from here on out) probably requires its own post anyway, so after the appointment when we have more information, I will post another update. In the meantime, Josh, Baby Jake, and I are all tired but stable and extremely happy to be home. We thank you all for your continued support as we learn more information and navigate this process that gets our son here safely. I will certainly share information as I get it to keep you all in the loop.

But for now, there is nothing like being home and in our own bed. A good night sleep sounds like what the doctor ordered!


  1. Kim, that's so terrifying!! I'm so sorry! I've been doing a lot of research on clots in pregnancy (since that's what they suspect caused us to lose our baby in November) so I'm curious to hear what the bloodwork eventually shows. In the meantime, have fun with the heparin shots! I'm sorry to hear about your induction, but everything will turn out fabulously - your birth will be such an amazing experience, no matter what. :)

    I'm so glad to hear that this turned into an uplifting and spiritual experience. You're so right - God can use anything to further His work!

  2. Liz, I will be happy to share anything I learn with you! This is a learning experience for us, too, and we'll know even MORE after the baby is here. And yes, my delivery plans will change significantly, but my original plans were based on what was best for baby, and the new plan is, too. That's the most important thing, right?

  3. Thanks for sharing your story in such detail! What a terrifying ordeal, yet you pulled through all of it in perfect stride. I am so bummed I could not make it to church Sunday, as it sounds like a great service. Let me know when you are up for our camera chat and I'll stop over! We can easily chat about it while you are resting. :) I will be praying for you, baby Jake, and Josh!

  4. Sweet birthday friend - I'm sending lots of love and prayer to you. I am so glad that Josh listened to his husbandly and fatherly (no pun intended - HA :)) instinct and took you in! Goodness.

    Love you.

  5. Thanks for your post. We have kept you in our prayers. You are an amazing team and are doing great things for the Kingdom! Keep the faith! Praying that God will bless you exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond all that you could ever ask for, hope for, or even think, according to His power that's at work within you. Love, Rod & Jill Bess

  6. So glad you are okay. You are a blessed lady, not only are you and baby Jake going to be fine, you were able to see just how much you are loved! Still praying for you as always :) Hang in there!