Jeff and I have a running joke that I like to get sick on his birthday. After having a nasty mastitis on his birthday last year (we had to drive home from vacation in the middle of the night I was so sick), we really didn't think anything would top that. Little did we know...
I had been having increasing shortness of breath for the last few weeks. I didn't notice it getting worse and assumed - its 120 degrees out, I'm 8 months pregnant, and I'm chasing around three kids. Who wouldn't have shortness of breath? On the night of Jeff's birthday, I started having a sharp pain when breathing in my right lung. I tried using an albuterol inhaler and it did nothing. I took a hot shower and went to bed thinking I would have my dr check it out at my 32 week OB check the next morning.
By the next morning (Wednesday) I was really short on breath - like couldn't talk short. The Dr's assumed I had a blood clot in my lung and sent me straight to the hospital to get checked out. I had no other symptoms - just shortness of breath and sharp pain in my right lung. A quick catscan (it's amazing how speedy hospitals can do things at times and how painfully slow at others!) revealed a pneumonia in my right lung. What? I have no fever, my blood cell counts were all NORMAL (including white), my ox levels were normal. How did I have pneumonia?
Several large jugs of blood and 24 hours of waiting revealed that I have Valley Fever. Most Phx natives have it - it's a fungus that is just part of the air we breathe. What you don't know about Valley Fever is that it can rear it's ugly head when it feels like it. It's possible for Valley Fever to lie dormant in your system for years and never experience any symptoms - or assume you have a small virus and you recover. It can show up anywhere in your body. Shortness of breath and unbelievable tiredness are the most common symptoms, but it can also be a pneumonia (like me!), a rash, a joint infection, an eye infection, any other kind of infection and a meningitis (grows in your spinal column). Apparently for me, now was the time for Valley Fever to rear it's ugly head. (And no, this was not a bi-product from the Haboob. With the stage I was at it had been growing for 6-8 weeks).
Ok, back to the story. Yay! Diagnosis - Valley Fever...now what? The good thing about VF is that it's very treatable. The bad thing is that it TAKES FOREVER. My Infections Disease Dr said that it's slow growing so it's slow going. The Dr's plan was to get my breathing stabilized and wean me off oxygen (by this point I had dropped to 86% and pregnant women should be above 97%) and send me home to recover. Brilliant plan - I am for it! And that worked...for about 24 hours.
Thursday night, just when I was starting to feel much more relaxed (thank you Vicodin) and like I could finally rest, I went into labor. Contractions were 3 min apart and I dilated to 3 cm in about an hour. Yep, baby is coming - no FFN needed. There was only one drug the dr's could give me to stop labor so they gave it a shot - and it worked. Woohoo! I was settling back down, contractions were slowing, it was great. Then I got up to go pee. And WOOSH, my vitals crashed (did I mention it's 1am Friday morning at this point?). My blood pressure was at 58/20, pulse 160 and oxy levels in the 70's (while being given oxygen).
We learned about a new button in the hospital at this point in time - it's called a rapid response. Within 30 seconds there were 15 different doctors all in my room WITH their equipment working to stabilize me. They put me on a cpap machine - which forces air into your lungs (and more commonly used with newborns) so I wouldn't have to transfer to the ICU - though that was the next step if I didn't stabilize. Praise God that I did! Within a couple hours on cpap my oxy levels were better but my breathing, pulse and blood pressure were still not good. You know your in bad shape when your nurse remarks that 80/40 is a great blood pressure!
Around 2am my Perinatalogist (high risk pregnancy dr) came in and made the call to re-induce my labor...that they had just stopped. They had to wait until I was a little more stable and I had labor stopping drugs in my system so we had to let those wear off a little. Around 5 am they began the process of induction, I was hooked up to petocin and they broke my water. It took quite a while for my body to respond to the petocin (probably due to the labor stopping meds) but it finally did and I went from 4cm to pushing in only about 30 min. I delivered wearing the cpap mask. That was fun.
At 10:58 am on Friday July 8th - Judah Russell was born. He weighed 4lbs 4 oz and was 17.5 inches long. Judah means "praise God" or "give thanks to God". I had picked the name prior to delivering or any of this craziness. Even while I was in labor, we were still going back and forth between three different names when Jeff told me that I should name him. Looking back, I don't think any other name could be more perfect.
Even through this chaos - a huge tornado has completely turn our lives and schedules upside-down and sideways - we praise God. No one asks for a preemie - it is one of the most emotionally and physically exhausting things a mother can go through, especially when there are three other kids at home all wanting and needing your attention. But I feel God's presence walking me through it. Through my recovery, through Judah's, and as our family finds a new balance, we find our peace and our strength in God.
Thank you to our family - who put their lives on hold this last week to be there for us and for the girls. And thank you to our Desert Breeze family. We couldn't ask for a better church community and the support you're giving us is truly an example of why God designed the church.