Monday, March 7, 2011

A Birth Story

Sorry I've not been around for a while. I have a valid excuse though; I gave birth two weeks ago to a beautiful baby boy Owen Christopher Izzo. Born February 21, 10:32 am weighing in at 6 lbs and 9 oz, by far the tiniest Izzo I've ever delivered!

Owen came unexpectedly ten days before his due date. I was pretty excited the morning I realized I was in labor, but had no idea the trouble lurking on the horizon and the true reason he came so early.

The labor and delivery went extraordinarily fast. Not that that's terribly unusual for me. My longest labor ever was Sophia which was a whopping 6 hours and only so long because I was induced and she wasn't quite finished cooking yet. So the quickness of Owen’s delivery didn't surprise me or alarm me in the least. Everything was normal; "textbook" to quote my doctor after Owen came flying out after three pushes and I only had to push because I had to delivery his arm and head at the same time.

During delivery there was an indication that something was wrong and that was my very high blood pressure. At one point it was 183 over 147 and remained high after delivery. Fortunately I was able to hold and bond with Owen and even nursed him before they took him to the nursery to be looked over because it would be hours before I saw him again.


My blood pressure remained high and I was bleeding heavily at times when they moved me to the recovery room. My nurse allowed me to take a shower but insisted it be fast. Chris had left to get the kids and bring them back to meet their baby brother, so that left Chrissy and I in the recovery area. Chrissy would tell me later that the nurse who told me I could shower mentioned a risk of me having a seizure.

It wasn't long after that shower that they moved me back to labor and delivery and explained to me that I had severe Precclamsia. That my blood pressure was so high I could have a seizure and that I needed to be put on Magnesium Sulfate to keep that from happening. Magnesium Sulfate is nasty stuff, besides sounding like an ingredient in bath tub cleaner it sucks every ounce of energy out of you. I was hooked up to an IV with massive amounts of Magnesium Sulfate pumping into my veins. I was a jelly fish and just in time for my children to come back to see me.

Poor Chris, who came back in the middle of this chaos, had no idea what had happened or that I was unwell. He came back to the hospital with the kids to see Owen and I, only to find me attached to machines and seeming very out of it. I felt worse for the kids. Aden seemed very concerned and Abby had a look on her face that I will never forget. She knew something was very wrong and was trying not to show emotion, but her eyes said it all. It absolutely broke my heart. I tried my best for their sake to act normal, but it's kind of hard to act normal when you’re drooling and your eyes are little slits like James Franco in Pineapple Express.

I was able to kiss the kids goodbye and Chrissy, who had been with me while Chris was getting the kids, took them home. It was just in time too because things were about to get worse. My bleeding was getting worse as time went on. At around four in the afternoon I was hemorrhaging and had lost a great deal of blood. Most of what happened here is hard to remember through the fog of magnesium sulfate and loss of blood. What I do remember is looking at the Doctor and nurses attending to me and asking if I was going to loose my uterus. My Doctor looked back at me; her eyes as big saucers, and told me I was going to be just fine. I could tell she wasn't being truthful. I would find out in the days to come how serious that moment was, but for now, for the sake of not working me up to a seizure I was left in the dark.

My bleeding stopped after two shots to the behind of something to help my blood clot, but the damage was already done. I had lost a lot of blood and needed a blood transfusion. Now I was confined to my bed; Magnesium Sulfate in one arm, blood pumping into the other and a catheter just to make things fun.

For the next three days Nurses buzzed around my bed taking my blood pressure constantly, drawing blood, checking my catheter and urine. One of the nurses who had helped me the night before came to see me the next day with tears in her eyes saying that I had given them quite a scare. It was then I began to realize this was a lot more serious than they were letting on the night before.

Slowly the story began to come out. I had severe Preeclamsia, but that in itself is very unusual for someone on their fourth child. Preeclamsia typically will happen to a woman in her first pregnancy and there would be warning signs leading up to delivery warning the woman and her doctors that she was sick.  When you go to your OBGYN for your monthly visits there are exams they put you though to check for problems. For Preeclamsia they look for a few things. First they check you for sudden weight gain as it is a sign of Preeclamsia. In my case there was no sudden or extreme weight gain, in fact I had lost a pound or two at my last visit. The next thing thy look for is protein in your urine, but every urine specimen I gave them tested negative for protein. Last, they check your blood pressure which again for me was always normal, except one time weeks before and even then it wasn't alarmingly high.  The only symptom I had was vision changes. In the weeks before I delivered I was seeing random bursts of light and sometimes my vision would blur, but it would go away in about ten to fifteen minutes and then I would be fine. Typically with Preeclamsia vision changes would be constant, so even this symptom was not enough to alarm anyone. I was a very A-typical case and no one saw this coming.

Not only did I suffer from Severe Preeclamisa, but I had developed something called HELLP syndrome. HELLP syndrome stands for Hemolysis (the breaking down of red blood cells) Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count. Basically my liver and kidneys were very swollen and on their way to failing; my liver being the worst. The night I asked my doctor if I was going to loose my uterus, the truth was my liver was very close to rupturing and that they were afraid they were going to lose me. That was the first time I heard I almost died. It’s hard to believe that can still happen. You just don’t think that going into labor and delivery. That’s what happens in old movies, not 2011!

They explained I was sick for a while and didn't know it or at least recognize it. I was very sick and tired the last two weeks of pregnancy, not that uncommon in the last few weeks, so I just figured it was because this was my fourth child. The most alarming thing that was brought to my attention was that if I hadn't delivered when I did Chris might have found me dead one day. That's a tough pill to swallow!

Owen came at just the right time, though I'm sure this was not just luck. God was definitely looking out for me that day. The doctors tell me that my body knew it was sick and needed to be rid of the placenta (this is the only cure for HELLP) and that's why I went into labor when I did. That all may be true, but there were so many circumstances through the whole ordeal that pointed straight to God and his hand on my life.

My Doctor being there the whole time was another way I saw God intervening to save my life.  After being on call the whole weekend, her shift was over after she delivered Owen. She actually went back to the office to finish up her day when she thought to drop back to the hospital to see how I was doing. It just so happened that I was beginning to show signs of a serious complications at that time and though I could have been seen by the new doctor on duty, she stayed an extra day to take care of me. She even told me later she felt like God was working through her hands as she worked on me Monday night.

It's been a long road to recovery since then. Slowly I was weaned off the Magnesium Sulfate and the blood transfusion helped to improve my color and energy. By Wednesday I was moved back to recovery and Thursday I was discharged and allowed to go back home to my kids. My blood pressure is still high and I’ve been put on high blood pressure medication for a few weeks, but in time this too will come back to normal. I also had an unexpected trip to the ER this past Wednesday with a nasty Urinary Tract Infection and multiple tests to see if I had appendicitis. They also found tissue left in my uterus and I have to wait and see if all of that clears up on its own; otherwise I may need a D&C, but my doctor thinks that is unlikely.


Both my liver and kidneys are on the road to recovery. They’re not quite normal yet, but they are improving everyday. I’m also a bit weak for the loss of blood, but this too is slowly getting better with time. The first few days home I could barely get off the couch, but today I’m able to have longer spells of activity.

Emotionally, this has been more difficult. Chris put it best when he said in the hospital you have to take it one day at a time and it really doesn’t have a chance to sink in. It was during the car ride home that it all hit me and I was able to cry for the first time. It was hard to imagine leaving Chris and the kids behind. To never see my children grow up or for Owen to have never known me. It was all a little more traumatic than I realized.

Every now and again I still get emotional and even depressed about it, but Chris is always there to talk or pray me through it. Chris has been my rock through all of this. He stayed by my side through it all. He too was traumatized by the ordeal. He felt bad for leaving me at the hospital to get the kids and coming back to me in distress, so it’s not been easy for him either. As time goes on, things get better for both of us. It makes us appreciate what we have even more.

I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve gotten from my friends and family. For Chrissy who took my kids in for four days making sure they were fed and off to school and taken care of everyday. I never had to worry about them knowing they were with Aunt CC. For my parents who visited me everyday in the hospital and babysat for me when I got home when Chris had to run me to the Doctors or the ER. For my in-laws who took care of us over the weekend, going grocery shopping and bringing the kids much needed doughnuts on Sunday morning. For Becky who came right to the hospital the day after a long tiring flight returning from Haiti just to see if I was okay. For all of my friends who have been preparing meals for us two whole weeks. I’m grateful to all the wonderful Doctors and Nurses who I got to know. I’m grateful to everyone at Chris’s work, Gateway Ticketing Systems who truly made Chris and I feel part of the Gateway family with all the support and generosity they have extended us. Most of all, I grateful to Chris who never left me side through my stay at the hospital. Who came home and took over as Mom and Dad without complaint. Chris you are my superman and I love you!!


10 comments:

  1. Congratulations! So sorry to hear about the scary situations you went through! God is good, though and I'm glad you're okay! I hope you are getting lots of rest! My SIL went through a very similar situation in December!

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  2. Definitely crying right now... So glad you are ok and that God had His hand on you. Love you.

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  3. Don't even have words...just so thankful you are okay. Love you all!!

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  4. I don't know you personally but I do know your wonderful mother-in-law...This story is really so touching....I am crying! Owen was there for you..that is for sure! So very glad you are ok. I wish you a complete, fast recovery and a happy long life!!
    Mihaela

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  5. Crying all over again. Grateful to God for His love and Mercy. So proud of my daughter and son-in-law. Grateful for my family.

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  6. Umm, Yeah, I think I should have waited to read that until after I had my baby. Now I'm a blubbering mess and scared whittless and I still have 3 weeks to go. I'm so glad that you are ok! Just goes to show that even in this day and age, you never know!

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  7. Hey I am reading this a year later but I still want to say I am glad you are OK too. I had a slightly similar experience.I am from Philly (since transplanted elsewhere, miss it)and I too have four children, but it was my first back in 2004 that gave me the hard time. It was my longest labor (being my first, the others averaged under 6 hours) at 12 hours. He had to be induced at a week and a half overdue. Just like you the labor and delivery were fine no Major complications. I gave birth to a 10lb. 4oz. baby boy! But 45min later when everyone had left after oohing and awwing, I started feeling this ridiculous pressure in my lower abdomen. I thought maybe I just really had to poop after having the baby, so I convince the nurse to let me go potty. But I couldn't. The pressure came again after going to recovery. This time I felt something pop like a balloon and warm liquid flow all over me. I thought I peed myself. I called the nurse to get cleaned up and when she saw it she said with big saucer eyes "Honey that's not pee. . .it's blood!" Apparently, the baby's head broke a blood vessel under the surface of my skin as it came out. The blood just filled the spongy tissue surrounding my canal. When it ran out of room it burst my vaginal walls to escape. I guess even there God had His hand on me because if it had burst through anywhere else. . .well. The next 12 hours was a haze as my doctor mobilized the others on call. I too lost so much blood they had to give me a transfusion. To act fast so that I didn't bleed to death, there was no time to organize surgery and put me under, they had to just do they best to numb the area with lidocaine and work on me. no anesthesia, nothing! I screamed for about two hours until finally falling unconscious as they were sewing me up. Later they determined I was still loosing a little blood, but this time they had the luxury of time and a proper OR procedure, with another transfusion. I walked out 4 days later so weak and filled with so many needle pricks and IV sites (they had to keep changing because they kept getting infiltrated or the veins would collapse) 36 in all! It was a learning military hospital and I later found out that they used me as a case study in death and mortality class! My doctor couldn't emphasize enough how I shouldn't be standing in front of him. We had our church praying for us and I was so glad that I didn't leave either. I remember my husband crying to this day as I screamed. I said all that to say this, I too had a seriously hard time getting over that emotionally, I had just became born again and God and the people at my church helped so much, I seriously understand what you went through and are so glad you were able to pull out of it too. It made me a little stronger for the next pregnancy (yeah I had more!) when I came down with spinal meningitis in my third trimester, my fever got to 106!!! Even though these things can be hell they mold us, give us character and firm us up for when things hit the fan again, and while I pray I NEVER go through that again, I think I came out better than before. God never said there wouldn't be struggles in our lives, only that He would ride them with us. BTW, my last two pregnancies were blessedly, drama free!!!

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