By Andi Fogarty, a Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta mom
March 6, 2014
Today is a challenge. It will be a challenge to get through and stay emotionally stable and mentally sound.
A year ago today my life was hanging on by a very thin thread. A year ago, I started the most painful and traumatic ambulance ride to Calgary, because Cranbrook could do nothing for me or my baby. That ambulance ride would start my labor.
Around 7pm I arrived in Calgary, not knowing Cody had driven there as well, after I stubbornly told him to stay home and be there with the kids, that I would be ok.
I didn’t know how bad it was at that point. I didn’t know how much I needed him there. I didn’t know how scared I was, because I didn’t know how pumped full of medication I was to try and dull the excruciating pain I was in. I didn’t know our lives were about to change forever.
Sometime before 9 pm I went in to the OR for an exploratory laperotomy. They didn’t know what they were looking for. They didn’t know what they would find. What they found was twisted, turned, and dying small intestine. Surgeons removed two sections, one thirty six cm long, and one 15 cm long. They pieced me back together. After over 3 hours on that table.
Shortly after midnight I was in recovery. Shortly after midnight, the contractions really started. Shortly after midnight, I thought this was what dying felt like. An 8 inch vertical incision stretched over a pregnant belly. A freshly operated on abdomen, contracting when it should not have been. The stress of transfer and surgery had pushed me into active labor.
The next 6 hours are a blur of blocked out emotions and memories of pain. Labor wasn’t stopping. I was dilating. Constant monitoring. Constant checks. Constant pain. Constant anxiety. Absolutely helpless.
I was told “we cannot stop your labor, we are going to let her deliver when you’re dilated enough”. It must have been transition because I started to feel like I was getting a break, or maybe I finally has enough medication in my system to numb the pain.
And that’s when all hell broke loose. Every alarm started going off. The baby had flipped, become entangled, was in distress. Her heart nearly stopped. She was attempted to be physically internally rotated, to essentially be pulled out of me. Please don’t try to imagine how traumatic this feels. I felt like I was possessed. I was clawing and screaming to get away from the pain that was being inflicted upon me.
I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t see. I could only hear myself screaming. I’m dying. Someone help me. Someone help my baby. Someone kill me. I can’t live through this.
I was ripped away from Cody. From the man who stood there helplessly watching the suffering. I was pulled through a door into a connecting OR and heard “We have to put you out. There’s no time.” They were right. There was no time. As my arms were strapped down while I was fighting. As that mask covered my face and I felt that first cut. As the world went black.
I woke up in the trauma unit of foothills medical centre on March 7th of 2013, and the first thing I hear is Cody’s voice telling me she’s alive. “She? We had a baby? Where is she?”
There were nurses everywhere. Lines everywhere. I couldn’t move. Once I “woke up” things started to set in. Drs came in and explained what had happened. Recovery. Complications. X-rays. CT Scans. Surgical drains. Pain management. Physio. Wheelchairs. Learning to walk. Pumping. Pumping. Pumping. Trying to heal. Failing to heal. And that was just me.
Our nameless 870 gram baby, on a ventilator to breath. Our baby girl. On life support. Our baby girl. Here too soon.
Bexley was a fighter. Each day was a new story. The ups, the downs, the way way downs. The improvements. The set backs. The confusion. Will we even bring a baby home?
This is getting very long, so if you’re still reading, thank you, not many people know this whole story. It’s not a nice story to tell, so I just don’t. But here’s where things get better.
After two weeks in hospital (three including the week in Cranbrook) I moved in to Ronald McDonald House. I started to heal. It was a long and bumpy three months of days spent in the hospital, sitting beside an isolette. Pumping. Watching. Holding. Eating. Sleeping. Learning. Growing. Therapy. PTSD. Healing. Weekends with Cody and the kids. Finding a friend to help me through it all. Devon, I couldn’t have made it through some of those days without you.
On June 13th Bexley was discharged. One day after her due date. 98 days in nicu. On day 100 we were home. On day 100 we were a whole family.
This is a hard day for me. It’s when it all started. But without the support of many many amazing people, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. So thank you. From the bottom of my heart.