If you are a mother, you know what it is like to spend 8-10 months (if you are lucky) growing a baby or babies inside of you. You know what it is like to be so bonded to something you have never actually touched or seen with the naked eye. You also know when something is wrong with your body or that of your child.
On August 8, 2008, my husband and I attended our birthing class at Piedmont Hospital. All my life, my mom has worked at Piedmont Hospital. I was born at Piedmont Hospital. All of my ailments have been handled at Piedmont Hospital and, somewhere around September 15, 2008, my son was going to be born there, too.
During class, while we watching the birthing movie (what a lovely experience that was..do you detect my sarcasm?), I decided to sit on the floor because I could feel my legs and feet swelling. The instructor walked by, looked down at me, and said, "Are you ok?" I immediately said, "Yes, I am fine. I just wanted to stretch out my legs."
Fast forward to Monday night, August 10, 2008. After my shower, I climbed in the bed to sleep before returning to work the next day and discovered that I felt like I couldn't breathe when I laid down. I got back up and sat in my office chair for a little while and tried laying down again. This process was repeated all night long resulting in no sleep.
The next day, I called-in sick to work and called the OBGYN's office. I left a message for the nurse explaining that I couldn't breathe when I laid down and the swelling in my legs and feet, which normally went away overnight, had not gone away in two days. When I received a call back from the nurse, she said, "You are 8 months pregnant. It is normal for a mother at this stage to have difficulty breathing. Just sleep in a chair, like a recliner, and prop up your feet. You will be fine."
Being a first-time mom, I trusted the professionals more than I trusted myself. After trying to convince the nurse that I really couldn't breathe, I said, "Ok." For the next two nights I tried sleeping in my recliner.
By Thursday morning, I had not slept for three nights straight and I was exhausted. I had a doctor's appointment that day. (I was just beginning the one-per-week appointments that occur during the last month of the pregnancy.) My husband took me to my appointment and I told the next-new-doctor-on-the-pregnant-patient-office-rotation what was going on and she parroted what the nurse had told me. My blood pressure was high, as it had been for the majority of the pregnancy, so she dismissed that. (My guess is because at 350+lbs, the doctors expect your blood pressure to be high.) The doctor told me to stay off of my feet and try to sleep in the recliner. That night, I was not even able to sit back in my recliner or office chair. The breathing issue was so bad that I had to lean forward in order to breathe.
Saturday, August 16, 2008, was the day of my brother and my now sister-in-law's family wedding shower. Despite the fact that I desperately wanted to go, my husband had to work that night, so I would have had to drive myself to the shower. I had not slept since the previous Sunday night and I was having so much trouble breathing that walking from my office chair to the car would have been a chore. I decided not to go.
When my brother came back home that night around midnight, he came in, told me he was home and gave me a baby gift from a family member. I don't remember even being able to speak much at all since I was so out of breath. I do remember putting vapor rub under my nostrils, though, in the hope that it would somehow help my breathing.
By 2:30 a.m. on August 17, 2008, I knew something was wrong and I was in bad shape. My husband, Richard, was at work about an hour away from our house. I considered getting up, walking across the house to wake up my brother, and getting him to take me to the hospital. I threw that idea out because I knew I did not have enough air to make across the house. I considered calling an ambulance, but I thought I did not have enough air to give them my address or adequately explain what was going on.
Finally, I called Richard and told him that I needed to go to the hospital.
TO BE CONTINUED... Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!