Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pre-Eclampsia and Me....Part 2

After delivery and ICU...This is Jeffrey's account...

After saying our "hellos" and "goodbyes" to Matthias, we had to wait for Kristie to deliver the placenta.  This is where things got scary for us.  After an hour, she still hadn't delivered the placenta, so Dr. Paul came in to get out what he could manually.  He was able to get out the majority, but couldn't get it all so Kristie was wheeled back for a D and C.  At this point, Dr. Paul mentioned the likely possibility of having to do a total hysterectomy.  After Kristie was brought back from her D and C, we tried to get some sleep.  Unfortunately, we were woken up at 6:00 am with the nurses and doctor moving around frantically.  Kristie had lost too much blood and they started her on a blood transfusion.  On top of that, she had gained seven pounds in less than 24 hours, and that was even after delivery.  So, she was at 270. After the first blood transfusion and blood tests, they determined she was still loosing too much blood and they moved us to the ICU unit.

Once there, they started a PICC line, hooked up an additional 3 units of blood, and started her on numerous diuretics to pull off the excess fluid in her body.  All the while, her blood pressure was still all over the place.  At one point, they gave her a blood pressure medicine that immediately dropped her blood pressure, which caused her heart rate to jump up to catastrophic levels.  I made the decision to tell our parents, without telling them all of the details because, you know, 500 questions later, and I didn't have the time or the patience for that.  I was asked about power of attorney and if there were any DNR orders.  That's not something you ever want to be asked.

Luckily, they finally found the right combination of medicines for both the blood pressure and the water retention.  The first 24 hours, Kristie lost 16 liters of fluid.  She was finally stable enough to be discharged from the ICU and moved back to the labor and delivery floor where they continued the diuretic medicines to pull off all of the extra fluid.  After continuing to improve, we were finally discharged.  Her total weight lost in the hospital was 45 pounds in 5 days.

On the way home, Kristie finally broke down, but my exact words to her were to "Knock that shit off", as her case was so severe, I almost made that drive home by myself.  I almost lost my wife, and my daughters almost lost their mother.  This pregnancy almost killed her, and in hindsight, it was for the best that Matthias passed when he did, because Kristie wouldn't have made it much longer, and I didn't want to have to make any final decisions on the pregnancy.  Her quality of life for that month since diagnosis was not good.  She couldn't take care of herself, was miserable, and in constant pain, yet never complained.

She still struggles with daily life functions, but I'm finally starting to see my wife make her return to normalcy.  Our doctors have all said any future pregnancies will kill her.  We are done with that part of our lives, but have plans to adopt again when the time is right.

Back to me...

I continue to slowly improve. I am currently down 65 pounds from Feb 3rd. I am still retaining fluid in my legs and stomach, with putting on so much weight so fast I am now covered in stretch marks. They are wide. They are pink. They are not completely healed. I put a medicated lotion on them daily. I can feel them pull when I turn over in bed. They are now my badge of honor. Over time, I will embrace my tiger stripes. I earned them. They will remind me of the battle I fought and I won. Jeffrey said they are like my version of a Purple Heart.

I am however still on three blood pressure medicines, a water pill, stool softener, Tylenol if needed, and an iron pill. What we are dealing with now is my heart rate. It is spiking when I stand to do things. It could be to make a meal, do some dishes, or even to just shower and dry my hair. I am so thankful for my FitBit. It is keeping track and it tells me how high it is getting. I am still not getting around the best. Walking from the car into the store would cause my heart rate to jump into the 120's or higher. When it does that I need to sit and breath through it. I need to slow it down. If I don't I start to feel panicky. The doctor said it from the blood pressure medications. If I forget to take the medication, I can tell. We will slowly get this under control.

I am still off work. My school administration is amazing. They have supported me through this. They want me back healthy. I know my class is in good hands right now. For once, I really need to focus on me and not everyone else. I need to be able to stand and not get winded when I walk around. I need my stamina back.

What I am dealing with emotionally is the hard part. I cry. I'm not mad like I was last time. With the twins I was absolutely honked off. I was mad at God. I didn't go to church for over a month. This time, I am just sad. I get very anxious when we go out in public. People do mean well and they are just curious but I am not at that stage that I can talk openly about everything that happened to me. Eventually, I will be able to talk about it without completely breaking down.

This is my story about Pre-Eclampsia. It is nothing to take lightly. I was blessed to have an amazing doctor. He saved me from losing everything. I was meant to stay here on earth. I was meant to tell my story. I want people to know how scary it got. I want this to help someone else who is going through this too. Infant loss is a tragedy. No one should have to bury their child. We have buried three Malachi, Marianna, and now Matthias. A piece of your heart is missing. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry. This is normal. You have to lean on your husband, lean on your family, and lean on your friends.

Matthias Carlen Finley
Born and Passed on Feb. 3rd, 2018
Laid to rest on Mar. 11th, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pre-eclampsia and Me...Part 1

"Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. Preeclampsia usually begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal. Even a slight rise in blood pressure may be a sign of preeclampsia.
Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious — even fatal — complications for both you and your baby. If you have preeclampsia, the only cure is delivery of your baby." ~Mayo Clinic
Here is my story...
We decided to just try ONE MORE TIME. We went back to my fertility doctor where we had our last two ice babies. On September 28th I went in to transfer both ice babies (both 5 days and one was starting to hatch). We had the most perfect transfer. Everything went perfectly...even when we saw both eggs get transferred there was a high in the music they had playing. On 4dp5dt (4 days past 5 day transfer) I cheated and took a HPT (home pregnancy test) and saw a very very faint line. I knew something was up...since my heart rate changed too (thanks FitBit). I was floored! I did a HPT everyday until 13dp5dt. I had to make sure it was real, and I liked seeing the line get darker and darker. Our last transfer we did the November after we lost the twins...didn't work. So I was kind of surprised! Flash forward...6 weeks along we had an ultrasound. TWINS...AGAIN! We were excited!! We go back at 7 week along, one egg was a little smaller than the other.  I go see them at 9 weeks. We had an ultrasound, we saw two sacs, one heartbeat. The one stopped growing at 7w4d. We were ok with it. That one was always smaller than the other and Dr. Dayal told us it probably won't make it. We were told that my body would just absorb it. They had it set up that every two weeks I would be seen by someone. You see after we lost the twins and I had so many miscarriages before it was recommended that I see a Fetal Medicine Specialist. 
We made an appointment with Dr. Michael Paul at MOBAP (Missouri Baptist Medical Center). He met us when I was 13w2d. It was a long appointment. We had to go through my whole pregnancy history. It sucked having to relive every detail. Jeffrey had to do most of the talking about the delivery about the twins because I didn't remember a lot about the delivery of Marianna. I was on some pretty heavy pain meds. He decided it was a good idea that I get a cerclage put in. A cerclage is where they sew your cervix shut to prevent preterm labor. He likes to do them before 14 weeks. So that Friday (13w5d) we drove to MOBAP and checked into the hospital for my cerclage. 
After that was done...this is where everything starts...
During Christmas break, (16w) I noticed my feet were swelling and my vision was changing. I had blurry vision only in the morning then after a while it would clear up. It started getting worse. The swelling and the blurry vision would last all day now. Not even keeping my feet elevated would help. On Jan 2nd I called the doctor's office at MOBAP and they told me to check myself into the hospital. Once we got a room they took my vitals and my blood pressure was 220/160.  My blood pressure is always very regular at around 120/80, so this was not good.  They immediately started me on a magnesium IV, which made me nauseous.  When that didn't get my blood pressure down, I got started on an arsenal of medications until they found the right fit.  I was admitted to the hospital.  We were told that we needed to prepare to lose the baby at that point. My blood work showed that my blood platelets were low. Liver enzymes were elevated. Those were some signs of HELLP. 
  • H- hemolysis ( breakdown of red blood cells)
  • EL- elevated liver enzymes (liver function)
  • LP- low platelets counts (platelets help the blood clot)
After several up and down blood pressure readings, they decided to keep me there for monitoring, and I stayed there for 6 nights.  I was put on bed rest, not allowed to return to work, and had to go back for weekly check ups. He diagnosed me with early onset of pre-eclampsia at 16w5d. Which as you can see the definition of pre-eclampsia doesn't happen until 20 weeks or after. I clearly like to be different and do things the hard way.
I was on about 12 pills a day. We had to get one of the daily medicine holders. Over the next 4 weeks I gained weight...over 50 pounds to be exact...in fluid. I couldn't lay flat because I couldn't breath correctly. So, I slept in the recliner. I was so round and my legs were so big, walking to the bathroom was a struggle. I was miserable. I didn't complain one bit. I wanted this pregnancy. I was willing to get over any hurdle. We were visiting the doctor weekly at this point. Gaining more weight...each appointment. 
At our appointment when I was 20w6d. We packed all my things. Jeffrey was going to insist they admit me. We went in for our anatomy scan ultrasound. They weighed me...263...and I went back to get ready to see him moving around and kicking. We didn't see any of that. No movement. No heartbeat. We knew that when she went to get a doctor...it was over. I was wheeled to Labor and Delivery and put into a room. I didn't break down until I sat on the bed.

I remember sitting there crying, telling Jeffrey that I was sorry. I know that I didn't do anything wrong. What you may not understand about early infant loss is the overwhelming feeling that it WAS your fault. You did something, I knew it was not but it was all I could say. Jeffrey knows better and told me otherwise like he always does. He is usually almost always right. It felt like eternity until the nurse came back in. They did all the normal things. Vitals, information, etc. I had to get changed into a hospital gown. I knew the next steps. I remember a little bit already from Marianna. They would give me something to induce labor. Sounds easy right? Nope.

They had to monitor my blood pressure, I needed an IV started, I had to get my cerclage removed, and I knew I had to get an epidural. These all sound like easy steps for a normal person. Not for someone who has ballooned up. I was round. Every part of me! My legs, arms, hands, face, and belly. I felt like that girl from Willy Wonka, Violet Beauregarde, who eats the gum and blows up like a blueberry. No lie! They couldn't get an IV in because my arms were so swollen and my veins kept rolling. So they brought in this cool looking ultrasound machine. It was made to find veins! I watched in amazement as they found a vein around my elbow area that would work. Now with my IV in they can start giving me more of the Magnesium Sulfate (this is the stuff that made me sick last time). This time since my blood pressure wasn't as high they did it on a slower drip and I didn't get sick. That I was thankful for...

A little while later they came in to do the epidural, and everything seemed to go well. Until a little later, I found out that I could still feel my one leg.  So Dr. Paul came in a while later to remove the cerclage. All he had to do was cut the thread that was holding my cervix shut. What most people don't know about me is that I have a high pain tolerance. I don't complain. I was taught early in life, "No Pain, No Gain" so I can handle a decent about of pain. Well, lets just say I felt EVERYTHING he did! The cerclage being cut and them putting in the catheter. I definitely should not have...come to find out that the epidural came out or moved because of the swelling of fluid in my back. Therefore, I had to have a second epidural. I am happy to say that this one worked. The nurse apologized over and over. I was just glad it worked. I was then given a pill to encourage contractions.

The contractions I felt are not like that ones people talk about with a normal pregnancy. These were the same as I felt with Malachi and Marianna. These contractions felt like I was really constipated. Gas pains. Cramps. Needing to go #2. Just more intense. So at about 2:30am on Feb 3rd my water broke. I knew from last time that he wouldn't be far behind. He wasn't. He was born about 2:40. He. was. PERFECT. He had Jeffrey's shovel nose. The Finley genes are strong!  They nurses were amazing. I got to hold him and I remember holding him. He had 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect little toes. They did everything they do with all normal births. We got pictures. They dressed him with a tiny little coat and a tiny little hat. As she was dressing him she commented that he had no butt either (another Finley trait). He had a small blanket. He had a perfect little basket he was put in. See when babies are born this early and stillborn you have very limited time with them. They start to deteriorate fast once they are born. They kept him "cool" until a priest was able to come to do the blessing.

We had his name picked out before all this went down but after meeting him we changed it. I don't know why Matthias popped in my head but it just felt right. Carlen is a family name on Jeffrey's side. So, Matthias Carlen Finley was born and passed on February 3, 2018. A perfect angel that couldn't stay with us. He was too perfect for earth. He is now with our 4 other angel babies (early miscarriages), Malachi John, and Marianna Grace. On March 11th, he was laid to rest right next to his brother and sister here in Ste. Marie. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Our Exciting Summer 2017

School's out for summer!!!

Here we are less than a month away from Baby Finley #2. While we are about ready to welcome another baby into our family, I am a tad nervous. Why? Well, the transition from a family of 3 to a family of 4. Micah transitioning from an only child and the center of our universe to having to share that universe with another child. Will everything be ok?! Yes, of course. 

On another exciting note Jeffrey and I will be taking a vacation! Yes, this huge. Why? Well, one,  I'm married to a band director. We have limited time on when he won't be at school. Two, we will have been married for ten years on June 23rd. We didn't really take a true honeymoon the first time. This trip to Texas is going to be like a honeymoon for us. The cool part is that since Jeffrey is taking his choir there in the spring, we get a free tour of everything the kids will be doing!  We have to pay for our food and gas. Everything else is on the company! We are pretty excited for San Antonio. 

After this trip, we will have to prepare to leave to Cincinnati at the drop of a hat. Not only that, we will need to be prepared to stay for 2 weeks. I find that to be crazy (thanks state of Illinois)!! I'm ready to do whatever we need to do. We will be staying in a hotel for 2 weeks. The cost alone for that is crazy!!! We are prepared to do whatever we need to do. Doesn't matter the cost...

When we are there I will try to update this as best as I can. Please stay tuned....

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I'm missing a piece of me...

I'm missing a piece of me and I'm OK with it! Gallbladder is gone!

The process was pretty easy! I slept through it. I was groggy yesterday and that was about it. I ended up with 4 little incisions on my stomach. If i move the wrong way, they hurt. If i bend over, they hurt. If I try to sit up from laying down, they hurt. If I cough, they hurt. So I am avoiding those few things that make me hurt. I am not allowed to to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I will avoid heavy things also. I did venture out today and I walked across the street. It wasn't bad at all.

I refuse to let the pain bring me down. Tomorrow, I will attempt to go to school to get some more things done. I have had a few teachers offer to help in my room while I have been "out of commission" I hope they know how much I appreciate it. I really have amazing co-workers/administrators and I am truly blessed to work in the district I do. I will also try to go to band camp for Junior High Colorguard. I will not be able to do anything but I can at least be there.

Since I can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk and with Jeffrey having band camp I can not take care of Micah. This is summer is seriously killing me. This is the second time I can't physically take care of my own child. I'm so grateful to my family and friends here that have stepped in and helped us with Micah. With Jeffrey being gone with band camps and with me having a bunch of hospital visits I feel Micah has gotten the short end of the stick. Thank you to all of you that have watched Micah and made her feel loved and special.

....Random Thought....

This is not a slam against any other profession out there...but...

I sometimes feel no one understands or appreciates the life of a band/choir director. My husband loves teaching everyone else's (and his own) kid/s the love of music. I can never comprehend, with what little time he has with these kids, how he teaches them what he does! The difference in ability from 5th grade to 6th grade band is amazing! He obviously has help from the two other music teachers at the elementary. He is the only music teacher to see every band and choir student that Jasper County has in each program. He teaches 5th Grade Band, 6th Grade Band, 5th & 6th Grade Chorus, Junior High Band, Junior High Chorus, Assistant for the High School Band, and High School Chorus. I'm amazed how musically talented he is and that he is helping instill the love of music in each one of his students.
During June and July we have band camps. He is away from home during marching band season, (I am too) Aug - October. Then he is away during musical season, December - April. So you can do the math...he has about 2 months (during the school year) where he doesn't have to stay after school. He dedicates a lot of time and a lot of energy to his ensembles and his kids. He loves his job! He doesn't want to let anyone down. He also takes such good care of us here at home too. I am very blessed that he is such a supportive husband and an excellent father to Micah.

Friday, August 5, 2016

One more visit....

Well I guess I get to visit a hospital...one more time...

In my last post I talked about how I ended up in the ER with a gallbladder attack before we left for vacation. I went for a follow up with my doctor here at home. We talked and I told her my story. I also told her that Jeffrey and I plan to try again with IVF. She was so kind and told me that she has also gone through IVF three times. She told me that she is recommending that I have my gallbladder removed before we go back to St. Louis in October. If I were to become pregnant again and I were to have another attack it would put the baby and I at risk. So I agreed and she sent me to a specialist/surgeon.

His office called me later on Monday. They are aware I am a teacher so they decided that they want to get this done BEFORE school starts so I wouldn't be "out of commission" at the beginning of the school year. I met with him yesterday afternoon. He was very straight forward and told me everything that would happen. Again, I had to tell my story of what happened in the past month with the twins. He asked me if I was ever checked for endometriosis. I told him, "No." Honestly, it never crossed my mind. So he said that while he is "in there" he would take a look around. It made me giggle a little...Doctor humor...

So he sent in his nurse to schedule the surgery. Well, she said "he could do it Monday, Aug 8th." I think my jaw dropped! I didn't expect it to be THAT quick. I said OK and it has been scheduled for 10am. So please keep me in your thoughts on Monday morning as I will get this gallbladder removed.

I will be missing my brother and sister-in-laws baby shower and I have cried a few times because of it. She is so sweet and when I called she said that my health comes first and that I need to get this taken care of. I seriously have the most understanding family. I am very blessed! Love you guys!!!

Well my next post will be an update after Monday...here we go...one more time....

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Well its been almost a month since we lost the twins. We think of them non-stop and we visit them often. It has been a really rough month. I still have somewhat of a pregnancy belly left. I'm almost back into regular clothes...I have a few more pounds to go.

July has been a HORRIBLE month for us. In total we have visited 4 different hospitals. Yeah you read that right 4!

June 27th - Richland Memorial...water broke.
June 28th - June 30th They sent us to Barnes Jewish in St.Louis
June 30th - Sent home
July 1st - Malachi John was born.
July 1st - 3rd - Stayed at St. Anthony's
July 3rd - Marianna Grace was born.
July 4th - sent home
July 10th - We buried our beautiful babies

July 22/23 - Palos Community Hospital

   This is the visit no one knew about. We drove up to Worth because we were leaving for vacation with my family the next day. Mom ordered pizza. We sat and ate dinner. Almost immediately, I start having a horrible and very sharp pain under my right rib. We got into the ER around 9 pm. and found out it was my gallbladder. I have gallstones. GREAT! The doctor told me that I will eventually need to have surgery to have it removed. They also found out that I was low on potassium. So they told me I needed a potassium drip in my IV. That...drip...SUCKS! It burned! I'm still dealing with the after effects. My arm is still sore. After that was done I was discharged and sent home at 4:30am. We left for Wisconsin at 10am.

I am on a diet of bland/low fat foods. I'm eating a lot of chicken and vegetables. So far so good!

I head back to St. Louis on Aug. 8th. She wants to make sure there is no scar tissue left. We will then prepare for a FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) in October sometime. Keep us in your prayers as we progress in our journey.

We were put on this path for a reason. This life that was chosen for us hasn't been an easy one thus far. We are trying to keep our faith and keep pushing ahead.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

We have been blessed......TWICE!

Well we have posted our good news all over Facebook. Our families have been notified. This is real...we are having twins...here is our story!

In January, I made an appointment to go see a different fertility specialist in St. Louis. We wanted a different opinion. A fresh eye to look at all my records and to see why I miscarried, why we could get pregnant but not hold the pregnancy. We had a lot of questions we wanted answered. I will never forget this appointment. This was the day my outlook changed. She was so positive and so upbeat! She wanted to do tests and get answers. We got started right away! I got a calendar and tests were ordered. We would finally get answers.

So I was test for "Natural Killer Cells". My test came back. My levels were elevated. So, to explain what NKC are...this is where your body thinks the embryo is a disease. Then, your body fights it off and it ends the pregnancy naturally. This was good news in our eyes. It gave us a reason WHY it happened. We wondered how they would treat this? Come to find out it was an easy fix!! Before we started IVF I would get a 2 hour lipids transfusion. Then if I were to get a positive pregnancy result I would get a second transfusion. Thats all. Why wasn't I tested for this before?

So now here we are at the beginning of February. I started all the shots and pills. A few weeks of that and we headed back for a check up on our follicles. I knew from the last few times that I would respond well. I saw on the screen a lot of little follicles. I lost count after 16! How exciting!! We drove back how to stay on the same schedule. Two more check ups and we were ready! I had a total of 31 follicles and a lot of them were mature. I was feeling "full" and at our last ultrasound she said that the follicles looked like cheese wedges! I laughed!! We would get a phone call on when to give the trigger shot. Then we would go back 36 hours later for retrieval.

36 hours later I was prepped and ready I don't remember all that much. ;) I eventually found out that she was able to get all 31 follicles. They were "mixed" and were learned that 18 of them fertilized! We now had to wait to see how many of them made it to day 5. We only hoped that we would get enough to transfer.

Day 5 we would come back to STL I would get to see "babies first picture" two beautiful embryos. One was already hatching! We had hope. They were of good quality. AB and BB! After this...comes the dreaded two week wait. I tried to keep busy and to not think of it. I was very bloated and already felt miserable. I was drinking gatorade and water. Eating salty foods trying to fight off OHSS. This is where, from the meds, that my ovaries would become overstimulated. I believe that I would have a mild case. I gained about 8 pounds of fluid. Then after about 5 days I started to feel better. My stomach wasn't as full and I started to feel normal.

Then 2 days later I ballooned up again! I was so surprised. I was feeling so gross. Then Jeffrey convinced me to take a pregnancy test the night before we go for my first blood test. I did...and then there it was...two pink lines! I was optimistic. My first blood test was 151. My first numbers have NEVER been that high! We wait....the numbers have to double. They almost did. She sent us another order for a third beta. The numbers were in the high 400. She was satisfied with this. So I had to schedule my second lipid infusion and ultrasound. We had to then just wait.

I was 7w4d when we did our first ultrasound. We had never made it this far before!! We just wanted to see a sac and hopefully hear a heart beat. Well so our surprise not only did we see one....we saw TWO! Two sacs....two heartbeats!!! Jeffrey smiled and giggled...I was silent...the thought in my head was CRAP lol. Twins...fraternal twins!!! Both eggs implanted. We couldn't believe it! We scheduled our next ultrasound for a week later.

I was 8w4d at the next one. We saw two sacs and two heart beats...AGAIN!! STRONG heart beats at that! At this appointment this is where my doctor introduced us to our gummy bears. Then she also told us this is where we would "graduate" to my regular OBGYN. It was bitter sweet and sad. She gave us something that my two previous doctors couldn't. A pregnancy that would make it past 8 weeks...

Here we are 9w6d and i'm feeling good. I have not been sick only a little bit of nausea. I have been very tired and I don't have much energy. I do need to sit a lot more than I used to. We thought about not telling people until 12 weeks but we know, by the way my clothes are fitting, that we physically wouldn't make it. I know it is early to announce this but we have come farther than ever. We want to celebrate this victory. Micah is our first child and the love of our lives. She will be a protective big sister. These babies may be growing inside me but Micah grew in my heart. I feel so blessed to get to finally get to experience pregnancy. I'm excited to experience the good and the bad. I will love every minute of it! I won't complain because it is truly a privilege. A privilege that some will never get to experience.

We will keep you all updated on our progress. Until then thank you for all the kind words, prayers, and positive thoughts. Please keep us in your prayers as we go through our next journey....pregnancy!

Baby A and Baby B Finley coming to you this fall! November 14th, 2016!!