Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All Tied Up

Sterilized. Kind of a scary word. It just sounds so... permanent. But I guess that's the point, right? I knew the plan was to get my tubes tied during this c-section, but seeing the word "sterilization" on the consent form made it sound so much more scary and life altering, as strange as that sounds. As I checked the box next to that "s" word and signed my name on the consent form while doctors and nurses scurried around me prepping for surgery, it officially dawned on me that this phase of my life - the pregnancy/childbirth phase - was officially coming to an end.

Confused? Let me back up a bit.

In October 2009 - at 30 weeks pregnant with Miss Paige - I had my first TIA (transient ischemic attack) or mini-stroke. It wasn't life threatening, but it did change my life. At the time it was happening - when the left side of my upper body was going numb - I thought Miss Paige had just positioned herself on a nerve. But as the numbness spread from my fingers, to my arm and across my left shoulder, then to half my face, tongue and throat, I knew something else, something more serious, was going on. I headed to the emergency room, having no idea what was going on and of course fearing the worst - that something was wrong with the baby. The numbness only lasted 25 minutes and after more than 30 blood tests later, it was determined that I had a Protein S Deficiency, as well as Factor V Thrombosis. I'm not too good at explaining the medical facts and figures, but basically these conditions cause my blood to clot easily. The TIA/mini-stroke was most likely caused by a small blood clot that had traveled to my neck/head, stayed long enough to cause numbness, and then dissolved. More tests confirmed the Protein S and Factor V conditions were only problematic for me when paired with increased hormones - like during pregnancy or if I were on hormone-based birth control. Add extreme pressure and stress on top of the hormones (from work) and it was a recipe for disaster. I stopped working, was put on Heparin (blood thinner) for the last 10 weeks of the pregnancy and thanked God nothing more serious had occurred.

Now, every prego knows that during the last few weeks of pregnancy - especially during your first pregnancy - you think every bump, kick, pain, leak, etc. is a sign you are about to go into labor. Not a big deal, except that during my first pregnancy the doctors told me at each and every visit that if I thought I was going into labor, I needed to stop taking the Heparin immediately. Why? Because if I had taken the Heparin, then went into true labor, I wouldn't be able to get an epidural (due to risk of bleeding). No epidural? NO WAY! So every time I thought I might be going into labor, I would skip my Heparin injection. And I didn't realize it at the time, but by the last week of my pregnancy, I was skipping a lot of the injections. And then came my second TIA.

This time I was in the doctor's office when it happened, and it began the same way as the first time - complete numbness and inability to control motion in my fingers and hand. Except this time it was on my right side. I immediately knew what was happening and began freaking out. A full on panic attack (hyperventilating and all). As the numbness spread across my face, another symptom presented itself - I couldn't speak. I couldn't get the words I was thinking to come out of my mouth. I would think a clear sentence in my head ("CALL MY HUSBAND ASAP!") but all that would come out of my mouth was nonsense. I later found out this particular symptom occurred because the right side of the brain controls speech, and when blood flow is restricted from that side of the brain (like during a TIA), speech may be affected. It was scary to say the least. I was induced that night, and the rest is history - Miss Paige Karolina was born December 26, 2009.

So now armed with the knowledge of the blood conditions and need to take Heparin throughout my next pregnancy, Daniel and I decided we better try for another baby right away in case any other complications arose. I know people thought we were crazy when we announced we were pregnant again not even a year after Miss Paige was born. But after lots of thought and prayer, we knew it was the best thing for us. If I was going to put my body through the stress of another pregnancy, I wanted to do it while I was young. Not that 30 is old by any stretch of the imagination - but we just didn't want any more complications to arise. And just 3 weeks ago - on June 17, 2011 - Deacon James was born. This pregnancy was relatively smooth - I started taking Heparin as soon as I found out I was prego (at 4 weeks along) and took it vigilantly until the day before the c-section.

Our family as we always dreamed of it was complete.

After long discussions with each other, with doctors, and with God through prayer - Daniel and I decided that it was best to stop at two happy, healthy babies. We made it through two pregnancies without any MAJOR episodes as a result of the blood clotting conditions - we just couldn't see going through it a third time. So the decision was made - I would get my tubes tied during my c-section. I would be "sterilized" - as the consent form described it. And we are both very content in our hearts and minds with that decision.

And as it turns out, getting my tubes tied was a necessary procedure. During the c-section - the one where I was not only a little too aware of everything that was happening, but able to hold a conversation with the doctors and nurses throughout the entire procedure - my doctor told me that my uterus wouldn't have been able to withstand another pregnancy due to how thin it had become. She also said there was a good chance my uterus could have ruptured had I ever gone into true labor during this last pregnancy. Ummmm... no thanks : ) I'll pass on having my uterus rupture, thank you very much.

I know most people don't openly discuss getting their tubes tied, especially in today's world. It seems like people are having bigger and bigger families, and the thought of permanently ending the baby making phase it crazy to some. But that's exactly why I wanted to share this particular decision with you all. We each need to make decisions that are best for ourselves and our immediate families. Whether you are 28 and have decided not to have any more children (like me), are 35 and going for your 5th baby, or are 40 and decided to start trying for your first baby - it's all good : )