Mary Allan's Story
Soon after we were married in October of 1994 we found out we were pregnant. We went out to celebrate, and my husband stopped smoking that same day, which becomes important later in our story. The pregnancy developed without incident, although I failed my one-hour glucose test. Around 28 weeks, I did the three-hour glucose test to confirm gestational diabetes. One day at work, I was having very consistent gas pains. I talked to a friend of mine, and he immediately suggested contacting my doctor. He advised me to go in and get checked out at GBMC. My husband worked directly across the street from me, so together we went to Labor and Delivery. I laughed the nurse asked, “How long have you been having contractions?” These weren't contractions - it was gas! I was told to go home and drink plenty of fluids as I was dehydrated and that was the cause of the contractions.
Our mistake then was actually going home to Bel Air - 45 minutes away - versus going to my mother's house, which was just five minutes away. We went all the way home, and I drank a large amount of orange juice. Shortly after that, I threw up a large amount of orange juice and the contractions were now feeling stronger. Another call was made to the doctor, and we were back in the car for an excruciatingly long trip back to GBMC. It seemed like hours, and I'm thankful I didn't kick out the windshield!
Once at GBMC, I was immediately admitted and placed on magnesium sulfate – which is a fascinating drug. I didn't know my eyes could move independently of each other. I was also given a shot of steroids to help speed up the baby's lung development. The nurses were truly angels of mercy, as both my husband and I had no experience with pregnancy, let alone preterm labor. The contractions did diminish in strength, but never really went away. That was the end of day one.
Day two entailed more of the same, but with the idea of sending me home on an IV pump with tributalin was introduced. While waiting for the representative from the pump company (not a GBMC employee!), a GBMC resident came in to do a check-up on me. As she performed the sonogram, I heard her turn to the nurse and say, “I can't find the head.” I looked up at her cross-eyed and said, “Well, it had one when I got here!” The resident then called my OB/GYN to come down.
While waiting for the doctor, the representative for the IV pump came in and, while I was seriously doped up on magnesium sulfate, tried to teach me how to manage a butterfly needle. It was comical to watch, I'm sure - I couldn't focus on the needle to grab it, let alone learn the complicated instructions of managing a pump! I was frustrated at the situation, and when my doctor came in, he was very irate that this person would do this training while I was on such strong medications. The representative was promptly dismissed from the room. My doctor did another sonogram, and announced that the baby's head was in the birth canal, which is why the resident didn't see it. Organized chaos (in my altered state) ensued, as the magnesium sulfate IV came out, a delivery team was called in, NICU was notified of the pending birth and I was on my way to delivery – never having taken one birthing class.
I tried to push for many minutes, only to be told I was doing it wrong. “How many ways are there to push out a baby?” I wondered. When I finally got the hang of it, less than three pushes later, the baby came out – rather quickly, I might add, as he splashed on the doctor, my husband, and anyone within 50 feet! Being first time parents, we didn't want to know the sex of the baby before we met him or her. Darned if that kid didn't come out with the umbilical cord set nicely between the legs, so we still didn't know what we had. The doctor announced, “It's a boy!” and I heard one little cry before my son was immediately intubated and whisked away by the NICU team. The doctor stitched me up, having done a full episiotomy to make sure there was no pressure against the baby's skull. My husband, in tears now from the exhaustion and anxiety, went out to the waiting room to tell all the family members that had been waiting for an update. Later on, as my brother came in the room to visit, he was distracted by some goo on the floor and was pushing it around with the toe of his sneaker...we told him that was his nephew's placental fluids. The distraction was gone.
I would have to write an entire second story about the extraordinary service and support we received from the NICU staff during Ian's eight-week stay there. An event like this has been known to tear a couple apart. In our case, it showcased our strengths. I have a background in information technology (IT), and I became entrenched in the details of my son's care – everything from his brain bleed to the number of apnea events each day and so on. My husband took the social end, learning about the nurses, their dates, their children and everything else they wanted to share with him during our daily visits! Together, we overcame the fear, worried only about the things the doctors were worried about, and let go of the rest.
Instead of the anticipated 12-week stay, Ian came home at eight weeks at a whopping five pounds. Everyone at GBMC during our long engagement there was phenomenal. They were sympathetic, but not condescending, and honest, but reassuring. I was never worried for my son – he was in the best place with the best care, and I couldn't have asked for anything more!
GBMC is my go-to hospital, and the home to many of the specialists I see on a routine basis. I've shared some of the same doctors my father had when he was alive, and others - like my OB/GYN - I've been with for over 20 years and now send my 18-year old daughter to see. I've never had a bad experience at GBMC, and I've been there for two of my three children's deliveries, a scary case of hemolytic anemia and a hysterectomy, to name just a few events. My 28-week old preemie will be twenty years old this June, and my youngest, also born at GBMC, will be 13 one week later. I feel secure knowing that as I work to mitigate all the issues I'm predisposed to due to my medically-challenged family history, all the specialists and services I need are contained on one campus. I hope one day to visit GBMC and meet my grandchild – preferably not in the NICU, but if that should happen, I won't worry one bit!