Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A year later: My Birth Story


Before I start my story my husband participated with 'Hubby's Version'. You can either read the whole story straight through or you can ready my part and then go on to 'Hubby's Version' to fill in the blanks that I didn't know. Also if you are pregnant for the first time and haven't given birth yet I suggest that you wait to read this when you've given birth. Every labor is different and this was mine, the good, bad and the ugly.

It's been a whole year since the birth of my precious little boy who had touched our lives and blesses us daily. 2010 was a hard, but beautiful year of restoration. 

What better time to reflect on the birth of my son than on his first birthday and what better time then when I am flying thousands of feet up in the air going to California. 

It's a long story. A story that I hope will touch lives as it had touched mine. I am thankful to be alive to tell it and so very thankful that I got the chance to see my son grow and be with my family. 

I'm alive, happy and very blessed!

I woke up at 2am January 8th with strong cramping. After being 2 weeks overdue I was anxious to go into labor. Could this be it? I thought to myself. Even if it was I knew it was too early to wake my husband plus I didn't want to disappoint our birthing class instructor who had asked us laboring women not to wake our husbands while we are in the first stages of labor. She was right, he needed his sleep, but dude didn't I need mine too? Didn't it matter if I had rest or not? I guess that part is left as is. 

After some hours of cramping I couldn't resist waking my husband up because I needed help and company. Since my birth is long and detailed I will say that I labored till I thought it was time to go into the birthing center. When we got there I was only a few cm dilated and was still in only first stage of labor even though it was 1pm, they sent me home. I was told not to come back until I couldn't put on my cute clothes, do my hair and makeup, I had to get out of my chipper labor stage. So here I was in bed and in labor that wouldn't progress fast enough. To speed things up we went to the mall to walk it out. It hurt. I looked odd standing there leaning on my husband during every strong contraction. 

That night was horrible.  I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, nor move. It was too early to go to the birthing center so I labored slowly and painfully at home. The next morning was spent in bed praying for some relief that never came. It was getting hard. I forgot the cute clothes, my hair was a mess and yesterday's makeup was good enough for me. I was tired, I was done. Nothing came in and the baby wasn't coming out! As the tears of pain rolled down my face, we called the midwives hoping. It was time to come in.

My mom and aunt were late, they had another midwife there, it wasn't right. I didn't want her there, she was making me uncomfortable. She stayed and I was only 7cm after many hours of labor. 

All I could do was lay in the birthing tub. I had picked my favorite side and laid there. I didn't move, I couldn't move. All I could do to keep my sanity was focus. I focused on the Word of God. Over and over and over I'd say to myself, "The joy of the Lord is my strength, when I am weak He is strong." As I lay there motionless the hours went by. I even remember at one point when a midwife came to check on me my husband told her I was sleeping. All I could do was rudely correct him through clenched teeth, "I am NOT sleeping! I am in a middle of a contraction right now!" It was a mess inside of me, but to everyone else I was a strong laboring woman who was doing a great job for staying so quiet and strong.

My focus was gone. 

Again I would again repeat, "The joy of the Lord is my strength, when I am weak He is strong." Over and over and over I went. It gave me peace, it gave me strength and purpose at a moment when I was weak, anxious and so lost.

Finally I had gone from 7cm to 9cm.

I pushed. I pushed hard. Nothing… I was stuck. I had nothing left in me and my nightmare was just about to begin.

After an IV with fluids for strength we were sent off to UW Medical Center with my mom, aunt and midwife in tow. 

Once at the hospital my contractions started to taper off at 9cm, but the good news was I had three doctors and they were all young and beautiful ladies. Dr. Anna was my favorite. She was boss and on top of my needs which included a popsicle, pitocin, an epidural and a nice nap for 4 hours. As the pitocin got cranked up to an all time high the clock was ticking away and I had only progressed half a centimeter. In no time I went from rest to being prepped for a c-section. I was scared. Nothing went as planned, nothing went as it should have. 2 days of labor that started Friday and it being well into Sunday with no baby was not good.

After prep and talks of wills I was sent off to the operating room. My husband waited in the hallway for his signal to come in while they worked on my spinal tap. They poked me here and they poked me there. I was numb. I was ready to go.

Then all hell broke loose… 

At 5:10 am of January 10-10 I hear a rush of loud voices and then a cry. The cry of my long awaited baby. The one I had dreamed of, longed for and worked for. He was here, but my husband was nowhere to be found.

"Where's my husband?!"

After what seemed like hours he finally stood by me. I cried. I shook and cried. "My baby, he is here! My baby! My baby! He's finally here!"

As they showed me my precious little bundle of joy I tried to see him through my tears. I didn't see. I couldn't see. Everything was fussy, blurry and doubled. "Where's my baby? I can't see him! Why can't I see my baby?" 

Last thing that I remember was the doctors telling my husband that if I needed to be put to sleep he had signed a waiver form for him not to be in the room and he was gone.

I was gone. Lost in unexplained darkness. No voice of my baby couldn't be heard. no touch was felt from my husband. I was alone, alone in an unknown place confused and so lost. I was unaware of the dangers my doctors carried me through. I had no idea of the possibility of a hysterectomy, the many blood transfusions, the surgery and the little baby that laid quietly all by himself waiting, hoping and longing for his mother.

Hubby's version: 
As the medical staff took Annetta into the operating room to prep her for the c-section, they gave me some scrubs to put on and wait in a separate room - they would get me after about 10 minutes once everything is ready for the delivery. I spent the time praying in the spirit, but 10…15…20 minutes go by and I'm still waiting. Then a nurse comes, motions me to follow her, and ushers me into the operating room. As I walk in, looking towards the operating table, the nurse points to the side and says "Here is your son." I was confused as that was not what I expected. They were doing some standard tests on him and I was told they'd let me hold him in a couple of minutes. I walked over to be by my wife's side, held her hand and tried to calm her down and comfort her. I assured her that we have a beautiful son and that he is OK and everything will be OK. By the time they brought him over, Annetta received some more medications as they were working on her behind the curtain. I was holding my son, but I gave him back to the nurse after only few minutes because I needed to be with my wife, who was starting to shake with cold and saying things that were not making much sense. The rush behind the curtain was not slowing down and the 'blood emergency' was declared. I was escorted out of the room not knowing what was happening...

After about 10 minutes a nurse pushed out a cart with our baby on it, saying something like "I know it sounds bad in this situation, but congratulations." They didn't really tell us much about what was going on with Annetta, but despite the tension in the air they sounded optimistic, and the Holy Spirit was keeping me at relative peace, believing for the best. We at least had Augustin with us, took some pictures and videos of him, and admired him. 
After some time of waiting and praying, a doctor came out saying that my wife has been stabilized, and explained what happened. He said that after the c-section, her uterus was not contracting back to it's original size, but was just floppy like a flat balloon. Because of this, the big veins that feed the uterus were not closing off and continued to bleed. They went down the list of measures and medications to try in such situation, without success - that's when they declared the 'blood emergency' and moved to a more serious list of procedures, last of which would have been a hysterectomy (a complete removal of the uterus, which would mean no more babies for us). Fortunately, the uterus responded to one of the procedures - a balloon that they inserted inside and inflated with water made the uterus to start contracting around the balloon. The doctor said it would take at least an hour before they would be finished with her. That gave us a lot of relief and allowed us to get some rest, not knowing that the worst was not over yet...

Hours after the surgery and many complications I had woken up in another room. I wasn't about to see clearly through a drugged state, not able to talk, or feel. It was over, I had survived. I had lived to see my little Augustin, the little baby I had waited longer then most people to see, to hold and to kiss. 

I have a video of my mom holding my son and showing him to me. I was looking at him silently, but my mind had never remember that moment. It had been erased from the trauma and all the drugs that was pumped into my broken body. It was the second time that I was seeing my son without seeing him.

The next 24 hours are very fuzzy for me and hopefully my husband will fill you in where my memory stops. 

Shortly after I got out of surgery if I remember correctly there were nurses and doctors all around me. I heard their voices, but didn't see their faces. One nurse was telling someone to get the infiltrated IV out of my neck right now. As she bossed all the nurses around all I could think about was how loud, rude and mean she was to everyone. I had no idea that she was trying to save my life as I had later found out.

I heard and felt them poking me with a needle from my arms down to my legs. It pinched, it hurt, but I was in a state of delirium and didn't know how to voice my questions. The head nurse continued to yell at the other nurses to get an IV in me as soon as possible. One nurse replied with a frustrated voice that they were trying.

Somewhere in-between my family was told to leave the room and a doctor came in. I heard them being ushered out, but I never saw. It could have been my last time seeing them as far as I knew. As I started to make sense of the situation I noticed my doctor standing next to me. I asked him, "What's going on?"

He started to explain something that soon turned into babble and then nothing. All went black.

As I came to I asked, "What's going on?"

My doctor again starts explaining the situation that soon turned into babble and then nothing. All went black again.

I came out of the darkness to ask, "What's going on?!"

This time panic was in my voice. I realized that I've asked this question before. I remembered him giving me an answer. The answer didn't match with the situation. I was falling, falling into a deep hole and everything went black again.

"What's going on?!" This wasn't right, something was seriously wrong here and they were not fixing it. Why? I thought to myself. Was this a game? Did I have to figure out a pattern? A code to survive? Questions ran through my mind and I was trying to save my life, but I couldn't. Darkness fell upon me again.

"What's going on?" It was getting serious, tears ran down my cheeks. I was lost and no one could help me. Again my thought went wild once my doctor repeated his speech that made no sense to me, it was a lie! I thought that if I could get my husband in the room then he could figure it out. Yes! The Holy Spirit would tell him what I needed to save my life. That was it, he was the key. 

I asked for my husband, I begged for him to come. I wanted my mom, I needed my family. 

Lubos was by my side along with my mom.

"What's going on?!" I asked again hoping for a new answer and then I was gone.

After coming to I realized no one could help me. Not the doctors, not my mom, no one. They weren't telling me something. That something hung thick in the air for me. Fear crept into my heart as a ghost to take me over. I was gonna conquer that fear, I was going to be bold and say what no one would. I was going to end the lies and tell my family the truth, prepare them for what the doctors couldn't.

"I'm…." Blackness, it was here once again.

"Going!" I can do this, I can say it, but darkness fell upon me as it had for the countless time.

"To…" This was it, this was the moment, but for God's grace I can to again.

"Die!" I said it. The fear that gripped my heart oh so tight held onto it harder. These were my last moments as far as I knew.

I heard panic in my doctors voice whoever he was as he said, "No, no you'r not going to die. We are working on saving you and that is not going to happen."

I heard my mom as she ran to my side saying, "No Annetta! I will not allow it. You have a baby that you need to raise. We need to go to parks and we have so much to do. I do not expect it. We WILL raise Augustin together, just think of him." She was panicking, but I held onto her words. I believed her.

I remember the doctors telling my family that they needed to leave because I was going to go in for another surgery. As they were prepping me my husband tells me to keep a positive attitude and if I did that then everything would be okay. I held onto his words, his words were to save my life. If I stayed positive and optimistic then I would come out alive so off I went with jokes and smiles on my mind.

Hubby's version:
After Annetta was brought out of the operation room, she had tubes coming in and out of everywhere. But we were happy she was there and for couple hours things were calm and again we got to rest. Gradually, more and more people were churning through the room, doing this and checking that. According to doctor Anna she was still bleeding a little bit. She had a bag attached to her uterus that was collecting the blood, and they also started to slowly let the water out of the balloon. One of the biggest problems was that they needed even more IV access, but she was poked so much already they couldn't really get into her veins anywhere. Furthermore, someone noticed that her neck was getting bigger and they called an anesthesiologist to check out the major IV she had going into her neck. The anesthesiologist determined that the IV had infiltrated (the fluids were leaking outside of the vein into the neck tissue). Some time has passed and Annetta started blacking out. Everything looked stable, including all the monitors - heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level, etc. That's why we (and the doctors also) were very surprised and not sure what was going on.  The IV fluid that has leaked out into her neck tissue was starting to constraint her breathing. After some discussion the doctors made a decision to get an IV into the other side of her neck, which required a sterile room and that's when they ushered us out.
We came back after only 10-15 minutes and everything looked OK again - even though her neck was huge from all the fluids that leaked out. However, things were not getting any better. It was already late afternoon when the doctors made a decision to do another procedure. The bleeding was not slowing down, and they couldn't just be giving her transfusions all the time. Doctors explained to me that they were going to do a micro-surgery: they would insert a small apparatus into her through a small poke in her leg, and close off the vessels bleeding into the uterus with a temporary glue that will disintegrate after couple months. They said it was fairly low-risk procedure, and since some of the vessels would be closed only temporarily, we would still be able to have children in the future. However, they needed to put her to sleep, and they needed to put a breathing tube down her throat as her natural one would collapse under the relaxants of the anesthesia and the pressure of the leaked out IV fluids.  I was calm and thankful we had such great doctors at a world-class hospital. As they were wheeling my wife off for the procedure, I told her that everything was going to be OK and to stay positive. They moved us - the family - to another room on another floor - the 'less intense' room where we would spend the rest of our stay. The procedure was going to take 4 to 5 hours so I went home (only 10 minutes away) to change and take a shower after not sure how long. I had heaviness on my heart and I pushed out of my mind all what-if thoughts of the worst. Continuously praying in the spirit, I knew that things would turn out well.

I only remember pieces of the next part.

There was an elevator ride to the operating room and I cracked jokes at the nurses. My goal in life, at that moment, was to stay positive and I guess it meant it was joke time.

Next things I remember was being transferred to the operating table. 1, 2, 3 and on I went. 

They asked me if I could gurgle the most nastiest stuff in my life. I nodded my head unaware how hard it was because I was not to swallow it. As I gurgled they sucked it out and gave me more and then before I knew it they were shoving a 2in. tube down my throat with little warning. I needed to catch my breath, but for some reason couldn't. I couldn't breath and they wouldn't let me take it. As I tried down they tried to shove the tube. I NEEDED to breath. As I went to pull the tube out and mumble the best I could I needed one last breath the nursed held my hands. 

"It's in!" I heard someone say and then the dreaded darkness fell upon my once again.

I prayed, I was done and knew this was it. I was not to wake.

I didn't die, I was alive, but I couldn't' wake up. It was a bad dream and I couldn't breathe properly. I focused, I prayed, but all was hard and I was tired, breathing was hard work and exhausting. How much more of this could I take? For hours the battle went on in my mind trying to catch my breath. I needed to focus, I needed to breath.

At an unknown time on Tuesday morning I finally was able to come to myself alive, I had made it. As I looked around the room I saw my husband to my left and a nurse to my right. They were pumping me to get my breast milk in. It was odd to me, but as long as my baby was getting my milk I was okay. 

After a short wile they were finished. I couldn't talk due to the breathing tube and I couldn't move. My eyes filled with questions. To my utter surprise the nurse asked me if I had any questions. I slowly nodded yes. Since talking wasn't an option she looked around the room to find some paper and pen.

The first question I asked was how much milk did they pump for my baby. As I wrote more questions I was able to figure out that I now can tell them that I wasn't able to breathe properly and that it was really hard for me. It turned out that they had set the breathing machine on the wrong setting and the whole time I was taking two short breaths and one quick exhale. 

Once it was fixed there was an open line of communication through paper and pen. I never saw the pen nor the paper, but my wonderful husband held the paper and followed my pen around to catch my sentences. 

Hubby's version:
After I came back to the hospital, at least two doctors and some nurses stopped by, telling me how great  of an attitude my wife has kept, cracking jokes on the way to the operating room. She was a great inspiration to them. I was proud of her once again and I knew that my positive expectations were justified. I stretched out in the family room and fell asleep. At around 1 am on Monday morning, I was woken up and informed that my wife has successfully undergone the procedure and is now in the ICU. I was escorted into her room - she was lying on the bed, her body blown up with all the fluids she has received, hooked up to a breathing machine and all the monitoring equipment. I plugged in a little CD player, started quietly playing a 'Healing' worship CD by 'Day One', and stretched on the fold-out bed they set up for me in the ICU room. I fell asleep to the rhythm of the breathing machine and beeping of the monitors.
In about 1 hour a nurse came in - her name was Melissa and she was a lactation nurse. She said that if we want to breastfeed, we need to pump Annetta regularly or her milk would not come in. I agreed and she brought a pump. We pumped one session and nothing came out. Melissa said she would be back in 3 hours for another session. I fell back asleep - I was calm and peaceful, not knowing that my dear wife was struggling with every breath and was close to giving up.
After 3 hours Melissa came back in and we pumped again. That's when Annetta woke up. She was trying to say something, but with the tube down her throat she couldn't. Suddenly Melissa came up with the idea to have her write it down, and grabbed some post-it notes and a pen. After couple basic questions about the milk and the baby, euphoria has built up in the room about the ability to communicate. We grabbed a bunch of paper and started conversing. Melissa said bye and instructed us to continue pumping every 3 hours. Our primary nurse came in and was pleasantly surprised about our ability to communicate. Annetta asked about the breathing machine and wrote that it was very hard for her to breathe. The nurse called some doctor who evaluated the situation switched it to a different mode. From then on, the worst was truly behind us and we started on the road to recovery.
Oh, and one more thing about Melissa - that evening and the next day I was looking for her to say thank you. I was asking about her in the nursery and the lactation nurses. I am not sure if I remembered her name correctly, but nobody knew anything about her, or about any nurse that went down to ICU. Simply there was no trace after her. You can form your own opinion, but I believe it was an angel God sent to relieve my wife's struggle with breathing and save her life… 

I still have those pages that I wrote on. They make me smile and laugh as I read through them. Things like 'speling is horrible' and 'I heard you ande understood, but feell asleep' are too funny to me. I got to ask them if I can still have a baby again and cried when they said yes. My favorite is when I asked, "Whos snornng?" It was my amazing hubby who was so tired and right by my side as he was the whole time.

The scary ones are, 'I thought I was deing', 'Wow what an experience! So so so thankful!! we went to the hospital!! I would have died', and 'I won't have ANOTHER problem?' 

I'm going scan and upload these pages if anyone is interested in viewing them.

That night I had spent in ICU, which happened to be my 26th birthday. After I was cleared they had moved me out of ICU that evening. 

The morning of Wednesday, January 12th I got to meet and hold my son for the first time and TODAY he is my precious little ONE YEAR OLD whom I got to watch grow up and to that I give God the glory for saving my life and giving me such an amazing little son whom I love so very dearly!






  1. I saw your post on Babycenter. Thank you so much for sharing. So glad to read that you and baby are healthy now.

  2. Oh Annetta. I just found this through your FB post. Thank God is all I can muster, lovely lady. J x

  3. Oh Annetta. I just found this after your FB link. Thank God is all I can muster, lovely lady. J x


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