(Part 2) The Fateful Bike Ride

Loved the ultrasounds.  How fun to watch Abby wiggle and move!
I really did have an easy pregnancy in spite of the complication I'm about to write about.   By week 20 we knew we were having a little girl.  We didn't seriously discuss names until that time.  The only name we both agreed on was Abigail and we chose Grace as a middle name.  

Up until week 28 I was fairly active. I was going on several bike rides each week and occasional walks. Jeff's doctor had encouraged him to be a bit more active so one Friday afternoon in August Jeff persuaded me to accompany him on a ride around Big Spirit Lake  (Iowa).  I was unsure about going the distance of 20+ miles as I had been riding about 5 or 6 miles at a time. I had switched to my mountain bike as my belly got in the way when riding my road bike so I knew I would slow Jeff down. Jeff convinced me he would take his time and be patient with me so I reluctantly went. It was a warm day, but I took plenty of water. My legs just felt very heavy and I wondered if my clothing was too tight. I was really tempted to turn around and go back, but we finally reached the halfway point and I knew I would just have to continue on. I just seemed to run out of energy. I did ask Jeff to stop at one point and I got off the bike and stretched and walked around. I felt like I was trying to pedal as hard as I could and just couldn't make my bike move (and pre-pregnancy I could out-climb Jeff on hills). I felt bad that I was slowing Jeff down, but with his encouragement I did finally make it home. I actually felt better that evening and seemed to recover fairly quickly.

The next day I was a little worn out so I didn’t exercise at all and I didn’t do much on Sunday either. I asked Jeff to massage the front of my thigh muscles as they seemed really tight after the long bike ride. Monday after work I told Jeff I was going on another bike ride and I took off on my mountain bike. There was one small hill right around the corner and I just absolutely struggled to get up it. It was as if my legs were made of lead and they would not work at all. They were so heavy and I just couldn’t get them to pedal up the incline.  It was very strange.  I decided to go a couple of blocks and then I turned around. I was a little concerned that something was wrong at this point, but when I returned home Jeff massaged my legs again (what a great husband I have) and told me that I had probably just strained my muscles back on Friday. He offered to go on a walk with me to loosen my legs up. As we walked I asked if we could cut it short as I was having trouble walking and was limping badly as my left leg really was hurting. By the end of the walk it seemed that my legs were better. After the walk I crashed on the couch and just relaxed and watched TV. When I decided to take a shower I could barely get up the steps to the bathroom and bedroom. My left leg was very stiff, but I still attributed it to muscle soreness. I even went to the computer and googled “leg heaviness in pregnant” women and then came out and reassured Jeff that it seemed to be a normal symptom in pregnant women.  He didn't seem too concerned upon hearing that.  I got in the shower and was nearly done when I looked down at my legs and saw that my left leg was swollen much larger than the right leg. It was very blotchy looking with red spots and some purple spots mixed in from my upper calf to my upper thigh. This was one of those moments when I realized what has occurred is about to alter my life.  I called Jeff to come upstairs and he could see this was something that required medical attention. He called my hospital for me and they said I should go to the ER in our hometown (the hospital where I doctored was in MN and was 1 hour away).  I remember crying when I heard I had to go to the hospital.  My pregnancy was going so well and now this.  It seemed I was no longer in control. I could barely hobble out to the car. When I arrived at the hospital I reluctantly agreed to sit in the wheel chair for the first time in my life. It was about 10:30 PM.

The ER nurse came in and saw the swelling in my leg and said she thought it was probably a blood clot and that the doctor would probably order an ultrasound to confirm this. The nurse returned to the room and said she had called the ultrasound technician in a town about 20 miles away and we would have to wait for her to arrive. After what seemed to be 45 minutes she arrived.  She began the ultrasound and showed us where the blood flow began to grow sluggish in my upper thigh.  Of course she never gave any indication that she had discovered a blood clot. She checked Abby's heartbeat and it was about 169, which was a little elevated. She was able to show us what Abby was up to and we could see her taking practice breaths! She showed us that it looked like she was bald at that point.

The doctor eventually came into my room and informed me I had a clot in my iliac vein in my upper left thigh. He had the nurse come in and give me an injection of Lovenox and then refused to provide any other instructions other than to set up an appointment with my doctor later that day. We were just a little frustrated at the lack of information he provided, even when we asked questions.  We left the hospital around 1:15 AM. Thankfully, Jeff wasn’t working at that time, but was recovering from shoulder surgery.   This timing of his surgery was a wonderful blessing.

Later that day I went to work late and only worked a few hours.  The ER doctor wouldn't tell me that I couldn't work so I did and my job was on the way to my MN hospital anyway.   Jeff met me at work and we headed to the hospital in MN. Upon setting up my appointment I learned that my obgyn couldn't really help in this matter and that I needed to see another doctor.  They said Dr. G. had an opening so he would be able to see me.  This was another amazing blessing.  Of all the doctors I have ever met Dr. G. has been one of the most caring and showed such attention to detail.  He spent the better part of two hours consulting with the specialist in Rochestor, reviewing my records, and speaking with the hematologist onsite. Finally, he made the decision to admit me into the hospital. Sigh. This was not what I was expecting at all. Up until the night before I had never been in a wheelchair and now I was being admitted into the hospital.  His concern was the proximity and size of the clot.  They wanted to ensure it wouldn't break free and create a pulmonary embolism. 

They monitored Abby’s heartbeat the first six hours. It had gone down to the 120s and 130s. She kept wriggling to get away from the pressure of the fetal heart monitor. They also monitored me to make sure I wasn’t having contractions. Thankfully, I wasn’t!  I was so glad to get the monitors off and expected to be able to shower, but was very dismayed to learn I was put on complete bed-rest.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be for mothers to endure bed-rest for weeks on end.  I felt really great at that time yet I wasn't allowed to even stand up.  I was relieved when that order was rescinded the next morning.  

I had to make up a very detailed list for Jeff as he had to go home to get personal items for me.  This was an eyeopening experience for him as he never realized all the items a woman uses on a daily basis.  After this hospital stay I made sure I had a bag at least partially packed.

I was released on the third day and returned home with a lovely selection of stylish compression socks to wear 24 hours a day.  I also had to have Lovenox injections twice a day.  I had been a little squeamish about needles since a child, but I soon overcame that.  Jeff gave me the first couple of shots and then I took over and began giving them to myself.  I became so adept at giving them that I even was able to inject myself while riding in a car going down interstate. 

Abby was in a breech position and with the added complication of being on blood thinners, it meant I would have a C-Section.  I accepted this fact even though I did try some of the exercises to get her to turn.  She just wouldn't budge. 

Exciting birth story to follow.  Stay tuned!
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