Musings of a Marfan Mom

Julie’s Birth Story, Part 1

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I’m out of town on an unexpected trip. While I’m gone, my friend Julie is kind enough to share with us her birth story. It will be presented in 3 parts. Thanks, Julie! :-)

The Story of Max
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My niece Becky arrived the night before the baby shower to help me. She came armed with tons of adorable decorations and a heart filled with smiles. We had some yummy Italian food and hung up baby socks on the walls while laughing and talking about my future baby and her future wedding.

The next day, the guests began arriving early. I felt happy, and was excited to see so many people I loved in one place. I honestly forgot how fat I was. My friend Kristen, whom I had not seen in some time, appeared at the front door and it was so nice to give her a hug. Super-realtor Kathy also walked in and I was so excited to see her. I was very emotional, seeing so many people I loved in one place. My mom, sister, nieces, aunts, family, cousins, great friends, were all there beaming of love and joy. Kathy and Beth, Pete’s amazing cousins and Shower Professionals were arranging things, preparing for the games and present opening. The house was buzzing with movement and excitement. Then my aunts arrived and were so kind and sweet. It was going to be a fun day.

About ten minutes in to the beginning of the shower, my aunt wanted to move her chair to the other side of the room. I leaned in towards the chair and slightly bent to help her.

That’s when I felt a pop in my chest. Instantly my lips felt tingly, the pulse in my throat started pounding, I saw stars, my arms felt numb. I had this extreme pain in my back and chest. Something was wrong. I couldn’t believe it. Now of all times? I was supposed to having a baby shower!!!

I didn’t want to make a scene so I quietly left the room and asked my friend Colleen to come over to me. I was trying not to panic. We went outside, along with Beth and my mom and some others and my doctor was called. Of course, like every other time I called the doctor in the past few weeks, I was told to come in to the ER. But should I? Miss the baby shower? What if it was nothing? And why did this “nothing” hurt so damn horribly?

I stalled for about five minutes. I was in so much pain I came close to passing out. Beth, who also happens to be a physician’s assistant, wisely said that I wasn’t feeling any better and I needed to go get checked out. Pete and I left. I asked that everyone stay at the house and enjoy the food.

I sat in the back seat of Pete’s car. I tried to keep calm. On the way there, I felt myself slipping in to another dimension. A dream state if you will. I suddenly had a very clear and unsettling thought.

I was dying.

I am not sure why I knew this but I knew it. I felt it very strongly and I was trying very hard to play it cool. Pete’s eyes kept meeting mine from the rear view mirror; I didn’t want to scare him. I kept as quiet as possible. It was the longest twenty minute ride of my life. At one point he went over a large bump in the road and the pain was pure hell.

I have always been the type of person to hide my fear or pain. As a kid, my mom would watch me fall down and scrape my entire leg terribly, cooly walk in to the house, hide from everyone and THEN cry. I don’t like showing tears or pain or losing my cool. I’m very shy like that.

So when I was finally at the front desk of the ER reception desk and I heard myself hysterically screaming “Please help me I am in so much pain”, I sounded foreign even to myself. I saw the alarm in the woman’s eyes, I heard Pete say “she never acts like this, this is serious”. I even remember begging one of the nurses not to leave me alone at one point, I was seriously in the worst pain of my life.

I was originally diagnosed with a pinched nerve. Dr. S, my obstetrician on call that day, felt so badly for me that he was literally massaging my back for me, trying to help. I could barely contain myself.

I stayed at the hospital overnight in this condition, only to get worse. The vomiting began and got more frequent; the pain never stopped for one second. I was given morphine. It hardly worked. My two nurses, Gerry and Caren, were complete angels, giving me such soft care and kindness that they helped me through every minute. Gerry massaged my neck and shoulders, told me about her life, listened to the story of how I met Peter. I felt like I knew her for years, if not lifetimes.

At 4 am the next day, Dr. S came back to the hospital. He said he couldn’t sleep, that I was on his mind, that he wanted to give me more tests. He mentioned a cat scan. I said no. That I didn’t want my baby to have any radiation. He yelled at me. Said I MUST do what’s best for both of us and that if this were something serious, slight radiation exposure would be nothing in comparison. I then agreed. I didn’t know it then, but this was the moment that Dr. S saved my life.

Within five minutes of returning from the cat scan, Dr. S was kneeling at the front of my bed. His words going through me like lasers, shocking me with each syllable.

“Julie, this is a very serious situation. You have a dissection in your aorta. You must have an emergency c-section tonight and have heart surgery immediately after that. This is a very serious serious situation. You are going to be taken via helicopter to another hospital”

I looked at Pete in disbelief. I couldn’t even absorb what was just said. I blurted out “Am I going to die?”

And then there were those three words that he responded with, that went straight to my core.

“It’s very possible.”

I may have cried for like less than minute but then was told very adamantly that I MUST keep calm. That getting excited could aggravate the situation.

That’s when it occurred to me that I had a bomb inside me. And I had to do all that I possibly could to make it not explode. I didn’t cry again. I hardly showed any emotion again, I simply got as quiet as I could and went Within and prayed. I was in survival mode.

Before I left in the helicopter, Gerry said something to me that was very soothing. “If you weren’t meant to be okay, we would have never found this. You are going to live. Believe that.” Pete also insisted I’d be fine and remained very calm and sure of this for me. I will never forget how strong he was for me. Never.

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5 Comments

  1. Dear Julie, you are truly leaving us on the edges of our seats wanting to make sure you are okay. AHHHHHHH…………..

    I have a feeling I’ll thank you for sharing this when all is said and done. :-)

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  2. Whoa Julie, what a start! How scary for you. Looking forward to the next parts. :)

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  3. Julie is my dearest best friend and no matter how many times I hear her story or whenever we talk about it I still get goosebumps. I can never get through it without crying, and like Jules I hate crying!! I am so grateful that Dr S was there to insist on the tests and for the other Doctors that were involved. I wish I could give them all great big hugs and kisses…

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  4. I’m fine. Better than fine!

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  5. Phew (to the “fine”).

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