Adventures in CP Motherhood

I always wanted to fall in love, get married, and have children.  I feel so blessed that God gave me my dream.  The falling in love and getting married part was relatively easy compared to the having children part…

A rare moment where I wasn’t puking.

First of all, I was scared to death.  I was asking myself the very same question people were asking me: How are you going to care for a baby? I had one additional question to ask. Once I got pregnant, could I carry to term? And if I did, what would going through labor be like?

Those are questions for any new mom, but having epilepsy threw a whole new wrench into the mix. Doctors told me I couldn’t take my meds during labor.  What?! I have to take my meds! My doctor said he wasn’t sure what to do about that fact; he’d have to “think” about alternatives. How comforting is that?!

I was very nervous about being able to carry to term because having CP, epilepsy, and being in my late 30’s made me a high-risk pregnancy.  On top of all that I already had two miscarriages with my ex husband, a sadness which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Ryan and I miscarried once before the force known as Anaia Grace entered our lives.

There wasn’t a day that went by during my pregnancy with Anaia that I wasn’t grateful for one more day with her growing inside me. Being a high-risk pregnancy isn’t fun or easy for anyone involved. Even if I didn’t have CP or epilepsy, I’d still have to drive over an hour to West Chester hospital every other week for a sonogram to check if she was developing normally. Which she was besides the fact I was making too much amniotic fluid. You see, I thought it would be fun to add a couple neurological and physical issues  on top of being  older just  to spice  things  up a bit.

Philippians 4:6 ~Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

When you are medicated for epilepsy, you have to increase your dosage as you gain weight as the baby grows. The medication I’m on has awful side effects: dizziness, exhaustion, and extreme nausea. Now, imagine those side effects on top of the hormonal swings, morning sickness, and drop-on-your-knees-exhaustion of growing a human. It was nine months of hell. But I would not have changed a thing because I have my perfect Anaia.

I was sick from day one until delivery. Over the course of the pregnancy, my neurologist ended up overdosing me on my medication. I don’t hold anything against her; it’s a guessing game after all. I had to be admitted to NYU for detox. I was hooked up to an EEG to see if I was about to go into a seizure for three or four days while doctors weaned me off my meds. They waited until all the meds were out of my system before slowly reintroducing a new medication to my body. Oh… and in between that, and all throughout my pregnancy, I went to the local hospital almost every week for dehydration.

The true face of heart-burn

I couldn’t lay down and had to sleep sitting up. Every time I tried to lie down I threw up, or stomach acid burned my throat.  It felt like a volcano was erupting in my throat and Heat Miser was taking up residency in my gut.

I drank Maalox by the bottle!

So for most of my pregnancy I slept in my Father’s recliner and Ryan slept on the couch a few feet away.  I told him he didn’t have to, but he didn’t want to leave me alone. The night Anaia came into the world I was very glad Ryan was nearby! Looking back, that was a comical night. Let what I’m about to tell you play like a movie in your mind….

It started in the wee hours of November 6th, 2008. I was in the recliner and Ryan stretched out on the too-small-for-his 6’3″-frame-couch. I woke and had to go to the bathroom. As I tried to get up, the room spun in more directions than I could count. Extremely dizzy, I called for Ryan. He helped me to the bathroom where I got even dizzier, and therefore, was completely out of it. I was dehydrated once again.  As Ryan helped me pull my PJ pants up (don’t even ask me who pulled them down) I began to feel extremely sick to my stomach.  Then… it happened. As Ryan bent over to pull up my PJ’s I thanked him by unloading my cookies on the back of his neck.

That… my friends is true love.

With vomit sliding chunks down his chin, he stood there like a trooper and got my pants up. I was so proud of him. So proud, in fact, I began throwing up all over the front my poor husband, who now had puke dripping down  his chest as well as his spine.

At this point he had called the doctor.  Because I was so disoriented I didn’t realize I was setting a new record for continuous vomiting as Ryan was trying to get me to the hospital. He began walking me to the front door, trying to hold me up because I couldn’t stand on my own. Standing was no easy task for a pregnant woman who already has no normal center of gravity, but I was dizzy,  put-spin-art-to-shame-with-my-vomit kind of pregnant woman.  As I’m continuing to puke all over the front of Ryan and his bare feet, making the kitchen floor he was navigating across slick as an ice-arena, one of my dogs decides to help clean up by licking the floor…

Vomit. Dog slobber. Ryan in his bare feet.

Ryan is now trying to hold me up while slipping and sliding in puke and dog slobber, which we all know has a supernaturally slick consistency. I finally stop barfing for a minute, which gives Ryan the liberty to find his footing and get me out the front door. Dripping in puke and in still in bare feet, he leaves the front door open (he couldn’t close it because  he was holding  me up) and sits me down on the porch  bench. As he’s helping me sit down, two dogs shoot out of the house hopped on a fresh meal of post-consumption left-overs and run out of the house…at 3:30am.

Did I mention the deer they chased and the barking all over the neighborhood?

My non-vomit covered hero.
My non-vomit covered hero.

Ryan, the vomit covered, bare footed, dog-wrangler extraordinaire, eventually gets the dogs back in the house.  He gets the car, pulls around to the front of the house, and helps me down the front lawn and into the car. At last, we are off to the hospital, which is five minutes away.

When we get there Ryan goes and gets a ER nurse. I can just imagine what she thought when she saw him. Still covered in puke and bare footed in November.  I was admitted, hooked up to a baby monitor, and given fluids. After a while I felt much better…

Ryan, however, didn’t smell any better.

The doctor didn’t like how Anaia’s heartbeat was, so after a few hours of being monitored he decided to, in his words, “go get her.” On November 6th,  2008 Anaia Grace Denerley was born by c-section 3 weeks early at 7:20am. She was beautiful!

But… there was a ripple in the happy ending.

A few hours after being born, Anaia stopped breathing.  The nurses were able to get her breathing again but Anaia continued to stop breathing several times throughout her first 24 hours on earth. It was heartbreaking. I was in one hospital while my new born baby was rushed to the NICU in different hospital 45 minutes away.

After a week Ryan and  I got to bring our baby home. I have to say, the doctors and nurses involved in every way were fantastic.  We were definitely blessed. The doctors said they weren’t sure why Anaia stopped breathing out of nowhere. Most likely she having withdrawal symptoms coming off my epilepsy meds.  Today she’s a very healthy, rough and tumble 8 year old in the third grade.

Tune in to the next blog to see how I figured out diapered a baby one-handed!


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