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heads up, I'm going to give all the details, so if you're really squeamish, you might want to consider having someone else read this to you and give you the synopsis.
So we have a new son, Allan Bennett Nielsen. I should be excited right now, but I'm not. I haven't really thought about him much at all today. I'm too caught up in my experience this morning with Emily.
To back up a little bit, Emily was put into the hospital this last Thursday, 9/1/16 because her OB was concerned that she might have pre-eclampsia and they wanted to run some tests. Pre-eclampsia, as I understand it, is a vascular disease that constricts the blood vessels and causes hypertension, or high blood pressure. So after a couple days, she was given the official diagnosis and we were expecting to be in the hospital for another week and half or so, just resting quietly, trying to keep her blood pressure down, so she could get to 37 weeks and deliver the baby full-term. But that didn't quite happen.
This morning, probably around 3:30, I woke up feeling kind of funny in my gut, like I needed to use the bathroom. When I got up to use it, I saw Emily propping herself up on her side on her hospital bed. I asked her if she was okay, and she waved me off without saying anything. I generally know to leave that alone. So I used the bathroom and sat back down on my bed next to hers. About 5 seconds later, I started hearing some shaking, and I saw her reaching for the remote that calls the nurse. After half a second I realized that she was seizing, so I jumped out of bed, yelled for the nurses, frantically tried to push the right button while at the same time trying to prop her up so her airway would open up. (On a side note, if you ever find someone seizing, prop them on their side, not up) After what was probably only a few seconds but what felt like five minutes, the nurses came in and started helping her get airflow going. Within just a minute, the room was completely filled with doctors and nurses.
They said they needed to get an IV in her, and I think at this point she had stopped seizing a bit, but was immensely confused and disoriented, and most certainly scared out of her mind to see a bunch of people standing over her. So she started flailing and resisting them. They had probably 8 full-grown people holding her down, but she kept fighting them off. During the first couple minutes of this I was sitting on my bed feeling helpless and weepy. Eventually one of the nurses asked me to come over and talk to her, to try and calm her down. It was horrifying to watch my wife yell and scream in such dismay, asking for help, knowing that that's exactly what they were all there to do. At first I tried to be firm with her and (more loudly than I ought to have) told her to calm down. But soon, to my memory came a principle that my father taught me me in a priesthood blessing he had given me just a couple weeks before: "a soft answer turneth away wrath". I realized then that I needed to speak softly to her, not loudly or in an alarmed tone. I started speaking more softly and gently, persuading her to be still and assuring her that I was there for her. It took a little bit, but eventually she started calming down.
One of the most precious moments to me in all of this chaos came when she started opening her eyes and looking around. I told her to look at me and I asked "can you see me?". She gave me a very slight nod, which filled my heart with joy, because it meant she was there with me. I had been so terrified, seeing her so far gone from reality. Just to have her recognize that I was there gave me the courage I needed to keep going and help her remain calm. It was still immensely painful to see her struggling beyond anything I had imagined, but I had more hope after that. I knew that she saw me and recognized me.
They eventually got an IV into her and got it taped down so she couldn't tear it out, and they gave her a sedative, as well as some Magnesium, which was to stop the seizures. She calmed down long enough for us all to walk her down from the antepartum (pre-labor and delivery) wing over to labor and delivery. We discussed some options, hoping that she would stay calm long enough to induce labor, but within just a minute of being there she started seizing again. I had to go over to her side again and help hold her down so she wouldn't tear out her IVs or anything. Nothing has ever haunted me with the same power as the contortions on her faces as when she was having a seizure. It makes me weep now to have those images brought back to my mind.
They carted her out and prepared her for an emergency C-section. I didn't see her for probably another 4 hours, and when I finally did, it was in the ICU with a bunch of tubes in her mouth and needles all over. That part was much less horrifying, because she was sedated and still. During the interim of all that, I did get to see Allan once, as they carted him over to the NICU to help him get his breathing under control. He's a big baby for being a month early: 7 pounds, 4 ounces! But like I said at the beginning, I hadn't thought much about him. It may sound awful, but I don't know him. I've not been married to him for almost a year and half. I also didn't see him go into seizures and flail uncontrollably. Not like I did with Emily.
So I'm here in the ICU now with Emily, and she still has a bunch of tubes and stuff in her to help her get all the crap out of her system. I say good riddance to whatever it is that made her do that. She'll be on there for several more hours. She and Allan will both be fine, I'm sure. And I've gone to see Allan a couple times since this morning, and I feel much more love and affection for him than I did at 4:45 this morning when I was in shock. My father in law came almost immediately and spent the whole morning with me. I am immensely grateful for that, because it gave me something to do other than sit, cry, and be utterly miserable. I've have several other people stop by as well, bringing comfort and reassurances, all things that I will remember forever.
What I hope I don't remember forever is the panic I feel sitting here now as my beautiful and unconscious wife grunts, tied down to her hospital bed. Any move she makes alarms me inside, even though I know there's nothing I can do and she's in the hands of people MUCH more competent than I, who would really help her if something actually did go wrong. I pray it won't.
Overall, this has been an absolutely horrible experience. The most love I've felt from this was from her OB, who came in several hours ago, and while giving me a hug said something like "What an awful thing you've had to go through, you must feel terrible!" Ironically, that more than anything was more healing than any assurances I've been given by nurses or priesthood blessings that fortell her recovery. It was terrible. I really hope it never happens again, and I want to encourage anyone who may have any concerns about hypertension or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy to go to your doctor without hesitation. I am horrified at the thought of what might have happened if we'd decided she could rest at home instead of at the hospital.
I know "natural" and "home" births are a big thing nowadays, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!!! TRUST YOUR DOCTOR!!!!! Be at the hospital if they want you to! Don't let yourself for a second think that you or your loved one is immune to the dangers of pregnancy! It is INFINITELY better to be somewhere where they can take care of you at a moment's notice if something like this happens. Don't risk that for yourself, and don't let your wife/partner risk that for herself! It's just not worth it. I sincerely believe that God intervened by waking me up just before she started seizing, but how useless that would have been if we'd been far away from medical access that we were counselled to be near.
Thanks for letting me rant. It's a bit therapeutic for me. I'm still scared. But at least this way I don't have to keep re-telling the story. My love to you all and thanks for your prayers. -Josh