Chapter 12: Labor and abnormal mammogram results

It was time!

I was admitted to the hospital and we were going to meet our twins very soon. I also had preeclampsia and had to start a medication that would make me feel like I had the flu for 24 hours. I would be very hot and feel feverish, sick to my stomach…oh and also…start inducing labor! This was going to be GLORIOUS and probably a super easy delivery. HA HA! Right. It was also the day before my birthday, so chances were very strong I would share a birthday with our 2 nuggets. The abnormal mammogram results would come a bit later in the story.

The doctor explained that they were going to insert a medical balloon device into my cervix to start the dilation process. I am sorry….WHAT? A balloon? No one told us this in birthing class. It would stay in overnight, it would slowly inflate and when I was around 5 cm dilated it would fall out. So there I was laying in the hospital bed feeling like I had the flu, was SO sweaty hot and I had a balloon inside my body helping my cervix open up. So, now you have that visual. They told us to get some rest (HA!) and that this process would happen overnight. I called my Dad, my older sister and my best friend and told them they could stay home and arrive in the morning. Nothing was happening tonight.

So, the success rate of this balloon is pretty high…around 70%! When the doc came in late the next morning to check how things were progressing, the balloon had fallen out and I was only around 2 cm dilated. Wonderful. It was time to get things going now with Pitocin. This is a medication that is given during labor to help the uterus to contract and should help get the show on the road, but there was no telling how long it could take. My family was now there in the room and we were all hanging out and I told them to go grab lunch. They took my husband and went down the street to one of his favorite pubs for lunch. I was pretty tired and just rested off and on and chewed on my ice chips (no food at this point). I was not in much pain at all and contractions were pretty sporadic. A couple hours later, I was awaken from the strongest contraction I had had at this point and realized what pain felt like. I was able to breathe through this one and assumed we were probably getting close to “push” time. HA! The nurse examined everything and said I was making progress! I was at 4 cm. COME ON. Our plan had always been for me to deliver the twins the old fashioned way, but would defer to the doctor on what was the safest for everyone involved. At this point, they twins were not showing any signs of distress, so it was time to increase the pitocin. OK, so NOW I really got what pain felt like. The nurse asked about an epidural to help with pain and through gritted teeth, I said “yes please.” I have ALL the respect for women who have delivered babies without pain medicine and honestly think you should all get an award. I however, was not going to get one of those awards…I was in pain and I was ready for it to stop.

The anesthesiologist was like an angel in disguise when they walked in to my room and I remember sitting up, leaning forward, them telling me they were going to administer the needle and then PASSING OUT. They had everyone get OUT of the room as they brought me back. My blood pressure had dropped too low and I had fainted, however when I woke back up…the pain was gone. I was so happy and I could have smooched the anesthesiologist.

We had a little more progress over the next couple hours, but my amniotic sac had not broken (water break) and doc decided we should artificially rupture the sac to aide in this process. I have not mentioned that we were at a teaching hospital (one of the best in the country), so there were a lot of interns and residents that were part of my medical care. One of those nice young men was tasked with essentially cutting the amniotic sac of “Baby A” who would be making his debut to this world first. In order for Baby A to deliver naturally, he was going to have to be head first. “Baby B” would then ideally drop into the birthing canal and be able to come out head first, as well. This process happened and very quickly I heard a lot of whispering and 3-4 nurses/doctors checking things out post snip. “WHAT is happening? Are they ok? Someone tell me what is happening, ” I said. The doctor looked at me and said “We are feeling feet. We think he may have cut the wrong sac (2 babies = 2 sacs).” If there is a cartoon with steam coming out of a character’s head and said character turning bright red…that was me. GET HIM OUT OF HERE!” I screamed. If I could have gotten up (legs were numb), that young man would have been at a real risk of my choking him. You cannot deliver a baby feet first and certainly not with twins. We had to have an emergency c-section.

After 24 hours of “not great,” I was now being wheeled into the surgical room to have a cesarean section. This was DEFINITELY not part of the plan, but at this point…we had to get the babies out. I was going to be able to be awake, but would be numb from the neck down. THAT was a super freaky feeling and I had the most amazing husband and nurses walking me through this and helping me not completely lose my mind. Both babies were fine and after a few moments that were not great, they had my bleeding under control and I was going to be just fine.

Our babies were born at 7:10 and 7:11 p.m. on my birthday. They were perfect. I have never in my life felt so much happiness pure joy. Our daughter had low blood sugar levels, so she would go to the NICU for some antibiotics for a couple days. Thankfully a close friend of mine worked in the NICU and was able to send me constant updates until I could get to see her. I could not stop staring at them and feeling a sense of awe that they had BOTH been in my stomach just hours before. A true miracle.

The next day my doctor came by to check on me and I asked him to feel this small lump on my right breast. I figured it was clogged milk coming in or something like that. He felt around and looked me in the face, felt around a bit more and said he wanted to get it checked out “ASAP, just to be sure” and scheduled a mammogram for later that day. I had HAD a mammogram the year before at our fertility center (which was clear) and was not concerned at all. Probably a cyst, I thought. I was still on cloud 9 when getting the mammogram and was telling the nurse about my crazy labor story and how beautiful our babies were! SMILING while getting a mammogram. She was acting very quiet and said she needed to step out for a second to get something. She came back in with doctor who said she wanted to take a look and now my smile started to fade. “Does it look like a milk duct is infected or something?”, I asked. They just smiled at me and then the nurse asked me to wait in a small waiting room across the hallway. The nurse and the doctor came in and sat down. “I am so sorry to share this, but we need to do an immediate biopsy. We had abnormal mammogram results and we think could be potentially breast cancer” the doctor said. I blinked. I laughed and said “Noooo no I just had babies yesterday. It has to be a milk duct or something.” I looked back and forth at them. She just stared at me and said “No, I am so sorry.” I felt like I had been hit by a tornado and everything started spinning. NO. NO. NO…..NO NONONONONONONONONONONO……………………………….

I had to call my husband in my post-labor and delivery room and could not even get one word out over the phone. Hysterical was an understatement. This was not happening. This was bad dream. WAKE UP. No. This was not real.

They did the needle biopsy minutes later while tears streamed down my cheeks and I had to try not to sob too hard because my stitches could come open from my c-section. I just stared at the ceiling. WHY?

The next day my doctor walked into the room and confirmed my worst fear.

I had breast cancer.

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