On November 5th 2012, my wife gave birth to our first child. During the pregnancy I decided that I would write about the experience. Every week since I have documented all of the events that took place throughout this time, along with my thoughts on them. Now that I can confirm that our baby is happy and healthy, I will share those thoughts with you.
Week 31 – The Scariest Day of My Life
Sunday started off like any other Sunday where Jess and I have had a list of things to do. We wanted to go to the new house to clean out more of the rooms, measure the closets to figure out how we want to design them, talk to a contractor about getting work done in the house, have dinner with Jess’ family, maybe even see a movie at the end of it all. It’s the first Sunday of the football season but, as Jess hates football, that doesn’t matter. “You’ll just have to deal,” she says. So of course with all of these objectives, like always, we woke up late. We should have probably gotten up around ten but it’s not until noon that we finally start getting ready to leave.
Jessica had a rougher time than normal in the shower, mostly due to a bad case of acid reflux. She ate pizza late the night before, so this isn’t very surprising. Jess’ mother calls and tells her that her boyfriend (who she’s been with for about 20 years so it might as well be her husband) had a stroke and has been sent to the hospital. There goes dinner. We’re adding a trip to the hospital now instead. It’s one o’clock and we’re getting in the car. I parked right in front of our house so all she had to do was walk down the stairs. Just doing that made her feel really dizzy. Perhaps this is from the hot shower and the acid reflux. We didn’t bother eating before we left, thinking that we would just eat when we got out to the new house. Away we go.
About 30 seconds into the drive Jessica says she really needs to eat something. There is pizza place that she just got a craving for that is near where we are headed. We agree to go there once we get near the house. About one minute after that Jessica blurts out, “I need to eat something right now.” She’s looking dizzy and nauseas. There is a Dunkin Donuts about a mile away. I tell her we’ll go there and I’ll get her a bagel. She says okay. Just another minute later it happens. Jess coughs like she is going to throw up. She doesn’t. Instead she leans toward the window and she hunches over. I glance over while driving and watch her arms curl up and lock. Her face is blank and she starts to shake. I am yelling her name to see if she needs me to pull over but she isn’t responding. I stop in the middle of the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, open the windows, unbuckle her belt and pull her up toward me. I scream in her face, “JESS! JESS! WAKE UP!” Nothing. Her eyes are wide open and there is no one home. I slap her in the face a couple of times. Not hard enough to hurt, but definitely hard enough that she should wake up. I see that she’s not breathing, and I fear that she is dying. I am terrified. Then, just as quickly as it started, she snaps out of it.
“What happened?” she asks. I told her that she passed out. She had no memory of anything after saying she needed to eat. She was actually dreaming and thought I was her brother trying to wake her, making her even more startled when she saw the way the car was stopped. She had thought we were in an accident. Jess had been out for only about 15 seconds, but it felt like 15 years. I legitimately felt that I had lost her, lost our baby, lost everything. I’m shaking but I try not to show it. It must have worked because she had no idea how bad of a situation it was until I told her. We assume that she just needed food so with her seeming okay for moment I ran into Dunkin Donuts to get her something to eat. It’s Sunday so there is a typically long line. I don’t try to cause a stir so I just wait on the end of the line. It was too late for that though. Everyone in the parking lot and in the store saw me slapping and yelling at my wife. Husband of the year material for sure. Witnessing the situation and seeing my face, they all let me pass and get my order first. I get one plain bagel and am on my way. Moments like that bring my faith back in people. She eats the bagel and feels slightly better. I call our doctor and she tells us to do exactly what I was planning on doing anyway. We’re going to the emergency room.
We go to the White Plains hospital which is a little further but it’s where we’ll be going for the baby and our doctor goes there so we feel better being there. Jess is weak, but stable. She calls her mother to let her know what’s happening. She tries so hard not to freak her out but how can it not. She would be on her way to the hospital immediately if it wasn’t for her boyfriend’s stroke. She is trusting me with her daughter’s life. No pressure.
We make it to the hospital as quickly as I’ve ever gotten anywhere. I bought Jess a bottle of water to keep her hydrated. She basically finishes it as we park and I help her walk into the emergency room. The fresh air helps but she is having a hard time moving. We get to the front desk, give them our information, get Jess in a wheelchair, and head to the waiting room. It is noticeably busy. There is a kid next to me with a bad cut on his leg, along with a number of other people who are there for god knows what. We’re expecting to wait a while. Jessica, still not feeling good but still alert, notices football on the TV. “Looks like you get to watch football after all.” Yeah, I win again. After about 15 minutes in the waiting room, roughly an hour from the incident, she tells me that it’s going to happen again. She feels it coming. Sure enough she starts coughing again and goes out. Dead in the eyes and shaking all over again. This time she does throw up. Just the water that she was drinking, all over her shirt. I yell for the help and the nurses comes and wheel her into the emergency room while I follow (that’s two lines we’ve cut because of her).
She’s out for a few seconds longer this time, but just like before she wakes up out of nowhere and has no idea what happened. She opens her eyes to nurses yelling at her and putting things on her arms, and wonders why her shirt is wet. They put her in one of the rooms and I follow. Strangely I am much more calm this time. I know she is going to come out of it. I just saw it happen an hour ago so I’m more prepared for it. Even stranger, Jessica was prepared for it. She would tell me later that it feels like an overwhelming sense of dizziness, that is so severe that she was almost hoping to pass out just so she wouldn’t have to feel it anymore. She remembered the feeling and knew what was going to happen. They take her blood, hook her up to an IV to keep her hydrated. They do a quick sonogram and check Jess’ and the baby’s vital signs. The baby is fine, and Jess’ heart rate is good as well. We tell the story over and over again as at least five different people come in to take a look at her. The diagnosis is that she had a seizure, and that it is related to a lack of food and sleep. This seems to make sense as the baby has been getting bigger and therefore, demanding more from her body. As he steals all the nutrients for herself, she naturally needs more food so that she can maintain her own body. Meanwhile with all the energy the baby needs, Jessica should be sleeping more. Apparently seizures are not that uncommon in pregnant women. After being in the room for a couple hours with little actual medical procedures going on (we assume they are testing her blood and other things) someone finally gets the idea to give her a hot meal. Jess, who had still been feeling weak and dizzy up to this point, almost immediately feels better. The food was crappy, but it did the job. She was almost completely back to her old self, aside for some fatigue of course. We wait another few hours in the room, with football on the TV of course, before she is finally cleared to leave. The only thing that came from all the testing was a little low blood pressure. Now I just have to monitor her like a hawk for the next few days and make sure this doesn’t happen again. That means making sure she eats at least three meals a day and gets some sleep for a change.
Days later I still can’t get over what happened. I keep seeing that blank face in my mind. It haunts me. It’s hard to shake what could have happened. I have no idea what I would do if I lost either her or the baby. One I’ve been with for almost a decade and the other is my unborn son. I have never felt so scared and helpless in my life. Now her just saying she’s dizzy makes me jump from my seat. When she sleeps on the couch I nudge her every 30 minutes or so just to makes sure she’s alive. If she says she’s hungry or thirsty I can’t get it to her fast enough. I am ready at a moment’s notice to call 911 or take her to the hospital. I’m going to drive her crazy, but she’ll “just have to deal.”