“Your liver enzymes are extremely high,” stated the midwife flatly. “You need to be admitted to the hospital now; immediately!”
Nicole grabbed her sister’s hand in fear. “I’m scared Melissa! What if something has happened to my baby?” Her eyes welled with tears at the possibilities. She was 35 weeks pregnant and Nicole knew that her baby girl needed more time to develop. Eight months pregnant, her pregnancy had been perfect and uneventful.
Until that day.
Grateful that her big sister, Melissa, was with her, they headed to the hospital. Melissa, already a mom to two children of her own, had worked in the medical field and had faith and confidence in doctors and other medical professionals.
“Don’t worry, Nic. Everything’s going to be okay. We’re on our way to the hospital and they’ll take good care of you,” Melissa reassured her.
Over the past several days, Nicole had undergone several tests, which gave her pause. At a routine check-up with her midwife a few days before, her blood pressure was high, so her midwife ordered a 24-hour urine test to check for pre-eclampsia. Plus, she prescribed blood pressure medication right away.
The following Monday, Nicole went to the doctor’s office to turn in the urine for the 24-hour urine test. During that visit, they drew blood for various blood tests.
Now Tuesday, Nicole was at the hospital for an antenatal test. During the test, Nicole’s midwife called and asked Nicole to come to the her office after finishing the antenatal test.
At the midwife’s office, an ultrasound revealed gall stones. While discussing the newly discovered gall stones, the results of the urine and blood tests arrived, showing the elevated liver enzymes. Alarmed, the midwife instructed Melissa to take Nicole back to the hospital – now! Nicole called her husband, Rob, and asked him to meet her there…
Admitted to the hospital, they hooked Nicole up to an IV and ran tests on her for 48 hours. After two days, a doctor came in to tell her that she needed to have an emergency C-section that evening because they were worried about her liver. The baby was fine in utero, but the doctor was concerned about Nicole. He advised Nicole and Rob that after delivery, the baby would need to be in the neo-natal unit for several weeks.
However, before doing the emergency C-section, the doctor wanted to consult with a team of doctors, specialists in different fields. All day long 5 different doctors came in to talk to Nicole and Rob about her test results.
The doctors told her that normal range for liver enzymes is 40 to 50. On the day Nicole was admitted to the hospital, hers were over 300. Even though she was in the hospital under constant supervision and care, her liver enzymes continued to climb to over 600. Her out-of-control liver enzymes gave the doctors pause.
The doctors were baffled. Dangerous liver enzyme levels are at 1,000 and even with medication, Nicole’s were not going down. Test after test were inconclusive and other than the liver enzyme issue and the gall stones, Nicole told them that she felt fine. She appeared healthy, was always happy and smiling and in a good mood, joking with the nurses about being the human pin cushion.
After careful consultation with each other, the doctors decided NOT to do the C-section after all. They decided Nicole was well enough to let her baby grow and develop more inside the womb. Even though they felt Nicole was well enough to carry the baby longer, they wanted to monitor her. So she remained in the hospital.
They drew blood from Nicole at 4:30 a.m. every morning. Day-after-day, for two weeks, they poked and prodded Nicole, monitored her liver enzymes and had her hooked up to an IV. They put her on a non-fat, non-dairy diet for the gall stones.
Nicole and the doctors decided to stay the course. The goal was to reach 37 weeks and then do the C-section. Even though Nicole’s test results were problematic, the baby was fine.
Finally, the day came when Nicole would reach 37 weeks the next day. Mentally gearing up for the arrival of her daughter the next day, she was surprised when one of the doctor’s came into her room to talk to her about NOT having a C-section the next day!
Even though her liver enzymes were still elevated, this doctor advised Nicole that because her blood pressure, controlled with medication, had stabilized, he wanted to discharge her to bed rest at home until she reached 39 weeks.
After consulting with her OB doctor, Nicole decided to go home. Home – after two weeks in the hospital on bed rest when she felt fine. Home – after two weeks of being stir-crazy from worry over her developing, unborn daughter. Home – to await the birth of her daughter.
Ten days later, Nicole’s baby was delivered via C-section – a perfect baby girl.
And, Nicole’s liver enzymes returned to normal immediately.
Editor’s Notes: Nicole (and Melissa) are my nieces. Princess Sweet Cheeks, as we have now christened her baby for the blog, is my great-niece. And, she is perfect in every way. The Incubator did a fine job.
Family portrait: Nicole and Rob, holding Princess Sweet Cheeks.
Great-Grammy Jo (foreground) and Great-great aunt Geri (background) meeting Princess Sweet Cheeks for the first time at Christmas 2013.
Nicole holding Princess Sweet Cheeks – 3 1/2 months old.
Nicole’s mother, my sister Dawn, wrote this poem for the baby shower invitation. The baby shower, scheduled long in advanced, was to take place during the time Nicole was hospitalized. So, rather than have a baby shower without the Mom, it was rescheduled and, then, rescheduled once again after the birth of Princess Sweet Cheeks. Here’s Dawn’s poetic invitation that explains it all:
Having Nicole’s Shower became quite impossible
When certain health issues landed Nicole in the hospital!
In order to give these new parents good wishes
We’re having the party with Kelley’s barbeque – delicious!
Reserve this party date
For we can hardly wait
To welcome Baby with ringing bells
Will surely be so much fun and swell!
(other posts in “Your Story Matters”)