It’s OK to Over Communicate

The hospital environment is intimidating. There is constant monitoring and machines beep loudly every other minute. Nurses walk in and out of your room frequently. There is also a lot of information that is given to you. All of this can be overwhelming. You are not expected to know everything and it is ok to ask questions and challenge diagnosis.

During my pregnancy, I had gestational diabetes that I managed with diet and exercise. However, when I was admitted to the hospital, I was ordered bed rest and so had to take insulin before meals to manage my sugar levels. The most common rapid acting insulin given to patients at my hospital was Aspart. On the first day, I got the Aspart insulin. I was talking to my husband as I was eating my lunch. About 15 minutes after getting the insulin shot, I told my husband that I needed to put down the plate and just close my eyes. Though we continued our conversation, I noticed that I needed to put in more effort to process a sentence and speak. In my mind, I also thought I was slurring, though my husband mentioned that while I was speaking slowly my speech had been clear. This lasted a few minutes and then I was back to normal. We chalked this up to just general fatigue.

The same thing however happened during dinner. So I told my evening nurse who just said a good night sleep will make a difference. When I had the same reaction  during breakfast the next day,  I again mentioned this to my nurse and said that I was probably having a reaction to the insulin. My nurse who had years of experience told me she had never known anyone having this kind of a reaction to Aspart and maybe I was just tired. But something did not seem right to me. Just as I was getting ready for lunch, my endocrinologist came by check on me. I again brought up my symptoms. He also said that my symptoms were not a known side-effect of Aspart. However, if I continued to experience any such symptom I should let him know. While he was in the room, I got my insulin shot and started eating and the doctor went on his rounds. 15 minute later, the nurse came in to check on me and I had the same reaction. The nurse immediately called the endocrinologist. The doctor then told me I was having a neurological reaction to Aspart which is not a known side effect. I was then given Lispro and did not have a reaction after that. My side effect was then documented and there was further dialogue with FDA.

Moms-to-be, you know what you are going through. If something does not seem right, communicate.  Tell your nurses and your doctors and repeat it multiple times if necessary. Do not stop unless you are satisfied that what you are feeling is to be expected.

Trust Your Gut

Knowing that there is a potential problem during the pregnancy is scary. Knowing that you are at a risk of early delivery is scarier. Finding out that your baby is coming a couple of months early and will need to spend a few weeks in the NICU is an absolute nightmare.

When I first got pregnant with my little one, my sister who has 2 kids told me…. TRUST YOUR GUT! I didn’t know how useful that advice would be in 7 months.

I had some bleeding along with back pain at 32 weeks. It was at 1 AM and pouring outside. The doctor on call told me there was nothing to worry about. I should just wait until the morning. But my husband and I knew something wasn’t right. So we headed to the hospital. At the hospital I was told I was in early labor and they were able to give me medication to stop labor. If I had waited , the doctors at the hospital may not have been able to stop my labor that day.

Similarly, at 32 weeks and 6 days I went into labor again despite getting medication to prevent it. I was told the baby was going to be born that day and that it would most certainly be a vaginal birth and it would be hours before my baby would be born. Though my doctor said I could wait for labor pains to start, I asked for the epidural line to be placed immediately but no epidural was administered. I just wanted it in case I had to go into an emergency C-section. I did not want general anesthesia. Half an hour after I got the epidural, my blood pressure dropped dangerously, resulting in my baby’s heart rate to drop, and I was rushed for an emergency C-section. My husband was able to sit with me during the operation and we were able to hear our son’s first cry.  During my week long stay at the hospital before our baby was born, my husband and I relied on our gut instinct to make decisions. And in hindsight we would not change a thing.

So dear parents-to-be, TRUST YOUR GUT and do not forget to breathe.