Friday, May 3, 2013

From One Heart to Another

It was 4:52 PM on Tuesday when I typed up a message to all my local mom friends inquiring about setting up a "First Aid for Little People" class with the local hospital. I needed to find at least 3 other kids to join Bella and Mia in a class that prepares kids to help themselves or someone else in an emergency situation. Within minutes, I had a great response from the moms. I think classes like this are SO important especially when they're run by experts like the American Red Cross instead of jackasses like me, whose only advice to my kids is to stop, drop and roll.

Little did I know at the time what was about to go down a mere three hours later.

At about 7:00 we loaded up the kids to take them out to eat.  I was knee deep in switching out winter clothes/summer clothes and Eugene had just finished a conference call and we both lost track of time! We dined outside (yay! good weather!) at a local place and as we headed back to the car it dawned on me that Mia was in charge of classroom snacks for the rest of the week. Crap! I left the list at home. Soooooo, Eugene dropped the kids and I off at home, grabbed the classroom snack list, left his cell on the counter and headed out to the grocery store.

It was 8:15 when I was in the kids closet helping them pick out what clothes to wear for the next day. Like always, Mia and I argued for a good 10 minutes about her outfit. No, mom, that has buttons on it! No, mom, stripes aren't fancy. No, mom, those jeans don't let me spin. I mean she's got a comment for EVERYTHING. Meanwhile, accross the hall Bella was brushing her teeth and I could see Chance over in the corner squatting with an offstage focus which only means that little super hero was taking a little super dump and so I made a mental note to grab a diaper. As I reached for one, I noticed how warm it was in the closet, hmmm? Seconds later, Bella joined me and proceeded to whine out loud but, mom, wednesday is art and I don't have to wear gym shoes, so I can wear my fancy new sandals, right? RIGHT? And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the room began to spin. As if a warm rush of adrenaline took over my body, my heart bagan pounding viciously against my chest and I knew what was happening. I was having another SVT episode.


Super Ventricular Tachichardia is something that I've dealt with for the past 3 years. And really, "dealt with" is a strong word because I've only had 6 of these episodes in 3 years, which is NOTHING compared to some people who get it several times a month.

Basically, for no rhyme or reason my heart will go into overtime, like three times the normal rate. It's got something to do with my heart's "electrical wiring" which is what my cardiologist has always told me. My episodes usually last about 20-30 minutes and I've always been able to stop the episode by pushing down really hard or splashing cold water on my face, as directed by my doc.  The truth is, they're scary as shit but they're not life threatening.

But all this time, I've never had one when I was also carrying another human being, who's heart rate directly coincides with my own.


I grasped the door to make sure that I was stable, and slowly, very slowly I walked over to Mia's bottom bunk. Afraid to talk too much, or move too much (don't want to add more strain on the heart), I whispered to Bella, "I'm having a problem with my heart, it's an emergency, please get my phone."

Bella returned back with my phone and I dialed Eugene. No answer. I dialed again, no answer. I called my mom who's an RN and is familiar with my episodes and she told me to lie down right away. Meanwhile, Mia's right next to me telling me that everything is going to be ok and Bella encourages me to think of happy thoughts, (which made me want to cry of cuteness, but I knew it wasn't the time to get mushy). I told Bella I needed a cold rag for my face and bless her heart she came rushing back with a soaking wet, very cold, very drippy towel. My mom told me to hold tight because she'd be right over. Laying down on the bed with a cold rag over my face, Chance and his awful stench decided to climb to the top bunk and throw over every book in Bella's bed down to the bottom bunk, cracking me upside the head. Uggh! Sensing my strain, Mia grabbed the Magna Doodle and immediately began drawing a picture of her and I holding hands with a big heart and a peace sign in hopes to make me feel better. I loved everything about that moment. But the truth is, all I could think about was my baby and how this could effect him. Somewhere between Mia's drawing and Chance's literary avalanche Bella resurfaced with a huge ice block that she grabbed from the freezer and applied to my head. Her responsibility amazed me. She kept stroking my hair and telling me that Nana will be here soon and Mia kept rubbing my belly reassuring her little brother that everything would be ok. They were rockstars.

My mom arrived, timed my heart and told me that my dad was going to take me to the ER immediately. I hesitated not wanting to leave without Eugene but I could tell in her voice how serious this was. She walked me out and as soon as I turned the corner, Eugene walked in and was shocked by all the commotion. He dropped all the groceries and rushed over and immediately escorted me out the door to the car. He got the brief run-down from my mom that I wasn't in labor--that it was my heart and within two minutes we were pulling up to the ER.

This is when things got a little hectic and hazy and unsettling. They immediately put me on a gurnee and wheeled me into a room where suddenly about 7 nurses hooked me up to god knows how many different machines and poked me several times for two different IV's. Eugene held my hand and I couldn't even bare to look at him because when I would I'd immediately get emotional, so we held tight to eachother's hand in silence as they worked all around me. The doctor on call tried to to naturally bring the heart rate down by applying extreme pressure to my throat but it didn't work, my heart rate was over 200 and they needed to give me medication. And then I spoke up, "What meds are you giving me? Is it safe for the baby because I REALLY need to know it's safe for the baby! Call my OB and ask his approval!" They did. But I could tell in the way that the nurse leaned down to me and said "we're going to take care of you Gina."

Which is SO hard to hear when you're 36 weeks pregnant and a devout mom and the thought of putting me first was so unsettling. In hindsight, I get it, but there on the table under the bright lights it was shocking. Especially since they had L&D nurse on hand monitoring his heart rate and it was rising too.

Dear God, please let him be okay. Please.

When the doctor assured me that this medication was safe for the baby and that my OBGYN consented, two nurses had to prep me for what I was about to feel when they administered it. Basically, when given intravenously it causes heart block, or a slowing of the heart. And in unison they counted to three (which was scary) and shot it into me. With my arm held high in the air, we waited, and then sure enough a rush of weakness crept all over me as every muscle in my body relaxed. My heart slowed down for about three glorious minutes, and the commotion settled and several attendants left the room.  And just as quickly as it started, it resumed right back to it's spastic state. The room filled with nurses again and they had to give me another dose. Uggghh.

We went through the process again, this time praying for a better result. They raised my arm, they counted, they shot it through and stared at the screens. The good news is that the second dose did the trick, my heart slowed down and began beating normally again! We all smiled watching the monitors as my heart rate and his heart rate lowered and lowered. I'll never forget how relieved I was hearing the slower electronic beeps.

Thank you God.

I spent the rest of the night and the following day laid up on the telemetry floor and was monitored constantly. It was an all too familiar sneak peak of what's to come in 16 days: uncomfortable hospital beds, awkward hospital gowns and terrible lighting. But next time, I'll be holding my new son in my arms and it will make EVERYTHING right in my world. Now that I think about it, I can't wait to go back, actually. I can't wait to finally hold him and kiss him and introduce him to his awesome family.

As for my delivery, nothing has changed. It's still a scheduled C-Section for May 20th but I plan to take it easy, as much as I can.

When Eugene and I walked through the doors to an empty house, (the kids were at dinner with my sister and parents, THANK YOU!) I was greeted with two of the most special notes I could have ever recieved.

I adore phonemic spelling. 

And then Mia's note from school,

I sat at the table and cried a very needed, very happy and very grateful cry. Every day I'm reminded how special my connection with my kids is and how important it is to continually shower them with love. Because one day, they'll do the same for me. Like today.

As for the "First Aid for Little People Class," well let's just say that we will indeed be attending with all our friends and after what we went through, I now know how vital this class will be for all of us

And perhaps my little EMT's can teach the instructor a thing or two.



  1. They are amazing kids because you're their mom!

    (Love the anti-jean excuse...Ameli claims she doesn't like them because they prevent her from doing "crisss-cross applesauce"! Girls!!

  2. Beautiful, Gina. I am glad you are okay!

  3. Ugh, how scary!!! I'm glad you're all ok and your children coped so well with the situation. I hope you have time to relax until may 20th and that all goes well. I'm thinking of you and holding thumbs :) love from this side of the world



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