Monday, November 22, 2010

Sometimes it feels like I just can't win.

Ever hear that saying, "you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't"?

That should be my mantra.

Last week I didn't feel well. I had a terrible headache and kept breaking out into cold sweats one minute, and hot flashes the next. I felt just awful, but never developed a fever, nor did hubs pick anything up from me, so I chocked it up to hormones.

My folks had been planning to visit last weekend but I told them not too because of how I had been feeling. On Saturday, after watching me change my shirt for the umpteenth time, hubs suggested we go for a little drive. He thought the fresh air would do me some good, and I agreed. I have been inside for so long (this Saturday will be three months of bedrest) that I swear I am becoming translucent. I was looking at my feet yesterday and could see my veins through my skin. Hubs joked that I looked like a vampire.

Anyway, we started out on our little adventure of driving to nowhere, and after about 20 minutes, and quite a few turns, I realized that we were in the neighborhood of a few dear friends N & J. I told hubs to turn down their street, and when we did, we saw them standing outside. It was really wonderful to see them. I haven't seen hardly anyone these last three months because of the bedrest, and the few times people have visited I either A) find myself so excited for the company that I overdue it or B) feel so embarrassed to be laying in bed with visitors, that I have sort of opted to just keep people away altogether.

We got out of the car for a quick bit and gave our friends a hug. They invited us in, but after one step inside I felt like I was overheating (not because of their house, because of hormones) and retreated back to my semi reclined position in the car. N stood with me talking, while her husband J showed my hubs some work he was doing in their house. We visited a few minutes longer, catching up on what we had been up to (I obviously have not been up to much) gave each other a hug and a kiss goodbye, and headed home.

This is where the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" piece comes into play.

Last night I was on Facebook and saw that N had posted a status saying she had body aches, chills, a sore throat, and a fever of 102. The poor thing had been laid up in bed since that morning. This is when it dawned on me, N was sick when I saw her, she just hadn't been showing any symptoms yet - great!

I called the OB on call to say that I had been around someone just hours before they had come down with a high fever, and to see if I should do anything. I was thinking Tylenol as a preventative for fever - something along those lines. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I am not one who takes putting anything unnatural into my body lightly (only organic foods, nothing with artificial dyes or preservatives, no aluminum in my deodorant etc etc) so even to suggest Tylenol was a big step for me. The OB wanted to know what symptoms N had, and when I told him, he asked if I had gotten a flu shot.

I hadn't.

Why, some might ask, would a person in a high risk pregnancy opt out of getting the flu shot when she will be pregnant throughout the height of the flu season?

It's a fair question. I will do my best to answer it.

For one, I had taken the flu shot about four years back and had a terrible reaction that led to me being laid up in bed for a week with flu like symptoms. Also, no thimerosal (mercury) free shots are available near me, and the thought of injecting myself with something while pregnant just freaks me out. Lastly, and for me this was the biggest factor in making my decision - I have been on bedrest for the last three months and am never around anyone but hubs who got the shot so as to prevent bringing anything home from his work. Seeing so few people I didn't think I was really at risk.

I guess the joke's on me.

Explaining why I hadn't gotten the shot, the OB expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision I had made. He told me about a pregnant patient of his who had gotten the flu the year before and fell into a coma and nearly died. He said that even now, nearly a year later, she was still working to recover.

Nothing like a scary pregnant woman in a coma story to make you feel like an idiot.

I don't know that N has the flu. I don't actually know what she has, she isn't going to the doctor unless it gets worse, but based on her symptoms the OB told me I needed to get on Tamiflu right away as a preventative measure. He said that if taken within 48 hours of exposure, the drug would lessen my symptoms were I to get the flu. I asked him if it was safe, and he said it was safer than getting the flu. This can be dangerous for any pregnant woman, but compounded with the cardiac issues that have been complicating this pregnancy, it gets a little trickier.

At this point in the conversation, I was ready to cry. That's not saying much, I cry a lot these days - hormones, but I was ready to cry anyway. It was all I could do not to break down in tears right there on the phone. (I did break down after I hung up - like a baby - to my sister who assured me that I was not an idiot, nor was I going to end up in a coma. Thank God for sisters!)

The OB told me he wanted my husband to go out last night (at this point it was around 11PM) and pick up the Tamiflu. When I explained that we live in a rural town with no 24 hours pharmacy, he said I could wait till the morning, but needed to get the pills started right away.

So I went this morning and got my pills - asked the pharmacist her opinion on the safety of these Class C drugs, to which she said that my doctor must think the benefits outweigh the risks enough to make it worthwhile, and came back home. I took the first pill around lunchtime, and have felt uneasy about it ever since.

The pamphlet states that it is not recommended to take Tamiflu while pregnant, and there was some study where rats given high doses had adverse fetal affects. I consulted Dr. Google and Babycenter, but found no real comfort there - for every ten stories of women saying they had taken it and been fine, there would be one posted about a woman who was 20 odd weeks along, took the drug and lost her baby. Did she lose her baby because of taking Tamiflu - there is no way for me to know. Do stories like that scare the shit out of this pregnant after loss momma - absolutely!

So there you have it. I feel like I can't win.

I keep people away for months, just to finally see someone who winds up sick the next morning.

I avoid getting the flu shot because I think I am doing the right thing in protecting my babies, only to have to take some antiviral drug that no one seems to have any real answers about.

And now I have to take a drug that I don't feel comfortable with, because stories of "otherwise healthy pregnant women" dying or falling into comas from the flu have me too scared to think straight.

Damned if I do.
Damned if I don't.

Anyone out there ever take Tamiflu while pregnant and have a good outcome?


  1. I haven't taken Tamiflu but last year I did get a flu shot and ended up the sickest I have ever been. Then a few weeks later my daughter was stillborn. Do I believe there was a connection there, yes I do. But Drs don't. This year pregnant again but Not getting the flu shot. I'm like you in the fact that I don't want to be putting anything unnatural in my body. Do what you can and take care of your self. Drink lots of water and if you can fresh Orange juice.

  2. I'm so so sorry! I hate this for you.

    I thought I had the swine flu when I was 29-30 weeks pregnant with my living chid, Hannah. I also opted out of the flu shots last year when I was pregnant.
    It turns out I had a BAD stomach flu. But my OB put me on Tamiflu just in case because I had chills, fever, throwing up, etc. I was really nervous about taking it too, but if it was the flu I wanted to make sure I didn't get any sicker. My sweet baby is almost 7 months old now and she's doing great.
    I hope this gives you some comfort, though I know from experience when your child dies, there's rarely little that brings 100% comfort.

    big hugs,

  3. I feel so bad that you have been so cooped up and then when you finally get out, you were with someone who is now sick. I hope that you do not catch anything! I have never taken Tamiflu before and I can understand your hesitance with it being a category C. I am sure your doctor does think that you taking it is the right thing, but I know how hard it is to feel okay about it even though the doctor says it is ok. Like you, I find myself online researching things.

    I think about you all the time and am hoping that you do not get sick. Like Jenna said, lots of fluids!

  4. We don't even vaccinate our children due to the studies and adverse risks that I have researched. Nor do we get flu shots. We do have emergen~C and also an herbal/vitamin wellness formula that my midwife has recommended each time I showed the slightest 'ick' while pregnant. Which isn't often, since for me anyway, my immune system is stronger when I am pregnant than when I am not.

    Yep, I get the "damned if you do and damned if you don't" totally. Again, I think that you can use your dr. as a resource, but I don't always think that dr's are correct. They use their info which is based on pharmacological studies they are given by drug reps. . . and on their 'client outcomes.' So, really, they are making the best recommendations they can with what they have been educated with. You have to make your choices one way or another.

    Being in this dead baby club makes things even more complicated. We are all 'that horrible' statistic that "1 out of _____" that the medical world usually feels is a safe and acceptable risk/loss when quoting the recommendations they make. Not all Dr's are like this, don't get me wrong. . . it is just that there is NEVER an absolute where medicines and pregnancy are concerned. . . too many variables.

    I am so sorry that you are going through this.

  5. My heart goes out to you. I felt similar to you when I was pregnant with my last and got really sick. I had opted not to get the flu shot or the H1N1 shot last year for the same reasons you chose not to. One of my kids for sure and another possibly came down with h1N1. I got sick a few days later and really contemplated taking the Tamiflu - again for the sames reasons you stated. I was really ill and, after much thinking/consulting and took it. It really made a difference in my getting better. I worried about the baby for the next few months. My daughter was born healthy and happy 5 months later.

    Sending you my love and prayers!!!

  6. You know that is scary. I remember Doctors asking me to get the H1N1 flu shot and I opted not to. They told me I was taking a huge risk but honestly I didn't want to harm my little baby. Your not wrong to not take in chemicals and so-called good for you meds during pregnancy and tests. Just use your judgement. I allow some medical intervention but not all. At least with my pregnancy with TanaLee. But what is right for me may not be right for you. You know? I think your doing a great job with your lil' ones. Don't feel bad about your visiting a friend. You need that, humans are social butterflies. Get fresh air when you need it and visit friends...just double check with their health. I had people tell me they were well so I'd let them go into the Nicu to see TanaLee but then the next day they were vomiting...You never can tell for sure can ya?
    Take care, I'm thinking about you.

  7. Sending love and I know the feeling. I had the flu shot because my ob wanted me too but felt uneasy about it. A few weeks later they stopped giving it to under fives (I'm in Australia) due to some adverse reactions which made me even more uneasy. But Max is here and 9 weeks old.

    I decided early the pregnancy to trust my doctors and stay away from google or I was going to go crazy.

    Hope you find some peace with whatever you decide but I know that's probably unlikely so sending love.

  8. That is a lot to add to your already full plate. So sorry you have to worry and think about all that...I'd feel very uncertain as well. Hoping you stay well, and will be thinking of you.

  9. Praying for wisdom for you...I understand your reservations about the medicine and the flu shot. There doesn't seem to be an easy answer. Praying for peace and wisdom...and most of all, protection for you and your sweet babies.

    Love to you...

  10. It's tough to know what to do...are you showing any symptoms yourself? Any early signs of flu?

    Exposure doesn't mean infection. I taught on uni for years without a flu shot, in lecture halls full of hacking and sneezing students and I never got sick.

    I also had some type of virus in the first tri with my son and had a fever for a couple of days, but he was fine.

    Just my view, but I'd not take the tamiflu unless 1) I was sure that flu was 100% imminent and 2) the demonstrated benefits of taking it outweigh any risks.

    How's your vitamin D levels? With all your time inside, I hope you're getting sufficient doses. And if you do searches on vitamin D and flu, you'll see that it works amazingly as a preventative. And you need to double check what's safe for pregnancy, but it's higher than the RDA...

    Elderberry works great too...but also check for dosing during pregnancy.

    Good luck!

  11. I took tamiflu while pregnant with Madelyn last year. My son and I both had swine flu and the doctor said "it wasn't even an option" whether or not to take it. Breastfeeding my kids, I've been in similar situations too. You're supposed to take something so YOU can get better, but it could hurt your baby. And you're not just going to not nurse them when you've worked so hard to get to that point! Frustrating! Prayers are your way!

  12. I opted not to get the flu shot either because of a bad reaction to it the last time. I think of this often because I don't want to put myself more at risk for anything.
    I am so mad that this had to happen to you. It was good you got away for a bit but just so unfortunate that your friend was ill. Praying for you those little snowflakes. Keep hydrated and drink lots of OJ. I think you should trust your doctor, I don't think he would put you more at risk of anything but I didn't like that fact that he told one someone was in a coma! ((HUGS)).

  13. I also did NOT get the flu shot.. won't take anything including tylenol and understand where you are. I am sorry they are having you take soemthing now. UGG I am hopeful that you feel less uneasy and just finish it up and be done.. then you won't need to have gotten the shot and all will be right with the world. Big prayers to you.

  14. I really feel for you. This is something I'm having a hard time with, too. Last year,I was about 22 weeks pregnant when I got the regular flu shot and then at 25 weeks I got the H1N1 shot. I lost my baby boy at 25 weeks 4 days. The doctors all swear there could be no connection, but I am NOT taking it this time. Period. Right now, I'm 33 weeks pregnant and my doctor is pretty understanding of my stance.

    It's scary either way. My sister did take Tamiflu last year after being exposed to the swine flu at about 12 weeks. My nephew is a beautiful 6 month old now.

    Thinking about you!

  15. Oh honey... I'm so sorry!! Sending healing thought and hope that you feel better soon!!!

  16. My friend in europe lost her baby at 31 weeks last year when she got the swine flu becuase she refused to get the shot. She got so sick and ended up in coma and she appears to have tiny part of her brain damaged. I was pregannt before it came out, but i had to take tamiflu or something like that, sorry, i dont remember and baby is absolutely fine ! We do vaccinate for everything except flu and that is only because none of us never gets the flu anyways but if we would, we would get shots too. Good luck hun

  17. Oh Kristin, that just isn't fair. Hoping and praying it isn't the flu and you and the babies stay safe.

  18. Oh my what a mess....I hear you on when people come over you tend to do more than you should..I am guilty of this...but whats funny is people dont seem to understand this concept either and kinda expect you to do more...

    On more serious note major bummer about being around someone sick:( I went back and fourth on whether to get the flu shot and ended up getting it just because I figured since Im at the so much I would be exposed to sick people a lot but I did wait until the second trimester to get it... If this turns out not to be anything can you still get the flu shot?

    Well take care!!!!

  19. I hate any vaccinations. I met someone last week whose baby spent 3 months in ICU after a vaccination. I believe that your aversion to the flu shot was founded on gut instinct.

    I also personally think that a lot of this swine flu story is scare mongering. Controversial, but it's how I feel.

    If I were you, I would do the following - and this is going to sound even more whacky. Pray over those tablets. Put them on the dining room table and pray over them, using only positive words, I believe that this can change the impact of the tablets. Visualise them surrounded in a golden light of healing!

    And in the mean time I'll put you back on that energy list for two weeks ;-)

  20. Such a worry I know, I just had a flu shot a few ago (at 29 weeks pregnant) as I'm working in a hospital and I'm exposed to more bugs than most people and have asthma. That flu outbreak killed alot of pregnant women last year so I wasn't going to take any chances. A friend of mine took Tamiflu when her husband got swine flu last year and baby is nearly a year old now, no ill effects and she didn't get flu :)

  21. Oh Kristen - I am sorry you are facing this dilemma. I don't have any advice about Tamiflu. I had to make a decision about the swine flu vaccine last year, when I was pregnant again. I *did* have the vaccine and Toby is here and thriving but I can completely remember the fear I felt, trying to make the best decision for my baby.

  22. YES!!!! I took the flu AND the swine flu vaccine last year while around 7 months pregnant, and while there was unease in the back of my mind, everything turned out just fine and I have a super healthy almost one year old boy. You will be okay!! I know it's so hard to be pregnant and worrying, but I really think you will be ok! Hang in there.

  23. so sorry you are having to cope with this on top of everything else. i haven't been in your situation, but i just wanted to mention -- since you are the crunchy and organic type like me :) -- do you have a friendly neighborhood acupuncturist who would make a house call under your special circumstances? a few treatments might give your immune system a real boost and help it fend off whatever might be coming your way. also, acu can be very stress relieving on a TLC level. it is very non-invasive (apart from initially pinchy) and they are very careful with pregnant women. just a thought - it's so hard to feel like your choices are so limited. thinking of you and your snowflakes. xo

  24. I am sorry that you are having this stress added to what is already on your plate. I have no tamiflu advice but just wanted to say that I am thinking about you! (((hugs)))

  25. I've never taken Tamiflu so I can't really help with that. Go figure you do something or not do something and then it turns around and bites you in the butt. Grrrr..

  26. I know this must be scary, but I took Tamiflu while I was pregnant last year (I'm an xray tech and was in direct contact with a little girl who was later that day discovered to have H1N1) I would definitely recommend getting your flu shot as soon as possible, like your doctor said the benefits outway the risks! Praying that you and the snowflakes stay healthy! =)

  27. If it makes you feel any better, my doctor absolutely advised me against getting the flu vaccine while pregnant, so don't give yourself a hard time. Good luck and hope you stay healthy. Hugs, Anna