Last summer after hearing about some scary discoveries in a friend's delivery, another friend emailed me to let me know she would be praying for our baby and me through the duration of my pregnancy and that she hoped those stories hadn't frightened me. She assured me that God had already written our baby's birth story and it would be unique to her. Was she ever right...
On Thursday, September 15th I went to the doctor for my 35 week visit. Everything was fine...initially. My blood pressure was a bit high but the nurse thought it could be that she just didn't get the cuff tight enough or something so she was going to have the doctor take it himself. Long story short, not only had I started dilating but my blood pressure was slightly elevated and there was protein in my urine indicating possible pre-eclampsia. After some lab work on Friday, I saw the doctor the following Monday where he confirmed that I did have pre-eclampsia, put me on bed rest and moved our c-section up 3 weeks to the following Monday, September 26th. Drew and I were in a bit of shock! In our previous pregnancies we had never had any complications, Cash & Corrinne were both born full term: just one day shy of 40 weeks (Cash) and 39 weeks exactly (Corrinne).
Tuesday morning (the 16th) I woke up with constant lower back pain and dull cramping in my lower abdomen. After having a nagging feeling about it all morning I decided to call the nurse just to let her know since my doctor had encouraged me to call if anything changed at all. The nurse told me to go into the hospital to be checked since my doctor didn't want me to go into labor with the pre-eclampsia. Turns out I wasn't dilating, but my blood pressure was high enough that he wanted to keep me overnight to monitor it and do another 24 hour urine catch to check my protein levels. The next afternoon (Wed. 9/21), just as I was about to be discharged - on strict bedrest with a brand new c-section date of Sunday, September 25th, (instead of Monday) my nurse decided to check my blood pressure one more time. Sure enough, it had spiked and I wasn't feeling so great. So guess who wasn't going home?! Me.
I'm going to stop right here just to let you know how obvious it is to me that God was orchestrating this all along. So many opportunities for me to be sent home, or for me to have ignored some symptoms that could have drastically changed the outcome of our story. I'm so grateful to my doctor for having Godly wisdom (he loves the Lord -- woo hoo!) and to the Lord for being so sovereign even when I was desperately wanting to sleep in my own bed and may or may not have been a bit grouchy with my nurse when I was told I couldn't shower that second night because of my high blood pressure. ;)
Ok, back on track. Thursday I fully expected to be sent home. My blood pressure had been down all night and nothing was really happening... until about 1:00 pm. My doctor was set to do rounds at "lunch time" which apparently is anywhere between noon and 4:00 in OB time. Around 1:00 I randomly started contracting every 5-7 minutes for a good hour just before my doctor came in and sure enough, I had started dilating! Not only that but the protein levels in my urine had risen and while my blood pressure hadn't gone up, it hadn't really gone down either. So Dr. S. made the executive decision to go ahead and do the c-section, at 36 wks 4 days. (The goal all along had been to get the baby to 37 weeks).
I was a nervous wreck but everyone kept reassuring me that the baby would be fine, she hadn't shown any signs of distress throughout the whole hospital stay and was moving just as she should have been, etc. The only thing that didn't look good (and worried me to no end) was my placenta. The ultrasound tech had noticed some "old spots" that were probably linked to the pre-eclampsia. Knowing the placenta is the baby's source of nutrients, I didn't like that very much.
After about an hour, I found myself in the Operating Room, numb from the belly down and waiting to meet my second daughter. After 15 minutes the felt like an eternity, I saw this beauty:
Annie started out really well! Her apgars were 8 and 9 and she was screaming! Girl's got some lungs! But after a few minutes the respiratory therapists noticed she was grunting a lot and breathing really fast. Way too fast, actually. They suspected she had some fluid in her lungs - not uncommon for a c-section baby and especially one born "pre-term". They told Drew they would be taking her into the nursery to do some x-rays to get a better look at her lungs, which is apparently protocol for preemies.
Being naive (or hopeful) I didn't expect Annie to be gone long. I thought they'd take her in, do the xrays, get her breathing slowed down and bring her back to us in our room. Well. Thats not exactly how it happened. Anniston needed a lot of help. She was breathing incredibly fast and couldn't calm down enough to slow it down. About an hour after my surgery the pediatrician came in to tell us she would be put on a CPap machine to help her breathe so she could stop breathing so quickly. And the good news - everything else looked great! She just needed help breathing essentially.
A few hours later, Dr. K came back in and told us the CPap wasn't really working so well and she really felt like Anniston needed a break so she wanted to put her on the ventilator - the ventilator that wasn't even available at this hospital until just 6 days prior to Annie's birth. Thank you, God, for providing before we even knew we needed it. If she needed to stay on the vent longer than 24 hrs, she would have to be transferred to another hospital nearby that has a higher level NICU. She also wanted to give Annie a dose of Surfactant - a synthetic form of the enzyme already in our lungs to keep the tiny air sacs open. She really felt like this would allow her to slow her breathing down so she didn't tire out and just stop trying to breathe altogether. This was when I realized she wouldn't be wheeled into our room anytime soon...
I immediately sent an email out to our church's prayer list asking for specific prayer that she would slow her breathing and not need to ventilator longer than 24 hrs. I couldn't bear the thought of sending my baby to a hospital and being separated from her.
I finally got to see Anniston at 5:30 the next morning. She was just as gorgeous as I had suspected! The tubes and ventilator didn't seem to phase me at the time. I was just in love. Looking back at those pictures now is rough. But we're so thankful we're beyond that.
At noon, the director of the special care nursery came in to tell us Annie was a rock star and came off the ventilator. Her breathing had slowed down dramatically thanks to the surfactant and she was just on a nasal canula and she didn't expect her to be on that very long -- not even until the end of her shift that afternoon! Thank you, church family, for praying. It works!
This picture is from 5:30 that evening, right before I held her for the first time. Her vent had come out - she just had a nasal canula running a constant flow of room air. Girlfriend was breathing on her own less than 24 hours later! Thank you, Lord, for providing doctors that were quick to act according to what was in the best interest of our baby.
Even 24 hrs later, there is nothing like holding your baby for the first time. Instant love!
See that bald spot on the side of her head? Yep, she rubbed that off in my belly! She was constantly hitting my hip bone on the right side and when I asked the nurses about her bald spot they said she must have been born with it and explained that sometimes babies rub hair off in the womb! Crazy!!!
Unfortunately Annie didn't get to come home with us. On Sunday evening, I had to say goodbye to her and cried the entire walk out of the hospital. It felt so weird to leave without my baby. While I hated not having her in my hospital room while we there, I was just down the hall. I could go see her anytime I wanted, and I did. How was I going to balance being with Cash & Corrinne, who hadn't had their mom home in 5 days, and being with my newborn who I desperately wanted to bond with and care for? HOW?! It is so true when they say God's grace is sufficient. He gives you the grace and strength specific to your need. I don't know how we made it through that week without Annie home with us, but we did. And my only answer is that God was getting us through it. I knew she was being cared for and loved on... not in the "best way" because thats only by Drew and me. ;) But I felt confident those nurses love their job and truly love those babies. And that was so encouraging to me.
Monday night, Drew and I got to give Anniston her first real bath. She was tube-free -- except for that darn feeding tube which she pulled out at least 5 times a day!
Tuesday morning she got rid of her feeding tube and was on bottles (of expressed breastmilk) and nursing as often as I could get up to the hospital for feedings. Thank you, Lord, for awesome friends and family who volunteered to watch Cash & Coco for us so we could be at the hospital several times a day.
Such a pretty girl. :)