Monday, March 16, 2009
Happy 6th Birthday to our "Emmazing Grace" (and the rest of her story!)
Happy 6th Birthday Emma Grace!
She had two celebrations today. The first one was at school, and the second was at home tonight after Mexican for dinner!
As promised, here is the rest of her “Emmazing” story. It turned out to be kind of long, so you've been warned! Click here to read the first part of her story.
After being on bedrest for 12 days, God decided it was time for us to meet Emma Grace. She was born on a Sunday morning, but let me back up two days to Friday morning.
They had given me a urinary cathether a couple of days after I was admitted to the hospital. Every time I would try to use the bedpan I couldn’t fully empty my bladder and felt like I was losing every little bit of amniotic fluid I had every time I tried. (By the way, I lost amniotic fluid every time I moved, but why move if you don’t have to? AND every time they did an ultrasound they couldn’t find any pockets of fluid, so I was literally leaking all that I was making. This is extremely not good for a developing baby's lungs) The perinatologist (high-risk doctor) came in to check on me that Friday morning. I told him that the catheter was starting to bother me. He asked how long I’d had it. I told him and he said (direct quote), “Well, we might as well take it out. The baby probably won’t make it anyway”. I was so hurt, shocked and angry that he just came out and said that. How insensitive? We had been praying so diligently for this baby and all we had was hope. I felt like he had just shattered everything I had been holding onto. (Another side note, when I was pregnant with Grady, I made darn sure that I did NOT see that man!). The catheter was also a potential source for infection, so it was taken out, and I was given a bedside commode.
Now that was an experience. Have you ever been in bed, off of your feet for any significant length of time? It had been 10 days for me. I was not prepared for what it would feel like to be up again. When I sat up for the first time, I felt like my head was falling backwards. It was hard for me to hold it up. When my feet touched the floor for the first time, it felt like I had prickles all over them. You know the feeling when your foot has been asleep and it’s “waking up”? Weird, I tell ya!
I had been monitored very closely for infection. I didn’t have any other signs other than my slowly increasing white blood cell (WBC) count. A new doctor, Dr. D, from my former practice came on call that Friday morning. He came in and talked with me. I had been on a heart medication called Procardia – not for heart problems. This medication has been shown to relax the uterine muscle and calm contractions. I had been on it as a preventative measure. With my WBC count rising, he said he wanted to see what my body was trying to do on its own. He didn’t want the medication to mask or prevent labor if infection was indeed starting.
That Saturday was a great day. Gib brought Jessica to the hospital. Since I had been there for a long time I had a nice high-risk room. It had a mini-fridge, microwave, nice tv, and dvd/vcr player. Jessica snuggled in the bed with me. We shared popcorn and a coke and watched 101 Dalmations. It was just what I needed – I had missed her so much. Short visits just weren’t the same as holding and cuddling her in my arms. She fell asleep, and I loved hearing and feeling her breathe next to me.
After she and Gib left the hospital, I started having mild cramps. I lost my mucous plug later that evening. I knew that wasn’t a good sign. I was able to sleep that night, but the cramping was getting stronger.
By 7:30 that Sunday morning, I was really feeling the contractions and suggested to my nurse that she put me on the monitor. My breakfast tray came, she put me on the monitor, elevated my head some and left the room. I ate part of a muffin, some cereal and some orange juice (this is important). Not long after, my nurse came back and said, “Your contractions are too strong. I have to take your tray and put you flat again. Do you feel like you need to empty your bladder?” I told her I would try because sometimes a full bladder can make contractions worse. This may be too much detail, but I’m giving it to you anyway… When I went to wipe, I felt something squishy. I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. I quickly got back into my bed and was about to push the call light for her to come back when she opened the door. I told her what happened and when she checked, her face fell and she said “I don’t like what I see”. “What is it?”, I asked. She said, “It’s your cord”.
This is NOT good, friends. I knew this from being a nurse and teaching childbirth classes. A prolapsed cord is where the cord has slipped through the birth canal before the baby. My cord was coming out. The reason this is so dangerous is because the baby can compress the cord and cut off his/her oxygen supply.
She pushed the call light and said, “We need Dr. D in the OR stat. We have a prolapsed cord and I need a sterile glove!”. Within seconds there were, no lie, ten nurses in my room. They let me quickly call Gib to tell him to get to the hospital, ASAP! My nurse was on top of me – literally! – pushing the cord back up while the other nurses ran me – literally! – down the hall and elevator to the OR.
I was amazingly calm. My nurse was wonderful. She was pushing the cord back up to keep the pressure of Emma Grace off of it. She was so reassuring – she kept looking at me saying, “I feel it pulsating”. That was what I needed to hear – Emma Grace was still getting oxygen. (Although we still didn’t know if she was a boy or girl at that time.)
Once in the OR, I began to get scared. There was total chaos and mahem around me. That’s when it hit me – I was going to have general anesthesia. When I asked that question, there was a unanimous “YES”. The anesthesiologist was slapping my wrist trying to find a vein for an IV. He said, very hateful, “So you ate breakfast?” I hesitated, but I told him what I had eaten. He shook his head and said, “You ate a full breakfast”. I understood his concern and the risk of me aspirating with general anesthesia if I were to vomit, but geez...I didn’t know this was going to happen! I looked around and asked if anyone in there prayed. One nurse looked at me and said, “Honey, we’re already praying.”
The last thing I remember is being told to take some deep breaths but feeling like I had 500 pounds of weight on my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I was waving my hand to try to tell them, but nothing was happening. They were in such a rush that my lungs were paralyzed before I was under anesthesia. Scary feeling!
Things happened so quickly! I found the cord about 8:05, and she was born at 8:17! They didn't mess around!
When I woke up, I was being wheeled to the recovery room. I asked how my baby was doing. The nurse said, “You have a little girl and she looks like you”. I couldn't believe she could tell already.
Remember, I was only 25 weeks and 2 days. I remember them wheeling me into the NICU before I was taken to my postpartum room. She was so tiny! Her head was a little bigger than a tangerine, my wedding ring would have fit on her arm, and her eyes were still fused shut. She only weighed 1 lb. 13 oz. and was 13 inches long. But, she was big for her gestation. Dr. S, one of the neonatologists, kept questioning me about my dates to see if they were accurate. I knew they were. She was four days old here...
This is a picture of her preemie diaper.
I grabbed one of Grady's newborn size diapers and put it next to it for comparison. Also, my three fingers almost completely cover the diaper. Just hold up your three fingers and that's how small the diaper was - and it was too big on her!
She breathed on her own with some supplemental oxygen that first day – it’s called the “honeymoon phase” with preemies. Then she pooped out and had to be put on the ventilator. She stayed on the ventilator for 6 weeks!
I got to hold her when she was one week and one day old. I was SO scared! They taped her tubes to me, and she felt like a little bird against my skin. I had tried not to bond with her because I was afraid she was going to die. But, that’s just a bunch of nonsense. We are bonded with our babies during pregnancy, and I was certainly attached after holding her. It was a defense mechanism to try to protect myself. This was my first time holding my little miracle...
After a couple of weeks on the regular ventilator, she maxed out the settings. Dr. L suggested that we should put her on the high-frequency oscillator. I am forever grateful to him for this decision. This vent delivered oxygen into her lungs at a very fast pace – to the tune of 600-700 breaths per minute, kind of like a dog panting. This decreased the pressure on her lungs, and I’m convinced that between God’s mercy and this vent, she doesn’t have long-term lung damage today. Scar tissue, yes. Damage, no.
This is a picture of her at 6 weeks of age. She looks big but she was swollen from fluid. That is my hand on top of her. She stayed in this exact position for 5 days. They changed her diapers backwards and everything. They even had to move a larger crying baby away from her isolette one night because her oxygen levels would drop with the crying. She was then named “Princess Emma Grace” and even had a small tiara placed on top of her bed. (I wish I had a picture of that!)
Those things around her are sandbags that they would place on and around her to give her comfort because the ventilator would make her vibrate. Amazing!
It was a rocky road. Her lungs were VERY sick but amazingly she NEVER got an infection. She never had to be transferred to a different hospital and never had to have any surgeries. She developed retinopathy of prematurity and we thought she was going to have to have eye surgery. Literally from one week to the next, her vessels started straightening out and the eye specialist was amazed. I was blessed to have an abundant supply of breast milk to give her, and she never had anything else. I know that contributed to her growth and recovery as well.
GOD IS GOOD!
Fast forward 111 days (yes, almost 4 months!), and it was time to come home. She weighed a healthy 6 pounds and we were ready! I was a nervous wreck, but we had waited so long and weren’t sure if that day would ever come.
This picture was taken about a month before we were discharged.
She was born March 16th. She wasn’t due until June 27th. She came home July 3rd.
I know the nurses probably thought I was crazy but every time I visited I prayed over her before I left. Literally. I would cross my arms and lay my head down on the top of her isolette and pray over every body system. I would pray specific details. But I always said, “These are the desires of my heart, Lord, but let Your will be done”.
I would have to say that after all of that, it was His will that she live and be a part of our family. Thank you Lord!
This was the vellum on her birth announcement. Yes, you read it correctly. Those were her REAL footprints!!! Tiny, small, and perfect in every way!
Thanks for hanging in there with me again for another long post. I’m a very detail-oriented person and didn’t want to leave anything out. Although I did leave lots of things out, you get a good idea of what she/we went through.
And this is her today!
Six years old. Happy. Loving. Full of life. Spunky. Funny. Healthy. Beautiful. Smart. And an absolute ham for the camera! (Posing with a gift she received and the hair net from her field trip to Kroger today where they announced her birthday over the entire store - how fun!)
Did I mention that God is good? We are truly blessed!