A Poem: How Preemie Moms Are Chosen

The past few days have been long. We are so fortunate to have the help of my mom who has gone above and beyond to continue to be the primary caregiver for Grace, allowing me the time to pump (about 7 hours a day right now, every 2 hours around the clock) and be with our little one at the NICU. While it has only been less than 96 hours, it has felt like a month figuring out schedules and quieting the internal battle of being with Grace whom I have missed so much these past few weeks and being in the NICU as decisions about our little girl's care are made.

The NICU is scary, but not as scary as I imagined it would be. I am so confident in the phenomenal care our little girl is receiving, and so appreciative of the compassionate and knowledgeable nurses and neonatologists who are providing us with all of the information we need to forge ahead each day, hour by hour. Grant's been so strong, asking all of the questions we need answers to while I can't think straight.

The toughest part of each visit is leaving her. We say goodbye, but we don't know if her hearing is developed so doubt she hears us. She can't see us wave or look back. She just lies there peacefully in her pile of wires and tubes, sleeping under the glow of the blue lights warding off jaundice. I have to exit the hospital the same place new mother's leave - and my heart breaks every single time watching the new father's pull up the curb ever so slowly and cautiously before fumbling with the carseat and their new precious cargo. Mom's face aglow with both pride and terror - it is now time for the next chapter of bringing baby home. It's haunting. Why did we get robbed of that?

Physically I must have been running on adrenaline those first 36 hours because I felt great (got discharged about 20 hours after delivering) but now everything hurts. I hadn't worn shoes in 6 weeks, and every step I take I feel like little bones in my feet are cracking and my muscles ache all over. I'm weak. From bedrest to child birth to pumping and taking care of a 15 month old, my body has been forced to go from 0-60 and I am just praying it can keep up with the demands. Pathology came back with a report and shockingly the early delivery was not inpart to the Incompetent Cervix which had been the foreboding theme of our pregnancy journey these past few months but instead some sort of bacterial infection that caused the placental abruption leading to bleeding and pre-term delivery. I haven't quite wrapped my head around all of this yet. 

I can't help but wonder why God thinks I am strong enough for this journey. I don't feel brave enough- my fear is suffocating. I've navigated my own health struggles with MENs/kidney stones/pregnancy throughout the years, and last year with 6 week old Grace in the hospital with her kidneys, but neither of those could have possibly prepared me for the complete helplessness that overwhelmes each minute of every hour. I tried so hard to keep her cooking, but I feel like I failed her only making it to 29 weeks... 79 days early.  

This poem was sent to me and I have to read it a few times each day for reassurance that somehow I will be able to dig deep inside of me and physically, mentally, and emotionally be able to continue this journey per God's assignment.

How Preemie Moms Are Chosen
by Erma Bombeck

Did you ever wonder how the mothers of premature babies are chosen?

Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth, selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to take notes in a giant ledger.

”Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron Saint, Matthew.
Forrest, Marjorie, daughter. Patron Saint, Celia.
Rutledge, Carrie, twins. Patron Saint...give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”

Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles. “Give her a preemie.”

The angel is curious. “Why this one, God? She’s so happy.”

”Exactly,” smiles God. “Could I give a premature baby a mother who knows no laughter? That would be cruel.”

”But does she have the patience?” asks the angel.

”I don’t want her to have too much patience, or she’ll drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she’ll handle it. I watched her today. She has that sense of self and independence so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has a world of its own. She has to make it live in her world, and that’s not going to be easy.”

”But Lord, I don’t think she even believes in you.”

God smiles. “No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect She has just the right amount of selfishness.”

The angel gasps, “Selfishness?! Is that a virtue?”

God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally, she will never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says momma for the first time, she will be witness to a miracle and know it. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see— ignorance, cruelty, prejudice— and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.”

”And what about her Patron Saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in the air.

God smiles. “A mirror will suffice.”

God bless you all, thank you for your continued prayers- they are our sustenance. 

 

Welcome to the world sweet one!

It is with a flood of emotions we welcome to the world a beautiful, beloved little girl who was born at 29 weeks yesterday, Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 3:18pm weighing in at 3lbs 5ounces and 15 inches. We aren't ready to share photos, her name, or anything quite yet as honestly, I am just getting to know her, but did want to let all of our friends & family know that God blessed us with a beautiful and healthy for being born at 29 weeks, little girl who is doing well in the NICU now. 

Yesterday morning I posted some updates as the reality we would become a family of four drew near. At around 6am, I called Grant (before I even notified my nurses) as my contractions were quickening and I just had a feeling she was coming. I told him to pack a bag and have some breakfast because we were in for a long day. I am pretty certain he thought I was being dramatic, but he arrived just as I was being moved to Labor and Delivery. 

The next few hours were quick and filled with excited anticipation. Indeed she was coming, I was dilating fairly quickly. I got a walking epidural to slow things down and relax the body a bit, this was a lifesaver as it actually gave me some peace to have the difficult conversations with the neonatologists with a sound mind, instead of in between screams of pain. In quick reflection, it was a decision we debated but the best decision we could have made. I needed time to compose myself, my emotions, and physically get ready to give birth to our little girl almost 3 months before her due date.

We had some time as I dilated from 4cms to 7 cms, so both Grant and I tried to nap for about 30 minutes. I thought I felt a little trickle, and when the nurse came, she noted my water broke. Maybe the most uneventful waterbreaking ever. About an hour later the doctor came in and noticed that while my water was leaking, the bag was still intact so she broke it and within 2 minutes I felt the need to push. It was truly a miraculous effort seeing the NICU team and my delivery team converge in our room, scrubbed up for surgery and all working together in under 10 minutes- every team could learn a great lesson from this. I was honestly stunned.

After a few easy pushes, out she came- even with a little cry! Immediately whisked away, though they did bring her by my bedside in her incubator after running immediate diagnostics. Grant followed her to the NICU while they cleaned me up. As they thought, pathology showed that my placenta had indeed had an abruption and there were blood clots. I never got to hold my little girl the day she was born, but I was so thankful Grant was able to go with her. 

A few hours later they wheeled me down to the NICU where I was able to put my hand in her incubator and touch her foot- so tiny but perfect in every way. She had immediately had a little surgery to put two lines through her stomach and another in her mouth to help her with nutrition and respiration, and she is on a CPAP machine but doing really really well for being born 11 weeks early. She may be small, yet she sure is mighty. I am already so proud of her. 

I am writing this sitting outside the entrance of the NICU at 4am. I woke up to pump (breastfeeding is so important to a preemie) at 2am. When I arose to shower, Grant asked me what I was doing. When I explained I was going to bring the little vials of colostrum to the NICU, he said, "You must miss her so much," I just closed the bathroom door, put on the shower and cried. The honest truth was I couldn't label this emotion as missing her quite yet, yes I wanted to be with her - I just felt like I didn't even know her. I had only spent two- 10 minute visits with her, surrounded by doctors and nurses and wires and machines. I still haven't held my baby to my chest or felt her breath. I have no idea when she will meet her big sister. There is so much uncertainty, but I do know that this baby girl is so loved, by me, by her father, and by the outpour of support from our community. 

Spending time with her alone this morning did good for both my heart and soul. Aside from the nurses, the NICU was quiet and not crowded and I just sat and read her prayers and poems about strength and perseverance. She really is doing great, and she really is perfect. Hopefully in the next few days I will get to hold her and show her just how much I love her and vow to protect her through all of life's challenges. This may be the first of those challenges, but we will share a long journey ahead. 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers, we are so blessed to welcome our little one into a world filled with love, kindness and generosity. I recognize with all that is happening in the news sometimes it seems like the world is falling apart, but each of you have restored my confidence of the good in people  - and I feel blessed to raise our family where love trumps all and miracles do happen.

 

 

 

Update: Baby Girl coming!

Quick update. I've been admitted now to Labor & Delivery. The pessary has been removed and I am about 4.5cms dilated, 80% effaced and having pretty hefty contractions every 90 seconds. I am on the magnesium drip which fortunately isn't so bad. I am 29 weeks.

We've met with the neonatologists which was terrifying but had all of the grandparents here for the meeting actually which was nice to have everyone in the same page re:extended care. Grant is setting up cord blood banking as I type this, we banked Grace's with CBR and as a last minute decision giving birth at 29 weeks, decided to go ahead with this little girl's cord blood and tissue as well through CBR.

My water hasn't broken and since baby is doing well on the monitors, we are just waiting it out. Likely she is coming today, maybe tomorrow if we can get an extra day of incubation in. 

Really grateful to have our family here. Mom made my favorite cookies this morning for when I'll finally be able to eat after delivery and is sitting with a coloring book in the waiting room- unwilling to leave even though it may be a few hours, and dad is getting me my favorite sandwich (after delivering Grace all I wanted was a sandwich!) Pat and Simone are watching Grace and my mother-in-law is helping Grant by managing things at the new house.  

I am a bag of emotions, excited to meet her but also terrified. Because she is being born so early, I won't get a chance to hold her for probably 24 hours and it looks like she won't come home with us until end of January. The holidays are bound to be tough. (Though I already told my dad that his new granddaughter is his 60th birthday gift- his birthday coming up Friday!)  

love you all, thanks for walking alongside our growing family on this difficult journey. 

 

Baby girls home for the next few months... 

Baby girls home for the next few months... 

29 weeks today!

Hit the 29 week mark this morning, awoken by strong contractions 2 minutes apart and bleeding. I am literally screaming in between typing sentences. Glad to have made it to this milestone, really hoping we can slow down these contractions... Was a tough night but in great hands being monitored closely. 

Last night around 11pm I received the second dose of our second round of betamethasone steroids for baby's lungs. That set off a sea of  uncontrollable contractions for about two hours. We tried to control with Procardia (which I am finding has some not-so-fun side effects of its own) and eventually they settled so I could get a few hours of sleep. The place of placental abruption is now tender to the touch on my lower left abdomen, and the bleeding likely causing the ongoing uterine irritability. 

This morning we are likely moving to L and D. Still awaiting the doctors who are conferring about plan of attack. Baby has been great all week though last night began to show some very mild discrepancies in her charting where we're monitoring closely. IV fluids have been helping a ton with the contractions. Really hoping we can do this circus for at least another week and make it to 30, but if we deliver today, I know God is watching over us and whatever his plan, is meant to be.

Love you all, thanks for the continued support- we really need those extra thoughts and prayers today. Get on out there and have an extra great Sunday for me!  

 

Obligatory ugly hospital selfie. I mean, I am a millennial mom after all :)  

Obligatory ugly hospital selfie. I mean, I am a millennial mom after all :)  

Camp Bedrest Day 32: back in the hospital for awhile...

 (note: on my cell typing as I don't have my laptop so bare with me/my poor grammar/thought process)

Last night goes into the "top 10" category for scariest moments ever. The bleeding and pain I mentioned in yesterday's post had mostly subsided, but my MFM who had received my email with pictures of the blood wanted me to go straight to L&D to see her colleague. She replied to my email and called me, urging me to go in, but honestly I wasn't in a huge rush as I was feeling on the other side of things... 

Wanting to stay and learn more about the horror unfolding in Paris, I begrudgingly got in my wheelchair and went out to the car, packing a few extra "necessities" in my purse just in case... 

The hospital was a mad house, thank you Friday the 13th and a new computer system. I was immediately hooked up to monitors with blood drawn. Grant and I Killed time waiting playing WordsWithFriends, and by playing, I mean I destroyed him :)

Dr R (one of my favorites) was on call and eventually came around to do an exam where he concluded I had a partial placental abruption - a somewhat common occurrence (discovered in 1:150 pregnancies, sometimes goes undetected) where the placenta separates from the uterine wall early- causing premature birth or still birth. With very real risks of potentially having to deliver if things progress, I was being admitted again for at least 4-5 days for observations. 

Frustrated, I was happy to at least have a game plan. Grant and I continued to play while I got another round of betamethasone steroid shots for the baby's lungs, drew more blood and did a whole ton of weird tests since I had been in the hospital in the past month. Then quickly, I started getting pretty painful contractions out of nowhere, about every four minutes. The nurse came in concerned and noted that maybe my uterus was irritated and reacting to the exam, probably the contractions would go away. Dr R rushed in a few minutes later saying he wanted to start me on anti-contraction meds- only problem is I am deathly allergic to aspirin so indocin was not an option.  

IV running fast bags of fluids, I started on 10grams of procardia, prescribed to get another dose in 4 hours. I sent Grant home as it was midnight and I knew I was in good hands. Unfortunately my contractions failed to slow, instead picked up rapidly and were growing in intensity, now 3 minutes apart. I was given another dose of procardia and that also didn't do the trick. Twenty minutes later another dose, followed by visits from Dr R explaining that my contractions were now 2 minutes apart and the on-call OB/gyn would come to discuss options if we couldn't stop labor. 

The nurse told me to call Grant. He rushed over. When Dr L (the OBGYN on call) came in, she examined me, noting I was now 3cms dilated and she could feel the baby's head. I was shaking uncontrollably when Grant arrived- terrified but more a physical manifestation of labor that I had forgotten about from my first delivery. While Dr R had suggested we be ready for a emergency C section at anytime, Dr L gave me hope that if we were truly delivering, she would help me have a vaginal delivery if possible. (She herself is 30 weeks pregnant!) 

We were terrified. Only 29 weeks (tomorrow). The contractions were not coming under control. I was also starving (hand't eaten since lunch) and hangry. Had we not gone into the hospital, we wouldn't have had the cervical check that was causing these contractions and possible labor.   

In triage, only a thin curtain seperated us from a couple who was told they had to be induced at 37 weeks due to gestational diabetes/aging placenta. This couple took six hours-- six-- debating with their doc to postpone because they didn't want a "premature" baby even though the docs assured them 37 is considered term. Grant almost punched them as they complained how their child wouldn't have the best odds developmentally "being born so early" because they read children have the highest IQs being born after 39. Confession: I actually wanted Grant to punch him... Or at least shake him and congratulate him on having a full term baby and being in a great hospital to deliver...

Another round of procardia settled down the contractions to be manageable fortunately, so 14 hours later we are still sitting here in triage figuring out if I go to Labor and Delivery or the Antepartum/Moms Unit.  Looking like Moms Unit for observation!! 

I am processing the nightmare of last night (words don't do it justice in describing the roller coaster of emotions). On one hand the Incompetent Cervix and Partial Placental abruption have nothing to do with each other from the POV of clinical studies. My body just stinks at being pregnant. On the other, maybe they do- at the very least it means I am really high risk and the best place for me is here. I am wondering if the dilation would have progressed without the exam, what would have happened if we just monitored closely at home. 

I am honestly in a bit of ill spirits, frustrated and trying not to be defeated. Glad we didn't deliver right now, but surviving off a mixture of anxiety and adrenaline.  

Hope you and yours enjoy a nice weekend!