Pieces from The Mighty

Thursday, November 22, 2012

For All These Things I Am Thankful

This Thanksgiving is going to be bittersweet for me. As many of you know, we were counting down the days until Thanksgiving, because on Thanksgiving I would have been 32 weeks pregnant, and that was our goal. We had a countdown going on a dry erase board at home, and we planned on starting our Ellie shopping at that point.  I was really starting to get excited about all of the things I was going to buy for our baby girl.

When I went into labor our board said 38 days until Thanksgiving.

This is what I get for planning. I am starting to realize that my plans are not my own- God is in control, and no matter how much I plan and hope, things are in His hands.
So, I wanted to be thankful this Thanksgiving that I was still pregnant, but instead of dwelling on what I wish I was thankful for this year, I want to focus on what I AM thankful for.

I am thankful for Ellie. Although I wish that she would have waited a little bit longer to make her appearance, I am so thankful that she is here and doing well. I am thankful that we live in a day and age where a 1 pound 12 ounce baby cannot only just survive, but thrive as well. I love our little princess so much and we are so blessed to have her here with us, even if it is earlier than we would have liked.

I am thankful for the time we had with Robby. I wish that we would have had longer with him, but he was such a blessing to us.  When I got pregnant with Robby, my fibromyalgia went into remission, and that was his gift to me. Even though Robby isn't here with us, he lives on in our hearts forever and he will always be our little boy.

I am thankful for the year I had in remission. My fibromyalgia came back 16 days after giving birth to Ellie, but I had a whole year that we never thought that I would have. I had a year when I was able to dance, walk, hug my family, and hold my husband's hand without being in horrible pain. Even though it is back now, I am so thankful for that year that I had.

I am thankful for my husband, Tanner. This past year has been incredibly hard on the both of us, but he has been amazing through it all. He stood by my side during all of my health issues and is one of the most kind and caring people I know. I believe all that has happened has brought us closer together and strengthened our bond.

I am thankful for my parents. They have been such an amazing support system to me and Tanner. When we lost Robby, they were there for us to support us and help us through our hardest days. When I was pregnant with Ellie they encouraged us and gave us hope. Now that Ellie is here they continue to be here for us. My mom is up at the hospital with me each day.  She helps keep me calm when things are getting rough and helps to lift my spirits when I feel like things are hopeless. My dad comes up every day with a lunch for me and my mom. Some days he even makes us homemade pizza and brings it up for us because he knows that it is my favorite! They have been my rock this past year and I don't know what I would do without them. I am so very thankful for them.

I am thankful for my brother. He has been here for me and Tanner so much in the past year, and especially now. Justin lives only a few miles from the hospital, so he is letting Tanner, my mom, and me stay with him while Ellie is in the hospital. It is easier for me to leave the hospital at night knowing that if at midnight I need to go back and check on Ellie we are so close. He is even letting my dog, Barbie, stay at his house!

I am thankful for my grandma who has been cooking some of my favorite meals and sending them to my brother’s house so that after a long day at the hospital we have something nutritious to eat.

I am thankful for my friends who continue to check on me and come see me at the hospital even though when they make the trip up to the hospital they rarely ever get to see Ellie.  I can’t wait to be thankful for the day to come when all of our friends and family can see Ellie each time they visit!

I am thankful for the June Bugs. The June Bugs are a group of women that all have something in common...we were all due in June of 2012. We all went through the same pregnancy things around the same time and shared a bond that way. When we lost Robby, these women rallied around me and since then have continued to support me. Even though I am not technically a June Mommy, these women have continued to make me feel like part of the group, and this helps me feel like Robby's memory lives on.

I am thankful for my pregnant after a loss and pregnant after a late loss groups. Being pregnant after a loss is really hard, but having women who knew exactly what I was going through helped me so much. They were there to support me during my pregnancy, and they are continuing to support me now that Ellie is here. These women are so strong, and I am thankful to have such an amazing support group in them.

I am thankful for Dr. Hague. She helped get me further along this pregnancy than I did with Robby, and since we made it longer, Ellie has been given a much greater chance. I am so very thankful that she had me come in for appointments more than even necessary just to put my mind at ease. She is a wonderful person and I feel blessed that she was my doctor.

I am thankful for all the people out there who are praying, thinking about, and loving Ellie. There are so many people who I know online, in person, and people I don't even know who are praying for Ellie. I am so encouraged when I log on and see all of the clicks, comments, and posts that are being left for Ellie. She is so loved, and I am touched that there are so many people out there "Loving Ellie" and cheering us on.

I am thankful for some of the nurses who have taken a special interest in Ellie. It helps put my mind at ease when the nurse taking care of Ellie really knows her and what she likes and doesn't like. These nurses have been wonderful and very understanding of why I want to be up at the hospital with Ellie all of the time.

I am thankful for the families that we have met here at the NICU. We share a bond that is special because we are going through pretty much the same thing. We are all dealing with the stress of having a baby in the NICU. We all go through good days and bad days. We rejoice with each other on the good days, and encourage each other on the bad days. I am thankful to have made such wonderful friends.

So, my plan wasn't God's plan. I do not get to be thankful that I am still pregnant, but I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Thank you all so much for your support through Ellie’s NICU journey this far, it will be long, and I am so very thankful for each and every one of you out there praying for our little princess. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Had Hoped To Be Normal

I had hoped that I would not be writing this out so soon, and I had also been wishing that it would be a different type of story. I hoped it would be a story of complete joy and happiness without any fears or worries. I was hoping that I wouldn’t write this story until after Thanksgiving. However, this story isn’t the worst birth story that I have ever written because in this birth story my baby is alive.

On Monday, October 15, 2012, I woke up feeling pretty good even though the night before I hadn’t gotten any sleep. My hips were hurting from my rheumatoid arthritis, so I spent the night feeling my precious little Ellie move all around. I now cherish that sleepless night because that was the last night I got to spend time with her all alone moving around doing her dances. That morning I ate some Capt'n Crunch, a bagel and cream cheese, and messed around on facebook until about 11:40 when I had a contraction.

 I knew right away that this was not good. I knew this was not a Braxton Hicks. I took a Benadryl in hopes it would not be a real contraction, but in the back of my mind I knew that this was it. We had been holding our breath for weeks and now it was happening again. I put a call into my nurse to tell her what was going on.  While I was on with their answering machine I was frantically looking up the statistics that Ellie could live at 26 weeks 3 days gestation. I found a website that told me that our odds were 80-90%. By the time I hung up from leaving a message I was having another one. So, I went to the bathroom and I found blood.  By this point in time my mom had called Tanner to have him come pick us up and take us to the hospital.  Tanner was at the house in no time flat and we dashed off to Wesley. I went into the emergency room where they took their sweet time getting me up to labor and delivery. They got me into a room and insisted on checking me to see if I was dilated.

I really didn’t want them to check me because I was worried they would speed things up, but I had to let them. I was already dilated to a 2 and my bag was bulging. They immediately gave me my first steroid shot to help develop Ellie’s lungs. When they gave me the shot they told me that in 24 hours I could have another one and 48 hours from the first shot we would have the full effect. I was so thankful that I had made it far enough in the pregnancy to get the shot, but terrified that I wouldn’t get both shots for the full effect.

While giving me the steroid shot they started a magnesium drip to help slow the contractions down. I wasn’t able to have one of these with Robby because I wasn’t far enough along. By this point the contractions were getting worse, but I was able to breathe through them pretty well while staying relaxed. The magnesium drip made me feel like I had the flu. I got extremely hot and it was hard to breathe, but I didn’t care what it made me feel like if it was going to help my contractions slow down.

Dr. Hague came to see me and told me that she didn’t think I would deliver that night. She said that Ellie’s heart rate wasn’t dropping any when I was contracting, which was a good sign. She told me that I would stay down there in labor and delivery for monitoring until my contractions stopped, then they would move me upstairs and by Thursday they would send me home to be in my own bed. She seemed so calm and confident that everything was going to be fine. Before she left she told me not to let ANYONE touch me again. She didn’t want me to have any checks or even have a sonogram until the next day. 
Since I was having contractions the hospital automatically sent over a NICU doctor to talk to us about what our odds were and what would happen. By this point my dad and brother had joined my mom, Tanner, and I so we were all present to meet Dr. Hsaio. I later realized that Dr. Hsaio’s first name was Robert, so I like to think of that as a sign from Robby.

He came in and told us that ideally I would not deliver that night and that I could hold out until Ellie had reached 28 weeks gestation. At that point her odds of surviving would go up to 98%. He went through what would happen at delivery and afterwards. He said that they would have a team present at her birth to intubate her right after and I might possibly be able to see her for a moment before taking her to the NICU depending on how she was doing at birth. After that it could be a couple hours before we would see her again. They would take her to the NICU and get her situated.  He then started talking about all the problems she could have and the long road that it would be. Dr. Hague seemed so sure I wouldn’t deliver, so I was only half way listening in hopes that we wouldn’t need all of this very scary information.

While Dr. Hsaio was visiting with us my contractions got closer together and I started to feel blood trickling down my leg. I wasn’t too concerned about it because that happened with each contraction that I had with Robby, and I was able to hold out for days. However, when I told the nurse they got really concerned. They of course wanted to check me and do an internal sonogram to see how dilated I was and to make sure my placenta was still attached. I told them that they needed to talk to Dr. Hague first since she had given me strict instructions to not let anyone touch me again.

The hospital doctor told me that Dr. Hague cleared it, but I was still extremely nervous so our super sweet nurse had Dr. Hague call me herself to ease my fears. The sonogram tech came in and did a quick sonogram to see what was going on. While she was doing the sonogram I couldn’t help but flash back to when we had Robby. We got one last sonogram to see him moving around before I delivered him. I was frustrated with the tech because she wouldn’t let me see the screen, and the only thing I could think of was that this could be the last time I would get to see my baby moving around. So, thankfully my mom said something and the tech moved the screen and let me see Ellie’s face on the sonogram machine.  The sonogram technician left and the doctor came in to tell me that the placenta was fine, but they couldn’t see my cervix on the screen, which meant that I was fully dilated. However, there was more news- Ellie was transverse. Instead of being head up or head down she was laying sideways which meant that I needed to go back for an emergency c-section.  Suddenly, it truly hit me that I wasn’t going to get a chance to keep Ellie inside longer. I didn’t have a choice now because if we didn’t go back as soon as possible, she could die.

Almost immediately there were TONS of people in my room getting me ready and about to wheel me back. They weren’t sure if anyone was going to get to come back with me to the operating room because of the situation.

I had the sweetest nurse, who was actually exactly- to the day-as pregnant as I was. She had me and one other patient, but she told the other nurses they needed to take the other one because she needed to stay with me. 

They were wheeling me back so quickly that I didn’t have much time to say anything to anyone before I went back except that I loved them. All I could think about was that my body had failed again and that it was too soon for Ellie to be born. My mom and Tanner begged our nurse to try really hard to get someone back in the room with me so that I didn’t have to be alone while this was happening.  I went back into the operating room and everyone was extremely nice. They placed the epidural and I almost immediately couldn’t feel anything from my chest down. The anesthesiologist showed me that I couldn’t feel anything over a certain line on my body by using a sharp object to poke me. After they placed the epidural I went from crying that we hadn’t made it to Thanksgiving to laughing because I couldn’t feel my legs back to crying again.

Dr. Hague showed up and my nurse asked if my mom could come back and she replied “of course.” I don’t think I could have handled it by myself. During my pregnancy with Robby and this pregnancy the joke always was that if I had to have a c-section that my mom was going to go back with me. Well, all joking aside, Tanner and I had discussed what would happen if I did need a c-section and he told me that he would want my mom to be back there with me. Tanner couldn’t handle being back there with all the people and in a surgical room, especially in this emergency situation. When he is nervous he can’t sit still, and when my mom came back wearing her beautiful blue suit, they told her to not touch anything blue, which was pretty much everything in the entire room. It helped just seeing her walk in because I could see on her face that she wasn't afraid.

My mom in her blue suit!

There were so many people there- people for me and people for Ellie. Once they got started I could feel tugging, but not any pain. The only thing I really remember about all of it was that they had to tug really hard. I would later learn that she was stuck, so they had to cut my uterus two ways- sideways and up and down. Dr. Hague told me that means if I ever deliver again it will always be by c-section.

 Delphine Claire Smith was born at 10:02 P.M When she came out it was so loud in the room with all of the people that I couldn’t hear anything, but they told me that she did let out some cries. They worked on her for about 10 minutes and then they let me see my precious little girl. They intubated her, but since she was breathing some on her own they held her down by me, and my mom was able to get some pictures of me seeing my baby girl for the first time. Then, they wheeled Ellie away and Dr. Hague stitched me up. They were all talking about how big she looked and they even started to guess what her weight would be. Dr. Hague was positive she would be 2 pounds 2 ounces. My mom was guessing 1 pound 10 ounces. I was praying that Dr. Hague was right because I know it increases the odds when your baby hits the 2 pound mark before birth.

My first look at Ellie!

Once I was stitched up I was wheeled back into my room where I got to see Tanner, Justin, and my dad. We told them how beautiful Ellie was, and then we sat and waited for them to come get Tanner so he could see his beautiful daughter. Our nurse came in with Ellie’s stats and told us that she was 1 pound 12 ounces and 13 and a half inches long. She scored a 6 on her first apgar and an 8 on her second which they were extremely pleased about! Finally about an hour and a half later they came in and got Tanner, my dad, and Justin so they could go see Ellie. Since my mom saw her earlier she stayed with me. 

When Tanner came back I could see his love for Ellie glowing in his eyes! He told us that he was able to put his hand in the isolette with her and she grabbed onto his finger! Tanner then went back with my mom so that she could see Ellie again. After that we got all packed up from the room we were in and we headed upstairs to our new room. On our way up to my new room Tanner and I were able to stop in at the NICU and see Ellie. Since she is on an end they were able to just wheel my bed right up to her bedside so that I could sit and look at her. We sat there for about twenty minutes before I had to go. I cried the whole way back up to the room because I just wanted to hold her and be with her like a normal mom and newborn would get to do. Once they got me settled in the room, my dad and brother left, but Tanner and my mom stayed with me. We had two beds and a chair. Tanner slept in the bed and my mom started out in the chair. I ended up bawling all night because it was night time that Ellie was the most active, and now not only could I not feel her, but I couldn’t hold her or see her either.

Ellie is already a daddy's girl holding onto his finger

My night nurse saw how upset I was and insisted that she help my mom get me down to the NICU with all my wires and iv’s.
I got to sit with Ellie for about an hour and a half before having to leave again. Once again I cried when I left the NICU. I still cry every time I leave the NICU.
Up until a week ago Ellie was doing well for her age and size. She has recently developed pneumonia in both lungs and has been diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease and that is a big setback. The doctors and nurses keep telling us that this is going to be a long roller coaster ride, so to expect good days and bad days. I hate it when the bad days come, but I just try to remember that this roller coaster ride is so much better than the one we rode in February because that one only had “downs,”---- there were no “ups.” 

Our first family picture

As I said, this isn’t the type of birth story I wanted to write, but the most important thing is that our sweet little Ellie is alive.
It was mine and Tanner’s plan to have several more children, but because they aren’t sure why I keep going into preterm labor, we have decided that it would be best for me to not try to carry another child, but I think that is a blog for another day.

Our goal is to have Ellie home by the end of January, so we would appreciate all the thoughts and prayers we can get! My mom started a facebook group for anyone who wants to keep up with Ellie, follow her journey, and see her pictures. I don’t know how much time I will have to blog, but Ellie's facebook group is updated several times a day with new news and pictures. 

For those of you coming in late and would like to know Robby's story: