Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh Baby! - Arrival, Journey, Updates :)

This post has been a couple weeks in the making, so please bear with me if it's disjointed or in dire need of editing. Before I could finish typing and sharing one thing, the next popped up. . .so here's a quick attempt to get it all in and posted today. . .

As you can see it's been a while since I've posted, as the last few weeks of my pregnancy had me completely exhausted and I did little more than absolutely necessary during this time, but I'm delighted to share that we were recently blessed (a bit early) with the newest addition to our family!

Having had four normal deliveries, this time around definitely created its own special memories!

The weekend started out fairly typical. . .we went out for dinner on Friday, came home and hung out together. Later as we were getting little man ready for bed, I walked into his room to gather pajama's when I unexpectedly stumbled on his Spidey trike and found myself looking at the floor through tears! I had fallen rather hard, but landed on my hands and knees, so I wasn't too worried about injury to the baby. Plus, I had always read that a fall of this nature rarely caused injury or problems for baby or Mama and once I confirmed this in my "What to Expect" book, I felt reasonably comfortable that all would be fine.

Next day, I was very sore and begun having pain in my upper abdomen. For some reason, I decided to step on the scale to discover that I had gained 13 lbs since my previous OB visit only 12 days prior, thus suddenly doubling my weight gain for the entire pregnancy! Since I had been sick the week before and had barely eaten, I knew this wasn't right.

Concern grew and I decided to visit labor and delivery triage on Saturday evening. They suspected possible preeclampsia. . .checked urine, blood pressure, ran some labs to check liver enzymes, etc.

protein in urine - trace
blood pressure - up when they checked it upon arrival, but went back down before leaving
swelling - I had a good amount of swelling in hands and feet
labs - all was fine
monitoring - fine with adequate movement
dilation and thinning - none

We returned home feeling reassured that all was well.

I had continuing pain in my abdomen on Sunday, which the nurse had thought could be a combination of muscle soreness from fall along with a large baby pushing from inside. Having had large babies before, this seemed a reasonable consideration.

By 5:30 that evening, I had bloody show. Within a hour, regular contractions that were picking up pace. As the contractions continued and grew stronger, we prepared to head out to the hospital. (It was Superbowl Sunday after all and I didn't want to arrive too early and be sent back home!)

I checked in with the on-call OB at around 8:07, then I decided to lay down briefly to see if the contractions would subside. They did not. Shortly thereafter, around 8:30, I had a contraction and felt an unbelievably painful "pop" or "rupture" in my lower abdomen. Assuming it was my water, I got up to check. The blood began to gush and I found myself bleeding profusely and continuously. Dh immediately called 911.

Everything went crazy from there. I was scared beyond words, but tried hard to pull it together after seeing the fearful faces of my girls and hearing them crying hysterically. I screamed for Mom (also not good at hiding her fear) to go out and keep the kids in the other room so that they wouldn't see the blood everywhere or the pitiful scene that had taken over our bathroom! Seeing their fear only exasperated mine and I wanted so desperately not to scare them more and vice versa.

Then I remember dh pacing back and forth in front on the bathroom door, speaking with 911 while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, and saying things like "boot string", "safety pin", "they said don't sit on the toilet", "no, I don't see a head yet".

Those are words I won't ever forget! :-) . . .and never want to hear again, lol!

EMS arrived and I was wheeled out to the ambulance. Mom doesn't get around too well and didn't have time to get in and go with me and dh had to drive and bring the children, so I went on and was transported to the local hospital alone. Not the hospital of my choice mind you, which made me all the more anxious, but the EMT insisted on one, while I repeatedly insisted on another - - a battle I lost as I was obviously not in a position to carry on a debate, but anywho back to what matters. . .

Arriving at the hospital, I was rushed into the trauma unit, where I estimate 20+ individuals we waiting. I think it must have been a combination ER Trauma Unit/Classroom, not sure, not familiar with this hospital's normal emergency staff to patient ratio :) but at that point I didn't care about the audience. Modesty was out the window, I was scared for my life and the life of my unborn baby - and that was priority one. I had lost a lot of blood and contractions were coming hard. I had dilated to 4cm and effaced 75% upon arrival, with the potential for an emergency c-section being discussed as a possible necessity.

They immediately did an ultrasound and I faintly remember the doctor saying the baby was doing okay. My mind must have been nearly numb by then, as the words were so unexpected, so wonderful, so encouraging. . .it took me a few minutes to process them and realize that WE both might be okay!

Further evaluation determined that my placenta had abrupted, but I continued making rapid progress toward delivery and the baby was doing okay, so once everything was stabilized, I was moved to another room, where prepping for delivery continued. (For someone normally terrified of needles and such, I can tell you, not one IV, lab stick, catheter, or stick otherwise, caused me any amount of discomfort. Okay, the morphine helped I'm sure. . .but even so. . .we were moving toward delivery and things were feeling a bit more optimistic at this point.

Moving to a labor and delivery room, the anesthesiologists arrived, providing much needed pain relief none too soon. I was exhausted from the sheer adrenaline of it all. What seemed like the longest night of my life actually covered the span of just a few short hours. Within a very short time, I was 9cm and fully effaced, minutes later. . .ready to push! Having arrived at the hospital somewhere around 9:00 or so, our precious baby was delivered at 12:07am.

Ava Katherine blessed us with her presence nearly five weeks early weighing 6 lbs 14 oz. Being a late term preemie, her breathing was a bit labored and precautions were taken to ensure it stabilized. She spent several hours being monitored in the nursery before we got to spend quality time with her. The NICU nurse came in and shared some concerns over the large amount of blood in her stool, letting us know they were running tests to see if it was her blood or mine, as that would factor into to any next steps they needed to take. Fortunately, it turned out that she had swallowed a large amount of my blood and that it would continue to pass through her stool without any problems.

Ahhh. . .the precious gift of life. The joy of our new blessing. Returning home to my family. Thank you Lord. Thank you.

Continuing our journey. . .Thursday, our second night home, I awoke with heart palpitations and leg pain. Worried about clotting, we returned to the ER. No clots were found, anxiety still most certainly present from the traumatic delivery, but all was well otherwise. They did incidentally find a nodule on my thyroid that I needed to have checked out further, so I had that u/s yesterday and am still waiting for an update. Ugh.

Friday, Ava went for a checkup and was found to have jaundice, so she spent some time at home under phototherapy. Her levels went down, and we discontinued the light.
Monday (Valentine's), she was very lethargic and not nursing more than a minute or two . . .by the time my dh got home from work, she could not be roused or awakened no matter what we tried.

I called the nurse on call at our pediatrician's office (quite frantic by this point) and was instructed to take her to the ER. The nurse called to let them know we were on our way and they took Ava straight back to the trauma room and immediately started an IV and began assessing her and running various tests (CT, Chest x-ray, spinal tap, labs, blood & urine cultures, etc.) During this time of waiting and testing, she was still basically unresponsive (even with all the needle sticks) and began to have brief moments where she would stop breathing.

Ava was moved to PICU around 3:30 am. PICU took very good care of her, watched her diligently, and kept her on IV fluids, as they began an aggressive course of treatment to cover all realms of potentially dangerous issues. (As it was explained to us, they don't wait for the cultures and all the labs to come back because so many things can go from bad to worse very quickly with infants and little ones)

Early results ruled out Influenza A, Influenza B, RSV, Group B Strep, Herpes, and many other viruses, but still no answers. . .so. . .as it sometimes works in medicine. . .by process of elimination, consideration of symptoms, and a slightly elevated WBC in her CSF, they suspected that she could possibly have meningitis of some type.

We continued to wait for the cultures to grow and other tests results to come in, and one by one, they worst of the worst possibilities and all other tests that were done came back negative. Cultures (urine, blood, CSF) grew nothing.

Thus, viral meningitis was determined to be the culprit.

Over the few days of our stay she continued to have periods where she was difficult to rouse and feed, but her breathing steadied and remained so, her color began to look better, and she began to wake up more on her own for feedings. Praise the Lord!

Getting her to nurse and stay awake for nursing is still proving a challenge at times, but she is making progress and seems to be doing much better.

We came home from the hospital this last Thursday evening and are continuing to care for her. . .covering her with kisses and prayers and waking and ensuring that she continues to nurse regularly :)

God bless each of you who have prayed for baby Ava and our family! My heart is humbled and grateful to know so many of you brought our baby and family before the Lord in prayer! She is just precious to us and loved immensely!!

Now, to share a bit of this in pictures. . .

Light Therapy for Jaundice

so tiny in Daddy's hands


we celebrated a birthday during Ava's hospital stay, big sis got both of their names on it and added baby booties for baby :)

Yep, pumping milk :)


first bath. . .that woke her up :)

And in closing, I want to express my heartfelt and deepest thanks to my dear sister Sheila and friend Michelle for keeping our friends and family updated and requesting prayer for our baby girl and our family. . .and to my Mom. . .whose help we couldn't have done without! Your love and support has meant more to me than you can imagine.
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