This is the 16th in the series....hopefully if you are here you have found your way to parts 1 thru 15.
Thank you for sharing the journey and the hope.
26 April 2008
24 weeks 3 days
Saturday came..... and I felt crampy...and during my 5 minute shower I had the first 'bring me to my knees' contraction. I timed the contractions for a bit....and then when they were about 3 minutes apart I told the nurse. Well at first they were very doubting "we are not picking up any contractions on the monitor". WELL DUH I have no amniotic fluid and the baby is tiny. And I don't care what your damn machine says~ I'm telling ya lady~ this is my FIFTH go round here~ I KNOW a contraction when I feel it DAMN IT!
Annnndddd then I was bustled over to the labor unit~ where the babies are born.
And there was a nurse who picked up both the contractions and my daughter's heartbeat. And the contractions were indeed about 2 minutes apart now. And the most efficient and curt member of my five doctor team was on call. We would learn later that she has the reputation for being an excellent surgeon~ and I'd have to say I agree.
From the doorway of the big spacious delivery room~ after listening to my daughter's heart rate through several contractions: she looked me straight in the face and said: "you have done all you can....I think we need to call it here. She has to be delivered". And I quietly agreed. And she checked me and I was dilated to 6 centimeters (take THAT doubting nurses!). My self affirming moment was just that: a moment.
And then all of the sudden things began happening faster than I could keep up with. The baby's heart rate dropped dramatically with each contraction...... and with each contraction her heart rate was slower to recover. That one nurse and that one doctor stood next to my bed~~~ and they exchanged a look that was NOT good. And the efficient and curt doctor said: I don't think she will survive through many more contractions. How far are you willing to go with this?"
calmly and collectively
with MORE resolve than I had ever had before or have ever had since
ALL OF THE WAY.
I DID NOT COME THIS FAR TO LOSE HER NOW.
And she said that even still~ the baby may not live. And did I want to risk surgery knowing that?
And I said: yes
And she began listing possible complications and risks for me.
And I said: I do not care.
And she held my hand and she said: I know but I have to tell you anyway.
And I said: I understand.
And consents were signed and orders given and a deluge of nurses descended upon me....and I was prepped for surgery...tubes and catheters were added...an epidural was inserted....and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and all the while that one nurse held the monitor and I could hear my daughter's heart beat.
In the middle of this chaos they asked my husband to leave the room~ and I don't know if my friend just happened to call him at that moment~~ or if he had begun making calls. But before I knew it I heard her voice outside of the delivery room~ asking to see me. And I said "please let her in" and they did. I do not think that it coincidence that she came. We prayed. She held my hand~ she said she believed that everything was going to be ok. And she helped me to believe it too. She just so happened to have her camera in her purse and had the foresight to give it to my husband.
It seemed like 30 seconds but surely it was longer than that~ and I was in the cold, sterile room of the OR staring up at the ceiling. The anesthesiologist explained that he would at least try to keep me awake until they got the baby out~ but he could not promise. And I knew that he was thinking if I did not see her in the OR, I may never see her alive. The fact that they let my husband come in gave me hope. And then we waited....the efficient and curt doctor said that she wanted the neonatologist to be present for the delivery~ said that it would be the best chance ~ so the epidural was turned up and the contractions stopped...and I could hear the steady and rhythmic beat of her heart. And I prayed.
In these sorts of situations I am not sure if it is good to have first hand knowledge of what was happening on the other side of the big blue sheet....or if it brought me more worry.
In any case~ I did know....and as soon as the neonatologist arrived they delivered my daughter into the world....their was no reassuring cry...no indication accept for the doctor telling the nurse the time of delivery and the nurse repeating the time back to her. When my husband stood up to try to see her he was quickly commanded to sit back down.
I did not know where my daughter had been taken~ but then my husband said that he could see that they were working on her in a small room adjacent to the OR....all he could see were the backs of the nurses and doctors......nothing to give hint as to what was happening.
And on the other side of the big blue sheet I could hear that things were not going well. Calm voices asking for instruments became strong commands demanding action. I could hear the tell tale signs: we need more sponges, clamp here, cautery, DAMN IT cautery, get me the Hemabate NOW. And there in the OR on a cold April night it was surreal to realize that both mine and my daughter's lives hung in the balance....and I could tell that the anesthesiologist had given me more sedation~ I wanted to say : NO, NOT YET.....but I was unable.
And then as if in slow motion the HUGE incubator holding our very tiny and LIVING daughter was wheeled up to my face. My husband~ openly sobbing now said: she is SO much bigger than William, my God she is beautiful. And just that fast the incubator was whisked away and so was my husband.
Very sleepy now~ hearing voices as if they were very far away.
The efficient and curt doctor said to the doctor who was assisting~ who's name I did not even know~ in a clipped and self assured way "I know damn it, but I am trying to save her uterus too".
And I remember thinking 2 things:
1. while it was refreshing that the efficient and curt doctor was human and used the swears when frustrated: it was alarming that she WAS frustrated.
2. I did not give a flying fuck if she saved my uterus or not~ or even if she saved me. I just wanted to scream that it did not matter.
My very last thought before going under was:
please do not worry about me or my uterus.....please dear god...please just go and save my baby.
And meanwhile in a NICU not so far away a team (a LITERAL TEAM) of doctors, nurses and technicians using all of the tools and medications available at the time~ worked feverishly to save one very tiny baby girl~
with dark hair and green eyes
weighing in at a whopping 1 pound and 6.7 ounces
measuring 11.75 inches
this miracle child of ours~ that science had helped us make and Hope had helped us keep
having gone 4 full weeks exactly without any measurable amniotic fluid
was our very own Wee Tiny Princess and her name is Faith