Ina Mae has to wear sunglasses because her future is so bright.
Bilirubin is our current enemy. Right now, she is doing a wonderful job of kicking its butt.
If you missed Part One, here it is. We left off when the doc was telling me I would meet my daughter within minutes. The next thing I heard was,
This scared me. I knew that if she stooled in utero, things could get complicated. However, I didn't get a chance to worry about that, because soon later I heard, "Oh look at all that hair! That's why you had heart burn," followed shortly by, "i can't get her out" and then "where did she go?"
Although I don't remember the exact words that followed between the doc, midwife, and assistants, I do remember the sound of worry in their voice and how tense their words were. However, soon they were saying, "here she is. I got her."
Throughout this time although I could not feel the pain, I felt forceful tugging. I felt like my body was being pulled in every possible direction. There was a huge lift of pressure as they pulled her out. The doc said, "there's the problem - the cord was wrapped around her!" (This ended up not being the problem, just an extra layer of complication)
Before the surgery they told me that they would show her to me as soon as they took her out, but they didn't. Instead they took her straight to a corner that I couldn't see where a NICU team was waiting. I did hear her cry for a few seconds. That was the only sound she made the first few hours of her life and it was beautiful.
I cannot explain how happy I was that I heard her cry, but I knew there was still something wrong, or else they would have showed her to me. After Dan and I kissed I told him to go find out what was going on with her. He walked over there and didn't come back for a long time.
I couldn't hear much, but I did hear, "wow, she is awfully pale." Then Dan asked, "why is she so white?" Then silence.
After a few minutes I heard Dan mutter, "come on girl. Come on girl." During this huge lull in activity (on my end of things - Dan and Ina Mae were catching all the action) the OBGYN and midwife were sewing me up and kept on telling me, "they will give us an update soon." But, there was never an update.
I was stuck, completely powerless, knowing my baby was so close and it was not good. I knew that freaking out would not help anything so I just tried to breath. Eventually I started crying - my mind and emotions were all over the place.
Finally, after about 10 minutes, they wheeled a NICU warmer by me surrounded by people and I caught a glimpse of her, my beautiful baby girl. She was beyond pale - she looked like a ghost, like a porcelain doll. To be honest, she looked dead.
Dan was following her. He stopped to tell me that they thought she was low on blood and they were going to give her a blood transfusion. I told him to go with her and after a quick kiss, I was in the room with just the midwife and doc.
They were so nice and they tried to distract me, asked me questions about Dan, about my job, about my house. I answered them, half crying, half under control. The nurse asked if I wanted some anxiety medication, but I didn't. I wanted to be alert.
Then Dan walked back into the room. I asked him how she was doing and he said, "not good." That was when Dan, who had taken everything so well so far, crumbled. Once he started crying he couldn't stop. For some reason, my mind didn't jump to the worst conclusion. I couldn't think that. If the unthinkable had happened, I don't think I would have accepted it. Instead I found myself comforting him, telling him it was going to be fine - there was no other acceptable outcome.
Dan eventually calmed down and tried to be playful with me by putting my cap over my face.
Eventually the neonatalogist came in the room and explained the situation. I don't remember much except that she was extremely anemic and that they were going to give her a blood transfusion. The conversation was serious, but she seemed hopeful.
They wheeled me back to my room, where my mom and sister were waiting. Again, I tried to be positive, but I was scared. I remember telling them that she looked beautiful, because she did, like a porcelain doll.
Because I had just had surgery, I had to stay in recovery for 2 hours. That meant that I couldn't go see my daughter for two hours. Dan was able to go after 15 minutes and we got updates over the phone every once in a while. However, the updates didn't have much detail. She was receiving the blood transfusion. She was breathing. She was alive.
Our family and friends were starting to arrive - my sister had called them while I was in surgery. I didn't know what to say to people as they came in the room. I tried to tell them the story so far - why I came in, Ina Mae's status, etc. but I didn't know much. At the same time, I was going in and out of crying phases and I was shaking like a mad woman.
After what seemed like days, they finally wheeled me up to the NICU. I was still numb, still lying in bed. They put me next to her and this is what I saw:
This was after one transfusion - she was even more pale than that. Dan was sitting next to her and he seemed good. I could hear the pride in his voice when he told me that she was fighting like crazy.
I was able to stay for about 10 minutes before there was a problem with my IV line and I had to go back downstairs. But that 10 minutes was enough. It was enough to assure me that my baby was OK. Although, I don't think I needed that reassurance - I already knew that she was eventually going to be fine, or maybe I wasn't willing to accept the alternative.
Fast forward to five days later and this little girl is kicking butt and taking names.
We found out that we had a fetomaternal hemmorage of unknown origin. Basiclaly, this means that her blood was leaking into the placenta and then into my body. It was a slow leak - one that had been happening for weeks. Her body had been trying to compensate, but it wasn't working anymore. Many of these cases result in fetal demise.
The neonatal nurse practitioner told us the next day that if we had waited even 8 more hours that we would be having a totally different conversation. Ina Mae was very close to going into heart failure, because her heart was working so hard to pump what little hemoglobin / oxygen she had to supply her entire body.
The neonatologist said we dodged a very dangerous bullet. I am so happy that I listened to my body and that Dan was supportive in checking things out. I am so thankful the midwife decided to keep me in for monitoring and that the OGYN was so forceful in insisting on an immediate C-section. Every time I see one of the NICU team memebers who was in the delivery room, who made the fast thinking actions and decisions that led to Ina Mae's recovey I cannot stop telling them how awesome they are and how thankful I am.
We could have easily thought that she was just getting bigger and didn't have enough room to move and stayed home and watched football on Sunday. The midwife could have easily sent me home. We could have tried to induce labor. We could have decided go deliver at a hospital that didn't have a NICU. So many things could have gone differently, but they didn't - they went perfectly.
This little girl is meant to be here.
After two blood transfusions she pinked right up. Her hematocrit (needs to be above 40) went from 13 to 27, to 35, to 45! Since then, she has been fighting like a champ.
On Day 2 they removed the CPAP and she started nursing. However, she was still receiving IV nutrition and antibiotics.
On Day 3 they removed the IV line, but she still had an NG tube (from her nose down her throat to her stomach).
The doctors were threatening supplementing with formula because they didn't think my milk would be enough. For the the next 24 hours Dan and I focused on nothing but feeding her. I either pumped or nursed every 1.5 hours - I pumped even with nothing came out.
On Day 4 she pulled out her NG tube. Good girl. My milk came in. She nursed like a pro. We put her in her first outfit. We found out she was jaundice, but not too bad. Apparently, having two blood transfusions pretty much guarantees you a few days under the lights because red blood cells breaking down increases bilirubin build up.
Today is Day 5. Everything is going wonderfully. I am being discharged today, but plan to board in a room in the hospital until little miss can leave too.
I have so many other things I want to tell you. What her cry sounds like. The smile I see in her eyes. How much I love watching Dan become a dad. How I did not know that life could be this good, that I could be this happy.
I could write a book. Maybe I will, but that won't start until tomorrow...