Thursday, February 3, 2011

ruby Tuesdays To Go Please

My pregnancy was going great. Other than having to get up six times a night to pee, I was feeling really good. I was finally starting to look pregnant. My maternity pants were still falling down, but I was proud to wear them, saggy butt and all. My baby shower was set for September 23. We had so much fun registering at Target for all the cute girly stuff.

We decided to go out to eat with my husband’s mom and her husband. After all…I had a great reason to eat what I wanted! What better place to go than Ruby Tuesdays where I could get an endless supply of ranch dressing and pumpernickel croutons! I might throw a little lettuce on there to balance the color, but the ranch dressing, croutons and a little… okay, a lot, of shredded cheese…delightful! I remember eating and not feeling too good. I excused myself and went to the restroom. I was just having some discomfort. My mother-in-law said the baby was probably moving and settling down more. It made sense. I was disappointed after making only one trip to the salad bar and still having a full plate of food, knowing I just couldn’t eat any more. What’s the point of all you can eat ranch and not being able to eat it??? Trying to be polite, I remained quiet. Towards the end of the meal I told my husband I just needed to go rest. We left and went home.

We probably got home around 9pm that Monday night. I still wasn’t feeling good and noticed I was feeling a little worse. Maybe the ranch was bad, I thought. I went to bed to lie down, but couldn’t get comfortable. I was cramping inside and just felt weird. After an hour of trying to “feel better” my husband convinced me to call my doctor and see what they recommended. I talked to the on-call nurse she told me to come to the hospital, just to be safe.

Into the car we went. My husband, who was a little panicked, somehow made a 40 minute drive last only 18 minutes. We were there in a jiffy, and I was glad. My pain was worse. Could these be contractions? Geez, I hope not. We were only 29 weeks along! We had at least 10 more weeks to go. I kept calm. Since I had never had a baby before, I didn’t know what my body was doing. We walked up to the maternity ward. I put on a gown and they hooked me up to a monitor. I was indeed having contractions, so they paged the doctor to come in to the hospital. It was probably about midnight at this point when the doctor arrived. She checked me for any dilation and looked at us and said “Eight and a half.” We looked at each other with confusion. Eight and a half what…more weeks for her to be in there? Eight and a half minutes before you come back in? Nope, I was dilated eight and a half centimeters. There was no turning back…she was coming…SOON! They gave me some meds to try to slow it down, but it didn’t work. Unfortunately the hospital we were at did not have a NICU. The doctor wouldn’t send me in the ambulance to the other hospital across town for fear I would have a preemie in the ambulance. So here we were preparing for our little, very little girl to enter the world early…too early.

They moved me to a delivery room and got it all set up. The nurse asked if I had my birthing class and if I knew what to do. Uh…no! The class was scheduled to start in a few weeks! I kept my composure. My husband by my side, the contractions came faster and stronger. I need ice chips…back pain…massage…no, fan me; I am passing out…ice again! He was awesome. I knew he was stressed, but he was so strong and helpful. Within five hours of getting to the hospital our little girl was born. There was no time for an epidural or any other meds. There was just enough time for me to call my parents and for them make the drive to the hospital to be a part of their first grandchild’s entrance to the world.

Bailee Elizabeth was born at 5:22am on September 12, 2006. She weighed just two and a half pounds. She was tiny. She was so small that we didn’t get to hold her, they just rushed her to an incubator to check her over. She was so tiny. She had ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. And then we said goodbye as they took her to the ambulance to rush her across town to the NICU. How would I even know which baby she was? We barely got to see her for five minutes and she was gone.

The doctors said she was stable and doing very well, but I was still stuck at my hospital and she was across town. I managed to get some rest, I was exhausted and stressed. My husband and her grandparents were able to go see her and brought pictures for me to see. It was so difficult seeing other people with her when I couldn’t be there myself.

I was released the next morning from the hospital. I was doing really good, but didn’t care. I was only worried about seeing Bailee. We went across town for me to see her for the second “first” time. She was in an incubator, with a NG tube for feeding and all sorts of wires and monitors on her. She was so small she didn’t even fit in the real preemie diapers. She had this tiny diaper on that looked more like a miniature maxi pad than a diaper. She was so tiny and so strong at the same time. We got to hold her for the first time. It was so special for us. She was so small and didn’t even weigh three pounds. It didn’t even feel like we were holding anything. It felt so right though. So, this is what it felt like to hold your baby for the first time. She slept quietly in our arms with the only noise around us coming from all the monitors regulating her and the other babies. We never wanted to put her down.

We only got to hold her once a day. Since she was so small she couldn’t stay warm. We were limited to 10 minutes a day, which we shared between the two of us. It was the most anticipated and joyous ten minutes of our day.

Bailee’s lungs were great and she was breathing on her own. We were relieved she was doing so well. After only a few days she was moved downstairs to the less intensive NICU. We had our little celebration for her progress. After the first week in the NICU and a lot of driving back and forth to the hospital for multiple visits each day, it was time for her first head ultrasound. With premature babies there is a high risk of complications during the birth. The vascular systems in their brains aren’t as developed and when they are born and the umbilical cord is cut, the extra blood flow through their bodies can cause bleeds in the brain. The day of her ultrasound came upon us quick, but has never really left us. It is still as clear as it was years ago. Her results came back that she had a brain bleed on the right side of her brain. The doctors labeled it as Stage IV IVH…which is Intraventricular hemorrhage. Stage IV is the most severe and means that the bleed was severe enough to go outside the ventricles and bleed into the brain. Bailee was also diagnosed with Bi-lateral PVL, or Periventricular leukomalacia. This is a term give to brain injury around the ventricles. In babies born before 32 weeks gestation, their ventricles are very fragile and PVL can result from premature birth.

The new diagnosis’ came at us fast. We really didn’t know what the doctors were telling us. Our little angel had a severe brain bleed and brain damage from being born too early? But what did this mean for her? Then her doctors told us something we had never expected to hear…“Your child has cerebral palsy.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The beginning...

It all began in March of 2006. I woke up at 2am one evening in excruciating pain. I called out to my husband from the bathroom..."I am dying in!" The pain subsided after 30 minutes or so. I went back to bed. The next morning, 2am came and so did the same pain. I was up again. I was passing out, sweating, the whole works. It too went away after 30 or 40 minutes. Night three...2am came...nothing. "Whew!" I thought to myself and went back to sleep. Then at it is again. This time my husband took me to the ER. I couldn't take it anymore. I had already had my appendix out several years ago, so it couldn't be that, but what could be causing this? It felt just like my appendicitis. Maybe they didn't really remove it years ago. Maybe they just spiffed it up a bit and sewed me back up. It could be possible, but probably wasn't the case. After hours at the hospital, blood work, the whole gammit (and some pain meds) the doctor came in. He told me that he thought I had a bad ovarian cyst and that I was also pregnant. Wow, a cyst I thought? That is a lot of pain coming from my ovary. Wait, what??? Pregnant. I was actually preggers. We hadn't been "trying" with the whole cycle calculator and all, but we both hoping for a baby. Our hopes had turned into reality.

This was our first pregnancy, so I didn't know what to expect, or how I would feel. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to pee on the stick and wait to watch it change colors...but we were very excited about having our first child. We had a few more tests and ultrasounds to confirm and were told we were already about six weeks along. Our due date was November 23, 2006.

Each week would come and go. I kept Cheez-Its by my bedside and would grab a few during the night and first thing in the morning before I even got out of bed. I signed up for prenatal yoga, which was wonderful, and felt great. My biggest concerns were that our due date was November 23...that was Thanksgiving Day! And also, as a cellist and the manager of our orchestra, when would our Fall concert be? We usually have it right before Thanksgiving, but I would be really pregnant and as the principal cellist I need to be 100%. Our answer...schedule the orchestra concert in October and have Thanksgiving the weekend before. I wasn't going to miss the concert or my turkey and stuffing!

As Spring turned to Summer, we bought our first home and moved from our apartment. We were all doing great. As my belly grew we knew it would be time to find out if we were having a boy or a girl. Ultrasound day came with great excitement...and we found out we were having a GIRL! What would we call her? Will she have a pink room? Will she even like pink? Maybe we should go neutral with the colors? No, pink it will be, and I will throw in a splash of green. The green would help her Daddy feel a little more masculine.

As we went for more routine ultrasounds the doctors noticed her ventricles in her brain were enlarged. This came as a shock to us. What did this even mean? They ran more tests. The enlargement wasn't big enough to be consider hydrocephalus, but it was something irregular that needed to be monitored. We visited the prenatal specialist on a bi-monthly basis. They were concerned about the possibility of down syndrome and other genetic problems. We had them run a few blood tests, but chose not to have an amnio. The down's test came back negative, which was great news, but we didn't know what was causing the enlargement. We went to bed every night and hoped for the best.

As the pregnancy progressed even further, her ventricles stayed a little large, but consistent. We would keep an eye on them each month. The doctors felt she was stable and we had nothing to worry about. We were so relieved...whew. What a weight lifted off us. With the stress lessening...we could focus on the fun stuff, like painting, picking out furniture and filling her closet with little girl clothes!