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Challenge: NICU Parenting

Baby Isabelle

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017- I woke up 30 weeks pregnant, ready to work the morning and go to a routine checkup in the afternoon. The appointment that would forever change my daughter’s birth story, and my outlook on life. I had a fairly normal pregnancy until May 3, with the usual symptoms that affect many pregnant women. My ankles were swollen, I had food adversions, and vomiting in the morning had become the norm. My heart skipped a beat when my doctor let me know she had concerns about my blood pressure this day. It had been completely normal until May 3, 2017. Preeclampsia was a concern- and I knew the severity.

I was instructed to leave the office and head straight to the hospital for monitoring. Just a precaution. After a few hours of monitoring, visits from the NICU team, and an admission for an overnight stay- my husband and I were in shock. Why was the NICU team prepping us? This little one has 9 weeks left to grow. I vowed to be on bedrest until July. I would have done anything to keep her inside. After 2 nights in the hospital, I begged to go home to my bed, my comfortable home. The doctors granted my wishes under strict guidelines that I needed to come back if....

This was Friday night. I went home for 2 nights- full bedrest. My blood pressure reached deadly levels by Sunday, and back to the hospital we went.

This time as a different vibe. It wasn’t “if” but when she was coming. My body started to fail me. The house for my daughter was crumbling and time was running out.

I was induced Sunday night and set to deliver by Monday night if all progressed as planned. We had 24 hours to digest and to labor.

It couldn’t have gotten worse, but we tried to be positive.

I became violently ill after the start of magnesium sulfate. An illness I’ve never experienced until this day. My body was rejecting everything. Magnesium sulfate is a life saving, life sucking drug. Necessary to my condition but the cause of hallucinations and sickness. I could do it, the next night we would meet our baby girl and I would be ok.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Morning labs proved a different outcome. My body was in failure from a life threatening complication with not nearly enough awareness - HELLP SYNDROME. My platelet levels were at 40, and I couldn’t make it through natural labor. Within minutes we were told I was going in for an emergency c section. My husband couldn’t come. I would be under general anesthesia. On my way into the OR, I know it was the end. I asked the dr if I was going to die. And remember him saying he was doing everything he could so that I wouldn’t. I remember the catheter going in, I remember them prepping my stomach... and then lights out.

I watched my surgery on the sidelines. I watched a blood transfusion. I watched a 2 pound baby be pulled from me and doctors saving me. I saw light. I was gone. Then something happened that pulled me back in. It wasn’t time for me to go yet. I had a little girl fighting for her life that needed a mommy, my husband needed his wife, my mom needed her daughter. I was pulled back in. Some time later I woke up in recovery and remember my husbands face. I was still on magnesium. All I could do was ask if I was still alive. I was in shock.

My husband showed me pictures of the most perfect baby girl I have ever seen. The tiniest baby I had ever seen. Isabelle was born at 2 pounds 13 oz. I was not able to meet her for a few days later until my body was stabilized. It was torture. She was my reason for fighting- I worked so hard and finally met her 2 days later.

For the next 6 weeks the NICU became our home. Her grandparents, uncles and friends learned to visit sweet Isabelle there and help us talk to her and create a calming environment for growth. Oddly enough, it was the most relaxing place amid the terrifying alarms and other’s heartbreak. My favorite time was 10pm when it was quiet and calm.

I watched my tiny miracle fight for her life, and exceed everyone’s expectations. I knew she was special from the day I met her. She wasn’t going to give up this fight. She soon became known to have a bit of a personality inside that incubator.

6 weeks of tears, milestones, vulnerability- and we were free. We were released from a hospital. Released from the heart and breathing monitors. For the first time we could carry our baby around without wires. My heart broke, and still breaks, for the babies and their parents that didn’t have the good news we had every day. Some babies never make it past the walls on their incubator, and some don’t make it home. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of this time in our lives. Of Isabelle’s start. It has forever changed us- I will never take a single breath for granted. Things can change quickly, and you have no control over destiny.

Baby Isabelle just turned 6 months old. Our only connection with the NICU now are her development follow ups. In a way, I miss the friendly loving faces every day, and I miss the calm and serenity that the NICU provided. I miss the most special people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet- nicu nurses and doctors.

Back to the hustle and bustle of everyday isn’t a bad thing, but it did get me to stop and look around for awhile.

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