Friday, April 27, 2012

Finding Out Our Little Miracle Was a He!!

So, as you all know when we announced our pregnancy, we were not going to find out the sex of our baby. There was a good chance this would be our last baby (as I wanted three children but Eric wanted two), and I wanted it to be a surprise, as Hannah was. I figured after all the hard work getting her to us, I wanted that moment at the end, when we found out what was growing inside me. It was a special moment. A proud moment, and I didn't want anything to ruin that anticipation that you feel in not knowing. There are very few true surprises in life, and in my case, we would know his/her delivery date, as I knew I would be having a c-section. So, we decided to have baby #2 be a surprise as well.

However, shortly after my water broke, my feelings started to change. I still longed for that "dream" delivery. But we knew that that was not going to happen. There was no way the Dr's were going to let me go past 36 weeks gestation, and we never really knew what we would be looking at if he/she was born at that point. All we knew, was that I had to have a c-section - due to my allergy to pain medication and anesthesia, and my dysautonomia. The Dr's did not want me passing out during delivery leaving the baby in a compromised position, when they were very limited as to what type of anesthetic they could use. And they certainly did not want to administer that anesthetic when my blood pressure was in the tank. So, we were for sure on board for a c-section (provided I wasn't silently dilating and showing up in the delivery room with his/her head already popping out - in which case they would suction him/her out to spare us the trauma of a crash c-section). So, having a c-section for me meant being sectioned under general anesthetic = me being completely out and Eric not being allowed in the room. It also meant hours of recovery post c-section during which I would not be with my child, and would likely still be under anesthetic, or waiting for it to wear off. Well, a lot could happen in those hours. Like my child could die. I could miss out on ever meeting him/her alive. I could hear those words that i was looking forward to hearing from the moment we found out we were pregnant. "It's a Boy! It's a girl!" Instead, the words I may have heard could have been "It was a boy! It was a girl!". These words began to haunt me. I had difficulty sleeping. I would wake up in a sweat paranoid that it wasn't just a dream. I had soo much fear that I would never get to know this little one growing inside me. Each time I went for an ultrasound I toyed with the idea of finding out and putting those fears to rest. I just wasn't ready to give up my dream. To admit that this whole thing was really real. Despite the fact that I was in the hospital, hooked up to monitors, whose job was to determine that my child was still safe. His life was dependent on those wires hooked up to my belly. I loved and hated those wires. They were my peace of mind that drove me out of my mind. I focused on the numbers on that monitor. I thrived on the heart beat emanating from the machine. I would often fall asleep to his heart beat, inadvertently, but I had my best sleep then, ironically enough.

Finally, enough was enough. I was tired of all this unknown. I got to worry about when this baby would come? Would he/she be able to breathe? Would we make it through the NICU? Would he/she have any of the long term things he was at risk for? Would we make it through? I was tired and scared. And tired of being tired and scared. I needed to feel like this was in my control. Soo, much was out of my control, and beyond my means. I had been robbed of soo much. I wasn't able to be at home enjoying my pregnancy, potentially my last. This pregnancy was supposed to be the relaxed one. That's a joke! I needed to turn this around for myself, and control the things I could. instead of living in fear, I needed to take the time to properly celebrate the miracle of this baby. No matter when my delivery ended up being, it wasn't going to be that dream delivery. It would be filled with anxiety and fear. We would not get to hold our child and gush over him/her. He/she would be promptly whisked away by the NICU, by the time we would see him he would be in an isolette. Our moment would be lost. So, I decided to take it back, at least a portion of it.

I already knew Eric wanted to know the sex of the baby. I was the one who hadn't. So I asked my Dr's what the babies sex was, and they surprisingly enough did not know. You would think after nearly daily ultrasounds they would have that part figured out. I was planning to find out and to give Eric a card at Christmas revealing the sex of our child. But the Dr's didn't know, but they could find out, and they could do better they said. So, after reviewing all the files of ultrasound pictures I had done, none of them revealed the sex. And there was a chance that the Dr's wouldn't be able to determine gender due to the lack of fluid. But one of my Dr's, one of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr's that I saw on the very first day I was admitted and pretty much every day after that admission, came to my room with an ultrasound machine and a bunch of students, and informed me that we were going to do a scan and determine what this baby was. It was the day before Christmas Eve. I had pretty much given up the idea of finding out in time. But she had a plan all along. An amazingly special plan. She performed the ultrasound, and it was one of the most informative ultrasounds I had ever had, she went over every inch of my baby, explaining what she was seeing. Until she got to the gender reveal. She turned the screen away from me. She was going to keep it a surprise for the both of us to open on Christmas morning. It was soo special. She printed the picture determining the gender and put it in a sealed envelope for both of us to open on Christmas. She came and checked on that envelope several times before my Christmas leave of absence.

So, on Christmas morning I woke my husband up before anyone else was up, and gave his the card. The two of us were both soo shocked when we opened that envelope and it said "this looks like boy parts". It looked like a foot to me. But we were elated. One girl, one boy. Our family was complete. We just needed to make it to the finish line. It was soo special and nice to have that little piece of information just between the two of us. It gave us something to focus on. Our dream wasn't stolen, just diverted. Every week I remained pregnant I celebrated by ordering something for the babies room. It was a decision I have never regretted, but one I spent soo much time wondering if I would regret. I do not regret. It calmed my fears, composed focus for me.

That is how we found out that our miracle was a "he".


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Journey to Brandon

I decided to start off his birth story with the pre-birth story story. Yes, this complicated little boy, had soo many "almost" birth stories, I feel they should be included in the actual birth story. As you all know, my water broke at 21 weeks 2 days (and if you dont you can read all about that terrible day here). I was hospitalized at that point for 5 days and given the option to go home until I reached 24 weeks. The rationale for sending me home vs keeping me in the hospital is that, in Canada (and most other places), a baby is not considered viable until 24 weeks, so until that point no medical intervention would be attempted (even if I asked for it). The Dr's that I had (following my admission - the admitting Dr was horrible), felt as though if I made it to 24 weeks (and they sure used the word if A LOT - too much for my liking), then I would be admitted until I gave birth, and they knew what a long haul that would be, especially since I already had a child at home. So, once I established my new (terrifying), normal, I decided to go home for that almost two weeks, and soak up life with my daughter. Try to delight in the little things. Which was easy to do, as she can be all encompassing, and I could briefly forget about the "situation" I was in. However, when she went to bed, or when I realized how limited I was (physically - as I was on complete bedrest) and how limited my time with her was about to become, I was devastated. This devastation, soon turned to guilt, once I realized how lucky I was to still be pregnant, as soo many moms-to-be, whose water breaks prematurely, do go on to deliver within 24-48 hrs, my missing my family and lifestyle were a very small price to pay for still being pregnant.

I was readmitted to the hospital on December 4th, and promptly started on IV antibiotics (which I hated - and every nurse and Dr in the joint knew it). I have a rational reason for hating IV's though you see, I suffered from an IV injury my whole life. One that I received when I was born. The Dr's severed the tendon in my left hand at birth with an IV. And to this day I have very limited use of my left hand. So, it's not that they hurt, it's programmed in me now to have an adverse reaction. For the first month in the hospital, I was granted leave of absences for day trips to go home and be with my family in my home. It was a wonderful getaway. My life consisted at that point of weekly ultrasound, daily NST, and Monday, Wednesday, Friday visits with my sweet little family. I filled the time in between, meeting other mom's who were also on Antenatal, and also away from their families. I longed for my weekends at home, to be around my family, eat real home cooked food. It was as wonderful as it could be. Little did I know my last trip home would be on Christmas Eve. We made the most of it, mainly just because it was Christmas, but we had no idea it would be the last time I would see the inside of my home until March 8th, 2012, the day we finally brought Brandon home from the hospital.

New Years weekend, Eric had stayed over night at the hospital with me and we were going to go pick up Hannah and mom and head home for the night, all I had to do was my regular NST (non - stress test - where they monitor babies heart rate for a minimum of 10 mins to check for decelerations or accelerations - signs of distress). I was all hooked up the machine, and Brandon's heart rate, was much higher then it usually was. That was slightly alarming to me, as I had not yet eaten breakfast, and usually a higher heart rate was associated with movement, and usually occurs after I had eaten something. However, baby boy was not moving around like crazy, which he should have been to have his baseline heart rate 180's, when he usually sat around 145 bpm with movement. Forty minutes later, his heart rate was still elevated, and the nurse I had (whom was not one of my regular nurses - but was just training on antenatal) was not concerned in the least. She told me not to worry that was her job and if she wasn't worrying I shouldn't either. Well, I was worried. I knew something wasn't right. Upon returning to my room, all approved to go home, despite my concerns, I stopped in the washroom to pee and discovered the problem. I was bleeding, like bright red bleeding (sorry about the tmi). I promptly called for the nurses (nothing like 4 nurses coming into the washroom to examine the situation happening), who came and called my OB who decided maybe I shouldn't go home. Umm you think? There was no way I was going anywhere, well anywhere but labour and delivery that is, to be monitored one on one, as the bleeding turned into contractions (every 2 minutes for hours on end). I was monitored all day and well into the night on 9 different occasions between December 31st and January 25th. Every trip down to labour and delivery reminded me why I was there. And each time I returned to my room after an exhausting day of contractions and bleeding was victorious for me. I celebrated each day I was still pregnant. When I went from 29-30 weeks, and was on my way back to my room from a particularly hairy day down the delivery room, which included massive amounts of blood loss, soo much so we were pretty sure he was going to be born that day, the Dr's even checked my cervix, (which is a big no-no with pprom), when I was wheeled out of the delivery room and back to my antenatal room, they let me erase my own name off the board while they applauded. I had a great group of people pulling for me. It was such a juxtaposition, usually you go to the delivery room to have a baby and everyone's anticipating the moment that sweet baby makes its grand entrance. All the pains of labour, and exhaustion settles out to a calming sense of we did it, he/she's finally here. In my case, that same feeling was broadcast when I was still pregnant. Except the relaxation never came. We knew that despite the fact I was returning to my room, it was temporary. There would be a next time and maybe I wouldn't be so lucky. Maybe we wouldn't be soo lucky. But that little boy in there was strong and steady throughout. He never went into distress until the very end. He kept the nurses on their toes, and the Dr's reassured. I had more ultrasounds then I could even count. And after he was born I had all these Dr's and all these nurses rallying behind me through his NICU stay. The ultrasound technicians came and sat with me, the nurses had lunch with me while I was breaking from the NICU. Most importantly, I never felt alone. I knew I had people, I knew Brandon had people, and I knew all of these people were looking out for our best interests. There are no words to express the gratitude I feel for these people. Some of them are my family, and some of them became my family. The people you knew who would be just as thrilled as you were that your son gained 30 grams in one day. The people who would pick you up after a day when you watched your son stop breathing over and over again. They reminded me everything I went through, and how strong I am, never how strong I was (despite the fact I was feeling much less then strong - I was so helpless to this sweet little boy). I was not even able to touch him, but I knew the nurses that were touching him were doing so with as much care as I would be able to muster, but with the skill I could not even begin to comprehend. His journey was a long, terrifying one, but it has humbled me to such a great deal. Every single day was a miracle for a whole new reason. Everyday a milestone was achieved was a huge relief. Yes we had setbacks, and those days were the hardest. It was hard to remember all the good things we had going when you're sons alarms are reminding you of how far you have yet to go. It seemed some days there was no end in sight, and we didn't know what that end would look like. I'm not sure we even do now. But this is our new normal. And it is a gift. I will blog a lot more about our NICU stay, and the things we saw there, the little hero's and the heart break. The unimaginable heart break.

So thank you to everyone who rallied with me and kept me, kept us going strong. Reminded me of what was important, and that I was not alone. I appreciated it more then I believe I will ever comprehend.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Introducing Our Teeny Tiny Miracle!!

He's here!! And he's healthy!! And we couldn't possibly love him more!! I have soo much to share with you guys, but bear with me as I trudge my way through being a mother to two children, one whom is a preemie, and trying to make myself comfortable in my home. I have been a bad bad blogger, but I will try to do better.

Now back to the big introduction. Brandon made him grand entrance into this world, rather abruptly on January 25th 2012!! We managed to hold out until 31 weeks, 3 days, and he was soo much better because of it. Most importantly, he came out screaming. Screaming was good, excellent really, screaming = ability to breath!! A huge, huge, HUGE milestone, and a huge sigh of relief swept over that OR I'm sure. We all anticipated the day that Brandon would be safer on the outside then on the inside. Probably no more more then me, but we had a ton of people pulling for us. Great family, friends, Dr's and nurses, who all wondered when it would be game over, and what exactly that would look like. No one could give us a clear picture of what his life would look like outside the womb. We had several consultations with the NICU team, and various Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr's, but no one could tell me what I longed to hear. My mantra if you will, "It will be ok". That's all I needed to hear, Instead I got statistics on rates of survival, which at first seemed VERY bleak, but improved slightly each week. But our situation was such a delicate one. A balance if you will. We walked the line on so many fronts. Because my water broke soo prematurely (21 weeks 2 days if you recall that post), there was no telling if he would ever be able to breathe outside the womb. There was a chance that his very first breath would be his last, as it would collapse his lungs and essentially there would be no intervention that could prevent or predict this. It was terrifying the day he had to be delivered, because, it really was where the rubber meets the road for him, and I was not ready. I was ready for the nightmare to be over, but not at the cost of my sons life. And if being pregnant forever, and strapping myself to that bed for all eternity meant that he would live, I would have done it in a heart beat. unfortunately, my uterus failed us both, and called trump. My placenta abrupted, sending a tizzy of Dr's to my side, machines hooked up to me, and just like that Brandon was being delivered via emergency c-section. He weighed in at 3lbs 14 ounces, and was 15"long. One teeny tiny baby with more fight in him then I could ever imagine.

Brandon, on his birthday, photo credit to my sister Ashley Vance
Top photo taken right after delivery, and second photo taken a few hours later.

 I'll post about all the details later, as it was a pretty scary day. But I just wanted to take this time to appreciate all my readers that prayed for me, and with me, and let you know that in the end , everything is ok. We are home and together as a family, and doting on our little boy, watching his big sister interact with him. Until next time...