In honor of National Prematurity Awareness Day and in celebration of Emma Claire's FOURTH birthday I've decided to post her birth story. I wrote this on Emma Claire's first birthday three years ago. There are probably many typos, but I just don't have time to go through and make sure everything is perfect. Thanks for reading Emma Claire's story. Enjoy!
We decided one day near the end of February 2006 that we were ready to have another baby. We had decided after Olivia that we would wait until Scotty was out of school, but after things seemed to really be falling into place with him going to grad school at John Brown, we decided that we should just see what happened. It only took ONE month! I found out I was pregnant on April 1st. An overly used April fools joke, I was sure my family would NOT believe me. They didn't. It took actually seeing me in person for them to believe that it was indeed true. I was working at Maumelle First Baptist as the Administrative Assistant while Scotty was staying home with Olivia and finishing up his undergrad at Central Baptist College in Conway. It was great timing, as I was planning on leaving work when Scotty went to grad school to stay home with Livi. The baby was due the first part of December(The fourth, I think.). SO, we moved in late April to where we are currently and I began a VERY rough pregnancy. I was SOOO sick. I had morning, afternoon, AND night sickness. It was constant! I also started having some minor contractions at about 13 weeks that continued throughout my pregnancy. I loved being pregnant while I had a learning toddler at home. It gave me so much time to talk to her about the life that God had given to me that was growing inside me. We took Olivia to nearly every visit so that she could hear "Lil' Smittle's" heartbeat. She LOVED telling people that momma was going to have a baby. We had decided if it was a boy his name would be Griffin(A family name on my side) Robert(Scotty's first name-family name), and if it was a girl we had narrowed it down to Greyston Cate, Emilyn Elisabeth, or Emma Claire. When we found out she was a girl we were so excited. I was glad that Olivia would have a baby sister to play with and we had PLENTY of girl things already in our house!
Emma Claire at 26 weeks(I think)
I lost so much weight at the beginning of my pregnancy, that by close to the end I had only gained about 10 pounds. I was HUGE though. People laughed when I would tell them how far along I was. They thought I was lying. They would ask if I was having twins. When I said no they would just say sorry. What's that supposed to mean??=)
Me at about 34 weeks
When I went in at 34 weeks my doctor checked me to see if I had progressed any with the contractions that I had been having. I was already dilated to 2cm and about 20% effaced. The doctor didn't seem to worried and told me to simply take it easy. I did indeed. Well, as much as a mother with a toddler can! We had a busy Halloween, and that whole next week I kept thinking I was feeling like I was about to have the baby! I kept having pretty strong contractions off and on. When I went in to the doctor she decided that she wasn't going to check me. I have no idea why not, but whatever! Anyway, that next Friday I woke up feeling GREAT! I decided that I probably wasn't going to feel this good again before Emma Claire came(the name we had finally decided on.), so I started cleaning the house. I realize now that I was NESTING BIG TIME!! Anyway, I ended up getting the house in great shape, and deciding to go ahead an clean the carpets while I was at it. I really wanted to get this done before we had a little baby laying around on the dirty floor. ANYWAY, I ended up going ahead and putting up a lot of Christmas decor too, seeing as I was going to be having a baby the first part of December and I wouldn't feel like doing it then. At about midnight I stopped and realized that I was having contractions. Ahh. They would stop...They didn't.
At 4AM they were about 2 minutes apart, so I woke Scotty up and we called his grandparents to come stay with Liv until the morning. My contractions were like clockwork every two minutes. Not hard. Just constant. I got hooked up to everything and they decided that we were probably going to have a baby that afternoon or evening. We called my momma at about 6, as she was three hours away to go ahead and come. My last delivery was pretty quick, so we wanted to get her there in time!=) Anyway, after they got EmC's monitor hooked up they realized she they weren't finding a difference in her heart rate. They said that it should fluctuate and hers wasn't. Eventually they got a little variance, but they watched it very closely. I was doing great. Not in too much pain. At about 8 I got moved over to a delivery room and they broke my water at about 9. I was dilated to 6cm. I went ahead and got my epi a few minutes after they broke my water, because I didn't want to be in a lot of pain when I was ready to push. THIS WAS THE WORST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE!! The angel came to the room and started my epi. As she was getting it ready she was going over all the things that she has to say. At one point she said, "...and there is a risk that I can pull back spinal fluid which will cause you to have a severe headache..." At that moment I felt a rush of pain like I have never felt before. It shot down all the way to my feet and back. I don't know if it was her or a contraction, but either way, she did indeed pull back spinal fluid. She was so sorry and I, at the time, didn't think it was that big of a deal. I laid back and prepared to wait.
I actually took this picture while Scotty cut the cord!
We were so excited, because she LOOKED so great! When Olivia was born she was almost black because she wasn't breathing. She never cried and I was SO terrified! With Emma Claire it was totally different. She was SCREAMING from the time they got her out until they took her to the nursery. We thought things were so much better than the first time. We were wrong. After she had been in the nursery for about thirty minutes I started to worry. They were just going to take her to get cleaned up and really checked out and she didn't come back. Scotty had gone with her, so I knew if there was something wrong he would come tell me. Eventually he did. It appeared that Emma Claire wasn't breathing properly. She wasn't really taking breaths. They had her on full oxygen and that still wasn't enough. They wanted me to come see her. I was so sad for my pretty girl!
My first peek of Emma Claire in the nursery.
Our family! This was before we knew there was anything going on.
Sometime during the night I started hallucinating and ended up getting NO rest AT ALL. It seemed I was having a reaction to the meds they had given me. When I did finally rest I woke up with-you guessed it-the spinal headache! I kept thinking, OK GOD! Can't you give me a tiny break. I'm here without my baby and husband. Can't you just give me a tiny break. Finally, after advising with my doctor we decided to do a procedure called a blood patch. This was more painful than birthing two children. I will NEVER have another epi or any other form of ANYTHING in my spine! They inserted something with a needle into my back, then after telling me that if I moved I could be paralyzed they poked another HUGE needle into my arm and pulled out what could only be ten gallons of blood. They then inserted the blood from my arm into my spine "patching" the hole that the original anesthesiologist made in my spine or spinal fluid or whatever. I don't know. Anyway, they made my headache feel better QUICK. Now I had to lay FLAT on my back for at least an hour. After an hour I could leave if I was ready. This began the countdown to the longest hour of my life. After an hour I got up to the worst BACK pain of my life. I probably shouldn't have gotten ready to leave, because I was in SO much pain. I seriously still feel severe back pain. I don't know if it's normal, but I'll never know, because I'll never let anyone else ever look at my spine, EVER!!
Now came what ended up being the worst part of my end of things. It was still just me and mom at the hospital. I was being discharged and the nurse from the nursery came in with a hospital certificate and all the paperwork that they needed for EmC. She gave me the ink pads for her footprints and hand prints and told me I'd have to do it at home, because they didn't get a chance to do it in the hospital. They gave me her little cap and shirt and bands and things and told me all the things that I would need to do to care for my newborn. At this time I didn't even know if I was going to have a newborn to care for. I sat there and bawled the whole time. Momma had to help me fill out the paperwork, because I could remember things like my social or address. I was so embarrassed. The dang nurse kept rubbing my hand and saying, "This too will pass, Darlin'" I wanted to smack her! How did she know that??
Then, the time came to be wheeled out. It hit me HARD that I didn't have anything. No flowers-except for some that Ash brought(thanks Ashley), no gifts, no "it's a girl" balloons, and worst of all-NO baby. I covered my face and cried. I could see people feeling sorry for me as my mom and the nurse pushed me through the halls. There were families laughing and talking about who their babies looked like and when they were going home and I was thinking to myself that I didn't even remember what my baby looked like at all. (I know that to some of you have been at this place and understand completely. God has used so many people in my life that understand that. Thank you for being open. You know who you are.) My mom put me into her car and we drove straight to the hospital.
I was so nervous I couldn't even remember my name when I buzzed into the NICU. I was shaking from pain, exhaustion, and adrenaline. I couldn't wait to see Emma Claire. I had to scrub my hands for what seemed like eternity. It was really only three minutes, but I watched those seconds tick and thought I'd never get finished. A nice nurse met me in the hall to kind of prepare me for what I would see. She was the same nurse that had been part of the transport team. She insisted that they get me a chair. I think she could see that I was in pain and I was tired.
I turned the corner and saw Scotty next to a baby in a tiny bed. Surely this wasn't MY baby. This baby was tiny and so puffy and there were so many tubes. She was laying spread eagle with a HUGE tube coming out of her mouth. Her little chest heaving with every breath that a machine was making for her. I just crumbled! I was so weak. Scotty came and got me over to the bed to see her. He asked the nurse if I could talk to Emma Claire and she said yes and even showed me how to "properly touch" my child so I wouldn't stimulate her. I know that I probably was like any mother seeing her child in the NICU for the first time, but I felt so stupid. I wanted to know what every tube was and why it was there. I wanted to know if she was going to live and if they could prove that to me. I kept saying BUT DO YOU KNOW SHE WILL LIVE!! I was so doubtful. So selfish. At the time I was only thinking of myself. That the ONLY way for this to be right was for her to live.
This is what I saw the first time I saw her.
I stayed as long as they would let me. I just sat there and looked at her. I still had NO security that she was going to live and THAT was when it hit me. Maybe she won't. It was like God hit me in the face with those words. I started to sob, thinking about the fact that I may never get to hold her, or teach her songs, or let Olivia sing Happy Birthday to her(that was something that Olivia wanted to do on the day she was born). I cried and cried and cried. I kept feeling so guilty. I felt like I had failed Emma Claire. I was SO ready to not be pregnant, but I kept thinking that if I had carried her just a few more days or if I had done something different while I was pregnant. I just kept thinking it HAD to be someone's fault and because there was no one else to blame I blamed myself. I knew that I couldn't live my life if she died. I KNEW I couldn't handle it. That's when I felt God telling me that I wouldn't have to. He would be the ONLY thing that could get me through this no matter what the outcome. And the GREAT thing that I realized that first night I sat and watched my sick baby was that God WOULD get me through this. He had NEVER let me down. There WAS a reason this was going on and HE WAS going to be glorified in this. Now, I'm not saying that at that moment I was fine and from then on I had no doubts. FAR from the truth. I doubted God so much that at times I knew for certain that Emma Claire would never come home and I wanted to kill myself. BUT! At the end of the day, while I lay in my bed and prayed that God would let me raise Emma Claire, I knew that NO MATTER WHAT, He would be praised.
Emma Claire on her worst day, which was the day after I got home from the hospital.
By day three the doctors had ruled out all other illnesses with EmC and decided that she was born with RDS(respiratory distress syndrome). The doctor said that her chest X-ray looked like that of a 34-35 week baby. They were worried that she might get pneumonia because of her not being able to breathe properly. They had given her a shot of surfactant(a chemical that most infants are born with that helps the lungs expand) upon arriving at the hospital, and because she still wasn't doing as great as they wanted her to be they had to give her another. She was retaining water BIG time and had gained about half a pound of fluid which wasn't good. The doctor told me that it was strange to him, because she was SOOO much bigger than all the other babies in the NICU, but that she was one of the sickest when you consider the fact that she was one of the only ones on a ventilator. He told me not to be worried about the vent. He said if she was a younger baby(gestation wise) they would be more concerned about it, but because she was older that it was fine for her to be on it for several days. And she was.
For the next days nothing changed too much. I finally talked Scotty into coming home with me, as we realized this may be a bit longer hospital stay than we first thought. We continued to be at the hospital as much as possible. My mom stayed with us and did EVERYTHING for us. She kept Livi, prepared meals that people from our church brought, got groceries we needed, cleaned my breast pump, washed our laundry. She was our angel. She would do whatever we asked. No questions asked. She brought Liv up to the hospital at least once every day so that she could see sister. I was worried that Olivia would think that Emma Claire was going to stay at the hospital forever, so I wanted to keep her as in the know as I could. We were always asking her what she wanted to do with sister when she came home. What songs she wanted to sing to her and what she wanted to teach her to do. It worked out well and Livi loved coming to look at "Baby MmmClllaaaaire."
Olivia doing a cheese for some of the nurses. They called her the little princess.
Emma Claire the first time we saw her on the C-PAP after she was taken off the vent.
Emma Claire on the C-PAP
The first time I held Emma Claire
Baby Connor in HIS NICU days and NOW!
Emma Claire ready to get out of the NICU nursery!
Emma Claire sleeping in "our" room at the hospital.
Emma Claire "glad" to be home!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Last night we were having light hearted talk around the dinner table whilst enjoying grilled cheese and tomato soup(one of our favorite fall foods). At some point I said, "Oh Thank you dear, you make my heart beat!" to the manly man. The girls all thought this was the most hysterical thing they'd ever heard for whatever reason. I said, "Well, what makes YOUR heart beat?" These are the responses.
Addison:"I don't know."
Addison:"I don't know."