Earn money with Cash Crate

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday to Ashleigh!

Today my baby turned 4 years old! We have come a long way with her. All my children's births are miracles to me, but hers is particularly special because she was a 4 pound, half-an-oz. preemie born at the beginning of RSV season. After 11 days in the NICU at Nashville, Ashleigh was finally able to breathe regularly on her own and able to come home with us. This was November 1. She had been born after labor induction at 34 weeks (due to my having severe pre-eclampsia, making my blood pressure shoot so high I was at stroke level).

It was a traumatic birth from the get-go. I knew something was wrong before I even went for my doctor's appointment. Although I had been faithfully power walking 2 miles a day, was eating a diabetic diet due to having gestational diabetes, and was healthier in that pregnancy than I'd ever been, I just began to feel instinctively that I wouldn't be coming home from my appointment. I had felt her "drop" the week before and there had been this tremendous feeling of pressure in my pelvis. I also had begun the tell-tell swelling that I had experienced in my first pregnancy, the kind that continues no matter how much bed rest you take. I packed my son's bags that day, thinking I might be put in our local hospital to be monitored and then sent home on bed rest. My biggest concern was how I would care for an 8 year old and 4 year old and homeschool if I were put on bed rest for a month or so. How little did I know....

Upon examination, it was determined I was most certainly in danger. But there was no local hospital or bed rest at home. I was hastily told to go to our local hospital and check in; from there I would be driven by ambulance to a larger hospital in Nashville that had a wonderful NICU. Talk about panic! I am definitely an admitted control freak of sorts; this was completely 100% out of my control! I think if my blood pressure was high to begin with, this announcement could've killed me. I was whisked away before I barely had time to tell my family goodbye.

Two hours later I was in a new hospital hooked to wires and monitors with no freedom to move. I stayed on my left side all night long and labor began the next day, oddly enough, on October 13. My boys had been born on November 13 and December 13, and many people had jokingly said wouldn't it be strange if all my kids were born on the 13th. We were about to fulfill that prediction.

Labor was intense. I have had two inductions and one naturally timed birth and even though the natural was a 10+ pounder, the two inductions have hit harder, faster, and agonizingly more painful compared to his birth.

Labor was going well until I was told to roll onto my left side again after being checked. I felt the weirdest sensation, as if my insides were actually sliding apart. I told the nurse and my husband that something didn't feel right and no sooner had I said that than monitors started flashing. I have never seen people move so fast. It turns out my baby's umbilical cord was being delivered first and with every contraction of the birth canal, was cutting off her oxygen. Suddenly the head nurse was unhooking my machines and prepping to move me to surgery. She had struck me as some sort of drill sergeant when they brought me in and now I knew why. She was spectacular in her precision and intenseness. All of her focus was on getting me down the hall in record time to have an emergency c-section. She told (barked at is more like it) my poor, confused husband to "Get out of the way!" and before I could even think about what was happening, I was being whisked down the hall, bright lights above my head. I heard doors swing open as we crashed through them and suddenly a team of people I'd never seen was counting to three and lifting me onto the operation table. I knew they'd knock me out in about five seconds and do the operation but before they could, the urge to push became so great I couldn't stop it at all, and Ash came blasting into this world with a strong lusty cry. I still cannot recall the face of the doctor who delivered her. I cannot truthfully tell you his name without looking it up in her files.

My whole family was in the waiting room, pacing the floor when they got the news. I know they were thankful and relieved.

I spent the next few days in a groggy daze. I had to be kept on magnesium sulfate, I think is the drug, to keep my blood pressure under control. If you have ever taken cold medicine that leaves you sleepy, with an unclear head and can't think straight, multiply that by 5 and you'll be in my brand of la-la land. I was so tired and out of it, I couldn't even process the thought that Ash was in the NICU one floor above me or that I couldn't get out of bed to go see her or hold her. My speech was slurred and I felt as if I were dreaming or hallucinating half of everything going on around me. It got to the point where I had to ask my husband if certain people had been in to see us because I wasn't sure if their visits were real or dreamed!

By about the third day I was feeling better and more able to focus. I had been to the NICU a few times via wheelchair as the nurses were afraid I would fall. I was learning to nurse a preemie (with arms of protection around, should I become so drowsy I might drop her). Preemies often cannot suck so while you feed them you must massage their cheeks and stroke under their chins to stimulate the urge to suck and swallow. Moms only have so many hands. Its very difficult to even use the special preemie bottle called the Haverman feeder, while holding it and doing all this stroking and massaging with one hand. Most babies find bottle feeding easier than nursing, but preemies find both a challenge. Every day was hard. Just to see my baby I had to scrub up and wear a surgical gown. She was attached to so many tubes and contraptions that made even removing her from her bassinet for feeding a chore. They warned us not to hold her too tight or rub her too hard because preemie skin is thinner and their touch sensation is magnified until it can be painful. My body was not understanding the sudden birth and had not began to make enough milk, so I had been given the use of an electric pump; I sat hooked to it every two hours as it prepared me for the every-two-hour-round-the-clock feedings we would face when we got to take Ash home. I was drained. Totally drained. I wanted to sit and cry and feel sorry for us both, but I knew I couldn't. There was my little tiny 4 pound baby, no bigger than a sack of sugar we said, who looked like a giant compared to the other 2 pound babies in bassinets around me. My little girl had survived a traumatizing birth and was doing well. I knew that even in the midst of great trial, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I had felt and could still feel His presence. He had spared my life and hers. I had no reason to feel sorry but every reason to rejoice.

I'd like to say I kept my focus during the next 5 or 6 months as I nursed every two hours for weeks on end until the doctor saw a significant weight gain in my baby. I'd like to say I kept my perspective while we homeschooled and my mind was foggy from lack of sleep. I'd like to say I always kept my cool when we were literally trapped at home for an entire winter with a baby that couldn't go out in public places. No church, no scouts, no homeschool group, no Walmart! I relied on the kindness of strangers to haul my kids to their events. I became an expert at driving to their clubs and practices with a good uplifting book and baby in the car and a full tank of gas with a warm heater, letting the boys do whatever they had to do inside--without me--as I waited in the car. My eight year old, who at that time had never been alone in stores without me, was now carrying a short shopping list and cash and doing a few trips for me. I think I might've finally learned some patience that year! I can tell you this: our family grew closer to the Lord then than I think we've ever been . It was only the middle of this upheaval that we really learned how much we needed Him in our lives from day to day. And He held my hand and we survived. Enormous bills from the hospital came and went. A move into a new and bigger home came and went. Life went on. And now, I am here today, 4 years later, reliving that eventful day in my life again as I watch my prissy and sweet little girl playing with her brothers, giggling and squealing. Not one ounce of evidence of her experience remains except for her petite stature. She is healthy and happy and we are blessed by having her in our lives. Sometimes God gives us a wake-up call, a reality check, a dose of realness. Sometimes He wants us to draw closer to Him. What better way to do that than through the warm, sweetly scented body of a tiny helpless baby in your arms!

Happy Birthday, Ashleigh Eden!

No comments: