(I was almost done with this post yesterday, but had to take a break, pack up my room and GO HOME!!!)
It’s been a whirlwind of a few days and I’m still trying to wrap my head around all that’s happened. Thank you for being patient to hear more about Lila. I just haven’t been emotionally ready, until now, to write about her entrance into the world and her first few days. I haven’t had the energy either. But now that a few days have passed and I’ve had a chance to get some sleep, I am happy to share all that I can.
After 13 weeks of ruptured membranes and strict bedrest, my body gave up and it was time to meet our sweet Lila Kalét (Ka-Lay). Tyler and I started a movie around 9 p.m. Sept. 13 and I noticed I wasn’t feeling all that well. I had some uterine cramping, but it didn’t feel like contractions. Soon after Tyler left, I decided I’d better call the nurse just to be safe. She put me on the monitor and it was clear that I was contracting, but it was irregular. I was on the monitor for two hours and toward the end, the contractions seemed to settle down, so I was taken off and tried to get some sleep. By this time it was about 1:30 a.m. I couldn’t sleep and the contractions were picking up in intensity and coming three to five minutes apart. I called the nurse and back on the monitor I went. Sure enough, the contractions were coming every two minutes now. My heart rate was elevated and so was the baby’s. I had a low-grade fever and felt less-than-normal movements from Lila. The nurse called the doctor, came back and said, “Looks like today’s birth day.” My biggest fear had come true: I’d contracted an infection.
I called Tyler and he was here rather quickly. I changed into a hospital gown and lab came to draw my blood. Tyler changed into scrubs and downed a cup of black coffee. A number of people came to the room to explain what was going to happen. A quick ultrasound revealed the baby was still breech, so I signed consent forms for a c-section and spoke to the doctor who’d be delivering the baby. I was happy to hear it was Dr. Fairbanks. She’s the first doctor who gave me any hope when my water broke 95 days ago. Things had come full circle.
Both Tyler and I were scared out of our minds, but when we had a minute to ourselves, we promised each other we’d do our best to make this a joyful experience. No matter the outcome, we didn’t want to remember Lila’s birth day as traumatizing. Afterall, we’re meeting our daughter for the first time and that’s reason to celebrate!
This was not an emergency c-section, but things moved rather quickly. I was wheeled off to the operating room while Tyler stayed behind in the waiting room. Everyone was very comforting to both of us. The OR was extremely bright as I’d been told and it was also freezing cold. I was happy I put some socks on before I left my room. I can’t remember the last time I wore socks. It’s still summer, right?
The anesthesiologist numbed my back with Novocain and inserted the spinal. It wasn’t too bad and I immediately felt very warm from the chest down. It was actually quite relaxing. The team finished prepping me and finally, Tyler was allowed to come in. The neaonatology team and a respiratory expert were waiting in the next room. Someone said, “You guys are lucky. It’s the A team tonight.” I laughed and said, “You probably tell everyone that.” They insisted they didn’t and told us that the lead doctor in the room was Dr. Hoekstra. “He’s been in People Magazine.” You can read more about Dr. Hoekstra here. He’s received a lot of national attention for his micro-preemie study that resulted in some of the most incredible success stories at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
The surgery got going and I remained pretty comfortable. They had Lila out quickly and everyone in the room was so happy and joyful. Tyler was snapping pictures, everyone told me how beautiful she was and Dr. Fairbanks held her over the draping cloth so I could see her. I cried and my first thought was, “She’s huge!” She just wasn’t what I expected to see. She was so beautiful and healthy and normal looking. The doctors worked to stabilize her — she had a very tough start — while Dr. Fairbanks finished my surgery. I was actually ready to go to recovery before Lila was ready to be transported to NICU, so I didn’t get to see her. Tyler came with me to the recovery room. I was freezing cold, so everyone wrapped me in warm towels from head to toe. Soon after, they brought Lila to see us for the first time. She was quiet and cozy in her isolette. I could hardly see her from my gurney, but was able to reach my hand in and touch her. I couldn’t believe she was here. Tyler went with Lila while I finished in recovery. I could hardly stay awake. I was so tired and I suspect lots of pain killers were running through my body.
Tyler came back and told me she was doing good. She weighs 3 lbs. 13 oz. and is 17 1/2 inches long. We couldn’t believe it! All that time in bed paid off, because my little girl was able to grow! Sadly, I don’t remember much after this. I was taken on my gurney to the NICU to see Lila in her room. I touched her again and noticed she had dark curly hair. Apparently, I had all sorts of questions for the nurses and doctors, but everyone felt it was best if I wait awhile to start getting information. I wouldn’t have remembered anyway.
The next several hours were very tough. I was exhausted. We also learned that the doctors had trouble ventilating Lila. She was fighting the breathing tube, so they sedated her. I kept hearing that my baby was ” very sick” and “very critical.” I was so scared. None of the ventilators were working for her. They were able to get oxygen into her system, but unable to get carbon dioxide out. Finally, they tried the high frequency jet ventilator and it worked!
A lot has happened since those first hours, but Lila has continued to improve ever since. She’s had a few setbacks, but she continues to impress us. There’s so much to explain, so I think I’ll save some of it for a later post. Here are a few highlights. Today, they stopped Lila’s antibiotics. She was tested for infection — negative — but because I had an infection and was ruptured for so long, they didn’t want to take their chances. Her catheter was removed. Poor Lila was gaining a lot of weight fast, because she was retaining fluid. Finally, she started peeing and lost some weight. Now they’re ready for her to start gaining again. She started feedings yesterday and appears to be tolerating them well. She gets 1 mL of my breastmilk every three hours. I’ve gotten to change her diaper a few times, check her temperature, etc. I am so in love with her, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Laying in bed was easy compared to the pain of leaving her and not being able to help her at all. I haven’t heard her cry, she hasn’t opened her eyes, I’ve hardly had a good look at her face. She’s under the phototherapy lights right now for jaundice, so she wears fancy little sunglasses and the ventilator covers up her mouth.
I keep asking God to bless her and see her through this difficult time without pain. Now that I’m home, I’ll be able to update the blog more often and keep you posted on Lila’s progress. My thoughts are a jumbled mess right now, so I’m just trying to take it one step at a time. Baby steps. More photos are coming soon! Thank you all for your warm thoughts and congratulations. I won’t be able to respond to every comment, text, email or phone call we get, but please know that all of you helped get us this far and will carry us through to the end of our NICU stay. We really feel this little girl is reason to celebrate just like any other baby. There are going to be scary times over the next few months, but we anticipate a homecoming by Nov. 15, my original due date. So please join us in celebrating this perfect life!