Thursday, November 17, 2011

I thought getting pregnant was going to be a breeze.  I started to get a bit concerned after trying to conceive for a year and by the time our second wedding anniversary rolled around I knew there was a problem.  After undergoing fertility testing my husband and I decided to do a few rounds of IUI.  Our first round of IUI in February 2010 worked but unfortunately that pregnancy ended in miscarriage in late-March. In June 2010 we did a second IUI treatment and were again successful.  We held our breath until we passed the point of our previous miscarriage, had a scary spotting episode in August and then were thrilled by the CVS test findings of a genetically healthy pregnancy with a baby boy.  My due date was March 17, 2011.

But something didn’t really feel right with the pregnancy.  I had a rough first trimester and then for some reason could not stop focusing on the 24-week mark – Viability Day – once a pregnancy reaches the 24 week point there is a 60% the baby will survive if born prematurely.  Viability Day for me was Thanksgiving 2010 – the same day I was diagnosed with mild preeclampsia and put on modified bedrest.  But my blood pressure continued to rise and within two weeks I was hospitalized in the high-risk maternity unit – I was 25 weeks, 4 days when I was admitted to the hospital.  The goal was to get me stabilized, get the steroid shots administered to help mature my son’s lungs and then to hang on as long as my body could last. 

I lasted a week.  Around 3am on Tuesday, December 14th the nurse entered my room to place the baby monitor back on my stomach.  She said they were monitoring my blood pressure and they just wanted to get a sense of what the baby was doing.  Earlier in the night my pressures had been rising and they were chasing them with medications, trying to get them back down.  They’d given me medications through an IV and even an extra dose of oral BP meds.  Now the baby monitor was back.

Soon after the monitor returned a phlebotomist was in my room drawing blood and then the doctor on call stopped in to see me. This was not the normal nighttime routine. Somehow I managed to fall back asleep after each visit. I think I just knew this was my last good sleep for awhile.

By 8am the doctor was back in my room, this time with a portable ultrasound machine – checking to see where the baby was and if he was still breach.  I told her that my husband worked in Philadelphia and then I asked “Do I need to have him on a train back to Wilmington?”  She said that would be a good idea.  I sent my husband a text, asking him to call and he promptly returned to 30th Street and got on the next train to Wilmington.  My mom, who was staying with me at the hospital,  had awoken during this part so I asked her to call my manager with an update on the situation.  I couldn’t speak to another person without crying.  I was 26 weeks, 4 days pregnant  - a few days shy of the third trimester.

There was a flurry of activity as they got the OR room scheduled and a neonatologist stopped by to introduce herself.  I was put back on the mag and then we just waited.

Around 11:30 my husband was given scrubs and told to get changed and the rest of my family was led to the waiting room.  My husband and I discussed baby names – and I pleaded my case for Kevin (after my dad).  Not really fair since how could he say no to me given the situation.  Lots of doctors and nurses seemed to be dropping by to introduce themselves – saying they’d be in the room handling a particular issue: surgery, anesthesia, the baby.

A little after 12 I was wheeled into the hospital room and prep for surgery began with the anesthesia team.  Apparently I don’t respond well to anesthesia – or at least I don’t respond quickly – so they had to tilt the table towards my head after I realized I could feel them preparing the surgery site.  And then it was all over in a blur.  If the circumstances had been different, I would have been annoyed to have the screen up – I wanted to see the C-Section.  My husband was grateful for the screen – although he did peak over it once.

I felt a tug and then whoosh. Kevin was out and with the NICU team.  One of the first pictures I have of Kevin is of his tiny body surrounded by eight hands (and there were even more people moving in and out) taking turns administering to him.  We’d been told not to expect to hear him cry so we had our first glimmer of hope when we heard a tiny, pathetic cry.  We were told that he weighed one pound, nine ounces, was 13.5 inches long and was doing well*.  After that, they intubated him and whisked him off to the NICU.  I wouldn’t get a chance to see him for more than 24 hours.

*We found out later than doing well was a very relative term.  It pretty much meant he was still alive and hadn’t crashed on them yet.  He waited until later that day to crash the first time.

The biggest issue Kevin faced in the NICU was his lung development.  He was on a Jet ventilator and then an Oscillator for the first three weeks and then he remained on a conventional ventilator until the middle of February.  He didn’t get off oxygen completely until a week before discharge – a total of 121 days on oxygen.  While in the NICU he had a PDA ligation done that required transport to and from another NICU.  He also had ROP I that resolved completely by discharge. 

Kevin was finally discharged in April 2011 - 128 days after his birth.


Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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