Friday, November 18, 2011

Corinne was born at 31w1d (2lb 3oz) due to HELLP sundrome. Here is our story:

My husband and I started trying for a family in 2007. Unfortunately, infertility got in the way of our dreams. We started seeing an RE in 2009. We had a 40% success rate with IUIs. IUI#2 resulted in a baby boy, who had acrania. Acrania is a fatal birth defect. IUI#4 resulted in a natural miscarriage.

In an odd twist of fate, I learned I was pregnant (again) in early November 2010 on the heels of a cancelled IUI due to no viable follicles. My husband and I joked that we got a "freebie" baby. By this point, I was fairly used to losing pregnancies, so I tried not to get attached to this baby, since if the past was any indication, it was just a matter of time until I lost this one too. I started bleeding on Thanksgiving 2010, and went to the doctor to calmly tell them I was miscarrying and to get betas so they could follow them down to zero. No tears, just frustration and apathy. It turns out I had a SCH which was causing the bleeding, but the baby looked great!

The NT scan showed us a perfectly healthy baby, and at 16 weeks we learned our baby was a girl. At 20 weeks, we learned that she was measuring about a week behind, and there were markers which pointed to a higher chance of developing pre-eclampsia in the pregnancy. At 24 weeks, the baby was still measuring behind. But, since we had reached "viability day" we started to think that this might even be our take home baby. We started getting the nursery ready, and "came out" about the pregnancy publically. The plan was to have an ultrasound every 2 weeks at the MFM to monitor growth, and an OB appointment every two weeks to monitor me for any signs of pre-eclampsia.

In my 30th week, I started to not feel so great. My blood pressure at the OB was elevated, but after laying on my side for a few minutes, it returned to normal. That weekend, I did a 24 hour urine catch and bloodwork. We went to a friend's house on Saturday night for dinner, but had to leave because I felt awful. It felt like my stomach hurt, but the pain was along my rib cage and back. Monday morning, when I was 31w1d, I called the OB and left a message to report the pain. A nurse called me back no less than 10 minutes later and said that the OB wanted to see me. I figured he would prescribe some pills for high blood pressure, and once that got lowered, then the pain would go away. I didn't even bother to shower or eat before my appointment, as I figured I would shower and have breakfast after I got back home. The plan was to return to work in the afternoon.

At my OB appointment, my blood pressure was elevated, but not in any danger zone. However, the results from my 24 urine capture and bloodwork were back. The protein count was over 600, and I had very high liver enzymes. He sent me across the street to the hospital for an ultrasound and to be put on hospital bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. I have to admit, I was secretly looking forward to watching some bad daytime TV while having all my needs catered to.

After the ultrasound, I settled into the hospital bed excited to have a day of pain free relaxation (they gave me some AWESOME pain killers for the abdominal pain). The hospital lunch lady came by, and I ordered a huge lunch (since I was starving by this point, having barely eaten all weekend). About 10 minutes before my lunch was due to arrive, the OB walked into the room and advised me after looking at my test results from that weekend, combined with the MFM ultrasound report from that morning, it would be best interest to deliver. "Today?" I asked. "Actually, in about two hours", he replied. He figured that my liver was a few days away from rupturing.

Since I was only 31w1d, my cervix was no where close to giving up the goods for an induced delivery, so a c-section it would have to be. I was going to be put under general anthesia for the c section, as I was on Lovenox, which is an injectable blood thinner medication.

My only knowledge of NICU babies is what I learned from mothers I met in the loss community. A baby goes to the NICU, and about two weeks later, the fight for life ends. I honestly expected our baby to follow the same timeline. I didn't know of any "happy" NICU stories. As they wheeled me into the OR, my main thought was that this was going to be the last time our baby was alive.

After the surgery, as I came to in the recovery room, I saw my husband standing over me with tears in his eyes. I saw the tears and knew that our baby was either dead or dying. The only other time I saw him cry like that was when we found out that our first baby would not be going home with us. He tried to tell me she was OK, but I figured he was lying to me, waiting until I was fully conscience to drop the "she didn't make it" bomb on me. It just annoyed me, and I started going through a mental checklist to contact NILMDTS and a funeral home.

However, after I fully came to, a member of the medical team came in to give us a report on our baby's status. She was actually doing pretty well! She was 2lb 3oz and 15 inches at birth. My husband was able to visit her in the NICU that evening and showed me pictures he took of her with his cell phone. That night, my husband and I discussed names. We had thrown around names before, but not seriously, as we figured we had another 2 months to come up with a name. We settled on Corinne Avery. The next day, I was wheeled over to the NICU to see her for the first time.

I heard there was usually a "honeymoon period" in the NICU, where everything seems great for a few days, then things take a turn for the worse. However, for us, the "worse" never came. She didn't have any breathing issues (she was breathing room air at one day old), her brain ultrasounds came back clean, and she passed all the other tests with flying colors. She did have jaundice and anemia issues (which are fairly commonplace in preemies, but resolved themselves in time.

I was released 4 days after her birth. It was tough going home from the hospital, once again, empty handed. But, for the first time, I didn't have grief resources stapled to my discharge paperwork, and that made it easier for me. I knew I had a living, breathing child and I could come back whenever I wanted to stick my hand in her isolette and touch her warm body. I felt pretty darn lucky. There were many times where we would come home after visiting her, and a few hours later, around midnight, I would drive back just to see her for another 20 minutes.

Other than the issues mentioned above, for the most part, she just needed to grow and learn how to feed orally. We had a very uneventful 40 day NICU stay, and she came home at 4lb 6oz. There are happy, (mostly) stress-free NICU stories out there. I feel so darn lucky to have been one of those. I wish I would have known in the early days that most NICU stays do not end in heartbreak.

Corinne is now 6 months old (4 months adjusted). She was born at 2lb 3oz, 15 inches, and is now 11lb 11oz, 23.5 inches. About 3 months after her birth, she learned to breastfeed using a nipple shield, and at 5 months after her birth, she learned how to breastfeed without any shield or other help. She has minor gross motor skills delay (she's about one month behind) and will be starting physical therapy to bridge this gap. Other than that, she is thriving and doesn't not have any other long term health concerns.


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

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