Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I cannot stress enough the importance of being your child's advocate.

It takes strength and courage to stand up and do what's right not only for yourself but for your child. They look to you as their parent to make choices for them when they can't. I can promise you that this will not be easy. I can't promise that your choices won't be questioned, challenged or judged; because sadly someone somewhere will do this.

Several times during both my pregnancy and the twins NICU stay, I had to make tough choices. Choices I wouldn't have been able to make on my own without the support of my husband because they effected us both. I will forever be thankful that he and I are on the same page on many things.

From that ultrasound on that cold January day where doctors confirmed our fear. My water had broken and both babies were in jepordy. This was the ultrasound that also revealed that Addison "elegedly" had an ASD (whole in her heart) and Micrognathia (recesed chin to put it simply). The same ultrasound that brought one of the High Risk Specialists to the conclusion that we should terminate Addison, deliver her and attempt to put in a cerclage to save Blake. First Jake declined before I could even speak and stood firm that we would fight as long as Addison's heart kept beating and in no way would we chose to terminate her. That doctor had no problem telling us how much she disagreed and though it was foolish to put myself and Blake at risk. Second, I thought my OB was going to go off the deep end on the specialist and told us there was no way he would do what she was suggesting because that in itself was risking to me and Blake, and was even greater risk to loose Blake. He did warn us though that we could still loose Addiosn "naturually" and may have a stillborn baby. Our hearts broke. All we could do at this point was start antibiotics and then I would be sent home because we hadn't even reached viablity.

Fast forward to 24 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital one more time for steriod shots for their lungs in hopes that IF they should come early they would be better off from a respitory standpoint.  I had several doctors, friends and family telling me that now I needed to stay until I delivered. But I couldn't there was just no way, I couldn't handle it. I had 5 weeks to wrap my head around it and prepare myself but I knew in my heart that the stress of being "alone" in the hospital would cause me to go into labor. Jake understood my fears and we listened to each doctor give their reasons. While none of them could give me "the ok" to go home, one of them was brutally honest and told me that I was also right in thinking I was more at risk for infection by staying in the hospital and that going home could give us the best chance at survival. But legally he had to tell me to stay. We dissappointed a lot of people when we made the call to come home. Do I regret it... not really. Would I do it the same way all over again? I can't honestly say. But I do believe that staying home is what helped me get to 26 weeks. Had they kept me at 20 weeks, I do believe I wouldn't have made it that far.

In the NICU, most choices were not up to us. It was all about survival. Our first choice was "How far to go." Our answer was simple, do all you medically can and leave the rest to God. After that things were out of our hands again until it was time to think of alternate options for Addison who struggled to come off the vent. Our first MAJOR choice was did we want to give our daughter steriods to help get her over the hump. This came with the possiblity of increasing her risk for CP and developmental delays, the alternative was a Trach, increased lung damage and death. We opted for steriods.

After that, we were faced with the G-tube and Nissin surgery. Yes, No, Maybe, Give it more time? I armed myself with knowledge of it all and asked a million questions. Peds Surgery wanted to do one more test "just to be sure" because ofcourse the fact that formula oozing out her nose and mouth constantly wasn't enough, that was one test we refused. Why? Because it posed a huge risk for aspiration which could damage her already fragile lungs or worse. Surgery went well but recovery didn't.

Again Addison was struggling to be extubated. Her NEO at the time did not want to hear what I had to say about it and told me that her "45 years of medical expeirence as a doctor would not let me make decisions like that." I pushed back and so did she. This NEO was hell bent on Trach-ing her no matter how we, her parents, felt about the matter. (Keep in mind this NEO had only known Addison for 2 weeks and was not one of her "regular" NEO's. IMO, those 2 weeks didn't over rule the 4 months I had been her mother and watched all she went through.) I made phone calls, had the other NEO's consult, and made myself clear that this was not a button she wanted to push or a decison she wanted to make without our permission. If it meant I had to pay out of pocket for a transfer to another hospital I would do it. In the midst of this Addison had a MRSA flare up and this infection was raging through her body. I knew in my gut that if they cut another hole, in her airway at that, we'd loose her. And we felt like she had been through enough and if this was really the end she would give up. We were making peace with that, but we wouldn't torture her anymore, she suffered enough and had been in enough pain. Also worth noting that Addison was in a room with a handful of other babies, that all had Trachs...something didn't sit right about this. (Disclaimer..... this is just our situation and our story, I am not saying other's should make the same choice. This was the best choice for us.) At the same time they also wanted to surgically place an ART line (similar to a PICC line) to finish out a few short doses of antibotics, because she kept loosing veins. Nope, not happening, find another alternative it was too risky for us at this point.

Fortunatly the other NEO's were able to give a better history for Addison and educate this NEO. A few days later she informed me that she "just didn't know all that had to be done to extubate her before". I couldn't be kind at that point and I told her point blank, "There is a reason Addison was transferred with a chart and you at the very least could have read the cliff notes. Not to mention I told you this, not once but twice. I am sorry but I don't take well to being told what to do or that you will just do it anyway. That doesn't work for me and I honestly hope the next time you have an expeirence with a sitaution like this, you handle it a little better and professionally." Yes I was THAT MOM. And guess what, a week later Addison was off all oxygen, she went from the ventilator to a low flow cannula in less then an hour and she was being discharged a week and a half after that. The NEO was baffled. NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE THE POWER OF A PREEMIE. Just sayin'.

The day of discharge she wouldn't even enter the room to have me sign the paperwork. She had one of the residents to it and she must have thought she escaped me, but we met in the hallway on the way out. And had the nerve to tell me "Well mom WE made it." I kept quiet and kept walking with my baby in her stroller, on our way to freedom. I later found out this doctor was notorious for making parents cry and walking all over them. It's sad it really is. And I can't imagine where we'd be today if we had given in and just let her do what she wanted. I know that things could have ended totally differently even with the choices we made, but the fact of the matter is that things are the way they are for a reason.

I don't regret advocating for either of my children and we have always done what we thought was best for our children and our family.

Read more about Melissa and her twins at


Jennifer said...

I couldn't agree more that parents are the BEST advocates for their babies. I went toe-to-toe with a physician assistant over my daughter's feeds. I still think the only reason I got my way was because I was a Speech Pathologist and offered to challenge him as to who knew more about the swallowing mechanism! The more the PA argued with me, the more passionate I became about the decision. Even my husband was scared of me that day when I confronted the PA, who thought he knew everything about everything. Turns out my call was the right one. Sometimes Mom does know best!

Unknown said...

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