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Archive for August, 2009

On Wednesday night I received my first round of Cervidil, which feels terrible being inserted! After 12 hours, it had softened and lowered my cerivx, but not enough, so I received a 2nd round of the medication. The 2nd round started falling out, but we realized it too late, so it didn’t get a chance to do its job. However, it did soften me a little more.

Thursday night around midnight I began receiving Pitocin. I began contracting very mildly, but slept through most of the night. By Friday morning the contractions were becoming more regular and more intense by the hour. However, cervix checks revealed I was not dilating much at all. By the afternoon the contractions were so bad I was crying  and really wanting an epidural. My contractions were registering very big and very close together on the monitors. However, after 6 hours of really hard labor and contractions (about 10 hours of steady contractions overall) I was still only dilated a little over 1 cm. This was around 4 p.m. My doctor decided I had been through enough and to go ahead and allow me to get the epidural. He was thinking I was probably going to need a c-section by this point, and since I’d need an epidural for that anyway, he let me get it. The original plan had been to wait until I was at least 2-3 cm.

The epidural began working very quickly, and I went to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up around 9:30, they decided to check my cervix. To our surprise, I was dilatead to a 6! After that, things began moving very fast. The NICU team (about 6 or 7 people) began setting up. I also had an OB, a resident OB, 2 nurses, and then my regular OB showed up (things were moving so fast he couldn’t get there in time to do the actual delivery). Within about 15 minutes of my cervix showing at a 6, I was about ready to start pushing my baby out. The whole pushing process took another 20 minutes or so, and the NICU team quickly took over the baby while I was delivering the placenta and being cleaned and checked for tears. I only tore a tiny bit – I didn’t even need stitches for it. This may sound strange, but there was something exciting about pushing her out. I even enjoyed it, knowing that every push was that much sooner I could lay eyes on our baby.

In the meantime, we found out our baby was a girl, and we told them her was Madelyn Rebecca. The NICU doctor inserted a breathing tube in her throat and tried very hard to get her stabilized. She came out looking blue in her face, and her heart rate was very low. They got color into her face, but never could get her heart rate above the 20s, and it needed to be over 100. Finally, the NICU doctor told us they had done all they could, and were going to remove the tubes and allow us to spend some time with her alone. They handed her to me, and she tried very hard to look at me, but was only able to open her eyes very briefly. She was so beautiful and perfect. I had been warned there could be deformities if there were a chromosomal defect or from being without fluid so long, but she looked amazing. She was bigger than we expected, and really not as small for a 34 weeker as we originally thought from the ultrasounds. She weighed 3 pounds 4 ounces and was 15 inches long, which the nurses said was pretty good considering full-term newborns are 18-21 inches on average. Her little hands and feet were also very long. You could see both Nathan and me in her precious little face. She had a good amount of blonde hair all over her head, which really surprised me – it seems not many babies are born with a head full of blonde hair! She had fingernails and little blonde eyebrows. Everything about her was beautiful and perfect.

Nathan and I spent time with just the 3 of us. I think she died sometime while in either mine or Nathan’s arms, but I’m not sure the exact time. After we had spent some time with her, the NICU doctor came and got our authorization to do testing. We are allowing them to do an autopsy as well as a chromosomal assessment. We feel like we need to know what went wrong, and how this will affect any future pregnancies. I hate to think of our baby girl being cut up, but we need to know. If it is something genetic or likely to happen again…well, I just don’t want to have this happen over and over. However, even though it happened this time, I don’t regret I got pregnant. I would never regret our sweet baby girl, though her life was much too short.

The hospital had some outfits they keep for situations like ours, and dressed Madelyn in a white satin gown, which they gave us to keep. They also gave her a few little toys, blankets, and an outfit to bury her in. They took her footprints and gave them to us. I assume we’ll be getting her birth certificate in the mail when it is ready.

After signing some paperwork, a photographer from an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came in and took some pictures of Nathan, Madelyn, and me. I will share some of them when I have them. I want everyone to see how beautiful she was. Then both of our parents and siblings came in, each held the baby, and the photographer came back in and took a few more pictures.

Finally, our families left, and we spent a little more time with our daughter. We said goodbye again the next morning before leaving the hospital. It felt weird leaving the hospital after all this time.  Although I was very glad to be going home, it was so hard to leave without her.

Once the autopsy has been done (hopefully on Monday) the baby will be picked up from the hospital by the funeral home. We plan to have a graveside memorial service for her sometime this week.  This week, instead of shopping for a car seat and stroller, we will be shopping for a casket and headstone for our little girl. It seems so unfair.

Back when we were making the decision about hospitalization, one thing that caused us to consider NOT being admitted was that we knew this could happen.  However, I’m so glad I went to the hospital, because we have memories of her we wouldn’t otherwise have.  I saw her on an ultrasound every week, and she always did something to make us smile.  We saw her blinking, sucking her fingers and toes, and she also kicked the ultrasound techs a few times when they pushed down too hard on my belly.  We also got to listen to our baby’s heartbeat almost all day everyday.  We are devastated we’ll never get the chance to see her grow up. But we do take some comfort in knowing she is in heaven, and will never have to experience pain or suffering or unhappiness that life on this earth too often brings.  We know God will take very good care of her.  I can’t wait until we see her again.

Although it feels so wrong to say good-bye to a baby, and I still don’t understand why, I do know her too-short life had a purpose. For one thing, she taught us the meaning of love at first sight. We loved her in the womb, but laying eyes on her for the first time and holding her tiny body in our arms was one of those crucial moments that are life-altering.   We miss her so much already.

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Madelyn Rebecca

Last night (8/28) at 10:22 p.m. I gave birth (through labor) to a beautiful baby girl we named Madelyn Rebecca.  She only lived for a short while after being born.  Her lungs just weren’t strong enough to support her life.  The NICU doctors worked on her as much as they could, but never were able to get her heart rate above the 20s.

Thanks to everyone for the support, love, and prayers.  These last 3 months have been very difficult.  However, we don’t regret any decisions we’ve made, and are grateful for the time we were able to spend with our baby.  Even though we only spent a short time with her, our lives will never be the same.

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I just wanted to let everyone know I’m still in labor & delivery.  The good news is the baby is handling my contractions very well with no signs of distress.  The bad news is after 2 rounds of Cervidil and about 8 hours of Pitocin, I am still only a fingertip dilated!  The baby’s head has dropped a lot and my cervix is softened.  The contractions are also getting stronger.  However, if I don’t start making progress by the end of today they will do a c-section.  We are praying I start dilating soon!!

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Update

I wanted to let everyone know I started a 2nd round of Cervidil this morning at 11 a.m.   The first time dropped my cervix and dilated me a fingertip.  However, my cervix was still too firm to start labor, so I needed the 2nd treatment.  It stays in for 12 hours, meaning it will come out at 11 p.m.  They will hopefully be able to induce labor with pitocin around 11 p.m.  We are likely to be in labor all night, and then the baby will be here no matter what tomorrow (the doctor won’t let me go past Friday).  I’ll update more when I can.

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I’m being induced…

…and it’s starting tonight.  It will probably take a few days to get my body prepared for labor, and I am hoping it doesn’t turn into a c-section.  I will update when I can.  Please keep us in prayer!

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I had my growth ultrasound today.  It showed the baby had only gained 2 ounces in the past week, but the measurements of the abdomen were actually smaller than they were 2 weeks ago.  The fluid was also lower, but there was fluid in the stomach, so maybe the baby swallowed it.

A few of the perinatologists are recommending I go ahead and deliver as they don’t think the baby will benefit by staying in the womb 2 more weeks.  But we were told earlier today that even if the baby isn’t growing, the older the baby is gestationally the better.  However, they said it was up to my husband and me if we wanted to go further with the pregnancy.  I haven’t talked to my OB yet – he is supposed to be stopping by to see me later to talk about it some more.  I’m not really sure how to make this kind of decision.

On another note, we talked to a NICU doctor last night.  He wasn’t very optimistic about the baby’s lungs.  He did say babies had surprised him in the past, so I am hoping he is going to be surprised again when our baby comes into the world.  He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about the situation, but he did explain a little about what will happen once the baby is born.  As soon as the baby is out of the womb, they will insert a breathing tube.  They will monitor the baby very closely to see if the baby’s oxygen is being regulated and how the lungs are handling things.  Even  the assistance of the ventilators, if the baby’s lungs aren’t developed enough, won’t help the baby.  They should know within a few hours whether the baby is going to have a chance.  If not, they will remove the baby from the monitors, and Nathan and I will get to hold the baby until he/she passes (could be minutes, hours, even a day).  If the baby is fine, the baby will stay in the NICU and probably get a feeding tube.  Then, in a few days, they will be able to tell us whether the baby has Down’s Syndrome (Trisomy 21), Trisomy 18, or Trisomy 13.  Within 14 days, we will get a more detailed report about the baby’s chromosomes.

I hope we get a clearer picture from the doctors to make a better decision soon.

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My OB was back from vacation today and we discussed the birth plan.  We talked about delivery in a bit more detail than I had with the perinatologists.

He said he’d always prefer to deliver through labor than a c-section.  Delivering a baby with no fluid can be distressing on the baby, as I’ve mentioned before, but it is really no different than when a woman has broken her water before labor, and in these cases, they don’t automatically do a c-section.  However, the amniotic fluid actually helps with the dilation process, and if contractions alone aren’t enough, it leads to a c-section being done.  Most importantly, he said (and I agree) I have so far done everything to give this baby a chance, and we’re not going to mess that up at the end by doing something that is going to undo all of that.  So if the perinatologists say a c-section is best, then that is what we will do (so far they haven’t).  If we go with labor, my baby will be monitored the whole time  and watched very closely, but that is standard procedure – not something special they’d do because I’m carrying a high risk child.

If the baby stops growing, that would likely be an indication that a c-section is needed.  In order for labor to go smoothly, it is important to have a well-functioning placenta, and if the baby stops growing, that is a very good sign the placenta has stopped working as well as it should.  If this happens, labor would probably be too risky too attempt.

If the baby continues growing, he said 36-38 weeks would be the end of my pregnancy – there is not much more to be gained by going further than that.  However, in my situation, the plan can easily change overnight, especially if it is the night of an ultrasound!  Also, he had not spoken with the perinatologists since his return from vacation, so everything he told me today was based on assumptions existing before he left.  I don’t believe last week’s ultrasound changed anything but, of course, this week’s very well may.

After the baby comes into the world, the NICU doctors will take control of the baby.  They will take blood from the cord and we will know within 3 days if the baby has Trisomy 13, 18, or 21.  Then, in 14 days, we will get a much longer report that will tell us whether our baby has any other chromosomal or genetic issues.  They may be able to get an idea by looking at our baby, but won’t know anything for sure until those test results are in.  He said ultrasounds are not foolproof, so when the baby is out of the womb, they may realize things are not as bad as they thought (I hope!), things are about the same, or things could even look worse than they did from the ultrasounds.  Once we have a delivery  date determined, the NICU doctors will come in and talk to me a little more about what to expect concerning the baby.

I am happy to say my OB put in an order for a massage for me!  I have heard they have massage therapists located in the hospital, and I asked him if I were allowed to get one.  Laying in these beds all day and night definitely creates soreness that I’m sure only a massage could erase!  They are going to check to see if my insurance covers them, but if not, they are not nearly as much as it costs at the salon.  I would hope not since at the salon you get the whole ambience of relaxation including aromatherapy by candles, dim lighting, soft, natural music, bed warmers, etc.  I doubt they’ll be transforming my room into any such resemblance, but I’ll take what I can get!

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