Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sadie's Birth Story, Part 4

(This is a continuation of Sadie's birth story.  If you missed the previous posts, click here for Part 1 Part 2, and Part 3.)

After Brad left, I just sat on my bed, completely numb to what was going on.  I immediately began researching TEF on the internet (which is always a bad thing to do), and saw the severity of what this could possibly turn in to.  Typically, TEF babies have multiple complications with other organs, their heart, or bones.  My mind could not wrap around what all this could mean for our little Sadie.

A new nurse had came in at shift change to check on me.  My only concern was when could I be discharged so I could get to Sadie.  Much to my surprise, the nurse had already contacted the doctor on call and explained to him what all had transpired.  Because my delivery went so well, I had no stitches, and had been up walking since less than an hour after delivery, the doctor was going to allow me to be discharged when rounds were made at 7am!

Brad called to let me know he had arrived at Children's and Sadie was in a room.  She had a pacifier in her mouth, and was resting.  He had met with a nurse practitioner and she had painted a very grim picture of what our girl's future looked like.

Multiple surgeries. 

Extensive recovery period.  

Possible other birth defects.  

Expected complications.  

Very long hospital stays.  

It all was just too much to process.

My parents arrived around 3:00 a.m. and helped me go ahead and pack our things, and then laid down to try to get some sleep.  I couldn't sleep - my mind was working overtime.  I decided to go ahead and get a shower.  While I was in the shower, I was thinking about the past 9 months of carrying Sadie.  Brad and I had prayed every single night for our sweet girl and her growth and development.  We had prayed specifically for every organ, every system, every single part of her to develop as it should.  Each week I would read what was supposed to develop during that week, and I would pray specifically for those things to develop properly.  Why had God not heard our prayers?  Why would He allow us to go through 10 years of infertility and now allow this?  Why would our baby have to suffer?  But, the Lord spoke to my heart in that moment of desperation and fear and reminded me of the verse - "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5).  Long before Sadie was ever even growing in my belly, He knew her.  Before our scare at 10 weeks of pregnancy, He knew her.  Before doing InVitro was even a thought in our heads, He knew her.

And, He created her perfectly.  

This so called birth defect was of no surprise to Him - He created her exactly as she was supposed to be.  He reminded me that besides praying for her development we had also prayed for Him to use her - that others would see Jesus in her.  He had already performed a miracle through her while I was only 10 weeks pregnant - why would I fear and question Him now?!  He had given us the name Sadie Hope for a reason - that we would never lose sight of WHO our HOPE was in.  Thank you, Lord for clarity and Your unwavering faithfulness despite our moments of unbelief!!

Morning finally came, and was full of busy - being discharged, leaving the hospital, and finally getting to Children's.  Brad met us in the lobby on the 2nd floor, and I sobbed when I saw him.  I don't think I've ever been more happy to see him than I was at that moment!  Brad brought me up to speed that he had met with a surgeon, and after looking at Sadie's x-rays, the surgeon felt she could possibly just need one surgery to correct the problem.  ONE.  Glory!  Sadie would be going through multiple tests throughout the day to see if any other organs, her heart, her brain, or her bones were affected.  And, she would be having surgery that evening to repair the TEF.  Brad took us up to the NICU on the 6th floor, and carried me down the long hallway to the corner room - 611.  My sweet angel was laying in her tiny little bed, still hooked up to machines, with wires and tubes all over her little body.  Our nurse, Kaylin, was absolutely wonderful and allowed me to hold her all day long until her surgery.  I stared at Sadie all day, trying to soak in every single second with her.  

All of our family stayed with us.  Our phones and Facebook were blown up with people checking on our sweet girl and letting us know she was being prayed for.  Our pastor and worship pastor came to visit as well.  My mom commented on how strong I was throughout the day...I can say with certainty that any strength I showed was because of the prayers that were being prayed for us.  I was terrified, completely exhausted, and in shock of what was happening.  But, there was a peace within me that I cannot explain...and, as Sadie has done since the day she was conceived, that sweet angel brought hope in my heart.  Even though I was scared to death that she was going to have numerous other health problems and complications with the surgery that was to come, I had a glimmer of HOPE that it was all going to be ok.     

That afternoon, they finally came and told us it was time for surgery.  All of our family walked with us as we followed the nurses down to surgery.  I felt like we were walking the walk of doom...so very scary.  The nurses took Brad and I back to a holding room to see the anesthesiologist and surgeon prior to surgery.  Sadie laid in her little bed - all 7 pounds of her - so very tiny and new.  The surgeon, Dr. Harmon, told us he hoped to do the repair to her esophagus and trachea laparoscopically but would just have to see how things went.  Surgery would be 4-5 hours.  The nurses told us we could give Sadie one last kiss, and then they wheeled her away and sent us to the waiting room.  My brand new, tiny little baby was taken back for very serious surgery.  And she was only 28 hours old.  

Our parents brought Brad and I something to eat while we waited, our first meal all day.  Our family was such a huge help to us that day just being there, keeping us sane by talking and laughing.  After we got word that surgery had begun, I went back up to Sadie's room to pump, still hoping to be able to use my breast milk once she could take a bottle.  At Children's, mothers of infants can have breast milk stored in the freezer to be used for feedings.  After pumping, I went to the nurses' station to turn in my milk.  There was only one nurse at the desk, and she was on the phone.  As I waited, I could tell she was on the phone with someone in surgery.  Certainly not trying to eavesdrop, but the more I listened, I felt sure the call was about my Sadie...it sounded like they were giving instructions about recovery - but, Sadie had only been in surgery for about 1 1/2 hours.  No way could she already be going to recovery!  The nurse hung up the phone, and I told her I needed to turn in the milk for Sadie Powell.  "Are you Sadie's mother?" she asked.  I nodded.  "I was just on the phone with surgery.  She will be coming back up to her room for recovery in about 15 minutes."  WHAT?! "But she hasn't even been in surgery 2 hours!  They told us it would take much longer.  That sounds like good news!!" I said.  The nurse smiled, and said, "yes, it sounds like she has done very well!"  That was my first time meeting the nurse whose name I would quickly learn was Ashley.  Much, much more to come about Ashley! :)      

I went back down to the waiting room and told Brad and our family the good news.  Dr. Harmon came out soon after and talked with Brad and I.  He told us surgery had went extremely well.  He was unable to do the repair laparoscopically, but still had a very successful surgery.  In fact, Dr. Harmon said on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult, Sadie's repair was a 1 or 2.  Wow!!  While it was possible she might need additional surgeries, he felt it highly unlikely that it would be necessary.  Double wow!!  He also went on to tell us that all other tests that had been completed that day - scans of every organ, her heart, her bones, her brain - every single one came back perfect.  No other birth defects noted.  Praise the Lord!!!!  

We went out and told our family that wonderful news, and went back up to the NICU to see our girl!  The Nurse Practitioner, Shannon, came and talked to us prior to seeing Sadie.  She prepared us for what we would see - our baby girl was on a ventilator, had a NG tube (feeding tube in her nose), and had a chest tube to drain fluid from the repair - in addition to all the oxygen and heart monitors. 
Seeing our little Sadie Hope for the first time after surgery was one of the happiest moments of my life. She was swollen, yes.  She was hooked up to numerous machines, and was covered in tubes and wires, yes.  But, she was alive.  And, once again, we had been given HOPE - this time from Dr. Harmon that maybe, just maybe this would be the one and only surgery to get our girl on the road to recovery.  
Friday, July 26th was by far the longest, scariest, heart-aching day of our lives.  But it ended with great HOPE and joy!!  

The last and final part to Sadie's Birth Story coming soon! :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sadie's Birth Story, Part 3

(This is a continuation of Sadie's birth story.  If you missed the previous posts, click here for Part 1 or Part 2.)

After Dena left, my parents, Brad's mom, and Valerie and her children came back in for one last visit before heading home.  The pediatrician, Dr. Wamack, came in for the routine check up.  Sadie had continued to have a wheezing, gurgling sound while she breathed, but the nurses had reassured us that she had swallowed fluid during delivery and would be fine.  Dr. Wamack listened to her breathing, and listened to her lungs.  He agreed with what the nurses had concluded, and said we should not be nervous about it, but to be a little more alert to her breathing.  He also mentioned that because my water had broke more than 24 hours prior to delivery, and the episode I had with my epidural causing my blood pressure to drop and a spike in temperature during labor, she needed to be watched more closely.  He reassured us she was ok, but that if her temperature were to drop, she would have to go to the NICU.  That scared us.  The phrase "NICU" just sounded scary.  He wasn't nearly as concerned about her gurgling as he was her temperature.  Dr. Wamack left, and my parents went and got us some supper.  While they were gone, I tried nursing Sadie.  She would latch on, but then would quickly let go and would look like she was gagging.  My nurse, Lauren, encouraged me to just keep trying - that it would take some time.  She told me our nurse that was coming in at shift change used to work in lactation and would be great to help me with nursing.

My parents dropped our food off, and left for the night.  After we ate, my new nurse, Mary Ashley, came in.  Mary Ashley was energetic and full of life.  I don't have a picture of her, but I will never forget her.  She was a key player in Sadie's story - she saved our sweet girl's life!  Mary Ashley asked me if I wanted to try to nurse again and see if she could help.  Sadie did the same thing when I tried to nurse - she would immediately latch on, but then quickly let go and look as if she were gagging.  She continued to have a gurgling in her breathing, and had been occasionally spitting up.  I could see the concern on Mary Ashley's face.  She kept saying, "something just isn't right", but not in a way that scared me; just in a way that she was there to help Sadie understand how to eat.  In hindsight, I know now Mary Ashley knew something was wrong more than Sadie not being able to eat, but she just couldn't put her finger on it.  Mary Ashley felt like Sadie was not eating because she had fluid in her throat and the milk was making her gag.  She asked us if she could take her to the nursery, and give her some formula in a bottle that would help her to spit up the fluid.  She reassured us that is common practice, and it would not hurt her nursing; but, rather would help her.  Prior to having Sadie, Brad and I had discussed not sending her to the nursery at all - we wanted her to stay with us the whole hospital stay.  However, that night, we were so exhausted and nervous with her breathing concerns that we both said "yes" to going to the nursery without much thought.  Thank you, Lord, for that wisdom that night!!!  Mary Ashley took Sadie, and Brad and I went to sleep almost immediately.  About an hour later, Mary Ashley came in and woke me up and told me she had not given Sadie any formula yet because her temperature had dropped.  She wanted to let me know because she would have to call the pediatrician.  She was going to go ahead and do a couple of tests so when she called him she would have all the information she needed.  She told me after she talked with him, she would come back and let us know what he said.  I went back to sleep, concerned but feeling confident in the care Sadie was being given.  Around midnight, Mary Ashley came and woke both of us up.  She had been in contact with the pediatrician about the temperature drop, and he had wanted her to be under a heat lamp and observed.  After they had talked with Dr. Wamack, the nurses in the nursery tried giving Sadie the formula.  However, after giving her 1/2 cc (a tiny, tiny amount), she gagged and turned blue.  They immediately called the pediatrician back and he ordered for her to be sent down to the NICU.  Mary Ashley was so apologetic when she woke us and explained everything.  She told us we could go on down to the NICU, or we could wait until the morning.  Brad immediately said we would go on down. Mary Ashley pushed me in a wheelchair down to the NICU.  She explained to us that no matter what the case, if a child is sent to the NICU, they have to stay at least 3 days.  I was still half asleep, and trying to wrap my mind around Sadie being sent to the NICU, AND having to stay an extra 3 days.  That seemed so very long! (I laugh at that now!!!) Mary Ashley continued to be so sweet, and apologized numerous times for the situation.

When Sadie was sent to the nursery just a few hours before, this is what she looked like when she left us:

Our precious angel was in a monogrammed gown, bow on, and swaddled in a sweet little blanket that had been waiting for her for weeks.  The picture of perfection.

When the doors of the NICU opened, I was completely unprepared for what I saw.  The NICU at St. Vincent's would look like a nursery with little incubators spaced out, most with a rocking chair beside them.  There were babies in several of the incubators, and a couple of nurses checking on the babies.  All was quiet except for one corner of the room.  In the far left corner was a baby surrounded by half a dozen nurses and doctors.  Machines beeping.  Lots of talking and hustling and bustling around the bed.  That baby would be mine.  Our precious, precious Sadie.  Much to my shock and fear, this is what she looked like now:

Stripped down to her diaper.  Wires and tubes everywhere.  A drainage tube taped to her mouth.  I've never had fear overcome me so quickly.  Dr. Bruce, one of the NICU doctors, came over and introduced himself. He began to explain that when Mary Ashley brought Sadie down to the NICU, they immediately took chest x-rays, expecting to see fluid in her lungs as the cause of her gurgling and ultimately having breathing difficulties.  However, what they saw was none of that.  He said, "Sadie has a birth defect.  Her esophagus is not properly connected to her stomach."  Birth defect.  I heard nothing else for a few minutes.  It was like he said birth defect in a mega phone in my ear.  Like it was echoing off the walls and down the halls of the hospital.  I could see his mouth moving, but was not hearing anything he was saying.  He showed us the x-rays, and explained that the upper part of Sadie's esophagus was clearly not connected to the lower esophagus; it was just closed.  The lower part of the esophagus was connected to her trachea and stomach.  The reason for her gurgling was that fluid that was in her throat had no where to go - it could not drain in to her stomach.  When I had tried nursing her earlier, she could not eat because she felt like she was choking.

I remember asking, "So, what does this mean?"  Dr. Bruce did not beat around the bush.  He told us this was extremely serious.  He explained that she could have very easily aspirated on her own saliva, or from trying to eat if the problem had not been found.  Her condition was called TEF - tracheo-esophageal fistula - and would require multiple surgeries and months of recovery.  Dr. Bruce asked if this had been my first pregnancy.  I shook my head no.  He asked did we have any complications with other pregnancies.  I couldn't answer; Brad explained that, yes, we had 2 lost pregnancies prior and Sadie was an IVF baby.  Dr. Bruce smiled and said, "obviously this is a very loved, very wanted baby".  He had no idea!!  He reassured me that this could not have been avoided - nothing during the pregnancy caused this - this deformity would have happened before I would have had a positive pregnancy test.

Dr. Bruce told us that they had already called Children's Hospital and they were on their way to pick Sadie up to go to their NICU.  He turned to Brad and told him he would have to go with her.  We had a few minutes to see her before they arrived.  Mary Ashley came to us, with tears welled up in her eyes, and told us she was going back to Labor and Delivery, but to call when we were ready to come back to our room.  I hugged her and told her thank you for all she had done.  Brad and I stared at our sweet girl, all covered in tubes and wires, completely overwhelmed.  We rubbed her little head, and hands, fearing only the worst of what was to come in the coming days.  I was exhausted, scared, and down right devastated that my baby AND husband were about to leave me.
Our last few minutes were spent holding Sadie, praying over her, and signing all kinds of release forms - all the while our minds were spinning.  I had delivered Sadie less than 12 hours prior.  My mind hadn't wrapped around the fact I was a Mother.  And now I was having to process the news that my baby had an extremely serious condition.  And was transferring to a different hospital.

When the crew from Children's arrived, they quickly loaded her up, gave Brad instructions on where to go and what to do, and then they were gone.  Our girl was whisked away in the blink of an eye.

Brad asked me what we needed to do, and I choked out, "call Mama".  It doesn't matter how old a girl is, in times like this, she needs her Mama!  Brad went and called both of our parents, and it was decided my parents would come stay with me, and Brad's would go to Children's to be with him.  We went back to our room, Brad grabbed his things, kissed me goodbye, and left.

We're nearing the end friends! :)  Part 4 coming soon...