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...  

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