Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Peanut is finally home!

It has been a crazy couple of weeks. For anyone who hasn't heard our story, here is the whirlwind that brought our little mouse into the world.

I was not a good patient at all. Throughout my pregnancy, I avoided prenatal testing and even skipped some of my appointments. My doctor was certainly frustrated with me to say the least. On February 3rd, I got a phone call from her office saying they would like to see me as it had been 2 weeks since my last visit and I had not made a followup appointment. I had a meeting after work but since the doctor's office is right down the street from my school, I figured I could go really quick and make it back in time for the meeting. When I got to her office, I got the usual lecture about how I needed to get my gestational diabetes test done and then we got on with the exam. My baby belly was still measuring small, even smaller than it had been two weeks prior. I had also not gained any more weight and that was concerning. Then we listened to the doppler of the heartbeat and it sounded strong at first but while we listened, it plummeted, scaring us both. My doc hooked me up to the monitors and we listened to the baby for 20 minutes. She was wiggling around in there the whole time so that was reassuring and her heart rate did just what it was supposed to (needless to say at this point I would not make it to my meeting!) Then we did an ultrasound so she could measure the baby since I was measuring so small. My doc had a hard time getting measurements but eventually determined that the baby was growth restricted, meaning that at some point in the pregnancy she had just stopped growing, maybe as much as 3-4 weeks before. In addition to that, I had absolutely no amniotic fluid left. My doc switched off the monitors and said, "You are having this baby today!"

I burst into tears! First, we were almost 5 weeks early! Second, I just knew that all this lackadaisical prenatal care was the cause of this and it was all my fault if something happened to her. Also I had just walked out of work with my desk a mess, nothing was graded and I didn't have any of my maternity sub work ready to go. We didn't have the baby's room set up, her clothes washed or anything. I was totally unprepared. I am used to being totally unprepared for things or having to rush and do things at the last minute but never like this! The doc sent me right over to L&D and I called my mom and Tim who rushed to the hospital. They were prepping me for a C-section, my worst nightmare. I wanted a natural birth this time after having 2 epidurals with my big girls. But this baby was transverse and in distress so a C-section was my only option... that is until the doc examined me again. My wiggly girl had turned head down and we could try inducing instead. The hooked me up and mild contractions started. It was just a few minutes before I knew there was no way we were going to make it through an induction. The baby's heartrate dropped below 100 during each contraction and these were tiny contractions, and it took longer and longer to climb back to normal. We called in the nurses and they called the doc who confirmed that a C-section was safer. At that point, I agreed too since it was clear the baby wasn't going to be able to tolerate labor.

They wheeled me in and I will spare you the gory details of the C-section, partially because I don't know them! They told me they would tell me as each thing was happening but I told them not to. I just wanted to know when the baby was out and that she was healthy. The anisthesiologist's assistant was just about the sweetest person I've ever met and she reassured me the entire time. The C-section was more than Tim could handle so he stayed outside and my mom sat with me. I was OK with that since she was way more supportive than he could have been given his state of mind. He does not handle this kind of thing well and he had been a basketcase since I called him with the words, "emergency C-section."

Audrey Elaine entered the world at 9:50 pm and weighed just 4lbs 15oz. They had told me that it was very likely she would have some breathing issues and that my hospital was not equipped to handle a high needs preemie so she would probably be transferred to Austin. That's exactly what happened. I got to see her briefly twice before they rushed her off. Tim went with her and I didn't see either one of them for 2 days after that since he didn't leave her side. Recovering from the C-section, especially that first night, was pretty awful. I was worried about the baby, I was worried about my other two girls, and I was worried about work, especially since this hasn't been my best year and my boss had already been too forgiving of my shortfalls.

I got out of the hospital Friday night (the 5th) and Tim likes to tell people I bullied my way out. He exaggerates. My doc said I was doing fine and offered to release me a little early knowing I had not seen my little one and she was all the way in Austin. I just took her up on the offer, but I would have started begging to leave even if she hadn't said I could go. We took Jules up to see Audrey and that first visit was short and difficult. The next day was better since we got to hold her but she still had an IV and a feeding tube and tons of probes and wires and beeping machines. It was scary. The good news was her lungs were mature and she was able to tolerate breathing room air without assistance. Her breathing issues were because of a double pneumothorax, which is an air pocket surrounding the lungs and they docs had done all they could, using a needle to draw out the air in the pocket, and now we just had to wait for her body to heal itself. They were feeding her formula through a feeding tube until my milk came in and that was not going well either. She was not digesting quickly enough for them. When she got my milk rather than formula, she did MUCH better so they took her off formula altogether once my milk came in.

Then it became a waiting game and the days just run together during all this. At first we got good news everyday. Her IV came out, her feeding tube came out, they were upping her feeds, but then she started losing weight rather than gaining and the answers about her going home became, "Maybe tomorrow." There were many maybe tomorrows though. I got to room in with her, meaning they gave me a hosital room and she stayed with me, in order to get her feeding well and get her weight up. The first night, she lost again! The next night she gained barely 1/4 of an ounce, still not enough to go home. Finally the last day she gained 30 grams, more than an ounce and they showed us the door. Home at last!

There are obviously lots of things I left out like I am so blessed to have my parents who broke all their plans for 2 weeks and came to live in my house and watch the girls while I was in the hospital. Best of all, they got the whole house ready, including Audrey's room so we were actually ready when she came home. I am so lucky to have such a great team at work who has taken care of everything and told me not to worry about anything and a boss who didn't get mad like I thought and was really worried about me and celebrated the updates on the baby! I am blessed to have family and friends (IRL and online) who have watched the girls and brought us food and just offered prayers and support. I also thank my doctor (and her secretary for calling me that day!) and all the NICU docs and nurses for saving my little Audrey's life! This has been one of the roughest times in our lives and we have survived it with all your help.