Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Alone Together

There was some discussion as to whether or not I should go home, spend the night at St. Pete's, or be transported via Medivac (air ambulance) to Swedish Hospital . The team made it clear that they did not specialize in high-risk pregnancies nor did they have a neonatal intensive care unit. There it was. Out of the blue Katie and I had become a high-risk pregnancy. If either of us crashed in the next little while, I would have to deliver via C-section and they would send us via a seven-minute Medivac ride to Seattle for further care. I knew in my mind that was NOT going to happen. I still had some control but the hurricane was picking up wind speed.

Have you ever felt alone even when you have had people around you? It’s not the first time in my life I have felt that way, but now, laying in a hospital bed experiencing something so unbelievable and out of my control, I felt desperately on my own.  I mulled over the events of the day. What had just happened? What was going to happen? I was in denial even as this was happening to us. I focused my attention to my daughter's steady heartbeat on the fetal monitor. We were alone together, with one heck of a story to tell.

Few days before our adventure began....

Monday, February 22, 2010


As I was rushed into the ambulance, the coolness of the rain hit my face and I saw they grayness of the sky. It had been a gorgeous fall day until the moment I was hauled into the ambulance. I had a huge urge to push and screamed, "She's coming." The paramedics calmly directed me not to push. A vaginal birth with placenta previa meant Katie and I would have both died. End of story. The paramedics were not going to let that happen. Here they were, another set of the many, many angels I would meet that day. Two years later, I wish I could personally thank those two heroes. They were seriously cute angels, who did help me take my mind off the grave situation, even if only for a few moments.

By the time I entered labor and delivery at the hospital, my physician's nurse had already faxed over my history and physical, so the team knew my story by the time I arrived. Nurses and doctors flew by my side as I was wheeled down the hallway, a circle of chaos. Collectively they uttured the words, "Whoa" when they saw how much blood I lost. It was overwhelming to see and know how much blood could come out of me. Blood that was neeeded for my daughter's growth and development. For her survival. How could my body have betrayed us both in that way?

My angel and co-worker, nurse Angie and another angel co-worker Trina, were right there by my side. They waited with me until my father arrived, trying to make me laugh and holding my hand as I cried. They were in constant contact with my husband, giving him updates and tracking whether or not he was able to get a flight home. I am forever grateful to them.

After a while the bleeding stopped. An ultrasound revealed the very good news that the placenta had not torn away from my uterus. Katie's heart rate was strong. I remember feeling such relief to see her and then a huge sense of sadness at the same time because she was so little and so young and already dealing with a trauma.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Change of Plans

There was a powerful adrenaline rush during the 24-hours leading up to Katie's birth. In fact, it was almost exactly 24 hours from the time I started hemorrhaging to when I heard the words, "She's not breathing." I said a lot of things went right in a situation that was wrong. The day before she was born, I was getting ready to leave work and thought to myself, “I should use the bathroom before I get on the freeway.” A small thing, but a very good thing when I started to bleed, I wasn't sitting in traffic. Time is of the essence when you start hemorrhaging. I was standing in the assisted living community where I worked surrounded by people who knew what to do in an emergency. And, I was right across the street from a hospital. Not the hospital where I planned to deliver, but was all the same a hospital with skilled professionals who could at stabilize us.

I was so scared but comforted by the many amazing people who suddenly showed up to help me. I am the one who is used to being in control and now I needed to rely on others. My husband was called and was frantically trying to get on a flight from Alaska to get home to us. Word had gotten out and people were praying for us. I did not completely comprehend the situation (a coping mechanism I am sure) and had no clue of what this meant for my baby and me. I assumed it meant I was going to be on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. Little did I realize, Katie had different plans.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Category Five

Going with the flow isn't the first words that come to my family and friends’ minds when they describe me. I like order. I find peace in well-laid plans and pride myself in multitasking to accomplish a variety of things and to keep harmony in my being.

I believe we are given situations in our life that confront our fears, test our strength and define who we are as human beings. Sometimes life lessons come in the form of a light breeze and other times that breeze blows in as a category five hurricane. My hurricane began to pick up speed that rainy fall afternoon when all was going along as scheduled. Or so I thought.

Being out of control is unfamiliar territory for me and it is a place I have fought against my entire life. In some circumstances, it has served me well and in others it has caused discord. Out of control is an uncomfortable space for me and I knew the out of control nature of what was happening was putting my baby’s life at stake. Our job as mothers is to protect our child's life, especially in our wombs. I knew as long as my daughter was in the safe keeping of my womb, I could protect her.

But what do you do when your control as a mother and our amazing God given ability to grow life suddenly flings out of control? What happens when you are completely and totally betrayed by your own body? You quickly learn you were never in control in the first place.

Monday, February 15, 2010


It wasn’t even my carpet. I was at work when my "What if" happened, an hour away from my doctor and the safety of the hospital walls that I knew would take care of me. My husband was working in Alaska, which at the time might as well have been a million miles away. My son was at school and life was just going on for him as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. But it was. I was only 31-weeks pregnant and hemorrhaging ruby red blood on a client’s carpet. The floodgates opened and I started going into shock.

I was incredibly lucky. I work in the health care industry and the people around me all knew what to do. They remained composed and collected. There were a lot of circumstances that day that could have gone very wrong, but the location where this occurred, was very right. I was with an RN whom I trusted and she was well aware of my pregnancy precautions. My angel, she remained calm and skilled at emergency situations. I clearly remember the look in her brown eyes as I asked over and over again if we were going to be ok. Her eyes were direct and intense but also comforting. Comfort was what I needed as it turned out, the roller coaster was just leaving the gate.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ruby Red

Have you ever felt as if you were in an action movie where the bad guys are coming fast and feverishly toward you, the good guy? You're fighting them off but it's all in slow motion. That's what I felt like when my "What if" came true.

Blood. Lots and lots of red blood gushing as if my water had broken. Anytime you see blood, especially when you're pregnant, it’s usually not a sign that things are going well. I knew this bleeding was not good for my daughter and as I recall in my slow motion moment, I watched as my greatest fears came true in front of me.

Shock, terror, and time were standing still. Literally. I clearly remember a moment of lucidness as I observed the ruby red color of the blood and thought to myself, “This can’t be good,” From there, my mind observed that I should move off the carpet and onto the linoleum floor so it would be easier to clean up the blood. These thought patterns felt as if they took forever, but I believe it was only a few seconds. Looking back at that moment, those thoughts seemed to be the one thing I could control as my life was spinning out of control. I laugh at it now but at the time it seemed logical to worry about the carpet even as someone dialed 911.

Mommy Sense

How does a mom know? How does she know when her child is about to get sick, when they need a hug versus a timeout, or food to ease their crankiness? Moms have the Mommy sense.

I had a Mommy Sense this pregnancy was going to be different than my first. Looking back, everything was on track and there was no reason to think otherwise. The 20-week ultrasound gave a small inclination, again nothing hugely alarming, just watching. The ultrasound showed my placenta, which provides nutrients to the baby, was lying a bit too low in my uterus. It is a condition known as placenta previa. The doctor said it was very likely that as the baby grew, the placenta would move into place. If it didn’t, we’d likely have to have a C-section delivery. It was early in my pregnancy and no one was alarmed. Everything else with her was right on schedule. We were overjoyed with the idea of having a girl but my Mommy Sense said something in my life was going to change, and it wasn't just the fact that we were going to have a second child.

As time progressed, other ultrasounds showed the placenta was stubbornly not moving into its proper place. There are risks associated with this and the doctors educated us on the, "What ifs." Mostly the, ‘What if’ meant if the placenta ruptured, I would experience fast and significant bleeding. No worries, the C-section was planned for 37-weeks and we were on our way. But what happens when the, ’What if’ becomes your reality?

Take Notice

My journey to start this blog began three years ago. Prior to that, I never knew what the acronym NICU stood for. It turns out it stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – a place I am now all too familiar with. I have to say, up until three years ago, I never had a life changing moment, nor had I had to dig as deep within my soul as I have these past few years.

I don't believe in accidents. At least I don't believe in them anymore. I may or may not have the foresight to understand why something happened or the reason a person entered my life , but over the past three years, I have learned to take note when something out of the ordinary occurs. When I have that unsure feeling or instinct in my being that perks my senses, I now pause and take notice.

A baby born at 31 weeks is too early and certainly not optimum. A few years ago I would have made a metal note and felt sad for a baby and family in that situation. Now, my family is one of those families. Our daughter is a premature baby statistic. At 31 weeks she was supposed to still be protected inside me, taking her time to develop, the two of us staying the pregnancy course. But apparently, our daughter didn’t know that. But I had a sense.