Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome to the world, Alora Bernice

So life has handed us a few more surprises since my last post - one of them being the most wonderful surprise I could have ever dreamed of. Our daughter, Alora Bernice, was born on July 8th, 2010 at 7:07am. She weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces and was 17.8" long. And she's perfect...

Now I'll start back at the beginning.
On my horrible week of bed rest, I went in to my doctor for another check up and was once again sent to the Labor and Delivery Unit for observation of my blood pressure. Only this time, they did not let me go home. I checked in on a Tuesday and by Wednesday evening, the doctors had decided to induce my labor as I was now labeled as a high risk pregnancy with severe preeclampsia. My blood pressure was wavering at such a high level that they were worried that I might have a seizure. All of this was happening so fast and was a little overwhelming and scary to say the least.

So Thursday morning around midnight, the doctors broke my water and started me on Pitocin to induce labor. Fortunately my mom and Jake's mom had just happened to come down to help out while I was on bed rest so they were able to provide some much needed support in a very scary time. We sent Jake home to get a few hours of rest, thinking the contractions would take some time to kick in. But boy was I wrong!! Within 20 minutes of starting the Pitocin, I was having contractions 2-4 minutes apart and they were strong enough where I could not talk through them, let along breath. On top of that, I was also given a very very nasty drug - Magnesium. This was to counter any seizures that might happen due to the high blood pressure. It was awful! I was nauseous, feverish and I was shaking so bad from the chills that my mom literally had to hold my legs down! And it made my head feel so foggy. All along I didn't know if I wanted to get an epidural or not, but once the magnesium took hold of my body and head, I had no mental power left to cope with the contractions. It was a little disheartening but in the end, I was so thankful I had the epidural and even more thankful I had Jake and my mom there to hold my hands while I was getting it. The epidural itself was not bad, but trying to breath through the growing contractions and trying to not throw up from the magnesium all while sitting perfectly still so someone could insert a needle into my spine was almost more that I could handle. However, once it kicked in I still couldn't think clearly with the magnesium but at least I no longer had the contractions to deal with on top of it. So, to make a long story a little shorter, I was able to get an hour of sleep and when they checked me again, I was ready to push. Suddenly there were doctors and nurses everywhere. It seemed like there must have been 40 people running around our little room (that may have been from the magnesium) and it was again all a little scary. But once I started pushing, it all became a blur and just a few pushes later, we had our beautiful little girl.

I was barely able to see her through all the people in the room, but I could see her skinny little legs kicking on the table, and when they finally had her wrapped up and placed her in my arms, I was so overwhelmed with love and emotion, all I could say was "She's so beautiful" over and over. I fell more in love with her than I ever thought possible and I willingly handed over my heart.

I was only able to hold her for a short time before she was whisked away to the Special Care Nursery to get her breathing under control. Because I was still under risk of seizures, I had to stay on the magnesium for another 24 hours after delivery and could not leave my bed. And Alora was not able to leave the nursery. It was the longest 24 hours of my life. Jake and the grandmas took lots of photos for me to see and all I could do was say prayers for her and cry. This was the first photo I saw of her, hooked up to so many wires and tubes... It absolutely broke my heart to see her like this and not be able to talk to her, hold her and comfort her.

 But the 24 hours finally passed and the magnesium effects finally started to wear off. It was a new day, and I was finally able to go see my daughter. My daughter! I could hardly believe I could finally say those words - "I have a daughter." It still brings tears to my eyes.

Holding her for the first time since her birth was one of the most beautiful moments. I held her to my skin so she could stay warm and hear my heartbeat, the sound she had been hearing for the past 8 months. And when I was finally able to stop crying and speak to her, the most beautiful thing happened. She opened her eyes and looked up in the direction of my voice - she recognized my voice... Once again, my life was changed.

After that day, the next two weeks went by in a blur. Alora had a lot of work to do before she could come home so we spent our days with her in the hospital, holding her, talking to her, feeding her, changing her. We did everything we could while juggling all of her tubes, wires and IV lines.

She also had jaundice so there were several days where we could only hold her while feeding her. Otherwise, she had to stay under the UV light as much as possible. We called her "our little blue light special."

Once her breathing was under control, the only thing keeping her in the hospital was her weight gain and eating. We were practicing nursing as much as we could, but she was too small and weak so it was pretty difficult for her. Bottles were still a challenge, but they were a little easier for her. Every day seem to be two steps forward and one step back. She still needed to finish a lot of her meals with a feeding tube, which went through her nose and straight to her belly so she didn't have to work at all to get nourishment. The hospital would not release her until she was able to go a minimum of 24 hours without needing the feeding tube and it seemed we would be so close each time and she would then poop out on us. She was just so little...

Slowly but surely, she managed to get the hang of eating and could stay awake for full bottles (less that 2 ounces). She also passed her hearing test and car seat test and finally after two long weeks, she was able to come home. My heart has never been so happy. 

A special thanks to the nurses at Swedish Covenant Hospital, who were so wonderful to us, both for my stay during the delivery and Alora's stay. Their compassion, patience and kind words will always be remembered.

"She laid on my chest & her breathing filled me almost to beyond what I could hold." -Brian Andreas 
Welcome to the world, Alora Bernice. 


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