I wanted to share the story of the birth of our precious girl. You have been forewarned that this will be LONG...I have so much to say, and so much to share, I dont even know where to start. I want to share with you the birth story, the week following birth, and the present with my little Annabelle. It may take a few posts to get it all out, but I will do my best. This will be a lot of reading, if youre interested. SO...Where to start?
Something I did not share on this blog while I was pregnant was the detail of our ultrasounds. Ultrasounds were something that I actually dreaded, which made me feel bad, because they are usually supposed to be exciting. Right? you get to see you sweet little one growing and developing right in front of you. It is in fact pretty amazing technology, but I just wanted to SEE her and HOLD her for real. Why?
We went in for our first ultrasound at 18 weeks. This is when we would find out the sex of our baby. I looked forward to that for the whole 18 weeks prior. I couldnt stand waiting for that day. I didnt think much else about what the ultrasound might show. I have never done this before, so i just didnt know. The whole process took like 2 hours or something ridiculous. It made me a little nervous that it was taking so long. Anyways, they called me to come back for a follow up ultrasound at 20 weeks with a doctor who specializes in the more "serious" of ultrasounds. He told us at the end of the process the following things:
1.Baby has a white spot on her heart. Nothing serious, but something that rises concern. said it was like a calcium deposit that could go away eventually. But, it was a "marker"
2. Baby's kidney was slightly dilated. Also, nothing to be too concerned with, but it was a "marker".
3. Baby's thickness on the back of her neck was slightly thicker than what they normally would like to see. Another, bigger "marker"
Doctor went on to say that all these markers raised my chances of having a baby with Down Syndrome. He proceeded to tell me that because I was young, the chances are still slim, but these markers rise concern. He offered me the amniocentesis. where they draw fluid from the amniotic sac, which will tell 99% sure if there is any abnormality with your child. He had to tell me that there was a risk of miscarriage, and all the other little risks of sticking a needle into your abdomen. yikes. I did not know enough about that test. He told us we had to make a decision right away, so they could do it then. We decided not to. He said, "so, you will continue with this pregnancy no matter what?" We responded, "well of course". He liked our answer. I later came to find out that numerous pregnancies are terminated when mom's find out their baby is not perfect. I was heartbroken and confused about our news, and didnt want to tell anyone about it, because it wasnt a for sure thing. I had a very very hard time with the news. Its nothing you prepare yourself for or expect. Its nothing I never had previously thought about or really considered.
BUT, in my heart I KNEW that IF she was in fact a Downs child, then the Lord needed more of them in this world. He was giving one to Craig and I because He knew we would not terminate. He knew we and our amazing families would love her to pieces no matter what. I had peace in that. But, still prayed that she would be healthy and that God would prepare our hearts for what she would be.
Some of the Joy of pregnancy was taken away from me for a couple weeks. I had a hard time not knowing for sure what she would be. Eventually, my mind was at ease, and I didnt think much of it. I LOVED her. With a LOVE that I never knew before. I was already having to make decisions for HER sweet little life before she was even here. I think I made myself believe that she would be a "typical", not NORMAL, a TYPICAL, child. But, the thought was still in the back of my mind.
I started praying very very hard that the spot in her heart, and the dilated kidney would go away. That was my main prayer. that she would develop properly and healthy. We were scheduled to go back for a 30 week ultrasound. One that I wanted to cancel many times. I did not want more news, I JUST wanted to enjoy carrying this child, and wait till i saw her in april. BUT, we went anyways. I kinda went to this ultrasound appointment kicking and screaming. (not literally) Here is how that appointment went:
Doctor went through all her organs and focused a lot on the problems he had previously seen. He went to her heart, and said, "Well, the spot in her heart is gone". In my mind, I smiled and said, THANK YOU JESUS!!!! He then went to her previously dilated kidney, and said, "Her kidney looks great. Not dilated anymore". Again, I said, THANK YOU JESUS!!! I was so excited that EXACTLY what I had been praying for had been answered!!!!! she was healthy. Doc said everything looked great, but she just had a little bit shorter legs and arms than what her gestational age was. we kind of giggled, and thought, well, she is a Schmidt! they are a bit stalky. ha. I left that room overjoyed!!!!!! she was healthy!!!!!!! The thought of Downs was tucked way way way in the back of my mind. It wasnt OUT of my mind, but it was now something i did not expect. I was thankful that I went to the dreaded appointment. We were then scheduled for another ultrasound at 35 weeks. That appointment also went well. The doctor shook our hands and congratulated us on a healthy baby! yet, still saying that her arms and legs were a bit small. i wasnt concerned.
If you have kept up with this blog at all, then you might have seen the couple days before my delivery day. about me going through some intense contractions, and thinking it would be any day. I think I went through at least 3 days of some intense and often consistent contractions. I was FINALLY admitted on Wednesday evening, the 14th. I went in about 3pm, was dilated to about 3, given morphine, dilated to 4, then was sent to walk around for a couple hours. i was so nervous when they sent me out, that i asked them to please keep my hospital room open for me. i did not want to spend another night in agony. I went and had supper at TGIFridays, and then went to the outlet mall to walk around. I did NOT want to walk where there were a lot of people because every time I had a contraction, i am sure I looked funny, and was about to fall over. So, we walked around the OUTSIDE walls of the mall. my contractions had spread themselves apart, and were not as consistent as before. at about 7:30, i thought i might be ok to just go home and wait it out. the nurse encouraged me to at least come in and get checked. So, i did. I was at a 6, and she said that I would not be going home. I was given the long awaited and oh so wonderful epidural within minutes. my contractions still were too spaced out, so about 3 hours (i think) later, i was given pitocin. I didnt mind.
The nurse came in about every hour or two to check my progress. I slept through most of whatever was going on, then I noticed that on my left side, the epidural seemed to be wearing off. I told the nurse, and she was going to get the anesthesiologist to help the prob. but, it was too late. At about 2:30am, she said it was time to start pushing. The whole process seemed so so calm. my nurse was fantastic!! walked me through every step. craig was by my side helping the whole time too. my doctor was on call that night, and finally came in the room during the pushing. she walked in half asleep, which sort of made me a little irritated, but whatever. she was woken up soon enough. I pushed for less than an hour. I know the epidural helped ease some of the pain, but I definitely felt the pushing and the baby getting lower and lower. i am so glad i could feel some of it. even though painful. it was quite an experience i would never take back. The doctors and nurses kept saying how much hair she had! they were all so amazed at her hair!
I finally felt the baby's head start to come out. I think it was halfway out when I had to stop and take a breather. Then, the next set of pushes, she was out. it was 3:25 am. after the head, the body came so fast. It was amazing. After that feeling, the rest is seriously a blur! I do remember them putting her on my chest, still icky and a bit bloody. they quickly took her off to clean her up.
While the doctor continued to take care of me, the nurses were working on all their after delivery things they do. we could hear a lot of fluid in her lungs, and they were not able to get it out. That was just the beginning of a LONG week. they brought her back to me, all bundled and let me hold her. THEN, took her again. the doctor went to examine her i guess. (seriously, this is all such a blur.)
They brought her back to me one more time, and while I was holding her, the doctor came to talk to me and Craig.
I am going to type through my tears here....She informed us that baby had features of Down Syndrome. She was pretty sure that this was the case. She did say that they will have to wait to say FOR SURE until blood tests come back, but she was very certain that my sweet girl had Downs. I dont know how I felt. I dont remember how I reacted. I think I just sat there. My doctor went to share the news with my family who had been in the waiting room ALL NIGHT. My family came in to see her, and that time seemed to go by super fast too. such a blur. They took her again, and this time,not only out of my arms, but out of our room. I did not get to see her until later the next afternoon. NOT able to hold her.
I fell asleep before processing the information. I dont remember if Craig and I even talked about it before I went to sleep. we did hug and kiss, but I dont remember a conversation. I think i was too exhausted. Of course i didnt sleep through the night, with all the nurse interruptions, ice packs in places i have never had ice packs, ibruprophen, and millions of thoughts running through my mind. all i know is that I wanted her! I LOVED her. My feelings of the news of her being downs were not sad ones. I never took the thought out of my mind completely after that 20 week ultrasound. So, shock was not one of my feelings. I am not sure what they were really.
My family was with us a lot of the day. Craig went to run some errands for a while. I felt so sad that I hadnt seen her at all. She was in the nursery down the hall, and I had to figure out how to walk, or they could wheel me down there. I finally got out of bed at some point, and was wheeled down there. I felt like such a bad mom because it took me so long to get down and see her. like, what was i supposed to do? moving, sitting, walking, sleeping, lying, all hurt. anyways. My heart broke into millions of pieces when I saw her. Writing this now is really hard, and I am fighting back the tears.
When I saw her, she had a breathing tube thing in her nose, and an IV in her arm. She was unable to start feeding, so i was to pump whatever I had and save it. (Pumping is SO exhausting and draining, i would later find out!) She also was the most adorably precious thing i had ever seen in my life. she was the prettiest baby i had ever seen in my life. She WAS now MY LIFE!!! I had such a hard time that day not being with her, spending time standing next to her little warming bed. not able to hold her. The Lord was working in my heart in ways i never knew I would experience Him. I was more thankful for this child than I ever knew I would be. I couldnt give a crap that she was Downs, I JUST WANTED HER TO BE HEALTHY!!!!!!! I wanted to start taking care of her, and raising her on my own. I wanted to be the one taking care of her every need, changing her, feeding her, comforting her. ya know, the NORMAL things that moms do! I hated that all the nurses were doing that when it was supposed to be MY job! I was jealous of them.
That night, they decided that we could probably keep her in our room. WITH monitors and oxygen for her to breathe, and the IV. I did NOT sleep more than maybe an hour or two that night. and neither of those hours were consistent. we had so much fun having her with us, finally getting to hold her, but only for a minute cause of all the stuff hooked up to her. we got to change her, and stare at her. Her monitor kept beeping VERY often. i didnt know what it meant. Nurses would come in every now and then, but not every time it went off. that bugged me, cause i didnt understand what was happening. And I could not do anything about it. Everything about her and this situation was so out of my control. I hated it so much. Everytime a nurse came in to take care of her, i felt like i had to be right there next to them. right? i was the mom. what can I do? Then, sometimes I felt in the way. geez.
EARLY friday morning they came in to do a newborn screening. that i hated too. because Annabelle hated it. she was so pissed and got so upset. soon after that screening, they rolled her back out of our room because they were concerned about her condition. like it had gotten worse or something. i was confused......
THE NEXT DAY (FRIDAY): This day soon became the worst day i may have ever experienced, and pain that I have never felt in my whole life. Physically and emotionally. I seriously mean it when I say I dont remember much of it. like how i felt (emotionally) was pretty numb. That morning, after being rolled out of our room, she was being examined quite a bit by numerous nurses and doctors in the nursery. we went in to see her as often as we could. Craig and I at one point just stared at her and cried together. SUCH a feeling of helplessness. We were getting information about her condition from different nurses, doctors and pediatricians. no one had a clear answer about what was going on. they did finally tell us, they may have to transport her to a NICU. more news i hated.
I am not sure what time it was, but they informed us on the final verdict. She was going to be transferred to a different hospital, about 45 min away. They would do some xrays, ultrasounds on her, and tests to see what the problem was. IF these tests came back saying surgery was needed, then she would be transported to a hospital in Fort Worth. The transport team was on their way, and making preparations to get her out. this is when we broke down.
I was to be discharged from the hospital earlier than the normal post-vaginal delivery. I hurried (like a turtle) to clean out our room, and get myself a MUCH needed shower, so we could take off to the other hospital. before the Transport team left in the ambulance with my little baby girl, they rolled her into our room to say goodbye. I can not even tell you how hard it was to see her. I cant even begin to explain the kind of things they had hooked up to her, and she was in some sort of enclosed incubator or something. it was awful to say good bye to her like that. as soon as they left the room, i lost it. my mom, dad, and craig were in there, and we all cried. it was awful. geez, this is hard to write. I was completely out of any sort of control over my own daughter. again, helplessness.
We all headed out, and craig and i stopped at home to pack bags. we were unsure of how long this would be. would we need a place to stay? where are we even going? where will we even end up for the night? when will SHE get to come home? how long will we be gone? we packed a few things, not enough.
the ride on the highway to the hospital seemed forever. i felt like if i got out i could run faster. because of how badly i wanted to get there and hear the news! we finally made it, and went back to see her. before entering the room she was in, we were told to scrub up to our elbows, and wear a hospital gown. we quickly made it to "bedside" and almost lost it again. she was hooked up to a few more things than she was before. For sure no holding her now. Her doctor informed us as best as he could what was going on with her. I did not understand a lot of it, but will tell you what i do understand....
She was not getting enough oxygen into her blood. Some arteries were constricted, which was preventing good blood flow to her lungs. Her heart, lungs and blood were taking a little longer to adjust to life outside the womb. They were going to run more tests, and let us know that evening what would be happening. our prayer NOW was NO SURGERY. Please, no surgery. my poor baby girl.
we left to get dinner with my parents. dinner came AFTER me fulfilling my much needed prescriptions for pain meds.
While pulling into the parking lot of Applebees, the doctor called us. i sat in the passenger seat, trying to assume the conversation by craig's tone. He looked at me at one point and gave me a thumbs up. He kept saying, "sure, whatever you need to do. yes, you have our permission. Ok. Ok. Ok. Ill let my wife know." He got off the phone, and told me there was no surgery needed. the best news i had heard in 48 hours. So, we had dinner. Got hooked up to stay at a Ronald McDonald house. and tried to keep our minds at ease. Our faith was being stretched. our love and trust in our God was being challenged. our lives had drastically changed in only a few hours. "drastically" is not being dramatic. our lives had drastically changed!
Craig and I went to visit her that night before going to bed. poor baby. it was hard to see her.
i tried to sleep that night. it was for sure the most sleep i had gotten in a while. my mind was on nothing other than that sweet little girl. so many questions unanswered. the main one on my mind: WHEN WILL I GET TO BE HER MOMMY????
DAYS IN THE NICU: Annabelle was in the hospital from Friday evening till the NEXT Friday morning. The days of that week all run together. Craig HAD to attempt to go back to work some days. My parents faithfully, and supportively came out every day. My sweet awesome Aunt drove down from Dallas to be with us, even though she could not see my baby. (ONLY parents and 4 grandparents were allowed on the visitors list. NO EXCEPTIONS) They brought us food, coffee, and good company. It was a tough week. A long week. I would spend endless hours just sitting in there, watching her. I also sat and judged the nurses like crazy. she had a different nurse every 12 hours. most of them I really liked. There was one that i did NOT like and I felt i could not leave her bedside the whole day. Some days, she seemed to be progressing, other moments, I just wasnt sure. But, really, every day for her got better and better. towards the end of the week, we started seeing new lines and monitors come off her her tiny body. later on in the week,we also got to hold her, maneuvering around all the wires. we got to help change her diapers, and help take her temp. some days seemed great. i DID have one day, which was NOT so great. I think that day was tuesday or Wednesday. maybe. I was alone that morning. Got mis-interpreted news that she might now have pneumonia and i thought the doc said she may be a week or 2 more in there. i had a small breakdown and texted some family. Craigs family then decided to drive out to Texas. I felt bad that i might have scared them, but see how the Lord orchestrated those plans to have them out here...
My sister, Rachel, lives in Florida. she happened to be coming to Texas on Wednesday, and we were gonna see her on Thursday. that, was the Lord who put that together. THEN, Craig's entire family was also coming out. that also was the Lord who put that together. we NEVER knew when little peanut would be discharged. because of her amazing progress, we got news on thrusday that we could stay the night in a "transition" room THAT night and if she did well, we would take her home Friday. amazing that everyone was here to see us take her home.
SO we passed the test of being parents, i guess. staying that first night with her, even though in a hospital, was so awesome. we got to just hang out with her! we were thrilled. The feeling of us being able to bring her home was unbelievable! I was overwhemed. THIS TIME with JOY!! That friday morning, after speaking to doctors and nurses upon discharge, was so fun! we hooked her up in her car seat, and walked out of that hospital. I could NOT stop smiling the whole time. Smiling and thanking the LORD for His goodness and faithfulness. an amazing feeling i can not explain. MUCH like all the feelings i have had. something you can not explain.
So, here I am, HOME with my peanut!! Learning how to be a mom. Making decisions about her life, that might effect her life. Hoping the decisions are the right ones. I have loved being with her. dressing her. bathing her. changing her. Nursing has been the biggest challenge for me so far. While she was in the hospital, i had to pump and we started her on bottles. we worked on nursing a bit, but mostly bottles. Now having her home, she has been fighting the nursing. This is where I am having a hard time knowing what decision to make for her. I want to do things that are best for HER. she doesnt understand my schedule or my needs.
I tell you that detail, because, I understand this is just the beginning of raising this little girl. I will face so many decisions to make for HER. I pray the Lord gives me wisdom and understanding and show me the best way to raise an infant, a toddler, a preschooler, an elementary schooler, ETC......
I am so in love with Annabelle. I am so thankful that the Lord CHOSE Craig and I to raise this child. He GAVE us a gift. i feel so honored that He chose us. HE CHOSE US!!!
WE are incredibly thankful for all of your prayers. You have no idea how much all of your support meant to us last week. we would not have made it through the week with out everyone's love. Absolutely amazing what the Lord has done in our lives, and how Annabelle, only days old, touched hearts and changed lives.