God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
(2 Corinthians 1:3b-4, NLT)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Introducing Faith Marie

Faith Marie- diagnosed with gastroschisis September 11, 2008, at 28 weeks gestation. To learn more about gastroschisis, check out http://www.gastroschisis.net/

Everything was perfect with my pregnancy, there was never any indication that anything might be wrong. We were planning a homebirth and looking forward to it, but I had some fears that I could not work through, telling me to have an ultrasound just to be sure everything was ok. I finally decided to follow through with getting one after I read about some complications that can occur in pregnancy when the mom has lupus, as we were starting to suspect I did.

The ultrasound was weird... the tech never stayed in any one area for very long, and it only lasted 25 minutes, even though I was told ahead of time it would be about an hour long. We were only given pictures of her head...

Afterwards, the tech had us wait around while she showed the results to a doctor, just to make sure the doctor didn't need her to do anything else. The next day I had an appointment with the midwife, who said the ultrasound clinic had called 3 times while I was there the day before, wanting to talk to the other midwife. She figured they were just worked up because they don't usually work with lay midwives...

The next day I had an appointment with my regular doctor to find out the results of the bloodwork I had to try and diagnose my chronic pain and fatigue. I found out that I had the blood marker for lupus, and then after the appointment we mentioned that we'd still never heard about the ultrasound report, so she requested a copy from the clinic. About 10 minutes later she called us back into the office and told us about Faith's gastroschisis.

We immediately started making plans. Obviously the homebirth was out of the question, and knowing that Faith would need to be at Children's Hospital in Denver when she was born, I decided that I'd prefer to have my OB treatment in Denver too. My mom and I started researching and found out that University and Children's Hospitals have a great program for high risk pregnancies, and immediately contacted them to get the appointments scheduled. We found an RV park less than a mile from the hospital campus, and it was a good thing, because I had appointments virtually every day for the rest of the pregnancy. My mom, the boys, and I moved to the campground and settled in.

We got lots of good news at the appointments. We found out that the gastroschisis was the only health issue Faith had, and that only her intestines were out (although she was growth restricted, or smaller than normal, too, but that was related to the gastro). I continued to have perfect prenatal check-ups, and had 2 perfect non-stress tests and fluid checks a week. They checked the bloodflows through the umbilical cord and in Faith's brain once a week, and although they fluctuated some and were borderline some weeks, they were never abnormal. At my first appointment with the high-risk OB's, we found out that they would do an amniocentisis at 37 weeks (November 7), and depending on her lung maturity, they would induce me after that.

Finally, 37 weeks came, and they did the amnio. Because of her intestines being in the fluid, there was bile in the fluid, causing the lab to have issues with the test. They had to run it twice, and when the results finally came back, it just said it was "negative" and didn't have the number value of maturity like it usually would. We were disappointed and worried at that point, because instead of telling us it was bile in the fluid, we were told it was meconium, which I had read in many studies correlates with bowel damage that can cause more issues post-surgery.

At that point I had been having a lot of contractions for about a week, and every day they felt more real. Mom and I took the boys to the museum to see the dinosaur exhibit on Tuesday, and I went to an OB appointment on Wednesday afternoon (November 12). At the appointment I found out I had a really soft cervix and was 1 cm dilated at the outside part, but it was still long, and still closed at the inside. I was disappointed, because I'd been checked on Monday and it was the same. Little did I know...

Wednesday night the contractions started to feel more regular, and definitely more noticeably uncomfortable. I laid down to go to bed around 10 pm, and dozed off and on through contractions until finally I couldn't sleep anymore at 2 am. I got up and tried to decide if it was the real thing, and after a few contractions that were less than 5 minutes apart and hard enough that I had to pace and really focus on breathing through them, I decided I should probably wake my mom up. We called my dad and Dave at that point and told them they should probably get on their way down.

The guys got to us around 3 and my mom, Dave, and I left for the hospital. They put us in a triage room, and finally someone came in around 4 and checked my cervix. I was at 4 cm and about 25% effaced, so they decided I should probably stay. Because of the gastroschisis, they decided that I had to be continuously monitored, which really limited my ability to try things to help with contractions. I was able to spend a lot of time up though, and only got in the bed when I wanted to. I labored in a chair, on a ball, and standing by the bed... I was also given one 15 minute break from the monitor and was allowed to be in the tub for that time. I was making progress, but was getting disappointed that it wasn't going as fast as I'd expected.
Dilation was slow, because I wasn't effaced. I stayed upright as much as I could, hoping that her head would put pressure on my cervix and make it efface. I was checked and was 6 cm and 40%, then 6 cm and 60%, then 7 cm and 80%... and each time Faith's head was still floating, so they couldn't break my water. I kept going, knowing that if I could just get her to drop down, they could break my water, and things would pick up... but the contractions were getting really, really intense, and I was running out of ideas. (I found out later that she had bruising that ran all the way across her face, from ear to ear, which makes me think that maybe she was caught up in the cord and that is why she wouldn't drop and engage...)
My knowledge of the birth process and doula stuff was helping me with ideas, but I think it also was hindering my progress, because I was too much in my head, analyzing and over-thinking everything, and letting myself get disappointed that nothing I was trying was working, and that I couldn't do what I wanted to do, which was just to get in the shower or the tub and let the water help take the pain away...

Finally I couldn't stand the intensity anymore, my mom reminded me to relax through contractions, but I was past being able to relax, and the hip squeezing I had the nurse and Dave doing through contractions wasn't working anymore... I had some fentanyl, thinking if I could just rest a little bit I'd be able to keep going. By this point it was after noon... Fentanyl's a weird thing... it doesn't really take the pain away, but makes you super sleepy right away... sleepy enough that you don't feel like you need to breathe... so the nurse put the oxygen mask on me.
The fentanyl helped some, after I had it I felt like I had a little bit of a second wind, and I told myself if I just kept going, things would change and it would all be ok. But the next time they checked me, they said they thought they could finally break my water, and then decided a second later that they really couldn't still, and it was just too much. I struggled through the next couple contractions, and the nurse told me that I needed to prepare myself for the possibility of a c-section if she didn't drop down on her own soon. At that point, I decided that if I might end up with a c-section anyway, I might as well get an epidural.

As soon as the epidural was in and working, I was finally able to relax. As much as I knew about epidurals and their possible effects on labor, I found out that I really didn't know that much about what they are actually like. I was still able to move and feel my legs, and I still felt contractions, although they weren't painful anymore. Faith's heartrate stayed perfectly stable, she was doing great through everything.

About 20 or 30 minutes after the epidural was in, my mom, the nurse and I were relaxing and talking, when suddenly there was a big pop and my water broke with a huge gush of fluid. It was one of the strangest things I have ever experienced, but I am so glad my water broke on its own and I was able to have that experience. Awhile after that, I started having to push the button to strengthen the epidural, because I was starting to feel alot more uncomfortable again through contractions. The doctor came in to check me, and I was complete and +1! They let everyone know who needed to be ready for Faith to arrive, and I started pushing with contractions. Pushing felt so good! I could feel everything, I could feel her head moving down with each push, and then going back up a little bit after the contractions were over... I asked for a mirror, and with the next contraction I could see her crowning. Having the mirror and being able to actually see the progress made me determined to keep her from going back up after contractions, and with the next push her head was out! I only pushed for maybe 5 contractions... She had the cord around her neck, and when the doctor tried to get it unwrapped, it pulled away from her body and there was a lot of blood. This was something I knew to expect, since there is a hole very near to the cord with gastroschisis, it makes the cord's attachment spot less strong and more prone to pulling off. I found out later that it worried my mom a lot when it happened; I had forgotten to tell her that might happen. She was born at 4:23 PM on Thursday, November 13.

Faith started moving and making noise as soon as she was out. They took her over to the warmer and the team from the NICU worked on her, trying to stop the bleeding from what would have been her cord stump (since it pulled completely away from her body, there was nothing to clamp). I could hear her crying, and it was the best noise ever. About 5 minutes later the placenta came out. It was a very strange feeling, suddenly my belly felt so empty; I don't remember that part of my birth with Noah at all. I had one tiny little scratch that didn't need any stitching.

They took Faith away to the NICU, and awhile later the Flight for Life team was there to take her next door to Children's Hospital. We went in and had her baptized before she was transferred, and then she and Dave were gone. I was taken back to my room and finally got to eat (at this point it was about 7 pm, I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours, just had glucose in the IV to keep my blood sugar up). The food service people only brought about half of the food I ordered...
I wanted to sleep so badly, but made myself wait because I still had to be changed to a recovery room. Finally I was taken to the room I could sleep in, and I called Dave for an update. Faith was going to surgery around 10 pm, but we wouldn't know until afterwards if they would do a primary closure or a silo. Around 12:30 he called and let me know she was out of surgery and they had decided to do a silo. She had breathed great on her own until they had to intubate her for the surgery, which was great news.
I was out of the hospital by 10 am the next day, and was so glad to be able to see her again. I was also glad that I'd had preparation for seeing her with all the tubes and wires, from the time I spent in the NICU with Nathan 2 1/2 years ago.

Faith weighed 6 lbs 4 oz at birth, and was 18 1/4 inches long. I think her birth weight was exaggerated though because of the 2 bags of fluids I had while in labor, because on Friday when they weighed her she was between 5 lbs 9 oz and 5 lbs 10 oz, and she has been pretty swollen, so I wouldn't be surprised if after the swelling goes down, she weighs even less.

We're on day 4 now, and she is doing great. They've done a reduction every day around mid-morning, but could almost be doing more than one a day, because when they come around in the afternoon/evening, it's already gone in way more on its own by that point. The surgeon says they should be able to close her up on Wednesday.

I will post more details about the past 4 days, and more updates later!


HollyM said...

She is such a cutie Raeanne! And what a birth story. I am so glad that she is here and is such a fighter. You guys are in my prayers!

Cari said...

Thanks for the updates! She is so sweet - do I see that she has dad's red hair? Can't wait to meet her ... We continue to pray for Faith and her family!

SallyAnn said...

Wow! Technology can be a good thing! What a wonderful way to keep us all informed! We are so glad that Faith is here and you had her baptized right away. We continue to pray for Faith and her entire family.

Carol said...

What a beautiful baby girl! We thank God for her safe delivery and continued progress. This blog site is a wonderful idea, Raeanne. Thanks for all the information and pictures. We are praying for successful surgery on Wednesday. May God continue to keep Faith in His loving care.

Jennifer said...

She is adorable!!

FYI, all babies lose about 10% of their birthweight...it's normal :)

I'll be reading the rest of the blog over the next few days!

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