No really, it's been a long time. A lot has happened since my last blog post. Like, God blessed us with another pregnancy and I had a really awful time carrying her and she spent the longest 7 days of my life in the NICU and now she's home and we are happy. If only that was enough to sum up the last several months. It's not. I would love to share some more details.
Well, we found out in November of last year that we were expecting our fourth baby. I was ecstatic and scared and super sick. All at the same time. I was nauseated and had migraines from day two. Seriously.
Well, beginning around week 13, I started having horrendous nose bleeds. In fact, the first one I had scared me pretty badly. I was walking into Office Depot and I sneezed. All of a sudden, I looked down and my entire shirt was covered in blood. I couldn't even figure out where all the blood was coming from. I ran back to my car and held napkins (thanks Starbucks!) on my face until I could get home. My shirt had to be tossed and I had a hard time getting my nose to stop bleeding. This went on for a few weeks. I would have one really awful nosebleed every week and a few smaller, less concerning ones in between. Well, I called my doctor, thinking "really, fourth baby and I'm calling my doctor about a NOSEBLEED!" Well, I did. And the nurse acted like I was an idiot (as expected), telling me nosebleeds are normal. "This is not normal." That's what I told her.
Fast forward another month. Nosebleeds are still a frequent nuisance. I talked to my doctor at my regular appointment. He said (and I quote) "Nosebleeds are normal in pregnancy. If you had a clotting disorder, we would know it already. You've had 2 c sections." Hmph.
Another month passes and I'm still having nosebleeds. Not your regular, hold a tissue, lean your head back, nosebleeds. Like, go home and change clothes because you look like you've been stabbed, nosebleeds. I mention it to my doctor again and he agrees, reluctantly, to send me to a hematologist. I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version of this because it's not all that interesting. They took approximately all of my blood one day (I seriously walked in, expecting a finger prick or, at the most, a couple of vials of blood and they asked if I had eaten and if I had anyone that could drive me home). I didn't. That didn't stop them from taking 21 vials of blood. Twenty one.
After several days of waiting, (including another blood draw because the lab messed up the first one... and then a third blood draw because the lab messed up the second one) they gave me the news. I had a blood clotting disorder. One that's normally genetic. And I've most likely had it all of my life. My parents should be tested. My brother should be tested. My children should be tested. Gulp.
My doctors were shocked that I had never miscarried a baby. They started me on blood thinners. Injectable blood thinners. One a day at first, and then two a day starting at 35 weeks. This posed a risk if I went into labor on my own, but otherwise was just a pain. In the belly. No really, I had to give the shots in my belly. That's delightful.
I had preterm labor and lots of contractions for weeks, and thankfully my mom was able to come and help we with the older girls while I tried my best to rest and stay off my feet. There were lots of doctors appointments and tests. I spent almost all day every Monday at Brookwood having multiple ultrasounds, non stress tests, OB appointments and high risk OB appointments.
On July 22, at 4:30 am, I wasn't sure if my regular contractions were anything more than they had been for the last 2 weeks.... but something sure felt different about them. I was already scheduled for my day of appointments, but I called my OB anyway. I wasn't scheduled to see him until 2:00. Jason went on to work, promising to be available by phone or pager. I called my dr. and he said to come in. He immediately called me back to tell me not to eat breakfast or take my shot. I didn't, but I packed both (my shot and a granola bar).... feeling certain this was going to be the same song and dance we'd been through before.
My mom dropped me off at the doctor and took the girls home. I walked to my appointment by myself... stopping to rock and breathe every 4 minutes. I signed in, telling the receptionist that I was pretty sure I was in labor and that Dr. Huggins had asked me to come in to be checked. She told me to sit in the waiting room like normal, where everyone around me watched me like I had a bomb strapped to my chest.
They finally called me back and checked my vitals like normal. Hmm.... blood pressure is a little elevated (I WONDER WHY). You've lost 3 pounds (after not gaining the last 3 weeks). That's unusual, they said. They put me in a room and handed me a paper sheet to "wear." I sat and sat and sat and sat..... no doctor... lots of contractions. Tiny room. Paper sheet to "wear." You get the picture, right? After an HOUR I went into the hall. Did I mention I'm wearing a paper sheet? I didn't care. I needed someone and I was tired of waiting. By myself.
I found the first nurse (or person in scrubs) that walked by and told her I was in labor and I had been waiting an hour. She turned awfully pale and got my doctor.
He checked me, and sure enough, this is it. "Who is here with you," he asked. "I'm by myself," I answered. "Call Jason. We're headed to L&D. Surgery scheduled for 2 hours from now. " HOLY MOLY. I started calling people and barking all kinds of orders. I didn't ask. I just told people to get to my house and take care of my kids. Sorry, friends. You know who you are, and I'm so very thankful that I can count on you to take care of everything.
I got to recovery and realized everything wasn't rosy. Not at all.
Maebry was struggling to breathe. Her oxygen saturation was poor and she had respiratory distress syndrome. She needed to go to the NICU. I was crushed, bawling and scared. They wheeled me to the NICU to see her and I couldn't believe how tiny and fragile she looked. I was devastated when I had to go to my room without her. I was furious when I heard the baby next door crying. And I couldn't hold my baby.
On Wednesday morning, we got the news that she had a pneumomediastinum, air that had leaked into her chest cavity. This was dangerous stuff. She was put on 100% oxygen and there was an ominous chest tube box next to her bed. Just in case. I didn't completely understand everything that meant, but I knew there were plenty of complications that could go along with a chest tube. And I didn't want any of those to happen to my baby.
I asked people to pray.... begged people to pray for our little one. She had another chest x-ray that Wednesday evening and it showed that her lungs had improved a bit. Then on Thursday morning, they looked a lot better. The doctor said it was okay to start weaning her off of oxygen. Again. She did great.
On Thursday, I finally got to hold her for the first time. I cannot even put into words how amazing that felt. I had ached to hold her. Every bit of my being hurting for my little girl, and I was finally able to smell her sweet head and hold her tiny frame.
Jason and I spent hours every day staring at our tiny baby. We studied every inch of her precious face. The tiny peak on the top of her ear, the tiny bump on her upper lip (just like mine).
On Monday, one week from the day she was born, we were discharged from the hospital. I couldn't help but think of what Jason said when we left the hospital almost 8 years earlier with our first baby. He said he felt like he was driving a truckload of eggs.
I'm so thankful we had that time to memorize every bit of her. We wouldn't have had that if she had come home on time. She would have been in her swing while we rush around taking care of our family of 6. That's just reality. But God had another plan for us. For Maebry. I can't say that I would choose that plan for us, if I had the option to do it all over. It's still too raw for me. Too scary. But this isn't about my plan. It's so much bigger than that. I learned so much from our week in the NICU. I learned dependence. Dependence on my friends, my family, Jason and most importantly, on God. I learned that our faith is essential. I'm so very thankful that, in the darkest moments in our marriage, we had a like faith. Jason and I clung to each other and cried out to God together, never doubting that He would hear us. I learned that I should look for God to use me in my daily walk to be a light for someone else, just like the sweet lady doing her thankless job that stopped to pray for us. I learned that we have the best family and friends anyone could ever ask for. I learned compassion for NICU parents. I truly believe that nobody can ever explain the pain or understand the heartache until you've been there. We now pray for the NICU parents and babies every day. I was forced to slow down. I was humbled. I was told, firmly, to trust.
I wouldn't choose that path, wouldn't wish it on anyone. But I'm so thankful for the lessons I learned. And I'm so thankful for the chaos of having four little girls at home.
Thankfully, Maebry is doing great. She's gaining weight well and is such an easy baby. She sleeps well (most of the time) and just hangs out and watches the world around her. We love the way she completes our family.