This pregnancy had a bunch of little hiccups. It began with a bad ultrasound and the nurse basically telling me to go home and wait to miscarry (we promptly changed our Dr and found one that we love, I won’t use anyone else unless we leave Utah someday.) My kidney ended up with fluid around it from week 20 on which caused horrible back pain until delivery and my blood pressure started to creep up early in the second trimester and around week 35 I started to develop preeclampsia. To keep me and baby safe my dr decided we needed to deliver at 37 weeks. So he scheduled the induction for July 29th and we spent those last few days preparing to head in to meet our little one. It was sort of strange, we had time to clean the house, pack the bags, pick up the last minute baby items. We went to church that Sunday, had dinner, went for a walk and then headed to the hospital around 7 pm to be admitted.
I delivered at Orem community hospital which was an amazing experience. They put us into our room which you stay in for labor, delivery, and postpartum (thank you Debbie Davis for hooking us up with the biggest room 🙂 ) and they gave me cervadil around 8 to help me start dilating since I was only 1 cm when I got admitted. It was a 12 hr process with that then the next morning I ate and started pitocin about 8 am to get things moving. Because I was preeclamptic they had to put me on a really horrible drug called magnesium. Anyone who has experienced this, you know how seriously fun it is. It makes you nauseous, tired, super weak, and dizzy. So on top of labor, it made things even harder. About 10 am I finally had progressed a whole centimeter…. so I was a 2 just 14 hours later. They offered the epidural then even though I really had not had totally horrible contractions yet (most people don’t even get admitted to the hospital until they are like a 4) and I promptly said yes. I’m not sure how people don’t get one, it was the best thing ever. And a little sidenote, I never wanted to have kids when I was younger because I was so scared of the epidural. It was a piece of cake, the iv in my hand was so much worse. I felt awesome and could not figure out why everyone thought this labor thing was bad… until about 4 pm.
4 pm… I start feeling tons of pressure and pain but only on the left side. They come in and give me some extra stuff in the epidural which for some reason promptly makes me super sick and I suddenly I felt so much weaker. 5 pm I’m wanting to push, seriously I thought my lower half would explode. Except I only was dilated to a 5, things felt like they were pretty much just crawling along at this point. The next few hours were a blur of some sleep, and bugging the nurse to come check me every 30 minutes and ask if I could push yet, and me trying super hard to not throw up. I stayed a 5 until about 930 and then things moved pretty quick. I made it to a 10 by 11:10 or so and my dr walked in (seriously he had perfect timing, and I have never been so happy to see someone.) The pushing was interesting. First of all, the Olympics were on in the background the entire time which I think is kinda funny. Im pretty sure everyone else was watching while I was trying to get air in my lungs. They had put an oxygen mask on which made my mouth super dry and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I kept falling asleep in-between pushes and for the life of me could not hold my breath for the 10 seconds my dr wanted me to when I was pushing. Magnesium makes you sooo weak it was really frustrating. It sort of felt like a dream where you’re trying to run away from someone and you keep falling down and cannot go anywhere.
About a half hour or so in the dr did an episiotomy and got out the vacuum both of which I was pretty grateful for. Elli was not coming out straight and was sort of crooked which was making it really hard to get her out. Finally at 12:27 she arrived and it’s kind of a blur from that point. Jordan grabbed the camera, I do remember setting the camera for him while the Dr. was stitching me up. They gave Elli to me a little while later for some skin to skin time and I was able to try and feed her however she was too sleepy from the drugs I had been given that food was not really what she wanted. I gave her back to Jordan after not too long because I felt so sick and tired and I honestly thought I was going to drop her. He held her for awhile and then she started to make some grunting noises which to nurse thought needed to get checked out. Off she went to the nursery. And this is where her little journey starts.
About 5 am I told the nurse I really wanted to go see her, she had told me Elli was having a hard time breathing and had been given some oxygen so she had to stay in the nursery. I had to be able to at least sit up for them to put me in a wheelchair to go see her (they keep you on magnesium for 24 hours after delivery.) But as soon as I sat up I had to lay back down, my ears were ringing and I thought I was going to pass out. By 10 am I was finally able to make it into the wheelchair. They had her on a c-pap to help with her oxygen levels. I was not able to hold her but sat there and held her tiny little hand. Later that day they came to tell us she needed to be transported to the NICU at the hospital in Provo. I know there will be times in our children’s lives that we have zero control over certain situations and all we can do is be there to support and hold them up. I knew when we made the decision to start our family that day obviously would eventually come and we would have to be strong for them. I NEVER had thought I would have to experience this within 12 hours after having our first baby. Seeing your child whisked away by the ambulance, tubes down her throat in a little incubator, and you cannot go with her. This might be the most painful thing i have experienced so far in my lifetime but I felt I had to be strong, for her and for Jordan. But I felt totally helpless. I could do nothing for her, not even hold her hand. It was a long 36 hours until I was able to see her again. I stared at pictures of her on my phone and held her tiny little hat she wore after birth and just prayed and sobbed she would be ok.
Thursday morning Jordan took me to the NICU after being discharged. I almost totally lost it. Everything looked so scary, tubes, wires, ivs. It was just too much for such a tiny little girl. I felt very numb that visit, on the verge of tears the whole time, and unable to say anything. Jordan and the nurse tried to explain everything to me but it was just so much to take in. I need to talk for a minute about the wonderful man I married. He was a rock through this entire thing, positive, upbeat, and had complete faith that she was going to be alright. He got us into a routine each night which helped make it seem a little better, it added a more normal aspect to the whole ordeal. Each night while she was there we would go talk to her and hold her hand, then read her a story, and say our family prayers before leaving. I would sob on the way home, he would hold my hand, tuck me in, and tell me everything was going to be ok. He would call the NICU each night before bed and every morning right when we woke up to get an update on her. Our relationship became even stronger through this experience, and I feel overly grateful for having such a wonderful person by my side. The next day we would get up and do it over again.
Elli had been put on an oscillator when first admitted to the NICU which was helping to open up her lungs to make it easier for her to breathe. They had started antibiotics because pnemonia was expected to be the problem from inhaling fluid during delivery. The second day we went to see her I met the Dr. who was working on her case. His name in Dr Minton, I have to tell you that I will forever be grateful to this man and his passion and knowledge to help little babies. He started the NICU in the 1970’s and has worked with over 20,000 newborns during his career. He is published and known worldwide for his experience in neonatology, one of the best Dr’s in his field, and he was the one working with Elli. We knew after Elli had received a priesthood blessing at Orem hospital that she was supposed to be in the NICU at Utah Valley. Her condition became worse and that was when everyone finally decieded to have her transported. We later found out that Dr Minton had been out of town for a month and just happened to get back on the day she was admitted to Utah Valley. He added a new level of comfort to the situation, every day he would update us and let us know the plan for her recovery. Four days after her arrival, he decided she needed to be placed on a ventilator which would help to open the lungs even more and hopefully get the junk out of them, he felt the Oscilator was not helping her progress. This was Saturday afternoon that the change was made. Sunday morning we got a call from Jordan’s parents who were on their way out of town and had stopped by to see Elli before they left. His mom told us Elli was off the ventilator! Less then 24 hours after they made the switch to the ventilator, Elli was taken off of it! We threw some clothes on and rushed over to see her. It was such a great feeling. We attended sacrament meeting in the hospital chapel, both of us unshowered and in tshirts, shorts, and flipflops. When we walked in, there were more people in sweats and scrubs then there were in suits and dresses. It was such a powerful experience. My initial thought when we walked in was “is this ok to have everyone looking so disheveled for this meeting?” I was quickly reminded that is not what is important. The spirit and testimonies that were there were so strong. There have been few times in my life I have felt that overwhelmed at church. After we got back upstairs we finally got to hold our little girl for the first time since I had her.
The next few days Elli had to finish up some antibiotics and then show she knew how to eat so she could come home. We didn’t realize how frustrating the eating part would be. There are all these requirements they must meet; eat 3 times from mom during the day (but spaced out so they don’t get too tired), then eat 3 times from mom during the day but back to back, then 4 times back to back, then 12 hours on demand, and then 24 hours on demand (everytime baby is hungry.) Each time you strip baby down and put them on a scale, weigh them, feed them, weigh them again. If they didn’t take like 70% of what they are supposed to be eating to gain weight that feed is considered a “failed” feed and you have to do it again the next day. It’s enough to drive anyone loony. I understand why they do it, you don’t want a premature baby to go home not knowing how to eat and then land back in the hospital. But Elli was full term, she had been off her medication, every single wire was out of her with the exception of a feeding tube in her nose, and it kinda felt like we were just running back and forth to the hospital where our daughter was eating, pooping, and sleeping. Plus currently Elli enjoys eating for five minutes (as much and as fast as she can), passing out, then waking up thirty minutes later to do it again. Im proud to say she’s up two pounds already from her birth weight. She loves to eat, but I bet she does not eat her full amount at every feed. After about three or four days of eating tests, I finally just went and sat at the hospital. I was pretty determined I was not going home until she was and I think Elli was done with being in the hospital. She had pulled the feeding tube out of her nose as well as the tape holding it there. Two days later, some pushing from Jordan, a very hungry little baby, and some nurses and Drs that agreed she was healthy and ready to go, (and lots of comments like “oh she is doing SO good, why is she here again?”) Our little bean finally was released, 11 days later.
I wanted to share my thoughts, which honestly I don’t do very often especially in a public setting (I think the internet may be scarier then any public setting I currently can think of but it’s easier to share because then I don’t cry in front of anyone.) This situation was not ideal. It is not how I wanted to experience welcoming our first child into the world. Honestly I wish no one ever had to experience this or any other trial in their life. However I guess that is why we are here. To learn, and to grow. I think our trials provide things we can take and learn and benefit from which prepare us for experiences we may have later on, or that others may have later on in their lives that we can help them with. I feel beyond grateful for this experience and some of the things I feel came from it. Im grateful for modern medicine and the Drs and nurses that helped keep both Elli and I safe. 20 years ago, I am not sure this would have had the same ending (or I guess beginning 🙂 ) Im grateful for a husband that held our family up through those long days, and for the gospel that can provide comfort when when I just cannot do anymore. I feel like our little family is stronger, I feel my marriage is stronger, and I hope that someday maybe we can somehow help other couples and families that have to experience having a child in the NICU. For anyone reading who brought a meal, sent a card, text or wrote us a little note on Facebook, called, or simply said a prayer on our behalf, thank you so very much. I hope you know how grateful we are for you and for the comfort and help you gave us during this trying time!