3 little Miracles

3 little Miracles

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rachel's Birth Story: Part 2

On October 21st my husband and I went for my final OB appointment scheduled at 8:15am, my MoG wanted to go with me because he knew it was my last ultrasound before BIRTH day.  Of course he knew he would see our little Rachel in a week, but for some reason it was important to him to see her last TV appearance ;-)  We arrived on time and were taken back for the first phase of the appointment, the ultrasound.  Little did we know that in a few minutes our lives would be changed forever and at a rate of speed that we had no time to catch a breath.

We had gotten to know the two ultrasound techs pretty well considering we were having weekly ultrasounds for the past 3 months, and we started joking with her right away and I was helping to pick things out on the screen as she rolled the wand across my HUGE belly.  We found Rachel's lungs right away and watched her practice her breathing, then the tech started watching for her head, arm, and leg movements.  Rachel did the first two just fine, but when it came to her legs, she had them so tight up into her chest and it seemed as though she had no room to move them.  So she measured her amniotic fluid, and she said it was very low, she asked me to remind her of how many weeks I was, and I told her 38.  She jotted down some notes, printed off some pictures and I was moved into an exam room.

David and I waited for the doctor to come in and while we waited we went over the grocery list because we were going shopping after the appointment and we also talked about how huge my feet were.  The doctor came in and said, "We are having this baby soon."  To which I responded, "Yes next Wednesday is coming pretty fast."  Dr. J said, "NO, I mean this baby is coming soon."  I responded, "So, you think I will go into labor over the weekend?"  The doctor looked at me like I was a little daft in the head and said, "NO, I mean we are having this baby today, tomorrow at the latest."  I foolishly responded with, "But we were going grocery shopping after this."

The doctor went on to explain that Rachel's amniotic fluid was 3.7, my blood pressure was slightly up, and with the swelling in my feet, he felt it was too big of a risk that the baby or I would go into distress if we waited any longer.  He said, "I think God is telling us it's time for Rachel to come out."  Both David and I were in stunned silence for a few minutes and then everything started moving in fast gear.  It was like an out of body experience as the doctor and his nurse started making calls, jotting down instructions, writing prescriptions for my med's after getting out of the hospital, it seemed as though everything was going so fast and yet at that moment we had been in the doctors office for 2 hours.  After getting all our instructions, we were directed to go over to the hospital and check in for an emergency c-section.

As we drove the few miles from the doctors office to the hospital, I started frantically trying to get a hold of the family.  My niece Hilary was watching our youngest son who was home with an ear ache.  We had scheduled an appointment for him to go to the doctor in the afternoon and now someone else would need to take him.  My mother had NEVER missed the birth of one of her grand babies and I didn't want her to miss Rachel's, so I was trying her at every number I could think of.  My poor sister had called me the night before and informed me that she had gotten the two days off the following week for Rachel's scheduled c-section and now I was leaving a message informing her that her niece was arriving today.  Then just as we were about to walk into the hospital I remembered that we were supposed to prepare a meal for our pastor and his wife, who had just had a baby 2 weeks before.  So, we quickly called the church and asked the secretary to find someone who could take our place in bringing them a meal.

I will never forget the look on my husband's face as he sat beside me while they prepared my IV, asked a bunch of medical questions and family history, and got me ready for our little girls arrival . . . . . he looked like his head was ready to spin off of his shoulders and yet he was trying to remain calm.  Both of us commented that it felt a lot like the day we had our first son, that quick decision we had to make then to have a c-section because the induction wasn't working, and how quickly things went once we said yes.  We knew that very soon we would be able to take a deep breath and that we would realize all of this was real when they placed our little girl in our arms.  Unfortunately, we didn't know that the deep breath would not come and our moment to relax and soak in the day would fly away.

At 12:46 Rachel was pulled from my belly and I knew right away that something wasn't right, she didn't cry.  When they got her over to the warmer I could see the nurse rubbing her body and trying to stimulate her and I could hear tiny bursts of crying and then gasping for air, she was struggling to get a good breath.  The nurse remained very calm and said, "I am going to wrap her up for a quick peek from mom, but we need to get her up to the nursery as quick as we can."  They brought Rachel over to David and I and I barely could reach to brush my hands on her head, and at the angle she was being held I couldn't really see her face, just her cute puffy cheeks.  I could hear Rachel's gurgling breaths, and I said "Go, you need to take her now, David stay with our girl but GO now please."  So the nurse gently took her from my husbands arms and David kissed me goodbye and I watched them leave the OR.

My surgery was completed and I was rolled back to recovery where I tried as hard as I could to stay awake and begin working on moving my toes, I knew the quicker I could move the quicker they could get me to my family.  The nurse came over and handed me a packet of pictures, "These are the pictures we took of your little girl in the OR, thought you might like to have these."  I pulled the pictures from the clear bio bag she had placed them in and started looking at my new little girl . . . . . and that is when I knew.  I worked even harder to try and move and as I did I began to cry.  The nurse came over and asked if I was OK and I said, "The news isn't going to be good."  She said, "What do you think is wrong with her."  Not, "NO, I am sure she will be fine", but, "what do you think is wrong with her."  At that moment her phone rang and she said that was the pediatrician, she was on her way down with my husband to talk to me.  The nurse started moving around the recovery unit closing all of the patients curtains and telling the other nurses we needed privacy.  When my husband came through the curtain I said. "She has Down Syndrome doesn't she?"  He said, "Yes how did you know?"  "Her eyes"
The pediatrician came in and confirmed what I thought, but she informed me they wouldn't know until a genetic test was done.  More importantly Rachel had some other issues and she was going to be air lifted to a hospital over an hour from us.  She informed me that Rachel's heart appeared to be enlarged and that she may need heart surgery, but they would know more when they got her to the NICU at PITT Memorial.  In addition, Rachel was still struggling with her breathing and her white blood cell count was high.  I asked if I would be able to see her before they took her and the doctor thought that I would because they were still working to stabilize her for the flight before she could leave.  The doctor started to leave and my husband seemed confused as to whether to stay with me or go to Rachel, and once again I told him to "go be with our girl".

As soon as the doctor and David left I cried so hard I struggled to breath, the recovery nurse came over to sooth me and told me she would work quickly to get me up on the floor so I could see Rachel.  They rushed me through recovery before I was really supposed to leave, I still wasn't moving my legs very well but enough that the doctor said it was OK to move me to my room.  Once on the maternity floor, they got me into my room and settled into bed.  I told the two nurses that were helping me to settle in and taking my vitals, that they were supposed to bring Rachel to me before they took her to the other hospital.  The nurse spoke up and said, "Oh honey, they won't bring your baby here, she is too critical."  I told her I had to see her before they took her away,  I couldn't imagine not seeing or touching her, especially when it could be my only time.  Next thing I knew the two nurses were unhooking my IV, unplugging the bed, and moving toward the door.  "I know how you feel, I am a mother too and I would want to see my baby too, I may be breaking rules but you are going to see your baby."  So the two nurses pushed my bed through the halls of the maternity ward and pushed me up to the nursery window where they opened the blinds for me to see Rachel.  It was still difficult to see her from where I was, but to me she looked so small and helpless as the doctor and nurse worked on her.  My husband and my sister were in the nursery standing beside Rachel's bassinet, and although I was glad they were physically with her, it gave me small comfort because I wanted to be the one in there touching her and telling her everything would be OK.  In truth, I didn't know that it would be.

The nurses moved me back to my room and re-hooked everything and retook all of my vitals.  To my surprise my doctor, who was not on duty, stopped by to visit me to see how Rachel and I were doing.  He had called to check on how my c-section went and heard the news about Rachel's unexpected medical conditions.  It really touched my heart that he went out of the way to come and see me even though one of his partners was the one who actually performed my surgery and was my doctor for the night.  In addition, a member of our church who is the lead partner in the pediatric practice that we take our children too, heard that our little girl was in trouble, and he too came to the hospital to support us and do what he could for Rachel even though he was not on duty.  The haze of people that came to visit me is difficult to remember, all I could do was think of my little girl waiting to be air lifted an hour and a half from me and I couldn't go with her and wouldn't see her for several days while I recovered.

After they had stabilized Rachel, the flight crew changed their mind and decided she was stable enough for them to roll her life flight capsule to my room.  The maneuvered the large capsule as close as they could to my bed and opened up a small window near her head and I was just barely able to reach her finger tips, my husband stood on the other side holding her other hand. I think I remember David praying over her and I sang one of my favorite little lullabies to her, then the flight nurse said, "We need to get her going."  I told Rachel I loved her and off they went.  The crowd seemed to disappear after that, and all that was left in the room was David, my sister, and me.  David didn't know what to do about driving up to the hospital, staying with me, or going home to our boys, he was so torn about where and what he should do.  The doctors came back in and talked with us about what was going on with Rachel and said that tonight they would do a lot of tests on Rachel but they more then likely wouldn't do anything to her until morning after they got a good assessment of where she was and had her stabilized in the unit. 

Once again it was just the three of us and I told David to go home.  It was a difficult decision to make, had I physically been able to do it I would have gone, but I knew that David had already been up all day long.  We had been slammed left and right with shocking news all day and the road to PITT was not exactly safe at night for even the most alert driver, and I knew that David was physically and emotionally at his limit.  I told him and my sister to go home and get rest and then tomorrow they could go see Rachel and find out how our girl was doing.  Some time in the night I got a call from the NICU with an update that Rachel was stable, and that they had done an Eco-cardiogram on her heart, and her heart was not enlarged as they thought.  Her white blood cell count was still high and her red blood cell count was also high, they had already started her on antibiotics and she would be on those for seven days.  As for the breathing issues, they felt like the problem was a flap on her heart that allows blood flow to the lungs, that while inside mom reduces blood flow because they don't need their lungs in utero, but when the baby is out is supposed to close and seal allowing blood flow to the lungs.  The doctors felt this issue would more then likely right itself over the next 24-48 hours but she would be under an oxygen hood until it did.

The next 48 hours passed with agonizing slowness for me, I wanted to be with Rachel so I pushed myself to meet every medical mile marker they wanted me to do.  Getting out of bed, using the bathroom on my own, taking a shower, walking in the halls, if they said I needed to do it, I made sure I did.  The doctors agreed to let me out early on Saturday so I could get to Rachel as quickly as possible.  Over those first 48 hours I know I called the NICU dozens of times, but I just had to stay as connected as I could to Rachel and try my best to be informed so that both David and I would understand everything happening to her.
A day that was supposed to be such great joy, ended with shock, heart break, and complete uncertainty.  We clung to one another and to God in faith that He would bring us through what was ahead.  We poured out tears of pain and prayers for strength.  We knew that we were preparing to walk on a road that many parents before us had walked, but for us it was a path and direction we had no clue was ahead and the heart ache over having to walk it was almost unbearable.  Had Rachel been born only with the diagnoses of DS we might have been able to handle things a little better then we were, but with so many medical issues we were scared, confused, and overwhelmed but deep in our hearts we knew the Father would get us through.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


  1. Laura,
    Such a blessing little Rachel is to you and your family. May you all always be protected and watched over as you always have been. Sending you guys one big group hug and lots of smiles for this miracle!!! ENJOY her always :)
    Much love,

  2. Laura Ann, please know that I am praying for you and your precious baby girl! If you need anything, please do not hesitate to let me know. I will be in Greenville on Monday, and can be there sooner, if need be! My e-mail is karileeelwart@hotmail.com Please let me know if there is anything I can do for y'all!

  3. Bless you, Laura and David! Jeremiah 29:11 You are in our prayers. Love in Christ, Cheryl Campbell

  4. What a blessing She is. God knows what is going on and He is holding your family in his hands. I pray for you all daily and I mean that. Stay strong Mama, you have a lot of people backing you and God is leading the way for you guys.

  5. I am keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers. So sorry to hear that your little one will not be coming home today like you had originally thought. My heart is breaking for you about all the medical issues surrounding your little ones birth.