The day I became a special needs mom

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The days that our children are born are forever etched in our minds.  My youngest daughter was born four years ago today.  I went to the hospital that day expecting a smooth delivery and a healthy baby girl.  I had been under the care of a neonatologist for most of my pregnancy and had had regular non-stress tests and ultrasounds.  While my daughter appeared to be on the large side, she was otherwise normal and healthy.  The doctor had recommended a C-section as I had one previously, and she was concerned about shoulder dystocia (an obstructed labor) due to the expected size of my daughter.

Once on the labor and delivery floor that morning I was whisked away to a small room where I would be prepped for the procedure.  I spoke to my obstetrician and the anesthesiologist as well.  I was placed on a monitor and an IV catheter was inserted.  When it was time for delivery I walked to the operating room with my nurse and family.  My husband, Ken, was asked to wait outside until everything was prepped and I was ready to go.  The anesthesiologist met me in the operating room and proceeded to place my epidural.  This process was slow and he was frustrated.  Finally the epidural was placed and I didn’t feel quite right.  I remember telling the nurse and anesthesiologist that I felt as though I was going to pass out.  I remember laying down and then I was out.

For some unknown reason the anesthesiologist, the nurse, and the surgery tech did not realize that I had lost consciousness.  There was no intervention until my obstetrician came in from scrubbing and noticed I was pale with blue lips and non-responsive.  Ken was still waiting outside at this point to be brought in the room.  He heard the doctor yelling my name and then heard the call over the loud speaker for the rapid response team to report to the OR stat.  Then there were people running in the room with a crash cart and other equipment.  He says he was terrified as no one had spoken to him.  He didn’t know at this point if I was alive or what the condition of our daughter was.

I remember very clearly waking up with people everywhere.  It was complete chaos.  There were so many people in the room.  I was confused and scared.  What had gone wrong and why didn’t I hear my baby crying? The doctors were asking me if I knew where I was and why.  I was able to answer those questions but became very agitated because I couldn’t hear my baby crying.  They kept saying everything was fine but I knew in my heart that something was very wrong.

I don’t remember really getting any information about my daughter’s condition until I was taken to the ICU.  The doctor came in to speak to me and explained that she had been born with a heart rate of 30, not breathing, and was having seizures.  He also said that she had been placed on a ventilator and given anti-seizure meds. As you can imagine, I was distraught beyond words and at a complete loss after hearing this.  I didn’t understand how this could happen to a perfectly healthy baby.   The next step would be to transfer my baby to a hospital with a higher level neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) where she would receive brain cooling to prevent further swelling and damage to her brain.  This procedure would last for 72 hours. She would stay on the ventilator and be kept sedated.   I also found out that she weighed a whopping 9lbs 11oz.  At the time I was still somewhat confused so I thought I had misheard the weight.

I would remain in the ICU at the hospital where I gave birth and she would be transferred via ambulance to another hospital.  I was able to see her very briefly before she was taken to the other hospital.  The transport crew brought her to my room and I was able to touch her through the incubator before she was taken away.  She was so swollen from the trauma and was attached to so many machines.  Seeing my baby this way both terrified and saddened me.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.   At that very moment I realized how terribly wrong things had gone.  The one thing I knew for sure was that my little, baby girl was beautiful and that she was a fighter.

The next few days of being separated from her and not being able to be with her would prove to be the hardest days of my life.  I would lay in my hospital bed wondering how she was doing and longing to hold her.  I was constantly calling to check on her.  I felt selfish but it bothered me that everyone could see my darling girl except me.  She was my baby and I wanted to be the one there with her.  It didn’t seem fair.   Sure I got updates and saw pictures but not being able to be there was so difficult.  Finally I was able to leave the hospital later that week with instructions to rest to avoid further complications to my own body.  There was no way I was going home to rest.  I am a mother and my place was in the NICU by my daughter’s side.  I would spend the next 31 days there with my sweet girl.

 

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