Okay, I have been trying to write Lillian’s birth story for about two months now. I have gone back and forth on if I even wanted to blog this because I have taken so long on it (and when I mean taken so long, I mean just have forgotten about it for a few weeks). But here it is. This is what I remember and my experience with her birth.
Lillian had always been a pretty active baby in the womb. She loved to stick her legs straight out on my sides, kick, and wiggle a lot. Mother’s Day was the same sort of day. Nothing out of the ordinary with her movements, so when she stopped moving as much in the womb Monday, I was a little surprised.
Monday was pretty typical, but later in the afternoon I was a little worried because she wasn’t as active that day. This has happened before where I thought she wasn’t being active enough, but a few hours later she would start to kick and move around a lot. That didn’t exactly happen this time around. Tanner came home from work, and he made me a cold smoothie to help get Lillian moving and kicking. We got the ten kicks within twenty minutes but they weren’t as strong as they usually were.
That evening I got a random impulse to finish her laundry up, and I kept nagging Tanner to build her bassinet. We went grocery shopping and I felt so sick that I had to go sit in the car and wait for him to finish. We went home and had a pretty relaxing evening watching one of the Indiana Jones movies before bed.
I woke up about every two hours during my third trimester to go to the bathroom, and typically around six in the morning I would be up for an hour or so because Lillian would start to move around and get the hiccups. I woke up around 5:45 A.M. to use the bathroom, and Lillian wasn’t moving. I felt hiccups, but those only lasted five minutes when they typically lasted fifteen to twenty minutes. I started to push on my stomach in areas where I could feel her, but she wasn’t responding at all. She wouldn’t try to move away and I maybe felt three kicks within an hour, but they were very weak. Tanner woke up for work around 6:30. I was very flustered, was overwhelmed, and debated on whether or not I should call the nurse. Tanner thought that it probably wasn’t a big deal, but we agreed I should call the nurse just to ease myself.
I called the nurse and she told me I should drink something sugary and cold like juice and then call the clinic to get an appointment to get Lillian monitored. We didn’t have any juice, so I just made some chocolate milk and again Igot maybe three movements within an hour.
I called the clinic right when they opened at eight and quickly scheduled an appointment to be monitored at 10:30 that morning. I was emotional and scared. Tanner gave me a priesthood blessing to comfort me before he left for work. I stayed and got ready and laid back down in bed to try to relax before I headed over to the clinic. I thought that everything was probably fine and I was trying to convince myself that it would be a quick check and then I’d be back home in an hour or so.
At the clinic, they took me back to the monitoring room where they put those belt-looking things around you to monitor the heart rate of the baby to see if you’re having any contractions. Twenty minutes went by and the nurse came back to see how Lillian’s heart rate was looking. She then gave me some juice to see if that would help. I was then left alone. I played on my phone for the next fifteen minutes and tried to keep myself calm. I had no idea what was going on or what to expect. They gave me juice I thought that things were going to be fine., When she came back again with the midwife to look at the heart rate and it wasn’t where they would like to see it I was really confused and didn’t know what to do. Lillian’s heart rate was looking more like hills when it should have had a lot more peaking. I asked what they planned to do next and they said that they would monitor me a little longer, but that I was going to have to get monitored through an ultrasound next and then I’d probably have to go to the hospital.
Not how I was expecting my Tuesday to go.
I called Tanner and told him he needed to head home. I said everything was alright but that I’d probably have to go to the hospital to get further monitoring there. I told him to go home and pack a bag for us because they’d probably monitor me overnight; then I went to get the ultrasound.
Lillian did poorly on the ultrasound. She wasn’t practicing her breathing: there was little tone and maybe one movement. They then sent me into a room to talk to the midwife again. The midwife told me she was very concerned and that I needed to go to the hospital right away and I couldn’t go back home because Lillian really needed to be monitored. So with that, I left the office and got to the car and called Tanner and started to cry because I was very overwhelmed. I told him to meet me at the hospital and I headed to the hospital and held back my tears.
Got to the hospital, and little did I know I was walking myself up to my own delivery. I got to the desk and was stuck answering insurance questions when two nurses came and took me to get in a gown before I was finished answering the questions. It still didn’t hit me that it was that urgent of a situation for some reason. Got in the gown and then the doctor came in to do another ultrasound. During that time, Tanner came in. The doctor told me I was going to be getting a C section (side note: I hadn’t gone into labor, I had no contractions or anything). Surprisingly, my main thought was “oh, okay so probably in a couple hours, or maybe tomorrow?” My heart sank as he told me I was going to be getting a C-Section twenty minutes. To say I freaked out a little bit would be an understatement.
All the while, Tanner was trying to be positive and telling me how great it was going to be to see our little girl. But I wasn’t really listening to anything he said as I was trying to breathe. And by now I was crying again. I then asked for Tanner to give me a blessing and our doctor helped anoint me, and then Tanner gave me the blessing.
Then the nurses started to come in. I met the anesthesiologist and begged him to put me under for the surgery because I didn’t want to be awake for it, but he and the doctor told me they couldn’t do that because it could put Lillian at risk. I understood, but I probably asked a few more times if they could just do it because I really didn’t want to be awake for it and I was scared of the spinal tap. The anesthesiologist told me it wouldn’t hurt more than the IV, and he was right. I already have small veins, and on top of that, I was dehydrated and in shock. It took them five different times and locations to get the IV in me. Then came the catheter. A very painful experience. Getting the catheter put in was actually where I lost it and started sobbing because it hurt and I was getting really scared. They finally got the catheter in and wheeled me to the operation room. At this point in time, Tanner had to wait outside the room and get prepped while I got the spinal tap and they did more prepping in the room. I got sat up and cried some more on a nurse’s shoulder while she held me still as they put the spinal tap in. They laid me down and moved me onto another bed to perform the surgery. Tanner was now in the room and right up next to me. They strapped my arms down, put a curtain up so I couldn’t see the process, and within a few minutes started the surgery. I didn’t feel a thing until they pulled her out. I didn’t feel pain, but I felt the pressure of them taking her out and I felt the weight of her leave me.
When they got Lillian out, I waited for anything to let me know she was there. But there was nothing. She didn’t cry, and I had no idea what was going on as it was all beyond the curtain. She was white as a ghost and wasn’t moving. I only know this because Tanner was able to see her come out, but then they quickly gave her to the pediatrician and began the process to finish closing me up. I didn’t even see her. I got wheeled into a recovery room and Tanner’s parents came and stayed in the room and waited with us. I started to get the shakes really badly, and my doctor came in and told me that Lillian was a very sick little girl. They didn’t know what was wrong, but they were treating it like an abruption. Lillian got a 001 on the APGAR score. The APGAR gages how well your baby does the first few minutes of life. One minute, 0. Five minutes, 0. Fifteen minutes 1. Later, we found out she had to be resuscitated by the pediatrician for twelve minutes. She was put on a ventilator but was fighting it, so they eventually had to handbag her air into her. She also got two baby-sized blood transfusions. Tanner went down to see her and said there were so many people working on her. They ended up having to transport her to East Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) in Idaho Falls in order for her to get on a cooling bed to help preserve her brain and other organs. No one could give us exact answers because it was really up in the air for what to expect for Lillian.
When Tanner came back up into the room, his mom told him that he and his dad needed to go give Lillian a blessing. So they went down to EIRMC, and Tanner’s mom stayed with me. My little sister came with me and the three of us waited in the hospital room. Some of Tanner’s family came to see me while Tanner and his dad were gone.
Tanner had to wait at EIRMC while the doctors and nurses there worked on Lillian. We were told, later, that Lillian was the most serious case they had seen all year. The neonatologist talked to Tanner about what to expect. He told Tanner that he knew there was some form of damage to Lillian’s brain because of a lack of blood for so long, and that we would have to see how her organs performed once she was off the cooling bed. He said that she could have damage as severe as having to eat out of a tube, or not being able to walk. The neonatologist also said that she could be totally fine, but it was hard to tell since the data they could base it off of was so small. But one thing we did know, she had a really rough start.
After waiting some time for things to settle down more, Tanner and his dad were finally able to bless her. It was a sweet and powerful blessing, as Tanner said, “One of the most powerful moments in my life.” Looking back now, it was from that point, after the blessing, that we started to see more progress.
Tanner’s mom and my little sister were still with me at the hospital. I got transferred to another recovery room where I would stay the rest of the time in the hospital. When Tanner was on his way home, his mom left and my little sister stayed and waited with me until Tanner came back. That first night sleeping in the hospital was a hard one because I was worried if Lillian would make it through the night because I knew how important those first twenty-four hours would be for her. We didn’t get any calls though, and no news, to us, was good news.
For the next two days, Tanner drove back and forth between hospitals, and I slept off and on as we had family come visit us in the hospital. Lillian’s heart was looking strong. They monitored her brain and she didn’t have any hemorrhaging or issues with her brain from what they could see, but she was still on the cooling bed.
I was really wanting to get out to see my little girl. Tanner would FaceTime me while he was there with her, and little Lillian looked so cute and peaceful. She had a lot of machines hooked up to her and she was on the ventilator. It was sad to be away from her, and I still hadn’t met her or seen her in person. After a little over 48 hours, I was able to get released from the hospital, and Tanner and I went home and grabbed some things before we headed to EIRMC.
When I first saw Lillian, I was only able to lay my hand on her. We weren’t able to rub her because it would overstimulate her. But I was so happy to be able to meet her for the first time. She was still and peaceful because she was on the cooling bed and was slightly sedated. We weren’t able to hold her until they took her off the cooling bed Saturday, and it was Thursday. So we would just go to the hospital and look at her, and I would try to pump to keep my milk supply up for her (for the first month my life mainly consisted of pumping). Once they took her off the cooling bed, she started to wake up more and I was able to hold her. They taped the ventilator to my arm when they let me hold her and it took three nurses to move her over onto me. Holding her for the first time was so perfect, and I loved being able to cuddle her for the first time.
Now we all still had the question of what exactly happened. It was some sort of loss of blood, but it didn’t appear to be an abruption because I didn’t have any signs of one. Either Lillian could have bled into the womb, her organs, or into me. We finally found out on Sunday. The neonatologist had me tested for fetal maternal hemorrhaging and it turned out that the test showed that 5% of my blood was Lillian’s. She had lost one and a half times the amount of blood that should have been in her. So it was a fluke incident that happened. I was honestly relieved to hear that it shouldn’t happen again.
Lillian was known as the miracle baby in the NICU. She made fast improvements and really surprised the neonatologist because when she had first come in, she did not look like she would have a very positive outcome. But she is a little fighter; she is such a strong and special little girl. I could not believe how fast she made improvements. We went from having five machines in the room down to one. She then got moved to a different room that wasn’t for special cases. The only big thing keeping her in the hospital for that last week was her oxygen. She liked that flow. Luckily, we were able to bring her home on oxygen, and we even got her home four days before her due date.
I loved the NICU and all the amazing nurses and people that worked with us in there, but anyone who has experienced the NICU knows how badly you want to take your baby home. I didn’t care how much she would cry and fuss at home, I just wanted her home. And to be honest, I love her cry and think it’s the cutest.
So this is a little bit more than her birth story, but there is a lot that happened after her birth. Tanner and I are so grateful for the prayers and thoughts of everyone. What we experienced was the hardest thing I have gone through in life so far, but I am glad that we were able to learn from it. I felt that my burdens were truly lifted off of my shoulders and I felt, for the most part, really hopeful. I honestly feel it helped us grow in our faith and really unified us. Lillian is doing great now and is a happy, spunky, little baby! We, of course, have to watch her development over these next two years to monitor her milestones, but we are very hopeful and blessed to have her here and to have her doing so well.