Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bringing an Angel into the world amongst a raging storm

There is no good place for me to begin when it comes to my health. So, there will be many entries.

Health, what a thing we take for granted. Especially when I was young. I thought I was invincible. I was a bit of a clutz, still am frankly, even though I was big into sports. I was forever falling down and getting scrapes. I remember a time when I fell off my bike because somehow I managed to get my foot caught into the spokes. As bloodied as my legs were, I just brushed off the dirt and kept on going. I guess that is where I learned to keep picking myself off the ground and getting back onto that bike. That was about as much as I knew about pain. I had your common colds and what not. In college, I was in the mountains and I personally think that I am allergic to the cold. So, I was forever catching a cold. I thought that was bad.

Then...2003 hit and my world as I knew it changed. I was pregnant with our second child. What a happy occasion. We already had a beautiful little girl at home and then soon to be a little sister on the way. I loved being pregnant.

I was working hard during that time....was in Sales and traveling. Constantly worried and stressed about numbers. I had to fly to a conference while only 9 or 10 weeks away from her due date. I started hurting on the plane. As soon as I got home, I went straight to the doctors. They said that I had pre-eclampsia. I was like "what is that?" My favorite doc told me that it was very serious that I could die and the baby could die. So, I was bed ridden for a while. I began to have crushing headaches, my liver count was going awry, and my blood pressure was at stroke level. I was put in the hospital at about 32 weeks. I was in and out. Then, they finally kept me. They did work up on our baby and said her lungs were not, they gave me shots through my belly to help her lungs grow.

With each day, the pain in my body was getting worse and worse. Eclampsia is where the body rejects the baby. I prayed and meditated a lot. Because you don't get pain medicine when you are pregnant. The headaches were blinding, and at times I wasn't sure I could take another day. But, I had a baby that I had to do everything that I could to keep her in. I was getting sicker. Finally, one doc came in and said "I am sorry Caroline, we are going to have to take her, you could have a stroke and she could die or both of you". Talk about being in a middle of a storm. The waves were raging.

I cried into Blakes shoulder and before I knew it, they wheeled me out of there so fast that I had no time to think. They gave me medicine to induce labor. The night passed, and then the morning and I was in tremendous pain. But, I didn't care about me....I just cared about keeping our precious angel alive.

The delivery is supposed to be this joyous occassion. Like with was beautiful.... This time, an entire team of doctor and nurses came swarming the room. My doctor was frantic and said that the babies heart rate was dropping quickly and we had to do a C-section. I saw the fear in Blakes eyes. I think I stopped feeling all together. Then, she stabilized. She finally came out into the world in the afternoon. They whisked Maya away and I couldn't look at her. I was so afraid that she was going to die right before my eyes. When I did look, all I saw was how hard of a time she was having to breathe. The doctors were all over me administering all sorts of medication to stop a stroke. They let me hold her and she was beautiful. Then, she was gone...just like that. We didn't see each other for 2 days. I was still hooked up to all sorts of things and medications to help my body. I saw her in the NICU and I wanted to die. She had every part of her body filled with tubes...coming out of her chest, her nose, and basically everywhere. They took me back to my room where I looked out the window and cried and begged God to let her live.

Then, the storm raged even harder. The Pediatric Doc came in that night in the wee hours of the morning to tell me that Maya's lungs collapsed. I stopped breathing. They said they were going to transport her to a different hospital where there was a Critical Unit. He said she would be there a long time. I don't remember much else, except seeing her in this tube before she got on the ambulance and she seemed lifeless, except for her chest pumping up and down so hard. I didn't understand how we got in the middle of this storm. Why couldn't it be me? Why did an angel have to suffer so?

It took another 2 days for me to be released. I was very weak and Blake took me to see her. It was like being in a HAZMAT were scrubbed down, gown on, and gloves and booties on our feet. I walked into a sea of tiny, tiny critical babies. Some only weighing ounces. Then, we came to Maya. I put my hand through the slot where I could touch her. Something about that moment gave me hope.

Then, the doctors and nurses told us the news. They said " We don't know what happened on the ambulance ride, but, your daughter has turned the corner....she didn't have to be on the ventilator that long". Tears of joy. I rarely left her side nor did Blake.

With each day, tubes came out and we could feed her. I am talking the tiniest bottle you have ever seen in your life. That was my best day....holding her and feeding her. God heard our prayers and what was supposed to be a month ICU stay, ended up being only 5 days.

I am a huge advocate for March of Dimes and the Pre-eclampsia Foundation. Women and babies are dying everyday from this condition. But, somehow, we were spared and given another chance at life.

Today, she makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. She is a fighter....she is witty, she is an athlete....she can run so fast that I am thinking we should be considering Olympic trials. :)

Where did I find the laughter in this storm? I found it in the nurses who would tell me stories of hope or what the babies did that day to make them smile. I found laughter and joy when I saw one of those micro-babies leave the NICU and go home. I found laughter at a NICU reunion a year later and all of those children who were fighting for their lives were now running around the room passing out hugs and kisses. Now everyday, I find the laughter and the joy when I look at her. I call her the scrapper. She says "No, my name is Maya".

The storm stopped raging and laughter followed.

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