Around 5am on Sunday November 3, 2013, I got up to pee for the 50millionth time. Hubby was in the shower getting ready to get groceries for us because we had a busy day planned and would not have time to go during the day. As I went to get back into the bed, I felt a gush of liquid…and of course because Addie had been sitting on my bladder for a while, I thought I had had an accident! But then, I began to wonder I had just experienced my water breaking. I was only 36 weeks, and this seemed unlikely to me. So….I googled and sent Hubby to Walmart feeling sure that it was just a false alarm. I didn’t want to go to the hospital for peeing myself! While he was gone, though, it became apparent that my water had indeed broken. I called the on call doctor and he suggested that I come on in to the ER. I took a shower, fixed my hair, and waited on Hubby to return. We frantically packed the car and prepared to go to the hospital. We were excited and nervous, but I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet so I was still wondering what was going on.
When we arrived at the hospital around 8am and registered with the ER and were taken up to labor and delivery. It was my first time being wheeled in a wheel chair through the hospital. We made it up to the third floor and they took a test to see if my water had indeed ruptured. The first test came back inconclusive and so they sent it to the lab for a thirty minute test. In the meantime I started to feel crampy and so the nurse hooked me up to the ultrasound and told me that the doctor on call would be coming to check for dilation and effacement. I had never been checked because my 36 week appointment was scheduled for following Thursday. The test came back positive, that my water had if fact broken before the doctor made it in, so instead they took me to a room in labor and delivery. We were going to have a baby….today!
By the time I made it to a room, (around 9:30-10am) I was having pretty frequent contractions and ready to see the doctor. I met my nurse and she and the nursing student put in my IV and drew some blood work for labs. Apparently none of my records could be found, and therefore they had to start from scratch. By around 11am I had still not seen a doctor and was starting to feel a bit aggravated. I wanted to know how far along I was. I was starting to feel some serious pain, but I didn’t want to think that I was a baby if I was only 1 centimeter dilated! While I am in pain, nineteen family members were arriving in the waiting room and coming in to visit. I was probably not the best company, but I tried to be nice between contractions!
When the doctor did finally make it he made a comment that I must have a strong pain threshold because I was already at 4-5 centimeters and taking it like a pro. I was so relieved….I wasn’t being a baby after all! I then immediately asked for an epidural! If I was already progressing this fast I didn’t want to wait until it was too late. A little while later my lovely epidural arrived! Hubby got queasy when he saw the needle, but I didn’t even care. It felt glorious! I could have kissed the anesthesiologist!!Within minutes I was resting comfortably! I had chills and shakes as a side effect of the drugs, but compared to the pain of contractions that was no big deal at all! Having the epidural felt like a warm blanket wrapped around me and I was so comfortable that I wanted to take a nap and rest before it was time to push. If anyone has not tried one….(an epidural), I highly suggest it!
An hour or so later I was rechecked, and sure enough….I was 9.5 centimeters! YIKES! Half an hour later I had made it to ten, but still had no urge to push, so they let me wait. When the doctor made it in to begin delivery he realized that Addie was sunny-side up. So, I got into a really fun position and waited for an hour for her to turn…but…she…never…did! We had to start pushing anyway. The nurse, Tiffany, told me to expect delivery to take a while now and to prepare to push for at least an hour and a half, if not more.
I watched Real Housewives in between pushing and talked to my nurse about school. The doctor came in as things were coming to a head….literally….and he was able to successfully turn Addie. Once she was turned she came right on out within ten minutes! At 4:49pm Adeline Faye Harvey was born.
I had always expected to have Addie placed on my chest and spend some time loving on her before the rest of the family came in, but she had to be checked by the nursery staff because she was early and they wanted to be cautious. We snapped a quick picture and then the nurse told me that they wanted to take her to the nursery for two hours just to check her out while she transitioned. They told us that by the time we made into our other room that she would be taken to our room. She never made it that night…. When I called to get an update they told me that she wasn’t transitioning well and needed to be taken to the special care nursery for the night. Hubby and I were of course very upset, worried, anxious, disappointed and a million other emotions at the same time. We made it to the Special Care Nursery to see our baby hooked up to monitors with wires all over her body and tubes in her nose. She was blue and bruised from delivery and she looked so sad that all of us had to fight back tears as we looked. You could tell that she was struggling to breath and her chest physically caved in with each breath.
We spent that first night alone in our room. There wasn’t anything to say….so we just slept, or tried to sleep. We woke up the next morning with more questions and very few answers. Addie was still in the nursery and the nurse told us…”don’t worry, the nurse practitioner will come talk to you soon because she always sees the sickest babies first.” Of course…that made us feel awful. What could we do? Would she be okay? Was it something that I did? Why is this happening? And a million other questions… We never heard much that first day except that her lungs were retracting and she was breathing 34% oxygen instead of 21%, which is room air. They also mentioned that she might have some sort of infection, but they were waiting on her labs to return. They wouldn’t give us a timeline for Addie’s recovery….but it seemed that she would not be going home from the hospital when I was discharged. Waring and I were lost as to what to do. We felt distraught, but knew that we had to hold it together and be strong for our little girl. At this point we hadn’t even been able to touch her or talk to her. She was called a “touch-me-not” baby because the overstimulation could cause her breathing to be setback.
By Tuesday we were feeling a bit better. We had spoken with our friend Audra who works in the NICU in Columbia. She reassured us that everything the nurses were doing was okay and that she would eventually be fine. That morning when Hubby and I were discharged we felt better about everything and were determined to be strong for our family and new baby…until…we…got…the…news… Addie’s infection was very alarming the doctors because of her “bands” and white blood cell count. Apparently Addie’s labwork showed that her bands had jumped to 43 bands, from 23 bands the day before. Doctor Torez told us that this was a sign of infection, and it could be meningitis. In order to tell for sure they would have to do a spinal tap to run for labwork. Immediately my head was spinning and I didn’t know what to say or what to do. I thought that we were just dealing with underdeveloped lungs and that all would be okay, but that seemed not to be the case anymore. When we went to tell our family, were all just as emotional as Waring and I were. It took Waring’s grandmother to pull us all together and tell us that we all had to come together and pray. At that moment we all huddled in the waiting room of the Special Care Nursery and prayed for that little girl. Within a few ours we had hundreds of people around the state praying on our Addie’s behalf. It was a humbling and powerful experience. I want to always remember how these days felt and be there for other couples and families who may find themselves in similar situations.
On Wednesday we had a better idea that Addie did not have meningitis, but we still had to wait for the 48 hour lab work to come back negative. While we didn’t know exactly what the infection was, the doctors said that they would treat her with antibiotics for five to seven days just to be on the safe side, BUT her bands had went from 43 to 3 in one day! That was great news because that showed that the infection, whatever it was, was reacting to the treatment. While Addie’s progress was slow, it was steady and we needed to continue to be strong for her. Eventually Teresa let us hold her and do skin on skin, or kangaroo care and really spend some time bonding with our little girl. It was pretty difficult because she had some many wires hooked up to her and things were constantly beeping and buzzing, but it was worth it.
After Addie was four days old, she was finally allowed to have her first bottle! They were just giving her fluids through her IVs. I was very worried about her being able to eat and digest her food well, because I knew that was one of the battles that she would have to conquer if we were ever going to get to go home! She did really well, though and was eating and burping like a champ! I was able to pump for her and Waring and I would feed her every three hours around the clock! I never knew how excited I would be to feed, burp, and change a little baby’s bottle. For a few days, this was the only contact we were able to have. They moved her IV to go in her umbilical cord because she kept pulling it out of her, which meant we couldn’t hold her still!
Although we felt like zombies most of the time that we were in the Special Care Nursery, we did felt very blessed to have loving nurses and even make a few friends. Frank and Ashley Miller had their son, Judah, two days after we did. Although their son was full term, he was having a few issues of his own, and they found their way into the special care nursery as well. We were able to share a bond with this couple that very few will understand, and we have stayed in contact with them after we all left. We actually have dinner with the Miller family last weekend. It is amazing how God’s plan is so much more perfect than our own.
Eight days after Addie’s arrival, we were finally able to leave the Special Care Nursery. It was fitting that Teresa, the nurse who hugged us during the terrible day that Addie had her spinal tap, and allowed us to hold our baby for the first time, was the same nurse on duty who helped see us leave. She was such a God-send. I have no doubt that God placed this amazing woman in our lives to comfort us in such a stressful time. On the last day they took Addie out from underneath the Bilirubin lights, took out her umbilical line (which was pretty gross), and gave her the infamous carseat test. After passing all of these tests, we were finally able to take our little girl home!
Addie’s first week of life was terrifying, humbling, and beautiful. I have a feeling that parenting and this first experience with Addie will feel pretty similar. I will be praying for wisdom every day!