This was it! Our baby was coming, ready or not.
While this was far from how I saw my delivery going, I was comforted and cared for by the wonderful staff that surrounded me. Everyone was so attentive to not only my medical needs, but also my emotional needs, being so supportive and working to put me at ease through this nerve-wracking experience. I can remember my anesthesiologist narrating what was happening around me and then hearing him say, “Get ready, this is the best part of the show!” That’s when I looked up and saw her. There she was, my precious baby girl. The baby I wanted so badly and never thought would come. Our little miracle; all of our prayers answered.
Madeleine Louise was born at 1:14 pm, a little over two hours after I arrived at Woman’s Assessment Center. Thank God I went. Thank God I listened to my husband. Thank God I got there when I did. At 5 weeks early, Maddie weighed 5 lbs 12 oz. She was on the small side, but was thriving. And we were thrilled to learn that she would return to our hospital room instead of the NICU!
While the afternoon of Maddie’s birth is still a bit foggy, there’s still a lot I remember. I remember feeling awful. I remember how much I despised the magnesium drip. I remember a lot of hustle and bustle and the worried faces in my hospital room. But most of all, I remember my desire to see my own doctor to truly understand what was going on with me.
A technician came in to do an ultrasound of my liver. We were nervous, and unsure of what was happening. Apparently my blood pressure was not going down and my liver enzymes were still elevated- which was cause for concern. The tech told us that we would know more the next day when results came back from the ultrasound and blood work.
That evening, with our healthy baby girl in the room with us, we did our best to relax. My husband and I made the decision to send Maddie to the hospital nursery so we could get some sleep after the day we had had. Sometime that night, things changed pretty drastically. When the nurse checked on our baby in the nursery, she found Maddie turning blue. A medical team took over and she was quickly admitted to the NICU for monitoring. The physician and nurse treating Maddie explained that she had an apnea episode and they would be monitoring her closely to be sure that she was healthy. While she was there she was checked by Cardiology, Respiratory and her pediatrician. While unsettling, we knew that she was in the best hands possible.
Meanwhile, I was still hooked up to an IV and the dreaded magnesium drip; I had compression boots on my legs, and was recovering from a C-section. I was experiencing severe anxiety, and was scared to talk to anyone about what was happening to me, because I was fearful that someone would tell me I was dying. In addition to all of these issues, I was desperate to be with my baby, and I had a little boy at home who I was worried sick about. Because of my poor health, I was unable to leave my room for two days. My husband checked on Maddie in the NICU, and we had to rely on some really great friends and family members to help us.
With my husband splitting time in the NICU and caring for our son at home, I spent the second night alone in my room. It was eerily quiet and I can recall the sound of a helicopter landing outside of my window, likely dropping off a really sick baby. At that moment I became overwhelmed with gratitude that things weren’t worse for us and I prayed that things would continue to improve.
The next morning I was so relieved to see Dr. Harris. She explained that she was concerned with my liver enzyme levels not coming down and my continued high blood pressure. She planned to keep me in the hospital until my health improved. In her calming way, she explained that situation was serious and that I needed to get better before I could go home or even have the ability to care for Maddie. This was hard news to swallow for any new mother, especially one so anxious to see their newborn. Knowing this, Dr. Harris allowed me to go visit her via wheelchair. I was elated!
The first time I saw Maddie’s little body in the NICU, it felt like it had been weeks since I first laid eyes on her. I sat in the rocking chair, so grateful to hold her, and sang to her while she slept. It was such a calming experience to finally have her in my arms, and all I could think about was how very thankful I was that she was mine. Later that day, my son was able to come and meet Maddie and I finally felt like my heart was whole again. I had been desperately missing him and had not had the time I wanted to adequately prepare him for this major life change. He was more enamored with the hospital itself, in particular, the vending machine, than his baby sister; but, that is probably no real surprise to anyone with a four year old boy.
We were all ready to be home together. Thankfully Maddie received the all clear to leave the NICU. She was moved to the transition nursery and we were prepped for what to expect when we got home. The staff did a fabulous job of putting our minds at ease and helping us feel that we could take care of our little girl. My liver enzyme levels were coming down, but I, unfortunately, could not leave the hospital until my blood pressure came down, and that was not yet happening.
Maddie was discharged to my room that evening and we were beyond excited to have her with us. We hoped this would be our last night at the hospital. My blood pressure finally started coming down that evening and the next morning, with our nearly one week old baby girl, we received the news we were hoping for. We were going home!
Life today is back to normal. My husband and I are both back at work and we have all adjusted to our new life as a family of four. William loves his baby sister with all of his heart and fills the shoes of big brother quite naturally. I will always look back on my experience of having Maddie fondly. It was an unsettling time, but I knew we both were in the best hands possible.
The amount of support I received from Dr. Harris and her entire staff will never be forgotten. It makes a huge difference in situations like these to have a doctor you trust and she fits that bill ten times over. She and her nurses know me and know my story. They have cried with me during the difficult times and celebrated with me during the happy ones. I would not change my experience for anything.
My path to having these two incredible miracles seemed unbearable at times, but it is all part of the person I am today and the mother I have become. At the end of the day, I look at my little family of four knowing all of my dreams have been fulfilled. For that I am forever grateful.
For Julie’s complete story, but sure to read Part 1.