Monday, March 9, 2009

The Story of Our Daughter's Birth and First 36 Hours

As many of you have heard, I’m not writing you from our home with Elise still growing in my tummy. I’m writing you from the hospital, with my baby girl in the NICU down the hall. Here's my recounting of the story (as much of it as I could think to write about)...

On Saturday around 12:45pm, I started to experience pelvic pains and my uterus became hard (similar to a contraction except that it remained hardened). We had just eaten lunch at McDonald’s and were running errands so I thought maybe I was just tired and that maybe my jeans, which I hadn’t worn since last weekend, were just uncomfortably tight.

By the time we got home from our errands, I couldn’t even bend over to put the groceries away. I put on a comfy pair of Kit’s basketball shorts and hopped in bed with a heat pack. After lying in bed for a couple of hours, the pain still hadn’t subsided. I read a bit of my What to Expect When You’re Expecting and thought maybe I was in pain because of a UTI since it didn’t feel like the constipation pain I had a few weeks ago.

Kit drove me to the nearest urgent care because I didn’t want to go to the hospital for a simple UTI (stupid, I know, but it made sense at the time). They got me right in at urgent care and sent me straight to the hospital because they don’t have any fetal monitoring equipment at the urgent care office. We decided to go to Providence Portland since it was closest and we weren’t actually planning on her being born (since we had recently planned to deliver at Legacy Emanuel).

By the time we got to the hospital, my pain had increased but I was trying to tough through it. I walked without help up to labor and delivery, and we even stood in the hallway waiting for a couple of minutes while they finished cleaning our room.

We got set up in the room, with Kit sitting on the large wall heater because there wasn’t a chair. They hooked me up to the monitoring equipment (one fetal monitor, and I believe the other was to monitor for contractions). My uterus was still hard, and the pain was increasing.

The monitoring went okay for a while though my pain continued to worsen, and I couldn’t get comfortable. They called the midwife who works with my doctor who thought maybe I might be having gallbladder issues. She ordered a biophysicial profile (or something to that effect), and the monitoring continued while I waited to be taken downstairs for testing, including an ultrasound. I threw up three times from the pain so they finally gave me Zofran, which we had to wait to see if it helped with the pain as well or just the nausea. It didn’t help with the pain.

In trying to get good monitoring because they weren’t getting a good read on Elise at this point, the nurse requested twice that I try lying on my left side since the right side and back weren’t working very well. My left side was where the most excruciating pain was, and I just couldn’t do it. She finally gave me some Fentanyl, and my pain lessened to a tolerable level within 30-60 seconds. Nurse number one’s shift was over.

In came Lisa, my amazing labor and delivery nurse. Not only did she immediately explain to us that she was very concerned about a possible placental abruption (where the placenta begins removing from the uterine wall), the midwife was on her way and Lisa was hopping into action. She kept us informed every step of the way and was wonderful.

Soon thereafter, word came that not only was the midwife on the way so was my OB, Dr. Anderson, whom they referred to as “the surgeon”…we were almost certainly headed for an emergency C-section. They were holding open an operating room for me and pausing someone else’s C-section. Kit was given scrubs and went into the bathroom to change. Once the midwife arrived, it was established that I was going in for a C-section. Anesthesia was called for an urgent consult, which began within minutes. Next thing I knew, I was being wheeled down to the OR, and the certified nurse anesthetist was attempting to give me my epidural.

The epidural just wasn’t working out quickly enough so they gave me general anesthesia. Although this meant Kit couldn’t be in the room, my doctor seemed clear that he wanted the general anesthesia, and I told them that Kit would be fine and I wanted to get started.

Elise Laine Wagner was born on March 7th, 2009 at 9:07pm. She was 2 pounds, 11 ounces. They measured her at some point after arriving to the NICU, and she was 14-3/8 inches long.

I awoke in the ICU, and Kit came down shortly thereafter and explained to me what was going on. I did have a placental abruption, and there was a clot larger than Elise between my uterine wall and my placenta. Elise was being prepared (including intubation) for transport to the NICU at Providence St. Vincent because Legacy Emanuel didn’t have space for her. If we hadn’t gone in to the hospital, they said neither Elise or I would have lived. Praise the Lord for saving us both.

I was in ICU because I lost a lot of blood, and they were worried about possible DIC (?) where my body sent out so many clots that it stopped clotting, and I would then begin bleeding non-stop. This, however, didn’t happen and I’ve been making a good recovery. Although I don’t think labor and delivery would have let me do this, the ICU folks took me off of IV food, and I ate a small amount of (horrible) breakfast yesterday. I was also able to pump for the first time while in the ICU waiting for transport to the hospital Elise is at.

Elise is in the NICU because she is obviously 12 weeks early. Since being hospitalized, they have said multiple times that she was 27 and 6/7 weeks so I’m not sure where the counting is different here than it was in my doctor’s office, but it apparently means she was born even younger than we thought she was.

Initially Elise was intubated and on a respirator/ventilator (don’t know which is which but the thing that breathes for her). Late Saturday night I received a call from Dr. McDonald (sp? – haven’t met him yet but Kit did yesterday), giving me an update on her condition. She was (and still is) being fed via a feeding tube in her umbilical cord. She was breathing some on her own, some with help. She had high acid levels in her blood from the trauma that was occurring in my uterus prior to her birth. Breathing a bit on her own was helping to bring down the acid levels, but the doctor was concerned that these high acid levels may cause brain damage. A head ultrasound in the morning would give a better idea; however, he said the first 48-72 hours are crucial in seeing whether there might be blood on her brain or other brain problems. The plan was to also have her start breathing on her own the next day.

Yesterday just as Kit was arriving at Prov St. Vincent after visiting me at Prov Portland first, Dr. McDonald called me again. He said he was waiting for radiologist to review the results of the ultrasound but that he didn’t see any blood on the brain. They were planning to remove the ventilator/respirator and put in a CPAP (the little tubes in her nose that continuously feed oxygen to her). By late morning/early afternoon yesterday, Kit was able to watch as they removed the ventilator/respirator and put in the CPAP. He was also able to change her diaper (his first diaper change ever) and to rub the petroleum jelly-like goo all over her body to help keep her hydrated. Kit also got word that the radiologist agreed that the ultrasound showed her brain to be okay at this point. They’re still closely monitoring her, especially to see if she has any seizures and will continue to ensure her brain is functioning okay and doesn’t have bleeding.

I was transported from the ICU at Prov Portland to the post-partum section at Prov St Vincent yesterday. Unfortunately, once we got here I was in a lot of pain (in addition to everything else, I also had bleeding into my uterine wall that is adding to my pain) and was hungry and exhausted. And I had to wait to see my new doctor (Dr. Anderson isn’t on the medical staff here) to see me and write orders before I could get pain medication. My mom tried to order food, but I hadn’t technically been discharged from Portland yet so they couldn’t bring me food. Eventually, my nurse (sorry, I’ve already forgotten names because they erase them from the dry erase board when the next nurse comes on) was able to go ahead and bring my Percocet (because I had also been taking Tylenol with the Fentanyl for jaw pain) and get my lunch ordered. The Percocet takes much longer to kick in since it’s an actual pill and the Fentanyl was given via IV. But eventually it kicked it and I ate lunch – potato salad and a whole grain roll – sometime around 3:30ish (or maybe 4:30ish – our room clock hasn’t been reset for daylight savings).

Once my parents (who had driven down slowly in the snow Saturday night) and Kit’s parents (who had come both on Saturday night and again yesterday afternoon) and Sean and Laura (my brother and sister-in-law who had also come after midnight on Saturday and again yesterday afternoon) left last night, Kit and I were able to have our first time alone since Elise was born. We both caught up on what had happened, and Kit explained to me everything that happened while I was under general anesthesia and in the ICU prior to Elise being transported. He has been amazing through this whole thing and has been blessed to have Tim, our home fellowship leader and good friend, with him on Saturday night while I was in surgery.

I was able to build my energy up after finishing digesting my food and allowing the pain medication to settle in. Kit and the nurse helped me get into a wheelchair, and Kit brought me to the NICU to meet our baby girl. She is so small and precious. Although I couldn’t see her hair or eyes with the little hat they had on her, Kit took a couple of pictures earlier in the day to show she has my her brown hair. I had expected her to (a) be bald and (b) be blonde because both Kit and I had very little hair at birth and had white blonde hair as babies and small children. It’s that much more precious that she has her mommy’s hair color. Kit says she has my nose as well, but I haven’t seen it without the tubes in.

Today we will meet with Dr. McDonald for an update on Elise. We’ll let everyone know how that goes. I’m feeling much better after getting a full night’s sleep (albeit with interruptions every four hours for medication, bathroom trips and lab draws), and was able to get Elise a little bit more colostrum last night before going to bed. Today I’ll start more consistent pumping so that we can get Elise all that she needs. Since we haven’t met with the doctor, I don’t know for sure that they’re still planning to begin feeding her my colostrum, but we’re hoping that they will be able to do so.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. We have complete peace in the Lord that He is in control and has been each step of the way. It is a miracle that both Elise and I are doing so well. I will be in the hospital for another 3 days or so, and Elise will most likely be here for 7-8 weeks.

I’ll post pictures once Kit gets here with our recharged camera. (The battery died yesterday afternoon).

If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section of each blog posting, and I’ll try to add answers to my next post. That way we can hopefully keep everyone in the loop.

If you’d like to visit, we ask that you either call (mine of Kit’s cell phone) or email us first so that we can let you know how we’re feeling, what our schedule is like, etc. We are only allowing immediate family (i.e. our parents and siblings) to see Ellie and appreciate your understanding. We will proudly tell you all about her though and show you the most recent pictures we have. :) While we are looking forward to visitors, please also understand if you're only able to stay for a little while as we have a lot going on.

Oh, and please feel free to pass our blog link on to anyone and everyone that you know. We need all prayer we can get for Elise’s continued healing and growth.


CMC said...

Oh Emily! I am sending up so many prayers for you, Elise and Kit. I posted on my blog for people to pray for you :) Take care of yourself and I'll be thinking of you lots.

Becca Sue Congdon said...


I'm glad to hear that you guys are both stable, and to see that you're already blogging. You're such a freaking trooper!

I'd love to see you and do anything I can to help you guys out at this point - though I remember after my CS the thing I wanted most was privacy. So just let me know what you need... as you have time.

I love you, girly!

Tony Whipps said...

We are definitely praying for your whole family. Thanks for keeping us updated. If there is anything we can do let us know. If you need someone to take care of your dog let us know too. We can't wait to see you all when things get more settled. Take care

Grandma Jo said...

Hi Emily, Kit and little Elisa,
Thank the good Lord you are doing OK and my prayers are with you always.
Keep in touch as you can
Love Grandma Jo

Unknown said...

I love you all and i am so grateful for God's protection over you three!!! You're in my prayers. I LOVE YOU ALL!!

The Johnson Journey said...

It's Laurie...a friend of Kirsten :) I have been staying updated on you through her :) I have been and will continue to pray for all of you! I am so thankful that you and baby Ellie are doing well! I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of your new precious angel!! Hugs and love!

Amber Son said...

I'm praying for you guys & am encouraged to hear that the "peace that surpasses understanding" of this whole thing is in each of your hearts. Wow!!! What a testimony. God is being glorified thru your family!!

Doreen T. said...

We at Christ's Church are all praying for you, Kit and Elise.
Doreen Torseth

Unknown said...

Emily! Hey little mama. Wow, i can't believe all that you and Kit and Ellie have been through the last two days! Aaron and I have been praying for you. I called my family out east so they could be praying for you too. Rebecca is are a trooper, i can't believe you are already doing so much communicating and keeping folks updated! You are an amazing woman! Praise be to our Lord for all He has done!
i love you girl.

Anonymous said...

Dear Emily and Kit,

I just found out about this website from M & M today. The aunt is the last to know. Ha!

I am so glad and thankful that everything is going so well. You really went through the "soup". God is so great and awesome. We asked for prayer for you both in our church service yesterday and they prayed so much for you. There is so much to say. We will continue to pray as we wait for you and little Elise to grow stronger. Can't wait to see you all. If we can do anything for you, Kit, your parents, brothers, etc., we are ready and anxious to do so.
We love you so much! God bless you each day as you experience His miracles in this new life!
Aunt Laurie and Uncle Doug :)

Kara said...

I'm praying for you and Elise and will continue to throughout the next 7-8 weeks while she's in the hospital. Thanks for the update. You spirit is an encouragement to us all.

Anonymous said...

Emily & Kit,
We are praying for you guys and love you guys!!! We so look forward to meeting your little girl. If we find out there is anyway we can help with anything, we totally will. Again, We love you guys and are praying for you! What an incredible journey. . .
Blessings, Suz & Drew Berryessa

Our growing family said...

OH EMILY!! I just found out what has been going on! I will be praying for you all!!!
Love to you,

Anonymous said...

Miss Emily and Kit,
What a suprise! I heard the news today and reading your story is amazing, the Lord is with you! My thoughts and prayers are with you two and your very little Elise. Rest, as much as you can!

Heather said...

Hi Emily! I came over from Kelly's blog (she is a friend of mine) and I will be praying for you and your baby girl. I know God has you in the palm of His hands and I love the scriptures and things you have written.

Jamie said...

I found your blog from Kelly's Korner blog. I had my son Tye on Jan 1st 2008 at 28 weeks. He stayed in the NICU for 53 days, and is a sweet testemant of God's provision and mercy. I also had an abruption with Tye, it is scary, and I will keep sweet Ellie in my prayers!
Jamie in Tenn

Kendra said...

I came over from Kelly's blog. I am praying for you!!!!
A few things...
First, my sister delivered my niece at 26weeks weighing 1 pound 11 ounces, and she is doing great today!!! She is a miracle.
Second, I live in Portland, OR, (I recognized your hospital names) and I am not even kidding when I say if there is anything I can do, please comment on my blog and let me know.
I remember how rough all that was on my sister, brother in law, and niece...they were in Hawaii without any family around, and so many people stepped up to help. I would be honored to "pay it forward".

MomMom said...

Our little nephew was born weighing 1 lb. 10 oz. and is now a freshman in college and doing great. When he was born in 1990 there were not nearly as many medical interventions for preemies as there are now. Even though it was one step forward and three back for a while, he's a blessing from God and today is his birthday--he's 19 years old. We'll be praying for your little Elise.

mrs shortcake said...

I found your blog via Kelly, and just wanted to let you know that I'll be checking in and praying for you both!

Krystal said...

I'm here from Kelly's blog too, and I want you to know that I'm praying for all of you!

Ceece said...

I have said a prayer for your family!both my kiddos spent weeks in the NICU after birth, one for a crazy infection, the other for being born prematurely. They're both happy and healthy today! Peace be with you and your family and sweet little Elise!