Saturday, January 12, 2008

She tried to open her eyes for the first time!

Ava tried to open her eyes today! For the past almost 2 weeks she had remained 'asleep' and the staff told us frankly that they didn't know when or if she would wake up. Today was a good day. I felt renewed in my faith. For the first time since Ava was born, I left the hospital with a smile on my face. Kenny told me later that he, too, needed to see her little eyes. It renewed his hope and faith whe he really needed it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

James 1: 2-4

James 1:2-4
"Consider it Pure Joy, my brethren, when you encounter hard trials of many kinds. Because you know it is the testing of your Faith that produces patience and endurance. But you must let endurance have it's full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

First MRI

Had first MRI today. After seeing her off, Jen and I decided to go to lunch and shop for baby clothes. The distraction was just what I needed. At lunch, Jennifer kept saying how sorry she was that we were going through this. I told her it was only God that was getting us through because I personally didn't have that kind of strength. Later that night I had a complete and total breakdown, hysterical sobbing, irrational thinking. I remember Kenny telling me to let it out, to do whatever I needed to do to get through. I cried so hard my eyes were swollen and sore the next morning.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I kangaroo'd with Ava today

We got to 'Kangaroo' with her today! This is skin-to-skin contact. Later that night at home, Kenny was heading out the front door to do chores and he pulled out the front of his short and smelled it. "I can still smell her.." He said. 

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ava's First Bath

This was Ava's first bath, and I don't kow if you can tell from the pictures, but she is completely limp and still in a coma. The nurse in the photo (who we had several times during our 3 month stay) was sooo sweet. I remember my husband and I were just sitting there by her bedside, numd really, and she asked us if we wanted to help bathe her. I don't know why it sounded odd to me, but it did. I guess because she was hooked up to so much stuff if was very intimidating. She instinctively knew that getting us involved in her care would help us to get our minds off the gloominess of the situation. She found out from Ava's chart, that we had attempted a home birth and ended up transferring to the hopsital. She later told me in private that, she too, had a homebirth and that her little girl had died due to a birth deformity. She must have sensed that maybe I was harboring feeling of guilt, because she looked me dead in the eyes one day and said, "This is NOT your fault. No one caused this, not you or anyone else." Bless her for saying that!

We held her for the first time!

We got to hold Ava for the first time! It took 2 nurses to move her. One to hold her, and one to hold all her wires, but I got to hold her and that was all that mattered. She made it to the 3 day mark, and they said she wouldn't make it 24 hours.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I wake up to Kenny listening to voice mails from well wishers. He just shook his head at the outpouring of love for our little girl. Pastor Bob and his wife, Debbie, had just left the hospital and were letting us know that they had prayed over Ava and commented on how beautiful she was. After spending the afternoon at the hospital with Ava, we stopped at Jennifer's to spend some time with Aohdan. it was sooo good to see him. I had a whole new appreciation for his vibrance and health. When he heard Kenny and I come in the back door, I heard a little voice say, "Mommy?! Daddy?!" He came running around the corner and literally jumped up in my arms. I just held him and bried my face in his shoulder and breathed him in. It felt so good. I handed him off to Kenny and wiped away tears just in time for Jen to wrap her arms around me and I started crying again. She assured me he could stay there as long as we needed him to and not to worry. That night as we were getting into bed Children's called us to let us know that Ava's little heart had sped into the 280's, a condition called 'Super Ventricular Tachycardia' or SVT. She said it was not life threatening but something to be concerned about. I felt the beginnings of a panic attack coming on and decided it would be best to take a sleeping pill. My mind was racing all over again.

Ava - The First Weeks...

This was the site that greeted us when we arrived at Children's Hospital J4 NICU. It was approximately 10:30pm on New Year's Day (what a way to celebrate huh?) and I was still physically in a great deal of pain from the emergency forceps birth. Up to that point, neither Kenny or I had even stepped foot in a NICU, let alone to visit our own child. I had not even gotten to hold her at this point, and would not do so for 4 long days... The Dr's informed us that she had suffered a severe 'insult' as they called it, to her brain resulting from a lack of oxygen during her birth. Shortly after her birth at St. Ann's, she started having siezures and was loaded with Phenobarbitol and Dylantin, 2 medications commonly used for treating seizures. Ava did not blink after birth, neither did she cry, suck, or move in any way. It was as if all of her reflexes were erased in the blink of an eye. I kept asking the Dr's, so when will she wake up? When will she cry? I saw the look in their eyes when they explained they did not know. I finally had one Dr that was frank with me. After being in the NICU for about 2 days, this Neonatologist vry seriously told me, "We don't know yet if she is even going to survive, so let's take it one step at a time..."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I wake up at around 5:00am on New Year's Day. It feels like I'm waking up from a bad dream, but I know it is real. It is surreal to think that most of our friends were out partying it up the night before and have no idea of the tragedy that has taken place. I'm debating on how best to spread the news. I'm still in shock myself. I decide to send a text message to a few people in our our circle of family, friends, co-workers and our River church family. I tell everyone that there were major complications with the birth and make the first request for prayer. I close my eyes and thank God for saving Ava's life and just ask Him to remain close to us as we venture into the unknown. I look over and Kenny is still sleeping. He looks so peaceful. Dr. Murnan, the gracious soul who just 'happened' to be at the right place at the right time, came in to check on me. He apologized for not being able to do more. I thanked him for being so kind to us and for thinking of Ava. Shortly after our nurse came in and gave me something to help me sleep as I was still wired with adrenaline from the delivery. I fall asleep for several hours. When I wake again it is close to lunchtime. The Neonatologist comes in to talk to Kenny and I. He paints a very grim picture for Ava. "Birth asphyxia, organ failure, seizures, brain damage..." I had to quit listening, I just went numb. Just the day before I had been laboring at home, picturing an easy birth surrounded only by my midwives, my husband and two of my closest friends. I should be enjoying my baby right now! I was struggling with guilt.."I should have pushed harder!" "I should have left for the hospital sooner!" Feelings of guilt ran rampant through my mind. "It was MY fault she was in this condition!" But Dr Murnan had so graciously reminded me that no one could have forseen what had happened. A plencental abruption, or, premature separation of the placenta from the uteran wall. "The outcome would have been the same whether you were here or at home, we lost her so quickly..." His words kept running through my mind over and over again.
Kenny and I finally got to see her around Noon that day. It was at this time that the Dr told us for the first time that she may not live. "WHAT?!" My mind screamed for her. I just wanted to crawl up on the warming table and take her place. I asked the nurse if I could touch her. She said "Yes" but not to make any stroking motions as it would cause her even more distress. I bent over and looked closely at her little face. She was perfect. Curly black hair, cute puckery little lips, it was hard to imagine that she was so, so sick. They were going to transfer her to Children's Hospital "So she'll get the best possible care," they said.
By the time we returned to our room, the phone calls had started rolling in. Shortly after lunch, I heard a knock on the door and when it opened there stood Eric Coss and Laura Richards. I just started crying, it was so good to see them! Laura just wrapped her arms around me and kept saying over and over, "I just needed to give you a hug!!!" We all prayed such a sweet prayer for healing and strength and Laura commented on how she just felt 'Peace' regarding Ava. After Eric & Laura left, Debbie Swanger and the girls stopped by. They all gathered around us and prayed hard against enemy attacks, and also for God's perfect peace to surround us. The love we felt those first few hours after Ava's birth still overwhelms me. It was an outpouring of the likes I had never seen before. At one point Kenny and I counted several dozen churches in 3 different COUNTRIES praying for our baby girl!
Later that same day, The transport team from Children's Hospital came to St. Ann's to pick up Ava. They assured us she was in good hands. The hospital gave me an early discharge so that I could go and be with our baby. I felt energetic and ready to go. It was as if the trauma my body had experienced the night before had ceased to exist. The nurse gave me a pain killer before I left to help out and advised me to 'take it easy' "Use a wheelchair" she told Kenny. "Don't let her walk any more than she has to." When we arrived at Children's I refused a wheelchair, telling Kenny I was 'Fine.' He just shook his head at my stubborness. When we arrived at Ava's bedside, her nurse handed me a box of kleenex and said the Dr would be there shortly. This was a common occurence in the NICU as I would discover in the weeks to come. A new patient would arrive, the Dr's would gt them settled in, then the father and mother would arrive and the nurse would always hand the mother a box of kleenex. I did cry, of course, bawled my eyes out actually. The Dr looked at me with sad eyes but told us matter of factly that statistically it didn't look good for Ava. He asked us at that time if we prayed and we replied, "Yes." "Then I would pray," he said. We left the hospital and drove home. Most of the ride was in silence. We were still numb. My body was in pain from walking the entire length of Children's Hospital (twice). It felt like my insides were loose, and I was bruised from the medical staff shoving their arms forcably into my rib cage and belly in an attempt to get Ava out quickly. I just crossed my arms around my middle and cried silently. "God, I really could use you right now because my world is pretty much crashing down around me..God? Could you just let me know you're with us?" I kept talking to God silently all the way home. I had always believed in God and Jesus. But now I was being tested far beyond where I ever thought I would. I looked over at Kenny.
"Yes?" He said.
"I want to pray together..on our hands and knees at night. And I want to do it before we get into bed. God deserves more than us saying half-hearted prayers just before we fall asleep."
"Ok." He replied.
When we arrrived at the house memories of her tragic birth were EVERYWHERE. The empty birthing pool where I had labored just the night before. The video recorder laying on the kitchen table. Blood splatters on the bathroom floor. The unused receiving blankets still wrapped up in the heating blanket. Why?! Why?! Why?! We had been brought to our knees and only God could bring us through this.