Papel Picado

Papel Picado

Monday, November 17, 2014

''If there is a heartbeat...'': One Year Later

It was nearly one year ago that I laid in a hospital bed waiting for a doctor to perform a sonogram. After a day of unpacking and cooking, I felt what could have been my water breaking at a very early 20 weeks and 1 day. This sonogram would tell us if I was, in fact, losing amniotic fluid. I was. I was given the option to induce labor and terminate the pregnancy, however the on call doctor gave me many other options.
I don't remember the car ride home. I don't remember the exact details, but I do remember asking for my mom or mother-in-law to come stay with me. I remember crying, a lot.
I was told that I would probably go into labor within 24-48 hours, or get an infection within 72 hours. I never showed any signs of labor or infection, though. 
It was a few days later that my mother and I went in for a check-up with my doctor. The sonogram showed tiny pockets of fluid, but I could see the sadness in my doctors face. The worry and the lack of hope. My mother stayed very strong and told him we believe in miracles.
As my doctor began discussing a plan to move forward I remember these words so clear ''and if there is a heartbeat next week...'' I would hear this for four more weeks of home bed rest. Visiting my doctor as well as a Perinatologist, week by week I was told what would happen next, of course focusing on what could go wrong. Hoping for a miracle, but hanging on on those words: ''if there is a heartbeat''. Each week I would anxiously await the next appointment, waiting to hear the heart beat of this child I already loved so much.
I laid in bed, only getting up to use the restroom or bathe. I watched movies, visited with friends and tried to keep my mind off of the negative. At my checkup at 23 weeks and 6 days my doctor made the decision to admit me to the hospital for closer observation. Then it turned into everyday visits from the doctors. Everyday I would hear those words. I was monitored for an hour a day, and would hear a feisty little girl kick the monitors on my belly. I would hear that strong heartbeat. A few days they felt hear heart rate dipped too low and she was on the monitor for a bit longer. I would nap to the sound of her heartbeat. The most beautiful sound I had ever heard.
It was the night she hit 26 weeks that the placenta began to separate and die. Olive quickly went from being completely healthy, to being in serious distress in a matter of minutes. At 26 weeks and 1 day she was born. She cried when she came out and it was the best sound I had ever heard.
She was rushed up to the NICU and it was a very long 12 hours before I would see her for the first time. Many people say when they see their preemie for the first time they are sad or scared. I was completely in awe as she breathed in and out with the assistance of a ventilator.
I looked up and saw numbers on the monitor and the NICU nurse began to tell me ''this is her oxygen saturation and this is her HEART RATE''. I sat and watched it. Many times I saw the numbers drop, but the nurses always came running.
Olive was 6 days old when I was able to hold her for the first time. She had dropped below 2 lbs and fit in my shirt. It was an amazing day.
For the first 149 days of her life she was on monitors. She endured 3 surgical procedures. She came home two days shy of her 5 month birth date.
She is now 10 months old and is quite big for a former preemie. She never lets any of the limits that were put on her hold her back. She is growing and developing very well and though she's needed to be tube fed for her entire life, she is slowly starting to eat by mouth. I laugh sometimes at the thought of her once fitting in my shirt and imagine trying to squeeze all of her wonderful 19 lbs into my shirt, although she is strong enough to fight me from doing so now!
I still watch her breath in and out and I lay my ear on her chest to hear that beautiful, strong heartbeat.

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