For most woman pregnancy is a time of happiness and excitement, but for some it can turn into many other things. I found out I was pregnant at just 5 weeks along. I went to the doctor for what I was sure was a urinary tract infection. My doctor did some urine tests and came in with a huge smile on his face and said "Your pregnant! Congratulations!" I was so happy, I immediately told my boyfriend, who was also very excited. I set up my very first OBGYN appointment. It was in 2 weeks and I could hardly wait. However, I did not make through those 2 weeks. I started bleeding and was rushed to the emergency room. The ER doctor says it was a threatened miscarriage. I was still so early along that this was not uncommon. From 6 weeks pregnant to 20 weeks pregnant, I was on bed rest with frequent trips to the ER for bleeding and threatened miscarriages. At my 20 week check up, my doctor was confident I had surpassed the miscarriage time frame and took me off of bed rest, but does caution me to be careful! I am very careful, as careful as I can be. Not carrying anything over 5 pounds, not running, not bouncing. I was eating healthy and drinking plenty of water.
Thursday, January 27th, 2011 comes and it was time to get our 3D gender scan. My now husband and I got up early and went to the doctor's office. Our sonogram tech says "IT'S A GIRL!" We were told that the fluid levels were great! Everything looked great! My doctor confirmed all of this, and sent us on our way. We were instructed to come back in a week for gestational diabetes testing. That day had seemed so perfect. We had planned on going out to dinner to celebrate, but around 2 pm that ecstatic feeling went away. My back was hurting, giving me sharp pains and i had lost my appetite. My husbands made noodles for dinner instead. I took 2 bites and decide to head to bed. He wanted me to go to the hospital but I insisted that it was nothing. After all, we were already on a first name basis with all of our local hospitals. He goes to sleep and I stay up, I can't sleep. The pain had moved to my stomach and hurt worse than I had yet to feel. I took a hot shower thinking that it would help. By 11 pm I was begging my husband to take me to the hospital. We got in the car, with nothing packed. Assuming they were going to tell us again that it is just braxton hicks contractions. I called my doctor's on call number. They tell us which hospital she is at. The hospital she was at that night was an extra 25 minutes away. We couldn't wait that long! We end up going to the closest hospital.
Arriving at the hospital, I was able to walk to the admissions desk. I insist I don't need a wheel chair but the nurse says its protocol so I got in for the ride. They took me up to the labor and delivery floor. I was 24 weeks, 3 days along in my pregnancy. My nurses hooked me up to see if I was having contractions. I was, but they were not measuring very high on their charts. The nurse was in no hurry to get the doctor. She went through all of my medical history, past present and family. Then she said "Okay, Lets check you out." Her face changed immediately, she gave me a smile. One of those smiles people who pity you give. My husband and I looked at each other and knew something was wrong. We knew our daughter was alive, her heart beat was a strong 148 bpm.
She came back with a another nurse who checked me out and gave me that same look. The first nurses gave us the worst news. I was 3 cm dilated, my water sak was bulging. They gave me medication to try to delay labor, but the contractions continue and were getting closer together. A man walked in, as if he just rolled out of bed and introduces himself. He was my doctor. He checked me out, and sat next to me to break the news. I am was labor, with a 24 week premie. He explained how they do not have the doctors or equipment to stabilize a baby so premature. He began to talk about the procedure to remove the fetus and that he could care for me. My husband stops him, crying, begging the doctor not to give up on our daughter. She was not a fetus she was a baby, OUR baby. The doctor explained there is a blizzard outside. Trying to get a medivac here was nearly impossible and he was not confident that I would make a 2 hour ambulance ride without delivering. He did not want either of us in an ambulance when the baby decides to come, but he agreed to try. It was about 2:30 am, He explained that an ambulance from a WVU Hospital had agreed to come and get me. He wanted us to go to Pittsburgh, PA Children's hospital but it was a longer journey by ambulance so Morgantown, WV here we come! It was snowing very heavily! It takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to the hospital. In that last 5 minutes my water broke. There was not much time left! The nurse riding with me informed the driver we needed to be there NOW! My husband drove behind us and arrived right after the ambulance. I was taken up to the delivery floor. Another doctor came in, a woman, introduced herself. She would be delivering my daughter. She examined me and told the nurses I needed to be in the operating room right then! My husband was following behind, struggling to get the scrubs on.
She didn't even have time to mentally prepare me for what was about to happen. She just told me on my next contraction to push. So i pushed! Within 6 pushes out came this tiny baby. No crying, no movement, nothing. There it was, the birth of my daughter. Eva-Ann Rose, born January 28th, 2011. She was 11 inches long and just over a pound. I noticed soon after, how many people were in the operating room with me. At least 15 people, all amazed at the size of the baby. As they took me back into the labor and delivery room they let my husband get a sneak peek. She was wrapped in ling wrap, along with at least 20 people crammed into a room as big as a public restroom. The doctor explained the odds are not looking good and asked my husband to leave. Now the real journey begins.
After an hour a doctor came in, shaking his head. Our hearts dropped. She had to be resesitated 3 times but was stabilizing. He told us not to expect her to live past 8 hours, that adrenaline runs in there bodies in the beginning. He then began a speech that I will never forget. He said "There may come a time where we have to make a decision of if we are doing things FOR her or TO her. To let her go or keep her alive by machines." He explained how they perform a test on these babies to determine her gestational age. She was not 24 weeks, according to their test she was only 22 weeks. He explained that babies surviving at this age is so rare. We just wanted to see our baby, to see the life we created and loved so much. We waited 4 hours and after pestering the nurses they finally had the OK to take us back. She was in a clear box, a ton of machines hooked to her, and she was smaller than my hand. We couldn't touch her, her skin would rip and cause her pain. I would never want to hurt her but I wanted to touch her so badly. If I was going to have to say goodbye to my angel, I at least wanted her to feel loved!
I can't give a day to day description of what happened. Days blurred together and I shut myself off from the world. All that mattered was Eva. She didn't move, she did not do anything. The initial breathing machine they put her on was too hard on her lungs. They put her on the ossolator and it vibrated her tiny body. It looked so painful. Each day brought worse news, but February 10th, 2011 was a day I will always remember. I placed her hand on my pinky finger, just set it there so it would not rip her skin. That day she squeezed my finger, just for a second and not very hard, but she squeezed my finger. I knew at that moment she was going to be ok, against all odds. That same day also brought terrible news. Eva had a worsening grade 3 bilateral brain bleed. We got the speech again of how we need to chose if we are doing things for her or to her.
After that, days became even more of a blur. Rounds at 8 am, watching Eva until 1pm for lunch, back up to watch Eva until dinner at 6pm, then over to Eva until 10pm. I would try to sleep after that, but I would find myself at her bedside at 3 am begging God to save her, to let my baby live. We wanted her even with any possible challenges she had. Blind, deaf, mentally challenged, disable in any way. We loved her the way she was given to us.
Eva hit a month old and was put back on the ventilator. Things were looking up, not good, but up. Then we got told she some how contracted MRSA. A strain of the staph infection that was resistant to typical medications. They moved her into an isolation room. Along with the bad news they throw in some good news! We can hold our daughter for the very first time. It was an epic failure. Her heart dropped, her oxygen saturations dropped to 4! It is targeted at 100, and hers was 4. Was I pushing her to hard? Was my desire to hold her compromising my judgment? I felt that if she could feel skin, warmth and love it would help her fight. And it did. She stabilized after a few minutes and did fantastic the rest of the time. I cried, holding a baby less than 2 pounds in my arms. Knowing that this baby, light as a feather, was fighting to live harder than any adult I have ever known. I knew that my daughter, my baby was fighting to prove everyone wrong. She knew God had a plan for her and that she was going to show the world that big miracles DO come in small sizes.
The next 3 months went by rather fast. She continued to move upward, hitting 2, 3, 4 pounds. She developed her lungs and was able to come off of the ventilator. She then went on to the CPAP machine, then to the nasal canula. She began eating from a bottle and she was nearing that time. The time for the "H" word. HOME! Her eyes had been checked weekly for ROP. She had a level 3 but that was nothing that laser surgery couldn't correct. So they did her hearing screen. For this, her dad and I were both present. The opthamologist was shaking her head, Eva had failed. To pass a screening, a newborn must score 160 in each ear. Eva scored 12 in her right ear and 0 in her left ear. We were devastated, but we knew we would do whatever we could. Sign language, hearing aids, surgery, absolutely anything that could help her.
And the big day came, after 4 months of being in the NICU we were ready to take our baby girl home, on oxygen via the nasal canula, and a heart and respitory monitor. None the less, we were home bound! That day was the first day i felt like a mother. I felt like I was finally able to do what she needed from me. She had a list of conditions, but they didn't matter, my daughter was finally coming home. This excitement quickly faded. She went to visit her pediatricians office 2 days after discharge and had lost 12 ounces in 2 days! This was and is a huge amount! Her head circumference had grown 2 centimeters in a week, this is also a huge gain! We had to come back in 3 days to see if she was able to gain weight. We return and she had gained some weight. Her pediatrician was no longer concerned about her weight, but was still worried about the head circumference. We then realize it was a charting error. Happiness was back, we were so glad to have Eva home. We had ton of doctor's appointments but I didn't mind. The rest of the first week was great.
Then horror hit that Monday afternoon. We were at Target picking up medication for Eva. I looked away for a second and looked back, she had spit up all over herself, was blue and her heart monitor was not working! She was not breathing, she was limp, and her eyes rolled back in her head. I screamed for my husband and for help. My husband yelled at me "CPR Anya CPR". I laid her down on the floor and gave my daughter CPR. It took about a minute and then she coughed, and was choking. She was breathing again and by this time 911 had been called. The EMT squad arrived and we head to the hospital. We were taken to the local hospital where they had nothing to fit my 5 pound daughter. They called to have a medivac pick her up and take her back to the hospital we had just left a week ago. This time she was in the PICU (pediatrics intensive care unit). They observed her for just over 24 hours and sent us home! I was amazed that they would send us home so soon, but trusted them. We head home Wednesday morning. She was scheduled to see her pediatrician Thursday morning. So we went there in the morning and her pediatrician did not like the way her lungs sounded. We were off to the hospital for x-rays. We left to go grab dinner. Half way through dinner her pediatrician calls and says she had pneumonia! She needed to be hospitalized. She was admitted Thursday evening and they observed her overnight. They sent us home Friday morning with an antibiotic. Again I was shocked! We got Eva home and made dinner. I fed her at 11pm and then tucked her into bed. At 11:30 pm horror struck again! Her heart monitor sounded and it was Monday all over again. She had spit up, she was blue, and not breathing. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she went limp. My husband called 911 as I gave Eva CPR. It was an exact repeat. The EMT squad arrived, Eva and I were taken by ambulance to a nearby field where a helicopter was waiting. We were in the air again, on our way to Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital.
Eva was very dehydrated and her blood count was dangerously low. They intubate her and began to pump her full of fluids and blood! She was taken off of the ventilator after 4 days and put on oxygen via a nasal canula. She was doing fine and the doctors wanted to send her home. With our begging they ran some tests, no infections, no fluid in her lungs! She was fine! After a week of observing her, they schedule her to be discharged. The night before discharge she had another spell. It was a repeat of what she had been doing when she was with us! The monitor sounded and she was blue, covered in spit up, and lifeless. The nurses gave her CPR and oxygen via blow by and she recovered. The doctors finally saw what we had feared happening again at home. The doctors have found that she has severely narrowed airways. So they sent her off to the operating room for an airway dilation. After monitoring her for 6 days they were confident this was the problem and now they had solved it. They scheduled her a discharge date and were ready to send her home. The night before her discharge it happened again. This time it was the worst yet! Her heart rate was below 40 and oxygen sats were below 20. CPR was given and she was intubated.
And this is where we stand now. Not knowing what is causing these random attacks, but knowing our sweet baby girl wont get to come home until they figure out what is. A baby who has fought for 5 months to breath, live, and survive is now fighting again. This is a fight against an unknown demon.