Addison is one today. It's the Cooper River Bridge Run and I'd love to take her but no strollers...oh well, instead we went to the Flowertown Festival and bought fun things for her. Yesterday we celebrated with family and friends and today Daddy is at work so it's just mommy and baby.
And I don't know what to feel just sitting here looking at her and her staring at me with those big blue eyes and smiling. I'm very aware that turning one is a big deal for anyone with a baby. It really puts in perspective how quickly things change. But Addison turning one isn't just a big deal...it's a huge deal!
Part of it is that Addison wasn't supposed to turn one today. She wasn't due until June 21st and obviously that is not today. I've never really sat down and thought about Addison's story and so for her, mostly me, and our friends and family following this I wanted to put it down in writing what happened last year.
Spring break from USC March 8th-15th: I had finished as much of my graduate program as I could in the event that Addison came a little early. For some reason I wanted to be prepared and although we were a ways out I had a lot to finish work wise as well as job searching for after our little girl was born.
After spring break I returned to USC and went about my week business as usual. Eric and I had thought it would be a great idea to get a puppy over the break so I was sort of missing my boys at home but I was only in Columbia three days a week and then I'd be back home. When I got back home that week I had my routine OB check up with my doctor and she was a little worried about my protein and the fact that I had swelled up like a balloon over night and gained 20 pounds in the month since my last visit.
Something sent up a red flag but no worries, we would just watch it and she put me on a low sodium diet, bed rest (meaning no more trips to USC for work or school) and wanted collect some samples. She informed me she was on call over the weekend for the practice and if anything was to happen just call. That was Thursday, March 19th. I went home and got into bed. Yay! I wasn't on strict bed rest, but I was supposed to take it easy. So that left Eric to do everything in our 3rd floor apartment with a new puppy. (Not our best idea.)
On Saturday, the 21st, we dropped off the samples at the hospital and came home for a quiet night. Things seemed fine I felt good, no headaches or blurry vision which was what everyone kept asking about. Sunday late afternoon I started to notice it felt like Addison wasn't moving as much as she had and I started to panic. I didn't want to bother anyone - I was pretty sure it was just in my head but Eric and I called the doctor anyways and she had me admitted that evening.
After hooking me and baby up to the monitors and getting my lab results two things were clear to the doctor, Addison was fine and I wasn't. She was moving, I just wasn't feeling it, admittedly she was only 27 weeks so not a huge deal for the doctor. What was a big deal was my blood pressure was climbing but I wasn't having any symptoms of high blood pressure.
In the morning I was given a shot to help speed up the development of Addison's lungs and sent home on strict bed rest. I was not to do anything except go to my doctor on Monday morning for the 2nd lung shot for Addison.
Monday, March 23rd, my doctor informed me she was not comfortable treating Addison and I because we were not past 32 weeks. With our consent she transferred us to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) where there was a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the event Addison came before 32 weeks. We were scheduled to see them Thursday morning.
I spent the week in bed...I thought this was my fault. All the things I had done in the past 6 months were going through my head. Did I exercise enough? Was I careful enough when I was driving? Had I taken all my vitamins? I was a train wreck sitting at home while Eric had to work. His work could not have been any less supportive as we went through this ordeal...and he was having a hard time trying to get Thursday off to take me to the doctor much less free time to stay home and calm me down.
My parents started talking about plane tickets and work schedules because they wanted to come be with me and Eric's family was constantly calling to check on the baby...things were crazy. And then Thursday the 26th came. We went into MUSC with the thought that we were fine, they might admit me but we were not having this baby, we couldn't...she was too little.
After the routine baby visit stuff, the doctor popped in and said they wanted an ultrasound to check the baby's fluid. Apparently, there is a risk of amniotic fluid problems when you have high blood pressure, at this point mine was somewhere around 130 over 80 or so (I was a normally 115 over 70) and I was spilling proteins which was not a good sign (we would later be told that meant my kidneys were shutting down).
When the ultrasound tech looked at us and said she is about 800 grams, our mouths dropped. There had to be a mistake, she must have meant 8000...but no. Around 800 grams, about 1 pound, ounces. Again my mind was reeling...there was no way I could have this baby. Good news was she looked great! Fluids were good, she was fine.
I was admitted to the hospital because they wanted to be able to watch me and we lived about 30 minutes from the hospital and that was too far. We drove over and went through admissions, walked up stairs and before they could get me to change I wanted to use the restroom...I was bleeding. I screamed and the nurse was in the bathroom so fast it was almost superhero speed. I was practically thrown into a labor and delivery bed, hooked up to tons of machines and being checked to see if I had gone into labor. False alarm. But the ball was rolling now...
Eric called his family and mine and mom bought a plane ticket for the next day. I was put on a magnesium sulfate which was to protect my brain and the baby in the event I had a stroke...apparently high blood pressure is no joke. But it made me so hot and uncomfortable...and I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything. I was so swollen no one could find an IV site and they had to bring in the anesthesiologist to do all my IV work. Addison was hooked up to a monitor to watch her heart beat and movements.
All evening doctors and nurses were coming in to check on me and the baby and we just waited and hoped my blood pressure would come down and I would be fine and Addison could wait a few more weeks. Then it was no longer OBs coming in - they were Neonatologists and they were there to talk about Addison and her chances of survival as a 27 weeker...(appr. 85%). They gave me something to help me sleep, apparently I accused Eric of spiking my drink and I tried to close my eyes and forget where I was. Then it was 8 am, March 27th, Friday.
There was a doctor in my room telling Eric and I we were having this baby today. My blood pressure was not going down and the only cure they had was to deliver the baby. Also the high pressure could hurt Addison, we would quickly find out the life of a preemie is a double edged sword - everything that seems so good for them can be just as harmful in the long run.
They gave me something to help me prepare for childbirth because that was our plan - no drugs, pushing, all the "this is your fault" looks I wanted to share with Eric...we wanted to do this together. So luckily the staff was willing to try that...as the day wore on my mom got on a plane from TX and I tried to sleep but it became all to obvious - I was not in labor nor was I going into labor. But my blood pressure continued to rise.
Somewhere around 3pm my blood pressure topped out at 200 over 100 and I was done. They were taking me into surgery as soon as they got everyone in place. There would be a team of doctors in the room for me and then Addison would have her very own team so that little room with just Eric and I got very full, very fast. I called my mom but her phone was off she was somewhere overhead coming to be with me. Eric got suited up and I got more drugs and we were off for an emergency c-section.
I remember looking at Eric and telling him I loved him and I remember the doctors saying there would be some pressure...and then things get a little fuzzy. After what felt like an eternity (apparently less than 25 minutes) Addison was there, she made this meek little cry and they let me see her for a split second and she was gone. No daddy cutting the umbilical cord, no quick first family picture...she was rushed off and we heard them call out, "1629, Female, 840 grams, 36 cm" (translation 4:29pm, baby girl, 1 pound 13 ounces, 13.5 inches).
They worked on putting me back together and I was wheeled back into labor and delivery where I waited to see Addison before she was whisked upstairs to the NICU. She was so small and there were so many wires and machines. She was doing as well as could be expected and they were taking her upstairs. I wasn't allowed to go...I would actually not see her again for almost 30 hours. I wasn't allowed out of bed yet and the doctors were still watching me to see if my blood pressure would go down. It did slowly, and we were sent home but we did so without Addison. She stayed behind in the NICU to grow ad develop...
But here we are...85 days in the NICU, about two more months on monitors and oxygen at home but few people can tell. She is a happy, amazing little person and even though it was a very rough patch in our lives we can't help but look back and be happy that in the end we have her and each other.
Happy 1st Birthday Addison! You are mommy's and daddy's little princess and nothing will change that. We wish you all the best and that God will continue to watch over you as you grow and blossom.
Love, Mommy and Daddy
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