Thursday, February 25, 2016

NICU Journey Week 3 - Hiccoughs and Milestones

Anastasia's growth this week: 
Weight: 1080 Grams (Was 1040 Grams)
Length: 14 Inches Still  (Was 14 inches last week)
Age: 3 weeks old  (Should be 30 weeks gestation)

Today we got to go visit Anastasia! We were told Thursday night that she can start to wear clothes since she's free of IVs and PICC lines. Thus we packed all the preemie clothing we have found here in Wyoming, which is 4 onesies and 1 pants outfit (anyone know where I can get preemie clothing?). I looked forward to dressing her up. But fate had other plans.
Overnight her bilirubin went to 14.8, which means she was back under the bili lights and couldn't wear clothing. The APRN (they are pretty much doctors) stated how abnormal this is. I mentioned; how Heidi Anne was born yellow, spent 10 days in the NICU for it, and had to have sun therapy for a few days after she was released from the hospital. 
She decided that Anastasia needs her blood type found out because she could be a negative blood type, while I'm a positive. Meaning she could have some of my blood in her reeking havoc on her liver and red blood cells. They will also do a Coombs test which looks for an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks it's own blood. We should find out the results tomorrow. Sometimes a blood transfusion is all little babies need. However, if they can't figure it out she maybe transferred to Primary Children's. 
Also, her heart murmur isn't going away like it should be. They're going to start giving her Tylenol (yes, Tylenol) to help close her hole and try to avoid surgery. Despite all of this I was able to hold her for nearly 45 minutes. So worth it. I might be able to go down again tomorrow. Yeah!! 

Good news day! First, her bilirubin is back down! Secondly, her blood type came back (she is Positive) and her Coombs test came back negative. Which means she is free of an autoimmune disorder of the blood nor is there a bad blood mix going on. Third, she doesn't need a blood transfusion or to be transferred to Primary Children's.
More good news, I went down again today, it's the first time since I left the hospital I've gotten to see her twice in a row. I drove from Wyoming all the way to the hospital all by myself. Char stayed home with the kiddos so we didn't have the 2 of them in the car for 3 hours or have to limit how long we spent with Anastasia due to antsy kids in the crowded waiting room. (NICU waiting rooms can be jam-packed on Saturdays).    
I got to hold her for nearly 2 hours which is the longest I've ever held her. She had adorable little hiccoughs today. They could lift her while body up and down as she let out a "Squeak" sound, over and over again. It was the most adorable hiccoughs I've ever seen or heard. 
Oh, she was able to wear her first outfit today!! This is a big preemie milestone. To be able to wear clothes shows you're IV, PICC line, ect. free. The nurses don't think she'll be in preemie clothing for long so they advised that we get newborn clothes she can grown into. But it's hard to think of her getting over 8 pounds when she's only 2.5 pounds. The nurse said that they have a supply of preemie clothes she can wear so we don't have to buy preemie clothing. Apparently, other NICU parents donate their preemie's clothing so other families can use them. I think that's super sweet. 

I forgot to tell this story yesterday. To be honest, I worry if Anastasia will get enough cuddles once she's bigger. Right now, it's not to big of an issue. Well yesterday a baby in the NICU was being super fussy. After a few minutes the baby stopped crying. I figured the baby had put itself to sleep. I looked for the nurse to tell her an issue I had was fixed. I found her in a chair holding the previously fussy baby, cuddling and talking in a soothing voice to it. That little act has eased my worries about wither or not Anastasia will be tended to when she's a tad older. I'm falling in love with these NICU nurses! 
I just saw Anastasia on the web cam, they put a hot pink bow in her hair to match her outfit. I am in love with the NICU nurses. They do these sweet little things while caring for all of these critical care babies. 

Anastasia made some amazing progress as of last night. (I swear changes only happen at night). She now weighs more than her birth weight (she was at 1020 grams and today she's 1050 grams). Hooray for reaching a milestone! She also went from using 3 liters of oxygen down to 2.5 liters and 21% O2 (which is room air levels). It shows she doesn't need quite so much help with her breathing. Yeah for another milestone!
 That's what we like to see Tiny Anastasia! Everyone keep up the prayers / good vibes / positive thoughts, they seem to be working for our feisty baby girl.  It's a miracle she's doing so well, given how early she is. 

I can't wait to see Anastasia tomorrow. I really miss her. The webcam helps, sometimes I pretend they're normal baby monitors and she's just in another room in the house versus being over an hour away. I just want to hold and cuddle my feisty, Tiny Anastasia. This little trick helps me to focus on Rory and Heidi Anne (who really need my attention right now).

Do you ever just feel so overwhelmed you feel like you're drowning? That's how I felt all tonight. I don't know why but everything seemed to get be down or I felt like I was ignoring one kid to tend to the other all the while Anastasia is 70 miles away.

Rory is like a moth to the flame with the computer. He seemed to wake up in love with the laptop this morning. I can no longer sit on the sofa and type away while he contently plays on the floor. Now it's a game of keep away and furiously typing once he's asleep or napping.
Today we got to go visit Anastasia. She's made it out of the mirco-preemie diapers and have in just preemie ones. The preemie ones are still a tad big for her. I found a picture on Google that shows the differences between diapers very well. 
Today she had a bath and she was wearing one of the preemie outfits I brought. It swallowed her whole. Seriously, it drowned her. I got to cuddle her for nearly two hours again. Today was a good, no news is good news type day. I'll take it, as those are rare in the NICU.
Meanwhile, Rory had fun in the waiting room, playing nicely and then suddenly trying to make a break for freedom. Char captured this funny picture of him heading for a random exit. 

This was one of those hiccoughs, yo-yo days. The morning started out as good as can be expected. Then later in the morning I did my normal check in call. That's when I was told that Anastasia's belly was enlarged and causing even more apnea episodes and bradycardia spells. No one knew what was causing the enlargement. But a x-ray had been ordered to see if the could find any damage or what the cause could be. (It's only like her 6th x-ray).

When things like this happen to her I can't help but go to worst case scenario. So help combat that I kept calling though out the day just to be told that the x-ray hadn't been taken yet but she was still having the episodes. Which didn't have the calming effect I was hoping for.  So I turned to Dr. Google (big mistake). If I wasn't a bundle of nerves before, I sure was now. 

Finally, in the evening I got some results. Her x-rays had shown that she was having issues digesting her food, they figured it's due to the new fortifier that was started yesterday but they will stop both the Prolacta (the fortifier she's been on nearly since the day she was born) and the Simulac (the new one they think is causing the issue). The doctors aren't going to give her the fortifiers for a few days. They are increasing her caffeine to help with the apnea and bradycardia. Lastly, she'll be given calcium to help with her bone development. 
So long story short, I should stay away from Dr. Google on days like this, because the "what could be's" are more terrifying then "what it really is."   

Today just Char and I went to the NICU to see our Tiny Baby Girl. We haven't been back in the NICU at the same time since I was in the hospital. Thanks to my friend,  Amber, who watched Rory for us.  
 For some reason I always seem to get nervous on the mornings of NICU visits. I always worry something bad may have happened at night, or I'll make this long drive just to find out we can't hold her, or despairing news is waiting for me in the NICU. For some unknown reason I feel like I can handle bad news over the phone and at home better then I would in the NICU.
We just got back from our little visit. Char got lots of pictures of her to share (his pictures always turn out better then mine). Today was a good-ish day. One of Anastasia's heart murmurs is closing but it could be pinching the aorta in the process. We won't know for sure that's the case until tomorrow when she get another echocardiogram. The nurse even made a note for the techs what they should be looking for and where (just as a gentle reminder). I adore the NICU nurses.
The doctors are worried about her lack of growth, they are going to put her back on the Prolacta. They aren't doing the Simulac just yet, but probably they will in a day or 2. They will monitor her stomach real closely to make sure we don't have a repeat of yesterday.  I pray she just suddenly figures it out and can digest and not forget to breath, so she can start growing by leaps and bounds. 

The plan was for me to hold Anastasia for about an hour and then hand her off to Char so he could hold her for awhile. Instead, I held her for the whole time we could hold her. I didn't mean to be greedy, I loose track of time when I get to cuddle my tiny baby.  Hours seem like minutes. I just tell her about her siblings, what they're up to, how pretty she is, to keep being my feisty girl. Sometimes I sing church hymns, children's songs, any song I know. Anything that will let her hear my voice. I really need to start bringing books tom read to her. I was thinking Dr. Suesse books and our Eric Carle books. Char suggested I record myself reading so they can play it for her since we can't visit everyday. 
Today they were moving beds (isoletts) around to make room for a new code system. Which means we won't have the webcam back up for a day or two. Translation, I'm pretty sure I'm going back down tomorrow to get my Anastasia fix. 

P.S Today is Rory's 1st birthday! We're going to celebrate it tonight. I never would have thought I'd have Irish Twins. If you had told me this time last year that I would already have another baby, I would have laughed and called you crazy. Now who's the crazy one?
Hint: ( It's the person writing this).  

NICU Journey Week 2 - Got to Hold Anastasia!!

Anastasia's growth this week: 
Weight: 1040 Grams (Was 950 Grams)
Length: 14 Inches     (Was 14 inches)
Age: 2 weeks old  (Should be 29 weeks gestation)

My friend, Cori, shared this picture with me. I think it describes tiny Anastasia perfectly! 

The nurses set up a webcam for me today! It's a tad off center, but just seeing half of Anastasia was wonderful. I got to see the little wiggles, her tiny bow, her sweet face. It's amazing that I'm over 70 miles away but with technology I can still connect with her and be in the loop as to what's going on without having to call. (Oh, I still call - the webcam lacks sound - so I can see her but can't hear the updates). 
They took out her ART line today, it was the small white line coming from her umbilical cord. They could use the line to draw blood. But now she's older and it's time for it to come out. It's a good thing. 
In other news I spent some one on one time with Heidi Anne. We put together a Lego valentine Aunt Deb sent her. Heidi's been so worried about the baby and it's hard to divide up the time. Somehow, despite the c-section, I helped her put it together and talk about her worries and fears. She loved it. I guess this journey impacts the whole family more then I realized.

We're supposed to go visit little Anastasia this morning but it's snowing. Hopefully, it stops so we can see her this afternoon instead. It's amazing how important these visits have become. Praying the snow stops so I can see my tiny girl.

The snow stopped so Char, Heidi, and I made the drive down to see her. I have to say what a big girl Heidi Anne has been. The car ride is 3 hours round trip, plus we spent nearly 3 hours at the hospital. She read, colored, and just walked around the hospital a bit. It can't be easy going from the only child to the oldest of three in less than a year.

I was in for a treat today, I got to hold her (really hold her) for the FIRST time today! It was wonderful to finally hold my baby after 10 days of waiting. My normal nurse was swamped so the respiratory therapist helped me out. Hence, I didn't do the kangaroo hold (A.K.A skin to skin cuddles) this time because I wasn't told I could.  But next time I get to hold her I'm going to try it, apparently it helps with bonding even more. Truth be told, I was thrilled to hold her no matter the type of hold it was. 
 It took a few minutes to get her settled into my arms. Once in my hands I was reminded just how teeny and fragile Anastasia really is. (I have small arms and hands, throwing the proportions off a tad, but she's smaller than most dolls). I sat there cuddling her for over a hour and a half. I called and did face-time with Char and Heidi so she could see the baby in real time. I sang to Anastasia, recited some Dr. Seuss I have memorized (thanks to the older two kids), told her I love her. I wish I had better words to describe how I felt holding her all I can say is it was priceless time spent. 
After awhile I figured Char would like a turn to hold her as well. I called Char again and offered to switch. I would watch Heidi Anne and he could spend time with Anastasia. He got to hold her and recorded her cares for Heidi Anne to watch. Next time we're going to actually help the nurses out with her cares. 
Afterwards, we took Heidi Anne out to lunch at the hospital cafe. It's one of the few times we took her out to eat. 

Anastasia is back under the beli lights today. I'm glad we visited yesterday because we wouldn't be able to hold her today. According to the nurses she's more irritable today. We figured out it's because she can't be nested and swaddled. It appears she loves to be confined and bundled up. 

Last night we had a few changes. Her tummy was full from feeding, she's at 15 mls (which is half an ounce) and when you're 2 pounds 3 ounces that's a lot of food. She started to have trouble breathing so they increased her oxygen. She's still under the beli lights. The nurses found a way to keep her confined and comfy. They have started tummy time with her, which she apparently loves. I admire how inventive the NICU nurses are.
In other news Rory came back home today! He's been at Grandma's house since the doctor's appointment last Tuesday. Which has helped out an unbelievable amount with my c-section recovery and visits to Anastasia.   

I'm noticing a trend with tiny Anastasia, things seem to always happen at night. For example, how many times do you think a 27 weeker can pull out her feeding tube? 3, she can do it 3 times in 12 hours. Apparently, she is just that determined. She also got moved to 3 hour apart cares and feeding. So she got nice and swaddled.
Today was a hard one, I kept missing Anastasia meanwhile, Rory is out of sorts. It's hard trying to remind yourself that you need to focus on the sick baby at home but you also want to be there with the sick baby at the hospital (who has a doctor, APRN, RN, and respiratory therapists, ect) tending to her.  

I just got the sweetest package from my friend Valerie. All 4 of her children made Get Well Soon cards and a lovely letter from her to me. This couldn't have come at a more perfect time. It really lifted up my spirits. These are so going to the NICU on her isolate and then into her memory box. Aren't they cute? 
Today we got to visit Anastasia!! She had a lot of changes over night. First, she had all her IVs and PICC line removed. Now she's getting all her nutrition from the breast milk (which they are continuously feeding her at a slow rate (for example, it takes her 2 hours to take in 20 mls and she's feed every 3 hours). Lastly, she was moved from the Critical Care room to the Intermediate Care room (that's great news). 
 I didn't get to hold her as long as last time, the nurse was old school and rather overprotective. She insisted that Anastasia only be out for 30 minutes. I complied at first and just watched her in the isolate. Then I realized "Hey, I'm the mom here. Besides last time they let her be out for nearly 2 hours!" I explained to the nurse how we're the family that lives in Wyoming and I haven't seen my baby in 4 days and I won't see her for at least another 3. Finally, she relented. 
I got to do skin to skin (a.k.a Kangaroo hold) with Anastasia. Oh, she was all frigidity until I held her and then she fell asleep on me. I cried because my tiny baby was in my arms and resting on my chest. I could feel her little heart beating away, her inhalations, her hand laying across me, even her feet when she kicked a time or two. After nearly 45 minutes I decided that Char should have a turn holding her. We switched and I tended to Rory in the waiting room while Char visited the baby. The pictures aren't great because the nurse didn't want the lights on since the extra lights could impact her vision. Choose your battles wisely. 
I did meet a family that made me realize how lucky we are. I'll take Anastasia's issues and an overprotective nurse versus what they're going through any day. 

Anastasia's back to her birth weight!! She weighed 1040 grams (2 pounds, 5 ounces) at birth but dropped down to 840 grams a few days later. Ever since then the NICU staff have been trying to pack on the calories to get her to grow. She hit a major milestone today.   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

NICU Journey Week 1

I'm writing these as the days go by, hence the present tense. I'll also track her growth, since that's the fun part: 
Weight: 950 Grams (Was 1040 Grams)
Length: 14 inches    (Was 13.3 inches)
Age: 1 week old  (Should be 28 weeks gestation)
If you have any specific questions about Anastasia or her medical care feel free to ask me, I'm more then happy to share. 


At midnight the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) director doctor came in to give us an update on Anastasia. She was intubated on a oscillating ventilator. She had several IVs, and been given medication to make her comfortable. 
Then at 1:00 am they wheeled me (gurney and all) into the NICU to meet my daughter. Somehow they lined up my gurney to her incubator so I could see her. She was tiny, perfect but so tiny. They let me touch her little hand, which couldn't fit around my whole finger. Now I have small hands but it just goes to show how little she is. We spent 20 minutes together like this. I was telling her how much I love her, how pretty she is, to keep being a fiesty little girl. I just told her everything a new mother tells to her newborn baby, regardless of the baby's birth age. Finally we both had to go rest, but I could have spent forever like that. 
I spent the rest of Friday in bed recovering. Since I was unable to visit Char went to the NICU every few hours and made little videos for me and took pictures throughout the day. He and a nurse made a great movie explaining every single monitor, IV tubes, her medications, all the lines, her intubation, feeding tube, even how the special incubator works. It won't upload for some reason but it made me feel really involved. 


Today Anastasia was placed under the bilirubin lights since her bilirubin increased. Today I made the walk all the way down to the NICU to visit with Anastasia myself, twice! I was there for her "cares". Cares is the time they set aside to feed, change, weigh, do labs, or other nurse needs all at once. This way the babies can spend their time getting nice deep, uninterrupted sleep.


I got discharged from the hospital today. Leaving the hospital without the tiniest new addition to the family was nearly unbearable. It was one of the hardest most heart wrenching things I've ever done. I must say this is the saddest Valentine's Day our family will ever have. 


Anastasia isn't under the belli lights now, the nurses warn me that she could go back under them again. Apparently it's fairly common for very premature babies to go off and on the belli lights. Fingers crossed but we'll see. 

I did post this on Facebook but I'll post this little PSA again:
To all those that keep asking for a time frame when Anastasia will come home... there is no saying when she will hit the mile stones that are required. These are the high points that need to be hit before we can bring her home according to the NICU (in no particular order):
1. She needs to be able to do basic body functioning, this is keeping warm, no apnea and bradycardia episodes, poop on her own, can sleep regularly without assistance.

2. Take most of her feedings by mouth.
3. Able to breathe well without extreme oxygen needs. 
All this being said the expectation is that she will be in there until at least the beginning of May, give or take 2 weeks.


Today they changed Anastasia's oscillating ventilator to a traditional one. This means she'll have to work at breathing on her own more than she has been. It's an experiment to see if she can get off the oscillating vent and maybe even be ventilator free soon. 

As of this morning Anastasia is off the ventilators! They are testing to see if she can keep up breathing on her own. She may go back on one if she runs out of stamina but for now she's just on an oxygen tubes via nasal canulla that are humidified to prevent her little respiratory system from drying out. She's also back under the beli lights. The nurses told us this would be an on again, off again thing. 


Last night at 3:11 am I had a nasty nightmare about Anastasia. I called the NICU and the nurse kindly told me everything was okay. Thank heavens for NICU nurses. I wonder if they get lots of worried mommy calls in the wee hours of the night? 
Today we made the trek to go visit Anastasia. It was the first time I've seen her in 4 days. She was beli light free today! For nearly 4 hours we just sat by her, talked to her, touched and held her tiny hand. I would try to put the bean bag in a comforting position and keep it in place. Easier said then done, that girl is a wiggle worm.  I think I'll start bringing a book to read to her, that way she can get used to my voice. 
I know it was though a bean bag but to feel her kicks it was like she was back in my tummy. The movements you take for granted when the baby is in you where so special to me. It's as close as we can get for now so I'll take it. The nurse let me pick out a new bow for her hair, I choose a blue and white gingham one because it reminded me of Dorothy from Wizard of Oz (the fact that blue is my favorite color had nothing to do with it :) 
We had to leave sooner then I wanted but we needed to get moving due to a snow storm    (also Heidi Anne likes it when someone greets her from school).
I'm not gonna lie, it's hard to balance the needs of you child in a NICU and the needs of the kiddos at home. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

From a Doctor's Appointment to Septic Shock to Emergency C-Section

**Spoiler Alert**This story is how my pregnancy with baby girl ends at 27 weeks, (3 months early), but starts our NICU journey. 

I had a normal doctor's appointment complete with the glucose test. I had been told to monitor my vital signs; (i.e any bleeding, my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate) due to the previous weeks' bleeding episodes and bring my results to the appointment.I knew going into the visit that I had a low grade fever, a rapid pulse and I was still having some spotting. (I just didn't know where that would lead.) Given this information the doctor decided that he wanted me monitored for 4 hours at the hospital, just to be on the safe side.

We grabbed a quick lunch at the hospital's cafe since I hadn't eaten all morning and wouldn't be for at least the afternoon. Then we headed off to the Labor and Delivery Department (L&D). Once there I was hooked up to some monitors to measure the baby's heart rate and for any contractions. Everything was looking good, the nurse even informed us that we should be leaving around 5:00-5:30 pm. 

As 5:10 rolls around we start to gather our books,ordered a pizza for dinner to be ready for when we get home, just making general preparations to go. That's when the nurse came in and told me that I was being admitted for observation until morning and we would be transferred to the Post-partum Recovery section of the floor. 

I was a bit upset. I thought everything was fine now I have to stay at the hospital, without a single thing packed. Char got me settled into my room for the night before heading back home to take care of Heidi Anne. He promised he'd come pick me up first thing in the morning.  I got set up to be monitored for the night and began reading a book. 

I got up early in the morning, resumed my book and anxiously waited to be discharged from the hospital. The doctor came in and reported to me that some of my lab results and vital signs were still concerning him, therefore, I was to stay the full 24 hours for observation and would be released later in the evening. I tried to bargain with him to be released early afternoon. I was told "we'll see". 

Throughout the day my pulse increased, normally an adult has a pulse between 60-100, mine was going anywhere from 130 - 223! An EKG was ordered which showed I was sinus tachycardia, borderline SVT. Basically, my heart was beating super fast for no good reason. It was decided that I would go to the Intermediate Medical Care Unit (IMC) it's a step below ICU for another 24 hours of observation. I was regretting that I didn't have Char pack me a hospital bag. 

An hour later we're down in IMC and I am hooked up to all these wires, I have IV fluids going, and my feet are wrapped up in stockings attached to the bed to help prevent clots. When the urge to go to the bathroom just HITS me. I'm telling Char to hurry and unhook me or I will miss the bathroom. There we are throwing off lines, freeing my legs, grabbing the IV pole, and I am two steps away from the door when I notice my water is breaking at 4:04 in the afternoon. Char calls for a nurse (whose never had to deal with a patient with broken water), who calls the doctor, who tells us to go back to L&D. I just shake my head and keep apologizing for the mess. Everyone tells me to stop saying sorry, after all it's not like I thought "Let's wait until I'm all hooked up and THEN I'll make my water break 12 weeks early!" 

We return to L& D where they verify that yes, yes my water has broken. The nurse administered antibiotics to help prevent infection. I was then given a new experience called Magnesium Sulfate. It's a medication given to help prevent cerebral palsy along with other neurological issues  in premature babies (premiees). It feels like lava is being put into your veins, like the worst full body cramps of your life. Imagine the worst flu you've ever had, then multiply that by ten. I felt like I was cooking from the inside out. Oh, the things we do for those we love. 

Char spent the night in the hospital with me because we didn't know if or when I would deliver. I spent the night getting little sleep due to the monitors and my body being consumed by fire. That was a rough night. 

To be honest Thursday just blurs together. It was one long roller coaster day. 

We got up early and were told we'd have a 3-D ultrasound around 9:00-9:30 ish. We're thinking we'll be home by 10 or 11. Finally, 12:30 pm rolls around and I was wheeled over for the ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed that I now suffered from 100% placenta previa and that there was still enough amniotic fluid for the baby. 

Well that changed things, I was now going to be on hospital bed-rest, due to these new findings. No more waiting to go home, I was looking at staying there until the baby comes, be it 12 hours or 12 weeks. So we waited and waited to be sent back to post partum. I wasn't allowed to eat in the L&D and was starving!! 

Finally, around 6:00 pm the order came and I was transferred back to post partum. The first thing I did was ordered dinner. Then I started feeling feverish. The nurse took my temperature and it was 99.8F (with Tylenol) and noticed my breathing had become more labored and shallow. Blood labs were quickly ordered. Everything confirmed for the doctor that I was quickly heading south and so was the baby. He figured I was going into sepsis (the beginning of septic shock), which is nearly 100% fatal. 

For the third time in 48 hours I was sent back to L&D, this time I was going to have a baby for sure. I was in tears as my mind raced with thoughts. "She is only 27 weeks old. I had just been told 3 hours ago I was going on bedrest. But I wasn't sick 3 hours ago. If we don't get her out we might not see the morning. I don't even have a pregnancy photo with her. This is too much!" --It has taken me all day to commit to paper just a few thoughts during this dark moment of nothing but fear. -- Finally faith kicked in and I calmed down just in time to freak out about the epidural. 

Looking back I think I was worried about everything, yet the dart landed on "make a scene regarding your impending epidural." Make a scene I did. It went something like this:
Me-sobbing: I want general anesthesia. I've been told by at least 8 doctors that it (epidural) can't be done. I'll be paralyzed and raising three kids! 
Dr. Patel: I have done this numerous times on patients like you. At least three times a year on VWB patients. Those other doctors are fools. I can show you the newest guide that recommends it. 
Me: Still crying - But I'm scared and this day hasn't exactly gone smoothly. 
Nurse: Trust Dr. Patel, he's the best anesthesiologist we have and I've been an L&D nurse here for 14 years. (Sorry, there were 4 nurses quickly prepping me and they blend together since I was crying so much.)  
Me: I ask Char and Dr. Lammi (my awesome OB) for their opinion. They both vote for the epidural. I silently think "traitors." All that comes out is more tears. 
Nurse: Would you like to know how the epidural works? 
Me: Pushing the papers away, "No! Because I'm getting a general!", I say meaner then I meant to. 
Dr. Patel: You need to think of the baby, she is to small to handle you going under. She'll get the anethistic to and will have sever breathing issues at birth. He leaves the room to get his book. 
Me: Now I'm bawling because I feel like I'm a horrible mother to this new baby girl. Now it's a choice between her living or me walking. I just keep shaking my head no. I look at Char and ask if this is just a nightmare. He looks distraught, solemnly shakes his head no. 
Nurse-Sweetie you just ate. You could easily aspirate, then you'll be in the ICU while your baby is in the NICU. I don't think your husband can take it. 
Dr. Patel- Returns with the book.
Me: I read it for myself. I think logically for the first time, weighing the options, and sigh. Epidural it is. The baby is worth the risk. I give my consent between whimpers. 
I told you the dart landed on "make a huge scene about the epidural. This was the cliff notes version, too. 

So 30 minutes of weeping, my first and last pregnancy photo shot, and many prayers later I am wheeled to go meet my baby girl. 

I remember seeing her briefly, she was tiny, and let out a newborn kitten meow for her first cry. I told Char to go follow her and make sure she's as okay as could be expected. He got me a few pictures so I could have a better look at her. He gave me her stats. Anastasia Sonia Rose weighed 2 pounds 5 ounces and was 13.3 inches long. I saw the time and realized she was born on my Granddad's birthday. 

I lost quite a bit of blood during the surgery. I nearly aspirated as well (Dr. Patel called it).  To help me out I was given a unit of blood and had my 5th blood transfusion. But we both made it. 

Right at midnight the NICU doctor came in to give us updates on the baby. This is the start of our NICU journey and the end of my pregnancy. I think I'll keep you posted on Anastasia's progress at least once a week. Here are a few pictures of her now.