Monday, January 25, 2010

In the Midst of a Storm

“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.”- Pablo Casals

Betsy, also known as "B", was my second born triplet. She was literally born a fighter. Fighting for her life. I think back and wonder just how on Earth this tiny, fragile infant had that much will. To literally be born into this world 16 weeks early, not even fully developed, eyes still completely fused shut, yet have the will to fight to survive. Amazing. If she is not a miracle, then there is no such thing.

Betsy was 1 lb 9 oz and 12 inches long. She weighed as much as a loaf of bread and was as long as a Barbie. I will never forget the first time I got to see her and Olivia. It was the next day after their birth. Friday. (Please remember Olivia is still alive at this time. Many of these feelings also relate to her but I am just concentrating on Betsy's story right now. By no means am I "forgetting" to mention her.)

So tiny. Wires everywhere. Tubes down mouth. IVs coming out of every part of her body. But she was alive. That was all that mattered to me.

The first time I held Betsy was one of the best days ever. She was almost two weeks old and her eyes were finally open. They had been fused her first week of life. It was a really big deal for me to hold her because of everything connected to her. It took them about 20 minutes just to transfer her over to me. Then...pure Heaven...

Betsy did fairly well in the NICU. She wasn't considered "stable" by any means but she was thriving and that was good. She was able to fight off all infections that came her way so that was even better. She had many blood transfusions but got her daddy's blood so that really helped her. Her lungs looked pretty good and it wasn't long before she got rid of the breathing tube and was able to have CPAP. She was 30 days old.

Then came Olivia's death. I often wondered if Betsy knew. She was in the same room as Olivia but not in the same area. There was a baby that seperated them. I wondered if Betsy or Olivia knew their sister was right there. So close. Or did they even know they had a sister, much less two of them. The day Olivia died we asked them to move Betsy out of that room so we wouldn't have to go back there. They did. We didn't see Betsy at all the day of Olivia's death and I'm sorry for that. I regretted not going and telling Betsy what had happened. Silly, I know. She wouldn't have known but I still feel like I owed it to Olivia to let her sister know she was gone.

The next day was like a breath of fresh air. And I don't mean that disrespectfully. It's not like we didn't hurt or we didn't miss our girl. Poor Olivia was so sick and always in such a critical state that it was almost like a huge weight was off our shoulders knowing she was okay and that she would never hurt again. Our family was such a ball of stress. On pins and needles 24/7. I was so devastated to lose Olivia but thankful to the Lord for relieving her of her suffering.

We visited Betsy and she was in her new room. It was such a joy to see her and to see her doing so well after what we just experienced. We got to give her a bath for the first time and the nurse took off her CPAP mask just long enough for us to see her face for the first time ever. We also took this opportunity to get to pick her up and snatch a few family pictures!

By the end of October she was off of CPAP and was on the nasal cannula. She was 2 months old and finally weighed over 3 pounds. Which means she gets to be "dressed and wrapped" and finally, finally, finally, finally I can put little clothes on my baby! However, she was still way too small for preemie clothes and so she just got booties and caps!

And I got to hold her like a "normal" baby and not naked against my bare skin. I could actually look down and see her face. This was big for me.

Now..I can't move on without showing you Betsy's first Halloween. Finding a costume was no problem. We went straight to the Build A Bear Workshop and bought her an outfit meant for a teddy bear. She was Snow White.

So time seemed to go by so slow for us. It seemed as though Betsy was getting so big and we were very anxious to get her home. Shortly after Halloween. When Betsy was 34 weeks gestation (a little over 2 months old) we got to try bottle feeding her. At this point, all Betsy had to do was learn to eat from a bottle and she could come home. This is her bottle. It had only 5 mL of milk. That's like a tablespoon.

It took the poor girl over 20 minutes before she completely choked out and we had to stop. Kinda makes you realize just how much she had to learn to do. Most babies are born and BAM they just go right to eating. Not mine. She had to wait and learn how to suck, swallow and breath.

Now we are into November. Betsy gets sick. Really sick. She gets a pretty dangerous infection AND she has a rather large, discolored stomach. This resembles a bowel perforation and we get very worried. After undergoing many x-rays and procedures, all with no good outcome, Betsy has to have surgery on her bowels. This was pretty scary for us, but I don't think I was so worried. By this point I had learned to rely on my faith and to just put things in God's hands. It didn't make it completely easier, but it helped. Betsy made it through surgery just fine. The recovery was messy, as we were warned it would be and expected it would be. Betsy had trouble breathing and had to be put on the oscillator. That horrible, mean, "death machine" is what I called it. This is what Olivia was on. It's loud. It shakes. I absolutely hate hearing those things. It scared the bejeezus out of me to see her on it. I cried for the entire day. Even worse when Betsy started to swell up (a side effect of the oscillator). I just knew we were going to lose Betsy now. She is 11 weeks old.

So, obviously Betsy gets better. She is able to completely fight off this bad infection and is able to stabilze from surgery enough to come off the oscillator and back on regular nasal cannula. This girl is absolutely amazing.

Here we are at Thanksgiving. Betsy is 3 months old. She weighs 4 pounds.

Betsy's only challenge at this point is learning to suck her bottle. She will start out just fine but will either fall asleep (nice, right!) or she will choke out and just can't finish. This was a very big challenge for her. Yes, given all she went through, the sweet girl can't even suck a bottle! Our goal was to get her home for Christmas. After weeks and weeks and weeks of wondering if she will ever learn to eat her bottle, she just magically "got it" and started eating like a champ!

Here she is at 14 weeks old...just soooooo close to getting to come home!

Now, the best day of all. December 18, 2008. Two days after her original due date, at 16 weeks old, 112 days in the NICU, Betsy FINALLY gets to come home. She now weighs 5 pounds 8 ounces. I have to say it was a little bittersweet. Here we are first time parents, bringing home a 4-month-old really. This hospital was our second home. We were there all day. The nurses were our friends. We knew everyone. We were comfortable. It was a little scary bringing home our baby after so long of having this "hospital routine". I often wonder if parents of a full-term baby have the same anxiety.

Betsy, busting out of the doors of the NICU with her very, very proud daddy!

And our favorite picture. It looks like Betsy is screaming "I'M GOING HOME!"

That was so much of the I feel like I should tell you about Betsy NOW. She is 16 months old. She weighs 19 pounds and 13-1/2 ounces. She is 30 inches tall. She is a miracle. She has absolutely no health issues. Knock on wood. She has absolutely perfect eyesight and hearing, a total shocker for a micropreemie. She is thriving and such a happy baby. She never crys (we are lucky) and she is so easy. We kept her hospital routine so she has a pretty strict schedule and I think this has made her care much easier, especially for her since she never has to get out of her routine. I have to add, because it's a big deal, that she has never been sickly either. Another small miracle for micropreemie. Tony and I enjoy every single second we have with her and count our many blessings every day. Praise to the Lord for giving us this angel and for completing our lives in a way we never thought possible.

"If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm."


Ashley and Jason Faucett said...

She is a fighter and I hope she continues to be; she is very photogenic too! I love seeing those pretty blue eyes and beautiful smile!!

susan.simpkins said...

"I often wonder if parents of a full-term baby have the same anxiety"

Just had to comment on this, and although they were a little early, the answer is yes! My mother and grandma wanted to go to the mall a few days after we were home, and I begged to go for fear of being alone with them a few hours--was not confident at all and scared to death.

Britni said...

she is such a miracle!! even after all she has been through, she is so strong!! i just love her going home picture!

Karol said...

Just found your blog. Weeping with you in the loss of 2 daughters, rejoicing in the life of another. No matter how many children we have, each is precious. God is good....all the time, even when we don't understand.