Sunday, April 18, 2010

Amazing Grace

I always knew Grace was amazing. From the day I went into the hospital she continued to amaze. Here is her story:

I couldn't tell you for sure if Grace was the baby that was always "hiding" in ultrasounds. There was always a mystery baby that like to hide behind someone. At my 12 week ultrasound we could barely see so-called mystery baby...just a tiny flicker that was the heartbeat. Oh how I would long for that heartbeat again.

I assume it was Grace only because she ended up being the baby who was the lowest and Betsy sure did like to stretch out so much that I think she finally "pushed" Grace out of her way. I knew Olivia was always all the way over on my left side kinda chilling by herself.

So..when we had my 22 week appointment Grace was so low (before we found out about her prolapse) that we almost didn't find out her sex. It took quite a while and many uncomfortable positions for me before we finally saw her. She kept turning away from us but we could see she was a girl. A beautiful little soul.

I can't help but think if she didn't want us to see her face for a reason. Why did she always turn away and why was she hiding? It was like some eerie foreshadowing or something.

So we found out I had a cord prolapse, which means a bit of Grace's umbilical cord had fallen out of my cervix. A prolapsed baby would have to be born via C-section because if her cord came through first it would cut off all oxygen to the baby resulting in a stillbirth or a severe brain injury. If I was far enough along, it wouldn't have been an issue. We would have just had the C-section. Not an option at only 22 weeks, nevermind with triplets.

So begins our journey...

A few moments after I was admitted to labor and delivery I was placed on my back with my bed at an angle, the foot end of my bed raised. This was to try to keep Grace in and not put any pressure down there where she could come out. My family started arriving and shortly thereafter I felt my water break. I absolutely panicked. Im 22 weeks pregnant and my water just broke! After a little bit of commotion my doctor came in to talk to me.

First, let me say my doctor is amazing. He is part of the nation's top in fertility experts as well as an OB/GYN. Such a kind man and I don't for one second question any of his judgements.

So he explained to me all about a prolapse, which at the time I had no idea. He explained to me that with me being in such an early stage of my pregnancy and with my water breaking, there would be no chance of survival for baby Grace. He told me she would probably die in utero. Soon. He kept talking but I didn't hear. It was like blah, blah, blah, blah. I was trying to process if he just said that my baby was about to die in my stomach. Did he really just say that? Surely not. I started listening to him again...Being that she is so low, she is actually blocking my cervix, preventing my other two babies from being born. She was almost like a little "plug" if you will. He said his main focus would now turn to the other two babies and keeping them safe.

All that day and all night we mourned for Grace. This was so hard for me. I was so caught up in all this new information and all these emotions that my head literally was spinning out of control. I kept imaging my baby dying inside me. I was totally helpless.

The next morning an ultrasound technician came to do an ultrasound. I assumed he was checking for life in Grace. I cried the entire time, but a soft inaudible sob, so he wouldn't hear me. He kept the screen slightly turned away. I could have seen if I wanted to. I never looked. Tony had slept on the couch in my room. He said he never looked either. The technician left without saying a word. No words were ever exchanged with us the entire time and I'm sure it was just as awkward for him.

I few hours passed and my doctor came in and asked, "Are you sure your water broke?" Well, I guess I wouldn't technically know since I've never felt it before. I know I felt a ginormous GUSH with lots of fluid. Apparently on ultrasound not only was Grace still alive with a very strong heartbeat but she still had fluid around her. Amazing. My doc said it's possible if her water broke and it was just a small tear that the placenta would reseal itself. Either that or she could have two sacs around her. Rare, but possible. I was ecstatic. I was so thankful. The next step was to do a cerclage, where my doctor would stitch my cervix closed. He said he was going to attempt to push the cord back inside and then perform a cerclage. (later found out nothing like this has ever happened to him with triplets). Sounds great. It sounds as though things are going to be okay.

The next day I went back for my cerclage. I was numbed from the waist down and was actually starting to feel dizzy but I could hear everything that was going on. He was having trouble pushing the cord back in. "Come on" I remember thinking, "please, please..just come on". Nope. Finally he said, "I can't do it. It won't work". I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. My doctor explained to me that he couldn't do it. He started saying so much stuff to me and I remember hearing something about "she's not going to make it" but again..blah, blah, blah...I couldn't listen. I didn't understand.

I was wheeled back to my room. I passed Tony, my mom, my dad, my brother...all with a look on their face of just sorrow. I started crying and I can't remember who explained it to me but someone told me that my doctor felt Grace's pulse through her umbilical cord and it was so weak. She is not expected to live through the night.

So night two of me just waiting...waiting for my baby to die. I cried pretty much all night. Here I am, mourning the loss of Grace yet again.

Next morning...ultrasound...still alive. Still lots of fluid. Amazing.
That night...ultrasounds...still alive. Still lots of fluid...
This goes on and on and on. Grace continues to survive. She continues to amaze us all. I am starting to think there is hope. I know if she is born any time before 24 weeks she won't survive. If she is born, then most likely the other girls will be born and won't survive either. Please, make it to 24 weeks. That was my goal. I knew if she made it that far, even though her chances would be grim, at least she would have a chance at all. I was preparing for a baby that would possibly have a severe handicap due to loss of oxygen, perhaps even cerebal palsy. But I was prepared for my baby to be alive.

Every day they monitored heartbeats. Three to four times a day. Every time the nurses came in my room with their little hand-held monitor, my heart would skip a beat. Seriously, what if they can't find her heartbeat. It was so scary for me, yet every time her heartbeat was just as strong as the other two. We were all so baffled. Yet so grateful.

Finally, I hit the 24-week mark. I was able to breath a little sigh of relief but not much. We still had the prolapse to worry about and if she decided she was going to come out, we were in trouble. Hopefully, we could now hold off until about 28-30 weeks and then do a C-section if necessary. Still very early but they would at least all three be alive.

The next day, 24 weeks and 1 day, I started experiencing horrible, horrible back pain. Little did I know I was in labor. We all thought it was because I had been in the hospital for 2 weeks without getting up AT ALL, that I was just getting pains from bed. My hips hurt and my lower back was killing me. All of a sudden, I felt something fall out of me. I rang the nurse immediately and I was so, so, so glad that my most favorite nurse, Diana, was on duty that night and was my primary nurse. She came in and checked me and told me I was in labor and that, "I'm sorry but it doesn't look good for baby Grace".

My angel was born at about 11 pm that night.

Thank you Grace.
Thank you for fighting to survive until you knew your sister's would be safe. You are their hero. You were able to hang in there until ONE DAY after the "safe mark" so that your sister's would even have a fighting chance.

For two weeks we mourned you. We never knew when your final heartbeat would come and we never knew when you would pass into the arms of Jesus. We were able to love you so much in those short two weeks. We prayed for you every day. A few moments after you were placed in my arms, I felt the peace of the Lord. I felt an overwhelming calmness come over me and I know, without a doubt, that was the Lord coming to take you home.

We love you Grace Ann and I am glad everyone is getting to know you like me and your daddy knew you. You are, and continue, to be amazing and I am so grateful to get to share your story so everyone else can admire you like we do. You are AMAZING, GRACE!