Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three Oblivious Passengers

The next day we were able to get a private room in the hospital, just the three of us getting cozy and comfortable with each other.  Chris and I were faced with the decision of adding Amelia to our health insurance or taking advantage of Medicaid coverage that was available because of how adoption works in Michigan.  Looking back, I don't even remember why we were considering putting her on our insurance.  I didn't know anything about Medicaid except that she would be eligible for WIC which provides free formula and baby food and any medical bills that she would have would be covered.  We weren't anticipating any significant medical bills, but free formula sounded good to me.  We decided to go with Medicaid.

I spent alot of time that day just holding Amelia.  One of the first things I noticed were her finger nails.  I was immediately jealous of them.  I have these stubby square nails and have always wanted long and slender nails.  Well, my daughter has them, and I was already envisioning getting manicures together 18 years down the road.  I also noticed how her little chin was kind of in-set on her face, and how there was a spot at the bottom of her neck that retracted every time she took a breath.  "That's different," I thought, but didn't point it out to anyone else and didn't think much of it.  I remember holding her, looking at Chris, and saying "I'm just so thankful she is healthy."

The plan was for Amelia to be discharged the following day, so we decided to stay the night with her at the hospital.  Feeding continued to be a challenge for her that day and night.  She never drank more than an ounce at a time and was hungry often.  When she drank from the bottle, there were times where she looked overwhelmed, as if she was being flooded with more formula than she was ready for.  We switched bottle nipples from Stage 1 to Newborn.  That seemed to help a little except that her head and neck would bob back and forth like Bert doing the Pigeon Dance and her suck just didn't seem right to me.  A nurse never watched her take a bottle, and although I was slightly concerned, all of her challenges were labeled as "a baby learning how to eat."

This is where if I were the director of a movie of my own life, I would zoom out to show that Chris, Amelia, and I were three oblivious passengers in a boat headed for some rocky rapids dead ahead.

More to come,

For those of you who have never seen Bert do the Pigeon Dance...

Friday, November 30, 2012

First Red Flag

5 pounds and 11 ounces. So tiny, but I felt comfortable with her size because I had stayed with my bestie for two weeks when her twins were that small. It came time for her first feeding, and the nurse handed me a bottle. I asked what a normal amount for her to take was, and she said around an ounce. I put the bottle in Amelia's mouth, and she started sucking. She drank a half ounce. "Good girl."

The maternity ward was full so they weren't able to give us a private room until the following day. So we were in the nursery all day, which meant we were on display all day. We took turns making phone calls to friends and family with updates and filled the rest of our time with major snuggles. Three hours passed quickly and it was time for Amelia to eat again. The nurse noticed my ease with Amelia's size and didn't watch me give her a bottle after the first feeding. Chris was with me, and the three of us had some family time in the nursery. Well, us and our spectators on the other side of the window.

Suddenly, truly out of nowhere, Amelia stopped sucking and her entire face turned blue. Her eyes. Her cheeks. Her lips. Blue. I simultaneously flung her forward over my hand, began beating her back, and told Chris to get a nurse. As quickly as she turned blue, she turned pink again, and by the time Chris and the nurse returned Amelia appeared to be fine. The nurse asked if she was ok, and I said "She is now." The nurse never examined her. Just took my word for it and left. She said to let them know if it happened again.

A very scary moment, and the first of many red flags that would be dismissed by nurses and doctors.

Since we couldn't sleep at the hospital that night, unless we wanted the squeaky waiting room chairs again, the nurses encouraged us to get a motel room, get some sleep, and let them care for her that night. Sounded good to us. I changed Amelia's diaper one more time before we left and said goodnight. What a thrilling day! What could make it any better?

As I leaned in to kiss her goodbye, she let out a long, high pitched sigh like she was doing a vocal warm up. I looked at Chris, "Did you hear that?" So of course I responded and copied her sound back to her. The tiny baby that was less than 8 hours old blessed my heart and soul by letting out another identical sigh. With a crackled voice I looked at Chris and said, "I love this girl."

More to come,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

She's Here

Leslie headed out of the waiting room to go into the OR with Abby.  Chris and I waited with Leslie's mom and husband, chit-chatting, but mostly quiet.  Within minutes, she burst back into the room to grab my camera, and in the background I could see nurses carrying Amelia into the nursery.  The waiting room had a large window that looked straight into the nursery.  Chris and I were standing at the window with anticipation building in our hearts. Amelia was bundled and wrapped in blankets, and we still hadn't seen her face.  The nurses were cleaning her up, weighing her, and Leslie was swarming in the background like the papa-paparazzi.   Finally, a nurse held Amelia up and pulled the blanket away from her face.

Chris and I both burst into tears.  We were somewhere between crying and hysterical.  I definitely was ugly-face-crying, and my hands kept going back and forth between covering my mouth and touching my chest, as if that would help slow my heart down.  Had I been waving to an audience, I would have looked just like a newly-crowned Miss America.

She looked perfect.  Within minutes Leslie waved me into the nursery, and I was at her bedside while the nurse continued to work on her.

Words can't describe that moment.  It is beyond surreal, knowing this is my daughter, and yet it had only been 11 days since I found out she would be mine.  Here she was.  Holding my finger.  Amazing.

Chris joined us.  He was speechless.  See, I'm grabbing my chest.  Maybe I was trying to catch my breath.

I remember talking to her.  "You must be so cold, sweet girl.  We're gonna get you all wrapped up soon.  It's okay sweet pea."

She was here.  She was precious.

Her cry was so quiet.  There wasn't much noise behind it.  Very breathy.  She was alert, and the nurse told me her APGAR score was adequate.  I was so relieved that she was doing well, given her rough night.  Once she was cleaned up, she was in my arms.  About then, they rolled Abby's bed by the nursery.  We exchanged waves and smiles, and she was rolled to her room to recover from surgery.

I sat down and just held my girl.

More to come,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Included and Blessed

Leslie was so sweet and gave me a picture of Amelia's face from the ultrasound that morning.  Most people have seen ultrasound pictures these days, from friends or even posted on Facebook.  Let me just say it is different to see it of your own child.  I found it disturbing.  My bestie later assured me, "Oh yeah Manda, we referred to them as our alien children when we saw those pictures."  Amelia's eyes looked all sunken in, and it appeared as though she either had a small beak or some sort of growth hanging off the end of her nose.  Disturbing, right?  "Oh Lord, let her look better than what this picture leads me to believe she looks like."

I can't say enough about how generous, thoughtful, inclusive, communicative, and gracious the biological family were toward Chris and I.  I have been asked about our adoption experience in some of the most random places, but my answer is always the same.  Our's was ideal.

I was shopping with Amelia at the mall once, and a sales lady commented on Amelia's pretty blue eyes and asked if she got them from me or my husband.  I said, "Oh thank you.  That's so sweet, but she was adopted," which led to her sharing her entire story of infertility with me right there in the store.  She said she was ready to begin looking into adoption and asked me about our experience.  I told her there is a spectrum for adoption, from ideal to extremely challenging, to put it nicely.  Our adoption experience was completely ideal.  Not one flaw, and the biggest contributing factor to that reality was the biological family.  They were amazing.  What an unnecessary blessing from the Lord.

While we were sitting in the waiting room, Leslie introduced me to her mom.  Such a sweet lady.  Leslie took her mom and me back to see Abby before she went into surgery.  Abby was beginning to feel a bit more nervous.  She was beginning to realize what was about to happen to her.  We went back to the waiting room, and Leslie's mom recounted a story for Chris and I.  "Leslie and I were talking the other day and she said, 'Mom, I always try to see the silver lining in things, and I think in this situation it's that we're making a family very very happy.'"  Well, I lost it.  Burst into tears and said, "Thank you so much for telling me that."

Chris and I in the waiting room.

Leslie popped into the waiting room one more time right before the surgery.  She said to us, "They'll bring the baby out into the nursery right away, and I'll come out with her.  I can swing by here and get your camera if you want me to take pictures for you."  I told you they were amazing!

It was shortly after noon.  Almost time.

More to come,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Sleepless Night

Chris and I hunkered down for the night.  The nurses from the Nurses' Station brought us some useless hospital blankets, and the waiting room had two recliners for us to sleep in.  Allow me to pause to let you know these recliners were old, hard as a rock, and scary to sit in.  They were broken so that when you leaned back, WHOA, you fell back in the chair without any resistance.  And if I remember rightly, the one I was sitting in squeaked and creaked anytime I shifted my weight in it.  Ugh!

Leslie came in a little after midnight and gave us the last update for the night.  She said Amelia's heartbeat wasn't rebounding very well after each contraction.  In other words, it's normal for a baby's heartbeat to slow down when a woman is having a contraction, but as the contraction subsides the heartbeat should resume its normal rate.  Amelia's would slow with a contraction, and then it would stay slow after the contraction ended.  The doctor thought that perhaps Abby was dehydrated.  They gave her fluids and that seemed to address the concerns.

I laid awake all night.  I was freezing laying under the paper thin blanket, and my muscles were sore and shaking from being tense all night.  I think had we had comfier furniture to lay on, I may have slept for a few hours.  I think Chris was able to sleep for a little bit.  I chose to spend the majority of the night eavesdropping on the Nurses' Station.  I tried to listen for clues as to when they were talking about Abby and Amelia.  The one thing they kept talking about was sending Abby home if her labor didn't progress.  I still don't understand this.  Abby never dilated more than 4cm, but I think she was almost 90% effaced and she had consistent contractions all night.  Why wouldn't they just get the show on the road?  I know Abby wasn't wanting to stretch it out any more than was necessary.  I literally watched the minutes pass that night on a clock on the wall of the waiting room.

Finally around 7am a doctor was called for a consult.  Abby had only had one ultrasound during her pregnancy around 25 weeks.  Thank God the doctor in this small town hospital had the wisdom to order another ultrasound before Abby was discharged.    The results showed that although Abby was 38 weeks pregnant, Amelia was only measuring at 35 weeks.  She was not growing properly in utero, and the doctor immediately ordered a C-section.  I heard all of this from eavesdropping before Leslie came in to update us.  She said the operation was scheduled for noon.

Chris and I freshened up a bit in the bathroom and went to grab a bite to eat.  We headed down to the hospital cafeteria and proceeded to eat what we still refer to ask "the most disgusting breakfast we've ever eaten."  We both got a croissant breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon, and cheese.  Sounds delicious, right?  That's what we thought.  The croissant was moist, as if it had been dipped in butter.  The eggs were greasy.  The cheese was everywhere.  You couldn't put your fingers anywhere on the sandwich without getting cheese on your fingers.  And the bacon.  Oh, I'm sorry.  I thought I ordered bacon, not a half pound of pure fat.  Needless to say, we did not finish our breakfast.

We went and called family and friends before heading back upstairs.

More to come,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh What a Skype

I worked all weekend wrapping up loose ends.  Everything was laundered and put away, the nursery projects were complete, and now we waited.

My bestest friend and I planned on talking Monday night once her kids were in bed.  While we were on the phone, Chris came down our stairs into the living room where I was, and he had his phone up to his ear too. "Are our husbands talking to each other too?'  Her husband was helping Chris get Skype set up on our computer.  We knew we would need it soon with grandparents wanting to see the little one.  It was up and running fairly quickly, and soon the four of us were talking "face to face."

I couldn't have planned any better what happened next.  To this day, the four of us can't believe it happened while we were all together, looking at one another's faces.

My phone rings.

"Guys, it's a text from Leslie."

My heart was racing, and our friends thought we were kidding.  "Oh yeah right, Manda."

I started reading the text, and everyone realized it was no joke.  I don't have record of the exact words, but here is the jist of what was going on.  Abby told Leslie she was having some cramping.  Leslie asked what the cramping was like.  Abby said, "Oh it comes and goes."  Leslie wisely asked, "When did the cramping start?  How often is it coming and going?"  Abby said she had them all afternoon, and they were now about 5 minutes apart.  Leslie asked me what she thought she should do.

I read everything to the group.  All four of our jaws dropped.  We busted out laughing at how ridiculous we all looked and couldn't believe what was happening.  "She is in labor, right?"  I said.  I quickly texted that to Leslie and encouraged her to take Abby to the hospital to be examined.  We exchanged what felt like another hundred texts and decided Chris and I would start making our way to the hospital.  It was a 2 hour drive for us.  Even if it was a false alarm, we didn't want to risk not being there.

We were freaking out.  Our friends were freaking out.  "Amanda, your baby might be born tonight."  We hung up with them and began what felt like the scene from a movie.  In less than an hour we washed dishes, showered, packed, and hit the road.  Dishes?  I didn't want nasty dishes sitting in my sink for who knows how long.  And I didn't know when I would shower again.  That turned out to be a smart move.

Once we were in the car we called our family and told them we would keep them posted.  It was around 9pm when we left town.  I tried my best to sleep on the ride there.  Yeah right!  That didn't happen.  Leslie kept us posted with texts.  Abby was 4cm dilated and was getting checked into the hospital.  We arrived at 11pm, and she had her own room by then.  We stayed in the waiting room near the nursery, and Leslie would update us periodically.  Abby came to see us and we were able to chit chat, asking how she was feeling and encouraged her to keep up the good work.  She was having consistent contractions, but you would have never guessed.  The gal had a high pain tolerance and was walking laps around the maternity ward.

Looks like we're in for a long night.

More to come,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Explanation is Due

9 months.  It's been 9 months since I've posted.  Sure, I could pick right back up where the story left off, but I would feel as though I'm completely ignoring the fact that you haven't heard a thing from me in 9 months.  I feel as though an explanation is due.

There is a reason I stopped posting.  And there is a reason why I haven't begun again until now.  Even now, I'm hesitant to begin again because I know the time and commitment that is required with a blog like mine.  But it's time.

So many of you have been so patient and gracious with me during this time.  You've continued to encourage me to start again.  Just today a friend on Facebook tagged me in a post by one of her friends, someone I've never met, telling her to tell me to start blogging again.  So here I am.  Typing.

In February of this year, Amelia had some medical needs that, in my opinion, were being somewhat ignored by her medical team.  I committed myself to full time research of how to best meet her needs myself.  If I wasn't directly taking care of Amelia, I was on the internet, talking with other moms in my situation in online forums, and even skyping with a child psychologist in Germany.  {You'll hear about that story one day.}  It took my full attention.  As did the months to follow.

I could stop there and blame my lack of posting on a lack of time, but there's more.  My next post is going to be about Amelia's birth.  And the story from here takes a turn.  One that is going to require me to relive moments, emotions, and choices that were scary, confusing, and eventually led me to a dark place.  Up until recently, anytime I went to those places in my mind, I responded with anger, resentment, and regret.  I didn't want to write Amelia's story with a tainted view.

I grew up in Houston, where rain and thunderstorms are common.  Driving in those storms is inevitable, especially because the sky can be blue and bright in the morning, and black and stormy by the afternoon.  I have memories of making the drive from Houston to Dallas on I-45 and seeing storms up ahead on the highway.  One minute I was driving in clear skies, and the next I had my wipers on high, my speed had slowed to 45 mph, and I couldn't see the car in front of me through the rain.  Not even 10 minutes later I was out of the storm and back under blue skies.

That has been my last year.  Blue skies.  Stormy weather with blurred vision.  And back to blue skies.  My hope is that I can accurately tell Amelia's story.

So thanks for waiting for me.

More to come,