the weather is changing and we are approaching november 10th when ella was born. it seems like a lifetime ago, but it went by so fast at the same time. as the holidays seem to creep up on us i have been surprisingly sentimental and 'reflect-y'...i can say that right? i look out my window at the wind, changing leaves, and drop in temperature and can't help but let my thoughts wander back to this time almost a year ago.
so i was going to officially write out that day and the days that led up to it as i remember it.
i had been experiencing unusual and, at times, unbearable pain for 2-3 weeks. my personality usually pushes feelings, emotions, and physical pain away and tries to tell myself 'oh it's nothing'. my husband can attest to this. ;) so i really tried to continue on with the tasks of being a stay at home mom. our family went on a trip to tacoma the weekend of nov 6-7 for my grandparent's anniversary and i was in such pain just walking around and so uncomfortable even sitting. i kept thinking how odd this was and how different this was from my first 2 pregnancies. of course this made everyone assume i was having a girl since it was such a different pregnancy (we were waiting to find out the sex). we did the normal walk around downtown seattle, looking at shops, people watching, eating yummy food, but i could not keep up. i usually sat somewhere, waited, and met up with the rest of my family here and there. my sister was so surprised and thought something seemed strange since i would not even look around the shops....she knows me so well. ;)
we left seattle and started the drive home. i would sit in the car in tears over the pain. piercing pressure. we stopped for gas and i got out to use the bathroom and was stopped in my tracks because of the pain. i was riding with my husband, 2 sons, and my mom and dad. there were 2 nurses at starbucks who noticed i was in pain and asked when i was due. i told them i had 2 more months! they were so surprised and told me to take it easy. my belly really was sticking out there and people would always comment that i looked ready and ripe. my parents and husband were all saying that we should make an appointment monday morning for me and baby to be checked out. i agreed, but told them they will probably just tell me to stay in bed and drink water...maybe it was because we were traveling.
monday morning (nov 8) i called in and they said my doctor wasn't available, but i could come in and see a nurse. so i went in and they hooked me up to a monitor to see if i was having contractions. no signs of any labor going on. they told me that if i feel the same tomorrow to call in for an appointment.
i woke up the next morning (nov 9) with no changes: i could barely walk around without unbearable pressure in my lower abdomen. i called in and they set up an appointment. i decided i should bring my mom just in case i needed some advice or pushing in getting things checked out more in depth. sometimes i just don't want to be a bother so i just nod and move on when i should be questioning things more. a little quality of mine that i am working on. so my doctor saw me and questioned me and he decided i should have an ultrasound done just to check positioning and to check if we could see what the problem was. he scheduled an ultrasound for the next day, november 10th. i said 'ok' and then as we were walking out i told my mom that maybe we should go back and ask him if it is really necessary. ultrasounds were expensive for us even with our insurance so i didn't want anything frivolous. i told my mom 'they will probably just tell me to rest in bed and drink water.' i really just thought i would have to ride this pregnancy out and just bear with it. my mom went back and snagged our doctor in the hallway and asked if it was really necessary to have an ultrasound and because of financial reasons, we wanted to be sure we needed it. our doctor assured my mom that we should go in just because this has felt so different from my first 2 pregnancies, which he was also my doctor for. so it was confirmed that i should do it.
the next morning it was wednesday, november 10th. i remember waking up and looking at my belly, talking to it, rubbing it, and just laying there not feeling like moving to provoke any pain. erik was sleeping downstairs because i just needed space. you know how that is sometimes, right moms? :) he had his phone close by and i had my phone close by.....just in case. so i took a picture of my belly and texted it to erik with the caption 'baby and mama say good morning to you papa.'
so we got up for the day. erik got all of his things ready for work because he was going straight to work after the ultrasound. i showered and put the usual suspects on...sweats, t-shirt, and a zip up hoody. my mom came over to watch our boys and we were off to deaconess.
we were in the waiting room doing the normal day-to-day things. erik was working on his phone for work and i was looking at a parenting magazine glancing at a morning show on the tv every once in awhile. they called for me. we walked to the ultrasound room without even looking back at our normal day-to-day waiting room. the tech started the ultrasound asking if we wanted to know the sex of the baby. we told her we were waiting. she moved around on my belly checking the baby's positioning. the ultrasound lasted an hour or so....she did a lot of checking and asking me to change positions. there was a point when we saw the baby's heart and i furrowed my eyebrows and looked to erik. i asked her if it was normal for the heart to look that big. she said that was what she was checking out.
to be honest, as i type this i am getting dizzy, shaky, and becoming numb.
she told me to get dressed and that she would take her findings to the doctor. that kind of raised a red flag for me. i asked erik if that was normal for them to take it to a doctor. i didn't remember them ever doing that before. he began to be my wonderful support right then and there and told me to not worry. we will be taken care of.
another nurse or tech came in, red flag again because it wasn't the same tech, and told us to follow her to a room where the doctor would tell us about his findings. i followed her, kind of in a haze. we sat at a circle table, in a bright room, erik to my right. the doctor walked in and said 'i have very, very bad news.' i chuckled and i clearly remember thinking 'silly doctor joking with us'. then his face didn't crack and my body went numb.
then there was a yellow tablet of paper, boxes of kleenex appearing, erik leaning in, the doctor writing on the tablet, tears streaming down my face. words popped out at me from the paper....cardiomyopathy, left ventricle, heart, fluids. more tears and closing of my eyes. i opened my eyes and the doctor looked at me 'we need to get your baby out in the next couple of hours or your baby could die. to be honest we don't really know what the outcome will be, we just need to get the baby out.' i remember sucking air in a breathing out an "ok". the doctor walked out and erik and i completely broke down. i cried out 'we are going to lose our baby!!' erik said 'don't say that.' i grabbed my phone thinking we need people to pray right now. i told erik that he needs to call my mom since she had our boys. erik sobbed out what was happening to my mom. i texted close friends through eyes blurred with tears telling them to pray, which they received and spread the word.
a nurse came back to get us, guiding me to a wheelchair. she pushed me by the normal day-to-day waiting room that seemed like a lifetime ago. i looked into the eyes of the waiting people with tears streaming down my face wishing i could go back.
from here, i feel like things got really choppy.
dressing in a gown, putting my clothes in a white plastic bag, laying on a bed, nurses asking me questions, iv's going in, monitors hooked up, my mouth numb. being pushed into the operating room, people everywhere, epidural, tubes in my nose, my arms being strapped straight out like a T. my eyes searching for erik, my doctor showing up to my side with tears in his eyes. teeth chattering, a curtain being raised above my belly...and then a weight lifted. my baby. a few minutes went by and my mind was blank. a nurse said i had a baby girl, tears streamed down from the corners of my eyes. erik came to my side and said 'we have a baby girl!' i smiled and someone asked if we had a name. erik looked at me and said 'ella louise?' i nodded, thinking 'good thing it was a girl' because we had a name for a girl, but didn't have a name for a boy yet.
erik left to be with ella and they finished closing me back up. no thoughts, blank. not even 'is she going to make it?' just blank. they wheeled me into a recovery room where i lay there chattering and shaking and my family came in. mom, dad, matt, andi. if you know this family of mine, we are a quiet one. i could not explain how much i appreciated this right then. they came and sat with me, squeezing my hand or my leg, feeding me ice, looking into my eyes telling me all i needed to know only with their eyes.
erik came in and looked at me and said we could go see ella. he helped push my bed into the nicu where i saw ella for the first time. she was so little and innocent. i stared at her and a nurse said i could touch her. i reached out and rubbed the back of my hand on her shoulder. i wasn't sure how or what to do. i saw a nurse with a camera so i mustered up a smile. i had a daughter after all.
then they wheeled me out to take me to my room. as i was being pushed out i saw friends and family standing in the hallway. again, all i needed to know was in their eyes and i appreciated it so much.
erik and i got to our room. i stared at the empty baby bassinet. so many times during our stay there, i would look at that thing with anger and sadness. i told myself that if i had the strength and physical ability i would get up and shove that thing over as hard as i could. something i am ashamed to admit, but it's true.
as soon as i had enough strength i decided being wheeled up to see ella would be a good choice.
our stay in the hospital and ella's first year of life has pretty much been documented with the ups and downs. i just wanted to put down on 'paper' the details of how it all transpired as i remember it.
it really is unreal to think back on and to revisit all these feelings i had.
i am still struggling and searching.
why save my baby and not the many others? then i remember His love and sovereignty and it makes me think pretty hard about things.
will her heart be ok as she grows and gains weight? then i remember to give my children to Him again.
as a mom i want to protect and guide my children. i always feel like they define me right now in this stage of life i'm in. but....i am not in control and i need to continue trusting Jesus to hold them. i need Jesus to define me, which will in turn pour into my children. not sure if that makes sense, but like i said, i am searching.
i love you my dear, sweet daughter ella. you are almost 1 year old! can you believe it?