Our sweet little Claire arrived on Valentine's Day. Delivery went really well, she was perfect and beautiful and we loved her immediately. She was born at 9:05PM (way to make me sweat it, girl. I was starting to lose hope of my VDay baby!) and weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and just shy of 20 inches long. And has BROWN hair. Something new and different - the kids think it's cool.
About 12 hours later, things started to get crazy. She had been vomiting up greenish barf. At first, they didn't think anything of it, they thought it was just some meconium she had swallowed during delivery. But after they had sucked out her tummy twice and she continued to spit it up, the doctors and nurses started to think it was bile and that a blockage to her bowel might be the culprit. They did a quick x-ray, which showed a high possibility of a blockage. They took her to the NICU at Littleton hospital around 2 PM and followed up with a radiograph, in which they injected glowing dye into her food, to see where it ultimately stopped. Sure enough, a blockage also appeared as part of this test. Apparently, these blockages can become quite severe very quickly (and, if never resolved, are always fatal). By about 4pm yesterday, the decision was made to transfer Claire to Presbyterian/St. Luke's in Denver, which had a pediatric surgery team at the ready.
During this whole time, Taylor was at home with the kids, getting ready to come visit me and the baby for the second time that day. I had told him they were taking Claire to the NICU for the test and to hurry over. While he was en route, I was told that Claire would have to be moved to St. Luke's. Immediately.
As the ambulance team prepped Claire to be moved, the nurses quickly got things together so that I could be discharged early and accompany my baby in the ambulance. I mentioned to my midwife that my left leg had been hurting her. Soon it was determined that I had a blood clot and would not be able to go with Claire in the ambulance. They needed to check my leg out first to make sure it wasn't a deep clot. I was crushed. Taylor could go with her, but we had the kids with us, and they told me I couldn't drive myself anywhere. So while trying to figure out who and how many people I would need to call to arrange rides and babysitting, they told me Claire was ready to go and they wanted to leave ASAP. So Claire on ahead to Denver without us. I watched them load her into the plastic baby NICU transporter gurney (that's a technical term) and said goodbye to my little baby, hoping we could hurry things along so I could leave soon and meet her. The kids were very sweet in saying goodbye as she was loaded into her self-contained ambulance unit. The nurse asked if we wanted to take a picture, but I did not want photographic evidence that this was happening.
I went to get an ultrasound, and luckily it showed that the clot was only superficial and did not pose any serious pulmonary health risk (though it still hurt a lot).
Once I was cleared, they started the discharge process so I could join the baby. Taylor took the kids home and one of my sweet visiting teachers who lives on our street came over to watch them. Taylor's dad then came down a couple of hours later and stayed the night with Warren and Cami. He came back to the hospital to get me and we drove up to Denver to see what the next step would be. When we got to the hospital, it was immediately determined that Claire would need surgery that night. We were told there were 3-4 different things that could be causing the blockage -- all dealing with twisted intestines, missing pieces, "webs" blocking portions of the intestines, etc. -- but that they wouldn't know for sure until they went in and took a peek. We gave the green light for surgery and they wheeled her off 10-15 minutes later (just a few minutes after she passed her 1-day birthday). The surgeon was very reassuring, which made us feel good.
We were given a small, private room in the NICU where we could lay down and try to get some sleep. I had just given birth, had slept for 5 hours, and spent the last 6 hours or so bawling my eyes out. So I tried my best to sleep. Taylor sat in a chair and thought of all the worst outcomes. Anyone who knows me, knows that's usually my thing. I frequently worry about my children dying or hurting and what I would do in worst-case scenarios. But I thank my Heavenly Father for granting me peace and clarity and a hopeful outcome. That has to be the only reason I suddenly become some pillar of strength when things are going wrong. We were told that the surgery started at 10pm, and could take 90 minutes up to 2 and half hours, depending on what they saw when they went in. At 11pm the surgeon called in to say that the procedure was successful. That it only took an hour was a good sign. They went in laproscopically, with two small incisions, and they found that a portion of Claire's intestine had wrapped itself around the bowel two times (fitting, as her umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck at birth -- this one just likes to do things the hard way). There was already some indication that the loss of blood flow was causing problems, so it's a great thing they caught this when they did. Several doctors mentioned how lucky Claire was to have had this problem caught right away, to have waited could have meant serious long-term health problems. The surgeons stretched out the intestines to "unkink" the plumbing (and took out her appendix as well) and stitched her back up. All told, it was the best possible diagnosis, as it didn't involve any cutting, stitching, sewing, or replacing of organic tissue. Just a little interior decorating (easy to say that now on this side of things).
Long story short, Claire seems to be doing fine. We've been spending time with her daily and she looks healthy and strong. The doctors say she should have no long-term side effects and the risk of any relapse is very small. Like I said, we're just grateful they caught this now and not in a few weeks when the damage could have been much more severe. It was a harrowing 12 hours, but everything went about as well as could be expected. Claire will likely be in the NICU for another two weeks, as they want to monitor her as she starts to digest food. She will hopefully get to eat for the first time tomorrow and get the tube out her throat that is sucking up any stomach contents so that her gut can rest after surgery. The fluid they've been sucking out had been that yucky green color, and today it was much more yellow, which is a great sign. She's jaundiced since she can't eat, so today tomorrow she'll get to hang out under those obnoxious lights. I just hope she can get some of these monitors and ivs and tubes removed so she can be a little more comfortable.
She's been such a trooper. She rarely cries (even today while I held her hand and stroked her hair while they poked her several times to get a new IV into her) and is beautiful. We debated whether to name her Chelsea or Claire, and couldn't decide until she went into the NICU the first time. But Claire seems to fit her calm and accommodating personality. A couple weeks ago, she was in the breach position and lovingly complied with my urging to flip around. She's tolerated everything so gracefully. How I love this little girl of mine. I can't wait to get her home, wrap her in cuddly blankets, and hang out on the couch like none of this ever happened. Thanks to everyone for their many prayers and well wishes. Though not too many people knew what was going on as it happened so quickly, so late at night. And we've been at the hospital whenever we can, so we've been slow to return emails and phone calls. But know that we're very grateful to our family and friends. I'm also incredibly grateful for the medical staff at both Littleton and St Lukes. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the way they've taken care of Claire. For their knowledge, quick diagnosis, their concern, prayers, and comforting words. I'm grateful for our insurance (which I've always complained is so crazy expensive - a birth, ambulance ride, surgery and 2 weeks in the NICU will make me eat my words), grateful we live in the US where this kind of service is readily available, and grateful for the knowledge I have of the gospel, of my Savior Jesus Christ, and of his plan for me and my family. I'm so grateful for the peace I've been able to feel through this whole ordeal and owe it to the faith I have and the heart I've placed in His hands. So, so, so grateful.