Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Joy

Though I am trying to get this journal caught up (I promise I will- I have all my notes) as you can see my last entry is dated mid-February, but in real-time it is July 8th. For now, I need to flash forward to today. Please sit down. You might want to buckle up.

I got up early this morning, planning to clean out the storage closet under the stairs and clean the house and wash clothes, because Mark's brother, Steve, is in town from Chicago and was planning on coming over tonight. I took a bath and was sitting on the edge of the bed, when I noticed that I was bleeding. I called Mark who was on his way home from a cab run. Mark called his mom, then called my mom who called my sister, Amy, and we all headed to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

I had labs drawn and 2 peripheral IVs started. I was hooked up to monitors. A test determined that there was amniotic fluid mixed in with the blood. The OB doctor wanted to monitor the bleeding and start planning for delivery- within the next day or two. Because the baby is only 32 weeks gestation, they had hoped to give me 3 steroid injections, 24 hours apart, prior to our planned delivery to help the baby's lungs. She wasn't sure how many shots we would get in, but I got the first one. Mark's mom picked up Natalie and Larissa at the hospital and brought them to her house. My mom and Amy arrived.

We moved to a labor room, though I didn't feel like I was in labor. I had known for some time that I would be having a c-section delivery, not only due to the state of my bones, but because the placenta had attached over the cervix. The OB doctor spoke with an oncologist, covering for Dr. Laudi while he is on vacation, and the GYN-Oncologist that would remove my ovaries after delivery. They explained everything to me and I signed consents. My mom and Amy rubbed my arms and feet and kissed me. Mark cleaned the camera lens and changed into scrubs. At around 2:30pm, I was wheeled into surgery to start an epidural and have the baby.

From the initial incision, we were told it only takes about 10 minutes for a baby to be born by c-section. I will fill in the exact time later- for now just do a little math and you will be in the ballpark. The baby weighs about 3 lbs 3 oz and is about "a shoe and a half long" per Mark. Not one of us know all the measurements (we have attentive nurses and doctors to keep track of the numbers)- right now, we simply don't care about such things. All we care about is that our little daughter arrived safe and sound.

Welcome to the world, welcome to your family, Olivia Joy.

Mark and I both liked the name Olivia. (My mom thanked us for naming our daughter after her fluffy cat). I chose Joy- my middle name and our niece, Coral's, middle name. When I look at Olivia, I can't help feeling that, in this life, Joy chose me.

She has soft, fuzzy hair that looks like mine. I can see traces of both Natalie and Larissa in her tiny face. Erin, our nurse, held her close to me so I could kiss her. She is absolutely beautiful.

Olivia had an umbilical line put in, so she could get IV fluids and meds and have labs drawn. Her heart rate and oxygen saturation is monitored. She is premature and was working hard to breathe, so she was taken to the NICU at Children's Hospital where she had a breathing tube placed. Mark went with her.

I had gotten my 6 rounds of AC chemo as planned, then Dr. Laudi had added a 7th round in hopes of buying us a few more weeks before we delivered the baby. I got my 7th round of chemo on June 28th, so today I was 10 days out, but my blood counts and and platelet levels looked good for surgery. My ovaries were removed as planned, but the surgeon could not get my uterus to stop oozing blood. After an hour or so of trying, she decided to remove my uterus, too. (Sorry, Michele, they had already knocked me out, so I couldn't work out that 2-for-1 deal you were hoping for). I got a unit of blood. (Thank you, blood donors!) I woke up in recovery in a lot of pain. My nurse kept the IV pain meds coming, but it is hard to get on top of it. I was transferred to the ICU overnight.

Last night, I had a dream that I was holding my baby.

Tonight, Olivia sleeps... down the hall, down the elevator, through the tunnel, up the elevator, through the door, the twists and turns, under the watchful eyes and in the caring hands of nurses...

As Olivia sleeps,
I will think of her, as I have for months.
I will whisper these words, as I have for months.
I learned as a child,
hopeful and wise,
inspired by empathy,
true to my heart,
spoken by an elephant-

"A person's a person, no matter how small."
-Dr. Seuss

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