Part 3 – by no means the last leg of our journey, but the one that will bring us up-to-date with where we are today.
Just one week after Baby A was found to have reduced diastolic flow in her Doppler scans. It was a Friday, and we’d just completed our second set of scans for the week, with everything looking stable for both babies. We made the hour-long drive home, happy but exhausted from our first long week of more regular and lengthy monitoring.
Kade and I both needed to catch up on work, so when we got home we went our separate ways to tackle our various chores and to do lists. Less than three hours later, I was calling my husband trying to hide the panic in my voice. I needed him to come pick me up right away…we needed to get back to the hospital.
That was the longest 70-mile drive of my life – worried about what was happening and what it meant for our girls. We got to Champaign, were admitted and within minutes the girls were both on heart monitors and I was hooked to various IVs and had been given my first round of betamethasone – the steroid shot that aids in lung development for babies at risk of being born prematurely. They weren’t taking any chances.
The problems we were facing that night were caused by what is called placenta previa – another piece to our already complicated pregnancy puzzle. We’d known about the previa for a while, but had no idea the impact it could have later in pregnancy, besides that it meant an almost certain C-section delivery for the girls. We were quickly learning it could be much more problematical than that.
We had some decisions to make. At any point, it could have become necessary for my wellbeing to deliver the babies. As Carle had already warned us – they were not capable of caring for Baby A’s complex conditions. Which meant that if we delivered there, she would immediately be life-flighted to the hospital we’d found in Chicago…by herself. Kade would have to drive up there to meet her, while I stayed in recovery in Champaign with Baby B in their NICU. Definitely not an ideal situation.
Our second option was to try to stabilize me enough to get all of us transferred to Chicago via ambulance. That was our preference, and at 1 a.m. Sunday morning all wheels were in motion. My parents had already flown in to Champaign to be with us, and by 4 a.m. we were all en route to Northwestern Memorial – Prentice Women’s Hospital.
Once we were settled in at Northwestern, we all felt better about the outlook for both the girls and me. Those feelings of wellbeing only grew as we spent all day Sunday and Monday meeting with the teams of doctors who would be involved in our case. Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists, Neonatologists, NICU nurses, pediatric surgeons – you name it, we met with everyone who might have a chance at having a hand in our care throughout the labor, delivery and post-delivery process. They were all incredible, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the facility we’d chosen.
With this level of expertise and care, we were also presented with quite a bit of difficult information – knowledge that no one up to that point in our pregnancy had been able to give us with confidence. After reviewing all of the scans and tests we’d done throughout our pregnancy, these doctors – the best of the best in their respective fields – conveyed a deep concern for Baby A. They told us that our chances of taking her home with us are very slim. With the number and severity of her anomalies – the diaphragmatic hernia, IUGR and likely chromosomal abnormality as indicated by other irregularities – she would likely never make it to the surgery that would be required to save her life.
Kade and I sat listening to these doctors talk about our daughter, trying to process the words they were saying. Up to that point, we had assumed and prepared for an extremely difficult road ahead with our girls. But we had never prepared for news like this – this changed everything.
Ten days after I was first admitted in Champaign, we were released from Northwestern…sort of. Although I had been stable under their care for a week, I was still considered a high-risk pregnancy. So they asked us to relocate to Chicago until the babies are born. Going back home, which would be a two-hour drive at best to get back, was just too risky.
So we moved into an extended stay “hotel” just about a block away from Prentice. We can literally be there within minutes in an emergency. And for the past week, we’ve been adjusting to our new “normal” life before babies.
We were terrified at first to lose the security blanket of being surrounded by doctors and nurses 24 hours a day. But we are also extremely grateful for the time we’ve had to enjoy the last days and weeks of our pregnancy together – not in a hospital room. We have started new traditions, realizing what is most important to us, and we are soaking up every day we have to make memories in this very special chapter of our lives.
We know we have some very difficult circumstances ahead – unimaginable, honestly. Even as I type this, I wonder how I talk about it with such ease. But I know the answer to that – it is faith. Faith that there is a plan and a purpose for both our baby girls. Faith that God is in complete control. And faith that, whatever we have ahead in this pregnancy, He will give us the strength we need to press on. It is, no doubt, the most difficult thing we have ever faced. And some days are much harder than others. But in our heart of hearts, we know we were given these two little blessings for a very special reason. God does not make mistakes. These girls have brought us so much joy already, and we celebrate every day we have with them. We are better people because of them.