As many of you who have been following our story already know, today was supposed to be our 37 Week celebration. It was also supposed to be our scheduled delivery date…but our girls had different plans…
Thursday, May 21, 2015 is a day that will live in our hearts forever. We woke up just like the countless days before – in the hospital letting our baby girls grow just a little bit longer. We had our weekly Doppler scans and NST scheduled for just after breakfast, but again, nothing out of the ordinary for us. Then, as we were just getting back into our room after the Dopplers, our nurse stuck her head in and said, “Don’t eat or drink anything else this morning. The doctor will be in shortly…today could be the day!”
My Mom, Kade and I all froze. It couldn’t be the day. We weren’t ready – we had a plan! We should have known by then…nothing about this pregnancy had gone according to “our plans.”
The doctor came in, told us she saw some changes for the worse in Baby A’s Dopplers and waiting the six days until our scheduled C-section was not worth the risk to mom or babies. Sure enough – we would be meeting our little girls sometime that afternoon! (Insert the soon-to-be-daddy’s panic mode here.)
In no time at all, I was wheeled down to the Labor & Delivery floor. The nurses and doctors were in and out of our room prepping us for what to expect over the course of the next few hours, and Papa was getting on a plane to be in Chicago by early evening. It was go time.
The Cesarean went flawlessly. Kade was by my side the whole time, helping me through my nerves, anxiety and excitement. He talked to me about how incredible our path had been to get to where we were, and how much better it was about to get.
At 3:01 p.m., Alexis Rae Hummel (Twin B) joined the world kicking and screaming all the way to be assessed by her team of neonatologists. Her sister, Emalynn Kelly Hummel (Twin A), followed at 3:02 p.m. She was also whisked away to be attended to by her neonatal team.
After being cleared by her doctors, Alexis was brought to be with me for the remainder of the surgery, which was honestly the best thing that could have happened. Anyone who has had a C-section knows…there are some very strange sensations going on just beyond that big blue curtain, and it’s easy to let your mind wander. But how could I think about anything but that precious little girl laying on my chest?!
As we expected, our sweet Emalynn needed a little more care from her neonatal team. We were fortunate enough to see her briefly (and snap our first family photo) before she was transferred up to the NICU.
Following the procedure, we were moved into our recovery room where Alexis and I went through the gamut of pokes and prods endured by all new mamas and their babies. Our family filtered into the room one at a time to meet half of our dynamic duo, while we all anxiously waited for an update on little sister.
A couple of hours went by and we got a visit from one of the neonatologists at Lurie Children’s Hospital. He told us that Emmy needed pretty extensive care, and would be transferred from Prentice to Lurie as soon as she was stabilized. We would be able to visit her later that evening when (and if) I was released by my doctors to make the trip over the sky bridge.
We had a team of nurses who worked their tails off to make that happen. They got Alexis and I cleared, and one of the nurses that had been with us from the start of our time at Prentice offered to take us over after her shift ended so we could see Emmy as soon as possible. Around 8 p.m., we were taken to the 14th Floor of Lurie where I got to touch my sweet daughter’s hand for the first time.
We could only stay a few minutes, because her doctors still had a lot of work to do. We met the attending who would be with her over night, and he reminded us that we had a very rough road ahead. Our first goal was for her to make it through the night.
We went back to settle into our room at Prentice with Alexis, where we spent our first night of parenthood split between gazing in awe at our beautiful daughter and staring at each other with wide-eyed panic wondering what in the heck we were doing and praying we wouldn’t screw it up.
At 5:30 a.m. Kade got a call on his cell phone. Emalynn’s stats were declining pretty quickly, and we needed to think about going over to be with her incase they couldn’t get things stabilized. My parents were staying just a couple blocks away, so they came over to be with Alexis while we were with her sister.
The entire day, we were back and forth over the sky bridge that separated our daughters. A lot of the time I was with Alexis trying to get into the routine of feeding, skin-to-skin contact and just hoping she passed each blood sugar test so she could stay out of the NICU. Kade stayed with Emalynn to keep her company and to learn as much as possible from her medical team.
At 4 p.m. I got a text from Kade. He told me I needed to get ready – Emmy’s doctors wanted to meet with us as a family. As my husband pushed my wheelchair across the sky bridge, we both knew…this news was not going to be good.
We sat in a room with my parents and the medical team that had been caring for our daughter for just over 24 hours. We listed as they explained her current condition, walked us through the steps that had been taken to stabilize her to that point, and told us they were running out of options to help improve her odds of survival. We had reached a critical point where any further intervention would likely be detrimental to Emmy’s wellbeing. I held my husbands hand as we listened to the words our doctor was saying, “We need to start thinking about end of life care.”
We had known for some time that this could be coming. But there is no number of days in the hospital or conversations with social workers or discussions of various diagnoses with specialists that can prepare a parent to hear those words. Your mind understands the reality of the situation, but your heart wants to cling to the hope of a miracle…no matter how small that chance may be.
Thanks to the incredible guidance we received early on at Prentice, we had already made preparations for this day. At that point, it was just a matter of putting the wheels in motion. We called our family, got our photographer en route to Chicago and had a little bit of time to get ourselves together.
In her last few hours, Kade and I were able to do so much with our baby girl. We let her spend time with her sister, told her how much we loved her, read her a book and had our family gather around her in prayer. Even though she was medically sedated, the doctors told us she could hear and feel what was going on around her. At the very end of her life, Kade and I chose to be alone with Emalynn. The nurses removed all of the tubes, wires and monitors so we could hold her close between us with no restrictions. At 10:15 p.m. on Friday, May 22nd, our sweet Emmy went to be an angel in Heaven.
No words will ever be sufficient to describe the precious time Kade and I were able to spend together with our daughter. God gave us the opportunity to meet her, kiss her and tell her that we can’t wait to see her again some day. It is a situation that most will never be able to comprehend, but it truly was more than we could have hoped for. And as heartbreaking as it was, it was equally special and extraordinary and full of love.
Here are a few of the images we captured of our precious time with Emmy. We also had professional photographs taken by our friend Christy Lee of Cee Lee Photography. She recently became an affiliated photographer for the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep program. We will share those images in another post.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. The support of our friends, love of our family and faith in God have helped us through the past week and will continue to help us heal and grow as a family. We know the struggle is far from over, and we will still face some very difficult days. But with His Grace, we will find our way.