Emily's Faith Story

We took a pregnancy test on September 14, 2010, and it was positive. I had been feeling more tired than usual, to the point where I almost fell asleep at the first MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting. Even though we had been trying to get pregnant, it was still a bit of a surprise. We were thrilled to be expecting our second child.
From the beginning, the pregnancy was very different from when I was pregnant with Maddie.
At five weeks (September 20, 2010) I started spotting. The doctor’s office got me right in to see the doctor on call. They did an ultrasound and said everything looked great. Seeing that little beating heart for the first time was such a reassurance. There was no reason they could find for my spotting and told me that it was probably just “old blood.”
Reflection: We continued to hear the phrase “old blood” many more times during the rest of the pregnancy. The way the doctors talked about the “old blood” always sounded like an okay thing.  At least it was not “fresh blood.” When I think about it now, I think blood is blood. During a pregnancy it is not supposed to be present.

At 10 weeks (October 25, 2010) we had our first official doctor’s appointment. The doctor did another ultrasound to confirm my dates, and we got to see our baby’s beating heart again.
At this appointment we talked to the doctor about our concern over having another preterm birth. Maddie was born at 35 weeks and we never had any indication that I would deliver early. No contractions or preterm labor of any kind. My water simply broke at 35 weeks, which meant she had to be delivered.
The doctor told us that I fall into a category of 10% of women that they have no explanation for why they deliver early. It is not very comforting to have your doctor tell you “we don’t know why it happened and we don’t know if it will happen again.” However, the doctor told us that research suggested that a weekly progesterone shot, starting at 15 weeks and continuing through 35 weeks, helped prolong pregnancy in over 50% of women. Ron and I decided that we were willing to do what we had to do to make sure our baby had the best chance possible.
So, beginning at 15 weeks (November 29) I got my first shot. I got my last shot at 22 weeks (January 17).
Reflection: Looking back, it seems to me that November 29th was when we began our up and down journey of emotions, doctor visits, and hospital admissions.

During the first 15 weeks, there had been some minimal spotting, but it had always been really light and only lasted a day or so. So, when I started spotting two days after my first progesterone shot and it went on for several days I began to get worried. When I went in for my shot at 16 weeks I mentioned the spotting and the doctor saw me that morning. He was not sure what was happening, but did not seem concerned. The spotting stopped that day and was gone for several weeks.
Then, the Saturday before Christmas I started spotting again. It was heavier and so I called and talked to the doctor on call. He did not seem very concerned since I was not having any contractions. He told me to wait until Monday and mention it to my doctor. By Monday the spotting had stopped, so I mentioned it to the nurse and let it go at that.
The next few weeks were fine, nothing happened and I began to think maybe everything was fine and it had just been my body adjusting to being pregnant.
Then on Saturday, January 7, 2011, I noticed some spotting and decided that I would take it easy the rest of the day. By 11am I was actually bleeding and had passed a blood clot. This really worried me and I called the doctor on call. The doctor didn’t seem very concerned about my bleeding since I was not contracting, but he told me if I wanted to come in and be seen it was up to me.
So, we went to the hospital. We were there for 4 hours, during that time they put me on a fetal monitor, did an ultrasound, and ran a urine test to see if I had a bladder infection (which I did not).
They had a hard time keeping the baby on the fetal monitor because she was so small. But since the doctor could not find anything wrong they sent me home and told me to follow up with my doctor. By the time we got home from the hospital the bleeding had stopped. I took it easy the rest of the weekend.
Reflection: During the ultrasound the tech measured my cervix. We found out two weeks later that the cervix measured 4cm. 4cm was a good place to be at 20 weeks.

On January 10, 2011, at 21 weeks, we had the ultrasound where they measure everything to see how the baby is growing and to check for any problems. Everything looked good, but they thought that the baby was smaller than expected, so they suggested that my due date might be May 25 instead of May 23. They decided that it wasn’t that big of a deal so they didn’t change my due date.
We also found out we were having another GIRL. We were so excited. Two girls was going to be so much fun. We had a great week and weekend with no spotting or bleeding.
Monday, January 17 I went for my weekly shot and Tuesday we had Maddie’s 2-year checkup.
 Everything was fine and I began to look forward to my monthly doctor’s appointment the following Monday. I loved the chance to get to hear the baby’s heart beat and wanted to talk to the doctor about all the spotting in the past few weeks.
We never made it to that appointment.

On Tuesday night, January 18th, I felt like I had horrible gas.  I decided that was what it was and went to bed.
By 4AM I realized that I was having contractions. I started timing them, hoping they were Braxton Hicks contractions and would go away. But they didn’t.
At 8AM I called the doctor’s office and by 9:30AM I was at the doctor’s office. They did an ultrasound and determined that my cervix had thinned from the last ultrasound. The doctor put me on a med to try and stop the contractions and sent me home.
I took it easy the rest of the day. The contractions stopped for a while but by the next morning (Thursday, Jan 20) they were back, so we went to the hospital.
We got to the hospital about 5AM and saw the doctor at 7AM. During the time between they tried to monitor the baby, but it’s hard to keep a 22-week baby on a monitor because there is so much room for the baby to move. They also had me mark when I was having a contraction.
Once the doctor came in, I was started on Ibuprofen to stop the contractions. It worked and I was sent home after 6 hours, with instructions to rest, but not to take anything. I spent the rest of Thursday and all of Friday resting, but by Friday evening the contractions had returned. I spoke with the doctor on call and he told me to take more ibuprofen and see if that worked. It did work for a while but at 5AM on Saturday I woke up with bleeding so we got dressed and went to the hospital.
I was monitored in the ER first because there were no beds available in Labor and Delivery (L&D). In the ER the doctor did an ultrasound and discovered that my cervix had shortened even more. I went from 4cm on January 10th; to 2.5cm on January 19th; to 1.3cm on January 22. We had been told that 4cm was normal; 2.5cm was border-line and 1.5cm was a concern. As soon as the doctor knew the cervix length he said I could not get out of bed and immediately put in a catheter. Not the most fun experience in the world, but they thought it would help.
Within the hour I was moved to L&D and put into Trendelenburg, which means I was flat on my back and my legs were positioned higher than my head. The goal was to take the pressure off the cervix and buy more time. The side effects are: really bad heartburn and a lot of pressure in the sinuses.
They also started me on an antibiotic in case I had an infection, Ibuprofen to stop the contractions and Zantac to help with the heartburn. After 24 hours on the Zantac with no relief I asked for Tums, which did the trick. So the doctor agreed to let me take that as needed and discontinue the use of the Zantac.
The plan was simple: see what would happen over the next day or so. I responded well to the Ibuprofen so I was moved to another room that was less busy and they continued monitoring me.

On Sunday morning (January 23rd) I was doing so well that they removed the catheter and allowed me to get up and go to the bathroom. The doctor had even talked about letting me go home that afternoon. But after some discussion she agreed to let me stay until the morning and get my weekly shot before letting me go home.
I am so glad that she listened to me and let me stay because things got crazy after that.
By 4AM Monday, January 24th, I was contracting and bleeding again.
Quick Reflection: Every time contractions started it was always early in the morning.
The doctor came in about 7AM and we began to talk about what needed to happen. I had another ultrasound and it was discover that my cervix had completely thinned. He said he would call the University of Washington Medical Center and talk to the Chief Doctor and see if they would consider taking me. Normally a transfer is not approved until 24 weeks. At this point I was only 23 weeks. The doctor at UW agreed to take me and so the arrangements were made to airlift me to Seattle that morning.
The next few hours were crazy. I was started on Magnesium Sulfate, which stops contractions and helps to protect the baby’s brain. The side effects were horrible. When they first start the drug it was like I was having an intense heat flash all over my body. Then the nausea started. Once they turned down the dosage I felt a little better.
They also put in another catheter for the transfer and because they did not want me out of bed again. The transfer team showed up at the hospital about 11:30AM Shortly after than Ron left to take care of a few things before driving over to Seattle (so he would have a car to get around).
I was taken by ambulance to the Wenatchee airport and put on a small jet plane. The actual flight only took 20 minutes. When we arrived in Seattle I was placed in another ambulance to be taken to UW. The flight nurses were wonderful and had, at one time, worked at UW.  They assured me that I was going to the best hospital possible in Washington.

Once at UW on Monday, January 24th, I was put in an antepartum room and began to meet doctors almost immediately. The first thing the doctors wanted to do was get an ultrasound. To do this, I needed to move to an exam room, but when the nurses got me into the wheelchair I passed out. They think that passing out was the result of the Magnesium, which opens all the blood vessels, and because I had been flat on my back for almost three days. Because I passed out the nurses wouldn’t let me go to the restroom by myself for the next 24 hours.
The doctors told me that there was no reason to keep me on complete bed rest because no studies showed that bed rest actually improves the chances of a preterm delivery. In fact, getting out of bed to go to the bathroom was helpful in reducing blood clots in my legs. So they removed the catheter.
Once I was feeling better after passing out, I was taken to get the ultrasound. During the ultrasound the doctor discovered that I was at least 1cm dilated and that part of the bag of water had slipped down, creating an hourglass effect. The doctor seemed a bit worried, but also said that this did not mean I was going to deliver soon. The doctors really tried to reassure me, but I knew they were concerned because I was moved to an L&D (Labor & Delivery) room and placed back in Trendelenburg as soon as the exam was done.
Ron finally made it to UW around 5pm. By then I had met with just about every doctor that would be treating me for the next several days. Over the next day Ron also met all those doctors.
Tuesday, January 25th was a good day. No contractions and very little bleeding. We were very encouraged and began to think maybe this pregnancy would last for several more weeks. Around noon Ron sent a text to our family saying, “Update… Today has been a good news day. Baby is no longer Breech. Rachel’s bleeding has slowed down and she has not had any contractions for over 13 hours! Thank you for all your comments and prayers!”
In the evening I was transferred from L&D to an antepartum room. I joked when they were wheeling me into the room that I wondered where I would be tomorrow since I had been in a different room each day since I had been hospitalized.
Our wonderful friends, John and Jaime, spent the evening with me while Ron left to take care of some business.
When Ron got back I told him that we needed to pick out names before he left for the night. So we talked about names for the next two hours. We already had several names we liked but as we were talking he suggested Emily. We looked it up and found out that Emily means “to strive or excel.” We both thought that was the perfect name, but we kept several other options, just in case. I truly believe the Lord gave us this name for our daughter. It was so perfect, Emily Faith.
Reflection: Ron told me later that it was like I subconsciously knew that our daughter was going to be born the next day. The nurse told me later that she had a feeling, based on what was happening with me, that I would deliver within the next 24 hours.

Tuesday night I started to contract and bleed again.
About 5AM on Wednesday January 26th, the contractions began to get stronger. I called Ron at 6:30AM and told him that he should get ready and come over. He got to my room at about 8:45AM. The actual times are kind of a blur for me, but I do know that at some point the doctors came in and did an exam and ultrasound. It was determined that I was 10cm dilated, but they could not determine the position of the baby or if my bag of water was still intact. So the doctor did another digital exam. The pressure from this exam was so intense that I passed out.
When I was conscious again and the pressure was gone I felt better. Right after that, around 10AM, I was moved to a L&D room; my 4th room since arriving at UW. From there I met with the anesthesiologist about an epidural because I had decided that I did not want to deal with the pain. But they had to wait for some blood work to come back, and by the time it came back I had talked with Ron and my nurse and decided that I really did not want the epidural. During the entire labor I had a lot of pressure but I never had any pain. I remember right before I actually delivered that the contractions started to be spaced a bit further apart and between each one I almost fell asleep each time. I think it is that little bit of rest that got me through the rest of the labor. I really think the Lord was gracious in saving me from the pain of delivery.
Emily Faith was born at 12:10PM.
At only 23 weeks and 3 days, Emily was born enclosed in a fully intact amniotic sac, which cushioned her during the delivery. The fact that she made it through the delivery process was the first miracle. Once she was delivered the doctors ruptured the sac and took Emily into another room. They had her stable and brought her in so I could see her before taking her to the NICU. My first thought was that she looked like a little elf. She was so small, but so perfect. She weighed 15.3 ounces and was 13.4 inches long. She was actually smaller than they had thought she would be based on the ultrasound from the day before.
After Ron was sure that I was okay from the delivery and our friends John and Jaime had arrived, Ron went to check on Emily. He came back a bit later and told me what was happening with her. He told me that she had a strong heartbeat, but had to be intubated for oxygen. They also placed two lines in her umbilical cord to give her meds and to be able to draw blood. The umbilical cord has two veins and an artery that can be used for medical treatment. However, to test her blood sugar level they had to prick her heel every hour, and then give her insulin as needed. This is because premies have a hard time regulating their blood sugar levels.
 A bit later he and John went back to the NICU to see Emily while Jaime stayed with me.
Shortly before 3PM we were told that we needed to come be with Emily because she was not going to make it. Ron ran out of my room and down to the NICU while the nurse helped me get out of bed.  I was still trying to get out of bed when Ron came back and told me she had passed. He told me that he watched the doctors try to save her, but she just did not respond. When they turned the machines off Ron came to tell me. We cried and then I asked if I could still see her. As I got in the wheelchair to go, the doctor came walking in and was smiling. He told us that they had tried to resuscitate her but it had not worked and they had turned all the machine off when Emily began to breathe on her own.
What a miracle.
Since I was already in the wheelchair, we went over to the NICU so I could visit Emily Faith for the first time.
It was so hot in the NICU and with everything that had happened, I almost passed out again, so I had to leave. Once we got back to my room, they decided to move me yet again. Five rooms in three days… seems a bit crazy to me.
When one of my friends from Wenatchee heard that I was going to deliver, she decided to bring Maddie to Seattle to be with us, they arrived in at the hospital at about 4pm. I am so thankful she did it because Maddie brought so much joy into the room amidst our sadness and worry over Emily’s condition.
The rest of Wednesday was spent in the NICU spending time with Emily and in my room spending time with our friends, my dad and Maddie.
My dad took Maddie to a hotel that night and Ron stayed with me in the hospital room. Once everyone was gone for the night, around 8PM, we decided to go down and spend some time with Emily. When we got down to the NICU the doctors were working on Emily because her stats were dropping. We spent a lot of time talking with the doctor about what we wanted to do and for how long. We told them to do whatever they could to save our little girl. I had the chance to touch and talk to Emily, and the nurse even let me help take her temperature.
We had to watch the doctors resuscitate Emily one more time while we were in the NICU. Then, about 20 minutes later her stats started to fall again and the doctor told us that she was needing more and more help to just keep her alive, and the meds were not helping to improve anything. A few minutes later her stats started to drop again and we decided that it was time to stop trying. We realized that she was going to die and we wanted to be able to hold her before she died. So the doctors disconnected all the wires and tubes and gave Emily to me. She was still alive and breathing when she was placed on my chest. She actually took a few more breaths while I was holding her.

I am so thankful that Ron and I had that time with Emily before she died. I have to say it was the most special thing that could have happened; the three of us getting to spend those precious moments together and say goodbye. I know in my heart that we made the right decision to let her go peacefully, but it does not hurt any less.
The nursing staff was wonderful and very respectful of our time with Emily. They took a bunch of pictures that I am so grateful to have. Ron also had a chance to hold Emily. It was a very special family time.
Emily died at 10:30PM.

Emily's perfect little feet

We spent a bit more time with her and then left her with the nurse. It was such a hard thing to do… give our baby over to an almost stranger. I am so thankful that we got to have that time with Emily. As hard as it was to let her go, we both know that Emily Faith is in a much better place, with no more pain, and one day we will see her again.

I was discharged from the hospital the next morning.
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