Three’s a Crowd (Part 2)

9 Apr

Author’s Note: It has taken me a lot, and I mean a lot, to write this post. It literally has been the bottleneck for all posts to the blog; knowing that I have to finish this story has backlogged all future stories. I hope it is worth the wait. If you would like to read Part One, click here

Monday October 3, 2016 started out quite normal. We had a long awaited meeting scheduled with our newest little addition to the family – Elise Ann Dill. Had we relied on past history, she shouldn’t have made it to be an October baby. She was expected to make her appearance near the same time as her brothers did, 8 weeks early by gestation and 4 weeks prior to this day. Yet there we were, up at 5:00 AM and ready to head over to the hospital and begin the scheduled C-Section process. We were nervous, excited, and – if I am honest – ready for this to be over.

As I detailed before in the first installment, Ms Elise should never have had a scheduled C-Section appointment to be born. She truthfully shouldn’t even have been created. And while the first part of this story detailed the emotions we felt after finding out we indeed were starting a little family circus, let me take a moment to explain how our attitude had shifted over 7 months. What started as fear and (truthfully) anger had melted into hope and excitement. A girl! First of all, how neat is that? After experiencing two rambunctious boys we would now get to know the joys of having a little girl in the house. But beyond that the fear had morphed to acknowledgement. As we journeyed through a third uncomfortable and challenging pregnancy both Jos and I couldn’t help but sit back and acknowledge how incredible this story is. Just when you think that you have your life planned out, God gently chimes in, “Not quite yet…”. Sure, kids are created every day against all odds, but this just went deeper. God knew how difficult our pregnancies had been, he KNEW how much frustration, worry, and angst the deliveries had caused so why would he put us through this again? We had to admit that God’s plan is always better than our own. And while we were no where near ready to tackle the responsibilities of a third kid, we slowly began to enjoy and anticipate what this little girl was destine to do with her life. The fact that we were selected literally against the odds to grow and support her through her journey was incredibly heavy and undeniably exciting.

So we sat in the car on the 20-minute drive and talked about how the day might go. E had made it to a critical 36-week mark which allowed us the ability to deliver at our “home” hospital, and also introduced possibilities we hadn’t experienced before. We had a great chance of holding this baby in the operating room – alright! We might even get to spend the first night together, the 3 of us, in a regular hospital room instead of apart in different hospitals area codes apart. What was that even like?? She shouldn’t even require a NICU stay which would be ground breaking for us. We had tossed scenarios around in our minds and settled on worst case: They might have to take Elise into the NICU just to check and make sure she is ok, but we would get to see her back with Josie as soon as that evening, potentially even while the Mrs was still in recovery. This was going to be a cake walk.

The first few hours of the morning went great, and aside from the slight contractions that she had been experiencing for a full month there was no signs of actual labor. Everything was setting up just as the doctor had designed. Vital signs were stable, both for mom and baby. Even anesthesiology was in the room early! That literally never happens we were told. (Turns out, that guy might have been an angel.) We were ready for our 9:15 AM delivery. And then things suddenly changed.

“OOOHhhhfff”, Josie grunted. “What was that!?“, she asked. I immediately assumed a contraction had picked up so I walked over to the monitor. Nothing. I looked back at my wife and the look of pain in her eyes was severe. Any husband knows the different levels of pain their wife can endure, especially after child birth, and I knew that whatever she was experiencing was a pretty intense pain. I asked her to describe it, she said “IT HURTS”. I decided to not ask anymore questions. I looked back at the machine monitoring muscle contractions… still nothing. Well this is all helpful I thought to myself. After just a simple minute that felt like an eon Jos decided to call the nurse. It was 9:04 AM, just 11 minutes pre-operation. The nurse came in and she literally started wheeling Josie out of the room immediately while saying, “Well, they’re either ready for you in OR or they’re going to be ready for you”. Josie’s doctor came in at that same moment as well and asked a couple benign questions before saying. “Well – I will scrub in and see you in OR!”. It got a lot intense in a little amount of time.

Let me side-step briefly. The most frightening ~7 minutes of my life have been spent in a white hallway at our local hospital, 15 ft away from an automatic door controlling entry to the operating room. Twice I have sat in a blue chair as doctors and nurses rush past me into a room that I know holds my wife and baby and I have had nothing to do except plead and pray to God. And wait. I have buckets of empathy toward every dad who has had to do that same routine. It causes visions of the worst possible outcomes a man can imagine to flash behind his eyes. I cried each time, once with Trevor and then again that day with Elise. And then the nurse came out: “Joel? Come on, Josie wants you”.

“I’ve got blood in the belly!”, I hear the doctor say just moments after I sit down on a stool near my wife. My heart hit my gut.

Here’s what happened. That intense pain that she felt just 15 excruciating long minutes ago? That was an organ inside of her body breaking. More specifically, do you remember the T-cut incision I mentioned in Part One? Elise had busted through that delicate scar and was causing a world of commotion. First, Josie was now internally bleeding. Second, Elise was having sensations of birth…except that she was still very much stuck inside her mother. She took her first breath – a lungful of her mother’s blood instead of beautiful oxygen as her instincts would’ve liked. Not a great start to life in the real world. It was approximately 9:21 AM.

Elise Ann Dill was officially born on October 3, 2016 @ 9:29 AM. Well, more accurately that is the time we all decided it was after the medical team and myself had gotten back to the NICU and one of the nurses noticed an official time hadn’t been called. You better believe that OR was hectic from 9:21 AM on. See, Elise wasn’t exactly “alive” when they

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Elise, meeting Mom and ready for transport. How can you not believe in love at first sight?!

pulled her from her mother’s abdomen so it’s hard to argue an exact time of birth. Her 1-minute APGAR was a 1, which is borderline dead. Her 10-minute APGAR was still just a 5, which leans toward or can indicate brain damage. Normally babies rebound more quickly from a low initial APGAR score, up to a full 10 by the 10-minute mark. Not Elise. The blood in her umbilical cord at birth was so acidic they feared she had been without sweet oxygen for too long. Josie had some internal bleeding but thankfully they were able to suck it all out within minutes and control the bleeding. The doctor said at the end of the day she bled about the same amount she would’ve in a normal C-Section delivery. The cold truth is that had we not already been at a hospital, mere minutes away from a scheduled operation, with anesthesiology already in the OR prepping for Josie (remember I said the guy must’ve been an angel!)… neither my wife nor our baby girl would be here today. If Josie would’ve been at home with the boys on a normal day there is almost no way she could’ve rounded up someone to watch them, gotten to the hospital, and still survived. Elise for sure wouldn’t have survived.

 

God had a plan. We learned that over 7 long months of working through a pregnancy we had done everything to prevent from happening. And then we learned it again in 25 minutes at a hospital where everything worked out so perfectly that not only did our new baby girl survive near death – but she was set up to thrive. The quick action taken by our doctor to deliver Elise and then again by the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner to send E down to Denver and to Children’s Hospital for further screening was crucial. I have played out nightmares in my mind where the doctor disregards Josie’s pain and says, “Ah you can wait until the 9:15 scheduled operation, can’t you?”. I’ve wondered what might have happened had the NICU team not gotten Elise stabilized, prepped, and transferred into a world class facility within 6 hours of being born. But thank God I don’t have to actually live those scenarios out. Because tonight I have a beautiful wife, fully recovered, (she was released from the hospital the next day at noon – 27 hours post-operation!) and a beautiful 6-month old baby girl who has stolen all of our hearts.

Thank God for his plan.

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One Response to “Three’s a Crowd (Part 2)”

  1. Debra April 10, 2017 at 7:13 am #

    God and babies! Never underestimate either❤

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