At 3:07 PM on July 30, 2012, our little girl, Alexa Marie, made her entrance into the world. It was not the first time. That happened when the surgeons worked on her on May 15, 2012.
At 33 weeks, 3 days, her birth date was earlier than we had hoped. However, in the end, I believe things happen for a reason.
July 2012 was the hottest month on record. One positive of bed rest was that I mostly escaped the heat. During this month, my amniotic fluid had been decreasing with each appointment. After my July 27, 2012 appointment, I was hospitalized after the Vanderbilt team read the ultrasound report; my amniotic fluid was too low. I was admitted to the hospital and administered intravenous therapy. I believe the doctors were trying to rule out dehydration as the cause of the decreasing amniotic fluid. However, when the nurses saw my veins, they knew I was fully hydrated and that was not the cause. I stayed two nights in the hospital and was given steroid shots in the event I had to deliver early. The bed was terribly uncomfortable and I could not sleep very well. However, I had the chance to laugh like I had not done in months by watching the film There’s Something About Mary. Laughter is healing.
I had two special visitors in town during this time: my Aunt Armida (aka as Tante) and Aunt Cris (aka as Tia). They came to help us when my Mom went home for a visit. And, the plan was to transform our guest bedroom to a little girl’s room during their stay. They would play a big part in the birth story.
My plan for July 30, 2012 was to go downtown for my 8:00 AM ultrasound with Aunt Armida. My Mom and Aunt Cris were going to start painting. Markus went to work and Kai went to school. I was so confident that everything was going to be better that I left the house with only my purse and only one bar left on my cell phone. I awoke early at 5:00 AM and drank lots of water, thinking it would increase my amniotic fluid. The ultrasound showed that my amniotic fluid was even lower than before and the doctors said it was no longer safe for our little girl to be inside of me. Deep down, I knew this to be true, especially as I had felt fewer movements in recent days. For all that we had been through together; I did not want to risk losing her now.
I was a bit apprehensive of what lay ahead in the operating room, but there was little time to dwell about it. All in all, I felt at peace. I attribute this well-being to all the love and support we received since the diagnosis. Everyone’s well wishes have carried me through the darkest and most unpredictable moments of this journey. Markus canceled the rest of his appointments to hurry to the hospital. And, my Mom and Aunt Cris finished up painting to do the same.
Similar to the Vanderbilt experience, it was a full audience in the operating room. Markus joined me this time. Since I was under general anesthesia with Kai’s birth, I did not know what to expect for this cesarean section. I just knew that they planned to cut me vertically, using the same fetal surgery incision from almost eleven weeks prior. IU Health University Hospital is a teaching hospital. I learned later that a lot of people were excited about this birth. I suspect because it was a teachable moment that does not come around very often. Doctors David Schnee and Frank Schubert led the surgery. Our little girl came into the world with a very soft cry. It happened so quickly and she was whisked immediately by the neonatologists that Doctor Schnee did not even know the gender of the child he had just delivered. Markus only saw a glimpse of her. With the cloth screen in front of me, I saw nothing and was told nothing. I presumed everything was okay, but really did not know. And, I was afraid to ask. It felt like an unbearably long time to close me up. Thankfully, the anesthesiologists gave me something at just the right time. After a shot of something, I was feeling really, really good!
I was moved to a recovery room. It was then when I got to see my little girl for the first time. It was love at first sight. I saw her for about a minute or so in her incubator as they had to rush her to Riley Hospital for Children for her care as a premature infant. I inquired about my Mom and learned that no one had briefed her about the birth. I told Markus to get her and encouraged both of them to follow the baby as they routed her to Riley. So while I recovered, I felt at ease knowing that my children were in good hands. Aunt Armida and Aunt Cris had left earlier to pick up Kai from school and put him to bed while my Mom and Markus watched over the newest member of our family.
Though I was recovering from major surgery, I was determined to get out of bed as soon as possible. I wanted to be close to my daughter and learn more about her condition. My goal was accomplished. Later that night, we got to hold hands. If I had any pain at that time, I do not remember it. All of those feelings just faded away. I had a new mission. I was now a mother of two children who needed me to be there for them.
It took us some time to finalize a name for our daughter. It was not until after she was born did we decide on her name. Sister Barbara from our church came to visit me almost weekly while I was on bed rest. I had the pleasure to listen and learn from her. Interestingly, she taught religion at the high school that my Mom and all of her sisters attended in California. We talked about a lot of things during her visits, but we never spoke of her religious name. Well, it turns out that our Alexa Marie is the religious name of Sister Barbara! What are the chances of that happening?