Marygrace's Story, Part 1
Our story begins in February of 1995.
We have an older child, who was ten at the time, that is biologically mine and by heart my husbands. We have been together since she was an infant and my husband legally adopted her. As she began to grow up as did my husband and myself, we felt nothing would bless our lives more than another child.
So, after ten years of doing nothing to prevent a pregnancy and then conscientiously trying to conceive for the last 2 with no luck, we decided to seek medical help.
We saw the fertility doctorand quickly conceived only to be devistated by a loss. After recovery time we returned to the docotr to try again did a round of IUI in my march cycle. I anxiously waited for the time period to lapse to do a home pregnancy test, but sadly, that first round didn't take. though saddened we were determined to keep doing it until we succeeded.
Happily for us, 2 weeks after our April cycle I began to feel sick and counted the seconds until I was allowed to take a hpt. To my delight the test quickly turned pink! We were ecstatic.
Sadly our joy was short-lived and quickly turned to worry.
At 8 weeks I started cramping, the doctor said that of course there was nothing they could do if I started miscarrying, but to take it easy and call if I started bleeding. Thankfully the cramping passed and all was well for the time being.
Until 12 weeks that is, I began cramping and lightly spotting and once again was told that if I started miscarrying there was nothing to be done to stop it.
I was told to take a leave at work and stay off my feet as much as possible, so I resigned from my position.
I of course took this advice and both the spotting and cramping once again stopped.
All seemed to be going well for the next 4 weeks until I was 16 and half weeks along. I went to use the bathroom and found I was covered in blood. No cramping, just a lot of blood.
My husband rushed me to the hospital and they examined me and hooked me to a monitor and thankfully there was still a strong heartbeat. I was relieved until they told me that I should prepare for the worst.
As I laid there in that exam room, hooked to a monitor, with my husband trying to comfort me, I started praying. I prayed for the first time in many years. I begged the Lord for his forgiveness and begged him to please protect my baby. After a while as suddenly as it started the bleeding stopped.
I was sent home and put on strict bed rest. The next few months were filled with hospital stays (32 in all), medications, a cervical stitch, and many intense moments. But, every time we were feeling it was over that little heartbeat would show up on the monitor, once again giving us a glimmer of hope.
At 22 weeks things seemed to have greatly improved. I was feeling great and had no more contractions or spotting. The baby was becoming very active, I was up graded from full to moderate bed rest, and we started to feel we were winning this battle.
Sadly, once again this feeling was short lived.
On October 25, I had my routine OB appointment. I was 24 weeks and 4 days. I had felt great no more problems. But they were concerned about my blood pressure. It had been running high all along, but it was really concerning them today. My doctor decided it would be best to admit me to the hospital to get it under control.
So off to the hospital I went thinking it would be a day or two of rest and BP meds and then everything would be OK. I couldn't have been more wrong.
They did a routine ultra sound, which I was more than use to and had a small album full of pictures of my little peanut. This time there was something wrong. They wouldn't tell me what was wrong, but they kept calling people in to look at the ultra sound screen. I felt so terrified, but they wouldn't answer my questions. They took me back to my room and told me to wait for my doctor. I called my husband at work and he came to the hospital. We waited and waited, but the doctor never showed up. Finally at 6 PM my husband had him paged....The ultra sound techs forgot to call him! So he said to relax and wait until morning and he'd be in there first thing.
The next morning when he walked into my room I knew something was not good by the look on his face. He told me the baby had a condition called IUGR, which meant that while I was almost 25 weeks, the baby was only measuring 20, and because of conceiving through IUI, we knew my dates weren't off. Also, I was missing 65% of my amniotic fluid. My urine was full of protein that with the high BP meant I definitely had preeclympsia. So, he was sending me to a high risk pregnancy unit at New England Medical Center in Boston and would have to turn my care over to their doctors. I was scared and devastated.
They transported me to NEMC, and they began to do sonograms and tests. They kept trying to tell me that something was severely wrong with the baby and trying to talk me into terminating the pregnancy. I refused.
On the morning of October 28, I began to have seizures. My blood pressure had risen to stroke level and the baby's heart rate wasn't normal and wasn't doing well. They said it was just a matter of time before they would have to terminate the pregnancy or lose both me and the baby.
I was 25 weeks 1 day along, and they asked if they should try to save the baby, my husband said "of course" they tried to argue the baby was barely viable and would most like die and if it did live would have no quality of life. My husband said, the it didn't matter, do what they had to, to save the baby.
By that evening my BP was 220/115 and I was out of my head. They made the decision to take me to the OR.
October 28, 1995, at 9:05 PM, my life was forever changed.
I gave birth to a tiny miracle....
Marygrace's Story, Part 2
Saturday, October 28, 1995, was very dark, cold and rainy.
We were having the first big storm of the season and one of the worst rain storms New England had seen in a long time.
My husband, Michael, had left the hospital to drop our ten and a half year old daughter, Kayla, off at a sleep over, and then to grab something to eat.
Not long after he left my BP had began to rise and the baby's heart rate had began to deteriorate. I was out of my head and most of that evening is still a blur to me.
They had been trying to reach him to have him return to the hospital ASAP, but couldn't find him. The started taking me to the OR to prepare for an emergency C-section and I do remember panicking that Michael wasn't there.
They had a nurse waiting for him at the entrance to escort him to the OR immediately. I was going to be awake during the surgery, and I vaguely remember somethings, and vividly remember others, yet even the vivid memories are somewhat jumbled. I do remember getting sick all over the anesthesiologist though, LOL.
They started the surgery, with still no Michael, I remember crying. Finally just before they pulled out the baby, Michael rushed in. He arrived in time to hear them call "9:05, it's a girl". I remember him coming over and kissing my forehead, and I remember panicking because I couldn't hear any sounds.
The doctor called Michael over to see the baby, and it was a rush of movement and they whisked her away, they pulled the portable incubator past me and I got a quick glimpse inside, but really couldn't see the baby. All I really remember seeing was her tiny hand. I remember thinking it was the size of a tiny kittens paw.
I remember being cold, scared, tired, sick, panicked, and excited all at once. Michael came over to me and told me the baby was OK, (which later I learned was a complete lie, her apgar scores were 0, 1 and then 2...she was basically dead at birth and had to be completely resuscitated) and she was breathing with help of a respirator. At that point he didn't tell me her size or anything. He said he was going to the NICU while they finished with me there and would be there when I made it to recovery.
That's the last thing I really remember for 3 days. I spent the next 48 hours in ICU. People came to see me and I spoke to my mother, best friend and sisters on a cell phone, but don't remember any of it.
My first clear memory is waking up soaked in breast milk, and crying hysterically for my baby. The nurse came in and helped me change and calm down and gave me a Polaroid of the baby and her vitals card. That's when I remember being told for the first time just how tiny my baby was. She weighed 18 ounces and was 11 inches long.
They were changing shifts so there was no one to bring me up to the NICU where the baby was. So I had to wait for Michael to get there.
When he finally arrived, he handed me a present, it was my birthday, and he had went and bought the baby book I had wanted but thought he wouldn't get because it was so expensive. I remember crying as I looked at it. When I had seen it at the store I was still pregnant and planning on having a normal birth and a healthy baby. I was too scared to even write her name in it. I was afraid if I did I would jinx her.
Michael got a wheel chair and took me upstairs to where the NICU was. On the walk up he tried to prepare me for what I would see. He told me about the vent, the tubes and machines and that she was very, very tiny. She was so tiny and frail in fact that they couldn't even place her in an incubator. She was on a warming table, in a little cloud made of lambs wool.
I can close my eyes and clearly see him pushing me through the doors and helping me wash my hands and put on a cover gown. I then I can see him pushing me around the corner to another set of doors that had a sign that said, "Micro Quiet Room", it was darker than the rest of the NICU. Inside A woman came and introduced herself to me, She whispered her was Debi,and she was my baby's primary nurse. She explained that the baby was very critical and couldn't handle stimulation at all.
Mike pushed me towards the warmer, and I saw above her on the top of the warmer there was a banner that said Marygrace Elizabeth Holt and "baby's first Halloween" decorations. The nurse laughed that she had a huge name to grow into.
Mike helped me stand up and I looked over the side of the warmer. The whole room began to turn upside down. There underneath all the tubes and wires, and layer of plastic wrap (they use saran wrap to keep a micro's body heat in), was the tiniest and most fragile little thing I had ever laid eyes on. But at the same time I was so over taken with love for her, so much stronger than I had ever experienced before.
I of course wasn't allowed to hold her but I bent over the side of the table and they allowed me to remove the plastic from over her head, and I was able to lightly stroke her ear.
The night at sixteen weeks that I was bleeding and thought I would lose her, as I prayed I sang a song as I rubbed my belly, it is a song that Elvis sang, "Wise men say, only fools rush in, but I can't help, falling in love with you...", I had sang it to my tummy every night the rest of the pregnancy, and when I got ready to leave to be taken back to my room, I leaned over and kissed her tiny ear and softly whispered that song to her. The nurse asked what I was doing, and I got scared for a second that I had done something wrong, I told her singing her our special song. The nurse said, "well don't stop, that's the best her oxygen level and heart rate have been since she was born"....she recognized my voice and our song.
The next four weeks were long and miserable. I was discharged six days after she was born but was readmitted a week later with pneumonia. My incision from the C-section wouldn't heal and kept getting infected, so the visiting nurse had to come to my home every morning to repack it with saline and gauze (this went on for close to four months, six months until I was fully healed).
It was so hard, we couldn't hold her, she was on nothing but an IV, but I was constantly pumping and storing my breast milk for her. I bought the book "The Little Engine That Could" and when I arrived and before I left each day I would read it to her.
Finally at four weeks 2 days old, I was allowed to hold my baby for the very first time. Nothing but the word Heaven could describe that feeling.
She came off the vent at the end of the week and went to C-pap. We thought we were on our way, but they warn you for every step forward there are two steps back when you do the preemie dance. Marygrace took a giant leap. She developed, NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis), and had to be re-vented. We were told that if medicine didn't correct it, that she wasn't big or strong enough to survive surgery. So once again we played the waiting game. Thankfully once again the Lord was with us. She pulled through.
We went though this same scenario a few more times with issues with her heart, lungs, and sepsis. Each time they held out no hope the Lord pulled her through.
We continued on and off C-pap and Christmas was fast approaching.
I wanted to her be able to move to the level 2 step-down nursery by Christmas. Because she was born during RSV season, they wouldn't allow children under sixteen in the NICU, So Kayla had never seen her sister. I so badly wanted to celebrate Marygrace's first Christmas as a family, even if it was still in the hospital. The doctors said there was no way, she still needed the C-pap. I prayed and prayed, and we read her "The Little Engine That Could" so many times I am sure if she could have spoken she would have screamed. "Please no more". On the morning of December 22 she came off the C-pap and the doctor said if she could go 24 hours with no DE-SATs she could transfer. We prayed so hard all night and at Six PM on December 23rd, she transferred. We had Christmas together in the Special Care Nursery.
I could probably go on for pages yet, on Marygrace's story. But since this is getting very long I will summarize the rest of her birth experience.
She beat the odds the doctors gave her from day one. She over came every obstacle that was tossed in her way. Heart, lung, stomach, feeding, and eye problems all cured without surgery. She has grown and thrived and amazed even her doctors.
This tiny little 18 ounce baby girl, is my inspiration. She has taught me so much. She has shown me what bravery and perseverance mean. She has taught me what the Lord can do, and because of her I found my way back to him. I rededicated my life to him in the NICU. Marygrace Elizabeth Holt is now seven years old and I am still in awe of her daily. If anyone asked me if I have a hero, without a doubt I would have to say, My daughter.