My Little Miracle Baby

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
Chronicles of a high-risk second pregnancy.

Submitted: October 16, 2007

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Submitted: October 16, 2007

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My first baby, Ariana, was born in a Mississippi hospital in 1995.  I was twenty-six years

old at the time.

Although I enjoyed having a beautiful little Cherokee baby to take home and love, the whole

process of labor had been painful and tiring.  This was ironic, since I had only been in

labor with Ariana for six hours.  Some women endure up to thirty.  In actuality, I had

gotten off easy.  However, because of the horrendous pain involved, I was determined that

Ariana would be my first and only baby.

When Ariana started Kindergarten, I had originally planned to enjoy some quiet time to

myself.  I could now relax on the weekdays and concentrate on my woodworking business.  (I

run a craft shop called "Kitty's Kreations".  My husband and I manufacture high-quality

Southern cedar gifts, but because our shop at that time was located on the same property as

the house we were renting, gasoline was never a factor in our making them, so our prices

were able to stay very low.  We've moved since then, but I still have the business and the

prices are still very small because I'm able to work from home.)

Ariana did very well in Kindergarten, and while she was at school, I worked in the shop,

but I always came in for lunch and watched television while I ate. 

Well, it started with the diaper commercials.  They were always filmed with cute little

bald-headed babies that were about six months old.  Hmmm, wouldn't it be nice to have one

of those crawling around the house again?

Then I noticed the commercials for baby shampoo.  Sure, having a baby was hard work.  The

pain of childbirth is only TEMPORARY, though, and little naked babies are SO precious when

they're sitting in the kitchen sink and slapping all the bubbles with their chubby little

hands!  Awww!

I should have turned the television off, but I didn't.  Soon, the baby food commercials

began to be my favorite ones, and before long, I was casually asking my husband if we could

afford diapers and other supplies in the monthly budget.

The house was empty during the day, and he certainly wasn't opposed to having another baby,

so I decided that I was going to try to become pregnant again!

There was a problem that needed to be taken care of first.  When Ariana was a year and a

half old, I had had an Intrauterine Device put in.  I didn't want to have to worry about

birth control.  I wanted 24-hour-a-day protection.  At the time, while I was still busy

taking care of a young baby, giving birth again was out of the question.

After the procedure, I had cramped terribly for about 24 hours, but once I recovered, I

enjoyed the convenience of the I.U.D. 

Getting it removed, then, would be the first step in my quest to have another baby.  I made

an appointment with my doctor. 

Theoretically, an I.U.D. is supposed to have a string attached to it so that it can be

easily removed. 

In my case, however, sonograms revealed that the I.U.D. had buried itself in the top of my

uterus.  It was literally embedded in the endometrium and completely covered with scar

tissue.  It would have to be removed surgically and then a D.N.C. would have to be

performed to clean out my uterus and prime it for the embedding of another embryo.

Surgery didn't phase me, though.  By this time, I wanted another baby BADLY, and was

determined to become pregnant, no matter WHAT I had to do.

The surgery was performed at a Kosciusko hospital by a wonderful doctor who did a thorough,

careful job removing the I.U.D.  I thought that there would be more of a recovery time, but

the only side effects were a dizziness, sleepiness, and a slight burning sensation upon

urination.  I was released from the hospital later that day.

After a short recovery time, I was free to try to become pregnant again.  I wasn't in any

hurry now.  I prayed for another baby and was sure that God would give me another one.

About a year later, a tampon commercial on television snapped me quickly into reality.  It

had been quite awhile since my last period, and I had been eating inordinate amounts of

Corn Chex, onions, and tuna-and-egg sandwiches.  My sense of smell had been stronger

lately, and my uterus felt slightly hard.  Something was up.

I was afraid to go to the Health Department for a pregnancy test.  I feared that if I

WASN'T pregnant, I would be embarrassed.

My husband Tom pointed out that if I HAD succeeded in becoming pregnant, it would be in the

baby's best interests for me to get prenatal care right away.

He was right.

"Call the Health Department before I change my mind," I told him.

The twenty minute ride to the Health Department was the longest ride I've ever taken in my

life.  My mind was racing.  I had lost the full, hard feeling in my uterus, so I drove

myself crazy, thinking that I was merely imagining this much-wanted pregnancy.  I was

terrified that the test would be negative and that I would look foolish in front of the

nurses.  All the way there, I prayed that the test would prove that I was pregnant.  No

other result would be acceptable.

The test consisted of the nurses analyzing a urine sample.  It was an easy test to take,

but a negative result would constitute failure to me, so it was extremely important, too.

Tom and I sat in the waiting room for twenty minutes that seemed like ten hours, waiting to

hear the results.  I was sweating by the time the nurse called us down the hallway to sit

in her office.

My heart pounding in my chest, I tentatively sat down and waited for her to speak.

"Well, your test came back positive!"  She beamed at me.

"Really?!"  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  "Oh!"  I looked at my husband with the

distinct feeling that I had just won the lottery.  I had so many people to e-mail and

call...my parents, my baby sisters, my brother in California...

"Congratulations!" the nurse said, preparing to figure out the due date, which turned out

to be in May.

My head was spinning!  I was so excited that I hardly minded the bloodwork and the

preliminary physical exam.  I was elated!  Tom and I had worked hard for this pregnancy for

about a year, and we were finally enjoying the fruits of our labor!

Ironically, the nurses told me that I was to was be considered "high risk" because I was

over the age of thirty.  I laughed it off.  I felt fine.  I felt BETTER than "fine".  I was

on top of the world!

I was still EXTREMELY careful, though.  The "high risk" factor sank in as the checkups

progressed.  I took no chances.

On the day of my first sonogram, I kept my oldest daughter, Ariana, out of school so that

she could be in the room with me.  Sonograms fascinate me.  They seem to be a combination

of science and magic, enabling the parents and any other spectators to bond with the

precious little gift from God before she's even born, and the pictures only get clearer as

the pregnancy progresses.  I didn't mind Ariana missing school that day.  Meeting her baby

sibling for the first time was more important!  It was a beautiful experience, and the

nurse who performed it seemed to be enjoying it, too.

The first two-and-a-half months of my pregnancy were filled with joy, anticipation, and

preparation.  The rounder I became, the more blessed I felt. 

When I was two-and-a-half months pregnant, truck trouble forced us to be without a vehicle

for awhile.

Tom and I weren't too nervous, as my due date was months away, and Medicaid Transportation

could take me to my checkups until the car was fixed.

About three months into my pregnancy, a severe thunderstorm rocked our little town of

Carmack.  Rain belted the area in unending sheets of liquid bullets.  Thunder boomed

through the humid air and lightning streaked through the blackened sky.

I lay in bed, pondering the growing life within me, envying her warmth; her sense of

security; her comfortable, warm, watery environment.  I rubbed my gently-rounded belly,

completely content in my unique role as a life-bearer.  It was a role that no man in

history would ever be selected to fill.

Nature's call broke through my thoughts.  I rose quietly from my waterbed.  My unborn baby

was evidently sitting on my bladder again, and I needed relief.

I wiped myself after I finished urinating.  Something made me look down as I absentmindedly

flushed the toilet.  It was at that moment that I froze with terror and my heart leapt into

my throat.  The toilet paper had a small but definite streak of crimson on it.  I was

bleeding!

I sat back down on the toilet, took a small amount of toilet paper, and gently wiped myself

again.

"Please, God," I prayed.  "Let me be wrong."

As I pulled the paper out to look at it, my heart sank.  I HADN'T been imagining things.  I

was DEFINITELY bleeding.

I walked back into the bedroom and shook Tom awake.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I'm bleeding," I told him, my voice choking with worry.

"Oh, my God," he said.  "And we don't have a vehicle!  We've got to get you to the

hospital!"

He lifted himself up out of bed and reached for the phone.

"Wait a minute!  Who are you going to call at three o' clock in the morning?" I asked.

"Dad," he replied.

"Dad" was Tom's first father-in-law, who lived near Greenwood.  Sam was his real name, and

he'd always taken care of Tom and me like we were his own children.  He had a big heart,

and he was always available in times of crisis.

Dad was wheelchair-bound due to an accident years before when he had hung in a meat locker

for hours by a hook which had lodged in his spine.  His disability has never prevented him

from helping ANY of his children, including Tom and me.

I hated to have Tom wake up Dad at three in the morning, but I had no transportation and I

needed to get to a hospital before I lost my baby.  A sleepy Sam answered the phone.

"Hello?" he said.

"Hi, Dad.  It's Tom.  We have an emergency."

Tom explained the situation to Dad and, true to his character, my protective father-in-law

drove us BOTH to Kosciusko as soon as the sun came up enough so that he could see to drive.

My doctor examined me and told me that the bleeding appeared to be minimal, but I was

hardly listening.  I wanted to know if the BABY was alright.  He arranged for a nurse to

come with an electronic wand and some gel.  I calmed down when she found the heartbeat.

My doctor ordered bedrest, and LOTS of it.  He knew that this was going to be a risky

pregnancy, so he also ordered more frequent checkups.

Things were tense for about three months.  The spotting stopped, but I still thanked God

for every day that I was able to carry my baby.

Then, when I was only 27 weeks pregnant and we were out of transportation again because of

the car's freeze plugs, I was on the phone.  I bent over briefly to pick up something that

was on the floor of the front room.  That's when it happened.  That simple act triggered a

response from my body that would nearly end my baby's life:  A flood of blood poured out of

my vagina and down my legs.  I screamed!  Tom came running.  This time, it wasn't a case of

simple spotting.  It was ten times worse than the heaviest period I had ever experienced. 

Soon, my legs were covered in blood. 

What a horrible time to be without a vehicle!  Our friend Bobby agreed to drive me to the

clinic where my doctor worked.  The flood continued as I waited in his office for him.  The

nurse had asked me to remove my shorts and underwear in preparation for a manual

examination.  This was probably a mistake, but I complied anyway.  When my doctor stepped

into his office, I was standing sheepishly in a deep pool of blood, and even more was

pouring out of me.  I was able to get some of the blood wiped off so I could climb onto his

examining table. 

My doctor performed a very bloody manual exam, and then told me to wait while he got on the

phone.  My heart pounding, I overheard part of the conversation because he'd left the door

open just a little bit.  He was talking to someone at the University Medical Center of

Mississippi in Jackson.  He mentioned the term "placenta previa" and "preclampsia".  The

doctor came back in, looking very grave.

"Can your husband drive you to U.M.C. in Jackson?" he asked.

"No.  I didn't even have transportation to get to this clinic.  I had to get a ride."

"Well, this would be an emergency, Kitty.  I'm calling an ambulance.  If we don't get you

to a good hospital FAST, you're going to lose that baby."

He left, leaving the door ajar again, just a crack.  I could hear him calling for an

ambulance and giving the dispatcher the details of my case.  My heart was pounding.  I

wasn't ready to have my baby at 27 weeks, and I KNEW that her lungs weren't mature enough

for her to be able to survive outside my body. 

Bobby drove Tom and I to the hospital next door, where I would be readied for the ambulance

ride to U.M.C.

My blood pressure was sky high, and when a nurse tried to hook up an I.V. to my arm, we

both became very irritated because my veins kept blowing out.  Finally, on the third try

with the needle, she found a vein that didn't collapse. 

She grabbed an electronic wand and put gel on the end of it to see if we could find a

heartbeat.  The baby was fine.  In fact, the only comic relief I got that day was when my

baby got the hiccups during the examination and we could hear them on the monitor.

The E.M.T.'s arrived with the ambulance.  They wanted to monitor my blood loss, so they

equipped me with a special pad so that they could keep track of it.

I couldn't imagine getting to Jackson in under two hours, but with the sirens blaring and

the driver going like a bat out of Hell, we made it to U.M.C. in a little under an hour.  I

prayed and cried silently during the whole ride.  Tom had to stay in Carmack to wait for

Ariana to get home from school, so I was alone at U.M.C.

I was checked into "Labor and Delivery" at U.M.C., where I was examined.  Several of the

staff told me not to worry.  U.M.C. was the best place in Mississippi to have a premature

infant.  The hospital was extremely advanced and had an excellent Neonatal Intensive Care

Unit.  This was reassuring.

My blood pressure was still out of sight and I continued to lose massive amounts of blood.

A vaginal sonogram was ordered.  In this procedure, the wand was inserted into my vagina

and pushed all the way up until my cervix could be clearly seen on the monitor.  It

shouldn't have been a painful test, but by that time my vagina was already irritated from

the manual exam earlier that day in the doctor's office.  I was snappish and barely

cooperative.  The vaginal sonogram revealed that my cervix was already dilated to one

centimeter.  No wonder I was crabby!  I had gone into premature labor!

Since an I.V. was already in place, I was given an intravenous dose of magnesium.  I was

warned that it might make me feel hot and nauseated.  The nurses were right.  Within five

minutes of being hooked up to the magnesium, I threw up.  It stopped my labor, though.  I

wasn't dilating any further. 

My blood pressure continued to skyrocket.  I was asked to try to lie on my left side.  I

don't remember the logic they used, but it lowered my blood pressure enough to let me go to

a recovery room.

In "Labor and Delivery" suites, women aren't allowed to eat or drink, in case an emergency

Cesearean section is necessary.  If mothers had anything in their stomachs, there would be

the possibility of their vomiting during the surgery, possibly asphyxiating themselves.  In

the Recovery suites, women are fed three meals a day and have access to cable television. 

The main courses did had a tendency to be a little bland, but the desserts there at U.M.C.

were absolutely fabulous, especially the key lime pie!  They had wonderful cake, too!  It

really was good, to be "hospital food".  I enjoyed about three days of "recovery" time. 

Then my blood pressure started rising again.  Finally, after one nurse took my blood

pressure three times in fifteen minutes, she said, "If your blood pressure doesn't improve

in a hurry, you're going to be sent down to 'Labor and Delivery' again."

I was scared.  "Why?" I asked her.

"Probably to have a baby," she replied.

"No..." I pleaded.  "She's not ready yet.  Her lungs aren't developed."

"I'm so sorry," she said as she left the room.

Minutes later, a team did come in to take me back to "Labor and Delivery".  It was time for

another round of intravenous magnesium, only this time, the heat and subsequent vomiting

never came.  The magnesium worked, so they stopped it and just monitored my blood pressure.

They also gave me a steroid shot to help the baby's lungs develop faster.

I had a surprise visit that night from my husband, our friend Bobby, and his wife Wendy,

who had come to offer their comfort and emotional support.  I was glad to see them and

talked at length with them all.

Wendy observed that my blood pressure rose when certain subjects were discussed.  I didn't

feel any change, so it fascinated me that my body could sense when I was subconsiously

stressed.  I found it very interesting and then tried with some success to do biofeedback,

willing my blood pressure to drop.  It was an interesting experiment and worked for awhile,

but by the next afternoon, February 9, 2001, my blood pressure was higher than the national

debt.  I began to swell all over, so much so that when I glanced at myself in the bathroom

mirror that day, I looked like I had gained seventy pounds! 

Another sonogram confirmed that I had not dilated past 1 centimeter, so at least that was

good news.

Later, a good-looking young doctor came into the room to have a chat with me.

"Your blood pressure has NOT gotten any better," he gently explained.  "The only way to

bring it back to normal is to deliver your baby.  Now, since your placenta is blocking your

cervix, we can't induce labor and let you deliver vaginally.  We're going to have to do an

emergency C-section."

So now I had a definite idea of the proposed plan of action.

"When?" I asked, ready to get my baby out of my body and into the safety of the N.I.C.U.

"In about an hour," he told me. 

"Well, hold on.  Can it possibly wait until my husband can get a ride up here?"

"No," he said.  "If we don't take her now, she could have a seizure and die in utero, and

you could die, too."

I glanced at my badly swollen body.

"Okay, let's do it," I agreed.  "Let me just call my husband and let him know what's going

on."

I phoned Tom and tearfully explained that the baby's life was in danger and an immediate

Ceasarean section was unavoidable.  He told me he'd get up to U.M.C. somehow.

Not even an hour later, I was being prepped for surgery.  They tried to give me a shot in

my back so that I could be awake for the big moment, but in my excitement I had forgotten

to mention my scholiosis.  My spine curves so badly that there was no WAY they were going

to find it.  We decided that it would be best to let me sleep through the surgery.  The

doctors put something into my I.V. and I drifted off.  When I woke up, I would be a mother

again!

I woke up in a great deal of pain, with my bed being moved around.

"Why does it hurt?" I mumbled.  "I thought it wasn't supposed to hurt."

"You're in Recovery, Sweetheart," a nurse replied.

My God!  It was all over already!  It seemed like I'd only been asleep for a few minutes.

"The baby..." I managed to ask.  "How's the baby?"

"She's doing fine, Mrs. Halbert.  She's been taken to the N.I.C.U."

At least she was in the best possible hands now.  I drifted off to sleep.

When I awoke, Tom and Bobby were gently trying to nudge me to consciousness.  I was happy

to see them, but hopelessly looped from the anesthesia. 

"Where Weemie?" I inquired, meaning "Wendy".

"She's at Bobby's house looking after Ariana," Tom replied.

"Have you seen the baby?" I asked my husband.

"They were wheeling her in when we got here," he replied.  "She looks like a little red

tomato."  Typical.  Ariana looked like a tomato when she was born, too. 

"How much did she weigh?" I asked.

"One pound, thirteen ounces."

It was difficult for me to picture a baby that was smaller than a box of Whitman's

chocolates.

"At least she's safe," I managed to say.

The hardest part of having a Ceasarean section was getting to the bathroom afterward.  I

had to take tiny little painful steps, so I almost fainted when I got orders from the

doctor the next morning.

"Okay, I want you to walk," he told me.  He might as well have told an elephant to squeeze

into a string bikini.

"You've got to be kidding," I told him, but he was as serious as a heart attack.

"You've got to get your stomach muscles in shape again.  I want you to walk up and down the

hallways.  Go visit your baby in the N.I.C.U.  Just try to stay active."  This man had

never had a baby by Ceasarean section.  He couldn't have known the agony that I was

experiencing.

However, I did my best to walk and was surprised that in three days, I was walking

pain-free.

Tom, Bobby, Wendy, Ariana, and Bobby's son Joshua came to visit Tiffany when she was three

days old.  I still hadn't seen her, so Wendy had a nurse bring us a wheelchair and we ALL

went down to the N.I.C.U. to meet the new baby.  Wendy and I went in first.

Tiffy was the spitting image of her father!  She lay there in the incubator with monitors

hooked up to her and supplemental oxygen going into her nose.  She was red as a beet,

hairy, and extremely tiny.  Wendy and I put our hands through the holes on the side of the

incubator and stroked her back, marvelling as her oxygen saturation levels climbed.  Even

at 28 weeks, she was aware of the sense of touch and RESPONDED to it, though her eyes never

opened the whole time we stood there.

I stayed in the N.I.C.U. while Tom came in, and then Ariana.  Bobby and his son came in

last to meet my hairy little miracle baby.

I hated to go back to my room.  I just wanted to stay there with her.

I asked Tiffy's doctor about her chances for survival, and he told me that preemie girls

had a much higher chance of living than preemie boys did.  I found this interesting.

I was discharged five days after the birth.  I stayed with Bobby and Wendy while I

recovered.  The baby tended to stop breathing several times a day, but the doctor said that

that would stop gradually as she gained weight.  She was also bleeding on both sides of her

brain, but that, too, would improve as she became less fragile.  Tiffy made steady progress

and gained about an ounce a day.  At three pounds, I held her and breastfed her for the

first time, and at four pounds, twelve ounces, my little miracle baby was discharged from

the University Medical Center in Jackson, ready to embark on a new life outside the

N.I.C.U.

At the time of this writing, Tiffy Rachelle Halbert is a thriving, intelligent first

grader, proof that even in a society that believes in a Creation without a Creator, God is

STILL in the business of producing miracles! 

 


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