Hi, I’m Tiffany. After surviving two open heart surgeries, it was no surprise that I was high risk when getting pregnant with my first child at 35. I had a really great pregnancy with the normal complaints but no complications other than being Group B Strep positive. I went into labor the night of my due date and headed to the hospital the next morning. Anxious and so excited to meet our little girl Marlowe. We had no idea what challenges we were about to face.
While in the hospital, I spiked a high fever after receiving my epidural. I was scared but they just thought it was a side effect of my body reacting to the meds. I was in and out of sleep in a fog until a few hours later a whole bunch of medical professionals rushed into the room and said it was emergency C-section time. They said the baby was desatting oxygen and we had to hurry to get her out.
I was on the operating table and the emergency C-section was starting quickly. With my husband holding my hand, I was terrified, but I could see how scared he was. I told him not to worry, I am a pro at surgeries after the laundry list I’ve had in my lifetime. Neither of us knowing I wasn’t the one we needed to be worried about. When they got her out, we had that only seen in movies and nightmares scene where your newborn baby isn’t crying and isn’t breathing. I could see that they were starting to work on her, pushing on her chest and pushing air into her lungs with a bag and face mask. I was still being put back together and was horrified at what was unfolding. I wasn’t able to touch or talk to her before they took her away. The doctor said she believed I had developed an infection in my uterus while the baby was still inside called Chorioamnionitis and it had made our little baby girl very sick. I was sent to a room with no baby. She was later wheeled in my room in a spaceship looking apparatus, hooked up to all kinds of things. We were informed that they would be taking her by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital for their specialized NICU and my husband went with her. Both of my humans had to leave and I was left there in bed trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
I was still sick with a fever from the infection so they wouldn’t let me see her for a few days. It was maybe the hardest time of my life, or so I thought. Being in the Postpartum unit with no baby may be one of the saddest places on earth. When the wave of baby cries came down the hall as they brought them back to their rooms my mom and I stayed busy and avoided eye contact. It turned out our head nurse was talking to the head nurse at Children’s and they agreed I could come see her even if I still had the fever. She wasn’t doing well and I think they were worried the window for me to see her might be closing. Also, they knew it was a uterine infection and I wasn’t contagious. My hospital gave me a window of 3 hours and then I had to be back in my room. When I got to the NICU, the neonataologist said something bad was happening, she was crashing, or some type of emergent event. He didn’t think it would be wise for me to see her, and they weren’t expecting a positive outcome on the whole as far as Marlowe was concerned. I folded into a mess of sobbing heartbreak. I had never touched or talked to my baby. I was in a wheelchair, and this man was telling me I couldn’t see her and she wasn’t going to make it? THIS was the worst moment of my life. I told him I would need to see her before I would leave the unit. He finally said okay then, come on. She was in a special little tiny bed with her whole body being cooled in an attempt to preserve any brain function that might be there. She had something like 6 or 7 IVs and was laying flat on her back with her arms flat on her sides, not the normal newborn position at all. I was able to put a couple fingers on her and force out a “hi my little angel baby” and then I had to leave.
My Mom was driving me back to my hospital room and I just screamed out “God save my baby, why is this happening?! Save her!!” This is the one time in my life I questioned everything. God, life and everything. I was so angry, so mad at the world. I thought ok, she’s not going to make it, we are going to sell everything we own and move to Hawaii, just me and my husband. Maybe we will see someone we know in a year or so. Oh and thanks a bunch “God”. I was fuming. But after throwing things around my room for a while and crying aggressively, my Dad reminded me that God IS real, and the doctors are not God! I tried to calm down and shortly got a report back from the NICU saying to their surprise she had actually improved slightly since my visit. I thought maybe on some level she knew she still had a Mommy. So I taped a message for her on my Mom’s phone and she went back over to the NICU and played it over and over as long as they would let her. My family and I decided that we were going to gather around her in prayer and maybe, just maybe she could make it. Even though it seemed like she might live, they were still unsure of brain function. I thought about her future and our future as a family and if she needed assistance and needed to live with us for the rest of her life, then that is what we would do.
I got released from my hospital and started living at the NICU with her as much as possible. Since she was the “sickest baby in Dallas” (quote from a doc) we had the nice private room with a couch and I was there all day every day. Every night I would drive the almost hour home and sleep in our bed, waking every 3 hours to continue my pump schedule and then leave early in the morning to go back to her room. I was barely making any milk. The lactation consultant didn’t seem to believe me that I was waking up and pumping. I felt immense guilt leaving her overnight by herself, even though she was in a coma like state from all the narcotics. My husband and I felt helpless. We were so sad and so depressed. No one in the NICU would give encouragement. I understand their job is not to be our cheerleader and just give the facts which weren’t great. I would catch the morning rounds to hear the doctors summary on Marlowe and what was the latest, and I would stay for the night rounds to hear how the day went. In the morning when I would pump before my drive I would call and talk to the nurse assigned to her to get any updates and to let them know I would be coming soon. My husband had to go back to work and my parents got a respiratory infection that barred them from the NICU, so it was just me during the days. In my head the staff cared very much where I was, and I felt like they probably thought I was a bad mom for going home each night. Guilt, guilt, guilt was all I felt at this time. And man did that C-section situation hurt. But we kept praying, me and my husband, my family, friends, people we didn’t know and never will know just praying for some kind of miracle for Marlowe.
With every test given to Marlowe, they would say the results will probably not be great, prepare yourselves. We would pray and we would get positive results! I’m not saying it was all perfect, as there were days where she looked like she was going downhill again. She had machines breathing for her and at one point the regular machine couldn’t cut it so a special machine had to be brought in which was really bad evidently and so scary. But our friends and family would rally, getting as many people praying as possible. Marlowe started making positive progress and turned a corner! The last big test was the brain MRI. And it was NORMAL!! We were there for almost a month. The doctors couldn’t believe she was healthy, and the day we were getting discharged from the hospital a group of her nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists stopped in to say goodbye and good luck. There were some tears on their part, which impacted me greatly. They do this everyday, but our girl was such a little miracle that they were moved to tears! One of them called her Miracle Marlowe! The neonatologists were much more skeptical. The last one I saw on the way out let me know that even though she has had all positive test results, she would probably have severe problems as she grew that just weren’t detected yet. I clutched onto her and thought get us the heck outta here!! So at one month old we got to bring our baby home.
We were so happy to have her alive and breathing on her own and at home with us!! It wasn’t all perfect and hasn’t been. Breastfeeding was terrible, she had a tongue tie and lip tie and my body barely made any milk. She was colic-ish and cried so very much. We found out later she was/is allergic to many things: dairy, soy, goats milk, eggs etc etc. So things were challenging and I ended up quitting my job to be with her full time. But all of these things were minuscule in comparison to the fact that she survived! What I want other moms and dads to know is that things can get pretty grim in the NICU, and some seriously sad outcomes happen. No one there gives out false hope or even much optimism. But remember there’s always a chance of survival. Find hope and hold on to it, no matter how much the bad news beats you down. Prayer warriors and God can move mountains. Faith is key in trying situations whether the outcome is good or bad. I’m thankful to be able to say our little girl is a happy, sassy, crazy 3 year old. We feel blessed beyond measure and we finally worked up the courage to give her a sibling coming soon in Jan 2018!