Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where do you start?

More on Baby Julia Dawn…

Bill’s thoughts:

Where do you start?

We’ve had so many that are interested in what has happened and what is happing with our little Julia, that we decided to post her story and updates here so that you can know.

She’s now 10 days old and still doing well for being born at 23 weeks. She has now had two ultrasounds of her head that show no bleeding on the brain and good blood flow. The bleeding can affect brain development, so we are glad that things look good. She is on a respirator and will be for a long time. This is good, as it keeps her alive, but it also stresses out her young lungs.

It’s still day to day as we don’t know how she’ll do, but so far so good.

For those who want to hear the whole rollercoaster ride story up to this point, here it is:

It all started about Christmas night, when Erin had some bleeding. (Kind of weird to talk about, but after being at the hospital for a week anything is fair game) On the 26th, we were heading home from a family Christmas party when Erin says to me that the bleeding was picking up. I could tell by the look in her face that it wasn’t good. So we dropped the kids off at her sisters and went to the emergency room. After a few hours there, they couldn’t determine what was causing the bleeding. She and the baby were both fine, and she was instructed to take it easy and hopefully the bleeding would stop. (Erin is pretty active with ballet class and her morning work out classes)

So things were pretty good for the next week or so. The bleeding did slow down and we seemed to be back on the normal “having a baby” track.

Now for when it got exciting. Every year I go to CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas for my company. This year I was scheduled to be there from January 4th to the 11th. We had the regular meeting with suppliers and working the booth, plus an additional company meeting after the show ended. On Friday the 7th, Erin texts me that she is being checked into the hospital until Monday. Not the kind of text you want when you’re away from home. I give her a call and find out that the bleeding had picked back up and she even was having some contractions. So I talked to my manager and booked a flight the next morning to get back home. I went straight from the airport to the hospital and found Erin in her room and that they had given her some drugs to stop the contractions and that it is working. So all the rest of that day and Sunday things were going fine. The baby was doing fine and so was Erin. Come Sunday night, I had a return trip back to Las Vegas to finish up work. Everything was looking good, and Erin gave approval to go back. (looking back this seems pretty stupid, it seemed fine).  As I took my trip back, I called Erin every hour or so just to be sure that everything was ok. The answer from Erin each time was that she was fine . So things are back to normal, right? nope. At 2am Monday morning I get a text from Erin saying that she needs me home.

So there I was in a hotel room in Las Vegas at 2am wondering how can I get back to my family. My originally scheduled return flight isn’t until the next day. I checked online, and the next flight to Salt Lake is at 6:30am and the only seat available is $800. The next flight is at 8:50am, but is already delayed until 10am. The cost for that seat is $350+. So I give Delta airlines a call, and basically say that my wife is going into pre-term labor and that I need to get home as soon as I can. The agent tells me that the 6:30am flight is now overbooked. She says that she will put me on stand-by for it anyway. (It’s Vegas, a good chance that someone’s going to sleep in) She also says that she can get me on the next flight for sure. Then I ask, just how many points, or dollars is this going to cost me. The agent simply replies, “Don’t worry about it Mr. Hansen. We’ll make it work” (and they just made a lifetime customer).   I throw everything in my suitcase and head to the airport to wait for the 6:30 flight. Amazingly, I make the flight on stand-by and again head straight to Erin at the Hospital.

They have now given her a couple of different drugs to stop the contractions, but it’s not working. There is one more drug that they will try called “Mag”. (Which I learn is short for magnesium sulfate) Before they give this to her, we have a number of doctors talk to us about what is happening and what might happen. A Neonatal physician comes by and talks to us about the realities of having a baby at 22 or 23 weeks gestation. Basically we are feeling pretty bad at this point. Basically babies born at 22 weeks have a very slim chance at survival, where a baby at 23 weeks has a better than 60% chance at making it. We can tell that they are basically preparing us for a very tough decision to be made.

In order to administer the “Mag” they move us to a “Labor and Delivery” room as it requires Erin to be monitored. They give her the drug through an IV and it works. The contractions stop and our hopes are bolstered. It wasn’t the most pleasant thing for Erin to go through, as it makes everything relax. All day Tuesday, things look good. The baby is doing well and Erin has no contractions. By this time we had had a bunch of visits from family and friends checking to see how things are going and what they can do. I even got a visit from my buddy Ralf from San Diego. (the same guy I’ve been doing some crazy hiking with the last few years. What a great guy!) The doctors start backing off the dosage on the “Mag” in hopes that the contractions will stay stopped and we can go back to normal. (Wrong again.)

Wednesday, Jan 12th. Things look to be in good shape and I run into work to catch up on some things. (only 10 minutes away now) As they are reducing the medications, Erin’s contractions come back. I head back up to the hospital to find that things aren’t getting better. Even after increasing the “Mag”, the contractions are not stopping. Now what do we do? Do we let things happen naturally and see what happens, knowing it is not good? Do we tell the doctors to use every method possible to help our baby survive? Do we have the baby normally even though she is breach, or a C-section? What a surreal situation to be in, and all the while you hear the strong heartbeat of our little girl on the monitors. A constant cadence that brings us to a very humbled spot. We pray for guidance and for our baby. We decide to help our baby down the path that she chooses. If she comes out fighting, we will fight with her. If she decides to relax and return to her father in heaven, we understand. With the love of a true mother, my wife tells that doctors to turn up the volume on the heart monitor. The strong cadence of that heart is still there. She then says, let’s do a C-section and give her the best chances. The doctors then get everything ready. Erin’s sister is there with us and joins us in a small family pray before it all begins.

The C-section is done pretty quickly. (and pretty amazing to watch as a husband) Little Julia was immediately surrounded by a team of people to help her. She came out fighting.

She arrived at 10:37pm on Jan 12th. 1lb, 4oz(560 grams), and about 12 inches. The nurses and doctors all remarked about how her skin looked further along than a baby at just barely 23 weeks gestation. She is so tiny, I was just not sure what to think. She was perfect, 10 fingers, 2 arms,…….. everything.

Once she was stable in the NICU, there was not much we could do but look at her. Erin and I were taken to a “post” room for Erin to recover. Every hour was a bit tense for us as we knew that things could really “change in a heartbeat”. For the last week , we have been going to see her daily and hoping and praying for the best outcome, but also conscious that things could come crashing down at any time. There have been some ups and downs already. Finding that her brain looks good with no bleeding is great, but we have also seen her blood oxygen levels drop. Or a lobe of her lung collapse and then start to open back up. As we have been told it has been and will be a rollercoaster ride, but we have made it so far, and more importantly so has Julia.

We have had the best treatment so far from great Nurses and Doctors. We can’t thank them enough. And to our friends and family(who are probably the only ones that read this little novel) we thank you all for your love and support and prayers. You never realize how great the people around you are until you’re in need.



Erin’s thoughts:

January 25, 2011

Happy 13th day of life Julia!

Where do we start? I have had normal easy pregnancies that have had few to no complications. I was even able to carry our twins to about 37 weeks, without problems or any NICU time. Gabriella was my smallest at 5lbs 10 oz..

Our life seems like it has been turned upside down all starting on Christmas night. After arriving home on Christmas night after a family party, I noticed I had started bleeding. I was slightly alarmed, but not too worried. I have had previous bleeding in my pregnancies due to a varicose vein on my cervix which causes slight bleeding during pregnancy. The following morning I still had the same amount and decided to call my labor and delivery nurse friend Jana and asked for her advice. She told me to rest, drink lots of water, and if it got worse to go to Labor and delivery at the hospital.

After a day of resting, I was doing better, so I decided to go to a family party that night. On the drive home I started bleeding more heavily. So Bill and I decided to go to Labor and Delivery. I thought I was having a late term miscarriage at 22 weeks. I was very nervous. When we got there, I wasn’t contracting and the baby appeared to be fine, and it was a mystery as to why I was bleeding. Later that night they sent me home and my OB had me meet her the following morning. The next day my Doctor did an ultra sound and the baby still looked great. So she sent me home on a modified bed rest and no exercise. After a few days of rest the bleeding seemed to stop. That is when Bill left for the CES(Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas on the 4th. On the evening of the 6th I noticed the bleeding was starting to pick up and by morning I was bleeding quite heavy and I started to feel contractions. I called my friend Jana for advice as what to do. She picked me up and drove me to the ER. When we got to the ER they sent me to Labor and Delivery, and I was given Tributeline to stop the contractions. It seemed to work for a while, and than they started up again. I was able to get a hold of Bill so he flew home not knowing what to expect. We hoped that the anti-contraction medicines would buy me at least 2-10 more weeks in that hospital bed.

They first started me on Endocin(I don’t know the actual spelling of the anti contractions medicine, and neither does spell check. J) which worked awesome until it wore off. Unfortunately, you can only have one dose of Endocin. It is a heart medication also useful for stopping contractions. After that they gave me Procardia and more Tributeline which also worked great until they started backing me off of that. After two doses and a lot of bleeding, and Bill flying back to Vegas and back home, they decided my pre-term labor wasn’t stopping. Our doctor informed us of the seriousness of our situation, and sent in the Neo-natal doctor to discuss what possible scenarios we had ahead of us. We were between 22-23 weeks of gestation, which borders a “viable” pregnancy. We had no idea what was going to happen, and we were terrified of the outcome. We wanted to try everything we could to keep her in as long as possible. So we came to our last resort “Magnesium Sulfate”. Mag is an amazing horrible drug that is administered in Labor and Delivery. After several doses of Mag we were able to stop the contractions once again. And then we started backing off again and the contractions started up again. So they gave me more “Mag”. Mag can make you very anxious and cloudy, which doubled my stress.

Bill and I found ourselves at a very difficult spot. Our baby was coming, and we couldn’t stop her. So we had to decide what we were going to do. Through much prayer, and priesthood blessings we were able to receive guidance and inspiration as what to do. With the extra 6 days of holding Julia in, we got her to 23 weeks and a day. Our neo-natal doctor said we were on the fence as the outcome of our baby. So here Bill and I were at the ripe old age of 33 making this incredibly difficult decision concerning our baby’s life. Through much prayer and meditation we decided if she came out fighting that we would fight with her, and if she came out limp and unresponsive that we would just hold her and love her till she passed on.

As the contractions got worse and delivery was inevitable, we had to decide on what type of delivery to do. Since we couldn’t know the outcome of the birth we had to choose between a vaginal delivery or a c-section. A vaginal delivery would make for an easier recovery, but a c-section would give her a better chance of living. As the Mag finally wore off and I could think more clearly, I asked my doctor to turn up the babies heart monitor. It was the sweetest sound. She had such a strong heart that I couldn’t deny her chance of life. So we decided on the c-section. Before I was wheeled off to surgery, Bill my sister Becky and I had a final prayer asking Heavenly Father for his assistance and peace for whatever outcome might come. And I felt that I had done all I could do, and my choices and decisions would never lead to regret in the future.

As I laid on the operating table in the O.R. , I rememberd shivering to death from the coldness of the room and the fear of the unknown. As they cut through all the layers I remember my doctor handing the baby off to the NICU team and hearing that she took a breath and she came out kicking and fiighting. I couldn’t believe it, I knew my prayers had been answered. Heavenly Father had given me this sweet angel.   I would have  her for the beautiful 12 days we have had her for or for 100 years she will always be mine.

Julia came out fighting, and has been fighting hard for the last 12 days. She is our sweet precious angel. We hope that she has inherited both Mom and Dad’s stubbornness and ability to fight. She is already given the nurses a run for their money. She doesn’t like to be bothered and has been “naughty” after care time. Naughty meaning she requires more oxygen, ventilation and nitric oxide after some of the care times. So far we have had one big episode, but on the upside she has been stable for the majority of the time. As I am learning, the NICU’s job is to recreate the womb for our little one. It’s a very delicate balancing act for them. They are amazing! Baby Julia has also been amazing, she is above average for a baby born in the 23rd week of gestation.

We love her so much already! I’d like to thank all of our family and friends for all of your support, prayers and love. We’ve felt carried through this whole experience. It has been quite the rollercoaster of emotions for us. And quite a humbling time. I suppose it is always easy to be reminded in life what is really important in life. It is sad that we forget until we are tried with our different trials. We still have a long road ahead of us, but we are grateful for every moment we have with sweet Julia . We’d also like to thank all of the wonderful doctors and nurses who have taken care of us from labor and delivery, to post delivery and to the NICU. If the situation hadn’t been so horrific, I would rate my stay at the hospital like a 5 star hotel. Everyone did everything they could to ease the burden of our situation. And now that we are home we have had our burdens eased by our wonderful friends, neighbors and family. And especially Aunt Diane. Thank you so much. And thank you for your positive and encouraging comments on face book and email. We have felt so loved!



Melissa said...

Julia is a miracle. She is so blessed to have such wonderful parents. We keep her and your family in our prayers.

Sorry hear about the "Mag"-I had to be on it with Tanner and it really is horrible!

Sorensens said...

Love you guys. Keep fighting Julia, we can't wait to meet you.

Tons of prayers to all of you.

Janna said...

Your words tugged at my heart and tears. Julia is lucky to have parents so full of strength and faith. You guys are amazing! Hang in there.