Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Erin B.’s Birth Story

When our youngest daughter was born, God intervened time and time again to make sure she would complete our little family, and encourage us to share God’s grace.

On August 20th, 2009, at 35.5 weeks pregnant, I woke up with very mild contractions that continued to get worse throughout the morning. By 10:00am I was at the hospital in the Labor & Delivery unit, thinking they would check me, say false labor, and send me home because I still had 4 weeks until I was due. I am so glad God decided to lead me into the hospital that day! (Gratitude #1) They kept me there all day until 5:30pm when they decided I was not ready and they would discharge me. A new nurse came on shift and decided to monitor the baby a little longer. I know now that this was God intervening yet again. (Gratitude #2) Thank goodness they did not send me home because it was discovered that the baby was not moving much and her heart rate was a little low. An ultrasound was ordered. (Gratitude #3) Our world changed!

The radiologist read the ultrasound and discovered the very large amount of amniotic fluid that filled Irelyn’s chest and tissues. It was explained to us that she had so much fluid in her chest it had displaced her left lung and heart and pushed them both over to the right side of her chest. Both lungs were also completely collapsed. Our baby was not breathing! The specialists in Missoula had no clue as to why this had happened or what could have caused it. We were given four options on how to travel the 500 miles to Seattle but knew that we would be flown medically as soon as the discussion began. There was no way Jesse was going to be left with a lady still in labor, with a very sick baby! A life-flight jet was sent from Seattle to pick us up within the hour.

When we arrived in Seattle at 1:00am the doctors ordered an ultrasound hoping that the delivery could wait until the morning when radiologists could read the ultrasound and a team of doctors could be put together for the greatest chance of success. After seeing the ultrasound it was decided that little Irelyn would be born within half an hour. I know that God was with those doctors as they made this difficult decision (Gratitude #4). Within that half hour a large team of specialists was formed, given the background of what they were dealing with, and prepared for surgery. We will be forever grateful that all of those doctors were available and ready at 2:45am on a Friday morning! 
Irelyn was born by c-section at 2:58am and immediately moved to a separate room to be put on a ventilator and have chest tubes placed to drain the fluid in her chest. We found out after the delivery that had we tried to deliver Irelyn by vaginal birth it would not have been possible because of her very short umbilical cord and incredibly swollen body. (Gratitude #5). Finally, at 24 hours old, little Irelyn was given no chance of survival if she was not moved to Seattle Children’s Hospital where the ECMO machine was available. The ECMO machine is a heart-lung machine also known as the last step in life support. The doctors at University of Washington Medical Center knew that Irelyn’s lungs needed time to heal while the mystery of the fluid was solved.

1 day old

This was most definitely the hardest thing I have ever heard. It brought to light just how sick Irelyn was. At 1:00am the night after her birth, the very risky job of transporting little Irelyn was underway. This was the point when I begged God to please ride along in that ambulance with our precious daughter. The preparation of moving a newborn on a ventilator and chest tubes took 2 hours, all for a 5 minute ambulance ride to another hospital. My doc pulled some strings to get me over to Childrens because he felt it was very important that I be there when she arrived. In case little Irelyn did not make it, I would be able to hold my baby and say goodbye. 

Thank God, Irelyn is a fighter (Gratitude #6), and she made it through the transport and onto ECMO with shining colors. Irelyn was then on ECMO for 10 days in order for her lungs to heal and the fluid in her body to stop being produced due to chylothorax. Her time on the ECMO machine was incredibly delicate as the doctors had to make sure that her blood, that was being routed out through a vein in her neck, into the machine, then back into her body, stayed the right consistency. If it got too thick she could form clots that could travel to her lungs or brain and kill her. If her blood got too thin we could lose our precious baby to internal bleeding. Her blood levels were checked every hour and adjustments were made when necessary. In order to be taken off the ECMO machine, Irelyn had to pass a trial run of 2 hours of monitoring her lungs to make sure they could work on their own. She barely missed the first test but the following day she proved what a rock star she is and her little lungs were ready to breathe!

4 weeks old

She was on a ventilator from day 1 until she was 5 weeks old. Through most of her stay in the NICU, Irelyn had 2 chest tubes, one on each side of her chest, to continually drain lymphatic fluid. Unfortunately these little tubes tend to fall out and Irelyn battled back through the loss of three different tubes. Our little miracle was also forced to fight off a terrible blood born sepsis infection with the aid of some very strong antibiotics and the grace of God!

6 months old

Through all of this Irelyn continued to amaze the doctors and nurses as she charged along on her recovery much quicker than anyone expected. Irelyn checked out of the NICU after 7 weeks and was discharged home without any medical assistance, no oxygen, feeding tube or medications! I’ve now been giving my baby loves for a year and a half! If any one of these things had happened differently Irelyn would not be with us. God is good and blessed us through this journey.

3 years old

Aimee Sprik About Aimee Sprik

Aimee Sprik (IL) is mother to Connor, born unexpectedly early at 26 weeks, in December 2008, due to an infection. Connor, with his parents, survived a complicated 120-day NICU stay, which changed their lives forever. Since bringing her son finally home, she's felt passionately about volunteering her time and resources to supporting fellow NICU parents, both at the hospital where Connor was born, and by co-founding Life after NICU, an online parent support forum now moderated by Hand to Hold. You can follow Aimee on her personal blog, Sprik Space, or send her an email.

Comments

  1. lindsley rogers says:

    Oh my word..it’s honestly like I’m reading my own birth story here…contractions at 35 weeks, emailed hubby (out of town) from triage and said no baby that day, preterm contractions, and then the dr decided to do an ultrasound just to be safe…high fluid, they sent me down the hall to do a higher risk sonogram and it showed the baby had fluid in his chest cavity, they said I was having him that day, and not at that hospital. I was moved to a different hospital, where he stayed for about 5 hours before being picked up by a helicopter and taken to childrens in DC for ECMO…where he stayed on for 10 days b/c of his lungs being underdeveloped and hypoplastic. he also had chylothorax draining for his first 4 or so weeks…and we left the NICU just before 7 weeks! He’s doing great now…so glad your daughter is as well!

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