Monday, September 13, 2010

I am not broken.

I am not even sure where to begin this new blog post. Things have occured in our lives lately that has altered the entire journey we call life.

For those of you whom don't know, (or don't remember since it has been so long since I have last published anything) I was expecting. My estimated due date was September 18th, 2010. You read that correctly, I did say "was" expecting...

I went into spontanious labor at 9:00pm the evening after my baby shower. I was sitting on the living room floor piddling around through all of the delightful pink items that I had brought home. As I went through each gift bag, I knew the next day I could FINALLY put the finishing touches on my much anticipated baby girl's nursery. Savannah... Savannah Victoria. That is her name.

We were awaiting our Savannah.

But as I sat there on the floor in a sea of tissue paper, and baby stuff, a sharp pain shot up my belly and my back ached. So I moved from the floor to the couch... by "moved" I mean... well picture a walrus trying to get back onto an iceburg from the ocean. Unfortunatly this didn't satisfy the sharp pains that were greeting me all to often. I told my husband, "I'm having contractions." Being he has heard this all too often, he gave his usual response with his usual pitty face, "I'm sorry."
Hormonal and uncomfortable, this typical response irritated me this time, but I went back to watching television anyways. Thirty minutes later, I said again, "I am having contractions, and they are really painful." Again, I heard "I'm sorry... are you ready for bed?"

All night long, I drifted in and out of sleep awakened by sharp contractions every three to five minutes. When daylight finally broke through the darkness, I came down the stairs to prepare for the school day that lay ahead of my two oldest little ones. (Sarah our big 1st grader, and Michael a fresh and thriving Kindergartner.) I struggled through packing lunches, while my husband said he was going to take a shower. He suggested I call the doctor. Afraid of the same "it's not time yet" answer since I afterall, was only 36weeks, I went back and forth of whether I should or shouldn't call the doctor. So instead, I opted for calling my mother at 6am, who lives an hour north of us. She answered in the obvious groggy, half asleep state. Awkwardly I asked her what she was doing. {Duh.} She asked if I was in labor and I told her I didn't know. After getting off the phone, I began rushing around to clean up the best I could. {Remember that baby shower mess, I had left all over the floor the night before?} My husband came down stairs in his work uniform looking snazzy, as always. Asking how I was feeling... {humph, now he cares} I replyed that I didn't want him to call in to work because I was terrified that this just wasn't it. In between contractions I bent down over my beach ball mid section to pick up tissue paper scattered across the floor. Being told I needed to take it easy just wasn't what I wanted to hear at that moment, so my husband steered clear of me and finished what I had attempted to start in getting the kids ready for school. As I ran around the house like Merry Maids, I noticed a slight, yet very minor gush. Could it be?... No, it can't be.... When you imagine your water breaking you invision a very dramatic disgusting water works catastrophe. Still not convinced, I called the hospital. {Still haven't called the doctor yet.} They asked what baby this was for me, and when I said my fourth, they suggested I come in right away.

Two hours later...

My parents finally arrive. My mother, whom said she was leaving right then, had aroused my father enough to where he decided to get in on the action. By action I mean, my dad feels there is never ANY hurry to get to the hospital once one is in labor. He showered. He shaved. He primped himself. I am probably sure he went out to mow and fertilize the lawn as well... why not?

Koady and I rushed out the door, dropped the kids off in their classrooms, and FINALLY headed up the hospital that sits on the hill. Contractions were feeling even more "pleasant" on the car ride there, but we joked and laughed the entire way about being sent home in the next half hour. No parking... Perfect. We continued our way up the parking structure, and finally found a spot on the second floor. My husband let me out, and proceeded to back ever so slowly into his perfect "compact" spot. Now a visual for you... a GIANT Lincoln Navigator parked in a space the size of a smart car. I was less than impressed since our car was hanging out half way in the middle of the parking garage. Just then old man jenkins came around the corner in the golf cart they refer to as the shuttle service. He was such a nice guy, and he tried to make small talk the whole ride to the front entrance. Thank goodness my husband upheld my end of the conversation, because {forgive me} I was less than gracious. I was wishing he would watch the pot holes rather than talk about how exciting it was to see baby's coming to be born at the hospital. He was also getting excited over the fact we were having a girl. He wished us good luck, and was pedal to the metal again...

After the mile hike to labor and delivery, I was finally checked. Three centimeters. The nurse was going to go finally call my poor, left in the dark, doctor. We watched for the next hour as the contractions on the monitor come at regular intervals and become stronger and closer together. We were beaming with excitement, when the nurse, Diane, came back in and checked me again. "Four centimeters, I am going to call Dr. Rodgers, and get all of your admitting paperwork started... We're gonna have a baby today!"

And we let the phone calls begin...

Koady's mom finished up at her work, and joined us a short while later. My mom and dad were watching our youngest handful, and said they would be up after my moms doctors appointment at 10:00am. My mom guessed we would have her by noon. I disagreed. My grandma and Aunt showed up a very short time before my mom got there as well. We were all anxious to meet Miss. Savannah!

Around 12:30 I was still four centimeters, but as she checked me, she definatly broke my water. Guess that answers that question. They also started a pitocin drip to help dialate me. The nurse kept saying throughout the day that I had to deliver before 7pm because that was shift change. {Such a sweet sweet lady.} Around 6pm, after my epidural, I was six centimeters, and Diane began loosing hope that she would get to deliver our baby girl. All around me I could hear new baby's crying and being welcomed into each new family. I said, "I am so jealous, everyone else has crying babies." The nurse, unknowing what the next hour held in store, softly replied, "don't worry honey, I promise you will have a crying baby soon." She turned me to my left side to try to bring Savannah's head down farther into my pelvis. Before she even left the room I said, "I'm having alot of pressure." She laughed, not expecting any change since she had just checked me, and literally just turned me to my side. She reminded me before she left the room, now don't wait too long to call me if you really start feeling pressure. Although I was numb from the pelvis down, I was "really" feeling pressure. It was a here we go again moment... everyone asked if I wanted to call the nurse. I told them she had just left and I didn't want to call her back in only a brief few minutes later, and "look stupid." This continued a good 15-20minutes, until the pressure I was feeling was causing me to not want to clench my legs together. My sister-in-law, who had arrived a few hours prior, called the nurse. "She's really feeling some pressure now." As Diane came mosying into the room, and took her time putting one glove on to check me, she went to check me once again and felt nothing but head. She looked and slammed my legs together. "Shut your legs! You were supposed to call me ahead of time!" she yelled. I began laughing uncontrollably. My body began shaking as I became anxious to meet this little person living inside me. Laughter continued to fill the room, as the nurse begged and peaded with me, "please stop laughing... you have to stop laughing... the doctor is on her way!" She had my sister-in-law call for other nurses, and as I continued laughing Savannah's head popped out. The nurse's all frantically put gloves on and set up the room as they rushed in. With Savannah aparently making her grand entrance already, the nurse knew she had to deliver the baby. She told me I had to push. Trying to contain the laughter, I gave one good push, and out she came! 6:34pm. Savannah made sure that Diane was the one who got to deliver her. As her feet came  rushing out the doctor walked around the curtain into our delivery room. If only I could have gotten a picture of the surprised look on her face. Savannah came out so quickly that they didn't even have time to lay her on my chest. 

She was absolutly gorgeous. Perfect from head to toe. Teeny tiny, but a perfect "healthy" size. She had gorgeous dark hair, and the roundest little head you could ever imagine. They hadn't even had time to get the little blanket to wipe her off, so they began wiping her with the sheet on my bed. They rubbed and rubbed... and rubbed some more. Desperatly trying to stimulate the first cry. The first gasp of air. She began to turn blue, which followed the deepest shade of purple. Tears began streaming down my face. She's going to cry, I tried to tell myself... She's going to cry, this happens all the time. 

The doctor quickly cut the cord, and they put the oxygen mask up to her mouth trying to get her to take a breath. Only moments went by before they wisked her away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

And like that the joy that had filled the room was gone. There was a deep silence that had overcome everyone who had just witnessed her birth, and what we didn't yet know, was her tragedy. Suddenly to me it was as though there was no longer anyone in the room. There was no longer any wooshing heartbeat sounds to fill the now darkening room from the sun setting in the horizon. There was no tiny movements inside of me telling me, I am your Savannah, and I am okay. More than anything... there had been no hello. I hadn't touched her. I hadn't smelled her. Where did the crying baby go that I had been promised only thirty minutes prior?

Everyone tried to stay optimistic on my behalf. "It's going to be okay," was all anyone could muster up to say to me. The doctor and nurses said she could be experiencing shock from being delivered so quickly. I clung to that, in my heart knowing that Savannah and I were in for the rides of our life. No one had answers. Dr. Rodgers and the nurses could only come in ever so often with updates because it took a long time inbetween every update to have any new information. I asked my doctor as she tried to collect blood from Savannah's umbilical cord, trying to see calmness and hope in her eyes, "Is this normal for babies born at 36weeks?" I will never forget the saddened look in her eyes when she looked straight into mine, "no... it's not normal, they usually come out wailing." Without a doubt in my mind at that very moment, I knew it was "not going to be okay." 

When the doctors and nurses had left the room, and couldn't offer any further advice, updates, or sympathy, I cried. My mother, still having no words for a time like this said again, "it's going to be okay." I broke down. I "wailed" at that moment, maybe trying to make up for the fact that my baby wasn't and couldn't "wail." "It's NOT okay, nothing about this situation is OKAY!" The room was silenced once again. There was nothing left to say. In one of the updates brought to us, they told us her lungs could both be collapsed. If only they had been...

We sat in the darkness, praying. The only positive thing we did have left to cling to. He cried with us that night. He knew. He was ready, but He still cried. He held our hearts. I asked as hours passed, still awaiting any news about our Savannah, "how can someone say goodbye before they ever get to say hello?"  

Around 9:30pm, a light shined into our room from the hallway. "Mr. & Mrs. Fraser?" We shook our heads in agreement. "Would you like your family to wait in the hallway while we talk to you?" I answered "no." Everyone was still there in anticipation that Savannah was going to be just fine. They had seen it all. There was no reason for anyone to be asked to leave. They had been praying for good news just as much as we had. 

"My name is Dr. Jane, I am the neonatologist working on your babygirl." There was another lady standing in the doorway. Stumbling over her next words, she said, "And this is our Spiritual Counselour here at Mercy." Tears and uncontrollable sobs overcame me. Realizing what she had just said sounded awful, you could tell she wished she could do introductions all over again. "No, no, she just comes with me to offer her support when families have babies placed in Intensive Care."

"Thank you GOD, my baby isn't dead," I thought to myself. I braced myself for what came next. "Your baby is in very critical condition." She began drawing on the white board a diagram trying to give us a visual example of what she was telling us. "Your baby has a hole in her diaphram. The diaphram seperates the liver, kidneys, and intestines from the lungs and heart. Since there is a hole in the diaphram this has allowed her liver and small intestine to come through and push up against her lungs causing them to be underdeveloped. This isn't something that can be prevented or explained it wasn't caused by anything that you did or didn't do. We don't have the equiptment or surgeons here at Mercy to care for her, so we are air lifting her to UC Davis tongiht. The air support team has already left and they will be here in an hour and ten minutes, and you can come see your baby in fifteen minutes." 

As we thanked her for all of her efforts, and she solomnly left our room, I asked for a minute with my husband. Our families left the room to go make phone calls and ask people to pray. We held each other and cried. How could this be happening? I had just delivered a baby hours before and she was leaving me. She was going to be two and a half hours away from me. What was I going to do? Just then the new nurse came in and told me my doctor, {God bless her} had said she would discharge me if I wanted, so I could go down and be with my baby. I got up to get dressed, and get my things together. {And by got up I mean I was basically carried because my epidural hadn't worn off yet.} She offered for me to get in the shower, but I declined not wanting to miss the oppertunity to meet my beautiful baby girl for the first time. We walked down the hallway to the "NICU" trying to prepare ourselves for what our minds couldn't fathom. We scrubbed in, we put on the gowns, and laid eyes on her. Laying there helplessly. She was on a ventilator that pumped quickly trying not to give the lungs a chance to fully collapse. She had two IV's through her belly button. She had heart monitors, and more lines run to her than I could ever remember in those first few overwhelming moments. But she was still gorgeous. Still perfect in everyway. She gripped her daddies finger, and had white knuckles as though to say, "I will never let go." We sat there in the tiny space of the NICU surrounded by much "Savannah hustle and bustle," but oohed and awwed over her. We talked to her. We kissed her. We had her "blessed." We told her she would beat all odds. We marveled.

We finally said hello. It wasn't time for goodbye... not yet. 
And God was there. And he continued to cry... All the while holding our hands and hearts. 

We said not Goodbye, but we'll see you soon, as the very focused UC Davis Air Support team of specialists filled the hallways. One of the surgeons stopped to have us sign paperwork, and talk to us. She asked us if we understood Savannah's condition. We told her everything that we knew. Before she left, and as hard as I am sure it was for her to say, she left us with, "I think you need to prepare yourselves, because she may not make it through the night."

We walked out of the hospital into the cool night air. We had gone in filled and excited. We were leaving with more than a hole in a diaphram, but a hole in our hearts. We were emptyhanded. We ran home to pack... {we won't ask my husband the job I did on packing his clothes,} and spent the next two and a half hours crying and wondering when we would wake from the nightmare we now called life. Once we got a hold of our emotions we sat in silence. We were about half way there when Koady reached out to the radio looking for music to grasp onto to distract our minds. As he turned up the music, the first song we heard began playing. We listened intently to each and everyword...

"If I die young, bury me in satin,
Lay me down on a bed of roses,
Sink me in the river at dawn,
Send me away with the words of a love song.
Uh-oh Uh-oh

Lord make me a rainbow I'll shine down on my mother,
She'll know I am safe with you when she stands under my colors.
Life aint always what you think it ought to be, no
Aint even grey, but she buries her baby.

The sharp knife of a short life, well
I've had just enough time."

That was as much as we could take. We were both in tears again. Koady turned the music off, and I said "what kind of song is that?" Koady agreed, "I've never even heard that stupid song." We sat there in silence again, now thinking of the words of the song we just heard. Shortly after we decided the radio wasn't offering alot of comfort, the cell phone rang... with a Sacramento area code. I answered, though I really wanted to throw the phone out the window and drive as far away from reality as humanly possible. The doctor on the other side of the phone said Savannah needed surgery to put her on a machine that oxygenates the blood in her body so her lungs could rest and possibly expand and build tissue. They went over the risk factors of what is known as the ECMO machine. {Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.} "If she has this surgery, she has a 50/50 chance of living. If she doesn't have the surgery now she has a 70% chance of dying." We gave them the okay to go through with the surgery. They already had called doctors and surgeons who were on their way into the hospital. In a split second without even a second to question ourselves we made the first hard decision of many to come...

When we finally arrived at Davis... {and found our way through the biggest hospital we had ever seen in our lives} Savannah was already half way through her surgery. We were exhausted. We looked a wreck. But everyone was so gracious. They brought us pillows & blankets. They accepted the fact we took brief catnaps on the hospital floors. When we arrived they handed me a tiny "biohazard" bag filled with her hospital hats and the wrist bands from Mercy. I took the hat out that she had on when I first got to meet her. I smelled it. Her tiny hairs had rubbed off onto it. I cried. I wanted nothing more than to be back in my hospital bed, cradling my new baby. Not her hat.

With daylight breaking, I praised Him. She has already beaten her odds. She made it through the night. They said she did wonderfully throught the surgery. Usually they have to sustain their life, but they didn't have to do that with her. "Lord, she is a fighter, she is going to make it... she has to make it through this right?" I was thanking him, but desperate for his answers all at the same time. He still listened.

We stayed in Sacramento for the entire rest of the week. We made our regular {anticipated} visits. We became like family with the doctors and nurses. It was never a sad time when we were there with her. There was laughter. We talked to her like she was healthy, and not under sedation. We touched her. We tickled her. We got excited over new socks, first poo's, and breast milk feedings. We didn't want to come home, but we knew we had to. We still had three other little ones, and Koady had a job he had to get back to. She was doing so good. Everyone who knew her, knew she was a fighter. She was going to keep fighting. We left with our heads held high, and peace in our hearts. She was in good hands... God was there by her side when we couldn't be. On the drive home we, again, about half way home turned on the radio to break the silence. The same song began playing from the very beginning once more. This time being filled with much more strength we listened all the way through. We called it "Savannah's song."

Koady went back to work, the next day and my mom came down to stay with us until the next weekend when we planned on going back down to our baby girl. We called often that first day being away from her. They told us she was going to have a CT scan and they should have the results Tuesday afternoon. The daily x-rays weren't showing them as much as they wanted to be seeing. She was still doing well.

Tuesday morning my mom and Brody and I went to Kohls' and were basking in all of the pink outfits, and filling the cart with things we couldn't wait to see her in when we brought her home. The cell phone rang. Koady was on the other end. "Mina just called and they need us to come down right now to discuss the results of the CT scan with the doctors." My heart began beating faster. I was confused. "Did she say what they wanna talk about?" Koady sounded upset. "She said she couldn't say anything, and asked that I understood that our baby was really sick." We left all of the clothes that I was thankful we hadn't yet purchased, and rushed home. Koady and I left on an all too familiar road trip. We spent a lot of time discussing what "it" could be that they wanted to talk about. While we tried to remain optimistic for our sweet Savannah, we knew in our hearts that the song we heard both times on the radio was far from coincidence. It was our Jesus trying to prepare us for the fact that "our" Savannah was only here for a visit, and from the very beginning He was bringing her home.
I didn't question Him.

When we arrived at the hospital for the last time, everyone in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, had saddened hearts for us. You could tell from the smiles they tried to muster as we walked down the hallway to Savannah's room. {Room six.} We greeted her as we always did. "Hello gorgeous. Look at you! Your beautiful eyes are open today!" Mina came over to us, and wrapped her arms around me. She told us the results didn't look good. I began crying, which made her break down as well. They all loved our Savannah. Besides Koady and I, and a brief visit from Grammy, the nurses and doctors were her "family." We were all she knew in her brief time with us. While Mina went to call in Dr. Pretzlaf, we excused ourselves to a secluded room where families can go to be alone. We cried... Hysterically. We gave ourselves a good five minutes to break down and just mourn. And again He cried with us. But then, he extended his arms and lifted us up again. We were okay. Savannah was going to be "okay." He was getting ready to answer millions of prayers for our Savannah. She was going to be healed that night. No more pain, no more suffering. She was going to be whole.

When we made our way back to her room, Dr. Pretzlaf showed us the results of the scan. Little had we known this whole time, Savannah had no right lung at all. Her heart was so compressed to her left side due to the fact that her liver had finally made it's way entirely through the hole in her diaphram. Since there was no right lung to expand and push the liver down, the left lung {being the size of a raisin} just wasn't strong enough to expand at all to push the heart over.

Savannah was never going to be able to come home. And we accepted that. We made the final hardest decision we will ever face in life. Savannah was going to be taken off of the ECMO machine later that night. We asked that someone come in to baptise her. While we waited, we got to play with her. We made a plaster handprint. We made many handprints and footprints using different colored inks. We took many many pictures. We laughed. We smiled. There were no more tears to be shed. We held our heads high, and spent quality time with our baby. We knew we would miss her. Every second. Every day. For the rest of our lives. But we spent her last few hours happy. Happy and thankful. Thankful that she would be okay. Thankful for the Lord in our lives. Thankful he loved us so much to give her to us for eight AMAZING days. There wasn't anything NOT to be happy about. We still didn't question him. We sat and watched the most beautiful sunset with her. She had quite the view from her little hospital room. Again we sat as darkness filled yet another hospital room. We held a quiet baptism for her. We held her in our arms. We both took a turn. And they placed her in my arms one last time...

She held Koady's finger in one hand, and mine in the other. The second before they clipped the tubes running to the ECMO machine she clenched both of our fingers as though she was trying to comfort us. "Don't be scared mommy and daddy, Jesus is waiting for me. It's going to be okay." This time, it really was going to be okay.

The doctors told us she would go fast. Our little fighter lasted almost an hour. Koady began to tell her the story of how he and I met. And our journey since then. Every last detail of our lives. When he got to the moment that we had her, Savannah's heart stopped beating, left our arms, and she was welcomed into the arms of the Lord.

We left the hospital, filled with a new love. We now know what it is like to love a baby that is taken back. He hasn't hurt us in this. We have come out stronger in our faith because of this. Savannah will continue to bring others closer to Him because of her story as well. She served a BIG purpose, for such a little life. I am not broken. I am better off than I could have ever been if Savannah had stayed here.

And if I knew what I know now I would gladly do it all over again, to be blessed with eight heaven sent days... He is no longer crying, and neither am I.


Charis said...

megan, i cried as i read your blog. i am still crying right now. i am so saddened at your loss of your amazing daughter. i marvel at your strength in walking through all of this. it is evident that God is near you right now. thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story and the life of your daughter with us. i pray that He fills each day with the peace that passes understanding. prayers and hugs to you.

Wendi@Every Day Miracles said...

Megan - oh sweetie, if you could see me now and the tears streaming down my face you would know that your burden is shared and your grief understood..
I am so sorry for your loss. I am deeply grateful for your unwavering trust in the God who's heart aches for you.
Stand strong. You will never forget. Never ever. But it will get better. Every day - a little more healing.

Jersey Girl in Louisiana said...

Megan, I am praying so hard for your family!!!! I am so very sorry for your loss.

Friedli 4 said...

Your story made me cry but realize how lucky we are to have God.

Tina said...

Dear megan,

I'm so sorry for your loss. know that I am praying for you and your family my sweet Sister in Christ. You are such an inspiration and encouragement.

You have really touched my Heart and how precious and sweet Savannah is! Such a precious Gift from God!

I have never had a child. Oh how much I want/wanted a child. Maybe the Lord will fulfill my God sized dream of adopting some day! I had to have a total hysterectomy because of severe endometriosis and I started bleeding all the time without it stopping and constant pain. It was in stage 4 so I would not have been able to carry the baby even if I had conceived.

Gosd Bless you my dear Sweet Sister and if you need to vent or just talk i'm here for you. I know that you have friends and family but the offer still stands!

Big (((HHHUUGGSSS))Prayers & Love

Sis in Christ

Stacey said...

You tell Savannah's story beautifully with so much love for her that is never ending. I have yet to see a picture of Savannah yet but I envision such a beautiful angel with pink surrounding her and one of the most beautiful souls that God has ever created.
I am so sorry that Savannah is not in your arms but I am sure oftens he sends you signs and you continue to feel her presence. My heart breaks for you and your family but your strength and outlook is inspirational and hope it will be inspiration to other families who are on the same path as we are.
Thinking of you, your husband, your children, and will always remember & keep Savannah in my heart!

Jaydens mommy said...

Megan, I put off reading your story for a little while because I knew so much of Savannah I thought it would be easier. (yeah right). Savannah is so proud of you & her father it radiates through every word you speak. The song you heard in the car, I hear often when I miss Jayden the most. Its an amazing song with a lot of power in those words. As tears flow freely and with a unending trail I must say when Koady told Savannah of your story it is a magical (but heartbreaking) moment when she physically left you both. I am impressed by your trust in God and find it as a encouragement for me to work on building my trust. Thank you for sharing Savannah's beautiful life story with us, and her story isn't over by any means.

Anonymous said...

I cam over from Baby Fields. What a touching testimony. I cried reading this. You are so strong and amazing. Praying for you all.

Mrs. Tate said...


I came across your blog and I am so completely touched by your strength through your loss.

We have similar stories, although my daughter, Caris, had an enlarged heart making it difficult for the blood to travel to her lungs to oxygenate her body.

The last day of her life they gave us the same odds, she had a 70% chance of dying if she were not put on ECMO. We made the hard decision to send her 3 hours away to begin that procedure.

Her stats kept dropping in their attempts to get her stabilized enough to actually be hooked up to the machine. After trying to resuscitate her for a half hour, she could no longer fight, and God took her home.

We had her for 6 glorious days. We never got to hold her until she had already gone, but when we did it was the most amazing feeling in the world. She is my first baby... My husband and I held her for 4 hours, made foot and hand molds and we also were given snippets of her hair.

She has been gone now for 31 days... I long for the day when I can say "I am not broken." -- I'm not there yet, but I know I will be one day.

Thank you for sharing.


Holly said...

So many tears for you. Your story and your daughter is beautiful

Twiggy said...

I'm writting you from Portugal.
I read your words and I couldn't help crying. My nephew was born at about 1 month with CDH. We're still waiting to see what is going to happen...
thanks for your blog and be sure that Savannah is up there looking at you at this specific moment... maybe she made me right to you:) geetings, Ana*