Twelve years ago today, I was waking up in a hospital bed on the delivery floor at Good Samaritan. At the time, this hospital housed PCH, which was where I needed to be for my unborn son. I was 31 weeks pregnant. In November of 2005, I was a full-time high school teacher traveling between two separate campuses. It was proving to be too much and my OB prescribed bedrest. Initially, I was reluctant at the thought because the plan was to make it through mid-December and Winter Break. On my second day of bedrest, I had a regularly scheduled appointment. While waiting for him to see me in the exam room, I heard him talking on the phone and he was admitting someone to the hospital. Then, I heard my name. He entered the room and told me the results of the labs that I had done over Veteran's Day weekend. I had severe preeclampsia. Seeing the now worried look on my face, he gently told me that I was now beyond his level of expertise and asking if and how soon I could get myself to the hospital. I called my husband at work, met him at home, packed a bag, and checked in.
I was immediately taken into an observation room, started another 24-hour protein screening, hooked up to magnesium sulfate, and getting ready to receive the first of two very important steroid injections for my son's lungs to develop. I had a team of doctors with titles I truly had never even heard of before, but was so thankful they were there. I made a living at speaking world languages. The doctors were speaking English, but it was medical jargon that was so foreign to me. We talked about goals and getting me to 32 weeks for the hope of lungs to be a bit stronger. My BPs were really elevated entering the scary zone, so we were hoping that the mag would help keep me preggo and stave off labor. When I was admitted, I was having contractions 4 minutes apart. I was so swollen that I couldn't even feel them! I was focusing more on hearing the gush of water in my feet, like the sound of wet shoes, when I was still able to get up and use the restroom.
Every single plan, timeline, maternity leave dates had just gone out the door. Our lives were in others' hands and my mind was spinning about all of the what ifs, things that would actually become my reality just three years later with my third pregnancy. The mag was working and I was moved to another floor for more observation. I spent three more days there and then one Sunday afternoon, a different doctor came to my room. Dr. John Elliott, internationally recognized as the authority on maternal-fetal medicine, had taken a special interest in my case. He was explaining that he'd be on shift for the next day and he'd be delivering my son if there were any significant changes. Later that night, the results of that latest protein screening came back and they were off the charts! My BPs continued to climb and a chest x-ray now showed that I had water in my lungs. The water pills I had been given were now doing their job and I think I could have filled up a bucket on my own. I was now back on the delivery floor in an area closer to an operating room with fetal heart monitor and meds to help induce things downstairs. After 8 hours, I was not making any progress and our son's heart was starting to slow.
In the operating room, a nurse hugged me as I received an epidural. She was noticeably pregnant herself and shared that she was having a girl. Our tummies were touching. Trying her best to help calm my uncontrollable shaky body and in attempt to lighten the mood, she said that our babies were kissing. It was strange watching a team of doctors just waiting around to work on and care for your baby. Dr. E prefers to listen to music and oldies tunes in the delivery room which actually helped me relax somewhat. I had listened to "Good Vibrations" as well as "Monday Monday" and by the time Elton John's "Your Song" was ending in the background, Donovyn was in the world! He was alive and crying. It was and still is one of the best moments of my life. My husband and I had been holding our breath and I was being reminded to breathe. He was quickly shown to us before being whisked away to the NICU. I saw him briefly one more time, but I was too sick to visit again. Back to recovery and back on mag I went. I never held him on his birthday. There were no guarantees from anyone that he would be okay. I spent that evening wondering about things that no new parent should ever have to consider. Things that would unfortunately become familiar to me years later. In that moment, I was now a mom and the future was so uncertain.
He had some common preemie issues like transfusions, phototherapy, Bradys, and a feeding tube. He spent 21 days at two different NICUs. He was transferred to the second location on the day of his planned baby shower. Donovyn will be turning 12 next week. He is now in the 7th grade, a swimmer, still loves those Transformers, and has one of the kindest hearts of any boy I've ever met. He has an IEP for an SLI stutter and receives ongoing virtual speech services. He is the best biggest brother to Tristyn (34-weeker) and Naethyn (30-weeker angel).
I am and will be forever grateful for the care that we both received. I am so thankful to my OB who recognized the symptoms, ordered tests to be sure, and professionally stepped aside to get me better care. He was there for me two more times, but unfortunately fate and the economy had other plans for us in 2009. I was able to visit with Dr. E in January of 2010 to discuss all the things that went south with my final pregnancy. The look on his face when I told him how the pregnancy unfolded was priceless. He is one of the co-chairs for the March for Babies Walk in Phx next Spring. I hope that I might get a glimpse of him if there, maybe shake his hand again, and introduce him to the baby (now young man) he delivered. Tonight, I'm lighting it up purple. I'm remembering all of the memories of prematurity in my family: what it took away, who it took away, and how it affects my living sons daily. There is still so much more good work to be done. I hope that you will join me in remembering those who left us too soon, wear purple, donate, and help spread world prematurity awareness.
In the 1st NICU, receiving transfusions and holding him for the second time.
In the second NICU, growing strong and healthy.
Macy's Shop-For-A-Cause 2017
Celebrating our November birthdays in Buena Park, CA last week.
This is a beautiful post. You always do such a great job of getting your thoughts down.
Thanks for all that you do for MOD! Your boys are amazing and your posts are a perfect tribute of you love for them.
Love and Hugs
Lindsey -- your posts always get me. Thank you for being such a hero for babies -- including your own. Hugs and love!
Good grief!! Where has the time gone??? 7th grader? That seems so "old"..... I know you're proud of this young man as he continues to mature and guide his little brother along life's journey.
March of Dimes fights for the health of all moms and babies. We're advocating for policies to protect them. We're working to radically improve the health care they receive. We're pioneering research to find solutions. We're empowering families with the knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies. By uniting communities, we're building a brighter future for us all.
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