Our story actually starts in 2003, when I went through the loss of three pregnancies, many tests, and a surgery. In January, 2004, I found out I was pregnant with Alexis.
At six weeks, I had a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is like a blood clot between the placenta and uterine. This causes much bleeding and panicking, so I was thankful to see a tiny beating heart on the ultrasound screen indicating she was OK. From then on, each ultrasound was such a reassurance. By 20 weeks, the hemorrhage was gone.
At 32 weeks, we discovered Alexis was in a Frank’s breech position, where her butt was down with her head up under my ribs on one side, while her feet were up under my ribs on the other side. My uterus is heart-shaped; she was stuck and didn’t have enough room to turn. My doctor offered to try a manual turn, but I declined because of the major risk and my situation. We scheduled a C-section for October 15.
After 32 weeks, I felt less and less movement. I knew babies had less room as they grew, and that my heart-shaped uterus would give her even less room. The last movement I remember feeling was on October 12. She had the hiccups in utero.
That night I was extremely uncomfortable; I had Braxton-Hicks contractions and started losing my mucus plug. I was worried about not feeling any movement. The only thing that kept me from panicking completely was that I could feel her body heat from her head. I could literally hold it in my hands and feel that she was still alive because she still had body heat.
I had an appointment the next morning with the anesthesiologist for the C-section. I barely made it because I was so uncomfortable. Then I had lunch with my mom for her birthday. I went home and lay on the couch. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore; I still hadn’t felt movement, and the Braxton-Hicks were coming every 30 to 60 seconds. I called my doctor and my husband, whom I met at the hospital.
We saw Alexis' heartbeat on the monitor. I drank juice and they put a vibrating tool on my belly to get her to move, but she didn’t move. Contractions kept coming. My doctor ordered a biophysical profile, but the only movement was the beating of her heart. My doctor made the decision to go ahead and do the C-section as soon as the anesthesiologist got there. At 7 PM on Oct. 13, 2004, Alexis Hope was born.
She wasn't crying or breathing at first; she was limp and floppy with very low Apgar scores. They called in a helicopter to life-flight her to a larger hospital. She was having seizures and had very low muscle tone. She was in the NICU for the first nine days of her life. I was in a different hospital for the first four days and as soon as I was discharged, I planted myself by her side at the other hospital.
Alexis was finally discharged and we came home. The umbilical cord had been around her neck three times so lack of oxygen was the cause of her challenges. Thank God there were no lasting effects and that I went to the hospital on the day I did. She could have had permanent damage or been a stillbirth.
Alexis was on anti-seizure medication for her first nine months and had regular visits to the neurologist. She had physical therapy and occupational therapy with an early intervention program. At nine months she had an EEG, which was normal, so we weaned her off medicine and no longer visited the neurologist. Her therapy lasted 12 months.
Alexis's middle name is Hope because she was our hope baby; we had hoped for her. I hope our story will bring others hope that they can have kids after suffering miscarriages. And being born with complications, she was born with (and starting life with!) so much prayer and hope.
Today, Alexis is a happy, healthy, energetic, and sometimes, strong-willed little girl. She’s also the proud big sister to Jasmine Brielle, our second daughter, who was born May 12, 2006. Every baby is an absolute miracle.