It has been a year now since this rollercoaster ride began. I was pregnant, happy, and everything was going great… but someone had other plans for me. It was February 27. I will never forget that day. It is imprinted into my mind with an indelible power that cannot be compared to anything else. That was the day I was admitted to the hospital with preterm labor and toxemia, 26 weeks into my pregnancy. I had absolutely no idea of what was in store for me.
My doctor told me to plan on staying until the baby was born. They were going to try to get me to 34 weeks, but Bailey had other plans.
On March 18th, my blood pressure went through the roof. They did an amniocenthesis and found out that Bailey’s lungs were not developed, in spite of four sets of shots of dexamethazone. I was transferred to the University of Washington’s Medical Center. They managed to stabilize my blood pressure; but now Bailey was having problems. Her heart rate kept dropping and she was in trouble.
On March 20th at 9:30 a.m., I called my husband and told him to get to the hospital because Bailey’s birth was now imminent. I was thirty weeks into my pregnancy. At 10:56 a.m., Bailey was born via C-section weighing only one pound, fifteen ounces, and measuring ten inches long. She squeaked on arrival. When she was not placed on a vent, I breathed a sigh of relief.
All went well for the first two and a half months. She needed a bit of oxygen, but she was growing and we thought we would be bringing her home shortly after her due date.
On June 16th, I got a call from the hospital. Bailey’s carbon dioxide levels had gone way up; they were putting her on a vent and sending her to Children’s Hospital. This was not supposed to happen to a baby who had not needed to be placed on a vent at birth. How could this be happening to us?
From June 16th until the end of November, it was touch and go. Bailey had been “trached” and was still on the vent. We were searching for a hospital that would do a lung transplant, since it appeared that this would be the only way to save our baby. St. Louis Washington University Hospital turned her down for a transplant. Her tracheobronchialmalacia was too severe. We were overcome with despair. Was there anything that could be done?
In the beginning of December, Bailey’s condition began to improve. We finally moved out of the NICU. We had made it off of the high vent down to a medium-grade hospital vent. This was a major step. There was now hope. The doctors were actually talking about Bailey being able to eventually come home. We now had to see if she could grow enough to handle going home on a vent.
Now, a year later, Bailey has grown to a whopping sixteen pounds; such a long way from the almost-two pounds that was her birth weight! She is smiling and happy. She is our little girl who’s proving everyone wrong, a shining light in the dark tunnel of the roller coaster of preemiehood.
As I write these words, we are still waiting to come home, but we will get there. A little later than sooner, but Bailey has reminded everyone that she is definitely not a textbook case.
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