Saturday, June 6, 2015

June 6 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Blogger Shanell Browand)

Dear Mr. Sparks,

Hello. My name is Shanell Browand and I would like to tell you my story. It’s about my daughter and her struggle at birth. This is a shorter version.

When I was 17, me and my boyfriend, now my husband found out that we were expecting. We went through the normal pregnancy stuff, doctors, planning the room, until May 9, 2007. We went into the doctors to see if we were having a girl or a boy. We found out that we were having a girl, but we also found out that she was diagnosed with a birth defect called a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. We had no idea what a congenital diaphragmatic hernia was. In Ayda, our daughters cause, we found out that early in gestation, her diaphragm didn't completely form, and there was a hole on her left side of the diaphragm. Her stomach and her intestines moved their way up through the hole and placed themselves where the heart was supposed to be, causing the heart to be where the lungs are supposed to be, causing her lungs to not form completely due to the very small amount of room in her chest. They told us that 1 out of every 2,000 babies are born with CDH. The survival rate is only 50%

Ever since that day, our lives where forever changed. I was currently in high school, but I dropped out because all of the distractions and doctors appointments were a little more important. All I wanted to focus on was my daughter and what was going to happen once she was born.

Late in August, I went into preterm labor and was admitted into the Sacred Heart Birth Place Antepartum. They placed me on bed rest and I was having about 4 medications to try and keep me from giving birth. They told me that if I gave birth to Ayda right now, she wouldn't survive since she only weighed 5 lbs at the time. I was in Antepartum a month before Ayda was born. I couldn't go home, the hospital was about 2 hours away from my house. The hospital was my new home.

On September 20, 2007, Ayda Rose Browand was born at 4:42pm, weighing 7lbs 11oz. I couldn't hold her. They took her over to the bed and cleaned her up as they put her on oxygen. I looked around. My hospital room was full of stress. I had my husband, mother in law, mom, grandma, two Antepartum nurses, 2 OB/GYNs, 2 NICU doctors, and 4 NICU nurses. It was so stressful! They wouldn't let Ayda cry because they didn't want more organs to get sucked up into the chest cavity and cause even more of a problem. They started to wheel Ayda up to the NICU. Sam followed them and kept on calling me with updates.

Once I was able to go upstairs to see her, I was in shock. The room was full with nurses and doctors, alarms were going off saying that her oxygen was to low and her heart rate was too high. They would shoot some medicine into her arm. The sound of the ventilator hummed in the background. I wheeled myself over to my precious baby just to see her eyes closed, her chest moving not from her breathing, but from the ventilators breathing, and not seeing her wiggle her toes. They had to put her on some special medication that would make her not be able to move because she was trying to spit out the ventilator when she was born. All I could do was pray and stare. I couldn't help her, she couldn't help herself. We were both helpless.

The next couple of weeks were like riding a roller coaster. She would do really good, and then she would drop back down. " 45% oxygen ", I starred at the monitor every second, just to make sure she was being a good girl. They said my eyes were glued to that thing. I would send Sam up to check on our daughter and the first thing I would ask was " how are her oxygen saturations?" She became so unstable that they started to talk to us about " the last resort", ECMO. We decided to say no. We didn't want her to suffer any more than she already was. The rest off that night, I was scared that we just let our baby pass, I was up about every 3 hours making sure she was okay, calling the nurses over and over. Praying was the main time I spent while at the NICU.

The morning after our decision about ECMO, they told us that Ayda was now stable enough to have surgery. They scheduled it for October 1st, Sam's sister's birthday. We were so relieved. Finally, we were moving our way through the tunnel. Her surgery went well. A couple of weeks later, she reherniated and a second surgery went through. They had to put mesh in to patch the hole. After her surgery, the slowly began bringing down the settings of her ventilator, oxygen, and all the other wires and tubes she was hooked up on. When she was off of the ventilator, she was able to eat. At the beginning of November, they moved us up to the NICU stepdown unit. That meant we were on our way to going home!

On November 30th, We were able to go home!!!

Currently, Ayda is growing like a "normal baby" ( that's what the doctors say ) She as healthy as she can be! The only time she has gotten sick is a cold and stomach flu. She is very social, and she loves, LOVES to talk, play, and smile.

We are so blessed to be where we are now. She shows just how powerful prayer is, how powerful our Lord is! I hope that my story inspires people to help find a cause and cure for this terrible birth defect. I am planning a fundraiser in honor of Ayda, and there shall be many more to come. She is my inspiration. She is our miracle and I thank God for her everyday. God Bless

Ayda's mom, Shanell Browand (ID, USA)

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