Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Blogger Sandy Graham)

Dear Mr. Sparks,

During a 13 week scan it was noted that the baby I was carrying had a thickened NT sac behind the neck, and I was told that I should have a CVS done as this could mean that the baby may have chromosomal damage. The next week I had the CVS done and then had to wait an agonizing 2 weeks for the results.

My husband took the day off work to come in with me and we were over the moon to find out that all was well. What's more, I found out that I was having a girl! We have 2 wonderful boys, and I fell pregnant again hoping I would be blessed with a girl. So you can imagine how excited I was, not only to be told my baby was healthy, but also was a girl.

However, my excitement was short lived when I had my 18 week scan during which I was told that my baby had her stomach in her lung area. At the time, naive as I was about it, I said "Oh that's OK it will just go back won't it?" But I soon found out it wasn't that easy.

I can still remember how devastated I felt. I had to drive 45 minutes back home through city traffic (Brisbane) and I don't know how I managed. My husband Ian and I had to go back to the hospital the next day to meet with the team of specialists and they fully explained everything and they gave my baby a 50/50 chance of surviving. I was asked if I wanted to terminate and of course I said no. I would be forever wondering "what if?" So the months went on and each time I had to go for another ultrasound, starting with an MRI scan. I hoped they would say it was all just a mistake but that never happened. Instead they would remind me that things weren't looking good and let me know in a subtle way that I should prepare for the worst. I dreaded going to the hospital because to me it felt like my baby was normal. She moved heaps and kicked strongly, but they said it would seem this way because she didn't need to breathe in the womb.

I was 32 weeks when they said I had started to fill with fluid. However, they didn't want to syringe it out as I may have gone into labour and they wanted me to go as close to term as possible. This was so she would be more mature, thus giving her lungs the last few weeks to expand. They had scheduled my inducement for the 39th week so they hoped the fluid wouldn't get too much.

Finally I made it to week 39 and the day was the 7th of January, 2003. After 6 hours in labour, Kirra Renae was born at the Royal Women's Hospital in Brisbane. I didn't even get to look at her. My husband put his head on mine as soon as she came out and then they took her away. The midwife said the doctors would come and get us when she was stable. Four hours went by and I kept asking why wasn't anyone coming to take me to see my baby, but no one would answer me. (Later I found out why, no one thought she would live.)

Finally in the 5th hour they said we could go see her. I was not prepared for what I saw or heard. How could you be? There were machines and IV lines everywhere and the oscillating vent made her body shake. Her skin colour looked bruised in places from the lack of oxygen she had suffered. The doctor said that they had found stomach, intestines, bowel and some liver in the lung space and couldn't see any lung at all on the left side. He said that her heart was pushed to the right side and they could only see a small bud that was her right lung. He gave her less than 10% chance of surviving and thought it best if we had the hospital chaplain come in. That brought me out of my shock and I said no way, that she was going to fight and that she was strong and she would live. They told my husband that they didn't think she would make it through the next hour let alone the night so he should bring in family to see her. He drove home and got our sons, my father and my brother (my mum was with me). After they all came and went I was given a sedative and slept. I woke early the next morning and went to see Kirra. She had had a rough night because they said she couldn't be moved even slightly or else her sats would drop. They were just trying to bring her sats back up when I came in. I held her little hand and within minutes she was stable again, much to everyone's surprise.

By the 3rd day they had completely turned off one of her blood pressure medicines. On the 7th day they operated. We were told that she wasn't going to be anymore stable and if they didn't operate she would go downhill anyway, and that even then they didn't think she was strong enough and not to get our hopes up. They turned the isolation room she was in, into the operating room, as she still could not tolerate movement. Yet again they were stunned by Kirra as none of her vitals even changed during the 50 minute operation.

Kirra continued to improve and on the 16th day the oscillating vent was turned off and she started to breathe against the normal vent. On the 20th day the nitric oxide was fully off and 2 days later she was extubated, though she had to stay on 75 mls of oxygen through nasal prongs. Kirra was 34 days old when she was able to breathe the same air as us and she came home one day before she was 3 months old. She had only mild reflux, and we moved from the city to get her cleaner air. She avoided the winter colds and flu.

Kirra is now nearly 2 years old and has never looked back and has had no more problems. Last month she was fully discharged from seeing the doctors, and they say she may only get a little breathless running in school.

Wow I am so glad I went through with my pregnancy! I have a beautiful daughter and she is my shining star. I will be forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who helped save our daughter. I believe that hope and strength helped her too, and the heartfelt thoughts of friends and family banded together, brought strength to her as well. I hope this story lets others know that no matter how bad things seem there will always be a "silver lining!"

Kirra's mom, Sandy Graham (Australia).

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