Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One year ago (now with video)

At 23 weeks and 4 days, my water broke. It was a Sunday afternoon, October 12th, around 5 pm. I had been convicted to bed rest since September 25th. I had been working very hard--too hard if you ask me--wondering how, for heaven's sake, I would be able to keep up the pace for at least four more months, while fighting off the cramps (which we assumed they were early Braxton Hicks). Anyway, it was Sunday afternoon, my sister's birthday, and "almost" Dad was about to leave on a walk. I heard him open the door and at the same time felt, and I think also heard, a loud pop--water everywhere.

Before I knew it, "almost" Dad was carrying me to the car and driving around the block, as we lived two blocks away from Alta Bates hospital. He parked in a taxi spot in front of the hospital and wheeled me up to the triage. Was it panic I felt? I am not sure. Dad later explained he thought that this was it: No more baby. I certainly did not feel that way, but I was awfully aware of the major risks and issues immediately ahead of us.

While being admitted by a lovely nurse (one of many to follow), the doctor was on her way. This was not my own doctor. In fact, just two days earlier I had asked my own OB/GYN if there was a way for me to avoid being seen by this particular colleague of hers. Wow, was this karma biting me in the behind for being too picky?

This doctor who admitted me forever changed my abilities to advocate for myself and my yet-to-be-born son. As background: It is common practice during preterm labor to give the mother steroid shots. It has shown to make a major difference in the babies chances of survival, as it gives a major boost to the maturation of the lungs. Thank goodness I knew this. Unfortunately this doctor was not very willing to assist us with this, as I had not reached the 24 week mark. Seriously?!? I was given a variety of medications in order to stop labor, yet she was unwilling to provide me with this simple, yet possibly lifesaving medication? As I pushed her on the issue, she walked away. And while I was still soaking wet, waiting on the table during admission, she shoved--yes literally shoved--a piece of paper in my face describing viability and percentages of disabilities among micro preemies. I thanked her for the paper, explained I knew very well what the chances were through my work, and asked if she could please give me the shot right now?

I did get the shot. I must have asked a hundred times; even after I already received it, I was obviously confused. I was brought to a room--number 8--where I spent the next six days literally tripping my head off from the magnesium in my system. I have never been this scared. I lived in a vacuum of fear and knowledge that this baby was going to be born way too early. Way too early.....

One year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed desperately trying to hold on to the baby growing inside of me. Approximately one year ago, Dr. Dudell, one of the neonatologists at the NICU, came to our room to talk to us about the viability of our baby. For the first time since I was admitted, I was able to truly hear the numbers that I had known all along. She handed us the same piece of paper that we had seen during admission, but with significantly more respect and much better timing. What we already knew became much clearer: 23 weeks and some days is not a good time to have one's baby. Numbers vary somewhat but range from approximately 20-40% chance of survival at 23 weeks. The numbers rapidly look better and range from 50-70% at around 25 weeks. If, and when, a baby survives, the chances of disabilities and health issues are overwhelming. The picture sketched for us looked terrifying. This has been the only moment throughout the entire process that I allowed myself to realize this. Most of the time I could not comprehend the possibility of loosing this precious life.

After a week in which we celebrated every hour of prolonged pregnancy, I very clearly felt different on Friday the 17th of October. The cramps became more frequent, and although nothing registered on the monitor as contractions, I certainly thought I was in labor. I was afraid, knowing that there was no more medicine I could be given to keep the little guy in. I was constantly balancing on the edge of magnesium poisoning. It became harder to track the fetus by monitor and finally on Saturday morning, Nicky, my nurse of the day, decided to have me track the cramps by pushing a button, rather than relying on the monitor to register. Indeed, I was having frequent contractions. A doctor came to check dilation and thought she felt a little leg in the birth canal. I was completely dilated. Gears were rapidly kicked in motion, my own doctor was called in, "almost" Dad was called (as he was at home taking a shower), and my hand was held by my close friend Laureen.

Very scary times, and yet I knew it was going to be okay--whatever okay meant. Our baby, this little early bird, was going to be okay. We did what we could do and the doctors and nurses certainly did all they could do as well. 24 3/7 was the absolute max.

During the c-section Amy Whinehouse played. I guess we forgot to bring our own iPod! The tiny person was rescued from my womb, which he had outgrown already, and made his entrance into this world, unable to breathe on his own and unable to sustain life without support. It was awfully quiet for a long time. Nobody could tell me how the baby was doing. Dad was asked to come and see the baby. After the little guy was somewhat stable, he was brought up to the NICU, with Dad in tow, as well as our friend Sarah. Laureen came in again later and also went up to see our tiny elf. All agreed that he was gorgeous. Now I just needed to feel my feet and wiggle my toes in order to be wheeled up in my bed to meet my son. It took hours before the anesthesia left my body.

I met my son Loki Sky, then known as Baby Boy Sprenger, for the first time in room 3 at the ABSMC NICU. Many people had already seen him. Dad had played him the little music box. Our baby's eyes were unopened. He was tiny as could be at 1 pound 5 ounces, but oh what a precious and beautiful baby boy he was. And what a breathtakingly scary start.

Almost one year ago our baby boy Loki was born. We had no idea what would happen. The roller coaster NICU ride was not what we hoped for. But it could have turned out very different as well. We are blessed with an amazing child. And although it is easy to say in hindsight, I do believe I knew this boy was going to be okay when he announced his pending arrival on that Friday the 17th of October.

Update from Dad (1:23 PM PDT): Here is a video of Mom meeting her new little man a few hours after his birth. You can read my account here.


Richard en Maaike said...

Jeetje, het blijft een heel verhaal he? Ik hoop dat je deze dagen goed dorkomt, want herinneringen zullen er volop zijn. Geniet vooral van het feit dat je zaterdag kan vieren dat jullie samen een geweldig mooi en leuk jongetje hebben gekregen en hem volop kunnen zien ontwikkelen.
Ik denk aan jullie!
X Maaike

berkeleygal77 said...

OK, I'm going to cry now.

Kyra said...

Lieve Lijn,

Wat kun je het mooi verwoorden. Puzzelstukjes blijven vallen. Het is een wonder. En dat is het.


Lidy said...

Wat een ontroerende gebeurtenis is het toch voor iedere moeder, het ter wereld brengen van haar kind.
Maar deze bevalling was toch wel heel bijzonder. Mooi Kathalijn, zoals je het voor ons hebt beschreven.
Dat wordt vast een extra feestelijke eerste verjaardag, morgen! Jammer dat we er niet bij kunnen zijn, maar zoals altijd zijn we in gedachten bij jullie.
Een heel fijne dag morgen en groeten van Theo en Lidy

Sarah Marcus said...

Amazing, I can't believe it has been a year! Seeing this video and now here we amazing! I continue to be in such awe of all three of you guys.
Can't wait to see you!

Cheryl said...

I have often reflected over this last year that it seemed as if you literally willed Loki to you. Now I am convinced. The power of your love, and your longing for a child, hit me as I read every word. You were meant to be a mother, and Loki came to you and Jesse because he was meant to. And thank you again, Alta Bates NICU, for all you do every day for these little fighters...and their families--I can't tell what nurse is talking in the video, but the competency, caring and understanding of what this new Mama is feeling really comes through. I feel very, very honored to have been even a tiny part of this journey. And I thank Jesse for doing all he did to keep us all in the loop in those first few weeks. Wow.

Circe said...

Ontroerend verhaal, levende herinnering. Een mooie, bijzondere dag gewenst.

marieke said...

Yes, I'm also going to cry. When I see the video I'm back a year ago. I again feel scared and touched and so proud of my little sister and her husband!!! I again feel the deep feeling for Loki who imediatly felt like my familie. I'm so gratefull i saw Little dudie-maludie in december while in the incubator. And again in march, at home a second away from laughing. It was great to give him his bottles even when it took over an hour. His little warm body in my arms, the cute little hats in all colours, the "little" box with al the inie-minie clothes, diapers, etc. Well, I can go on....
And now my Loki-Doki nephew becomes 1 year with his bright smile! Happy, happy birthday little dude and I'll see you in november. Big hug mom and dad. The passion you two are showing is amazing, I am even proder then a year ago!! XX tante marieke

fransje melief said...

What an amazing story! The pieces of the puzzle are coming together and you described it very beautifully. You seem to be giving the past a place and at the same time you can look forward to a bright future with a beautiful baby boy. Sometimes, when things get really tough, intuition won't fail us as it didn't with you. Many hugs to you and Jesse, I am very proud of you three!


Paula en Huub said...

Hoi klein mannetje,

Proficiat met deze mijlpaal, ongelofelijk dat het al een jaar geleden is dat je op deze aardbol kwam...zag...en overwon.
maak er een leuk feestje van samen met je "mom, dad, grandma and grandpa" en alle anderen die vandaag bij je langs komen.
Wij(Overgrootmoeder Mertens, Huub en ik) zullen straks op je gezondheid toasten en dat we dat maar vaak mogen doen.

Veel groetjes aan iedereen en een dikke kus van ons alledrie,

Overgrootmoeder Maria, Huub en Paula

Mom said...

Thanks lovely folks for all your comments. It is very emotional to see the video back. But also feels great to be able to put the experience in a good place by sharing.

Elizabeth said...

You are amazing parents -- as has been proven out by the last year -- but was not unanticipated by many. Your strong will has certainly been present in your wonderful son who is a miracle and blessing in all possible ways. Loki's first birthday is a tremendous milestone on an incredible journey. Our love and awe, liz

Karin said...

Lieve Lijn en Jesse, dit keer even in het Nederlands.
Wat een jaar vol emoties en wat heerlijk dat lieve Loki vandaag jarig is.
Hiep,hiep hoera voor Loki!!!!!
Ons aller "kleine mannetje" ia jarig.Ik heb erg genoten van de foto's en video's.
Ik wens Loki een gelukkig nieuw levensjaar, Mom and Dad a wonderful and happy Loki-day en ook opa Frits en oma Heleen van harte gefeliciteerd met de varjaardag van hun kleinzoon!
Liefs en kus van Karin.

Judith said...

Lieve mensen,

het pakje is onderweg (van Lidy en mij), maar vandaag is dé dag!.
Van harte gefeliciteerd en op naar een nieuw levensjaar.
Wopke en Judith

About Loki Sky

Loki Sky is a special little man. He was a very early micropreemie, weighing only 610 grams (1 lb, 5 oz) after 24 weeks, 3 days gestation, born to an American Father and a Dutch Mother in Berkeley, California on October 18, 2008.

On January 11, 2009, while still in the hospital NICU, his one kidney stopped working. It was repaired after three surgeries. After spending time in three hospitals in three cities, Loki came home on February 17. He struggled with eating, and then stopped in July, leading to 8 days in the hospital, a failure-to-thrive diagnosis, and a NG feeding tube. On October 10, a minor surgery installed a G feeding tube. Another procedure replaced it with a new one, and then again with a Mic-Key button in Jan. 2010.

In August 2010, he and his parents moved to the Netherlands.

Read about his first name.
Read & hear about his middle name.
See photos.
See videos.

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