Saturday, July 14, 2012

Miracle Merritt

Wow.  I need to rewind my brain all the way back to last Monday.  This might be a long post - but I assure you it contains alot of information and pictures! :)

5:00 am morning of big day (ignore my messy bathroom)
We checked in last Monday morning at 6am.  A C-section is not fun.  Got prepped and the section went well!  The only issue I had with that was I got super-nauseous along with a major muscle cramp in my neck during the section but all is well now.  After discussing with the anesthesiologist that I was NOT getting morphine (I insanely itch with morphine), somehow they failed to remember that - and I got morphine anyway.  So I itched for the next 2 days.  No serious harm done though.

God definitely gave me a certain peace leading up to Monday.  Don't get me wrong - I was scared out of my mind - but at the same time - I was ready for it.  The doctors played peek-a-boo with Merritt before pulling her out...I thought that was pretty funny.  They pulled her out and she never cried.  I began to stress - we managed to take 1 picture of her while they walked her to the room next door.  Then I heard her a few minutes later - and the world was right again. They intubated her just to be on the safe side because she was breathing fast.  They pulled the vent later that night because my little angel is a fighter and doesn't need any help breathing!  She said she could do that herself.   She came into this world at 7:44 am weighing a whopping 5 pounds 2 oz and was 17 1/2 inches long!  

My first reaction to her was:  "she is really blue"  My first reaction to the O was shock.  No matter how many pictures I looked at.. nothing is as surreal as seeing your own.  To EVERYONE'S surprise, it was much smaller than we anticipated.  Hallelujah!  We honestly expected it to be 2-3 x that size.  My niece, Kennedy, said Merritt had "a green apple" on her tummy!   So there was surprise #1.  And her color changed from blue/purple to pink in a few minutes.
Her first minutes on the outside.  "The green apple"  No I did not put lipstick on her...I guess her lips were swollen, but I assure you they are not this "full" anymore.
On the vent. Check out the PREEMIE size diaper that is too big.  Mati Claire has baby dolls bigger than she is.
We're both a little high on drugs...and life. -- hehe ;)
Ventilator free (the first time)! The towel is around her neck holding her pacifier in place.  
First time holding her!!!!!!! 
After being worked up and over,  Matt was allowed to see her shortly after.  The surgeon agreed that the size was a huge factor in how he would progress... and he planned to do surgery that Thursday (4 days old).  Wow.  And not only do the surgery, but he "was highly optimistic" that he could get the entire O back in with full muscle closure.  Surprise #2!!  Of course he wasn't sure until he got her in the operating room, but he had several options that he was prepared to do (partial repair, partial closure, use of mesh if muscles couldn't reach, skin closure, etc).  For those of you who aren't sure what I'm talking about with muscle closure:  there is a hole in her abdomen and her muscles do not touch in the middle; therefore when they push the O back in, it will stretch her abdomen.  So there is a high chance that her muscles and skin will not reach to close the hole.  They could create sort of a gap closure using a piece of mesh material until she grew bigger.  But its a 'wait and see' thing.  

So here is what everyone is waiting for!  Pics of the O.  I highly debated posting these.  Mainly because it is personal and special and such a sensitive subject on so many levels.  But it came down to the other O moms that I know will one day find this post in their research (if they are like me) and I want them to know there is hope.  So I'm posting it for all of those women who have ever been asked, "Do you want to terminate this pregnancy?" Granted, every story and every O is different... but it does help to see them to truly understand.  God made her this way and I am not ashamed.  But I do not want anyone copying these pictures or forwarding them or even posting to Facebook.  Facebook means you want people to look - but here on the blog I feel like only those people truly interested will check back on you.  And I don't mind if those people see.  Most of you deserve to see it after everything you've done to help me through the past 9 months.  And the O will NOT define her.  She has an even bigger story to tell people later in life:  how our God is the ultimate Healer! 

I only saw it right after she was born, and then it remained covered and protected from then on.  The nurses said they were not really allowed to touch it because the surgeons handled the dressings.  But I asked anyway so I could document...after Thursday, we would never see it again.  

Thursday arrived.  She had an "appointment" for 10:40.  We got to the NICU at 9:30 to be with her, and we waited over 3 hours before "first call" (get her ready to transport to Batson).  Then another hour waiting on "second call"(actually transporting to Batson to the pre-op waiting area).  I think we finally got to the pre-op room around 2:00.  Meanwhile, I had not had anything to eat or any pain medicine since 6:00 that morning.  Add waiting forever with the thought of my little baby not making it out of surgery - needless to say - I was not feeling well and very edgy.  We got to Batson and Merritt decided to wake up.  Right when we had to leave her, she decided to scream bloody murder, open her eyes, and literally move her arms and reached out for us.  That was a blow.  I lost it.  She sensed that something big was happening and its amazing what they know when they can't even open their eyes.  I got back to my room, got some pain meds, some food, and managed to calm down... when they called us.  What?  It had only been like 45 minutes.  Surprise #3!!!  They told us to come see her... and her new belly!  They got the entire O back in and full muscle closure!  She is an amazing little girl.  And we have one AMAZING God! 
Coming out of surgery!
On the elevator leaving Batson. 
Wow.  Where did the apple go???
Russ Wardlaw - her nurse anesthetist; also an old friend of Matt's from high school; but also one of my new favorite people.  He is just awesome.  
From Thursday to Saturday, she was in severe pain and back on the ventilator.  But doing well overall. Today (Saturday) they removed the vent and she seemed to be more responsive and interactive.  She opened her eyes, she smiled at us a few times, and I got to see the first yawn (probably not her first).  But a baby yawning is the sweetest thing.  She is still in pain but you can tell she feels much better and is still recovering well.  

The NICU is depressing.  That's all I can say about that.  Now that I am out of my drug-induced state... I don't cry every time I go in to see her.  I thought that part would never end.  I still get teary-eyed though.  God has strategically placed another angel near Merritt (among many others) named Ava Grace.  She has Trisomy 18 and spina bifida among other defects.  Her mom, Amy, is one of the strongest women I have ever met.  You can read about her in her blog HERE.

The past 9 months I wondered why THIS baby.  I have seen SO many other O moms who can dedicate more time and attention to their O baby that is a firstborn.  I have come across very few that have older children.  And God answered that one for me too.  In all the sadness... when nothing seems right... I look at Mati Claire and Mattox... and they are.the.only.ones. who can put a smile on my face.  
I honestly think Merritt can not wait to come home to play with them and she has 2 older siblings to help protect her.  Mati Claire and Mattox seem to have handled the crazy week well.  MC is ready to meet her.

We still have a LONG road ahead so I would appreciate your continued prayers.  I feel like we jumped a HUGE hurdle, but she is not home yet.  Thank you all for the prayers.  I KNOW God heard them and answered.   I am still speechless and in complete awe of His unfailing love for us.  I saw with my own eyes how big our God is and He can do anything! He can do the impossible.  He still performs miracles.  
5 days old.  Her cheeks are red because she has had so much tape on them. :( But isn't she lovely?
"Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them.... and He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them."  Mark 10:13,16
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Erica said...

Praise the Lord!
Thank you so much for posting this update--I've been checking every day and thinking about you! What a great update! I am crying about how wonderful it is that they got the O inside and closed up--and so soon! What an amazing gift!

Hang in there, sweet friend. I love you! Remember to sleep, eat water, and take care of YOU, who is also healing.

Merritt is BEAUTIFUL! I know MC and M are going to be SUCH good siblings and take care of her throughout life.

Sarah Broadus said...

yahh!!! My thoughts were with you last week! And love me some Russ Wardlaw too! What a great spirit to have during surgery! so glad Merritt is doing well! Can't wait to see you and hug you!

CaroM said...

Reading your story brought back memories of my own O baby and how God also showed us how He can perfom miracles!. Congratulations for your little fighter!. She is beautiful!. And she and all your family will continue to be on my prayers!

Sweet T said...

Beautiful! Amazing miracle. Praise God!

Erin said...

Absolutely amazing. PTL! What an awesome story. God has GREAT things planned for her life!

joyce said...

Merritt is truly a miracle baby. You are blessed to have her and she is blessed to have you, Matt, Mattox and Mati Claire in her life. God has placed her in the family He intended her to have. Love and prayers to you and continued prayers that your family will soon be together. I love you. Mrs. Joyce