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Davis' Birth Story ~ The Hopeful Story of a 23 Weeker

Davis’ Story

On Sunday September 30th, the day started out normal. I had just hit 23 weeks. Lauren and I went to Watermark’s 11:15 A.M. service, and I felt the baby kicking high up in my belly during the sermon.

One song during the service made me tear up and became an anthem for the next couple of days. I held the baby in my belly during the song agreeing with the lyrics of the song… not knowing what was to come…

“We trust you, We trust you, Your ways are higher than our own”

You are who say You are
You'll do what You say You'll do
You'll be who You've always been to us
Jesus
Our hope is in You alone
Our strength in Your mighty name
Our peace in the darkest day remains
Jesus

This we know
We will see the enemy run
This we know
We will see the victory come
We hold on to every promise You ever made
Jesus, You are unfailing

Our God through the wilderness
And our joy in the heaviness
Our way when it seems there is no way
Jesus

This we know
We will see the enemy run
This we know
We will see the victory come
We hold on to every promise You ever made
Jesus, You are unfailing

We trust You, we trust You
Your ways are higher than our own
We trust You, we trust You
Your ways are higher than our own
We trust You, we trust You
Your ways are higher than our own
We trust You
In all things we trust You
Your ways are mightier than our own

This we know
We will see the enemy run
This we know
We will see the victory come
We hold on to every promise You ever made
Jesus, You are unfailing
This we know
We will see the enemy run
This we know
We will see the victory come
We hold on to every promise You ever made
Jesus, You are unfailing
Jesus, You are unfailing

We trust You, we trust You
Your ways are higher than our own
We trust You, we trust You
Your ways are higher than our own

We trust You
In all things we trust You
Your ways are higher than our own
Forever we trust You
We trust You
Your ways are higher than our own

After the service, Lauren and I went to Northpark Mall to get makeup from MAC for me, went home, let the dogs out, ate a quick lunch and headed to Central Market Plano for a British car display. We said hello to some of Lauren’s new Jaguar friends.

We walked around Central Market, ate samples and looked at RoRo’s on the shelf.

Afterward, I remember feeling really tired and went home to take a 2 hour nap.

After waking up, I made a late dinner with extras to eat for the week (Roro’s pork chops and made mashed potatoes in the InstantPot). I was busy that night getting ready for the week (cleaning, loading dishwasher). I had to be at work at 6:00 AM and wanted to be prepared for the busy week ahead.

At 9:30 PM, I sat on the couch with my computer. At 9:45 PM, I started having some cramps. I noticed it was happening on and off and thought it was strange. I went to the restroom thinking it could be a typical constipation pregnancy symptom but when I came back from the restroom, it was happening again. I started to look down at my iphone and pay attention to the timing of the cramping. After I realized it was happening every 2-3 minutes, I looked over at Lauren and said, “I think I’m cramping like every 2-3 minutes. Do you think I should call my Doctor?”. I began to google “Braxton Hicks” and it said if you have had more than 5 in an hour to call your Doctor. Whatever this was, I had definitely had more than 5 already. Since they were pretty mild, just regular, we decided to hold off, and I went to lay down in bed for a few minutes. At 10:30 PM they were still happening, and I decided to call the on call OB because it I got a little nervous. Dr. Brothers returned my call and asked if I was dehydrated. She advised me to take some Tylenol and drink 2-3 glasses of water. She told me if it didn’t stop in an hour or two that I needed to come into labor and delivery that night, and if it stopped, they wanted to see me in the office in the morning to make sure everything was ok. I remember being really surprised that she recommended I might need to go to the hospital that night and had to ask where Labor and Delivery was because we had not done any hospital tours yet of L&D. Of course we didn’t have any Tylenol, so Lauren went out to pick some up at Kroger. During this time, I had been calling my Mom with updates and asking if any of this was normal. I also texted my friends Sarah & Torrey to see if they were awake to check if this ever happened to them. Lauren got back home at 11:05 P.M. and I took 2 Tylenol and continued to rest and drink water.

By midnight, the cramping became stronger and was still 2- 3 minutes apart. We went back and forth about if we should wait another 15 minutes or not before going to hospital. I kept thinking that we both had to work early in the morning and I didn’t want to have to pay a hospital co-pay if it was nothing. I didn’t feel right about what was going on, and the cramping was starting to become stronger. I just had a feeling that something was wrong. I changed clothes, and with not very many things (chargers, my purse, my trusty camel back, comfy clothes), we headed to Medical City Dallas Hospital (where I had planned to deliver...which also happens to be a Level 4 NICU...something else I hadn't even thought about). I had assumed they would give me medicine to make the cramping stop and then we would head home. I remember saying this in the car on the way there to Lauren. I really thought I would just take something and go home that night. I still had no idea I was in labor.

We parked on the 2ndfloor and I nervously walked in ahead of Lauren. Looking back, I realize I absolutely should not have been walking! I remember we initially went to the wrong floor. Ugh! I also had to pee really bad from all the water I was drinking. I was also definitely feeling self conscious that all the nurses probably thought I was over reacting.

In triage, I met my nurse Carly who walked us into the triage room where I changed into a hospital gown. She was really nice and tried to reassure me that it was probably just round ligament pain or Braxton hicks…and that it would be rare that is was something serious. She left the room and I changed. I had a strong contraction before Carly came back in, and I started to get scared. I had really strong tail bone pressure with the contraction. Carly came back in and did a swab to check for hormones to see if I was in active labor or not. I had a strong contraction during the swab, and she had to stop. She checked my cervix and calmly told me she thought she felt the amniotic sac, but wanted to get another nurse to check also. The other nurse came in and confirmed that she felt the same thing. I remember a 3rdnurse came in, and they all immediately wheeled me in to a Labor & Delivery room 10. This is when things got real crazy real quick. In the L&D room, there were about 10-11 people in the room right away busily getting everything ready. I was transferred to another bed having contractions and immediately felt the urge to push. Lauren repeatedly tried to call my parents, but couldn’t get a hold of them. I remember urging him to keep trying to call and text. Lauren remembers them flipping on the warmer for the baby’s bed, which freaked him out. They started an IV and immediately gave me a steroid shot in my hip for the baby’s lungs. It was a very chaotic yet organized surreal experience. They had Lauren sign consent forms for both me and the baby. They told me I would be getting really hot soon because they would be giving me a bolus of magnesium to help the baby and stop contractions. I immediately felt hot and flushed. They put in a catheter and turned me on my side. I kept having urges to push so they had an anesthialogist come in to give me an epidural to stop the urge to push. I remember while being on my side for the epidural, locking eyes with Lauren and us both just thinking..."What is happening?!"

Sometime in the midst of the chaos, the charge nurse, Julie, grabbed my hand and said “I want you to know I had a baby at 23 weeks. You can do this. Just give her a chance.” I remember being laser focused on her in this moment and she truly was an angel to me that night. The rest is pretty fuzzy. We finally got a hold of my parents and I remember them getting there to my room. We cried, hugged, and were just all in shock I think. I remember them giving me lidocaine through my epidural because it took a while for it to kick in. I remember them putting me in the Trendelenburg position to keep my feet higher in hopes to keep baby in and help her migrate up. Dr. Brothers also came into the room at some point and did a sonogram. She could see that I was already 6cm dilated and the baby’s feet and legs were in the birth canal with her body and head still in my uterus. She discussed with us that since I was no longer pushing, and contractions had slowed down that we would keep me in this position and get another ultrasound around 8am in the morning to see if she had migrated back up into my uterus. If she had, I could be a candidate for a procedure called a “Cerclage” to sew my cervix shut to keep her in for many more weeks. If not, then we would just stay like I was and wait as long as we could before delivering her. I remember the contractions slowing down and the urge to push stopped sometime around 3am I looked at the clock on the wall. Multiple people told me that night, that even if I could just get to 24 weeks, that would be huge. I didn’t sleep much that night. I laid there, thinking, praying, and honestly I was terrified of what our future held. I went from having a perfect and easy pregnancy to not knowing if my baby would ever have a normal life, much less survive. I honestly didn’t know what was next for us.

The next morning around 8am, the high risk OB came in to do the ultrasound. Without too much TMI, I already knew I would not be able to get a Cerclage. I knew she had not moved from where she was because I could feel her kicking in the birth canal. Flutters that felt like they had felt when she was in my uterus. The ultrasound showed what I had suspected and that Davis was hanging tight where she was. I was still around 6cm dilated. I remember the conversation being pretty grim. I was told Davis was measuring small, around 13oz (370 grams). I was told a lot of things that morning, but the main takeaway was that babies under 500 grams typically will not do well at all and my baby was not measuring 500 grams. I remember saying “Are you sure? She was 13 oz three weeks ago at my 20 week appointment and was measuring perfect.” Her response was, “I am pretty confident in my measurements.” I remember being so frustrated and confused. How could Davis still be the same size? I knew that those measurements are not always accurate, but still. Three weeks is a lot of time in the world of gestation…she had to be bigger. This doctor told Lauren and I to talk together and decide by later in the day if we wanted all measures taken to resussitate Davis if I were to go into labor that day or evening. They needed a plan to know what to do, since 23 weeks and her measurements were still such a gray area for viability. I struggled hard with this. There were a lot of tears. I remember saying a lot, “I just want to give her a chance.” I also remember saying a lot, “I don’t want her to suffer.” As a former ICU nurse, I struggled with this immensely that day. I wanted to protect Davis from a very poor quality of life. I absolutely did not want her to suffer in any way. We came to the conclusion that this was our baby. We had to give her a chance. If she was not going to do well, she would let us know and we could then decide what was best for her if she was suffering in any way. Literally every healthcare professional who came in my room that day I asked, “Have you ever seen a 23 weeker do well with no issues?” or some variation of that question. I was desperate. I went from a perfectly normal pregnancy to the idea that I may have a child with severe disabilities and needs that I wasn’t prepared for if she survived. It rocked my world to the core. So many emotions, so many feelings, such a test of my faith.

I had visitors that day. My cousins, Aunt, and a couple of my girlfriends. My OB, Dr. McCants came by early and just cried and hugged me in my bed. I remember her saying as she walked in..."What happened?! Everything was perfect!" She was so sweet, and we talked through it all. I literally had no signs. She brought me back to reality and told me that I would indeed be here at the hospital until I delivered my baby. I was not going home. I cried a lot and was just trying to process it all. At some point later that day a neonatologist came in and rattled off a bunch of statistics related to gestational age and the prognosis that correlated with that. I was told that my first goal would be to stay pregnant until 25 weeks. If I could do that, the risks went down significantly for Davis and her future. I learned that day that a baby at 24 or 25 weeks is still very early, but statistically much more promising than a baby born at 23 weeks. I had no idea how valuable literally each day is for a baby in utero. This conversation was really a blur, because I was over all the statistics at that point.

The high risk OB returned later around 5pm to see what our answer was. I told her, we wanted to give her a chance and she agreed to this plan. I asked her if she thought I could stay pregnant until 25 weeks, and she did not. She felt very certain that this baby was going to be delivered soon. Probably a matter of days was her prediction.

Soon it was shift change and my amazing nurse Stephanie arrived. She would take care of me that night and the next and became so dear to me during this process. She was such a gift from the Lord to me during those two nights. I had an epidural and I wasn’t hurting very much. We had the baby on the monitor and her heart rate was strong. The night wasn’t too eventful. Lauren was able to sleep and my parents had gone home. At some point in the middle of the night, my catheter stopped draining. I was feeling pressure and it was a whole saga for a couple hours to try to figure out what was wrong. Nothing was working. While Stephanie was at lunch she later told me that she couldn’t stop thinking about my catheter…haha…and that she should just change it. So, when she came back, she did, and I was instantly cured! I share this part, because I always want to remember that she truly cared about me. Enough to think about me and my catheter the whole time on her lunch break! I was able to rest some, and then told Stephanie bye that morning. My only goal for her that day was to still be pregnant when she returned that night!

Tuesday was pretty slow. The high risk OB returned and was pleasantly surprised that I was still pregnant! The plan then changed since I had not gone into labor again yet. They would take out my epidural and then 12 hours later start me on a blood thinner to prevent blood clots since I was going to be on complete bed rest indefinitely. They also stopped my constant IV of magnesium around this time as well. They told me that it would be likely for me to get it again if the contractions started and that sometimes it is a back and forth process with this kind of thing. I had some visitors throughout the day and was really tired. I started to also get really sore in my lower back I think as the epidural wore off. Mentally, I began to wonder how in the world would I lay flat like this for two weeks. It was all starting to set in that this was going to be a long process. I kept thinking, “I have to be somewhere”…only to remind myself, nope you are not going anywhere! I had Lauren type up a few emails for me that day to try to keep our business afloat in our busy season, and we began to try to figure out how to manage all of this with me being on complete bedrest.

That night, my friend Lindsey came to visit and my sister from Ohio sent us PF Chang’s for dinner. I wasn’t that hungry, but had a few bits of rice and we watched This Is Us in my room. My back was SO sore and Lindsey gave me a massage which was amazing! I also remember starting to feel really wheezy from laying flat and it was driving me crazy, so I asked for a breathing treatment, which helped! I just could not get comfortable. The plan was for Lauren to go home and get some sleep, and my mom would stay with me that night. About 45 minutes after Lauren & Lindsey left, I started to get more feelings of pressure and lower tailbone pressure which started to scare me. I called my nurse Stephanie in and she looked at my monitors to see what was going on. It appeared I was having contractions and back in labor, and she called Dr. Peveto who was on call from my OB practice that night.

Within about 30 minutes the doctor was in my room going over our options. They had restarted the magnesium and I was immediately hot and flushed again. She did a sonogram and looked over all of my records and previous sonograms over the last 2 days and decided to check to see how dilated I was currently. They had not been doing that because they did not want to risk breaking my water, however at this point, this was information she needed to know in order to decide what we needed to do. She checked me and I was a 10. No cervix at all that she could even feel. She was calm, thorough, and to the point….this baby needed to be delivered…and it was her medical opinion that it needed to be done now by a C-Section in order to give her the best chance at life. The risk of a vaginal delivery was too dangerous. She talked to me about head entrapment and how this was a concern of hers that could happen if we waited. We asked for a few minutes to discuss as a family. By this time, Lauren and my Dad were back with us in the room. I remember just losing it at this point and weeping. I had just wrapped my head around the concept that I was staying pregnant and going to stick this thing out for another week or two. Now, I was being told that she needed to come out immediately. I was heartbroken at the fact that our daughter would be born severely early and processing the idea that she may be severely disabled because of it just broke me. I remember my Mom and Lauren talking me through this. I was mentally and physically exhausted, and I needed to get my head and my heart ready to meet whatever would come next for us. As they were getting me ready, my nurse Stephanie came up to me and asked if they were not able to get the breathing tube in her would they want them to come lay her on my chest. I remember pausing and decided, that yes I would. As traumatic as it would be, I knew I would need that moment with our daughter. This may sound stupid, but in that moment, I thought that the reason they wouldn't be able to get a tube in would be if she was just a really difficult intubation. But no, the real reason was there was a high probability that she was just too small...that her airway may be too small for the smallest size breathing tube to even fit. That blew my mind.

They continued to get me and the OR ready. They started my epidural (which was it’s own saga). It would only numb one side of my body, so in the OR they had to remove it and start another one…and I almost killed my anesthesiologist. I remember feeling SO groggy, like I almost couldn’t breath. I think they overmedicated me, because I was so out of it and was literally just telling myself over and over again….”just breath!” I was so afraid that I would fall asleep/pass out. It was the strangest feeling. I got sick and threw up as they were getting me ready...which totally sucked. My sweet husband was just right there with me through it. I remember feeling a lot of pressure in my abdomen throughout, and really don’t think my epidural was how it should have been.

I remember someone from the NICU team coming over to me, who I later grew to love named Brittany and she asked me, “What’s her name?”. I just lost it and through tears answered her...“Davis”. I was so caught up in everything, that I completely didn’t think that they would treat us like normal. She made me feel that I was really delivering my daughter and that it was something to celebrate.

At 1:40am October 3rd, little Davis was born. She had 2 little cries and I was not expecting that at all. We were told minutes later that they did get her breathing tube in! They would not be laying her on my chest. She was going straight to the NICU and she would be given a chance! The neonatologist in the OR that night came over to us minutes after she was born and told us the grim statistics and that Davis was small. She told us that she had a 15% chance of living a normal life and an 85% chance of being severely disabled if she survived. This stayed with me that night and the next several weeks. I was so afraid to lose her and what a life would look like for us.

I stayed in the OR and they closed me up, and Lauren went with Davis to the NICU. I found out months later that Lauren kept saying “Come on little girl, come on little girl”. That just melted me. I just love that he stayed so positive through all of it. He was my rock. I was taken to recovery for about two hours and I remember Lauren coming in and telling me that she was doing really well. I remember being so surprised and was just so guarded and afraid of getting hurt. Recovery was rough. I had horrible shaking from the anesthesia/epidural and it hurt SO bad. My abdominal muscles were literally killing me, and I just remember that being the worst pain ever. I just could not stop shaking like crazy. They finally gave me some Demerol and they started to subside. A lactation nurse immediately hooked me up to a breast pump…another surprise that I was not expecting. I later found out how valuable breast milk would be to Davis, which is why they start this process of pumping every 3 hours immediately after delivery. Julie also came to visit me while I was in recovery. She was seriously like an angel that just popped out of no where during those 3 days for me. I loved her and I needed her in those moments. When I saw her, I remember just crying and saying, “they told me she only has a 15% chance…” She immediately shot that down and told me not to focus on that. She told me that this particular doctor loves statistics, and just to let Davis show us what she will do. Don’t listen to the statistics at this point. I absolutely needed to hear that in that moment.

They eventually wheeled me on my bed over to the NICU, and I remember them backing my bed into room 454 to meet my daughter for the first time. I remember very little from this moment. I was literally exhausted, and she was so covered up in her little isolette and plastic tent, that I really couldn’t see much. I remember seeing some of her nurses writing things down and saying hello to me…other than that, I was spent. They took me over to my new post partum room, and I sadly said goodbye to my nurse Stephanie. I was able to get a little sleep, and when I woke up, began to slowly process what had just happened. The real journey was about to begin. Davis was here, she was strong, and she would show us who she was….and that she was definitely not a statistic.