There are parts of Everly’s story I wish I didn’t remember, I do. I hope that in writing this in some way, or form, it could help someone in some way, with healing. Whether the outcome of your birth story was the same as mine, or ended on a different page, I don’t know, I guess I am hopeful in some way this brings you peace. Or maybe I’m just simply hoping it brings me peace. Call me selfish, but each thing that happens to us in our lives, whether happy or sad… changes us. It helps forms us into who we are.
If there is anything that I’ve learned is that GRACE is good, God is good, and that even in your darkest times of your lives, positive thoughts, and positive prayers, can CHANGE IT ALL AROUND.
I have a lot of emotions surrounding my entire experience with her. I’m sad about it. I’m hurt about it. Sometimes I feel like no one understands just how it feels. I know I’m blessed to have my outcome be what it was and others were less fortunate, and I would never tell them I know how they feel because I don’t, and i’m so glad I don’t. But everyone has different things in their lives that shake them, I will never be the same, and this is my story.
30 Weeks Pregnant
I guess this is where I will start. I was sick for a while at this point but I just kept mommy-ing on. I was tired, nauseas, swollen, hurting, and weary. I had nothing negative but low iron show up on my bloodwork up to this point, so I started weekly NSTS and ultrasounds just to check in on Everly and make sure she was growing okay. I asked my little sister to snap some shots of us, even though I usually waited until 32 weeks with my other babies, but for some reason that week, I threw on the makeup and got the kids ready with Josh to go take some maternity pictures. I was so swollen and def. swelling up more than I did with my others, so I wanted them before I got too big. I’m now VERY grateful that I did, because those belly pictures with all of my kids are important to me. Maybe more than they should be, but they are.
I took pictures the Sunday before I had her of a sweet family even though the previous 24 hours and even on the way to the park I had been vomiting non stop. I assumed it was just from the iron supplement I had taken the night before, but now looking back, I feel like this is when it all started.
I had my weekly ultrasound with Everly that next day, Monday. It was raining, I remember that. The tech talked to me for about an hour on and on about different things. It was actually really nice, and she definitely let me see and have a lot of pictures of Evy. She did tell me Everly was measuring in the 19th percentile for weight, although I was a bit concerned, she quickly calmed me by telling me that it is normal for babies whose mothers have low iron to be a little bit smaller and that she would check the blood-flow around her cords and make sure everything was okay. As far as I can remember, she never mentioned anything was out of the ordinary and I just went on with my day. Channing and I went to the NST visit later that day together where she told the nurse that she “kinda looked like belle” and totally made her day
I woke up with my arm feeling swollen. I know I know, I am CRAZY right?! I called the Dr’s office because I just felt light headed and just “not right.” They said that it doesn’t sound like anything alarming and maybe it was a way I slept, but to go down the the ER anyways to get it checked. So Josh and I loaded the kids up to go downtown. I know he wasn’t took thrilled that we had to go, but I am NOT one to say something is wrong unless it is.
We got back to the ER room, and the nurse handed me a cup because of course, in pregnancy, that is all too common of a thing you just do. I got back from that to hear Channing telling the Dr and nurse my life story, and my name…and what she wanted to be for halloween and then there was Radek, sitting on Josh’s lap eating puffs because we all skipped breakfast that morning. They took my blood pressure reading and it read perfectly normal and fine, but my protein levels were a bit higher so we were sent upstairs.
After a few nurses telling me that it was probably just “carpal tunnel”, they did another urine test and hooked me up to the monitors. They noticed my blood pressure was being funny. One minute it was 124/80 and the next it was 160/100 and the next 180/100 and then back down again, so they knew something just wasn’t right. After getting results back from the test they ran, they noticed my protein levels were 425. Nothing too alarming, anything over 300 is just when they start monitoring you for pre eclampsia, but she said she did want me to stay overnight just to do a 24 hour, and after talking to my Dr., he felt better me staying.
My dad picked up the kids (thanks dad:)) and Josh would later go home to take care of them while I got some sleep. After a night in the triage, the next day, my Dr came to visit me and tell me that my numbers had gone from 425 to 1500 overnight. Still, he didn’t seem too concerned and just wanted to see me the next day to go over our plan for the rest of the pregnancy. They also gave me steroid shots (I was scared to death) just in case I did have an early baby.
Josh’s Birthday! My relatives were in town and we joined them for a lunch before my Dr’s appt. Josh took the kids back home for naps and I went on to my appt. alone to figure out what to do. This was not something I dealt with, with my other two. I had 2 normal and natural births to two 8lb babies…so this was all completely new to me.
I got to the office feeling feverish. I had been fighting heartburn and stomach pains the whole day, but shrugged it off as exhaustion and heartburn from the steroids the day before. My blood pressure was a little off and my temperature was fine even though I would have sworn to you it was high. I have for WEEKS up to this point, said I didn’t feel the baby move. I mean, I would feel her shift her body slowly in different places, but kicks? hiccups? nothing. I maybe felt one kick, and I think josh maybe felt her move once, but it wasn’t much for him to feel, the entire pregnancy long.
The plan was for me to get 2 NSTS weekly, ultrasounds, a blood panel, and a visit to him once a week for the next few weeks until she entered the world. He didn’t see why I couldn’t have full term baby and was hopeful we could make it to 37 weeks to deliver. I was scared, to say the least. But I wiped my tears and had my little pitty party, made my appts, stopped to grab a cake to surprise Josh with since his birthday week wasn’t anything too great, and went home to be with my babies. Josh invited his parents and sister over for cake since they usually do it over their house for the birthdays, I just wasn’t feeling well enough to grab the kids and go over. We had cake and everyone left and on we went with our bedtime routines and renting a movie for the night. We picked the Avengers because we love those movies and it just was released for rent that week before. I was pretty excited to sit down, relax, and watch it with the birthday boy.
And that… is where it all began.
We were almost finished with the movie, I think there was 30 minutes left of it if I remember that right. My stomach really started hurting at that point, so I went to the restroom thinking it was just bowel pains and that it would pass. About 10 minutes later I started shaking. It wasn’t passing. It was getting worse. I walked back out to lay down on the couch to try to rest it off, but nothing was working. I walked back into the bathroom and that’s when it hit me.
Something was wrong, something was VERY wrong.
I walked into the hallway, dropped to my knees and told Josh he needed to call the Dr., my parents, and an ambulance because I was “dying.” At the time maybe that sounded dramatic, but that is how I felt. I was literally dying- I was light headed, pale as a ghost, and dripping in sweat. I couldn’t even get up at this point, so there I was, in a robe and my underwear, waiting for my parents to come, listening to Josh on the phone with 911. I couldn’t handle it and I didn’t even care.
My parents beat the ambulance to my house, pretty sure it was record timing they made it here in. I swear it was 10 minutes from when we called them. When the ambulance came, it was hard for me to get into the chair I needed to get in to, naturally, because what else could I do embarrassing, I was vomiting, my mom held a bag out for me to throw up in, but I missed it.
When we got to the hospital, they hooked me on to a bunch of monitors to see what was going on. Nothing was showing up besides them having a harder time with finding the best way to monitor Everly. My Dr. for some reason happened to already be at the hospital at the time Josh called him, I truly believe that everything DOES happen for some reason… of all the times for him to already be there, that night, he just happened to be. After an hour or so of trying to figure out what was wrong, he checked to see if I happened to be dilated since I mentioned the abdominal pain was like one big contraction that just NEVER went away. He checked me and walked out of the room and then walked back in a few minutes later. He said
“I didn’t like how she didn’t react at all when I pushed on her, and some of her heart rate readings aren’t adding up, so we are going to go ahead and deliver you”.
They still didn’t know what was wrong, but they knew something WAS wrong. WHAT?! I’m only 31 weeks 4 days at this point. I cannot have a preemie, I didn’t want a preemie. I know all too well the dangers and hard times that people have gone through with having a baby born early. (Thanks to Josh keeping the spirits up and having my mom take these pictures, and how horrid I looked as a constant reminder.)
And There We Went
I went back alone at first while Josh got himself together, called family, and had my mom sit in the waiting room to see what was about to happen. My dad stayed home with the kids for us. Honestly, much of it is a slight blur from there, there are some things and feeling I remember clearly, others are like a dream. I remember crying because I was scared. Scared for myselfand for my baby. I was in so much pain and didn’t even know what to make of the situation.
They got me all ready, sent Josh in and he sat beside me, grabbed my hand, and then it began. I remember pressure and just pulling, I know that sounds horrid and it was. I remember having a bunch of nurses around me and the anesthesiologist. Two of them, and some of the nurses were the ones that took care of me a few nights before and said they had remembered me. I remember the one anesthesiologist holding my hand and the other rubbing my head telling me how “good I was doing” and “it will be okay” as tears fell down my face. I had the shakes at this point so bad I couldn’t even gather my self to try to stop if I wanted too, so naturally, I was tied to the bed by my arms. One hand had IV’s for fluids for me, while the other they had started for another IV after they realized the amount of blood I was losing.
I remember the conversations the Dr.s and nurses had that morning. I remember hearing “I’ve never seen a placenta, purple before” or “ya that’s a 75% tear” or “she’s lost a lot of blood, there’s a clot too”. I remember getting irritated because I couldn’t tell if I had her yet or not. I remember whispering to Josh “Is she here?” and him saying, “yes, she’s been here, 4:06 am was her time of birth”. I told him to go over to her and see her. She was surrounded by people, taking care of her. At first she wasn’t responding to breathing treatments, but with a little time they got her to a stable point and were going to head upstairs with her.
She was 3 lbs 2 oz, 16 inches long. They stopped on the way up stairs so I could peak at her, and all I remember was hearing this sweet coo from her, Josh actually taped it for me, I will never forget it. As they wheeled her up we got back to finishing up with me. I think at this point I may have finally passed out, the surgery in all took 3.5-4 hours for them to get me together.
The Next Day
I don’t remember too much. I do remember waking up and longing for a ginger ale, they insisted I was not allowed to have it because of the magnesium IV I was on for 24 hours, but I had to have it and made Josh get me some. The nurses I do remember talking and laughing with me which was a nice. I, at this point, was hooked up to the IV for magnesium, fluids, and also bags of blood for a transfusion. I would get 3 liters that day, as my iron levels drop down below a 5 from all the blood I had lost.
I remember finally being wheeled up into the NICU so I could see my Evy before they took me to my room. It’s kinda a blur but I remember snapping a picture of her and Josh, and trying to see her as much as I could since I was in bed and kinda out of it. She was an angel. So tiny, but so perfect! I was taken to our room, which was a delivery room and nice and big, which was great because Josh was able to get a bed in there to stay with me.
The rest of that day is honestly a big mess to me. I do remember having visitors and Josh being able to take them back to the NICU to see Everly. She was on CPAP at this point for her breathing, but thankfully, that was all, at that point, that she needed. My mother in law tells me she knew I was going to be “ok” because I apparently called her a “B*tch” in some joking form but – I do not recall this so I don’t think it can be counted against me HAHA!
Later that evening, I remember the Dr coming in to check on me but I don’t remember talking to him. Josh had been awake to talk to him so much of what I know is from him. He said the Dr came in and updated him on just how severe the situation was.
I had had a 75% placental abruption, which meant the baby was only getting 25% of what she needed to survive. I had a massive blood clot, and DIC. Later on, we also found out that I had a severe infection in my uterus, that by the grace of God, didn’t leak out into me, or affect Everly. The Dr also told Josh my iron levels were still low, but stable at that point. My kidney numbers were on the rise, which wasn’t a great thing, it was a sign of some kidney damage from the loss of blood.
I remember hearing him say “a few more hours and the baby would not have been here, and if Ashley had just gone back to bed, she may have not been here either.”
WOW. I do remember crying to myself that night. How could I have been that close to losing a child or my own life? I’m invincible, right? Josh kept asking him if I was going to be okay and all he could say was “She should be…” I can’t imagine how that would feel to hear that about him, but I cannot thank Josh enough for keeping it together for me, and never letting me once see he was breaking from all the things that happened that day. He was always positive and upbeat in making sure I was okay and same with Everly.
The Drs and nurses did ask a few times if Josh was the father of all three of my children when they would hear my story. It’s very uncommon to get pre eclampsia in later pregnancies if you had no complications with your prior ones, unless there is a change in fathers. I assured them he was time and time again, of course, but then it became a joke to us. The rest of the week was a required hospital stay for me. I spent my days being pricked and having panels of Drs come and talk to me about my future and checking in on me. They finally gave me a pic line because I was so swollen it took them 3 hours, twice a day, to find a vein, blow it, and search for another one. My numbers did continue to increase, but by the end of the week they finally started to just level off, which meant they were slowly healing themselves.
I remember the first time I saw Radek and Channing after everything, it was that Monday, and I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I was so happy to see them, hold them, be with them, and tell them how much I loved them. They both weren’t used to me being gone more than a wedding day when I shoot with Jess, so they were just off, i could tell.
I did in total receive 5 liters of blood that week from my blood loss. I remember pleading that Monday night that they just give me more because I knew I would feel better once they did! Sunday morning I woke up with little to no vision. I had blood spots the day before, but as time passed I lost more and more vision from the whole ordeal. I remember only being able to see about 75% of what I was trying to focus on . They couldn’t tell me why and they couldn’t tell me if it would ever come back. I didn’t walk or get out of bed until that next Wednesday, and even when I did, it wasn’t without much pain.
I got out of my slight depression I felt like I sunk into, and made my way into the shower, even though that was the only activity I would be able to do that day, it felt like such a victory to me. I have never felt so helpless as I did that day when Josh had to help me bathe myself. I feel like every situation, especially in marriage, grows you, if I didn’t know he loved me, I knew that day he sure did. I also had the energy to go see my baby, that up until Thursday, I had only seen twice. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I just couldn’t. I physically couldn’t get myself together to take care of her until I took care of myself. I knew she was in great hands and Josh was checking in on her constantly and sending me pictures.
My blood pressure was around 180/100 for a consecutive 7 days post partuem in the hospital, and even with medication, was still that high when I got home. Josh made sure to check it periodically for me once we had made it back home to make sure it wasn’t too insanely out of control. I watched a lot of Friends and Law and Order, well, mostly listened because I couldn’t see very well, and had a few visitors. I cried a lot. For many reasons….because I missed my babies at home who aren’t used to me not being around and were all out of sorts. For my child in the NICU born so early who was doing well but had a long road ahead of her. For the thoughts of almost not being here to watch my children grow up. For the pain I was feeling. For the possibility of maybe never having another child in my life again. For the unknown of the road ahead of us.
All these things rolled into one created a storm inside of me, that even the most positive people, could be shaken from. Everyday that passed brought new challenges to us. Watching your little baby drop to 2 lbs 13 oz, having slight problems along the way (episodes of SVT and having blood in her stool), learning to bottle feed, sucking on her binky, a few self stemmed bradys, maintaining her weight hoping to grow a little was most definitely like watching a miracle before our eyes.
Holding her for the first time, even though it was for a few minutes, was the most magical day of my life. I remember how excited every night we would be to watch her get weighed, or call in to see WHAT she weighed that night. Every little ounce was a victory for us. We watched her physically grow eye lashes, nails grow longer, hair come and go, and finish developing into the little girl she is today. We survived a 4.5 week long hospital stay. We called 2-3 times a day to check on her, we visited her every single day, made sure we were there for a lot of baths and feedings…even if it was after we put the kids to bed, I wanted her to always know we were there. She came home 3 years to the DATE that we brought home our first little, Channing, which to us was so special.
We had so many people praying for us, and supporting us through every step. Your messages did no go unheard and certainly your prayers did not either. We are so blessed beyond what we deserve. So this is our THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to make sure we are okay, and continue to help us along the way, even if its just a message to check in… appreciate and love you for it. Also, I couldn’t thank our families enough for supporting us and taking care of the kids whenever we needed them to be there, you have no idea how much you mean to us! And LASTLY, my partner in the madness, Joshua, I couldn’t have survived any of this without his continuous, loving self, and handling everything from me to the kids, to our home all by himself when I wasn’t able to be there to do my part. I love you endlessly.
Everly is now a 2 year old. She plays with her siblings in ways I dreamed about leading up to her birth, and in ways I feared maybe she never would be able to with them. She is an amazingly smart and hysterical toddler. The missing puzzle piece to our family. Her sassy character keeps us on our toes every single day and always laughing. She’s easily the strongest person I’ve ever met, with so much soul and love for life; my mom always tells me that… she says “Everly just is happy to be alive”, and she really is. She wakes up every day with a smile on her beautiful face, and she is the happiest little girl. All it takes is one soft smile to her and she is grinning from ear to ear, making you feel like the most important person in this world.
She’s still a tiny little thing, she only weighs 21lbs and is in the 2% for her weight, but let me tell you, this girl can EAT. I’m talking like, finishes her brothers plate and sometimes her big sisters. We are so thankful for this little girl in our lives and how much she has changed our lives.
We cannot wait to see what her future brings and to continue to watch her “tiny but mighty” little self do big girl things in this world.