I have received so much feedback from so many about the girl's birth story. If you missed it, scroll back to my previous post and it's there! 8 weeks ago I welcomed these two precious gifts from God and I'm still not over it! Like their birth story, this is another long one, so grab a snack and settle in....
48 hours after birth, I was excited to know the following morning I was going to go home with my babies. It was hard to fall asleep that night. I remember Bob and I praying together before he left. I cried a lot. I didn't want him to leave and I didn't want to go to sleep. But, somehow I managed to say goodbye and told him to head home and get a good night's sleep!
About 1:30 AM I heard the nurse come in the room. Nurses were ALWAYS coming in my room and waking me to check by vitals and I understood. I figured this was a routine visit! I heard the sweet voice of my nurse, Dana say, "Mrs. Wilkerson, I need to talk to you about Hannah."
I sat up and she said that she had checked Hannah and she had a fever. She had called our pediatrician and they had told her to draw blood immediately and then wait for the results. She told me she'd be back with the results when she had them to know what was going on.
I didn't, at that moment, comprehend that a brand-spankin' new-newborn should not be running a fever and if they are it's not good. A few minutes later I asked her to bring Hannah to me. Dana had told me she was a bit fussy and so I wanted to hold her. Looking back on it, Hannah had been fussy the entire day. Nothing seemed to soothe her and she didn't want to eat.
They brought me Hannah and I held her and sang and prayed over her little body. She just laid in my arms wimpering.
Dana returned to my room with the news that Hannah's white blood count was very low and that meant infection but they needed the staff pediatrician from the Children's Hospital to come and check her out and get a plan of action started. They also asked me to consent to start a line in her for antibiotics. By this point, I wanted Bob to be with me. I began to try and call him. Of course he was so asleep as it was now after 3 AM! I finally got my Mom on the phone and was sobbing and told her to get Bob.
While waiting for him to arrive, they told me I had to let them take Hannah and begin some iv's. I held her so tightly and prayed over her and quoted some scripture once again then let them take her. Then, I sat alone in my hospital room and sobbed. I couldn't handle my newborn baby being so sick and they didn't know what was wrong.
Bob arrived shortly thereafter and the specialist from the children's hospital came into the room and met with us. She said she suspected Hannah had Meningitis but that she needed to do a Lumbar Puncture to test her spinal fluid to know.
We prayed, made a couple phone calls and then I finally signed the consent to let them do it.
After the puncture, they let me have Hannah again while they waited for the results. I held her, kissed her, sang every worship song I know, quoted scripture after scripture and begged God to not let this be serious. I so badly wanted to be the one sick. I think, for the first time, it hit me what being a parent is really like. I would have given everything I had for her to be well in that moment.
Several hours later the specialist and nurse came back in and told us it was not looking good and she needed to be transferred to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis. Our pediatrician was coming to meet with us to help us understand better what was happening and tell us a bit more about what was going on.
I was still holding my wimpering little baby who was so sick and so frail. Dr. McGranahan came into the room and talked to us and told us that the best thing for Hannah was to go to Cardinal Glennon NICU and they would run more tests and start antibiotics immediately and we would know in a couple days for sure if it was meningitis or some other bacterial infection. He explained that it's typically a 21 day treatment. Those words then hit me and I fell apart. Bless his heart, he is such a great, caring pediatrician and understood this first time Mommy's cries. He reassured me and we gave the OK. I didn't realize, until he said these next words just how sick Hannah was.
"I need to take her now. I need you to say goodbye. We need every possible minute to save her and get her well." He said the transfer team was on their way and I'd be able to say goodbye but not able to hold her after this.
What!?!?! I looked puzzled and questioned him and he explained how serious this was and we weren't dealing with a simple cold. I held Hannah tight again and prayed another prayer then handed her to the nurse. Then I wept. Bob wept. We did the only thing we knew to do. Pray and worship....
A few minutes after they took Hannah they came into check my blood pressure. I laughed! Since I had preeclampsia my blood pressure was still running high even after delivery. The tech checked it and it was awfully high. She said she'd be back in 30 minutes and that I needed to lie down and calm down or I wouldn't be going home. I looked at her and said, "I AM going home. I will NOT be here for lunch!"
30 minutes later my blood pressure was still dangerously high and so they gave me some medicine and had me lie down. My beloved Dr. Owens, who was supposed to come in to dis-charge me, came in and very sweetly told me I wasn't going home. If my BP came down she'd let me go later in the day but I couldn't go then. I cried some more. I was not happy.
Not long after, the transfer team came in the room. A nice lady named Kathy, I think came in with papers and all kinds of things for us to read. She kind of went through the plan of action and gave us information on how to get into the NICU and then explained all of the process of transfer. I signed the transfer and sobbed some more.
About the time she was finished the door opened and I heard a voice ask if she was ready. She gave them a nod and they wheeled this huge contraption in the room. My little Hannah was strapped inside this little box with an IV and all kinds of machines hooked up to her little body. A sweet lady named Lois, who was part of the team came up and hugged me. She had a couple granddaughters and one was even named Hannah. She handed me this little blanket and told me it would stay with Hannah the entire NICU stay. She asked me to rub it against me and get my scent on it for Hannah. Of course, I cried while doing it.
They opened the door of the bed and let me stick my finger in to tell her goodbye. That was THE single hardest moment of my entire life. What I went through giving birth did not compare to the agony I felt letting her go knowing how sick she was. I wept and told God I couldn't handle this. I couldn't do this.
As they wheeled her out of the room our good family friend, who is also a pastor, Rev. Doug Haynes, walked in the room, and I don't believe it was by accident he got there when he did, and he immediately took my hand and Bob's and prayed. He didn't pray some silly-weak-little prayer. He PRAYED. In that moment, a peace filled the room. I began to settle down. I stopped crying and I knew, I knew we weren't alone. I knew, no matter what, that God was on the scene already. He hadn't failed us and He wasn't going to start.
I spent the rest of the day in the hospital trying to get my blood pressure under control. Finally, at 5PM, Dr. Owens said I could go home. Our little Chloe and I were happy to go and begin life outside of the hospital.
I wasn't allowed to go to the NICU that night because I was so exhausted and my BP was still a tad high so I asked my Mom and Dad to go and see Hannah. Mom was able to reach in and hold her little hand. She and Dad prayed and sang to Hannah. They also found out her nurse was named Mary and she had a little girl named Hannah. Somehow, that brought a source of comfort to all of us.
We met the team caring for Hannah the next day and they went over more information then I could ever comprehend. At that point, they still weren't sure if it was Meningitis and if so, what form of bacteria it was, but they were giving her antibiotics and drawing her blood to check her white blood cell count. Dr. Sadiq, the head of Neonatology told us, that is Nurse Dana had not been on top of things and checked Hannah's vitals so thoroughly, Hannah might be facing serious brain damage. He said they saw no signs of any significant damage to her because of the wherewithal and promptness of Dana and the team at Anderson Hospital.
3 days after being admitted, all of the cultures came back and it clearly showed she had Bacterial Meningitis in E-coli form, more than likely it was contracted at birth due to the 9 1/2 hour difference in delivery. They immediately switched to a more specific course of antibiotics and we were on the official countdown of 21 days.
We watched daily as she struggled to learn to eat again and gain weight. Within a couple of days of treatment she stopped running a fever and she would slowly take some formula from a bottle- the rest she was given in a feeding tube.
As the days went by we slowly saw our little baby show signs of life. It got more exciting as the days went by to watch her change and grow.
Her medical team did so many tests, scans, ultrasounds and poked and prodded her in every way but on day 15 told us the infection was GONE and there was no damage or abnormalities that they could fine. She passed her hearing test (which is a big concern with babies born with meningitis) and was clear to go home on August 15th.
Walking out of that hospital with BOTH babies in tow was a thrill but also another chance to give Glory and Honor to Jesus!
The team reminded me often how fortunate and lucky we were that this was caught so early...I took the opportunity to give thanks for Nurse Dana but most importantly to my Lord Jesus! For HE is the ultimate healer and HE is the giver of life!
August 15 came and with much excitement we headed to St. Louis to pick up our baby girl and bring her home! What a joy. What a thrill. The hand of God had been upon Hannah the entire time and His hand was on this new, scared Mommy and Daddy.
Hannah has been home over a month now and is happy healthy, and awfully cute! She smiles the sweetest smiles and waves her hands and kicks her feet. She and her big sister Chloe love to snuggle.
Last week we went back to Anderon Hospital, where the girls were born and visited Nurse Dana. I hugged her and thanked her for being such a fantastic, loving, caring nurse. I thanked her for her diligence. For checking Hannah thoroughly and realizing something wasn't right. It was a thrill to spend some time with her. She is passionate about what she does and it shows. We had some fabulous nurses there (Hey Jodi!!!!) who were so amazingly caring and attentive.
I share this journey of our babies from their conception to birth to Hannah's sickness because I want it to encourage others. I know so many are facing tough situations. Some that don't have a happy ending. I realize many face situations much tougher than I have. But one thing I know, we never face them alone. I fell in love with Matt Redman's song, "Never Once" about a year ago. I had no idea how special and meaningful it would be to me. I sang it to Hannah daily in the hospital. We even had it sung SO beautifully by our best friends and the girls Aunt and Uncle, Thad and Katie at their dedication because it so beautifully says exactly what our hearts long to say....