Emily’s Birth Story- Part 1

Happy Thursday, friends!

I hope your week has been great.

I am sharing something today that is very special to me~ Emily Grace’ birth story!

It might not be interesting for most to read through, but I want all of this information to be in a safe place so I have it forever.

I have decided to break this story into two different blog posts.  I will post the second part next Tuesday.  I hope you will take the time to read through both posts.  It truly shows you that our God is still in the miracle making business.

Our youngest daughter, Emily Grace, was born on May 27th, 2008.  (Yes, yes, I know.  She will be 11 soon.  But I just started blogging a few years ago.)

I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy and even easier delivery (5 minutes of pushing and done).

Everything was great.  They wheeled Emily off to the nursery to get her cleaned up/footprints, etc and Chris went to get Elizabeth so she could meet her new sister.

I’ll never forget how my heart sank, when Chris and Elizabeth came back into my room without Emily Grace.  He immediately asked me where Emily was and I immediately asked him the same thing.  They hadn’t brought her back from the nursery and he didn’t see her in the nursery window, so he assumed she was with me.

Right then, we both knew something was wrong.

Chris took Elizabeth back to our parents and went to find out what was wrong.  I, of course, couldn’t do anything since I had just given birth.

Chris and our pediatrician, Dr. Fernando, came back in my room about 10 minutes later.  Chris had been crying, so I knew it was bad.  Dr. Fernando explained everything to us in detail at this time.

When Emily Grace went back to the nursery, she started turning blue and then eventually stopped breathing.  The nurses tried to put oxygen under her nose~ with no success, put her on the oxygen hood~ with no success, so our pediatrician had to intubate her immediately.

He didn’t even ask for our permission to do this, but I praise God every day our pediatrician was there and instantly knew what to do.  (He was previously the head neonatologist of a Level 4 NICU in Canada and had the experience with this kind of stuff.)

Long story short, Emily Grace was diagnosed with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension.  (PPHN)

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) happens when the pressure in the blood vessels supplying the lungs of a newborn baby remains high after birth. This results in a lack of oxygen in the body and can be fatal if not treated.

Before a baby is born, the lungs are filled with amniotic fluid and not needed for oxygen transfer, as the mother delivers oxygen directly to her baby through the umbilical cord.

The pulmonary arteries are narrowed, reducing blood flow through the lungs and causing the pressure to be naturally high. The blood mostly bypasses the lungs through blood vessels called the ductus arteriosus and foramen ovale. These are “shortcuts” that allow blood to flow between the blood vessels connecting the right and left sides of the heart, rather than the blood having to travel via the lungs.

Immediately after birth, the baby takes its first breaths,  quickly replacing the fluid in the lungs with air. At this stage the pulmonary arteries should relax and widen, allowing blood to flow through the lungs and quickly carry oxygen around the body. The ductus arteriosus constricts and closes, ensuring that blood flows from the heart to the lungs. This is known as the cardiopulmonary transition.

In PPHN, the blood vessels do not open completely, and the ductus arteriosus can remain open. This keeps the pressure high, making it difficult for blood to flow through the lungs to pick up oxygen and can cause the blood to be directed away from the lungs. This means oxygen cannot be transported quickly and this can limit oxygen reaching the brain and other organs.

There is no known cause for PPHN.  They think Emily may have swallowed some of my blood during delivery and got an infection that caused this hypertension in her little body.

Dr. Fernando told us we had to get Emily to a Level 3 NICU immediately.  They wanted to airlift her to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, but it was stormy that night so they had to take her by ambulance to Cape Girardeau.

At this instant, our world was turned upside down.

The ambulance from Cape’s NICU came and got her.  They wheeled her into my room so I could tell her bye (this is the first time I was able to see her since delivering her).  When they left I cried and cried and cried and cried.

Chris and his dad tried to follow behind Emily in the ambulance.  But the ambulance drove so fast they couldn’t keep up.  (Later we found out, they had to resuscitate Emily twice on the ambulance ride).

Chris’s mom took Elizabeth back home to her house and I had to wait to get released from the hospital where I delivered Emily.  (Remember, I had just given birth to her like 5 hours before).

My mom and sister stayed with me. FINALLY, my doctor came to my room around 5:00 in the morning and released me from his care.  He didn’t want to release me, but I basically told him I was going to walk out of that hospital on my own if he didn’t.  I’m glad he listened to this momma!

Chris had called right when I was released from my doctor saying that Emily had made it through the night, but was in critical condition.

My mom and sister took me home to Dexter so I can get some clothes for me and Chris and then we went straight to the hospital in Cape.

That first day at the hospital was SO hard!  Emily had air pockets in her lungs and they were on the verge of collapsing, she had double pneumonia, and was having to receive blood transfusions to replace all the blood they were having to take from her little body to check her blood gas/oxygen level.

Chris and I were 23 and 24 years old at this time.  We were sad, confused, mad, scared, nervous.  Pretty much every emotion you could think of we were feeling.

The doctors explained to us they were doing everything they could do at this point to get her stable, but it was really a wait and see game.

Little did we know, we were fixing to enter the most trying time of our life with Emily Grace…..

Next week……I have DETAILED journal pages I was able to gain access to from an old website we used called CarePages.

These journal entries will explain what day to day life with Emily Grace was like for the first few weeks of her life in the NICU.  Please come back and join me.

Have a great day! See you tomorrow for Friday Favorites!

~Jen

17 thoughts on “Emily’s Birth Story- Part 1

  1. Oh my goodness! How unbelievably scary… I could only keep reading because I knew it had to have a happy ending.

  2. What a scary experience. You were so young to go through so much. Both of my babies were in NICU at birth. Grace just to get extra oxygen since she had trouble breathing at birth. And Jack had rH incompatibility – he required blood transfusions and had to be transferred to a hospital downtown. Letting that ambulance take him was just heartbreaking! Emily is truly a little miracle!

    1. It was heartbreaking for sure! I was in so much pain from delivery, but that was nothing compared to how my heart hurt for her. We were so unsure if she was even going to make it.

  3. Oh my goodness!! What joy and fear and strength y’all experienced in those first few hours. So thankful that you are sharing this with us, and Praise God for His ultimate healing!!

  4. First, let me say, I truly enjoy reading your blog. I found it by a link on another blog. You are real and authenic. Thank you.
    Second, the emotions from having a sick baby are some of the hardest I have ever experienced. I am a mommy to five kids. My first son was absolutely perfect, but his delivery injured me extensively, so I had to go into surgery right after delivery. I didnt get back to him for hours. My next three kids, triplets, were born early, as expected, and rushed to the NICU. I wasn’t able to see them until they were stabilized, then hold them the next day. However, I had prepared myself for what their delivery was going to be. When I was driving to the hospital for my fifth (surprise!) baby, I voiced my greatest fear, that something would go wrong, and I wouldn’t get to be with my baby after delivery. Something in my heart knew it would be true. Right after delivery, the nurses were working on my son, and it was taking longer than usual, my heart sank. The nurses briefly showed me his face, but whisked him off quickly. My husband and I knew nothing. My heart was broken. The doctors feared that he was suffering from PPHN. This had never crossed my mind. I had given birth to five babies, three of which were premature triplets, but my sickest baby ended up being my last full term baby.
    I wrote a novel, but I wanted to just say thank you. Often times we expect things to go perfectly, but when they don’t, we are not at all prepared. Reading another story helps bring awareness, but also encouragement. Thank you for being willing to share.

    1. Thank you for the kids words! Sounds like you have a good story too. I love sharing life experiences to encourage others. Was your son okay with PPHN? What was his recovery time? I hadn’t ever heard of it before Emily had it.

  5. Wow, what a roller coaster of emotions for you right after giving birth! That must have been such a scary time. We had a baby in the NICU as well (but thankfully we knew she would have complications before her birth), and it’s certainly not an easy thing to go through. So thankful for a Heavenly Father we can pray to during times like this! I will be looking forward to hearing the rest of her story.

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