BUT on Wednesday, my doctor called to say that my Beta HcG test on Monday was really reassuring and normal (167,000), so she ordered an ultrasound for Friday. I was in such shock and didn’t really understand how it could be normal with so much bleeding. I was still extremely nauseous and had several big gushes of bright red blood. Going to the ultrasound appointment was not fun at all, but I was really hoping that it would give us some answers. I knew that the tech probably wouldn’t tell us much, but she was taking all these measurements and was totally silent. I figured that her silence meant there was no baby and that I had indeed miscarried, but then suddenly she said “heartbeat is 139.” I will never forget how shocked I was to hear that….there is a baby still alive in there? What a miracle!! I was told that the baby was fine and that I had something called a subchorionic hemorrhage that explained the bleeding. She said that most likely this would resolve over time but that the bleeding may continue. There was nothing to do, but let mother nature take her course and wait. It was hard to know whether to be excited again or scared at this point. I was put on pelvic rest and we did another ultrasound at 9 weeks. We were so relieved that in the first view of Mikayla she was moving. I was still having bleeding though, so I definitely didn’t feel like I was out of the woods yet.
My bleeding stopped at about 10 weeks and we had a third peek at Mikayla at 13 weeks. At this ultrasound they said that she looked perfect, but the radiologist reviewed all my ultrasounds and didn’t see any sign of hemorrhage now, but also didn’t think that it was one to start out with. They suspect that I had a twin pregnancy and that the bleeding was actually a loss of one of them. It was crazy to think about, but really it does seem to make sense with what had happened. I guess my mother’s intuition about losing the baby when I thought I did really was right. I’m glad that we did go through that mourning process weeks before because it did make hearing this news a little easier. So we may actually have two angels in heaven, but will never know for sure. I was, however, glad to hear that everything looked normal and they didn’t seem to think I should have any problems due to this “vanishing twin syndrome.” Overall, it is a slightly better prognosis than the SCH in the fact that it shouldn’t cause problems with the placenta or increased risk of preterm labor etc. Of course, as I’ve learned, anything can happen.
This was the first time I could actually be excited about being pregnant and really enjoyed my second trimester. I started feeling Mikayla move around 19 weeks and had our next ultrasound at 20 weeks and she looked great! We decided not to find out the sex, but there was this piece of uterine tissue (referred to as either an amniotic band or uterine synechiae). They said it was just scar tissue and that at this point it is nowhere near Mikayla and that most likely it will not cause any problems (again, in my mind, just another red flag that everyone seemed to ignore). Up until that point, this pregnancy had definitely been a challenge for me, but I knew it would all be worth it when I saw my baby’s face for the first time….little did I know that I had so little time left with her in my precious womb.
I was 24 weeks and 6 days pregnant, and the day started off just like any other Sunday summer day could. We went to church that morning and I played with my son and the kids in the nursery. Right after church, we went strawberry picking at a local farm. It was a beautiful sunny day perfect for picking strawberries, but we only got one flat picked before I decided I was too tired. And although I’d been having some lower back pain this day, I’ve been having more back pain with this pregnancy in general with lifting my 30 lb son, so it didn’t seem any different than I’d experienced in the past. We went back to home to clean all the berries and I was pretty tired, so mostly was sitting down but I was on my feet quite a bit too. Afterwards I was tired and was starting to feel a lot more lower back pain and some pressure in my pelvis that was quite different from what I’d been experiencing before. It didn’t get better as I relaxed, and after I went to the bathroom the pressure in my pelvis started to get worse. At that moment I also remembered that the previous day I had a change in having some more mucous discharge. Looking back now, this mucous discharge with probably my mucous plug, but even having had a previous pregnancy I didn’t even suspect it and didn’t experience a mucous plug loss with my first pregnancy. I don’t know why, but I started to wonder if this pain could be contractions and all of the sudden had this ominous feeling that something wasn’t right. I started this pregnancy with a little distrust in my body to signal early labor, because with my son I had contractions all day at work and was 8 cm when I finally felt like I needed to go to the hospital. So I probably have an abnormal high tolerance for uterine pain…a good thing if you’re in labor at full term, but NOT a good thing at 24 weeks.
Around 9 pm I called the on-call doctor and he said it sounded like maybe I was having contractions and that I could come get checked that night or in the morning. I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep, so we went to the hospital around 10 pm and they got us right up to the L&D. The nurse had me do a urine sample saying that it could be urinary tract infection. I was praying that it was something simple, but deep in my gut I just felt like it was something more serious. She hooked me up to the fetal monitor and I was so thankful to hear Mikayla’s heartbeat. It was a strong 150, but she was moving around a lot and was very low (now we know she was in the birth canal) and the nurse kept losing the heartbeat. She realized the heart beat kept dipping and that I was indeed having contractions, although I didn’t really feel them. She left the room and came back, warning me that in a few seconds the room was going to get quite busy, because she had to bring in the resident doctor to check me and start an IV. I had a few more contractions and I was shaking because I was so nervous and scared. It was agonizing not knowing what was going on, but thankfully my husband was right there holding my hand and coaching me through it. The resident was actually very calming, but when she checked me I was 5 cm dilated and fully effaced. I knew that was very bad news and her expression confirmed my worst fears. I was so scared, and immediately all I could do was cry because I knew at that point that I was too far into labor for them to do anything. They told me the only chance of Mikayla surviving would be with an emergency c-section since her heartbeat was dipping and she was in a breech position. They said I could try to labor naturally, but that it would be harder on her, and I knew immediately that just wasn’t an option. Then they told me they were going to get me to surgery as soon as possible and that I would be under general anaesthesia which meant my husband could not be there with me and I was so scared. As they were prepping me for surgery, the surgeon came in, and it was definitely not the person I wanted to see. It was the doctor that I had a bad experience with during my post-partum hemmorhage after my son’s delivery and I didn’t have much confidence in her. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a choice, and all I really wanted at that moment was to make sure they could get Mikayla out safely.
Our precious daughter, Mikayla Grace, was born at 11:04 pm. They had to rush her off to the NICU right away, but I was so excited when they told me that she was a little girl. We had wanted a daughter and she was the first granddaughter in our family, so of course we were overjoyed. But then they said that she was extremely premature, weighing only 1 lb 5.5 oz, and my heart just broke. They didn’t need to tell me that her chances of survival weren’t good, and even if she did survive that it would not be easy and that she’d live many months in the hospital. This is just not the way it was supposed to happen, she was supposed to be safe in my belly with many more months to grow and prepare to enter this world. I was so glad to finally see her, but it was so hard to see her hooked up to all of those machines even though I knew that they were helping her…definitely not the way I envisioned meeting this baby. I should have been cuddling with her after the birth, and breastfeeding her, not sitting helplessly outside her isolette watching her fight for her life. They said that initially she was very strong, but that typically most problems come on after a day or two when the immaturity of the lungs starts to have an effect. They took me back to my room, but all I could think about was her and the events that had just transpired. In the morning I was so exhausted, after not any sleep, and I was hooked up to an IV with a catheter still but all I wanted to do was to go to the NICU. I was still on a lot of pain meds and the combination of that with my exhaustion made it very difficult to focus. The NICU nurses were great at explaining everything to us and I was so happy when they told me that I could open the isolette and touch Mikayla. She looked so fragile and at first I was scared that I would hurt her, but it was so amazing to touch her and see her tiny little fingers and toes. Her skin was almost translucent and very thin, but she was tiny and oh so beautiful in my eyes. Her little eyes were still fused together but she could grip our fingers when we would put them in next to her. She did have some improvements in her stats that first day and we got to go to the NICU several times. That afternoon our priest came to baptize her. I was not feeling well, but I did make it down to the NICU to be there and I was so glad that I did. That evening we went back once more before we could go to bed, and we both talked with Mikayla and said some bedtime prayers. It was so hard to leave her, but we were glad to know that she was doing pretty well and we went to bed that night feeling positive about our day.
In the morning, my husband got up early to go home to help get our son ready for daycare, but before he could do that he had to go check on his little baby girl. It was 5:30 am and the NICU nurse said that Mikayla was doing well throughout the night. Just a few hours later, the neonatologist came to tell me that around 6 am Mikayla starting having difficulty breathing and that they’d been trying a different kind of breathing machine called an oscillator. Her acid levels in the blood were also off balance and they were suspicious about a brain hemorrhage, but didn’t have confirmation of that at that time. She said that either way, she didn’t think that the prognosis was good, so she recommended that I come down. I was terrified, and called my husband to rush back to the hospital. Every moment he was gone I was afraid he would miss seeing her alive once more. When I first got there it appeared that she was fairly stable and I got to hold her tiny hand again. Suddenly her blood pressure started going down and a ton of nurses were crowded around her, giving chest compressions and using a manual bag for oxygen while they tried to get the respirator working again. It was so frightening, but they stabilized her once more before bringing in the ultrasound to check for a brain hemorrhage. It was determined that Mikayla did indeed have a large brain hemmorhage and they told us that with the severity of the hemmorhage there wasn’t anything we could do to help her. After such a good first day, we were so devastated to know that these would be our last moments with our daughter. The doctor told us that we could hold her, and we didn’t hesitate, we knew that we wanted to hold her in our arms and make sure she knew how much she was loved before she left us. We were so glad she had a few moments of peace in our arms, after such an unfair entry into our world. She finally went to her heavenly home at 11:30 am, so she lived almost exactly 36 hours. We got to bathe and dress her. We had the opportunity to get some photos taken with Mikayla from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. We went back to our room and took her with us all swaddled in a pink and white blanket. She was so tiny, so beautiful, and we could just not get over how perfect she looked. During this time a woman from our church sung the song Amazing Grace and inserted Mikayla’s name…which is where I got the name for my blog. The NILMDTS photographer was amazing and made us feel like Mikayla was the most perfect little baby girl. We all marveled at how cute she was and how tiny all her little parts were, noticing all the things we didn’t have time to while she was in the NICU. It was such a special time and although she had passed on at this point we enjoyed that time to treasure and cuddle her. It can’t possibly make up for not having her with us for another day or our whole lives, but it helps to have those memories until we meet again in Heaven someday.