Mom to Katelyn Mary
August 27, 2011
Coal Township, Pennsylvania
I should be getting ready to have my daughter this week – not writing this submission. My due date was supposed to be Christmas day, and we were so happy! It was a blessing and miracle that I was even pregnant in the first place…I have Lupus and high blood pressure, and never really thought I’d have children. My husband and I were married 7 months when we found out we were expecting. We started thinking of names right away, and dreaming about what our future child would be like.
Because of my Lupus, I was considered “high risk” and had to be followed by the Maternal Fetal Medicine department. The first 3 months were very hard, due to all-day morning sickness, but everything was going great otherwise. I seemed healthy, the baby seemed healthy, and we thought all was well. I felt the first flutter kicks at 13 weeks, and could not wait to find out what we were having! We couldn’t agree on names, so I figured we could narrow it down once we knew if it was a girl or boy. At 18 weeks we had our first ultrasound and found out that we were having a Girl! It was music to my ears! My mom and I went on a shopping spree for little girl clothes and I started picking out all types of girly items! My husband put the crib together and started rearranging the house to accommodate a baby. It was the most exciting time of my life! We still could not agree on what to name her, but we had plenty of time, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
On Monday, August 22, 2011, I had a regular monthly checkup with the midwife. I was now 22 weeks along and everything seemed fine, as usual! I felt great and my blood pressure was normal. The baby’s heartbeat was strong, and everything was as it should be. After my appointment, I went grocery shopping, made dinner, ate, and cleaned up. Little did we know, our world was about to be turned upside down. Around 9:30 that night, I was sitting watching tv and talking to my parents on the phone. All of a sudden, I got a terrible pain in my chest and down my left arm – I thought I was having a heart attack! It was the worst pain I have ever felt and I yelled for my husband to take me to the emergency room! The pain was so intense that I couldn’t even breathe, and started to hyperventilate on the way there. When we got to our local ER, they started pumping me with morphine, but it didn’t help the pain. They told me I was not having a heart attack, but they didn’t know what was wrong. After a few hours of laying there in pain, they finally decided to send me to the hospital where I see the MFM department because of my “high risk” pregnancy. Otherwise they probably would have sent me home, and I would have died.
When I got to the next hospital, they said that they needed to do a CT scan, which is very dangerous for an unborn child. We were very worried and could not believe what was happening! Luckily they didn’t have to scan my abdomen area, and we were so relieved that the baby was protected by the lead cape they covered me with. After the CT scan, they did an echo-cardiogram and told us that my condition (whatever they thought it was at the time) could probably be controlled with medication. Once again, we were relieved! During the echo, the doctor was called away and when he came back, he had a group of doctors with him. They then told us the worst news of our lives – that my Aortic valve had ripped away from my heart (an Aortic Dissection) and that they had to perform emergency surgery to save my life, BUT they would have to cut off the blood supply to the baby, and she would most likely not survive. I was numb! It was the most helpless feeling in the world! If I had only been 2 weeks further along, they might have been able to take her from me and save her. I asked them to please wait 2 weeks, but they said that they couldn’t wait 2 more minutes! I quickly said goodbye to my husband and parents, and they whisked me into surgery. The surgeon that was performing the operation was supposed to be leaving that day for vacation that day, but decided to postpone it so that he could do my surgery. He has a daughter my age who was also pregnant, and he wanted to help. We were so grateful to him. As I laid there before the anesthesia hit, I cannot describe how incredibly unreal this all was to me! I kept waiting to wake up from the horrible nightmare I was having. The surgery took approx. 8 hours, and during that time, the East Coast earthquake hit! My poor family was worried sick that something would go wrong because the whole building shook!
2 days later, I woke up from my drug-induced coma and they told me that I would be as good as new, but the baby did not make it. I had no reaction…nothing but emotional numbness. The doctors then told me that they were going to wait a few days and then induce me. I was furious!! After all of this, how dare they make me give birth to my dead baby?!?! I begged them to give me a c-section, but they said that my body could not go through another surgery so soon, and that they would make it so I would not have to push. The next day, the doctor came back and said that I was in the midst of very serious pre-eclampsia, and they had to induce me immediately! They also started me on a 24 hour IV of Magnesium Sulfate, because of the pre-eclampsia. It was the worst medication I have ever been given! It makes your muscular system basically non-responsive, and I couldn’t even lift my arm to scratch my head. I felt paralyzed but it did nothing for the pain of my contractions, and I was up all night in labor. When I was getting close, they gave me an epidural but it only seemed to numb my legs, so I was able to feel every moment of giving birth. Katelyn was born still at 5:31 a.m. on August 27, 2011. She was 15 oz. and 13 in. long. However, we did not yet have a name for her.
Later that day, my husband and our families were able to hold her and take pictures. I was unable to, because of the magnesium. We talked about whether or not we should name her, and I wasn’t sure at the time. I was very medicated, and it all seemed so unreal to me. A few weeks prior, I had mentioned the name Katelyn to my husband, because he liked the name Katie, so we put it on the list. As we sat there in my hospital room, I looked up at the board that says “Your Nurse Is….” and the name written down was Katelyn! It was a sign! We decided then and there to name her Katelyn Mary. Her middle name is after my husband’s grandmother.
The next day when the magnesium started wearing off, they brought Katelyn into my room and I was finally able to hold her. We studied everything about her. I kept holding up her little hands and feet. We laughed through our tears, because all throughout my pregnancy she was very active and kicked me all the time, so when we saw how BIG her feet were, I said that she definitely takes after her Daddy with his big feet! We took some more pictures, and the hospital chaplain came in and blessed her. I kissed her on her little forehead and handed her back to the nurse. That would be the last time I would see her. As I think back, I wish I would have spent more time with her…
I was in the hospital for a few more days, and it was very difficult trying to recuperate from major heart surgery along with mourning the loss of my child. My husband took care of all of the plans and decisions for her funeral, but I wrote her obituary. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. My heart was broken both literally and figuratively. The pain was emotional and physical. The day after I came home, we held a small graveside service for her. My husband picked out a beautiful little white casket, and we had pink and white flowers for her. We picked out a beautiful headstone for her that says “A moment in our arms…forever in our hearts.” We also put up a “Memory Shelf” in a central location in our house, where we have some items to remember her by. We have her hand and foot prints, and her baby blanket proudly displayed. She is a part of our daily life, just by glancing at that shelf!
Katelyn is, and will be, our only child. The doctors are adamant that I should never get pregnant again because it would be too life threatening, so we want to keep her memory alive as much as possible! She is our sweet angel, who was brought to earth to help save her mother’s life. I know that we will meet again one day in Heaven, and that she is being well taken care of until I get there!