Monday, October 28, 2013

Chisum’s Story {Part 2} Strength & Miracles

Read Part 1 {Patience}

DSC04452We arrived at Labor and Delivery at 8 pm and got checked in faster than I expected. Forty-five minutes later, my nurse, Courtney, was giving me Cytotec to get things going.

Fortunately, my labor started on its own and I didn't need to be given Pitocin to induce the labor. And I progressed fast! Around midnight, we had one opportunity to walk some laps around the L&D floor to walk through contractions. I was doing my best to breathe through the contractions, but I was definitely ready for my epidural. At 6 am, my contractions were only a minute apart and were getting really strong. I had dilated to 4 cm, so Courtney said I could get the epidural and I gladly agreed. Shortly before this, Courtney came in hurriedly and had me turn over. From the monitors she was watching, the baby's heart rate was drastically declining. She had me turn over, but still had a hard time finding the baby’s heartbeat. Two more nurses came in and before I knew it, they dropped the table so my head was lower than my body and put oxygen on me. After rotating me around some more, they were able to find the heartbeat. I felt fine during this time, but was starting to get nervous as to why it was hard to find baby's heartbeat. This was just the beginning.

Dr. Rawlings administered the epidural and I started to feel relief. After I started doing better through each contraction, Ronny took the opportunity to leave the room and call our parents to update them on our progress. We were sure we still had hours of labor, but wanted to keep them updated. While he was out, the night shift staff changed over to the day shift staff at 7 am, so my new nurse, Melissa came in, as well as the new anesthesiologist, Dr. Timmons. He asked how my epidural was doing and I told him the pain was manageable, but my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. He didn't seem to be worried so I wasn't either.

Ronny made it back into the room and at exactly 7:11 am, I felt a gush. Surely my water had broke! But when I looked down on the bed, it was all blood. I didn't know what the water was supposed to look like, but I called for Melissa regardless and when she came in to my room, I immediately thought the room was spinning. This was the start to a fast spiral downhill. They laid me flat on my back again and the next thing I know...all black.

From here on, the story comes from Ronny's perspective because I remember very few details. Apparently, my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I started shaking. I was having a seizure. I was foaming from my mouth and Ronny reached in to try to unclench my jaw to keep me from swallowing my tongue, but he couldn't get to my tongue because my jaw was clenched was so tight. My blood pressure was decelerating fast. They rolled me to my side and immediately turned off the epidural as they thought I was having a reaction to the drugs. I started vomiting which caused my water to break (for real this time!). I was also bleeding a lot. Doctors poured into the room to try to stabilize me. All the while, they couldn't find Chisum's heart rate, but they were most concerned with making sure they kept me alive before they could worry about baby. Ronny remembers them putting something in my IV and after being under for about 10 minutes, I opened my eyes.

Ronny's voice was the first human voice I heard. But I can confidently tell you it wasn’t the first voice I heard. They say your life flashes before you when you’re dying. I never saw "the light" but I saw Ronny with our baby. Then I heard God's voice. He said, "Kelsey, be strong. You can’t leave Ronny and the baby." I also almost felt like I knew the situation and could visualize myself and what was going on around me in the room. Such an out-of-body experience. Then, I immediately felt this surge of strength and slowly opened my eyes to at least five faces telling me to stay with them. I tried to keep my eyes open as I was going in and out, but finally started to comprehend that I had blacked out (all that I thought – I had no clue what had actually happened at this point). Dr. Timmons was poking (Ronny say stabbing, but it felt like a poke to me) a needle in my side asking if I could feel it after the epidural was wearing off. These pokes started bleeding, but I could eventually start to feel them again.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. {Philippians 4:13}

Dr. Cada, my OBGYN, was very worried about the baby. At each contraction, Chisum’s heart rate would drop. They weren’t sure what type of stress he had gone through while I was seizing. But he was stressed and he needed to be born soon. She told me that we would try pushing but if that didn’t work, she would take me to emergency c-section. I was still really hazy and remember thinking, “Maybe we should just do the c-section. I don’t know if I have the strength to deliver the baby.”

But there was God again. He gave me the strength and when the nurse asked me to push, I did. I have fuzzy memories of Chisum being born. Dr. Cada told me she was going to use the vacuum and if it came off three times, she’d take me to the c-section. It popped off twice. But on that third try with all of the strength I could gather and with all of the force that Dr. Cada had, Chisum was born. It was an amazing feeling. I felt relief! But I was in such shock from what had happened, I just looked at Ronny and cried. The baby wasn’t making any noises and they had whisked him off. He was unresponsive. Ronny said he saw the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck twice along with his arm wrapped up in it, and that Dr. Cada had whipped it off as fast as she could. They took him over to the warmer and after what seemed like awhile, he whimpered. I couldn’t even ask how he was or even if it was a boy or a girl because I was so overcome with emotions. And we all didn’t want to ask the question – “Is the baby ok?” – because we just didn’t know if he would be.
DSC04455Finally, a nurse said, “Do you want to know what you had? You have a boy!” A son! Ronny and I looked at each other again and just cried. I don’t even know what had just happened, but I do know that God gave me the strength to get through it (even with no pain meds) and that we had a baby boy! Ronny went to get pictures and they rolled him over to my bed to touch him quickly before they took him off to the NICU. Ronny told me later that the right side of his body was twitching and they needed to get an IV line and artery valve in him to administer antibiotics to fight any infection that might have gotten in his blood from my blood. They also weren’t sure what the stress and trauma had done to his little body. They were worried about this liver and kidneys, as well as any brain damage. I was barely able to touch him through the bed rail, but that soft head of hair was the best feeling ever.

I wish I could say it all got better from here. But it didn’t. Dr. Cada was sewing me up, but I was still bleeding profusely. She wanted to get me to an operating room to have more light. Then the room started spinning again. I told Melissa it was getting dark and spinning and I was out again. Not as long this time, but I remember being rolled to the elevators and into the operating room. My heart was racing and it was getting hard to breathe.

In the operating room, they still didn’t give me any pain meds because they still weren’t exactly sure what was happening and didn’t know how my body would react to any drugs. They also kept me conscious the whole time because they didn’t want me slipping into a coma. I remember most of the conversations, but did pass out from the pain a few times. Dr. Cada was sewing me up and another nurse was pressing on my stomach to try to get my uterus to contract. But I was losing a lot of blood. Nurses were calling for more blood and I kept telling the doctors that I was having a hard time breathing. It felt like a ton of bricks was on my chest. They still weren’t sure what was happening to my body, but they knew it had to be something with my blood. Dr. Cada looked at the needle pokes on my side where Dr. Timmons had stabbed them in after stopping the epidural and noticed that they weren’t clotting. This was the clue they needed to make a fast diagnosis – which probably saved my life. They did a blood test quickly and figured out that amniotic fluid had gotten into my blood system and thus my body was rejecting my own blood and wasn’t coagulating. This is called an amniotic fluid embolism.

This condition is so rare that many doctors just read about it in textbooks and as a result the exact process is poorly understood. It is believed however that once the fluid and fetal cells enter the maternal pulmonary circulation, there will be profound respiratory failure with cardiovascular shock followed by convulsions, profound coma and hemorrhaging. Dr. Cada believes this happened when my water broke, but there is truly no way of knowing – or knowing if it could happen again. You can read more about this condition here.

At the same time since I was losing so much blood, I went into DIC. My heart and lungs started shutting down. It was hard to breathe. The doctors working on my blood, heart and lungs were asking each other, “Do you think this will work?” or “What if we try this?”. Hearing this didn’t give me much hope, but I again leaned on my foundation of faith and prayed to God for answers. I recall them working on my neck, which I later found out was an artery valve that allowed them to get blood directly in the artery right above my heart. After six blood transfusions, and several units of fresh-frozen plasma, platelets and other things that I don’t even know, I started to stabilize, but was still bleeding a lot.

Dr. Cada was done sewing me up, so they took me to the ICU to continue working on me and had a team ready to get me more blood. My parents had come in at this time and were able to hold my hand while they continued to press on my stomach to get the bad blood out. Mom said the nurse pumped the bags of blood for over an hour to get the good blood in me since I was losing it faster than I was receiving it. Thank you Lord for people who donate blood!

The most memorable part of being moved over to the ICU was when Ronny walked into the room with a picture of Chisum and said, “Here is your son!” Again, burst of strength. God knew that I was getting tired and losing hope through all of the pain, but this beautiful sight – something that HE created – gave me strength to keep fighting. It was the most amazing, beautiful thing I had ever experienced. Later that evening, the NICU brought over an iPad and I was able to FaceTime with my new son. Seeing his face, hearing his little noises and observing his eyes start to focus on where my voice was coming from was so amazing. Mom was holding the iPad there in the NICU and she said as soon as he heard my voice, he calmed down and his vitals softened. No new mother wants to meet their son for the first time over a video, but considering all that we had both gone through, I counted it as a blessing.
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I spent that night in the ICU and the next morning, I felt somewhat like a zoo animal. Doctors, nurses, hospital staff, all came by to see me and find out how I was doing. Almost all of them said they couldn’t believe how good I looked. I still wasn’t even sure of how near-death I had been so I found this surprising, but all things considered, I did feel pretty good. God continued to show me His grace in every test that I received that came back ok. Like the EKG that first showed I had had a heart attack, to the second one showing my heart was ok. Later when I was recovering, Dr. Cada shared with Ronny and I that she had seen this type of situation one time before. She told me later that the patient this had happened to hadn’t survived. Dr. Rawlings, my anesthesiologist, had the same situation happen to a patient when he was studying at Duke. That patient hadn’t survived either. Dr. Timmons told me that this situation, the amniotic fluid embolism, is so rare that many have only read about it in a textbook. Surviving was truly a miracle.

It was so humbling to know that first and foremost, God had given me the strength to be a fighter and to overcome this almost-fatal experience, as well as allowing our son to be born alive. And second, that the team of doctors worked so well together to problem-solve and figure out a solution – and fast – to this rare event that had happened to me. I had gone in to have a baby being perfectly healthy, yet this medical anomaly had happened to me. I know and believe that God put that team of doctors together and the timing was His timing to provide for Chisum and me. Knowing that God gave me the strength to fight through, as well as providing Ronny the support to stay strong for me and overcome all that he went through emotionally, is a testimony to God’s provision for us and ability to perform miracles.

Two miracles happened on September 9. And they weren’t just any miracles, they were miracles from God.

God is my strength, God is my song, and, yes! God is my salvation. This is the kind of God I have and I'm telling the world! This is the God of my father - I'm spreading the news far and wide! {Exodus 15:2 – The Message}

Continue reading Chisum’s story in {Part 3} Meeting Chisum and {Part 4} NICU & Healing.


Sara's House HD said...

I'm in tears reading this! You truly did have two miracles that day!

Sharita Knobloch said...

Oh sweet Kelsey... No words... Except praise God.

MPK said...

Wow, Kelsey, I had no idea. Your story is certainly a testament to God's great work and grace.

Jen@Almost Gypsy Soul said...

WOW Kelsey! This will be a great gift one day for your little one right behind the gift of life that you were both given. What a beautiful baby boy and such an amazing story!

Unknown said...

Wow, Kelsey! Many emotions flood reading your story, takes me back to my own delivery story which thankfully was not near as traumatic as yours but full of miracles none the less. I'm so glad your beautiful family is healing and you are able to share your story and faith. God needed you more here to share the good news! Praise God for you and handsome little Chisum!

Debbie said...

I'm holding back the tears. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to meeting the little one. You are such a blessing. Praise God!

Joan said...

Oh, Kelsey, I am in tears even though I knew the ending! Thank you for sharing this story including your faith experience. I am overjoyed that our God has blessed us, especially your family, with you for hopefully a very long time.

Emily said...

Wow Kelsey. I am covered in chills and have tears in my eyes...that is an amazing story. An amazing story of God's grace and your strength and courage.

Chisum is a beautiful baby and truly a blessing.