On Friday, August 7, 2015, we received great news that Abbi did NOT have a heart defect! We were so relieved! On Monday, August 10, 2015, I went in for an ultra sound. I had to have more than normal because of the increased fluid due to Abbi’s duodenal atresia. This is a blockage in her intestine which did not allow the fluids she took in to leave. Thinking everything was fine, I sat waiting for the doctor to come in after looking at the ultra sound. The longer it took, the deeper the sinking feeling in my heart grew. The doctor finally returned and said that I needed to be admitted immediately! The excess fluid had caused the sac to pull away from the uterine wall, it was a global membrane separation. He explained that if I wasn’t put on bed rest immediately there was a good chance that we could lose our girl. The plan was 2-3 weeks of bed rest in the hospital. Ugh!
I was blessed with visitors during my stay, both pastors from the church as well as family and friends. The plan of 2-3 weeks lasted a week. My water broke on Friday night, however they wanted me to get to 34 weeks for Abbi’s sake. So I had to wait another 5 days! I was under constant supervision, ultra sounds twice a day to make sure that there was enough fluid for Abbi to continue to survive. During small contractions her hear rate would drop, so the medical team caring for me wasn’t sure which way to go, C-section or normal delivery. I made it to 34 weeks and was induced. A C-section was scheduled, as a just in case but the doctors felt I should try to delivery normally. Abbi was a trooper! She never dropped her heart rate and was delivered without a C-section!
Abbi weighed 4 lbs. 5 oz. and was over 16 inches long at birth, which we thought was pretty good for a 6-week premature baby. After delivery, I was able to hold her momentarily, and then she was rushed to the NICU. She was not on oxygen and holding her own, we couldn’t believe it! On day two of life, they sent her to surgery to fix the blockage in her intestine. She came back on oxygen but they told us that was pretty normal. After 24 hours they tried taking her off the oxygen but she would drop her oxygen level often enough that they put her back on room temperature oxygen. This was the least amount of support one could have. Her doctor and nurse told us that she probably had used all of her energy to make it through surgery and she just needed some support. They tried to get an IV in several times, however Abbi’s blood was so thick that it would clot before they could. They ended up putting two IV’s in her head. However, they were fearful that they would infiltrate and they wouldn’t be good for very long so they wanted to put in a PIC line. They had a lot of difficulty with this as well but on the fourth try they were able to get it in!
To get Abbi to drink from a bottle a challenge. Abbi also stayed on the oxygen way longer than we would have hoped. She would drop her oxygen level and at times drop her heart rate. Some days we seemed to take a small step forward and the next it was a giant step backward. Abbi started drinking from her bottle more regularly and drinking her full feeding. The feeding tube was able to come out! One of the NICU nurses reassured us that she was doing great because most babies with Down Syndrome leave the NICU with a g-tube for feeding. That was something we really hoped would not have to happen. As time got closer for the potential of her release, her doctor told us that he highly recommended her being around minimal people/kids at daycare. His ideal situation would be 1-2 other kids’ tops! Our heads spun! How were we going to find that perfect situation? We looked to the church for help and ideas. The staff was thinking outside the box and praying, just as we were that we would find a suitable solution. We did!
Abbi was in the NICU for 7 weeks! Abbi left the hospital on oxygen and an apnea monitor. Through it all there was someone there from the church every day! We would pray over Abbi for her health and strength and for ours as her family. It was very comforting to know that someone from the church would be coming to visit and something that I began to look forward to. Staff would ask my parents at church on Sundays for updates on Abbi as we would spend our days with her in the hospital or at home not wanting to expose her to anything. The weeks in the NICU were the longest 7 weeks of our lives. We could have not made it through like we did without the love and support of family, friends, and our church family. It meant so much to have members of the staff there to visit and check on Abbi’s progress. I truly believe that she got her strength from all of the prayers and support that everyone gave. There truly are not enough words to let you know how grateful we are to everyone!
We waited to have her baptized until we knew that Abbi was strong enough and the flu season for the most part would be done. It was only right that Pastor Bob have the honor to baptize Abbi. Everyone that had prayed so much for Abbi, finally got to "meet" her. That was a special day and one we will never forget!
Abbi has made great strides and continues to amaze us on a daily basis. She is now 13 months old! She has learned to sit up by herself. She is not crawling yet, but can roll faster than I knew possible. We are still waiting for teeth but she is eating table food and just learned how to drink out of a straw! Abbi will face many more challenges in life, but it is reassuring to know that she has her own special team of angels in her corner to help her through whatever life throws her way!