We thought we were prepared for this.
Saturday was a day that started like so many others since our stay at Woman's Hospital began. I was on my cot and Crissie on her bed. My "uniform" that day was my Mississippi State hooded sweatshirt, my Mississippi State shorts, and my Mississippi State fluffy slippers that look like clown shoes. Something about being in Baton Rouge makes me feel the need to exaggerate my "Maroon-ness." Plus, I'm kinda' known around the hospital for those ridiculous slippers and I have a reputation to uphold. Our plan was to watch movies, Law & Order, and mostly vegetate all day.
Crissie was feeling uncomfortable. Of course, her belly was big, she hadn't had a night of uninterrupted sleep in over a week, and the straps on the uterine and heart monitors were irritating to the point of exhaustion. She'd been off antibiotics since early Friday morning and all indications were that they had done their job. The constant worry about Garrison's leaking amniotic fluid hung like a dark cloud over our situation, but there wasn't much we could do about it beyond hope.
My brother came to visit late in the afternoon because he was in the area and we hung out for about an hour. He left because he could tell Crissie wasn't feeling well. Around 5:00, Crissie started to get really uncomfortable, so we took off the monitors. It was about this point that she started getting the chills. We were still on high-alert for fevers, so we immediately started doing temperature checks. She was running about 99.9 so we called in Rachel, our nurse who was assigned to us for the first time (bless her heart).
Crissie and I immediately assumed the same thing: An infection was taking hold. We'd heard how quickly infections could wipe out a pregnancy if left unchecked, but even we were surprised with the speed and ferocity of this illness. Within two hours of the onset of her symptoms, her fever was 102 degrees. The decision to get the babies out was made quickly. By the time Crissie was on the operating table, she had vomited, was convulsing, and shivering so hard it was painful to watch. I was truly scared for her life at that point. However, they got her on the table a little over 3 hours from the onset of symptoms--pretty impressive considering the complex issues in play.
At 8:38 pm on April 17th, Amelia Frances (Baby B) was born first at 1 pound, 7.5 ounces. At 8:39 came Elena Marie (Baby C) at 1 pound 15.8 ounces, followed by Garrison Thomas (Baby A) at 8:40 also weighing 1 pound 15.8 ounces. At 8:41, Lillian Brooks was born sleeping.
Drs. St. Amant and Diket performed the C-Section and were assisted by a myriad of neonatologists, respiratory therapists, NICU nurses, and surgical assistants. Three of our "Top 4" nurses were able to make it in time for the surgery. Jami, Tanyl, and Tracy raced to the hospital and pitched in on their own time for which we can't thank them enough. We wish that Jennifer J. would have been able to make it too, but she was out of town and couldn't be reached.
A special thank you is reserved for Dr. St. Amant who gave us a 'bat-signal' to be able to reach him in the event of emergency. We found him at the first sign of fever and he was at the hospital within an hour or so--even though he wasn't on call and it was a Saturday night.
Crissie got loaded up with antibiotics and pain meds, while three teams worked on intubating and stabilizing Amelia, Elena, and Garrison. Our families stood by in the waiting room--my dad and brother, and Crissie's parents and sister, along with various other friends and loved ones.
Nurse Tracy took care of Lillian. She had the difficult duty of bathing and dressing her. Once Crissie was stabilized, she and I had an opportunity to hold Lillian's hand and say our good-byes, despite knowing that she was already in heaven. It was an emotional end to an emotional day and we appreciated the nurses who took such loving care of us by looking after her.
We got moved from our room in Labor and Delivery up to the part of the hospital known as "Mother/Baby." It was a much smaller room, and after nearly a month, we'd accumulated a lot of stuff. Most of that stuff got sent home with Crissie's parents. Dr. St. Amant helped us get rid of some of our remaining foodstuffs. Since we deprived him of his dinner, his preoperative meal consisted of peanuts from our "snack table."
Once settled into the new room for the dénouement, we were left with a few visitors, but mostly left to ourselves. It had been a day filled with the most intense emotions we'd ever experienced--fear, love, sadness, hope--we were exhausted. Not long after our last visitor left, we collapsed into what we'd hoped would be long, well-earned sleep...
It was not to be.
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