Nia’s birth story started at least a couple of months before she was born…the princess needed a grand entrance so pomp and circumstance was necessary.
I mentioned before, my care was transferred to a high risk team at INOVA Fairfax since the Women’s Hospital and NICU Level IV were in the same location.
Fast Forward to Pregnancy Week 35…
We discussed Nia’s growth and I mentioned the steroid injection I could receive to possibly help Nia’s lungs. He said the shot couldn’t hurt so why not. He said the next week I could have it as I was very adamant about it. My doctor said I was doing fine and no signs of labor just yet so he approved me for one last mini trip.
I traveled to New York City for work, as my mom held her breath and couldn’t believe I was traveling so far along. Momma I am fine- it’s less than an hour plane ride up and down – my doctor isn’t concerned neither is Antoine.
I was determined to allow Nia to experience life in my womb if she didn’t have long on this Earth. In New York I had some great cuisines and Nia seemed to enjoy as well!
I returned back to the DC area safely.
At my week 36 appointment I had my usual non-stress test and ultrasound Nia was looking good and practicing breathing. I had my first dose of the steroid shot- I didn’t know it would be administered on the backside. The next day I came back for the second dose.
He reminded me to keep drinking lots of water.
Week 37- The BIG WEEK
The next week, Tuesday September 26, 2017, We had two doctors’ appointments- Cardiologist and Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM). The cardiologist completed one final fetal echocardiogram on Nia’s heart. The appointment went great and Nia’s heart looked the same. Her main concern was insuring Nia’s patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) closed after birth- so that would be something to watch for. The PDA is an extra blood vessel found in babies before birth and just after birth. In most babies who have a normal heart, the PDA will shrink and close on its own in the first few days of life. If it stays open longer, it may cause extra blood to flow to the lungs, which Nia definitely didn’t need with a smaller lung capacity. After the appointment I advised Antoine to go to work and I could handle my afternoon appointment with the MFM- high risk doctor on my own.
I headed to Chick-Fil-A. For some reason I was craving a Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo with a lemonade. Antoine actually likes the spicy chicken sandwich- not me! I guess Nia was really craving this sandwich LOL! Nia and I ate good…
Of note- I was not a huge fan of afternoon high-risk appointments because Nia likes to sleep after lunch- this is no good for a non-stress test!
I arrived at my appointment and then hooked up to the NST monitor- I am so tired- I am sure it’s from my good lunch LOL! The nurse for some reason says I can take a nap- and I agree. However, taking a nap is not ideal for a NST because you can’t successfully hit the button to capture when the baby is moving- high risk pregger mammas will understand. Needless to say Nia fails her NST for the first time since I’ve had to take it. I just shrugged it off she is just sleepy. The medical team didn’t think much of it either and said we will just take a better look during your ultrasound.
During my ultrasound the sonographer did the usual of taking measurements, but particularly for this appointment she kept saying come on baby girl show me your breathing and then Nia did J. She kept looking around, and finally she said let me get your doctor.
The doctor came in and took one quick look and said you have no amniotic fluid, we have to take your baby NOW and it has to be by c-section! We can risk her not having enough oxygen going through the birth canal. I immediately burst into tears. I am not ready for Nia to come yet. She needs more time to bake, her lungs need more time. I have to have surgery…I was in the room alone. He said you need to call your husband now, but we may not be able to wait for him! Wait! WHAT! No you have to wait for him. I can’t deliver Nia alone.
I immediately call Antoine and tell him to get to the hospital immediately because Nia will be delivered ASAP. He is calm on the phone and rushes to get to me. I am prepped to be admitted from the Antenatal Testing Center to the Labor and Delivery Unit. I called my mom and bestie immediately. I cried hysterically. My bestie didn’t’ answer immediately- so I texted call me ASAP. My mom said no you can’t have her now because I am not there! Things were happening so fast- it was overwhelming. I kept thinking I need more time with my Baby God! I just need more time!
I called my bestie around 330pm EST. She didn’t answer immediately and I texted her call me ASAP. She called back and I told her what was going on. She kicked right into action. By the time I heard from her again she was throwing stuff in a bag. She informed me she had a flight out and would arrive around 1145. I said okay perfect I will see you tomorrow. She really meant 11:45pm that night! She was packed with my mom in tow and on the next flight smoking out of Memphis at 5:55pm!!! I couldn’t believe it! She is a wife and mom of two small kids! She dropped life that day- really rest of the week for me and made sure my mom could be there too! Outside of my hubby, she is the real MVP!
After this call, I was wheeled upstairs to the Labor and Delivery floor. I was still in tears and couldn’t believe this was happening. My baby Nia is coming too soon. I kept rubbing my belly- scared at the thought of delivery. What we would it be like? Nothing could’ve prepared me for this type of delivery day. After my arrival upstairs, I completed the registration process. Thank God, I completed my registration weeks in advance of delivery. That part was a breeze. However, there were so many people coming in and out of my room area. It was insane.
My IV was placed. I really didn’t like where they had placed it on my wrist. The anesthesiologist came to inform me of his part for the c-section and what should I expect. I learned that where i would be poked couldn’t cause paralysis because it’s at the end of the spine where all nerve endings are.
Antoine arrived soon after.
The neonatologist on duty came in to explain what we should expect with Nia because of her syndrome/dysplasia. He was a nice, soft spoken Korean-American doctor. INOVA Fairfax had only seen one other baby in the last FIVE Years with Nia’s syndrome! That baby had a flappy trachea plus cleft palate along with other things that could possibly come with Ellis-van Creveld (EVC)! He said Nia would probably need ECMO or an oscillator because of her lung capacity. I immediately interrupted the doctor to ask, do you mean life support? He said yes. Honestly, Antoine and I really dismissed this prognosis of needing invasive respiratory support despite knowing the odds were against us- we relied on that sense of peace we had gained in the final weeks of our pregnancy- despite the chaos we were thrown into on this day!
The neonatologist informed us he really wanted to wait to deliver Nia until the AM because there was another critical need baby that would be born within the hour and would require of a lot of attention because of an intestinal issue. However, it was our call but wanted us to understand we would be sharing time with the staff- when Nia most likely would need all hands on deck. He said we probably wouldn’t get a chance to see Nia after delivery because she would need immediate attention. Those words were a little hard to digest- but I just shook it off.
My MFM then came in to weigh in with the neonatologist. My MFM wanted Nia to come immediately because he didn’t want to put her at any more risks than she was already up against. However, the neonatologist reasoning for postponing our delivery was valid. MFM agreed to wait, but with one exception- if at any point Nia’s heart rate starts to drop, I would have an emergency c-section overnight which was so scary to even imagine- as if non-emergency C-section itself wasn’t enough. Antoine insisted on us having a time for delivery if we were going to wait overnight. Getting a time seemed a little more complicated than it needed to be. One of the MFM fellows, got us a time- we were going to be the first c-section case of the day! 8:30am!
All the doctors left and there we were left in the room to ponder and wonder what next. What would the next 12 hours bring??? Would Nia manage to survive with little to no amniotic fluid? Why was this happening? Lord are you really going to take our baby from this Earth?
Soon we packed up my triage L&D room and then I was moved to my L&D room. Unbeknownst to me- Antoine called my baby sis to ask her to bring my hospital bag- She arrived with all my needs including what I forgot to pack.
Last Night Preggers
I kept thinking can I convinced the nurse to allow me to shower. My sweet nurse allowed me to take a quick shower but it could be no more than 15 mins because i need to have continuous monitoring of Nia’s heartbeat and movement.
I couldn’t believe my Nia would no longer be within me- I enjoyed carrying her and just wanted the night to slow down.
I showered and laid back down. I asked Antoine for my last pregger request- Gourmet Bell- I mean Taco Bell lol! My third trimester I wanted Taco Bell more times than i could count – but specifically a Mexican Pizza with Chicken no beef and easy on the beans with lots of mild and fire sauce. My Taco Bell craving was so bad I would send my sis and Antoine to taco bell just for the sauce and i would make my own tacos at home most of the time!!! Lol 😂😩🤣 Blame it on Nia! I hadn’t eaten Taco Bell in years prior to being pregnant.
I emailed my virtual fellow EVC warrior mama friend and informed her of what was happening and asked for her family’s prayers. Well she made a global prayer warrior call for our baby Nia. Her testimony and faith had been a blessing to us, yet I was still in awe of her willingness to think of us in such a way!
My bestie and my mom arrived at the hospital around 1am. My sweet Charge Nurse made sure we had extra chairs some everyone could camp out overnight. Oh the night.
We all talked about the outfit Nia would possibly wear home OR memorialized in. Wow! So many emotions, thoughts and feelings. Were we preparing to say happy birthday and death day???…
The Big Day!
The next morning was go time! My chapter sorority sisters had a super early morning prayer call for us! I missed it but heard it was powerful! 💗💚 All the prayer warriors were showing up and speaking to God on our behalf! We prayed as well!
The lead Anesthesiologist came to explain the procedure he was very kind African American doctor with a great sense of humor. I actually saw him the night before as I was wheeled to my L&D room. He looked to be headed home because he was out of scrubs- he smiled and I thought he seems to have a kind-spirit, not realizing He would be the person taking care of me to make sure my delivery is painless as possible.
He explained everything with sincerity yet humor! I loved it! Then my MFM came in to inform me of what would happen.l
Then I was wheeled away around 830am (so a little off schedule), but not before a few final pics of my pregger belly and with my bestie- She really showed up- and it meant the world to me!
In the operating room the lights were super bright! OMG! I guess the doctors need to see everything! My MFM team was absolutely amazing- funny yet professional! One of the female doctors was hilarious and we talked about a whole bunch of everything and making sure I would have minimal scarring. She was originally from Miami- so we joked about making sure my incision would heal and be swimsuit ready- especially since my currently hidden abs were all my glory and I didn’t have one single stretch mark! Thanks Cerave and Bio Oil- because stretch marks run in my family. She walked me through my spinal block with the administering anesthesiologist, while the lead anesthesiologist oversaw my operation.
Then the administering anesthesiologist felt down my spine, and I remember him saying nothing is happening yet.
Then I was asked to sit forward, and I felt the initial small pinch and then my lower half started to go numb.
Then I was immediately assisted to roll over and back. Then things started happening fast.
I saw the infamous blue curtain over me- that I’ve only heard about until now- c-section mommas know what I am talking about…
The Delivery Production
It was a production it seemed. All things were ready for Baby Nia. The Medical team was all there- I couldn’t see many people but I could hear them. Then I heard my MFM say, Ask Dad to come in. Then I knew the show was about to start.
Antoine walked in fully scrubbed up, and he held my hand. So many thoughts were going through my head. Although we had shown so much strength and grace during this process- I couldn’t help but think will Nia show us how strong she really is??
The MFM team were ready, and from what I could hear it seemed life half the NICU team was ready as well! What I didn’t know at the time, so many people were in our room- waiting on Nia because of professional curiosity but yet our Fetal Care team were praying for a miracle.
My MFM doctor began and said incision has been made. Yet I couldn’t feel much of anything except some gentle pressing on my stomach. Then at some point my whole body started shaking, I didn’t know what was happening. It was awful, I thought I was going to to fall off the table. Antoine held my left hand so tight, yet my right hand/arm I couldn’t control. The administering anesthesiologist said he couldn’t give me any medicine for this shaking until the baby was out- OMG! In the midst of this unstoppable shaking, I was trying to listen and focus at the same time on what was happening below my blue curtain. I heard my MFM say not too long after incision, baby’s coming then baby’s out! Nia came over my blue curtain crying/screaming on her own- no helped needed. She had a head full of hair- wow! Then immediately I was injected with some magic that stopped my shaking immediately. Thank God!
I couldn’t believe it, a miracle had been performed in this operating room- I was so in shock and in awe that I didn’t have tears immediately, I just remembered seeing the one medical team person I could actually see to my eyes- His Eyes were like WTF- what just happened here! This baby is crying on her own. I learned later, there were tears in the room from the medical team. There were so many happy and shocked people.
I could still hear Nia crying. They cleaned her up and then the greatest moment happened- Nia was actually brought over to us- She was only on CPAP! Wow- totally unexpected. There was no sense of urgency to take her away we even had time to take a couple of pictures.
The doctors finally took her away to the NICU to see how she would do in the first few hours post-delivery.
My MFM medical team worked to finish getting me squared away- there were conversations about making sure I had great healing. Throughout the entire operation the team never tugged and pulled on me- definitely blessed!
Once done, I was wheeled away to the recovery room- now that felt like forever. I remember lying in the bed thinking wow Nia is here and breathing with little support.
For some reason it seemed like it took forever for me to get out of the recovery room. Honestly, not sure why.
When I finally arrived to my post-partum room- I was so happy. I could finally rest. My MFM doctor came by. He informed me that it was definitely the right call to deliver Nia. There was no amniotic fluid, and I had a velamentous cord insertion (VCI) with my placenta, which I learned later can be sometimes difficult to diagnose in utero. VCI has the potential to cause low birth weight and/or still born babies. There was no explanation for the non- existent amniotic fluid-I had no ruptured membranes.
My doctor said yes Nia is nothing short of a miracle all the way around. She fought to be here on so many levels.
So the NICU journey began…..