I was going to post pictures from Katria's birthday, but our brand new batteries for our camera are dead! Needless to say, I am a little frustrated, especially since the last brand new batteries were dead, too. The camera is new and this happened with our old camera, too! Any advice?
Anyways . . . We had a great day!
Katria turned 4 today and this day has a lot of significance for Cameron and me. Four years ago, Katria was born at 35 weeks, a tiny little baby, who did not cry as she entered the world, born with a clubfoot and a possible "syndrome". She was born early due to an infection in my amniotic fluid. We still have no idea how I contracted the infection because my membranes were not ruptured. Infections are commonly found in women with prolonged ruptured membranes--that is why it is recommended that women deliver within 18 hours of their water breaking. I remember the day before (August 3rd) that I felt really tired, cold and every time the baby kicked, it hurt. My belly also hurt when I walked. I called Cameron at work (who if you did not know, is an ob/gyn physician) and he told me to take my temperature, saying I could have an infection. I did not believe him, but after I took my temp. and saw that I had a slight fever, I humored him and went into the hospital to be evaluated. I really did not think anything would come of this visit. I had my neighbor watch Anna and Jonas and told her I would be back in about 2 hours. I took nothing with me, except a book. I really honestly thought that I would be coming back home . . .
After being examined, it was determined that I did have an infection in my fluid and was induced. My fever continued to rise and I was put on IV antibiotics. It was a long night, and a long slow labor--very different from my first labor, during which I got to the hospital at 8 cm and was told to start pushing about 10 minutes later.
Katria arrived 12 hours after pitocin was started, at 10:31 am. Her daddy delivered her. At 10 am, I was 4 cm and had been since about 3 am. I was not progressing. The ob told me that they would give me another 6 hours before they considered a C-section. I was discouraged. As soon as she left, I called a friend and asked her to pray. When I got off the phone, Cameron told me to sit up and maybe gravity would help. As soon as I sat up I told Cameron I had to push. He told me to put my call light on for my nurse. I calmly explained that no, the baby was coming. He said that I was probably getting closer and could feel more pressure. No, I explained (okay, yelled), "Get the nurse!" He called out the door for her and she came in and told me that I was complete and yelled that she needed a doctor, and told me not to push (I wasn't, the baby was just coming) and I said "Cameron, YOU ARE A DOCTOR!" Up until that time, we had been undecided if Cameron would deliver the baby. He really thought that he would just like to be the "dad" and not the doctor--too many hats. My ob wasn't around when I started to feel the urge to push--she had gone to do her clinic that morning, thinking I had several more hours until delivery. So, another resident came in, the NICU team came, Cameron got ready to assist and after 90 seconds of pushing, Katria was born!
Everything seemed to be fine with Katria. We knew she was going to have a clubfoot and were prepared for that. I felt great post-delivery because she had been so small. However, the day after she was born, I began to feel feverish. The infection had spread to my uterine muscles--there are medical terms for all of this, but I can't spell them . . . :) I had to remain in the hospital for 5 days on IV antibiotics. Meanwhile, Katria never really woke up, never really cried. We fed her with a tube attached to our finger. However, we were assured that Katria was healthy, she was just premature, and thus, sleepy. Soon after birth, she was evaluated by a genetics team due to her clubfoot and they suspected that she had a syndrome. However, one of the markers that the team was basing their suspicions on was the size of Katria's ears. They were 2 standard deviations below the norm. I told the doctor that my ears have always been tiny. He got out his ruler, measure my ears, and sure enough--two standard deviations below the norm! We prepared ourselves for bad news, but were hopeful that it would be nothing.
I had Katria on a Wednesday, and on Sunday, we brought her home. We still didn't have the test results from the genetic screen, but we were just glad to leave the hospital with our baby and return to our other children. The next morning, we took Katria to her first pediatric visit. The doctor was pleased with her weight gain (she had started to nurse a little) and wanted to see us in 2 days to make sure Katria continued to gain weight. As the day progressed, Katria stopped nursing. We weren't sure whether we should be alarmed since she didn't nurse in the hospital for the first 4 days. We decided to give it until the next morning and if she didn't start to nurse, we would take her back to our pediatrician. She was taking a bottle, but wouldn't open her eyes, didn't wake up to eat, didn't cry, and we had to coax her to keep drinking. However, none of these behaviors was any different than what she did in the hospital, where we were told it was normal behavior for a preemie.
The next morning, our pediatrician took one look at Katria and told us to go straight to the hospital. She was hypothermic and had lost weight. Fear seized me and I thought I was going to lose her. We rushed home, grabbed a breast pump, clothes, and made a phone call to one of our pastors--whose wife had actually had her baby the SAME day as Katria--and rushed to the hospital. In the E.R., they hooked Katria up to a heart monitor and the alarm kept sounding. She was having apnea spells. Katria was admitted and we headed up to the pediatric floor. However, they could not get her temperature up and decided to put her in the Peds ICU, just overnight, in order to use a warmer (for some reason they can't use them on the peds floor). They assured us that we were just "visitors" to the PICU and would leave the next morning to go back to the peds floor.
During this time, a woman from church (who has 7 children) came to pray with us, comfort us and feed us :). We didn't know her and she didn't know us. We had no idea then how much our friendship would grow and how important their family would become to ours. God used her to encourage us and without her love, support, and her words of truth, we would not have made it through this trial. The first thing she told us was that she was honored to be at the hospital with us and that she was standing on holy ground because God had considered us worthy to go through this trial. Well, that put everything in perspective. We were reminded that God was in control, that nothing could happen to Katria apart from His will, that God loved us and He would walk through this fiery ordeal with us.
When Katria went to the PICU, our friend left and Cameron went home to be with Anna and Jonas. I felt drained, but at peace that we were being taken care of. I told the PICU nurse that Katria was not taking a bottle anymore and she reassured me that she would feed her and I was to rest. I had just had a baby and was still recovering from childbirth, an infection that required 5 days of antibiotics, lack of sleep, and the stress of Katria's illness. The one good piece of news was that results from the genetic testing revealed that Katria did not have a syndrome.
As I sat next to Katria's bed in the PICU I was emotionally and physically drained. The nurse continually encouraged me to go get some sleep--we had a room there for parents. However, I could not leave my baby. Shortly thereafter, the nurse came in and said that they were going to put a feeding tube in Katria instead of bottle-feeding her. At this point, I got a little worried and called Cameron crying and told him to come back up to the hospital. We knew that Katria was septic--had some type of infection somewhere, and the doctor had been honest that some babies made it, some didn't, but this is when it really began to hit me. When I got off the phone, the nurse came back in and said that they were not going to do a feeding tube because if Katria stopped breathing, she could aspirate the fluid. I really lost it then. I thought she was only in the PICU for the warmer. She told me not to worry--they were just taking precautions. (I am getting all emotional just re-telling this story). The alarms continued to sound every once in awhile, revealing apnea spells, during which Katria would briefly stop breathing, but nobody seemed concerned. I called my mother-in-law to give her an update and all of a sudden doctors and nurses came running into the room and began to work on Katria. I was sobbing and my mother-in-law was talking me through everything. She was calm, being a respiratory therapist and used to medical crises and such. Katria was stabilized and Cameron soon arrived. He sat by her bed and would rub her a little every time the machines would alarm and the stimulation would cause her to breathe again.
The nurse then came in to tell me again to go get some sleep. She knew that without sleep I would be an even bigger mess. After Cameron urged me to do the same, I finally agreed to leave my baby, but it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Cameron walked me to our room to help me get ready for bed. As I was crawling into bed to get some sleep, a knock came at the door. It was an anesthesiologist resident, whom Cameron knew, and she came to tell us that after we had left Katria had had a prolonged apnea spell followed by cardiac arrest and had to be intubated. The fear that gripped my heart then is indescribable. The doctor tried to prepare me for what we would see when we went back in to see Katria. However, it didn't help. To see my tiny tiny baby hooked up to machines, a tube down her throat, so silent and still . . . it wasn't like she was premature and was just having trouble breathing and needed some help. No, there was something seriously wrong . . . and I knew we could lose her. I also knew that if God chose to take her, I would still have to praise Him and believe that He was good.
The nurse again told me I needed sleep (she must have been used to dealing with irrational, over-tired emotional mothers). She promised to come and get us if anything changed and so we left again. I kept thinking that no loving mother would leave her child, but I also knew that I would be useless without rest, without sleep. I knew that Katria was in God's hands and that this first night was critical. I didn't think I would be able to sleep knowing we could lose her at any time, but exhaustion took over.
The next day, our "new" friend from church came up to sit with us. We prayed, read God's word and even sang some hymns. I remember her saying as she opened a hymnal, "Let's sing," and my response was "Out loud?" The PICU is an open unit, not private rooms. I laugh when I think about that memory now. That rest of that week is now a blur to me. I remember that I pumped breast milk every 3 hours around the clock. I remember that I made so much that they ran out of room in the freezer. I remember eating a lot of hospital chef salads. I remember many doctors and residents from Cameron's department visiting. I remember just sitting by Katria's bed, staring at her peaceful, beautiful face. I remember talking to our friend, who continued to visit me everyday. We weren't really supposed to have visitors, but the staff thought she was our pastor! I remember asking her question after question after question about her family, their convictions, the Bible and God and I learned SO much. God was using this time to school me.
God spared Katria's life, answering the prayers of hundreds of people, many I have never met, and after 5 days of intubation, Katria started to breathe on her own and was taken off the ventilator. She even began to nurse. We were moved to the peds floor and I thought it would be only a matter of days before we went home. Katria seemed to be doing better. However, the mysterious infection was not over. Katria had had a spinal tap in the E.R., the results of which were not really decipherable and another one was needed. Her white blood cell count was high. I don't remember all the medical background, but I do know that the diagnosis was bacterial meningitis. Katria had most likely caught the infection in utero from the infection I had in my amniotic fluid. We remained in the hospital on IV antibiotics for 3 more weeks.
The three weeks that I remained in the hospital were some of the most difficult I have spent. Cameron had to go back to work and I spent a lot of time alone. I missed my other children terribly. I was tired and just wanted familiar surroundings. However, our families were amazing during this time. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law flew down to care for Anna and Jonas. My mom came when they went back home. Our church family, people we did not even know (we had only lived in this state for 1 year at the time) brought us meals, both to the hospital and at home. They prayed for us, visited me, sent gifts and made me feel that I was not alone.
Katria slowly improved and gained weight and when she was 1 month old, we were discharged. When we left the hospital, with our baby, alive, Cameron and I were changed. We have not been the same since. That period of time marks a turning point in our walk with God. Because of what we had been through, we emerged with a deeper faith, and an absolute trust in the sovereignty of God. We also began to see children as a blessing and a gift from God. Who were we to want or not want a child? We understood that it is up to the Lord to give and take away. We had thought that we didn't want any more children after Katria, but the Lord changed our hearts. We decided to be open to any blessings that God wanted to give us because we realized that we are not in control, no matter how much we think we are. We began to consider it an honor, a privilege, to receive these precious eternal souls as our children. I will confess that this decision was extremely difficult and still is. However, God is faithful and has proven Himself over and over. I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.
Katria's life is a miracle. She walked away from having bacterial meningitis unscathed--no brain damage, no developmental delays. We know God's hand was upon us--1 more day at home and she would have died. That thought terrifies me, yet I know that not for 1 moment were we ever outside God's plan. Katria was no more closer to death than she is today because that was not what God willed. He spared her life; He gave her back to us, she is a gift from Him, and He used her to change us. "Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." I thank God for that trial. Cameron and I would not be who we are today without it. Elyse and Haven would not be here. Jerome and Ruth would not be here. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Today we celebrate Katria's life. More importantly, today we praise God for His goodness.
Thank you for reading Katria's story.
In Christ, Laura