It was the start of a new year! 2018 had finally rolled around and brought with it exciting new things for Scarlett. She had finally reached the point where she was able to maintain her own body temperature, which meant she could be in an “Open Crib” (aka a big girl bed, for most babies just a standard crib!) For her though, since she was was still so small they decided to just pop the top of her isolate open. We didn’t have to see Scarlett from the outside of a plastic box anymore! (YAY!!) Along with that, she had gained enough weight (which is also a requirement to have an Open Crib) that she was now able to wear clothes! We had the cutest, and the smallest set of onesies I had ever seen. (Even though she was wearing preemie sized clothes, those were still pretty big on her!)
She had been doing really well, and although those milestones are pretty standard for most babies, they were something to celebrate.
On January 11th however, things took a turn for the worse.
I had gone in to see Scarlett like I had been doing every day. Only this time when I got the report from her nurse, instead of saying everything looked good like they usually did…she ended with, “the NP (nurse practitioner) would like to speak with you so I will let her know that you are here.”
My heart skipped a beat.
I knew she wasn’t going to share any “good” news with me.
I tried to keep calm as I waited.
When she came in she was friendly but serious. She told me Scarlett had had a rough night, and that her lungs kept closing up. Her oxygen levels kept dropping really low and they had to bag her a few times to help open them up and get oxygen into her little body. She said it happened a few times throughout the night and that each time it did her heart rate would drop as well and it kept taking longer and longer to bring it back up. They had a feeling she might have an infection so they started her on antibiotics and thankfully she had already been on steroids (which would hopefully help her fight the infection as well). The X-rays they had taken that morning (which they had taken every morning up until she was about 4 months old to monitor her progress) didn’t look great at all… Basically. they had her on the highest vent settings possible and she was maxed out on oxygen; if what they were doing now stopped working for her, there was nothing else they could do. Her lungs just weren’t strong enough.
When the words, “Don’t be surprised if you get that call that you need to get here fast” came out of her mouth…I’m pretty sure my heart broke. I couldn’t stop the tears from spilling down my cheeks. She said I should probably call and update our family…
I was in no shape to call anyone so I text EVERYONE. BJ. Our moms, my sister… Laura… Everyone.
Rachel (BJ’s mom) was the first to get there. She just held me as I cried because I didn’t know what else to do. I hadn’t stopped praying since the NP left the room and I went over to Scarlett and just looked at her. I was too afraid to touch her. I didn’t want to bring my sadness and fear too close to her. She looked so calm. You would never have known there was anything wrong with her. I prayed for her to be strong. To keep fighting. She had come so far. I just couldn’t believe we were at this point AGAIN… But life is like that, I guess…especially with micro-preemies. One minute they are doing great, and the next thing you know, you blink and things start to going south really quickly. It’s an emotional rollercoaster to say the very least.
I never left her side that day, and when BJ finally made it there he stood by her bed and watched her the whole time. He was surprisingly calm. When we finally felt comfortable enough to leave her, we went to the RMH to rest and we talked. I remember asking if he was scared. His answer surprised me – he wasn’t. He said somehow he just knew that Scarlett was going to be okay and she would make it out of this.
The next day, God answered our prayers. Scarlett had gone more than 24 hours without any episodes and they were able to wean her down on the oxygen. Not by a lot, but progress was progress. The cultures they had taken had indeed shown she was fighting an infection, klebsiella (for the second time around). Thankfully the antibiotics they had given her were exactly what she needed to help her fight it off.
I think, other than the day she was born, that day was the most scared I had ever been for her. The NICU had been a sad place within that first couple of weeks in the new year… and I had hoped and prayed it wouldn’t get any worse. And for reasons only God knows…it didn’t. To say I am blessed, thankful, and relieved is a complete understatement. I wish I could put into words exactly what it felt like moving forward after that day.
It was crazy. Seeing God work his miracle. Exactly 10 days after that ridiculously stressful one, Scarlett surprised us all. She was extubated for the 3rd and final time and graduated to CPAP She took to it so well it was as if we were seeing a whole different baby! I was one proud momma. An emotional one too, because now that she no longer had a tube down her throat I could finally hear my baby girl cry. And, I could see her whole face for the first time! Those chubby cheeks were the cutest things ever, I just wanted to kiss them all over! And her voice…it was a little scratchy, and her cries sounded more like little grunts. But they were cutest and most perfect little grunts I had ever heard in my life. I had waited so long to hear it. It sounds simple and a little silly…being excited about a small grunt. But it was literally the first noise I had ever heard from Scarlett. Not even on the day I had her did I hear a sound come out of her. The only noises I ever associated with her were those that came from the many different machines she was connected to.
It’s definitely a moment I will always remember.