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Sunday, May 20, 2012

What happened to Levi?

So I know many of you are wondering what exactly was wrong with Levi.  We had this question for several days.  I will start with what they thought was wrong from the very beginning and go from there.

When Levi was born, he was very very white.  As white as a piece of paper.  I have some pictures of the delivery, but they are too disturbing to put on the blog.  Dr. Harris kept saying he was anemic.  He wasn’t breathing and he was very very weak.

When Dr. Greer got to look at him, he discovered that his hematocrit (the number of red blood cells in your blood) was a 10.  Your hematocrit when you are born is supposed to be around 40 depending on sex and a couple of other variables.  So Levi’s hematocrit was only 1/4 of the volume it should have been.  Basically he only had 1/4 of the amount of blood in his body he needed which was why he was so white when he was born.  So Dr. Greer had to quickly get Levi stable.  They had problems getting an IV in him because he was so dehydrated and his veins were dry. 

Dr. Greer also discovered that his white blood cells were high which meant they thought he had an infection.  They did a spinal tap to rule out meningitis.  He also gave him a blood transfusion.

They life flighted Levi to UAB in Birmingham.  When he arrived his hematocrit was a 12.  One of the nurses told Matt that a 12 was the lowest she had ever seen.  They got him stable and gave him another blood transfusion.

My placenta had been sent off to labs to look for abnormalities.  The doctors initially thought that there was a tear/hole in the placenta that allowed bacteria into Levi.  The doctor at UAB quickly came to realize that if there had been a tear in the placenta, there would have been blood everywhere during surgery, and that was not mentioned in the surgery report.  They also ran multiple tests on Levi to rule out infections.

Because I was in the hospital in Opelika, it was very hard for me to understand what was going on.  A lot of testing and a lot of guessing which ruled out several ideas.  Finally the doctor decided to test my blood.  When they looked at my blood, they saw a ton of “boy” cells in my blood.  Which meant that I had a ton of Levi’s blood inside of me.

Because there was no tear in the placenta, this meant that somehow I was “stealing” Levi’s blood.  What had happened was that in the placenta, my veins and Levi’s veins overlap without touching.  There was a malfunction which allowed our veins to touch.  I started pulling Levi’s blood into me which made him lose all his blood.

The doctor said that there was nothing that I could have done to make this happen.  It just happens.  Usually the babies die because it is not discovered in time.  It really was down to a matter of hours to save Levi’s life.  That is why he stopped moving.  He was so weak from not having enough blood.

As far as the infection, he did not have one that we know of.  His white blood count was high because he was in distress.  He was treated with antibiotics at UAB, but all the tests came back negative.

I know that I don’t understand all that happened, but I do know that we are very blessed to have Levi here and alive.  The doctor at UAB assured us that it probably wouldn’t happen again if we wanted to have more children.  I am still so scared and paranoid that something is going to happen to Levi, that I don’t see us having any more children. 

Thanks again for all the prayers, flowers, gifts, cards, money, visits, etc. 

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Levi’s Birth Story

On Monday May 14th, I headed off to work.  I normally work on Thursdays, but wanted to work on Monday in case I went into labor sometime during the week.  Sunday night I had had pretty strong contractions, but nothing that signaled it was time for labor.  So I decided it was pretty safe to go ahead and go into work.  It would at least get my mind off of Levi being born. 

There was nothing unusual about that day.  I felt just as pregnant as I had been the day before.  I had my Chick Fil A for breakfast followed by my Diet Dr. Pepper.  We didn’t do a whole lot at work that morning, so as I was heading out for lunch, I realized that I hadn’t felt Levi move all day.  Usually I don’t even think about it, so it was weird for me to have that thought.  I started pushing on my belly to try to get him to push me back.  I decided not to worry about it until after I got back from lunch.  I met Matt and Cooper and we went to Five Guys and had a nice lunch.  I really wasn’t thinking about Levi.  I figured I was overreacting.  But as the work day went on, I got more and more paranoid.  I googled what to do, and everyone said go to the doctor.  I tried laying down, drinking caffeine, and pushing on him.  Finally about 3:45, I decided to head to the doctor.

I called Matt on the way to the doctor just to let him know.  He was very optimistic that Levi was ok, which helped calm me down somewhat.  The whole way to the doctor’s office I prayed.  This may sound weird, but while I did pray for Levi to be alright, I also prayed that God would carry me through whatever happened next.  I prayed that he would give me peace in the situation.  Not to say that I wasn’t bawling, but I knew deep down that something just wasn’t right.  I got to the office and they immediately took me back.  They got my weight and blood pressure, but my blood pressure was very high so they didn’t record it.  Then they started asking me about when I last felt Levi move.  I lost it.  I started crying so hard I couldn’t talk.  They took me to a room and hooked me up to a NST (non-stress test).  For those who have had children, it is like the 2 belts they strap around your belly when you are in labor.  They measured his heartbeat and my contractions.  They also gave me a button to push every time I felt Levi move. 

When they put the heartbeat strap on and I heard his heartbeat, I cried with joy.  I really thought that he had already died and there would be no heartbeat.  Once I heard that, I thought everything was fine and that I would just be monitored for a while.  Well unfortunately, I rarely felt him move.  They brought me a Coke to drink to try to stimulate him.  I did feel him more than I had that entire day, but it still wasn’t enough.  At 5:15, Dr. Marino came in and said that he was going to send me to Labor and Delivery at the hospital.  I was NOT expecting that, but since I had prayed my peace prayer, I was able to absorb everything he was telling me at the time.  Dr. Marino said that he did not think it was very bad, but he didn’t think it was great either.

So I got in my car and called Matt.  I started crying as soon as I heard his voice.  He was taking care of Cooper, so I told him to just wait at home until I knew more.  Since Dr. Marino said that it wasn’t bad, I really didn’t think Matt needed to come to the hospital.  Thankfully the hospital is just across the street from the doctor’s office.  I walked up to the 3rd floor praying the whole time.  When I got to Labor and Delivery, they took me to an observation room.  I got undressed and put in a gown.  They then strapped the 2 straps around me.  The nurse that was taking care of me told me that she guessed that since the doctor’s office was closing, they just went ahead and sent me to the hospital.  She said that everything was probably ok, but that Dr. Harris (the doctor on call) would still monitor me for 3 to 4 hours.  After they got me hooked up and asked me a ton of questions.  Once they got done with that, I called Matt just to let him know that I would probably be there several hours before coming home.  So, I still at that point did not think that Levi would be born that day.

Once the nurse got through asking me all the questions, she left me alone in the room.  I was only in the room maybe 5 or 10 minutes.  I started having a contraction and I could hear Levi’s heartbeat change.  As soon as this happened, several nurses raced into the room.  To be honest, alot of this is a blur for me because I was so scared.  They told me that Levi’s heartbeat was decelerating with contractions and that I was being admitted.  I was going to be meeting Levi either that night or the next day.  I called Matt as they started sticking me and having me sign papers.  Poor Matt was so overwhelmed.  He was trying to find someone to watch Cooper as well as getting everything from home that we needed.  During this time, the nurses were telling me that I would either be induced or have a c-section.  They hooked me up to fluids and made me sign a permission for a blood transfusion and c-section.  Once the fluids started flooding into my veins, I felt Levi move more during that time than I had at any other time.  The nurses said that I may just be dehydrated.  So I was encouraged by that news.  *Remember we still didn’t know that there was anything wrong with Levi.

While this was going on, I texted several friends to let them know what was going on.  Dr. Harris came in and let me know that Levi did need to come out.  He wasn’t sure at that time if I would be induced or if he would do a c-section.  I asked him several times if we could try to do induction first.  I really was paranoid that I was going to be pressured into a c-section and wanted to make sure that wouldn’t happen.  He said that we would have to wait and see.  As they were taking me out of observation and into a Labor and Delivery Room, my friend April walked by.  She had come to keep me company until Matt could be there.  As she walked up, a nurse stopped April and told her to get prepped for a c-section.  Well April freaked out (she was right to!) and called her husband who called Matt and told Matt that I was being rushed into a c-section.  Matt said he broke several road rules to get to the hospital.  Anyways, the c-section had not been called.  So April came back to the room with me.  I was an emotional wreck!  Amy (another friend) also came to keep me company.  They did a good job of making me feel better about possibly having a c-section.  They just did a lot of talking to keep my mind off of what was going on.

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Matt got to the hospital not long after that.  At that time, we thought it would still be a wait.  Even if you have a c-section, you have to have fluids, epidural, etc which can take several hours.  So Matt and I were just talking expecting to still have a couple hours before our baby would be born.  Dr. Harris came in then to check to see how much I had progressed.  I still wasn’t in labor, so he said that if I had made good progress on my own, he would consider induction.  He checked and said I was 3 to 3 1/2 centimeters dilated.  He said this was good enough to induce.  I was so happy!!  No c-section!!  He decided that I did need to go ahead and get an epidural in the case that they had to take me back for surgery.  He left with the orders for Pitocin and Epidurals.  He was not even gone for 10 minutes when I started having very strong contractions.  Matt walked to the machine that was keeping track of contractions and heartbeats.  Levi’s heartbeat immediately dipped.  Matt and I just looked at each other and we knew that I was going in for a c-section.  I did not think that it would be an emergency.  I thought they would just get me ready for surgery.

The doctor, nurses, and anesthesiologist rushed into my room.  Dr. Harris said I was being prepped for a c-section.  He said there was no time to wait and that Levi needed to come out.  Once again, we still didn’t know what was wrong, we just knew that Levi needed to come out.  I was crying the whole time.  It was very overwhelming.  The anesthesiologist said that there wasn’t time for an epidural and I would have a spinal instead.  I really didn’t know what that meant.  All I knew was that they were asking me a ton of questions.  Matt was being dressed.  I was having all sorts of unmentionable and painful things done to me.  They quickly rolled me out and told Matt that if I had to be knocked out then he wouldn’t be allowed to come back.

They rolled me into the OR and I thought I was going to have a panic attack.  Everyone was running around.  The anesthesiologist was pushing me down and yelling at the nurse to come hold me still.  Once the spinal was in, they laid me down and strapped me down.  Dr. Harris was yelling at the nurses to get prepped.  He was telling them to get ready.  The anestheiologist was testing my spinal and then Dr. Harris started cutting before the other doctor was in and before Matt was there.

Honestly, the actual surgery was quite pain free.  The spinal worked.  I did feel tugging and pulling and pressure, but I was more scared than in pain.  I was just ready for it to be over and to hold Levi.  Levi was born at 8:11 on May 14th.  When he came out he screamed once, and I just bawled.  Dr. Harris said something about him being white and anemic.  I didn’t really think that was a big deal.  I told Matt to take pictures, but Matt looked shell-shocked.  I kept asking how much Levi weighed and how long he was.  No one was answering me.  The anestheiologist kept pushing medicine to help me calm down.  Matt came back over to me and wouldn’t really talk to me.  He just avoided talking about Levi.

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I wasn’t really scared for Levi.  I really thought that maybe he just needed a little oxygen or needed to be put in the incubator to warm up.  It took about 30 minutes for them to sew me up.  During that time, they just kept saying I would see Levi in a little bit.  I kept imagining all the TV shows I had seen and I knew that they usually brought the baby over for the Dad to hold and for the Mom to see.  That did not happen.  Levi was wheeled out quickly and then Matt was told to leave as well.

The next couple of hours was very confusing and disorienting.  They had all 3 of us in different rooms.  They would not let Matt come see me.  I kept asking for him.  They just kept telling me that he wasn’t allowed in recovery.  I assumed he was with Levi.  I had no idea what was going on.  My spinal had already worn off and I was in a ton of pain, but I was so confused as to what had happened to my baby.  They still couldn’t tell me how much he weighed.  That is the very first thing you find out when you have a baby none of the nurses knew.  I kept getting pain meds through my IV, but they weren’t touching the pain.

After several minutes, our pediatrician came to see me.  I was confused why Matt wasn’t with him, but then just thought that Matt was still with Levi.  I immediately knew it was bad when Dr. Greer started rubbing my hair and told me that it was bad.  He told me that Levi was very anemic.  So anemic that he was dying inside of me.  He told me that if I had waited until morning to go to the doctor’s office, then Levi would have already been dead.  He said that Levi’s blood was a 10 when it was supposed to be 35.  He had never seen it that low with someone still alive.  He then told me that his white blood cells were high, so he had some sort of infection that needed to be treated.  He said that Levi was going to be taken to Birmingham to their NICU.

While he was telling me this, I was bawling so hard.  I didn’t have my husband there, and now I’m hearing that my baby almost died.  I learned later that Levi’s Apgar score when he first came out was a 1.  Zero means that you are dead, so a one is not good at all.  The only reason he scored a one was because he had a heartbeat.  They had to resuscitate him in the OR.

Dr. Greer left to go back to Levi, and I was left to myself to cry and cry.  It was so confusing.  Poor Matt was stuck in a room wondering what was going on.  Dr. Harris did come tell him that Levi was not doing well, but that’s about all Matt knew.  It was 2 hours before he found out anything.

Anyways, Dr. Greer came back to me several times to give me updates.  He did tell me that Levi would eventually be ok.  He just didn’t know how long that was going to take.  He had no idea what was wrong with Levi, but he was confident that it was something that could be healed.

They wheeled me in to my room and I could tell that Matt was upset.  I couldn’t wait till the nurses left, so we could be together alone.  As soon as they left, we both started bawling and holding each other.  It was one of the worst moments of my life.  All we could do was pray and cry.

Soon after that Jim and Mary Brinkerhoff came to be with us as well as April and Amy.  I’m so glad they all decided to come up to the hospital.  It’s one of those things; you don’t realize you need it until it is there.  Jim took one of our cars home for us.  Mary drove Matt to Birmingham that night.  April and Amy stayed with me till after 1 in the morning till my mom could be there.

Dr. Greer came in sometime after 11 and told us that he gave Levi a blood transfusion and he was already looking so much better.  In fact, they let Matt go back and take pictures of him!  After that, they wheeled him into our room so that I could see him.  It was very hard to see him in his incubator.  He was at the foot of the bed and there were a lot of people in the room.  He wasn’t even in there 5 minutes before he was taken to Birmingham.  Another time in my life I won’t forget.  Not the way a new mother wants to see her baby taken away from her.

I didn’t get any sleep that night.  I prayed the whole night for God to heal my baby.  I just couldn’t stop praying! 

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I will do another blog about all that happened with Levi, but right now, this post is long enough!