I had spent four years trying to have a baby, and I had lost five, all very early. I was becoming numb, and doctors offered the comforting words, "You're young, you'll have more." bah. What a horrible think to say! And then one doctor didn't say those words. And he was incensed that I'd heard them so many times.
I had Rh- blood and my husband was Rh+. My first child was born just before the advent of Rhogam shots. But in those days, they didn't think that this was a problem in the early pregnancies like mine, so no one was sure why I was losing the babies. We know now that early pregnancy does, indeed, affect the situation, as each one builds the mother's resistance toward the next. This doctor scheduled me for fertility tests and in the summer of 1969, I actually tried to not get pregnant so my body could normalize before the tests. But, oops, I already was!
Hormone shots and pills to keep me from miscarrying again came flying at me like crazy. And it worked! For the first time since my son was born 5 years earlier, I carried a pregnancy past the first trimester! And except for gawd-awful nausea that ruled my life all day for several months, finally controlled with medications, it was a blissful time. I had to have blood drawn frequently to check the titer level (indicator that my blood was not attacking the baby, seen as a "foreign body" if the baby's blood was positive like my husband's) was another irritant, but worth it to have another baby in our home.
Then a month before the due date, there was a sudden and drastic spike in the titer count. A fast admission to the hospital, an induced labor, and the following day, we had a baby girl. She was small by the standard of the day, just 4 lbs., 12 oz. and she had other health issues. Because of the early birth, her lungs were not fully developed, a condition called Hyaline Membrane, which necessitated oxygen for a few days. Worst of all, my body's Rh- blood had already attacked her blood system, and he blood was "dying." This meant she had to have a complete blood exchange. The pediatrician told us she was on the critical list and asked about our religion. I became hysterical, realizing that after all this, we weren't out of the woods.
Over the next five days, she had two exchanges. The first one apparently left a bit of the old blood and her blood again began to weaken. It is a difficult procedure because it means the pint of blood in the baby's body is exchanged very slowly, literally one drop out, one drop in. With only a pint to "play with," a teaspoon is a lot, a tablespoon considered a hemorrhage. "A drop in, a drop out" took almost two hours. During these days her weight dropped to 4 lb., 6 oz.
But she was a fighter and captured the hearts of her round-the-clock nurses in NICU. She ate well, and her skin turned pink with the new blood and the billirubin lamps. We weren't allowed to hold her, to touch her. That was standard back then. My heart ached for that. But she was looking better and gaining weight very, very slowly. After five days she was taken off the critical list, and we waited for the weight to rise. The goal was 5 lbs., and it was taking forever.
Every day I visited the hospital 2-4 times a day. I could do nothing but watch her through the glass. At first it was a glass panel plus the isolet glass walls, then just the glass of the viewing area. But that sheet of glass was cruel.
She came off the oxygen supplement after about a week. Her little lungs were working on their own!
On the 14th day I called, as I always did, around 8:00 AM. This was right after the babies were bathed and weighed, and I waited for the words that would let me bring her home .... "Five pounds"! But to my dismay, I heard "four pounds, fifteen ounces," just as I'd heard on the last three days. I was broken hearted. I hung up the phone and cried. A few minutes later, the phone rang, and the pediatrician's voice said he wanted to talk with me. My heart stopped. I thought something had happened, that she was failing. And he said, "She is holding her weight so we are going to go ahead and let you bring her home."
My husband had left for work, and when I called his office, he was just walking in. The staff all yelled at him to "Leave!" "Go home!" "Go get your wife, the baby is being released!!"
I got to hold Terri Lynne the first time that morning. I held her with awe as we stood just outside the protective glass of the nursery. Then the nurse, the one most attached to her after this time, took her gently from my arms and walked us out. When we got to the lobby, our son Scott, who was waiting there for us, began walking toward us with his face in amazement. The nurse asked, "Is this her brother?" Then she sat down in the middle of the lobby, pulled Scott onto her lap and wrapped her arms around him and his baby sister.
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!
I love you with all my heart.