Mom to Angel "B" Lost June 2009 at 9 weeks
and Ellie Lauree January 15th, 2010 - October 25th, 2010
Apple Valley, Minnesota
Shortly after my husband and I got married in 2006, I discovered I had severe endometriosis. After several rounds of IUI with Clomid and two surgeries, we met with an Infertility specialist. During our 1st invitro round we implanted two embryos and were blessed with our son Max on October 3, 2008. With my endometriosis, we knew we couldn’t wait a long time to have more children, so in the spring of 2009, we started a second round of invitro. I never suspected the pain that was waiting for us…
On May 13th, 2009, we found out I was pregnant. We had implanted two embryos and my HCG numbers were very high- suspicious for multiples. All along I had suspected that I would get pregnant with twins, but that there would be something wrong. We went in a couple weeks later for a confirmation ultrasound, I was pregnant with twins! However, it was immediately obvious that Twin B was not as strong as Twin A. Its heartbeat was slower and the amniotic sac was much smaller. They told me Twin B would not survive.
I refused to give up on my baby and would believe until otherwise told, that I was pregnant with twins. At nine weeks, we had a follow up ultrasound and they were not able to find an evidence of our Baby B. They called it Vanishing Twin Syndrome. Baby B simply vanished. I still find that strange. I was told that Baby B would either come out like a regular miscarriage or it would stay with me until I gave birth to our very healthy Baby A. Baby B never came out until the day I had my daughter. We were told that the extra hormones produced by Baby B would help Baby A thrive. I like to think of our B as our daughter’s guardian angel.
On January 15, 2010, I gave birth to a seemingly perfectly healthy baby girl. Ellie. She weighed 8lb 7 oz and was 21 inches long. She came into the world hollering and had a head full of dark fuzzy hair. I described her as the dream baby from the very beginning. She ate well, was so easy going, slept well, so happy. And she was so present- she seemed so perceptive and involved, even at a very young age. I was over the moon, in love with our perfect baby girl. Ellie had a few run of the mill childhood illness but nothing that ever seemed really alarming. But I always had a feeling that something was wrong with our baby. It wasn’t anything I could pinpoint. It was just that feeling that you get as a mother, when something is really wrong with your baby and you just know. I always felt that Ellie’s life was different than the rest of ours.
On October 23, 2010 we spent the day at the Children’s Museum with the kids. They seemed to have a good time. When we came home Ellie took an unusually long nap, I figured she was probably coming down with something but she acted fine all evening. We gave her a bath, went for a walk and put her to bed in her warm, cuddly jammies. At 2am on October 24 she woke up. I went in to check on her and thought she felt a little warm. She was happy though, so I stripped her down a layer, took her temp and rocked her back to sleep. Fifteen minutes later, my husband went to check on her and her fever was up 104. We called the doctor and gave her some Tylenol. We kept her in bed with us for the rest of the night. She slept but sort of whimpered through the night. The highest her fever got was 105. The on-call nurse didn’t seem alarmed, and as a nurse, I didn’t think it was more than an ear infection either.
We made an appointment to see the doctor the next morning. After I got out of the shower, I sat down to hold our sick girl, while my husband showered. Everything changed in that instant. She vomited, turned mottled, grey and cold. She started to become unresponsive. She was going into septic shock. We called 911 and were pretty quickly taken to the emergency room.
Several blurry hours later, a doctor sat me down in the PICU and told me that my daughter’s only chance of survival was being transferred to another hospital for ECMO. ECMO is a heart lung bypass machine. He said she may not even survive the transfer. It was very obvious to me, as a nurse, how sick our Ellie was, but as a mom, didn’t want to believe it. Ellie made the transfer to the other hospital and our families met us there. It took them several hours to hook her up to all the machines. When we walked back into the room to see our baby, she was unrecognizable. Her body was swollen to at least twice its normal size, she was purple and oozing. There were many tubes coming out of her, many machines assisting her and many, many staff members doing their best to save Ellie.
Our Ellie was very sick. They were never able to get her stable. They tried everything. At about midnight, my husband and I were laying down on a cot in a room down the hall while they tried one last thing. We couldn’t be with her- we had fallen asleep for a little bit and both suddenly woke up at the same time. When I woke up, I knew. I knew she was gone. A couple minutes later a woman came to get us. She put us in a room and told us the doctors wanted to talk to us. I knew. I knew what was coming. They came in, and with tears in their eyes, said she would not survive. They couldn’t do anything else. She had maybe three hours, maybe ten minutes. He asked if we wanted CPR. I said I wanted to hold her.
I held her cold, swollen and disfigured body while our family members and friends came to say goodbye. We told the doctor that Ellie was ready. But I think she was already gone at that point. He turned off her machines and she left us at about 2:58am on October 25, 2010. Just 25 hours before she had woken up all smiley with a small fever, now, she was gone. We had no idea it was coming. I do find some peace in knowing, she had a twin waiting to guide her to heaven.
We spent some time with her, bathed her and sang to her. We had to leave the hospital that night and go home without our nine month old. We had to bury her four days later.
We later found out Ellie had lost spleen function early on in her life, probably in-utero. This is called functional asplenia. Without her spleen she was left unprotected from overwhelming infection. A common pneumococcal infection caused a blood stream infection, which led to sepsis. It took her life in just 25 hours. Had we known about her spleen, we could have taken preventative measures.
I miss our silly, funny, sweet, smart, fuzzy headed, chunky thighed little girl every second of every day. Her first birthday is coming up. It still seems unreal to me that she is gone. I don’t understand how she could go from so perfect to gone so fast. I am haunted by the images from those last two days. But am so grateful for the 9 months and 9 days we had with her.
Tiffany blogs at http://thebrokenroad-tiffany.