Well, we're back at the hospital this week after a surprise labor and delivery of another beautiful baby girl. I thought it best to try and get my thoughts on paper as Heidi rests from the events of the last 36 hours. And, since I haven't written my perspective of our family's events recently, I hope I can do our miracles justice as I attempt to document these events.
Our 3rd daughter, Vivienne, came into the world 14 weeks premature at only 26 weeks and 6 days to make Anneliese a big sister only 1 year and 4 days after her own arrival into our family.
We celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Anneliese joining our family on Friday by spending time together. Heidi had been sore in her hips and back, so we kept Anneliese's celebration very intimate and simple with just the three of us. We spent some time at the cemetery launching off some balloons and singing happy birthday to her in the morning on Friday, and then headed to Salt Lake to stay a night at a hotel and go swimming and get some much needed R&R away from our normal day to day routine. We went to dinner and a movie in Salt Lake and then slept in on Saturday. We felt like it was a perfect day to just remember our sweet Anneliese away from the distractions of our normal routine.
We chalked up Heidi's soreness from the weekend to walking around the stores and sleeping on a hard hotel bed with a growing belly. Sunday brought more discomfort and we still thought it was just our little one growing and causing Heidi's hips to expand and be sore, which it turns out, was absolutely correct. I went to work early on Tuesday to catch up from taking Friday off and around 9am Heidi called me to tell me she was still in pain and had started spotting again(which has happened nearly every month of this pregnancy) and was waiting to hear back from the doctor to see if we needed to go in for a checkup. I normally let her calls go to VM when I am in meetings, but felt I should take the call. About 45 minutes later, she called me again while I was in yet another meeting, and I tried to send her an auto-reply text but for some reason it would not send, so I excused myself from the meeting and answered her call. I am glad I did. She asked if I could go home to give her a priesthood blessing. When I asked her if she could hold out until lunch time, she quickly replied that she felt like she was in labor and it couldn't wait. In my logical mind I thought, "She's only 26 weeks along; she couldn't be in labor yet. It's probably braxton hicks and she is just tired and sore. I'll run home quickly now and work through lunch when I get back." Before I realized what I was doing, I had unplugged my laptop, packed it and my charger in my briefcase, turned out the lights to my office and was out the door knowing I would not be back to work.
When I got home Heidi still had not heard back from the doctor or nurse on call. She asked for another priesthood blessing as we awaited the call(I had just given her a blessing the night before), and I pronounced yet another blessing upon her at that time. About 15 minutes later, at about 10:45, the doctor on call called us back, asked a few questions, and instructed us to get in the car and drive straight to labor and delivery for observation. As Heidi coordinated a babysitter for our 5 year old daughter, I packed a bag. In my mind I knew we were having this baby, but I felt like that was a lack of faith to believe that, as I had just blessed her that she and the baby were completely healthy and this pregnancy was still going as planned. I felt as if I had lost my faith as I packed pajamas, extra underwear and clothes, and our toothbrushes for an overnight stay at the hospital, but felt so strongly that we should be prepared for all scenarios due to our past experience with Anneliese. As we backed out of the driveway, again I was prompted to stop and run back in the house. I didn't know why, but I followed the prompting and as I ran back in the door I saw the camera case hanging in the mudroom and the camera on the kitchen counter plugged in and fully charged. I grabbed the case, threw the camera in and ran back out to the car. As I placed it in the backseat, Heidi looked at me with an expression that told me she was feeling the same things I was. Jillian asked, "Is my baby sister coming today?" We told her to pray hard that she wouldn't come yet, but that we wanted to make sure we had the camera just in case she decided to come early like her older sister.
After dropping Jillian at a family member's, we sped down the canyon and arrived at the hospital at about 11:45. Heidi was admitted into Labor and Delivery, screened by the RN and answering questions from the midwife by about 12:10pm. The midwife ordered an exam to check the bleeding and see if it would reveal what was going on since Heidi explained that she wasn't really in pain, but rather, "Consistently uncomfortable with a dull ache." About 10 minutes later the midwife was in the middle of her exam and said she could see the sac bulging about to burst so she thought she was already dilated to 7 or 8 and wanted to quickly confirm that. Within another minute she confirmed Heidi was already at a 9!
Within another few minutes we had a team of about 10 nurses and doctors moving me out of the way, injecting Heidi with all sorts of needles, and prepping her for a C-section because a quick ultra-sound confirmed the baby was breech and could not be delivered vaginally. I tried to be strong for Heidi but couldn't hold back the tears from welling up in my eyes. Heidi was able to look through the chaos as they started rolling her out of the room, and we connected for just long enough to mouth the words, "I love you," right before she disappeared out the door and down the hall. A couple of AMAZING nurses pulled me aside and handed me a stack of scrubs and reassured me they would do all they could for my wife and baby, and now I needed to quickly get dressed and wait for a nurse to escort me to the recovery room before scrubbing in to enter the OR.
I waited for about 20 minutes in the recovery room where I sent out a desperation text to family pleading with them to pray for my family's safety and personal strength that I would need to be there for Heidi and my girls as we entered the unknown. Immediately my phone started buzzing with countless replies that prayers were on their way. I couldn't bring myself to read them all because each time I read one I would cry harder with gratitude for the outpouring of love I was feeling, and I knew I needed to be strong for Heidi when I entered the OR. I collapsed to my knees and pleaded with God to protect and sustain my wife and daughter, and that the team of doctors and nurses would be in sync and have no contention or unkind feelings toward one another so they would be able to recall all of their training to do their absolute best for my wife and daughter. As I rose to my feet I remembered a talk given by President Henry B Eyring that he gave to a group of missionaries in the MTC years ago where he testified of the Book of Mormon's ability to calm one's fears and anxiety's by simply reading from it's pages. I opened my LDS scriptures APP on my phone and skipped to 2nd Nephi chapter 2 and started reading. Immediately my fears and anxiety was replaced with peace, strength and love. After a few minutes in chapter 2 I skipped to my favorite chapter, 2nd Nephi 9 and read verses 10-13. I was terrified I would lose the love of my life and my mind was racing through every worst case scenario I could think of at the time. These verses had never before brought so much peace and gratitude for my Savior, and it was exactly what I needed at that time to settle my nerves and bring peace to my anxiety and fears.
Right as I finished reading verse 13, the nurse popped into the room to take me back to Heidi. She led me to an empty OR and left me there for 5 minutes alone until another nurse came running in and said, "You're in the wrong place Dad. Follow me or you're gonna miss it." Within seconds I was with Heidi who was already on the operating table and half cut open. Vivienne, our newest addition to our family, was quickly pulled out moments later and was rushed to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit and Heidi and I were left wondering what would happen next. It seemed like forever in recovery with our RN, Sue. She was amazing at keeping us positive and distracted while waiting for news to come from the NICU.
About an hour or so after arriving in Recovery, we still didn't know anything about our baby girl. By then we had all 4 of our parents and a sister all waiting with us for an update. Finally, Sue came in and said, "Ok, Dad let's go see your baby. You can bring only 1 person with you. Sorry Mom you can't go yet." I kissed Heidi, grabbed her mom who was with us when we had Anneliese last year, and off we went.
The rest of the day was back and forth to the NICU with Heidi and the visitors. It all became a blur of time that was overshadowed by questions left unanswered with each visit. Late last night, Heidi's Dad and I were finally able to give Vivienne a blessing of health which was both comforting to us and needed for her. We didn't sleep a wink last night and today has now been filled with countless visits to the NICU, and even the ability to touch and hold her within the incubator to change her diaper and take her temperature. Many questions have been answered, but more flow into our minds with each visit. Once again we are striving to put all of our faith in the Lord as there are many things outside of our control.
I know God hears and answers prayers and his scriptures can bring peace to our souls in times of distress and uncertainty. Too often we look to all the wrong places for strength and answers, but yesterday reiterated to me once again, that the best way to cope with our trials is to be obedient to his commandments and follow the counsel given by His holy Prophets: Pray always, study the life and testimonies of the Savior, and put your trust in God. He is in charge, and He will direct our paths if we can but learn from our experiences to submit to His will in all things. There is a long road ahead, and I write this more to remind myself in moments of weakness that I know these things to be true, and to redirect my paths in those future moments of uncertainty where Satan will try his best to make me forget the wondrous miracles of the past 36 hours. Never lose faith in He who hath created you!
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God." -Corrie Ten Boom
6 years ago, at the peak of our infertility battle as a couple, I never thought I would say, "I have 3 daughters." The Lord truly does hear and answer prayers, and for that I am both humbled and grateful.
For those reading this who are praying on Vivienne's behalf, we would ask that you please pray specifically that her lungs can stay strong as she is already off of the ventilator and breathing with limited to no oxygen; and that the rest of her underdeveloped body will be able to grow and develop in a way that she will have no long-term limitations or impairments, that she can lead a healthy and active life. We love you and are so grateful for your love, support and prayers on our behalf.