Enslee : Never Lose Hope

I got pregnant kind of unexpectedly. I was nervous — it’d been 6 years since I had a baby — but I was thrilled to share these moments with my best friend. He longed to be a dad so bad and my daughter always wanted a baby sister. I found out on April Fools Day of 2017, and waited to announce it so no one would think it was a joke. šŸ¤£

My only hope was to carry to term and for a healthy baby.

My water broke one night at work. I was only 22 weeks pregnant at that time, and I can’t even put into words the level of panic I was in. My hopes for a normal, healthy pregnancy went out the window. My mom rushed me to labor and delivery where they performed an ultrasound and confirmed that I had very little fluid left. As a diabetic, I was already high risk, but this increased chances for infection and obviously preterm delivery. Baby was not in distress, yet, and it was too early for medical intervention, so they recommended bedrest. I stayed at the hospital for 3 weeks, so we could monitor the baby closely.

I began to bleed heavily around 25 weeks. My placenta was detaching, the baby was breach and showing signs of distress. They told me she was coming out ASAP whether I was ready or not, but that her chance of survival had increased significantly since my arrival 21 days prior. I was rushed in for an emergency C-section, and gave birth to a beautiful 1-pound, 12-ounce baby. Her cry was the most heartbreaking and beautiful thing I’d ever heard. Doctor said she came out with her fists in the air, ready to fight.

After a brief visit to the NICU, Enslee was stable enough that I was taken to my room to rest. A couple hours later, a doctor came to my room and told me that Enslee’s vitals were unstable, her oxygen saturation was low and she wasn’t responding to anything they were doing. They asked me to make a decision. To keep pushing and hope for the best, or to withdraw care.

I chose hope.

They made arrangements for me to be able to hold her, in case it was the first and only opportunity, and had an On Angels’ Wings photographer there to document and capture what can only be described as a miracle. As I held her tiny, fragile body to my chest, tears streaming down my face, her oxygen stats began to rise, and her vitals began to improve. By the time me and her dad finished holding her, she was stable and all the nurses were astonished. I have no recollection of the photographer in the room that day, but the photos I received are a gift that never stops giving. I look back on them often, to remind me how far she’s come. To remind me that miracles do happen. And to never lose hope. I am so grateful for that.

Her prematurity in general has contributed to a lot of her physical and mental delays. She’s had a lot of therapy, four surgeries and soon, another.Ā Enslee turns four in August and starts preschool this fall. Her vocabulary amazes me. She talks and sings up a storm. She was a late walker but nothing has stopped her since she started, and hopefully this coming surgery will allow her to jump and skip and all those other things little girls like to do. We are continuing therapy and taking things one step at a time.

Some days I find myself comparing her development to my other children… and struggle with blaming myself for those differences. I am learning to let go of the things out of my control. To embrace our journey and celebrate any/every victory. After all, no victory is small. There is a lot to be learned from her, and even more to be proud of. She is so nurturing with baby dolls and loves to play doctor. Maybe we’ve got a future NICU nurse on our hands!

I’m just excited to see her grow. On my way to the O.R. for my C-section, one nurse promised I’d get to witness her high school graduation one day. I look forward to that. I hope she always knows she is capable of anything.

By Ariana Johnson
Mommy to Enslee

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