For those of you interested, here’s a rough timeline of events from yesterday. Wednesday night, Brooke didn’t sleep well as she suffered from shortness of breath. She scheduled a doctor’s appointment for Thursday afternoon. Also, she went to her first hour class, since she was being observed.
Thursday, 3:00 pm: Brooke wakes up from her nap, has a cookie and milk, and gets ready for her doctor’s appointment. We talk about me going along, and decide I don’t really need to go. She’ll probably just get some antibiotics.
3:40 pm: Brooke calls. She forgot her I.D. The clinic lets her in anyway. In retrospect, a huge, huge decision. If she hadn’t been able to check in, who knows what could’ve happened.
4:28 pm: Brooke texts me. Her blood pressure is 150/98. I get online and begin to research preeclampsia. The first rush of fear, but a small one.
4:36: Brooke’s text tells me she hasn’t yet had her chest x-rayed. But she’s gained 10 pounds just in the last week. Another sign of preeclampsia.
5:00: Brooke calls. The doctor at the clinic went upstairs to talk to the OB. She says we need to go to the hospital. Brooke, sans her wallet, drives home on an empty tank of gas. I pray for her safety; I pray she’ll get home without running out of gas. Thinking we could be admitted at the hospital and spend the night, I begin to pack a bag. I just pack the bare essentials: we probably won’t need to spend the night. They’ll control Brooke’s BP. Worst case scenario: maybe she’ll be on bed rest for awhile.
I call my dad and let him know we won’t make it down to the Springs on Friday, as we had planned.
5:15: I give Eric Ochocki a call. We won’t be able to meet them on Saturday evening, either. I ask for prayer.
5:30: Brooke gets home, we begin the drive to St. Joseph’s. Downtown. During rush hour.
6:30: After an interminable drive, we reach the hospital. Brooke has been complaining of increasing discomfort. She feels nauseous, her stomach hurts.
*From here on out, all times very approximate.
We are checked into the hospital, and the nurse begins taking Brooke’s vitals. Her BP is a little higher.
7:00: An interminable Q&A, covering everything imaginable: family history, patient history, amount of pain, favorite pets, etc.
7:30: Our doctor, Dr. Celnik, is on call tonight. A familiar face to take care of us. She comes in and tells us that things are looking like preeclampsia. They need to take urine and blood to determine. Also, with Brooke’s labored breathing, she is calling an internal medicine doctor.
8:00: Brooke’s urine has high levels of protein. Her kidneys aren’t functioning as they should, a sign of preeclampsia. We are feeling increasingly anxious and scared. Brooke begins visibly shaking, due to anxiety. She won’t stop until 2 am. The doctor says that they want to keep the baby in Brooke as long as possible, but are worried about the health of the mother. Both of us wonder what “as long as possible” means. We tell each other that we can’t have the baby tonight. We’re just not ready.
8:30: An EKG of Brooke’s heart comes back clean. Brooke is given a steroid shot: steroids will help develop the baby’s lungs, but take 48 hours to really work.
9:00: The doctor says they want to wait to deliver for at least 48 hours (due to the steroids). We’re increasingly nervous. It looks like delivery may be the only option. Our baby is so young: 30 weeks and 6 days. We are transferred to our own room, officially admitted. Brooke continues visibly trembling. Everyone keeps asking her if she’s cold. “I’m nervous,” she replies.
9:30: Our doctor comes in; more lab results are back. She says that we’re going to deliver tonight. But more than this, she says she’s very concerned about Brooke’s heart and has ordered an echo-cardiogram. The biggest worry is that Brooke will experience heart failure during the C-section. The doctor tries to reassure us that ‘heart failure’ is something the hospital deals with regularly. We’re both raw.
9:45: Brooke Guikema and Lexi are on their way up, as confirmed by Sean Matthews. We’re so thankful for friends who will do anything for us.
10:00: The cardiologist comes in to do the echo. Brooke continues shaking uncontrollably. He takes a lot of images of Brooke’s heart. The NICU nurse comes in, telling me what the next couple of months will look like. The primary worries to the baby’s health are brain development and lung development. A premature baby’s brain can easily get overstimulated, and there are things we can do in the future to help her brain develop. They’ll put her on pressurized oxygen — C-PAP — to help inflate lungs that will have a tendency to stick together, like a wet balloon. It’s going to be a long road.
10:15: The echo looks good. The anesthesiologist comes in to take Brooke’s vitals and tell her what will happen during the surgery. An older gentlemen, he inspires confidence. “I have to tell you some bad possibilities. But they won’t happen.” The clean echo gives hope: heart failure looks less likely. Yet, her BP is still hovering around 150/100. Mom, Dad, and Janae are on their way up.
I am amazed that Brooke’s shaking hand can sign the consent forms.
10:30: I call the Stivers, asking for our camera. They say they’re on their way.
10:45: We’re moving to the OR. Lexi and Brooke Guikema are here.
10:50: The anesthesiologist begins the spinal tap. I sit close to Brooke; she leans forward onto me. We talk and hope together. Brooke is still shaking uncontrollably.
11:05: Nurses begin to prep for surgery.
11:15: The doctors begin the surgery. Brooke is awake, but can’t see what’s happening. From my vantage point, I can see everything. The doctors cut into her. They wrench apart her stomach muscles, putting all their weight into it. They continue cutting into the uterus.
11:23: Ellis Jane makes her appearance. The umbilical cord is wrapped tightly around her neck — twice — and they have to cut it off. She’s beautiful. She’s so, so beautiful.
The doctors wipe her off, and begin to take her vitals. She has the most plaintive and inspiring cry. Brooke is still shaking (from the chest up) and the doctors begin to stitch her. Watching Ellis, I only get glimpses of the blood that Brooke’s losing, which seems like a lot. Of course, this happens to all women giving birth.
Brooke gets to kiss Ellis before they take her to the NICU.
11:37: They move the baby to the NICU. The Stivers have arrived. I grab our camera and begin to take pictures. I am happy. I am so, so happy.