July 11th, 2016 | PART TWO

I can still remember how I looked and what I felt when we left the doctor's office that day. The painful steps I took to our car as a flood of thoughts overcame my mind .. 

"I have Incompetent Cervix?" / "How did I get this?" / "Have I done something wrong?" / "Why did God give me a baby if I can't go home with him/ her?" / "Will I even get to bring him/ her home?" / "Will we be okay?" / "What if they find something else that's wrong?" / "Why does my body have to be so weak?" / "Everything is my fault." / "My body can't even do what it's supposed to do .. grow a baby and keep them growing until the right time." / "Will it be like this for all of my pregnancies?" / "I wonder if I am the only one..." / "I hope I'm not the only one..." / "We're definitely switching doctors after all of this passes." / "High risk pregnancy?!" / "Well, I guess this'll be the last time I'm ever be at this office again."  / "Can I have more children?"

Immediately I called my sister, then my mom. My sister was working and visiting her patients at the time. After listening to my voice break and sharing tears through the phone, she said she was on the way to meet us at the hospital. My parents were on the way to San Diego for a day date; my mom frantically and firmly told me to go straight to the hospital and that her and my dad were making a U-turn and heading back towards LA. Reflecting on that day now, I'm not sure if Paul and I exchanged any words at all during our car ride to the hospital. All I know is that there was crying and strange silence in regards to how we certainly did not see any of this coming. We didn't expect for Haven's heart defect in our horizon either, but we agreed we could handle that, we would prepare - which we were. However, a new diagnosis for myself, a bulging bag, no cervix, premature labor and delivery and a significant chance that our little one wasn't going to come home with us? -- this was all too much, too sudden.

A great wave of relief came over me as my eyes met with my dear sister's at the hospital valet. Very little words were exchanged or needed to be said, as my sister and I though different, are also very much the same person. It is always simple with her. She just understood. We grabbed each other's hands and made our way up the elevators to the labor and delivery unit. It was probably the dazed looks on our faces along with 3 sets of red eyes that gave off fear and an uncomfortable energy to all the nurses sitting at the nurse's station that day. I said, "Hi, my name is Myra Gavini and I am a patient of Dr. _______. We had an appointment with her earlier this afternoon prior to coming here and she has advised for me to be admitted to your unit." I think either Paul or I continued to briefly explain the issues with my cervix, I forgot the exact words that were said. 

Fortunately we were assigned to a kind and loving nurse. Later would I find out that her name and face, was going to be one of many that went on to take excellent care of us during my hospital journey. Initially we were placed in one of the unit's labor rooms. Over the next couple of hours, our door opened for what seemed like every thirty minutes. Family members from both sides, different doctors and professionals from various medical teams filled our room. The NICU team, pediatric cardiology, anesthesiologists, OB residents, fellows and attendings, and the hospital's clergy staff are just to name a few.

Vivid images of seeing our family, especially my parents still haunt me 'til this day. Gasping for air, so much crying, fear of what was going to come next, intense locks of embrace. A sea of our family had rushed in after work, some came in during their day off, and others left work as we all thought that induction was our only option. They wanted to be there and get the chance to meet our baby. Our little one was the first grandchild for my parents, first niece/nephew for my siblings, and was Paul and I's first pregnancy/ child. The long awaited arrival for our Gavini Babe was so special. One of the memories that stand out from that day was Paul desperately embracing our little one and I, crying hard into my stomach, begging God for another option for our family aside from induction, talking to our babe and telling him/ her to try and stay inside for as long as he/ she can. 

It was hard to watch this. As a wife, new mom and someone with a career in the healthcare field, you don't ever stop and think that these type of things will happen to you - at least I never have, until all of this happened. We naively as first time parents openly shared our pregnancy with the world; things like heart defects and incompetent cervixes were miles and miles away from our minds. 

After hours had passed, having to meet new people, explain our situation in a simple manner to the family members that came, desperate embraces, states of shock, God had heard our prayers. Another doctor, a perinatologist, walked into our room and became our angel. She was knowledgeable, had excellent bedside manner, addressed our questions and concerns, and even included our faith and beliefs into my plan of care. We all told her that there must be something else other than induction. She said that there was. She said that we were more than welcomed to stay put at the hospital and do the wait and see approach with the convenience of the healthcare team around us, monitoring both baby and I. 

We all gladly agreed to this. Paul and I were suddenly put into some type of ease. Though our situation was still terrifying, we were so glad that another option was made available to us other than induction. We decided that praying, resting, and doing everything on our end to help keep our baby inside for as long as God's timing allowed was the best decision for our family. My plan of care during my hospital stay was to be on hospital bedrest, with minimal to no bathroom privileges, bed baths only, and to not strain nor do anything strenuous. The doctors included that everyday that I remained pregnant was a blessing. Our goals were for me and baby to reach 28 weeks and/or get the baby to 2500 grams in weight. Reaching either of these goals meant that if I were to deliver early, the chances for our Haven's survival and for the heart surgery she needed shortly after birth were increased. 

Paul, our family and I, all reached a sense of peace as we begun to settle with this turn in my pregnancy. Little did we know at this point that in just eleven days, we would meet our precious little Gavini Babe.

July 11th, 2016 | PART ONE

With my eyes still struggling to fully wake up from sleep, I glanced at my phone to look at the time and immediately planted it back face down. It wasn't the time I was dreading. 

It was the date. That date.

Today read, July 11th, 2017.

f you aren't familiar with our story, today exactly one year ago my world totally flipped upside down and would never be the same again. 

A year ago today, Paul and I woke up excitedly to visit both our doctors (regular OB-GYN + our perinatologist) for our Gavini Babe's routine 24 week checkup. It was a Monday / I had spent the night in my sister's room for some quality time / and had just returned from a weekend in Las Vegas, visiting my father-in-law for his birthday. We quickly got dressed, decided we'd eat breakfast somewhere around the hospital before our second appointment, which was set to be in the earlier half of the afternoon and dashed out the door. 

Our first appointment with my OB-GYN went well. Though we didn't get an ultrasound scan that day with him, the doctor measured my stomach/ fundal height, listened to the baby's heart tones, answered questions and addressed concerns that we had. *At this time, we were already aware of Haven's heart defect, which we discovered at our 20 week anatomy scan by our perinatologist. (Perinatology is a subspecialty of obstetric physicians concerned with the care of the fetus and complicated, high-risk pregnancies). Due to her finding, our new plan of care included being seen by her for the remainder of my pregnancy.  

While waiting for our second appointment, we had a two and a half hour window time in between to spare. The combination of pregnancy and the anxiety that comes with doctor appointments made me hungry. Paul and I took a nice and what we thought would be an "innocent" walk that would be good for me + the baby to the nearest IHOP; (little did we know that in just a few hours we would discover that the walk was dangerous and that Haven was literally hanging out). I was symptom free, feeling great and imagining how different our life would be in just a few months. She danced and kicked me from the inside as I scarfed down the Breakfast Sampler and pancakes I ordered. 

The clock finally hit the forty five minute mark until our next appointment so we headed back, l was still feeling good. We were called in and our doctor reported that aside from her heart defect, she was healthy and growing right on track. Almost finishing with our goodbyes and rising back up to leave from the exam bed, I was suddenly hit with a, "Ask her to check your cervix" thought. Not focusing on the last words her and Paul were exchanging, I asked her if she didn't mind checking my cervix before we left -- she responded with a, "Not at all all, of course." In just a few seconds my life would never be the same again.

I laid back down, placed my feet in stirrups, performed some rapid breathing, and grabbed Paul's hand as she placed the speculum to examine my cervix. I vividly remember the terrible silence in the room that day. It felt like a lifetime had passed when she finally removed the speculum, took a deep breath, with tears in her eyes, furrowed brows, then heavily and hesitantly said, "Myra.. Paul.. I am so, so sorry to keep bringing you both bad news.." An Incompetent Cervix also known as Cervical Insufficiency at that time in my life was a nothing but a condition I briefly learned about while in college. Up until that day it was simply one of the pregnancy conditions and/ or complications that I had studied about during my time in nursing school and again while studying for my licensing board examination. 

She didn't even begin to tell us what she found down there when streams of tears began to fall down from my eyes. I glanced over at Paul - I saw a flushed face, anger as both his hands formed into fists as tears followed down his eyes too. No words were able to form or come out from both our mouths. The time between her apology and sharing what she had seen seemed like another lifetime had passed by. I don't even think she told us the name of my condition. All I remember were a mix of the following phrases, 

"There is nothing left."

"I see limbs dangling through your vagina."

"The bag of membranes is bulging."

"The bag that is supporting your baby and keeping him/ her safe is coming out." 

"You will deliver. And soon."

"The baby is coming out."

It was later on that day, that Paul and I did our research and pieced together to discover that I have an Incompetent Cervix. 

In a state of shock and disbelief, I wasn't able to concentrate well or keep my mind straight. I believe Paul took in the information at that moment much better than I did. The first thing we asked was what she meant by there is nothing left. The doctor explained that her, "There is nothing left" statement meant I was basically fully dilated with no measurable cervix left to help keep our baby inside until term. That because my cervix had begun to open on its' own, Haven was slipping out - the bag of membranes and her limbs were visible through examination with the use of the speculum. That because she was already making her way out, premature delivery was inevitable. All I could think about as the doctor was doing her best and explaining everything, was that our firstborn was coming soon - and her life, her survival was not guaranteed. 

Paul asked her what was going to happen next, what our options were and what could we do to keep our Haven inside for as long as we can. The doctor went on to give us three options and explained each of them. Option One was Induction; to be quite frank, our doctor was leaning towards this option for us. I say this because I always had the gut feeling that ever since we told her that we made the decision to continue with our pregnancy even with our little one's heart condition that the doctor wasn't for Haven -- wasn't on her side and seemed like she didn't even want to fight for her. (*Perhaps some time in the future, this aspect of our story could be a post all on its own). She said with induction -- she would have us immediately go to the labor and delivery unit of the hospital, get us checked in, schedule me for induction and remain there until I would deliver. Option Two was a Transvaginal Cerclage; even though this was her second option for us, it wasn't a choice anyway. She went on to explain that with my cervix's condition, there is a procedure that women undergo to help keep their cervixes from dilating early, preventing pre-term labor and delivery, increasing baby's chances for survival, improving his/ her prognosis -- getting a cerclage (basically a stitch) placed. Even though she brought this option up, she stated that this was not the best for our specific case due to these factors: 1. My weeks in pregnancy; at the time I was 24 weeks and two days and cerclages are usually placed before then starting at 14 weeks. 2. Due to the baby's size; because the baby is big at this stage in pregnancy and due to the precision of the procedure, there is high risk for the bag to rupture which also can increase the risk for premature labor and delivery and of course, infection to both baby and I. 3. Bulging bag; during the cervical examination, our doctor made us aware that she could already visibly see my bag of membranes. All of these factors made our chances for opting with this option were a zero and highly dangerous. Option Three was the simple"Wait and See" approach. This meant for us to go back home and basically just wait until labor became more imminent. We could both tell by the look of our doctor's very obvious face that we were going to deliver soon, real soon and that our little one wasn't going to make it. 

I clearly remember Paul and I exchanging looks of what we felt we wanted to do and prayed the other was picking it up through eye contact. Our doctor on the other hand made her option very clear to us. She wanted to have me induced - to check myself into labor and delivery, start a drip, have it kick in and have me deliver sooner than later. Both unfortunately and frankly, she had a very "let's get this over with" demeanor. Still unsure of what the best option for us and our situation was, we knew we wanted for us to be safe and that no matter our decision, wanted to be checked into the hospital to be observed and monitored. 

 

July 11th, 2016   |   PT. II in the next post to follow.

First Easter

Just like all the other holidays that have come and gone without you, Easter was today. Growing up, Easter meant family, good food, dressing up, and basking in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The past few Easters were spent hosting backyard egg hunts for your cousins, having family friends over to break bread and celebrate with us, casual family photoshoots in the backyard, all of us watching the Passion of Christ with your grandpa in the living room and receiving lots of "Happy Easter" texts from loved ones. 

This one was different. Your dad was working today, so I spent my day with the Vanegas' at church and had a quiet, slow bagel filled breakfast. Mama Meg, Papa Jeff, and I then went to visit you. The babies'/ children's block was such a sight to see - a sea of fun pastel Easter colors spread throughout the section with flowers, plastic eggs and other Easter decorations. We talked with you, took photos, Mama Meg and Papa Jeff even grabbed you a fresh bouquet of flowers and they gave you and I some Mommy + Daughter alone time. I talked and prayed with you some more and played our favorite Disney classics in the background. Tangled's "I See the Light", always gets to me as I believe it was your all time favorite.

That song started and had me imagining what you were doing at that very moment. As I closed my eyes with tears streaked down my face, I envisioned an 8 and a half month old baby girl with a white, airy dress on and barefoot. Although, I didn't see your face - you had flowers in your hair and were playing in a field full of all kinds of flowers. You were shining bright, almost as though you were glowing. In the background, I saw a group of people that appeared to be the family members and loved ones gone before us. It was like they were all watching you and making sure you were safe. Though none of their faces were clear, I felt overwhelmed that there were so many in number. It warmed my heart knowing your grandma and great grandparents were among the crowd.

Though this vision seemed like it lasted for minutes, it was really just in the blink of an eye. You were suddenly called by a great voice, left your flowers and ran back towards our family - the voice I want to believe was the voice of Jesus.

Today pained me in a beautiful way, Haven. I think that the pain and initial sting of the first holidays without you will be the worst. My continuous prayer will be that though life won't ever be easier without you, I ask that the pain be more peaceful, accepting and hopeful. The pain I felt this Easter was beautiful because of the fact of where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing.  I know you are are in Heaven, our true home, where my heart longs to be more than ever. I know you are with Jesus, our Savior and Refuge - so this means you are taken care of, incredibly loved, safe, healthy, whole and happy. I know you are with family and loved ones. I am certain that you are spreading and doing good up there, sharing love and light, twirling in dance and constantly shining. Most importantly, I know you too, are eagerly waiting for mom and dad to come home someday soon. 

I love and miss you more than words can ever say, my darling - Happy Easter <3 

 

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