Returning from our trip to the States last week, I couldn't wait to have some time to blog about our trip and all the fun pictures that went along with it. It was an exhausting trip but we had a great time and enjoyed every minute of seeing our families, watching Renee and Chris get married and being all together for Christmas. But all the fun memories will need to wait; our week was turned upside down.
On the flight back I told Steve that the entire month of January all I wanted to do was sit at home and do nothing. I said I would go to Church, go to our MOMS group and other than that I just wanted to be home, get settled and prepare for Baby Girl's birth. I think Caleb felt the same way - as soon as we got home he kept saying "I'm just so glad to be home, I'm just so glad to be home, I love our house and my own bed!" We had about two days to enjoy it.
Although I was really tired and didn't really feel like making a trip up to Seoul on Thursday, I was glad to remember I had a doctor appointment - I felt like I really needed to go in and had been increasingly uncomfortable the past 2 weeks. Part of me wondered if I could be in early labor and another part of me wondered why I was being such a wimp this pregnancy! Although I was uncomfortable with Caleb at the end, I didn't remember it being so bad.
Steve had a meeting come up that morning so he wasn't able to go with me to my 35 week appointment like he had for my others. I made arrangements for Caleb to spend the morning with Michelle and planned to head up on my own. My friend Hannah heard about it and insisted on coming up with me. I felt bad having her drag her 8 month old all the way up to Seoul for my doctor appointment but she insisted and we thought we could get some much needed "catch up" time in on the bus and maybe have coffee or lunch after. I am so glad she came along!
At the appointment my doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to see baby's position. I didn't really want another ultrasond and didn't feel like it was needed just to determine position but I'd also had this nagging worry that something wasn't right so I thought the ultrasound would help me feel more at easse and reassure me everthing was okay. I'm so glad for that ultrasound!
It took longer than I had thought it would for a quick position check but I enjoyed seeing Baby Girl and didn't think much of it. When I went in to see the doctor after the scan I could tell he seemed upset. I sat down and he told me he was very concerned about what the ultrasound picked up - that I had an over abudnance of amniotic fluid (causing all that pressure and discomfort I'd been having for weeks) and that baby had fluid and swelling, a condition he referred to as Hydrops. He told me I needed to go immediately to a bigger hospital for more testing and possibly an emergency c-section. He was fantastic and gave me a referral to what he called "the best hospital for this in the country." He also called ahead to a friend of his at the hospital to personally tell her we were coming and ask her to care for us. He also sent one of his English speaking staff wtih us to show us how to get to the hospital and help me get settled there. We called Steve to come up immediately and I was again so glad Hannah was there with me.
Everything from there has been a blur all week. It has been a roller coaster, up and down, full of good moments and terrible moments, full of optimism one minute and despair the next. Upon further testing, they confirmed the condition to be Hydrops and instead of immediate c-section they decided to try to first remove some of the amniotic fluid and also remove the fluid from Baby's lungs to see if that could help buy her some time (the longer she could stay inside the womb the better and her lungs were develomentally behind for her age because they had been compressed by the fluid and unable to grow. The proceedure was successful in reducing the amniotic fluid (they removed 1700cc's of fluid from my womb!) and they were also able to reach baby and reduce the fluid in her lungs as well. My amniotic fluid index was 46 before the proceedure (normal is 15 and high end is 20). Afer the procedure it was reduced to an index of 34 and I could feel the relief almost immediately. I also started having contractions (which is a common reponse to the procedure) so I was put on Magnesium Sulfate to try to stop labor and closely monitored around the clock. The doctor was hopeful about the procedure.
The next day, however, the ultrasond showed more fluid had built up in Baby Girl and her swelling was increasing. They started steroid injections to increase her lung development in preparation for birth. The next two days felt like blow after blow. One thing after another seemed to come up or happen and it got to the point we literally cringed every time a staff person came into our room, wondernig "what now?!" It felt like we were living a nightmare that kept getting worse. We tried hard to stay positive and not focus on the "what if's" and worst case scenarios. We felt huge comfort knowing none of this came as a suprirse to the Lord, that He holds all life together and that He had created this little baby girl and that her life is His. He loves her more than we do and He has plans for her.
We had to wait for a spot in the NICU to open up - there are 38 beds available in the NICU and all were full. We also wanted to give her as much time as we could before being born. They continued to monitor her closely to make sure she was okay and Monday decided she really needed to be born the next day. They could only do so much for her in the womb and once she was born, they could begin to figure out what all was wrong and try to help her. They removed fluid one last time from her lungs right before surgery to try to give her the easiest start possible with the least amount of pressure on her lungs. The proceedure was successful and we went immediately to surgery after.
Originally they had told us Steve could not be present for the surgery and this was really hard for me. They ended up compromising, saying Steve could be in until the birth of the baby and then he would need to leave - which still terrified me. At the last minute we asked again and the doctor said she would allow for Steve to stay the whole time which was a huge relief and answer to prayer!
Having a c-section was a surreal expereience. I didn't realize how much you can actually feel but just without any pain. Evelyn Grace Houser was born at 11am on January 8, 2013. She weighed 9.02lbs at birth (at 35 weeks!), mostly due to how swollen she was and how much fluid she was retaining. Sadly, I wasn't able to see Evelyn Grace after she was born (it was an emergency so no time for holding her up or bringing her over to meet me). I did catch a glimpse of her little purple foot and Steve did his best to describe her to me, most importantly that "she has lots of dark hair!" I kept picturing her all pregnancy being born with lots of dark hair so that was really fun.
Because of my post-surgery condition I wasn't able to go see Evelyn until last night but Steve visited at every chance we were given (visiting hours are strict and only are from 5-5:30am, 1-2pm and 7:30-8pm). She is in stable condition, which we are praising the Lord for. She seems to improve a little bit every day and the doctors are all very hopeful and optimistic. A typical Hydrops baby is not given a great outlook but due to how late she was born, her size at birth, and the fact that there was no indication of Hydrops at her 20 week ultrasound or at the ultrasound we had right before traveling to the States (30 week).
Tomorrow I am being discharged. Sweet Baby Evelyn Grace needs to continue her care here at the NICU (about an hour and fifteen minutes from our home in Songtan). The thought of leaving the hospital and leaving her here has been really hard to come to terms with...we are so thankful that she is stable and alive and able to get the care she needs but it will be really hard to return home without our baby girl and know she is so far away without us. Please continue to pray with us for healing and that the Lord would sustain her and give her life. Please pray the doctors are able to determine a cause and that they would have wisdom in their care plan for her. Please also pray for us as we return home, leaving the 4th member of our family here and as we try to figure out how we can get up to see her as often as possible.
Every time we see Evelyn Grace we tell her about all the people praying for her around the world (literally). It is great to comfort her with all your prayers, and it comforts our hearts too. She is already one loved and prayed for little girl! We have felt so blessed by the outpouring of love, support, concern, care and prayers that we have received. Thank you to each of you. If you've written us a note or email, please know it has meant SO much to us. We haven't had time/ability to respond to each one but please know that they mean absolutely so much to us.