Saturday, December 29, 2012

Charlotte's Life - Part 1

Because I don't want to forget anything about the nine days we spent with our little girl, here is an account of her short, but love-filled life.  Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

The morning before my c-section was fairly calm. We had gotten up early (4am) so I could have one last meal before surgery. We packed the car & prepared the house for our return as a family of three (which we were really hoping & praying would happen).  As I have mentioned previously, we knew that Charlotte had some hurdles to overcome, but the extent of them were unknown until she arrived.  The biggest hurdle being whether or not she could breathe on her own.

The reason for our scheduled c-section was three-fold: 1. Charlotte was breech; 2. her condition warranted the doctors wanting to be fully prepared to give her the best care possible; and 3. we would be having her an hour away from home at Legacy Emanuel in Portland, in order to receive the top care.  For weeks leading up to our scheduled due date, I feared my body would go into labor due to my high levels of fluid and we'd have to rush to Portland as fast as we could, but thankfully that didn't happen. But once I got checked in, I was informed that I was having consistent contractions, although I couldn't feel any of them.

Surgery prep seemed pretty routine - IV put in, monitoring baby + I, meeting the doctors that would be delivering Charlotte. Our family & friends came to wait for Charlotte's arrival with us and we said one last prayer together before I was wheeled to the operating room to meet our little girl.

The surgery itself wasn't too memorable, even with it being my first major surgery and all, but all my thoughts were consumed with the anticipation of what was coming (Charlotte).  Before they started the c-section, we were told that they were going to give her a chance to breathe on her own, but if she couldn't, the NICU staff would be ready & waiting to assist her.  Once I heard "here she comes!", I remember just praying she'd overcome all of the obstacles ahead of her and surprise everyone.  But when they pulled her out I held my own breathe waiting to hear her cry and when she didn't, I knew something wasn't right.

Charlotte Renè Grable was born on 12.12.12 at 2:35pm, weighing 6lbs 14oz and measuring just over 17in.

She was whisked away to a room off of the operating room and Sam went to be with her almost immediately, which was our plan if this happened. But when he didn't come back with her before they were done putting me back together, my biggest fears were all I could think about.  It wasn't until I was being wheeled to recovery when I was finally able to see our little girl for the first time, however looking at her was all I could do as she was already hooked up to a CPAP breathing machine.  My heart broke seeing her all hooked up to machines and then shattered when I went to my recovery room and Sam & Charlotte went to the NICU, instead of joining me.

Like surgery, my recovery wasn't too memorable either. The only thing I recall is my deep desire to hear what was going on with Charlotte, so I put on a happy face for those who came to check on me, but the only place I really wanted to be was with my husband and little girl.  Finally, after my two-hour recovery time ended, I was wheeled up to the NICU to see Charlotte before going to the Family Birthing Center.  Sam met me at the door of the NICU and we had a chance to talk to the neonatologist about Charlotte's status, which was what we thought - she was having trouble breathing. I was informed that the CPAP wasn't working for Charlotte and they had to intibate her instead, but the neonatologist still felt encouraged because she was out breathing the machines.  The tears I had been holding back for hours finally came pouring out, a mix of fear and a love I had never felt before.  Before I knew it, I had to leave again and the tears returned, mainly because I didn't know when I would see my newborn baby again.

Sam continued to stay in the NICU with Charlotte as I was staying in the Family Birthing Center. For a couple of days, all we could do was touch Charlotte while she lay in her bed. Sam had a chance to change some diapers and assist in other care for Charlotte, but my visits were limited due to recovery and my medication schedule.  It wasn't until Friday afternoon when I was finally able to hold my baby girl for the first time and while it was a little challenging due to all the tubes and cords, it was hands down one of my top three moments of my life!

Friday also brought some meetings with the NICU staff. First, we met with the geneticist, who had looked over Charlotte's bone scans and confirmed her diagnosis - campomelic dysplasia. Then we met with the neonatologist again and he said that since Charlotte was doing so well on the breathing tube, they wanted to try the CPAP again, in hopes that she would do better than she did at birth and hopefully she wouldn't need further extensive breathing assistance.  This was planned for the following day and to be honest, it was hard not to hope for the best...


  1. Thank you for sharing your story and journey with us. I wish I could do something to take the pain away.

    Thinking of your beautiful family.

  2. Wow. Thank you for sharing these intimate moments. Thinking of you.

  3. I so admire your strength. Big hugs.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. It is a bit of a flash back to when we had Andrew and my experience with the c-section and him being wisked away from me. I had to wait three days to see him as I was in a hospital an hour away from him. I remember smiling and feel optamistic too but constantly worrying and longing for my husband and son. My heart certainly goes out to you and Sam, we love you both and it's a blessing to have you as part of our family.