Battle with Right-Sided Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH)

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

She is finally here!

July 23, 2010

This is Thomas writing. These past couple days have been very crazy. But alas, we can proudly announce the following news: our baby girl has been born. She was born on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, at 3:09 Arizona time (MST). She is 6 lbs, 10 ounces and 19 ¾ inches in length.
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Our birthing story began on Monday morning, which was the original induction date scheduled. The plan was to go to the hospital with all our stuff ready in hand for a hospital stay. Dr G did an exam on Alicia, and nothing had changed and said that Alicia’s cervix wasn’t ready yet. Dr G decided that Monday wasn’t going to be the day that Whitney would be born, and we were sent back home after having been advised that they would call us as soon as possible and set a new induction date. We were called early the next morning by the nurse from Dr G’s office saying that they wanted to go ahead with the induction process that evening at 5pm. We showed up at St Joseph’s hospital again, but this time instead of going to Dr G’s office we were told to go straight to Labor and Delivery.
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We showed up with all our gear and we were immediately admitted in and placed in a birthing room. As the doctor had warned and as we expected, there initially was some confusion with the nurses about what our birthing plan of action was going to be. It actually took a little while before we felt comfortable that all the nurses fully grasped what was going to happen. The plan was to progress into the labor in the normal birthing room, but when Alicia was ready to push, they were going to cart her off to the operating room where a whole team of doctors would be ready for the actual delivery.
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On Tuesday evening, they checked Alicia’s cervix again, and it was still firm and not very “ripened” yet. They used Cervidil, a cervix ripening agent, in order to soften up the cervix before sending the Pitocin through her blood to induce contractions. Alicia wore the Cervidil for 12 hours (overnight at the hospital) and then they removed it and checked her cervix again. This time it was nice, soft, and ready for baby. They started the Pitocin at around 10am Wednesday morning.
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Alicia started having noticeable contractions a few hours later, and they started to get progressively stronger and stronger. Alicia had already decided she wanted an Epidural, and at about 2pm she was dilated to 4cm and the pain was getting more intense. She got the epidural at that time and she instantly got less cranky when the medicine started to kick in. I was pretty happy about that. While she was getting numb I decided it was about time to get a quick bite to eat since I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. The delivery rooms are on the 5th floor, but I ate on the 1st floor because Alicia wanted absolutely no food smells in the delivery room. I was gone for maybe 10 or 15 minutes eating and when I came back, Alicia said to me that her water broke while I was gone. The nurses came in the room and was going to put a urinary catheter into Alicia, before the nurse was even able to put in a catheter, she said that the baby was “complete” and was ready to come NOW. Only an hour after the epidural!
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It was very emotional for Alicia, mostly scared because we didn’t expect it to come so quickly and suddenly. We were told that it would probably take a few more hours, but now we were suddenly being carted off to the operating room (O/R). I was right alongside Alicia as we were wheeled off to the operating room, also helping to push the bed along. I had to put on a sterile suit, shoe covers, head cover, and mask. I sat right at the head of the operating table with Alicia, surrounding us there were 8 or 9 people, a combination of nurses and doctors from both labor/delivery and from the Nursery ICU. There were so many people there within minutes of Alicia arriving. Only I was able to come with Alicia into the O/R helping to coach her and support her head as the nurses and doctors instructed her when to push. From the time Alicia and I got into the O/R to the time when baby Whitney entered this world was a record 15 minutes. The first 5 minutes were spent waiting for the right doctors to get there. The other 10 minutes were pushing. When baby Whitney came out, she was just beautiful! She had lots and lots of dark brown hair on her head and she came out pink. I was able to cut the umbilical cord and then they immediately put a breathing tube down her mouth and put her in a mobile incubator. They moved the incubator right next to Alicia where she was able to touch Whitney for a second or two before they rushed Whitney to the NYICU (Nursery Intensive Care Unit). They allowed me to follow them all the way to her station in the NYICU, but I shortly thereafter had to leave to let them do their thing to connect Whitney to all the monitoring devices.
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Sadly due to the sudden rush of events, I forgot to snatch up my camera before being whisked away to the O/R, so I was only able to take a couple cell phone pictures. When Whitney got all cleaned up I came back and took lots of good photos.
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That evening all the family was there and despite how tired and exhausted both Alicia and I were, everyone wanted to see the baby. The NYICU is very small and they have lots of babies in there. Due to the crammed space in the NYICU, they have a rule that you can only have 2 visitors with the baby at a time, and one of those visitors must either be the mom or the dad. So essentially we had 6 family members just dying to see the baby and we’d have to go back one at a time. I just wanted so badly to send everyone home and tell them to come back the next day because we were so exhausted, but at the same time we didn’t know how critical Whitney’s condition was or if she’d survive the night. We wanted everyone to see Whitney while she was still with us, so we took everyone back one at a time.
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That night they moved Alicia from the birthing room to an Antenatal room, and I was no longer allowed to sleep in the same room because this Antenatal room is a shared room with another recovering mother. I had to leave the hospital. Thankfully we have a couple incredible friends who live just a couple miles from the hospital and they were so kind enough to let us know ahead of time that if we needed, we could stay in their guest bedroom in order to be close to the hospital. So I stayed with them for the night. I can never thank them enough for this selfless service.
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I got back at the hospital the next day, Wednesday July 22, 2010, and as I walked toward Alicia’s room, Dr H came out with paperwork that Alicia had signed giving consent to put Whitney on ECMO. It turned out that through the night, Whitney’s lungs were not absorbing enough oxygen into the blood even with the oscillator breathing in 100% oxygen. Whitney’s oxygen levels were dipping far below the minimum target level and we had to make the decision about doing ECMO much sooner than we thought.
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ECMO had been explained to us by 4 different doctors since we learned that Whitney had CDH. Only one of them seemed to have any faith that ECMO might help Whitney, and the rest pretty much felt that we ought to let Whitney go peacefully rather than subject her to this highly risky and invasive procedure which probably wouldn’t work anyway. After much thought, prayer, and deliberation, we decided that if Heavenly Father needed Whitney back in heaven then there is nothing that we would be able to do to prevent that from happening. If ECMO works in saving her life, then we will accept the miracle of healing. If it doesn’t work, then we will grieve and (eventually) accept that it’s the Lord’s will that she not be with us in this life.
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Whitney Kaholumehekainani Montgomery is critical but stable.

3 comments:

  1. I know of many, many babies that have been on ECMO and have survived and come HOME! Don't let those doctors rob you of HOPE. So many people are praying for beautiful Whitney. Have faith that she will pull through. ECMO is a very scary thing, but it IS lifesaving. My son was on ECMO for 25 days, so please ask if you need a parent's perspective. Many hugs and thoughts and prayers for you all.

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  2. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Whitney! Hang in there and remember Heavenly Father has a plan.

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  3. You don't know me, I teach Colton piano lessons and my husband taught Brianna and Jessica in choir. I just want you to know that there are so many people praying for you, Alicia, and Whitney - even those you don't know about!

    Your post is so inspiring. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over all of you, and no matter what happens, you are all in His tender, loving hands. Whitney is blessed to have such loving, strong, and steadfast parents!

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