Friday, June 29, 2012

The Frustrating Part

Here we are, creeping up on four weeks since Carter was born. Four weeks that he's been in the NICU. That's three longer than Brycen was in the NICU. I'm not really sure how we're doing this. When Brycen was born and he was in the NICU for those nine days, the entire time I thought my life was completely over. I cried myself to sleep every night and sobbed every time I saw one of his pictures. It was the longest nine days of my life. Now we're here with Carter, who has been in the NICU for 27 days. Twenty-seven! I can't really wrap my head around that. The Lord is truly watching out for us right now. I believe that He is making it possible for us to get through all of this, because on paper we should be completely and uncontrollably a mess.

On Monday night Carter had a wonderful nurse named Sarah. She was very social and friendly. At 10:00 she set up Carter's food in the feeding bolus and got his feeding tube all connected and ready to go. As soon as she turned it on, she came and sat down in the chair next to me and asked me how I was doing. I told her I felt really good and that I was surprised at how well I felt so fast after having a C-section. She looked at me and, unconvinced, she asked, "How are you really doing?" She told me she had been talking to Tyson and that he told her I have had some days that were better than others, emotionally. She explained that she knows what it's like to have a baby in the NICU (she has had two babies in the NICU like us) and she talked about how one of them was in the NICU a lot longer than the other. She asked me how I really feel and this is it:

The weeks since Carter was born have gone by quickly. And I'm so grateful for that. Brycen's stay was so awful for me, yet Carter has been in the NICU for weeks longer and I've held it together much better. I feel like Brycen was born prematurely because Carter was going to be, and Brycen's birth prepared us for Carter's. The days leading up to Carter's birth were all meant to be and fell into place. That night in Idaho Falls when I felt those horrible pains I could feel the spirit telling me to go back home to Ogden. I got checked when I got to the hospital there and nothing. As hard as it was to deal with the pain for the next few days, it was meant to be that I went back to the hospital on Saturday and got checked again. By doing so, the nurse started me into labor. And during all this time my placenta was slowly detaching itself and abrupting. I was in the worst pain of my life after the nurse checked me and went home to try to live through it. I couldn't go back to the hospital or I'd get turned away. What could I do? Tyson gave me a blessing to help us know what to do. That blessing led us to be prompted to call Scott. Scott picked up the phone immediately and talked Tyson through my symptoms, resulting in what he believed was a kidney stone. What a blessing that Scott picked up the phone so soon. I wouldn't have gone back to the hospital if he didn't think I might have a kidney stone, if I wasn't in labor. By the time I got on the table and Carter was delivered via emergency C-section, my placenta was completely detached and he was in distress. I found this out two weeks after he was born. If I had stayed at home long enough for my placenta to completely detach he would have died and I would have had to deliver him at home. Who knows what would have happened to me. And now here he is, safe, healthy, and doing better and better each day. I have a lot to be grateful for and I know that the Lord made it possible for us to have a healthy baby. Carter was meant to come at 32 weeks and the events leading up to his birth prove that. We were being watched out for. We don't have any of our family here for emotional support or to watch Brycen. We're alone almost 100% of the time. We live in an apartment on the third floor and I had an incision that made it difficult to walk up and down the stairs. We don't live super close to the hospital. For a week I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts and I was scared of that. Brycen is back home with us in Utah and my time with the baby has been cut down drastically. Our baby has been in the hospital for almost a month. We should be a mess right now. Nothing adds up to being "ok". Yet somehow, I'm getting through this and I'm doing it well. The Lord has made these last weeks go by quicker and that alone has been a HUGE blessing. The days where Brycen was in the hospital might as well have been weeks. They felt excruciatingly long and tormenting. And here we are, doing this. We're doing this. We've been doing this. And I don't know how. After one week I felt really good, physically. I was getting up and down the stairs better but still needed help. After two weeks I felt really good, and now I feel great. What a blessing. We have felt very alone over the last few weeks, just Tyson and I and now Brycen is thankfully here again. It was so hard having Brycen gone. That first week wasn't as bad because I was in the hospital for half of it. But once I left and came home, my life felt empty without my children. Brycen came back with my mom and Amber and still things didn't feel the same. I was emotional and struggling. There were people around me but I felt very alone. I was still healing so it was hard to interact with Brycen. He left again for another week and things got really hard again. I had the ability to go to the hospital as much as I wanted, but it was almost too much for my mind. Not only was Brycen gone, but watching Carter progress hardly at all, if at all, was almost too much to handle. I spent sometimes six hours a day at the NICU with Carter. While it was so wonderful, I needed to free my mind for a little bit. But I was also feeling a lot of guilt, knowing that my time with Carter would soon be minimal. I felt so guilty leaving him there all by himself all day long.  Brycen coming home was so great. Yes, my time with Carter got cut down a lot. But I've been able to get into a routine again during the day and it feels good. I spend the late evenings with Carter and snuggle him till almost midnight while Tyson and Brycen are safely at home asleep. Brycen keeps my mind off things. This experience has brought Tyson and I closer together. We're doing this and we're fighting through it. There's no doubt we've been struggling. Thankfully one of us has a meltdown while the other is feeling good and strong. There have been maybe two moments where we both crumbled at the same time and thought this time in our lives is unbearable. But we've gotten each other through it.

The frustrating part about this experience is the present. Carter's current status is slow moving. When he was around one week old and eating more and more to slowly make his way to trying a bottle we were so excited. The doctors would come in and talk to us and they were all so impressed with his improvements. And each one would say how the frustrating part is yet to come. I knew what they were talking about: the part where the baby would start eating more, but somehow not be able to get it fast enough. The time drags. When they'd say that, I would brush it off and think to myself about how awesome that would be and I wouldn't be frustrated. I would be excited. I was totally wrong! Once Carter got to the point where he would eat a full bottle, be gavaged, eat 20cc's, gavaged, gavaged, etc I realized we were there at the frustrating point. And I was totally frustrated. This is the point where we can't have any expectations and just let him do his thing. We can't force him to eat more bottles in a day or eat more from his bottle each time he's given one.

We're not sure when to expect Carter home. He'll be able to come home as soon as he can eat all of his feedings from the bottle for 48 hours and also gain weight. No one can say when that will be except for Carter. He will do it on his own time. And if he has an "incident" where his stats drop when he's supposed to be discharged, he buys himself another week in the NICU automatically. We're praying that doesn't happen. In the meantime, we have to take this one day at a time. Otherwise it's just too hard. I can't explain how hard it is to have a baby in the NICU. I wish I knew what it was like to bring a baby home at three days old. We get to be the people that bring home a week old baby up to an over a month old baby. And that's ok. This is just how things have worked out for us and we work through it how we can.

This hasn't been easy by any means. We can post Facebook statuses all we want about the sunshiny weather, my latest batch of cookies, or the Olympic trials. But beneath it all are two people who are struggling to keep it together for their own sakes and for the sake of their children. We save the tears for the walls of our home. But we're doing this together. And all we can be is grateful. We've left the stage of feeling anger about everything that happened and we've moved onto being grateful. As hard as it was to be in that much physical pain, it had to happen. It all had to happen to ensure that Carter would be born safely. We've been so incredibly lucky that he's done so well. He's had and continues to have hiccups here and there, but we know that this is just a temporary time in our lives. We have to keep telling ourselves that. "This too shall pass," as my dear friend Amber sweetly reminded me about a week after Carter was born. I'm grateful for that reminder.

We have had so many wonderful Facebook messages, e-mails, cards, texts, etc that have brought smiles to our faces. It helps to know that so many people care about us. We can also feel many prayers on our behalf. Thank you to all of you who have supported us and continue to do so. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's small, but it's there. We're so grateful for a loving Savior whose spirit we feel everyday. What a wonderful feeling to know that we're not alone. We feel blessed to have two wonderful sons. And we can't wait to bring our little Carter home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bath Time in the NICU

I went to the hospital last night and got to watch Carter get bathed. This was my first time watching his bath and he's 3 weeks old. I'm so embarrassed to say that. I'm sad that I'm just now watching his baths. I've been so emotionally unhinged and struggling with everything that I didn't take the time to enjoy things like this. I'm regretting it big time. But since I can't go back in time, it was very exciting being there for this bath. And it was so much fun! I can't wait to bathe him at home one of these days.

Carter gets swaddle baths and they're so nice. He sits in the tub of water wrapped up in a blanket and gets bathed that way. He was in heaven sitting in that warm water. He was a very relaxed baby!

 Christie, Carter's nurse for the evening

 Relaxation time came to an abrupt halt when it came time to get scrubbed!

Feeling relaxed after the bath
He's wearing a size 1 diaper in this picture. He still fits into preemie diapers, but he goes potty so much that he keeps peeing right out of the preemie diapers. He had to upgrade to something bigger, even though they're huge!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Day for Fathers

Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful men in my life! My wonderful husband, dad, father-in-law, and grandfather are all such important people to me and I love them so much. Thank you for all you do! I'm especially grateful for Tyson today and how awesome of a dad he is to our two sweet boys. I love you so much!

It was hard celebrating Father's Day without Brycen today. But we were blessed to be able to spend a good portion of the day at the hospital with Carter for his first Father's Day. We went to sacrament meeting then went to the hospital. It was a really nice day for us.

Father of the Year goes to this guy! It's been a rough one for us and having another baby in the NICU has been especially trying. But he's been my rock and my strength during all of this. He helped me get through these last two weeks and I'm so grateful for him. He's such a great father and husband. I don't know what I'd do without him!

This is Tyson's Father's Day gift from Carter. Each baby in the NICU gave their dads a bottle of Dad's root beer with a paper tie. Attached to the tie was their footprint and the following poem:

I'm starting out with little feet
And yes my tiny toes are sweet

You'll take me home and in a while
I'll start to coo and laugh and smile

We'll soon be having lots of fun
When I can roll and crawl and run

What comes next, we'll start to chat
About this and this, and that and that

And then one day you'll be tickling my toes
And think to yourself how fast time goes

I'll have added inches to my height
My strength and growth will be quite a sight

So just in case you might forget
Upon this tie, my foot I've set

Happy Father's Day!

Talk about make me cry! What a sweet little gift for these dads of NICU babies. I just love McKay-Dee Hospital's NICU staff. They're just wonderful!

Brycen and I got Tyson a present as well, just not as meaningful or nearly as sweet:

He needed a new drill SO badly! His old one broke and he's needed one multiple times ever since.

Carter has met some milestones over the weekend! 
The first was his advancement into a "big boy bed":

 He's been in a covered isolette since he was born. They tried him in one of these open beds once, but he wasn't able to keep his temperature at a good place to stay in it for very long. We were disappointed to come see him in a covered isolette again. But on Friday I came in and found the covered isolette empty and him in one of these open beds. It was so exciting!

We love being able to see him so well and easily pick him up.

And a very exciting and HUGE milestone:

Carter has officially started eating from a bottle! Last Wednesday one of the nurses told us he was starting to show cues that he wanted to eat from a bottle. We were so happy and excited to hear that! They said they'd start him on one as soon as he started showing more cues. On Friday night one of the nurses gave him 25cc's of his 36 with the bottle and the rest was gavaged. We were so excited to hear that news! Today I got to give him his bottle. The nurse said he gets one bottle a day, and they saved it for one of the times we were going to be there. At 1:00 pm I got to give it a go. He took 10cc's of 39 and we were so proud!

Burping my tiny guy

Carter discovered the hard way on Friday that his feeding tube can come out. He's pulled it out more since, and it makes me so sad to see his sore face after that tape comes flying off. Poor kid! Brycen pulled his feeding tube out 4 times in the 9 days that he was in the NICU.

And we feel so blessed to have access to the Patient Cam in the NICU! We get to watch Carter on the webcam when we're at home and it's just been wonderful. The camera has been so helpful while he's been in there. Tomorrow will be 16 days that Carter has been in the NICU - one week longer than Brycen was in the NICU and we still have a ways to go. If we didn't have this webcam it would be so much more difficult. We get to wake up and see him on the computer, then every night we don't go to bed without saying goodnight to him. It's the best! Talk about a blessing.

This evening we were watching Carter's 7:00 cares on the webcam and noticed after all of them were done and it was time to eat that the nurse put a burpy on him and picked him up. When she didn't come back, we realized that she had taken him out to give him a bottle. Yay! We were so excited! We're glad that they're giving him a bottle when he's showing cues and not just giving him one a day. Carter is doing really well and progresses all the time. Each day is just another day closer to the time we get to take him home. Brycen being in Idaho has been hard for us, but we're so grateful for our family members who have been so willing to watch him for us so we can spend some extra time with the baby and prepare for him to come home. We're excited to see Brycen this coming weekend though! We miss our boys and it's hard having both of them gone. But Brycen's having a blast and Carter is where he needs to be right now. I can't complain!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Missing My Baby

6 days old and wide awake during his 10 am feeding
Last night was the first time I've had a full on meltdown about Carter being in the NICU. I'm pretty sure I've been in shock all week because it hasn't even been hard leaving him there like it was with Brycen. When Brycen was in the NICU I bawled every time we left the hospital. I felt depressed and could hardly stand what was going on. It could have been because he was my first child, and having to be in the NICU made things so much harder. It's hard to explain how difficult it is to be pregnant and have a connection with the baby, deliver, then leave without them. My tummy was empty and I had nothing to show for it when I came home. And now we've made a full circle and we're back to square one, doing this all over again.

I survived a week with Carter in the NICU. I'm really excited about that! And I'm really grateful that it hasn't been hard for me having him there this entire week. It's been a blessing that everything has gone so well since he was born. Everything has been so surreal. Last night I was lying on the couch and I saw a commercial for I'm not even sure what product. All I could see was a dad with his new baby, talking about all of the pictures he's taken of his child on his phone, and then he loses the phone. Father's Day was thrown in there somewhere too. That was the tip of the iceberg for me. I cried uncontrollably and thoughts of Brycen's NICU stay were flooding my mind from out of nowhere. It's moments like these were I'm especially grateful to be married to a therapist! Tyson always knows what to say and how to say it to make me feel better. He brought up what happened last Saturday and how lucky we are to have Carter with us. He also talked about the wonderful care Carter is receiving in the NICU and that he's in the best place he can be right now. There's no way we can take care of him at home right now. As he was sitting there telling me these things and talking me through my tears I realized that not only was he right, but I already knew all of this. I just needed reminded.

Tomorrow will be the ninth day that Carter is in the NICU. Brycen was in the NICU for a total of nine days and it was the longest nine days of my life. This first week with Carter in the NICU has flown by, and I'm just now reaching the point where it's starting to drag and feel painfully difficult. I only hope and pray that I can do this-that we can do this-and that the Lord will allow us to bring our baby home in a shorter amount of time than what's in my head, and that Carter will truly be ready to come home at that time.

I feel like The Little Engine that Could saying to myself, "I can do this again. I can do this again. I can do this again." I'm grateful that Carter doesn't have a whole bunch of problems and issues like so many babies out there. At this point I can only hope that I can have the strength to continue what we've been doing for the last week. We are so grateful to have Carter here and that he is safe. I've said this before, but I know that the Lord had a hand in what happened last weekend and we feel so blessed. So now all we have to do is get through the upcoming weeks and hold our heads high. I know we can do it. With faith, prayer, and all of those other wonderful things we've been blessed with, I know that we can do this and bring our baby home soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Officially Introducing...

Carter John Miller
June 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm
4 lb 7 oz
17 1/2 inches

Even though he wasn't supposed to be here for two more months, we're so happy to have Carter here! He's been such a blessing in our lives and we're so grateful that everything went well with his delivery. It was a very scary day for all of us, but we're glad it's over and that he's safe in his little NICU isolette. Carter impresses us every day with all of his accomplishments. Tomorrow he starts 22cc's of food and will hopefully have his IV removed. He's back and forth under the phototherapy lights, but the doctors say it is normal for that to happen for such a young preemie. He wears preemie diapers that we have to fold down almost in half. He has such a tiny little bum! He was very alert today and looking all around him. I can't wait for our visit tomorrow! We sure do love this little man!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Carter's Story

This is a detailed account of the events that took place up to the birth of our sweet little Carter this weekend. I've had a lot of people ask questions about what happened, so here it is! It's a little lengthy and there are no pictures, but it describes what happened this weekend that eventually resulted in the early birth of our son. I hope this answers some questions! And pictures will come this week!

. . .

My heart is incredibly full today. Tyson and I are so grateful for our sweet little Carter and we know that the Lord was watching out for us through our ordeal this weekend.

I want to always remember the details of what happened through the week and the weekend leading up to Carter’s birth and to share with him how we both survived that day. The reality of everything that happened and is happening is just now starting to hit me and I’m feeling very overwhelmed and emotional. I only hope I can pull myself together to get through the weeks ahead.

Memorial Day Weekend

Tyson, Brycen, and I spent a great weekend in Idaho Falls for Memorial Day. We enjoyed a lot of family time with fun bbq’s and lots of pictures. I was feeling super uncomfortable and my stomach felt so tight for how far along I was (31 weeks at the time). I could feel the baby’s feet up in my ribs and I was just burning. I was having a hard time sitting in certain places.

Our last bbq was on Memorial Day and it was at Tyson’s sister Angie’s house. I was feeling all sorts of uncomfortable still and had a hard time finding a good place to even sit down. We enjoyed the food and family time before packing Brycen up to head back to Utah. We said our goodbyes to Tyson’s family, knowing we wouldn’t be coming back to Idaho till the end of August/Septemberish. We left Angie and Steve’s house and of course I started to cry. I cry every time we leave Idaho! We stopped at my parents’ house to gather up the suitcases and say goodbye to my parents. By this time I was an emotional wreck. We soon decided that it would be so fun if Brycen and I stayed for a couple more days and my mom could bring us back to Utah later in the week. Tyson was fine with the idea but had his worries. The idea of his pregnant wife and his son being in Idaho without him was always a little scary. But we would only be there for a couple extra nights and see Tyson before we knew it. It was another emotional goodbye as Brycen and I walked Tyson outside. He got in the van and drove out of the driveway. Brycen ran down the driveway after him yelling his name, wondering where he was going. Of course this made me cry too! He turned around, put his hands up in question and said, “Daddy?” I told him he went bye bye and that we’d see him in a few days.

Tuesday, May 29th

Tyson got home safely and went to work the next day. Brycen and I woke up that same morning and got ready to go to the zoo with Mom, Amber and Tayen, and Britney and Boston. We met them at the entrance and spent the rest of our morning there enjoying the monkeys, lions, and all the other fun animals. I pushed Brycen around in his stroller a little bit but felt fine. When we got to the steeper walkway up to the penguins I decided to go for it. I made the trek up there, pushing my 30-pound toddler in his stroller and feeling the burn in my calves. I was a little winded, but otherwise felt fine. We enjoyed the rest of the zoo then left to have lunch at Carino’s.

Later that afternoon I started feeling pains that felt like contractions that I felt when I was in pre-term labor with Brycen. All of a sudden I couldn’t feel the baby up high anymore and he felt and looked so much lower. Amber and Mom were both there with me and were helping me time these contraction-like pains. I drank water and lied down on my left side, but the pains kept coming back. The pains weren’t consistent but they were definitely there. I got a little worried and decided to give my friend Scott a call. He is my former OB doctor’s PA and I’ve called him multiple times with pregnancy-related questions. I was able to get a hold of him immediately and I explained to him how I was feeling. I told him about our trip to the zoo and that I may have overdone it with all of the walking and pushing Brycen. He told me that most likely my uterus had gotten strained and that it was now trying to contract back down to where it needed to be. He said the zoo trip could have done it but that it sounded like I had overworked my uterus. In the meantime I still needed to keep track of how many pains I was having. If they continued throughout the night I needed to go see a doctor in the morning and get checked. He told me to call Dr. Leavitt’s office and that they would most likely let me come in because I am a former patient. If not, I would have to go to labor and delivery. I hated the thought of having to go to the hospital that was out of our network for insurance and getting charged out our ears to get checked! My mom and I decided that if things got worse through the night that she would take Brycen and I back to Ogden. I hated the thought of our last couple of days together being ruined by something like this. But it seemed like a safe idea if things got worse.

Wednesday, May 30th

The pains continued throughout the evening, some a lot worse than others. I was getting a little worried but decided to wait it out through the night to see if things got any better. I went to bed at about 10:45 and decided not to time any of the pains. By 12:45 am I was in a lot of pain and decided to time the pains again. My doctor here had told me at multiple appointments that if I was feeling contractions and had more than six in an hour for two hours I should come in and get checked. I was definitely feeling at least six an hour for two hours. But I wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not because I wasn’t feeling any pain in any place but my lower back. My stomach stayed soft and everything. I still felt very worried as the pain got worse. At 3 am I decided to get in the shower and get my suitcase packed. I had a feeling that I needed to get back to Ogden just in case things got worse-or if I went to get checked somewhere and I happened to go into labor. I needed to get back home to Ogden and be closer to my doctor and hospital.

I had three of those awful pains just while I was in the shower. By this time they were close together and so painful they were bringing me to the ground. I remembered feeling this way when I was getting ready to have Brycen. After showering and getting my suitcase packed, I walked into my parents’ room and let them know I needed to go back to Ogden. I cried and cried, not just from the pain but I was so sad that I wouldn’t be able to spend time with my family and enjoy the activities that we had planned together. I also knew how long it would be till we’d be back in Idaho again and I was crushed just thinking about it. Mom and Dad were very understanding, and Mom immediately got packing. I snuck into Brycen’s room and packed up his suitcase while he slept. He looked so peaceful lying there in his bed. Dad came in at 4:30 to get Brycen up. I was surprised at how chipper he was for being woken up so early! He hugged my dad and was very happy to see him. I continued to struggle to get his suitcase packed but wanted to hurry and get going. At about 5:00 Mom, Brycen, and I were all set and ready to go. Dad stood by the car and said a prayer for us. I felt the spirit so strongly in his prayer and I knew that everything was going to be ok. Brycen said his sweet, “Bye” to my dad as we pulled out of the driveway. I started to cry and pretty much had a meltdown about what was going on. I apologized to Mom for pretty much ruining the weekend. She assured me that the weekend wasn’t ruined and that it was more important that we get to Ogden just in case something was going on.

Brycen was a really good boy the whole way to Ogden. Usually I spend a lot of time reaching back picking things up he’s dropped and passing back snacks. We had put a movie on for him on my parents’ portable DVD player and he sat and watched it the whole way. I passed snacks back a couple of times and that was it. He didn’t have a meltdown or anything. I continued to have severe pains all the way down to Utah. I was grateful when a car was driving in front of us because I used them as focal points for concentration. We pulled up to our apartment building at about 7:30 am. Tyson met us out front and I just cried when I saw him. I was so happy to finally be in Ogden with him, but I was crushed that my last week in Idaho for a long time had been ruined. I was especially missing Amber at that time. The last time I had talked to her she had left my parents’ house with sweet Tayen and we were talking about the Texas Roadhouse fundraiser lunch we were going to the next day. She said to me, “See you tomorrow! I’m excited to hang out this week!” I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her or anybody else in the family.

We got everything inside the apartment and Tyson and I decided to go over to the hospital. Mom stayed with Brycen while we drove over to McKay-Dee Hospital. I had somewhat of a major meltdown on the way to the hospital and Tyson got an earful about my feelings. I was so frustrated about what was going on and he felt bad. I was really sad that Amber was back in Idaho and I really missed her. We arrived at the hospital, entering through the Emergency Room, and went right up to Labor and Delivery. I dressed down to a gown and the nurse hooked me up to the machine for fetal monitoring and contraction monitoring. She and another nurse had a hard time finding the baby’s heartbeat and putting the monitor in the right spot to track it. Then one of them asked if my doctor has said anything about the baby possibly being breech. I said no and that was the end of it. Those two ended up being called out to take part in a c-section so the charge nurse came in to continue with us. She contacted my doctor and informed her of what was going on. I had two tests done while I was there: a Strep-B test and a fetal fibronectin test. She also checked me and we found that I was completely tight and closed off. I wasn’t progressing at all and I was so relieved. We waited almost an hour before our test results were back. The fetal fibronectin was negative, which meant that I was in the clear and wouldn’t be having a baby for at least two weeks. I thought to myself about how weird that test was. How could a test possibly determine when I was or wasn’t going to have a baby? I trusted what the nurse was saying and believed that I wasn’t having a baby in the too near future, but it still bugged me that this test was supposedly going to read my future. The nurse also explained that since there were no contractions showing up on the monitor and I wasn’t progressing at all, there was nothing she could do for me. She couldn’t give me anything for the pain because there wasn’t any proof that anything was happening with the baby. She and my doctor considered giving me Procardia to ease the pain of the contractions, but since the contractions weren’t really there I didn’t have anything for the medicine to stop. It would have been pointless to purchase and take. I was frustrated because I was in pain while I was sitting there, yet nothing was showing up on the monitor. The only things she had to say were to not pick up Brycen anymore, to track fetal movements, and to watch for contractions. She explained what a contraction would feel like if I had one, including tightness in the stomach. The pains I was feeling were all in my lower back and felt just like they did when Brycen was born. We left feeling frustrated.

That night, Amber and Tayen were driven halfway to Malad by her mother-in-law, Nari. Mom and Tyson met them there and picked them up to bring them back down to Ogden and they would leave with Mom on Sunday. I was so excited to have Amber and Tayen there with us! We were going to have so much fun that weekend, and I was just so happy that Amber and Tayen would be there. It was wonderful!

Thursday, May 31st

I rescheduled my doctor appointment for the next morning and brought my mom with me for a second set of ears. I met with my doctor and a routine check-up continued. We talked about not being able to get a prescription for any pain medication and I asked her questions about how I was feeling. I explained the super sharp pains I was feeling and how they felt like the back labor I felt with Brycen. She assured me that I wasn’t having contractions and that what I was feeling was fetal movements. She told me that sometimes the fetal movements are just painful and every pregnancy is different. I still felt like it was something else going on, but she wasn’t concerned at all about it. She continued to assure me that nothing was going on with me and that sadly I was just having a rough pregnancy. When she checked my stomach, she noticed how big the baby seemed to be. I mentioned to her what the nurses said about the baby being breech and she wasn’t concerned. She said even if he was breech that it wasn’t a big deal at this point. The doctor left us confident that we had nothing to worry about but also sorry that there wasn’t anything we could do. I had blood work done after she left to test my platelet count and iron levels. Mom and I left the appointment feeling like we had no reason to worry about what was going on, and possibly Brycen and I could go back to Idaho with her and Amber to spend the week. I was so excited about that idea!

Friday, June 1st

We had a relaxing couple of days watching movies and eating popcorn and M&M’s. I continued to have these “fetal movement” pains but didn’t think much of them because of what the doctor said. On Friday night we rented “Thor” and watched it after Brycen went to bed. The pains I had started getting worse and I decided to time them. However, I was very confused because I wasn’t sure if I should even bother with timing them. They felt nothing like what my doctor and the nurse said a contraction would feel like so I didn’t know what to do. All I knew is that they were painful. I took a bathroom break partway through the movie and ended up passing my mucus plug. I was calm but kind of freaking out in my mind. It seemed too early to pass it. I passed it at 34 weeks with Brycen and he was born exactly a week later. I went out to the living room and let everyone know what had happened. They seemed alarmed and I decided to go look online to see what others were saying about this. There were multiple women how passed theirs between 28 and 32 weeks and ended up carrying their babies to full term. Others weren’t quite that lucky but still carried till around 36 weeks. I decided to call my doctor just to be sure. It was about 10:45 that evening when I talked to her (she was the on-call doctor that night). I asked her my questions and she seemed irritated and short with me. She asked me a whole bunch of questions (Did your water break? Is your stomach tightening? Are you bleeding? etc) and told me that mucus during pregnancy is normal. I told her about how painful my back pains were and she kept reminding me that my fetal fibronectin was negative, meaning no baby in two weeks, and what I was feeling was just pregnancy and ligament pains. She reminded me what contractions would feel like as well. I got off the phone feeling like I had just bugged her. She didn’t pay much attention to what I was telling her and I felt like what I was telling her wasn’t that big of a deal. But if I felt like I needed to be checked I needed to go to Labor and Delivery at the hospital.

Saturday, June 2nd

I went to bed that night and hardly slept. I was in pain almost the entire night and lying on my side did nothing to fix the problem. The pains continued through the morning and seemed to get worse. Mom, Amber, and Tyson were all concerned about what was going on. There was even one point where Amber read through a list she found online and asked me a bunch of questions. I answered all of them, and it ended up being symptoms of pre-term labor. I matched almost all of the symptoms. Tyson and I decided to go to the hospital again to make sure everything was ok. I dressed in the gown and got hooked up to the bands. The pains continued and I was anxious to see if they showed up on the monitor. The line was barely moving and I felt frustrated. The nurse checked me and it was so painful. It was much more painful than before. Sure enough, my cervix was still closed and I was not progressing. The nurse felt bad for me because she knew I was in pain. And again I was denied anything for the pain. I cried in frustration. She reviewed my discharge papers and talked to me about what to watch for when having contractions. She told me my stomach would feel like a basketball and get super tight. She also said that the baby could be stretching or sitting on a nerve, causing the pain I was feeling. She apologized for not being able to give us more information or much help and sent us on our way. We left and I struggled to the car in pain. I felt frustrated and cried. The pains I was having didn’t feel like painful fetal movements or ligament pains like everyone was saying. And if I wasn’t in labor, I just wanted some relief! The thought of going through this for 8 more weeks was painful to think about.

Tyson and I were hungry so we stopped at Wendy’s on the way home to get everyone lunch. My pains continued the whole way home. Mom and Amber were shocked to hear that I was coming home with the same results as the last visit. They knew how much pain I was in and couldn’t believe there wasn’t anything going on. We ate our lunch and talked about what was happening. Before I knew it, my pains were increasing and happening more often. Tyson made a quick run to Walmart for a few things and the three of us stayed back at the apartment. I was feeling a lot more pain and found myself on the floor for a lot of it. I was struggling keeping myself composed during these pains, and the only way to feel somewhat relief was by kneeling on the floor and grabbing the couch. Before I knew it, these pains were about a minute to a minute and a half apart and excruciating. I was screaming through it and begging for relief. I didn’t know what to do or who to call. The hospital wouldn’t even help me, and if the hospital won’t help, who will? Tyson got back and saw how much pain I was in. He gave me a blessing and I struggled to hold it together. The tears poured from my face as the pains came shooting across my lower back and into my lower abdomen. Amber was sure I was in labor, yet my cervix was tight and shut. Tyson decided to call Scott for a second opinion. Scott could hear me screaming in the background and couldn’t believe they wouldn’t give me anything for the pain. At this point, Amber and Mom had left the room in tears because they couldn’t handle watching me in so much pain. Scott said he was sure there was something they could have given me and he was really surprised they didn't. He was also surprised they didn't do an ultrasound. He said I needed to find another primary caregiver if I wasn’t going to get any help. And then he mentioned the possibility of a kidney stone. When Tyson got off the phone with him and told me what he said I immediately believed that a kidney stone was what I had. What else could it be? I heard they are painful and pain was what I was feeling.

That was our decision maker. I didn't want to go back to the hospital because they were just going to turn me away. But I was in such horrible pain I didn’t know what else to do. I was begging for some form of relief during all of the pain, whether someone knocked me out, I received some form of medication, or if death finally took me. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever gone through. I was so grateful that Scott had been called and that he brought up kidney stones! I had to wait for one of my pains to pass before I could go down to the van. Once I felt relief I ran down to the van and hopped in. Tyson ran a few red lights to get to the hospital. I was screaming more than I ever have in my life the whole way there. The pain was overwhelming. We finally pulled up to the ER and Tyson dropped me off at the curb. I walked in the doors and could feel another pain coming on. I went right to the floor in pain and started screaming. Before I knew it, I had four ER employees surrounding me and asking me what was wrong. I had to shoosh them and tell them I needed a minute before I could talk. Immediately one of them said, “She’s in labor.” Tyson eventually came in and they took us back to a triage room. They asked me questions and I mentioned that I had been in Labor and Delivery just a couple of hours before. They were surprised to hear me say that and immediately called upstairs. The girl told whoever it was on the phone that she had an Allison Miller down there who had been up there earlier in the day and that she was in labor. It was quiet (besides my screaming) while the person on the other end responded. I soon found out what the other person said when the ER girl angrily responded (in so many words), “I don’t care if she wasn’t in labor when she was there earlier, she is now. And I refuse to deliver a baby down here when you guys are perfectly capable. I’m bringing her up.” All I could think was, “Great. Time to get checked and turned away again!” I sat down in the most awkward wheelchair ever and they started pushing me to the elevator. This chair was one of those with the slanted backs and they forced me to lay all the way back in it. When I felt a pain coming on I leaned forward, but the girl driving the chair made me sit all the way back. I screamed and screamed in pain and couldn’t bear it. It was so awful.

Thank goodness Labor and Delivery is a short elevator ride up to the fourth floor and right in front me when the elevator doors opened. They wheeled me into the triage area and there stood the nurses from earlier. They couldn’t believe that I was there again and in so much pain. They wanted me to get up on the bed so they could track the fetal movements and what really ended up being contractions. I got up there but soon had to jump back off so I could deal with the pain bent over toward the floor. As soon as I got through that one I jumped back on and told them to hurry and check me because another was coming. The nurse who checked me earlier checked me again and this time she said, “I feel the baby’s feet. You need to have a c-section.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!! I was in total shock, and so were the nurses. At this point I heard a lot of, “She wasn’t even dilated earlier” or “Her fetal fibernectin was negative” and “Her cervix was completely shut earlier.” And I didn’t want to hear it! I said to just forget about it right now and get me some drugs. Before I knew it my doctor came around the corner. She apologized up and down for what was going on, and sure enough that “fetal fibernectine” crap kept coming up. I was bugged but just wanted some drugs! I got the IV and a shot of terbutaline to lessen the contractions. At this point that shot hardly did anything and I was still in a ton of pain. It wasn’t until they got me to the operating room and gave me an epidural that I felt the relief. I couldn’t remember what it was like to not feel pain. And it was the most wonderful thing! I was in heaven.

The surgery went really well. I had zero pain the entire time and I felt very relaxed. And before I knew it I could hear the sweetest sound in the world: the cry of our sweet little Carter. My doctor showed him to Tyson first and let him take some pictures, then she came around the other side and showed him to me. He was so tiny and so beautiful. He looked like a mini Brycen with blonde hair. I was so happy I could hardly stand it. Like with Brycen, little Carter was passed through the window into the nicu for the nurses to take. Tyson went with them and watched him get cleaned up. Pretty soon one of the nurses poked her head through the door with Carter’s stats: 4 lb. 7 oz, 17 ½ inches long. Only an inch and a half shorter than Brycen was at birth-I was impressed! He’s such a tiny little thing and we love him so much.

After the surgery I was in post-op when the nurse who had sent me home earlier that day came up to us in tears. She felt awful for sending me home and told me that something like this has never happened to her before. I told her that I wasn’t mad at her and that it wasn’t her fault, but I did want her to be more open-minded when patients come through Labor and Delivery like I did. More needs to happen if a patient says they are feeling pain (like an ultrasound), even if they aren’t progressing in any way. There could be something else wrong, just like in our case.

Carter’s birth was such a scary day yet one of the most wonderful days of my life. We’re just so happy our little Carter is here and safe. The Lord was watching out for us that day and we feel so blessed that Carter and I are both healthy and safe. After the surgery it was discovered that I had a placenta abruption where my placenta became disconnected from the uteran wall. A lot of babies don’t survive during such an ordeal. And to top it all off, Carter was footling breech so his legs were crossed and pointing down. The lower half of his body from his waist down is black and purple with bruises from what he went through. If we had stayed at our apartment too much longer it would have been too late to get to the hospital and Carter would have died. And I could have possibly died due to labor complications. It’s hard to even comprehend the what-ifs of all of this. I can’t imagine ever losing a child. And in this case, the fact that I kept getting turned away from the hospital when I knew something wrong brings me a lot of frustration and anger. I knew that what was going on with my body wasn’t right and no one would listen to me.

Despite everything that happened, I feel so grateful that my little baby is doing well and growing stronger every day. Every time we go see him he is eating more food and doing better and better. He’s been on and off the phototherapy lights, but that is something that is expected for a baby that premature. We’re just so happy that he is so healthy and strong for being so young. We love him so much and we feel so blessed to have had the outcome we had. The Lord was on our side. And even though we have to leave Carter behind just like we did with Brycen in the nicu, we know he is at the best place he could be. He is being well taken care of there. This time around it’s going to be harder for us to get to the nicu as often. We were thrilled to find out that the nicu has a web cam system where we can watch our little boy in his bed from home. There is a camera right above him and we can watch him when we’re not there. This feature is really going to help us through this process, especially me. I’m so grateful for eternal families and I’m grateful for my growing family that I have. I love all three of my boys and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

And the latest: Tyson's parents came to Utah on Saturday after they found out we were having a baby. They stayed over night then took Brycen home to Idaho to stay with them till Wednesday. He'll be going with my family on Wednesday until Sunday when my mom and Amber bring him back to Utah. In the meantime, Tyson and I have been able to focus our time on Carter and I'll be using that extra time to heal and take it easy before Brycen comes home. The nicu doesn't allow kids Brycen's age inside so Brycen will have to wait till Carter comes home before he gets to meet him. But he will get to watch him on the web cam so that will be fun for him!

Thank you to all of you who have called, sent text messages, Facebook messages, e-mails, etc. asking how we're doing and sending us your love! We really appreciate all of you. We can feel all of the prayers that have come our way and we are so grateful for every last one of you.