“Cody and I were equally excited and scared when we found out we were pregnant! February of 2017, I went to the emergency room due to heavy bleeding. We were prepared to hear negative news but there she was, our flickering, rainbow mini, miracle bean. A couple weeks had gone by and the bleeding continued. At this point I was only 8 weeks pregnant and had lost 10 lbs. I became extremely ill quite rapidly. I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). Since I was too sick to function, I had to resign from my job at 10 weeks pregnant. Completely bedridden and frail I was vomiting 15 plus times regularly each day. As the weeks progressed so did the HG symptoms. We had never made it this far in our previous pregnancies. As horrible as it felt at the time, we were so grateful she was alive. I had lost 20 lbs by 18 weeks and was in and out of the hospital several times. Little did we know this was nothing compared to our journey ahead.
I requested to keep on top of our ultrasounds early on as I had this ‘gut feeling’ I could not shake. At around 19 weeks I felt my first set of contractions. Not having an idea what was happening, the doctor suggested it was ‘round ligament’ pains. My intuition told me otherwise, but I truly had no clue what it felt like to be at this point along. We remained positive, and took each day as it came. A few weeks had passed and I began to enjoy pregnancy! The HG symptoms had lessened and I went from vomiting 15 plus times a day, to less than five. I felt so relieved, yet this undeniable ‘gut feeling’ did not subside.
On June 6, at 22 weeks, 5 days pregnant, I woke up that morning feeling more ‘off’ than ever before. I felt an uncomfortable pain, a burning sensation zapping my skin. I have a high pain tolerance, so I thought this was nothing to go to the hospital for. I dragged myself out of bed at 3 p.m., went outside and tried to embrace the beautiful, warm sunshine. I remember lasting about 15 minutes on my feet. I felt uncomfortable so I went back inside to get back in bed. Later that evening, Cody and I were finishing up painting her nursery and I started to really complain at this point. Every 5 to 10 minutes this wave of electrifying pain had come over me which took my breath away. This pain was no different than the pain I felt at 19 weeks. I remember saying to Cody, ‘Wow, I cannot believe people feel this way throughout their pregnancies! This seems so intense for round ligament pains. I can’t believe everyone goes through this.’
We took a break from painting and I went to use the bathroom. This is where my heart sank, and I finally dove into full blown panic mode. There it was, my mucus plug. The realization hits me that I am actually in labor. The contractions became closer and closer as I was freaking out, every two minutes on the dot. We rushed to the hospital which is less than 10 minutes from home, blowing red lights and all. I was shrieking in pain at this point, screaming, and sobbing. Once admitted, I was 3cm dilated, and 75% effaced. I was told the hospital I would be transferred to generally does not admit babies who are under 23 weeks gestation as they strongly advise not to resuscitate an infant’s lungs that premature. At that time, I was given all the drugs under the sun to keep me from furthering labor. By the grace of the universe and many prayers I made it through the night and transferred to Baystate Medical Center an hour away from home.
By arrival, I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced. We learned she had a 5% chance of survival and all the other negative things that come along with the circumstances we faced. ‘You are delivering this baby tonight,’ the doctor said. ‘The chances are slim she will make it, and if she does she will most likely have damage.’
I was exhausted and I will never forget the moment I surrendered to the universe. ‘Please just take care of me, please allow her to live.’ I woke up the next morning still pregnant, as our new journey at Baystate began. On strict bed-rest, every day, every hour truly mattered at this point. Time was such a precious gift. People near and far sent prayers and thoughtful gestures that flooded our hospital room. Every morning and night we would give thanks to our Guardian Angel and despite how scared we were, we still had faith.
On the morning of June 20, 2017, I woke up with that ‘off’ feeling in my soul. Unlike the day I went into active labor I was not in any pain. I remember saying to Cody, ‘We just need to get through this day.’ I made an appointment with Malissa who was a Douala and Reiki Master. I had never met her before, but when Malissa stepped into our room I felt instantly connected to her, an angel had sent her. I knew that angel was my grandfather looking over me.
Before my Pop left earthside, I told him I would never let him down, and thanked him for the endless love he had given me. I knew he was looking over us throughout this pregnancy, as we went through this wild ride. I could feel his presence hug my body, with my hand in his. As if he was right there in the room with us.
Malissa brought me to a deep state of meditation. It was the first time I had been at peace in many months. It was an incredible, indescribable experience. A few hours later I had become overwhelmed with this intense feeling of ‘offness.’ Comically, I was eating a powdered donut as I called my nurse, to check and to make sure baby Karsyn was ok. The rest was a blur. Then it happened, ‘code white’ over the intercom. Twelve doctors and nurses ran into our room scrambling around me. I was rushed as fast as possible to the OR. Our cord prolapsing through the birth canal, I needed an emergency C-section immediately or Karsyn was going to die. With donut on my face and all, I went completely under anesthesia without Cody in the room. I will never forget the moment before my eyes closed. My Guardian Angel grandfather had my hands in his, I surrendered to the universe. ‘Please keep our miracle alive.’
The team delivered our 1 lb 8 oz baby girl and off she went to the NICU to be intubated. I woke up a bit later and had complications with extra bleeding as they made an incision in my cervix. I will never forget the feeling of emptiness and pain that overcame my body as I realized what had happened. She was no longer safe inside me. She was fighting for her life. I was wheeled up to the NICU with Cody by my side. Nothing had prepared me for what I was about to see. Our fragile daughter lying there wrapped in plastic, she took our breath away. She was tomato red from her first of many blood transfusions, every vein in her body was lit up dark purple like a map. Her skin was paper thin, she was intubated, and the sound of the jet vent was chattering. There were beeps and dings in every direction, I felt like I entered another world. Horrified, yet so amazed and thankful she had lived.
This would then be our roller coaster life for the next 114 days. The next 24 hours were crucial. I was in immense pain and began to pump her milk. Exhausted and feeling like I had no soul inside, I did whatever I could. Seven days into our journey, we had to leave the hospital and relocate to the Ronald McDonald house. So thankful for this option, I will never forget how empty I felt not being under the same roof as Karsyn.
Ten days after birth we were able to hold her for the first time and that feeling was like no other. I felt an overwhelming amount of love and peace. Finally, our hearts were beating next to one another. Karsyn had been stable, but then she took several nose dives. She was having a very hard time breathing on a high level of oxygen support. She would completely turn blue, stop breathing, and RT would have to ‘bag’ her giving her forced breaths on several occasions. I will never forget my first time witnessing the NICU team spring into action. Her heart rate had plummeted and she stopped breathing as I watched helplessly. Unfortunately this became our new ‘normal’ and the days were long and hard. Karsyn began to decline even further when she had sepsis and required a TPN through the picc line. Steroids, high vent settings, 2 steps forward and 10 steps backwards, this was our life.
As days, weeks, and months passed Karsyn became bigger and stronger. She was fighting. We stayed at RMH for 3 weeks and began the commute from home. Just another thing to adapt to. Cody returned to work and I made the hour drive there, and back every day. As difficult as it was, this was the only life we knew. I would sob to myself after I left her for the night. Our guardian angel would watch over her, we would pray, and we were gifted another precious day.
Karsyn had to get her Patent Ductus (PDA) ligated. For this she would be reintubated, but the thought of re-intubation made us ill. However, it was crucial. She was getting blood overflow into her lungs and this caused many of her blue spells, lack of oxygen, and poor issues with feeds. Around 33 weeks gestation, we kissed our daughter goodbye as she was wheeled off to the OR. We prayed to the heavens that there would be no complications and she would be in our arms soon. During recovery, while intubated we were unable to hold her. It was another 10 days that our hearts would not touch. It was a very difficult time, but she recovered and progressed rapidly.
A week after her due date on October 12th, Cody and I drove to the NICU one last time. We took our miracle baby home. I cried as we left our fellow NICU parents, doctors and nurses that had become family. The gratitude I had for these amazing, intelligent and compassionate humans was overwhelming as they had saved Karsyn’s life. Nothing we could ever say or do could repay them. Karsyn was discharged on oxygen and we lived in confinement for another 6 months. It was crucial that she did not get any illnesses and we were still in survival mode. Unfortunately we did endure a stay in the PICU due to Bronculitis, but luckily she had a smooth recovery after 5 days!
Karsyn is now 20 months old, and living an amazing life! We have a special place in our hearts for everyone who supported our journey and prayed for us in these trying times. Recently, we have found out the cause of preterm labor and previous loss. I have an arcuate (heart) shaped uterus. We are working with a high-risk team in hopes to someday have another miracle. We are so grateful for this incredible journey, it certainly has made us stronger. Intuition is your most powerful gift, never let a healthcare professional, or anyone for that matter, tell you otherwise.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kayla Donati of Berkshire, Massachusetts. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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