We found out that we were pregnant with Annie Jane in January of 2015. Kacee had a very normal pregnancy (and free from sickness – maybe not normal?) which we will document in a separate blog post. So anyway – she had a very normal pregnancy until the second week of August 2015. She was 32 weeks along and had just returned to teach guitar at AHSJ two days earlier. We had begun to notice that her ankles and face were beginning to swell, but being inexperienced in this endeavor, we ascribed it to pregnancy in general.
On August 12 we went to our normal doctors appointment and Kacee’s ankles were as swollen as the marshmallow man. The nurse took Kacee’s blood pressure which was in a healthy range. We breathed a sigh of relief because ever since I had learned what preeclampsia was, I was always relieved to hear that Kacee’s blood pressure was fine. This did not prepare me for when the doctor arrived. Dr. Wilson came in and with his first glance at Kacee I could see his mind start spinning. He said that we needed to run lots of tests and that she needed to be on bed rest. He told us that pending the results of these tests he would likely diagnose Kacee with preeclampsia within the week. This was kind of unexpected since normally higher blood pressure is the first symptom of preeclampsia and her blood pressure was fine. They wrote Kacee a note to inform our work that she wouldn’t be coming back for several days and Kacee went on bedrest. We noticed that her swelling went down considerably and she lost a lot of water weight.
This happened on a Wednesday. We had scheduled our first music video shoot for O Divine Redeemer
for that Friday (just two days later). We called the doctor and asked if we could still do it. He said that she shouldn’t let the fear of possibly being sick stop everything in her life. He then said that he wouldn’t know if she actually was sick for a few more days. So we made the video
and we’re very happy that we did.
Kacee started having appointments twice a week to monitor her blood pressure. On Monday the 17th she was officially diagnosed with preeclampsia which meant that she would have high blood pressure until the baby was born. This was dangerous to Kacee and to little Annie Jane but we were assured that the disease would go away soon after the pregnancy was over. Preeclampsia occurs in about ten percent of all pregnancies. We were lucky that Kacee was diagnosed at 32 or 33 weeks along (pregnancies normally last 40 weeks). If you are diagnosed early, then you may have a very premature baby and that’s risky for the baby’s survival.
On Wednesday August 26 we went to the hospital because Kacee was having small headaches and other symptoms of worsening preeclampsia. We called Kacee’s mom and she drove down and met us in the hospital. They ran some tests and said that Kacee and the baby we’re going to be fine. They sent us home after several hours. Kacee’s mom stayed with us a few more days to be of help to us which we appreciated very much. 🙂
Then on Saturday August 29, we checked Kacee’s blood pressure at home and it was very high (168/98 or something like that). That’s very high. So we called the doctor and he told us to get to the hospital. Kacee was still at 34 weeks and 6 days (still too early for comfort). We were unprepared to go, but we (Kacee, myself and Kacee’s mom) just got in the car and headed over. They didn’t like how high the blood pressure was so they kept her overnight. I stayed the night too. They told us that she would not go home until the baby came. She stayed all day on Sunday being monitored until Monday morning on August 31. Then Dr. Wilson came in. He said that because of the extremely high blood pressure, it wasn’t safe to stay pregnant anymore. He said that we should move toward delivery that day. He said that we could do a C-Section or try to have the baby naturally.
He said that he foresaw that the baby would end up being delivered via C-section. He said that if we went naturally and we induced labor, that we would have a very long labor, and delivery and that it would likely fail and end in emergency C-section.
I voiced my opinion that if the doctor believed that C-Section was inevitable, that we should probably do a C-section first.
The doctor also said, that Kacee might feel better about doing a C-section if we had at least attempted to induce labor. This was still at 7am on August 31, 2015. He asked when she had last eaten. When Kacee responded that she had eaten recently, he said that we wouldn’t be able to do the C-Section until 5pm that day, and that we could induce labor in the meantime. We agreed that we should follow that course.
I left for work and taught until I received a text at 11:30am telling me that I should probably return to the hospital. I didn’t know what to expect or do. My orchestra kids told me that I needed to go to the hospital! So I had my orchestra kids to record the Nutcracker March on my phone for my newborn baby. They shouted “for the baby!” at the beginning of the recording. When we finished playing the song I dropped them off in the classroom next door, and I hurried to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital I used voice-to-text to create a lesson plan for Mrs. Newbold who was going to cover my 5th period latin class. I sent the email and ran up to the room.
Turns out that labor wasn’t really progressing. But how was I to know what to expect? Sometimes babies can just come unexpectedly! So I was there too early but I’m glad that I was there.
Kacee was on magnesium to keep her blood-pressure down, but hadn’t had any pain medication for labor. This is good, because it meant that she could have a spinal for the C-section (which means no laying on a tube in your back!)
James the anesthesiologist
The evening came and we decided to have a C-section. Labor had not progressed to the point where the C-Section was any more scary than normal. Kacee actually walked to the operating room. This picture is of Kacee meeting the anesthesiologist who would numb her for the surgery. The next picture is of the anesthesiologist prepping her surgery curtain to maintain a sterile environment for the surgical area, and so kacee wouldn’t be able to see her own surgery.
I watched them do the c section. I watched them inject her spine with numbing medicine. I held Kacee’s hand when they cut open her belly and I watched them cut layer by layer until they got to the uterus. They made a cut and they got the baby out. I followed the baby over to the other table. They suctioned her mouth, nose, and lungs. The baby was breathing just fine on her own. Everyone was amazed because when you’re five weeks early, usually you need help breathing, and you need oxygen, and you need all kinds of help. Annie didn’t need any help. She was strong all on her own.
The doctor showed me the placenta which he removed shortly after delivering little Annie Jane. He showed me that little grey spots had appeared in many places on the placenta. He said that these were calcium deposits and signs of an old/deteriorating placenta – a byproduct of Kacee’s preeclampsia. He said that it had the appearance of a 41 week-old placenta. We’re glad that Annie came out before her placenta gave up the ghost. From what we’ve read, this is how preeclampsia can cause mothers to have still-born births.
Annie Jane Mickelsen
We named her Annie Jane Mickelsen. She weighed 5 lbs 4 ounces. She was born at 18:18 (6:18pm) and she was 19 inches long. She’s strong enough to lift her head and roll on her side.
The doctor said that Kacee’s body pumped extra nutrients to the baby because she knew that the pregnancy wouldn’t last much longer due to Kacee’s sickness. The baby developed faster and stronger so she could strive better outside the womb.
In the nursery she passed all of her tests.
Her oxygen levels were at 100% (they wanted to see at least 90%).
Annie is our little miracle of the week. 😇😀