As promised here is the final part of Sydney's story before and after birth.
When I reached week 28, I was still pregnant. I just knew I would deliver very soon. I had that range of week 28-32 in my head. I was ready as far as having everything planned but not ready emotionally (I don’t think I was ever ready for that.) When we first found out, I went into action. I wanted everything planned out. I wanted Sydney Grace to have a christening gown, some jewelry, and other things I would have of hers once she was gone. We talked to the doctors and expressed our wishes of doing a perinatal hospice for Sydney Grace. We talked to the funeral home and had her service planned. I knew once Sydney Grace was born, I would not be able to make many decisions.
Week 28 went by, then 29, 30, 31, and 32. Still no labor. At this point I starting to have what I believe to be panic attacks. I had one at school one day. My heart started beating fast. I felt light headed. My arms and legs felt like jelly. I did not know what was wrong. I called my doctor’s office and was told to go directly to the hospital. Nothing was wrong with Sydney or me. While at the hospital, I had a small breakdown. I just could not handle this anymore. I was so ready for this pain to be over. I was at the point in my pregnancy that I thought Sydney would have been born. I never imagined she would make it this long.
Since I had made it this far, I was given the option to be induced at 37 weeks. The problem, 37 weeks was December 23. I definitely did not want to be induced two days before Christmas. After having my small breakdown in November, I wanted to go ahead and be induced as soon as possible. At 34 weeks, if the doctors would have allowed it, I would have done it then, or so I thought. They would not for a number of reasons. The soonest would be 36 weeks. I actually went to the hospital on Dec. 14 with false labor. I was so upset during this, that the doctor offered to induce me that night, a few days before 36 weeks.
Now it was decision time. Just days before, I had decided to let go and let God be in control. My biggest fear was that Sydney Grace would be born and die during Christmas. I did not want that for Rafe. I wanted his Christmas to be the best. When the doctor offered to induce me I was back to wanting it to be over. I just knew that if I was induced the outcome would not be any different than if Sydney came on her own time. I was so wrong. I struggled that night. I wanted someone to tell me what to do. No one would. They said it was my decision. Then Joel said something that made me realize I could never decide to induce just for the sake of wanting it to be over. He said, “He wanted Sydney Grace with us as long as possible, if that meant two hours, two days, or two weeks.” He was not ready to give her up. I was not either. I wanted the pain to be over, not realizing if I decided to induce, the pain would probably be worse down the road. I would always have the “what ifs.” I went home that night content with my decision. I was blessed to have Sydney as long as possible.
I went back to the hospital again on December 30 thinking I could be in labor again. I was not. I had so many Braxton hicks contractions during this pregnancy. Once again, it was offered for me to be induced. Once again, I said no.
When I went to the doctor on January 5, the doctor strongly suggested that I get induced. This time it was because my blood pressure was too high. I was at 39 weeks and because of my blood pressure they did not want to take any risk to my health. I was admitted on the night of January 6. They started softening my cervix and were to give me drugs to induce labor the next morning. That did not have to happen.
In the middle of the night, I woke up with contractions, but they were not registering on the monitor, so they kept me on the medicine to soften by cervix. They continued for a few hours. Then my water broke and I was 3 cm. Forty-five minutes later I was 4 cm and ten minutes later Sydney Grace was born at 5:11am. Sydney Grace came so fast that the doctor did not even make it in on time. Two nurses finished delivering her. She was Frank Breach, which means her butt came out first, then her feet. I was trying not to push as the nurses were trying to get everything ready, but I could not help it. She basically just fell out. The nurses did help get her head out last. The first thing I asked was if she was alive. One nurse said, “I am sorry, but no.” I just started crying. I knew this was a very likely possibility, but I so badly want to see her alive if for only minutes. It seemed like an eternity, but probably only 15 seconds later, the nurse said she believed she heard a faint heartbeat. It was very week and irregular, but continued to get stronger and stronger as the hours went on.
On that first day, I remember counting the hours that she was alive. We never imagined she would live more than a few minutes with her heart condition. She kept getting stronger and stronger. She continued until day five. I really believe up until this point in my life, I had never experienced a day any worse than that day. We took her to Greenville to a pediatric cardiologist to determine if her fetal diagnosis was correct. Images of her heart would be greatly improved from those of when she was inside me. The doctor was very wonderful, but he confirmed that Sydney Grace’s original diagnosis was correct. One thing we found out was that along with her fatal heart defect, she had another defect that was keeping her alive. A ductus that closes after babies are born had not yet closed. This usually closes after a few hours or at most, a few days after birth. Sydney’s was extra large. This was what was keeping her heart from having to take over getting blood to the lungs. The ductus (PDA) was basically doing the heart’s job. We really did not have any idea as to when Sydney would pass. It could be on the car ride home or six months from now. After meeting with the doctor, we met with a genetic counselor. It was then that Sydney had her first apnea episode. I looked down and she was completely blue and stopped breathing. The doctor rushed back in and said her heart rate was down drastically. He could no longer hear the murmur (which indicated the ductus was closing or closed). He took another look at her heart with an ultrasound and it was back open. I had never been so scared in my life. The rest of the day I was so down. I was in this deep depression and had no idea how to get out of it. I believe Joel was really scared for me. I did not know how we could move forward. Knowing that she could die at any second or be with us for months.
The next day Sydney Grace had another episode, this time about 20 minutes. We thought it was the end. We called everyone to the hospital thinking she could not last much longer. That night the episodes continued to get worse and worse. Once again we called everyone in the middle of the night, thinking she would not make it to the morning. Once again she fooled us. Without being too graphic, let me just say, no one should ever have to witness their child go through these episodes, with some lasting more than 30 minutes. This was the first time, Joel and I, really started questioning God. We had accepted that we would not have Sydney Grace long. We were just so thankful to have her for any amount of time. We were now starting to understand why Sydney Grace had been placed on this earth. We were amazed at the number of people being brought to their knees in prayer because of Sydney. For the life of us though, we could not understand why Sydney had to suffer so much. Watching her struggle for a breath was heartbreaking. Why did she have to go through so much? I am not sure I will ever know.
Once again, it was time to pray for strength to be there for Sydney Grace during these times. As Joel said, “this was our new normal.” Having to deal with these episodes was sadly something we got used to. Obviously, it was not fun, but we were not so scared every time thinking she was about to die. Sydney Grace lived for 15 more days after her very first episode. We were able to bring her home. We were able to share her with probably close to 200 people. She was truly a blessing to so many people.
When Sydney Grace passed away, I am so thankful that she did not struggle. As I held her, and we looked at each other, her breathing just starting slowing down until she took her last breath at 2:07 am on January 27, 2010. It was just Sydney Grace, Joel and I in the room. It was so peaceful. I know this is going to sound weird, but it was a beautiful experience. I was privileged to be this child’s mother. God chose me. What an honor! She was inside me for 9 months. She came into this world with just Joel and me and two nurses. She left this world with just Joel and me with her.
Sydney Grace has taught me so much. One, I am much stronger than I, or anyone else, thought I would ever be. Because of her, I have seen Joel in a whole new light. He is such a good man. I am lucky to have him. She taught all of us what a miracle really is. It is the love of God.
Thank you, Sydney Grace, for being my daughter.
10 months ago