NICU Graduate: Violet
On Friday, September 1, 2017, I was admitted to Rose Medical Center and diagnosed with severe preeclampsia. I was only 24 weeks and 1 day in my pregnancy. I didn’t fully comprehend what exactly that meant at that moment. But I did know that my body was shutting down and my medical team’s goal was to keep me pregnant for as long as possible. I was able to receive 47 hours’ worth of steroids and was given magnesium sulfate to help prevent seizures from happening. The side effects were harsh. I was so hot, my body ached, and my head hurt like never before. I wasn’t able to eat or drink anything. I remember begging the nurses to let me have ice chips just to have some moisture in my mouth.
The one fact that sticks with me to this day is that my daughter only had a 60% chance of surviving. Right then is when the whole situation hit me.
On the morning of Sunday, September 3, 2017, I was told that I was declining rapidly and the only cure was to deliver. The neonatologist came to my room and explained the risks of having a baby at this gestational age. I was informed of what complications may occur and was given statistics of my baby’s survival. The one fact that sticks with me to this day is that my daughter only had a 60% chance of surviving. Right then is when the whole situation hit me.
My C-section was scheduled for 4 p.m. that day. Around 3 p.m., a nurse came in to start one more IV just in case something went wrong. Between her and the anesthesiologist, it took five different pokes in five different places to finally hit a vein. My body was so swollen from all the water I was retaining. Around 3:30 p.m., I was wheeled off to the operating room. While waiting for the surgery to begin, I was told to not expect a cry when the baby was taken out. They began the surgery and though there was no pain, I could feel the doctors pulling and tugging at my abdomen. At 3:57 p.m. Violet Cassandra Bice was born and she cried...twice! She weighed 1 pound 1 ounce and was 12 1/2 inches long. They immediately took her, so I wasn’t able to see her yet. Once my procedure was complete, they took me into the NICU to meet her. It was the most amazing moment. She was here and she was stable.
Violet had to be intubated due to the prematurity of her lungs. The only contact I got with her was through the openings of her isolette. Her skin was so fragile and translucent. After almost three weeks, she was finally put on a regular vent and I was able to hold her. She was so tiny against my chest. It was the first moment that I actually felt like a mom.
At 6 weeks old, I was finally able to give her first sponge bath and put her first shirt on. To any mom, these are special moments. To a NICU mom, these moments are true miracles.
We were striving to meet goals from day one. The first goal was to survive the first 24 hours. Then to survive 3 days, 7 days, and finally 10 days. In her first month of life, Violet managed to extubate herself, have a pneumonia scare, and get three blood transfusions. She handled all circumstances like a champ, bouncing back quickly from any setback. At 6 weeks old, I was finally able to give her first sponge bath and put her first shirt on. To any mom, these are special moments. To a NICU mom, these moments are true miracles. There were so many times where I questioned if we’d make it this far.
Eventually, we were able to wean Violet’s oxygen all the way to a low flow nasal cannula. The next step was to start feedings. She was being fed through an OG tube, and then through an NG tube. She really struggled with feedings. It was definitely one of the hardest parts because she looked so great and was so healthy, but she just wasn’t grasping the bottle well. During one bottle feeding, she choked and stopped breathing. Her face turned blue and the alarms started going off because of her heart rate dropping. I panicked. It was the most terrifying experience for me. I provided stimulation and her nurse talked me through on what to do. After a full minute, she finally came out of it. I remember bursting into tears thinking I had done something wrong for that to happen.
We ended up changing to a different bottle and a wave of relief washed over me. She was taking more and more of her feedings by bottle every day! One of the nurse practitioners suggested taking the feeding tube out. As it was being discussed, the little stinker pulled the tube out herself. She was notorious for this, and we think that was her way of saying “I’m ready!”.
After 112 long days in the NICU, it was time to go home. Violet had conquered every obstacle thrown at her. I will always admire her strength and resilience. She is my little miracle baby. We were discharged on Sunday, December 24, 2017. I remember feeling every emotion imaginable that day. One of Violet’s primary nurses helped me pack all her stuff because I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was so happy to be going home, but so sad that I was leaving the people who saved my daughter’s life.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about the compassion, guidance, and love we received at Rose Medical Center. Because of them, my daughter is alive and thriving. They will forever be our angels.
The nurses, doctors, therapists, and even the cleaning staff became my family. Not only were they there for Violet, but for me too. They were my shoulders to lean on, my backbone, and my friends throughout the entire time. We laughed together, cried together, and even shared Thanksgiving together. I’ll never forget the constant sounds of the alarms or the different babies being transferred in and out, wondering if they’ll be ok. The NICU is a whole different world. Our experience made me appreciate more, thank more, and love more than I ever have. Not a day goes by that I don't think about the compassion, guidance, and love we received at Rose Medical Center. Because of them, my daughter is alive and thriving. They will forever be our angels.