Today and everyday I have more to be grateful for than ever before. The last four months have redefined expecting the unexpected with more twists and turns than I could ever imagine. I never could have anticipated the series of events that led up to the premature birth of my daughter or the amount of care that has followed.
It has taken time for me to wrap my mind around what happened and sometimes I still can't believe it. I was too delirious and disoriented to realize it at the time but we are both lucky to be alive. As I mentioned in my last post, I want to share my story and not hold anything back that could prevent me from moving forward.
After what had been a healthy pregnancy, at 31 weeks pregnant I came down with a fever, chills, aches and pains all over. I knew something wasn't right but I thought I might have gotten the flu from being in an airport the weekend before. It was just a quick trip to Wisconsin and Chicago and it was my last scheduled vacation before I was too far into my third trimester. But a rapid flu test was negative and by the next day, my fever spiked from 100 to 105 degrees. I rushed myself to the hospital. We hadn't even taken the birthing class yet. I wasn't ready to have a baby and our baby wasn't ready to meet the world.
I was immediately admitted to the hospital. The fetal heart rate was high and they tried to stabilize me over the next couple days while they ran tests to figure out what I had contracted. At first they thought it was pneumonia because I had fluid in my lungs and had difficulty breathing. Doctors found out I had sepsis, a life-threatening staph infection in my blood. We still don't know how I got it or how it got into my blood but it's likely I got it from being in the airport and in an airplane two days prior to feeling sick.
My immediate fear upon arriving to the hospital was that they were going to have to take the baby early, but once I started feeling better, I never considered death being a possibility let alone birth. It was extremely serious and scary. I didn't know the severity of it at the time. I didn't know that a nurse came into my room and said she heard about me wanted to see me for herself because I wasn't supposed to be here. That's hard to hear and still is hard to process today. I didn't know how bad it was and maybe that was for the best. I just kept my focus forward, on getting out and going back home with our baby girl still inside my tummy.
I remember feeling really sick but better within a couple days. Then I got worse as my body was fighting the infection and the fetal heart rate was high again. They almost made the call to take the baby but my doctor said to wait, and he was right. Her heart rate came down, I did get better, and our baby was ok. The more time in the womb the better, as long as she was not under distress. As my blood cultures started to come back clear over the next few days I started feeling more like myself and I was anxious to go home.
I was hospitalized for 10 days before recovering and being discharged. The night I got home, as I was getting ready to sleep in my own bed, my water broke. We went straight back to the hospital at 11pm. The love of our lives, Rosetta Acierno Hall, was born August 27, 2016 at 12:49pm weighing 3 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 15 inches long. She is named after my Grandmother Rosetta Bottari and Drew's Grandfather Luciano Acierno.
Rosie was born a fighter, healthy and beautiful. She decided to make her appearance about 7 weeks ahead of schedule, born at 32 weeks and 5 days. She did not contract the infection from me and was able to breath on her own immediately. Although she spent 4 weeks in the NICU, she was far ahead of the curve and surpassed every milestone.
I spent everyday at the hospital visiting with Rosie, feeding her and holding her. It was not easy on us, Drew, or me emotionally, physically, and mentally. We thank God everyday for the most precious gift and that she is alive and well. All the prayers from hundreds of our family and friends and their friends and family truly helped. We are so incredibly grateful for each and every prayer. We know Rosie has many angels watching over her.
Rosie came home on September 23 at 4 pounds 11 ounces and 18 inches. Small but mighty she has done an exceptional job at growing and getting stronger. At nearly 4 months she is almost 10 pounds! Everyday is such a blessing and I am so grateful to be able to spend my days taking care of her. It is amazing to see her smile, listen to her cooing, and watch her prop herself up on her forearms during tummy time. I know each and every milestone will continue to be just as special.
Now that I've had time to recover and get the hang of being a mother, I've managed to get in the studio to paint. I may only get an hour here and there, and that is enough. My time spent with Rosie is most precious!
I was a bit stumped the first moment I spent in my studio after three months. What to paint? Anything. It just felt good to let paint hit the surface and create. I look forward to getting back into encaustics but the 100 Day project with acrylics taught me to be efficient without over analyzing or planning. Acrylics are also safe and non-toxic and its easier for Rosie to be in the studio with me while painting. Encaustic will take more time and help from my husband to watch her while working, but I am excited to be able to work with wax again since I am no longer pregnant.
I look forward to 2017 and all the blessings and opportunities it brings! Thank you for supporting us during the last four months. We could not have done any of this with out the love from our family and friends. Our parents flew down to Texas the second I entered the hospital and stayed to help take care us. Drew stayed at my side when I needed him most. I am forever indebted to them for all that they've done to make these difficult times easier.
My experience may be nothing compared to what others have gone through before, during, or after childbirth. Life is a miracle. Rosie is our miracle.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!