My parents were actually the ones who got to "rush" me to the hospital - my dad watched Connor while my mom drove me to Memorial. Evan had a business trip planned to Indianapolis that day, and though I was having some contractions the night before and throughout that early morning, they weren't at all consistent. Since Connor had been a week late, we both figured it was just more of the Braxton Hicks contractions that I'd been having very frequently.
Imagine his reaction when I called him - 19 miles outside of Indy - to say my water had broken :)
Fortunately, he was able to hightail it back and arrived about 45 minutes before we started pushing. My labor was progressing quite quickly, so my mom was texting him to inquire his whereabouts without trying to worry him!
When it was time for the pushing to start, my parents decided to just wait in the hallway because it was suspected that it wouldn't be long before baby arrived. Though it all happened very quickly, I will forever remember each detail of her birth so vividly.
My ob/gyn wasn't on duty that day, but we lucked out with another physician from the practice, Dr. Klein, who was absolutely wonderful. As Brenna came out, Dr. Klein commented that she had never seen a baby with such thick vernix before.
Evan and I asked what vernix is, and she explained it was the white stuff that covers the baby when he or she is born. But then, a minute later, Dr. Klein pulled Brenna out and laid her on my chest...and the entire room was completely silent.
Literally a second later, the medical team in the room sprang into action. My initial reaction was that they just needed to wipe Brenna off. From what I could see, her entire body was completely covered in white, and that was what stood out to me at the time. Thankfully she began to cry a very healthy cry, and that put me at ease for the time being. Otherwise, I honestly would have thought she was stillborn.
Evan snapped one quick picture before he got very light-headed at the sight of her, and I remember looking over to see a nurse helping him into a chair and putting a cool cloth on his head.
As I watched a nurse begin to wipe Brenna down, there was rapid discussion about which neonatologist was on duty that day. One of the nurses hit the intercom and told the responder that Dr. Darling was needed.
A pause...and then, "She's in surgery right now."
Several voices from our room barked immediately back: "Get her in here NOW!"
It was this discussion that my parents were listening to in the hall. I wasn't aware that they could hear everything, but my mom told me that they began to wonder and worry at this point. My dad stopped a passing nurse and asked what kind of doctor Dr. Darling was. When she told them "a neonatologist," their hearts sank.
Dr. Klein was still tending to me at this point, and I remember she kept trying to give me a reassuring smile, but I've never seen such worry in someone's eyes like there was in hers that day. Dr. Darling rushed in pretty quickly, and immediately she and a nurse wrapped up Brenna and left the room with her.
As they passed by my parents, my mom said that Brenna's eyes caught her attention, being bright red and flipped outwards. Dr. Klein emerged right after, and my mom asked her what was happening. She replied that they didn't really know.
Up until then, I had felt completely frozen, but my parents entered the room, and my mom was crying, and I started to cry too. We originally were told they thought it was Lamellar Ichthyosis, a less severe form of the disorder, but when the medical staff texted a photo of Brenna to Dr. Conlon, he immediately diagnosed it as Harlequin.
Brenna was transferred to St. John's NICU a couple of hours after birth, and we were able to hold her hand before they left. Dr. Conlon met Evan at St. John's that night, and then they came over to meet with me and both sets of our parents to talk about Brenna's diagnosis.
Even then, I didn't realize the severity of the situation. Evan and I chose to stay off of the Internet and to get all of our information from the physicians. We wanted to know about Brenna and only Brenna at that point; we didn't want to cause ourselves any more anguish than we had already experienced that day.
I thought having a skin disorder meant that she would simply look different; I didn't even begin to comprehend the vital role that skin plays in the health of our bodies. It wasn't until nearly two days later, as we learned more about this disease, that I thought "my daughter is going to die."
But our little miracle baby has proven that she is a fighter and possesses a lot more spirit than we ever imagined. I think about her birth a lot, especially when I look at photos from friends who are having babies. Their albums are full of dad cutting the umbilical cord, proud grandparents holding the baby, the baby being weighed and measured, the baby resting comfortably on mom's chest with the little hat pulled tight over his head. In a nutshell, a happy and exhilarating time...quite the opposite our experience with Brenna, which was full of uncertainty and sadness.
But that experience has given us strength and inspiration and a gratitude that comes from seeing God's hand at work. Not a day goes by that I don't look at her and thank God for turning a traumatic birth experience into a situation that has brought us more joy than we thought possible!