Friday, August 11, 2006

My baby girl

Well, since I last wrote, everything in my life has changed! We have a beautiful baby girl named Avery Marie, and she is the most amazing little girl in the world! I could never have imagined how much I would love this baby. I've never been a "baby person", but I love being a Mother, and I love Avery. She was born on Valentine's Day. Gabe is completely besotted with her too, and life is generally great!
Okay, before I carry on, I should really take a moment to update you with everything important that has happened since...whenever it was I last wrote in here. So. The rest of my pregnancy was smooth right up until the end when I had an ultrasound at the beginning of February and they told us that the baby had congenital hydrocephalus. This news hit us like a bombshell, since we had no idea that there was anything wrong at all....nobody ever wants to hear the words "...There is one thing..." This was on the Thursday at my regular ob-gyn clinic, and then we had all weekend to panic and hope and spend far too much time researching on the internet before we saw the pre-natal diagnostics doctor on the Monday. That was when it was confirmed that Avery had hydrocephalus, and they said that at 36 weeks, her head was already too big to fit through the birth canal so she would have to be delivered by c-section (another shock since I had been planning on going totally natural), and we were told all the worst possible scenarios as far as Avery's condition and development were concerned. The good news was that there appeared to be no other birth defects that are often associated with hydrocephalus (heart enlargement, spina bifida, other spinal defects, etc), and that the condition was not apparent when I had my 20 week scan. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time on our knees over the course of those next couple of weeks, praying that this baby would be given the chance to have a good life. We went through some genetic testing that day too, which revealed the good news that it will not be something that we should have to worry about with any future children, and we were also told that everything looked good as far as chromosones went, which meant that she didn't have downs syndrome or any other chromosonal defect. Of course, at the time, all this "good" news wasn't exactly soothing the turmoil inside me because all I knew was that the perfect little baby I had been looking forward to and falling in love with for the past 8 months was actually very sick. I called my mother the next day to tell her the news, and she arrived on a plane from England the day after that. They tested for lung maturity because of course we all wanted the baby to be born as soon as possible so that she could get the help she needed before it got any worse. They scheduled me for a c-section on February 15th, dependant on the test results, but early in the morning of February 14th, my water broke - Avery was ready to be born no matter what anybody said! So at 2:30pm that afternoon she was born, and just hearing her sweet litte cry and seeing her beautiful little face for the first time was the most overwhelmingly amazing feeling in the world. Gabe held her, and they brought her to me so that I could kiss her and marvel over how beautiful she was, and then they took her away. But as I lay in the recovery room feeling sleepy and numb from the drugs, I remember just feeling so ecstatic to know that my little girl was finally here, and that despite the hydrocephalus, she was able to breathe and squirm and kick and cry. I was such a bundle of relief and hope and joy that I could actually not stop myself from smiling and letting out the occasional sigh of happiness as the nurse went about her duties. Ah...even the memory of it as I write this makes me smile.
Avery went straight up to the NICU, and it seemed like an eternity before we were able to go up there to see her that evening. And she was beautiful and soft and smooth, and I could have sat there and stared at her all night if they had let me! Anyway, she had her shunt placed on the morning of February 16th, and she coped with the surgery very well, and then she was able to come home with us when she was 10 days old, which was, thankfully, a lot sooner than we had been told to anticipate. All in all, she is just...well, amazing.
She has been having physical therapy twice a month, and we took her up to UVa to get a second opinion because we haven't been happy with her neurosurgeon, but she generally looks and behaves like a normal, healthy baby, and I just feel so optimistic about her future. She is doing so, so well.
My mother was here for 2 months, which was a huge help, and then after she left we were here for just over a month before we took a long-awaited trip to England for the first time since we've been married. I worried about Avery with the flight and the pressure change, and the 4 week period away from her doctors, but she was perfect. Of course. But I will have to write about our England trip another time. I think this is a long enough entry as it is :)

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