So much has happened since my fingers last flew across this keyboard, eager to announce the arrival of our long awaited, gorgeous daughter to the big, beautiful world.  Since that time, Honeydew and I have gotten a little reminder about the big, beautiful world – sometimes it’s a hard, scary place.

Maggie arrived at 12:06 a.m. on Saturday, May 21.

After delivery, she slept beside me, feeding from the start, through the remainder of the night.  We spent a blissful Saturday showing her off to anyone who would stand still long enough to listen to us exclaim over her perfect toes, long and strong like both of ours, her seashell ears, just like Honeydew’s, her head full of dark hair, so like mine when I was born.  Honeydew changed a slew of muddy diapers and I unpacked her diaper bag, enlisting Nan and Pseudo Sista’s help in choosing a going home outfit for Maggie to wear, once we were sprung from the hospital.  In so doing, I discovered I hadn’t actually packed any diapers in said diaper bag, and we all howled with laughter.

Maggie’s Nan brought roses and cupcakes in honor of her first birthday, and Maggie opened her eyes long enough for us to determine that they resemble deep sapphire pools, luminous in their liquid depths, so like my Grandma Ivey’s.

Sunday morning, I woke up around 4am, feeling feverish and generally wretched, but I didn’t think much of it.  After all, as my OB said, I pretty much experienced unmedicated childbirth, medicated childbirth, and a c-section on Friday, so feeling wretched seemed par for the course.  I called my lovely nurse for ibuprofen, and she took my vitals and realized my temperature was over 102F.  No one could quite figure out why I was running such a high fever, and as a result Maggie’s doctor ordered her blood drawn for screening.  The nurses whisked Maggie away to the nursery, and when they did not return her to me after a hour, I began to weep.  I think I knew instinctively at that point that something was very wrong.

Long story short: Maggie’s platelet count was down t0 22,000, meaning she essentially lost her ability to clot, internally and externally.  A platelet transfusion would be required, immediately, and transfer to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Kalispell was arranged.  The nurses helped me out of bed for the first time since I delivered Maggie, and I sat in a wheelchair with Honeydew and Maggie in the nursery, drinking in Maggie’s scent, marveling over the softness of her skin, memorizing the shape of each tiny nail bed.

Honeydew went with Maggie to Kalispell, while my parents and my nurses helped prepare me for my own discharge and transfer, as I tried to take my first post-C section steps and shower, all the while understanding for the first time just what folks mean when they say that you deliver your heart along with your first baby, and it is never safely tucked within the cavity of your chest again.

After safely making the trip south, Maggie did just what her mama always does: she started working on her tan.

Obviously, I’m just kidding – this is Maggie under the blue lights, being treated for jaundice, though her larger problem is the ABO incompatibility between her body and mine.

We may never know exactly why Maggie’s platelets plummeted to such disastrously low levels.  I’ll paraphrase how my Dad explained the issue: due to a known incompatibility between my blood type and Honeydew’s (I’m O-, he’s A+, and I tested positive for the Rh factor), my body produced some antibodies which attacked Maggie’s platelets.  With so few platelets, a very small injury could have caused Maggie to bleed out – it seems a miracle that several days of contractions, several hours of serious pushing, and then a vacuum assisted C section did not cause such injury.   It also seems a miracle that Maggie’s doctors were able to catch this problem in time.  Had I delivered Maggie naturally, as I had wanted to, I probably would not have run a fever, and Maggie’s blood would never have been tested so early.  By the time she jaundiced, we would have been in Babb, trying not to be first-time, freak-out parents, and Honeydew and I seriously wonder if we would have understood the difference between jaundiced and critically ill, as Maggie would have become.

Happily, I did not get my dream delivery, and as a result Maggie had her first infusion of platelets Sunday, and her second on Monday.  There’s a miracle in that reality, too: there is apparently a serious shortage of the platelets that Maggie so desperately needed, and there were already NICU babies here who were searching for the same type of platelets, and had been searching for days.  By the time they were located, Maggie was on her way to the NICU, and the platelets were on a plane en route from Salt Lake City.  I get the chills just thinking about all the little breaks Maggie has caught in her first three days of life.

At any rate, Honeydew and I have taken all of these events a lot harder than Maggie Rose.  She is rosy cheeked and beautiful, and seems to be responding well to the transfusion.  She’s still eating like the hawg her parents bred her to be, and both Honeydew and I got to hold her for about an hour today in the NICU.  Ah.  All our happy receptors filled up.  Who knew staring at a baby could be so therapeutic?

We’ll keep y’all posted as best we are able to about Maggie’s situation.  We are touched by the outpouring of love, positive vibes, chocolate chip cookies, and prayers that we’ve received, and I look forward to talking to everyone at some point after Maggie is given a clean bill of health and we are discharged from the NICU.  Until then, that’s where Honeydew and I will be.  Just staring at our beautiful baby, the toughest rose in Glacier County.

If you’re looking to help, why not go donate blood?  Click here for information on donating through the Red Cross.

If you’re curious about ABO incompatibility, or hemolytic disease of the newborn, click this link for more information – the so-called “mismatch” between Maggie and I is very, very rare.  And, happily, completely treatable in future pregnancies.

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