My name is Mandy and I gave birth to my first child summer of ’15. River Devere entered our hearts the day before fourth of July. He is definitely our little fire cracker. It was a huge surprise considering he wasn’t supposed to make his grand entrance until August 17th!
I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia and because of the risk of stroke and seizure, we decided to deliver via c-section. I married my high school sweetheart and it has now been 11 years in the making!
I think my biggest strength as a mom is my ability to still find time for myself and for the hubs. I have no problem going out to lunch or to grab a drink with my closest girlfriends. My husband, Cameron, and I try hard to make it out to dinner or a movie at least a couple times a month. I see so many other moms who don’t care proper care of themselves and the relationships around them and I believe it is a direct correlation to their struggles at home.
Interview on her health challenges with pregnancy~
My pregnancy started out like anybody else’s. Lots of morning sickness, more like all day sickness. I definitely got sick a handful of times, my girlfriends all said I had it worse than they did! I had that pregnancy glow and my skin looked amazing, I felt pretty good too. I was scared to be a new mom, who isn’t? What do you do with a newborn? How do you know when he’s hungry, when he’s tired, what if I don’t know what he needs? Midway through my pregnancy our lease expired for our apartment, and we were forced to move in with relatives after months of house hunting to no avail. As if moving while 5 months pregnant isn’t stressful enough, not knowing where we would be living when the new baby came, was even more stressful. But it was OK, I had until mid August, most likely even early September… Right? WRONG!
Not knowing River would come so early… He was born 3 weeks after this photo was taken.
As of mid May I was put on leave from work due to sciatica and a boss who was less then accommodating. I had also started to develop quite a bit of swelling in my feet. June 16th rolled around and it was time for a check-up. I went by myself to this one, no big deal just routine. After taking my blood pressure, which had been slowly rising the last few visits, my OB says, “Mandy your’e going to have this baby in the next few weeks!” How could this be? I was only 31 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t ready! Where would we live? What did this mean for our little boy? I hadn’t even had my baby shower yet, we didn’t have hardly ANYTHING. I burst into tears, my poor Dr., I could tell he wanted to hug me, but it was obviously against his protocol.
Day by day went by and I was starting to feel more miserable. Swelling in my hands, feet, even my face and lips, all signs of pre – eclampsia. I was put on strict bed rest as well as a menagerie of high blood pressure medications (all safe for baby). Did I mention how awful these meds make you feel? =(
About a week and a half later, myself, my mom, and husband all go to see a high risk pregnancy specialist. At the end of that appt. The Doc said I need you to go to Sutter and check in, you are having this baby. By then I was 33 weeks, devastated and unprepared. The next few days were a whirlwind. I hate needles and had been poked more times then a pin cushion due to all my swelling. I was on loads of meds and now putting me on a magnesium drip. That medicine makes you feel like you have the worst flu. The team all said let’s try to keep baby River in until 34 weeks, I got my steroid shots for his lungs. And by Friday July 3rd I had a terrible headache, and all signs pointed to him coming, we couldn’t wait any longer. By 9:38pm he was here!
But when they pulled River out from inside my belly, he was quiet. I looked over and he was blue and purple and quiet. I took a BIG deep breath, closed my eyes and told myself not to worry yet, these people are professionals. After a nice sternum rub River made sure we knew he was OK. 4 pounds 13 ounces and 17.7 inches long! Born at 33 weeks and 5 days. I didn’t even get to hold him, daddy took some pictures and River was whisked away to the NICU.
River before heading to the NICU
I didn’t get to see or hold my baby boy until the next morning, an entire 12 hours later. I was so exhausted and drugged up on so many meds for the high blood pressure and for the major surgery I had just gone through. I slipped tiny baby River right into my nighty as we did skin to skin. He was born Friday and I was released Tuesday, but River stayed a total of 11 days in the NICU. This was not what I envisioned for my first pregnancy let alone my first baby. We were so scared and sad. The day I went home we just cried and cried, but I knew I needed to heal as well. We came everyday and spent as much time as we could in the NICU with him. I pumped at home on his feeding schedule the entire two weeks he was in the hospital. Exhausting. He was never in any danger, it was always just me at risk for things. He was just tiny and needed to learn to eat on his own. He also had a mild case of jaundice.
I never had a clue how high maintenance having a preemie baby was. I didn’t know you had to treat them differently and take extra special care of them. Many of our friends and family didn’t understand, but Cameron and I were determined to keep our baby healthy and follow the strict orders. Bringing him home we were so proud, other parents in the NICU were clapping and some looking at us enviously. Once we got River home, now what! Everyone was right, you just KNOW what to do (and the baby classes helped too!).
We finally found a home and got moved in when River was about 2 weeks old. He was almost a month old before we finally had an entire day alone with him! It was a relief, we just wanted to be a family. We had already been robbed of so many experiences. We just wanted to be together and shut ourselves up in our new home =) .
When River was about 6 months old I started noticing small ticks or twitches he was doing. My mom finally caught it on camera and we showed the Dr when he was about 8 months, again he sent us straight to Sutter to check him in. How could this be happening again? He was so healthy, we followed all the advice, all the guidelines. After many rigorous and tearful tests the Drs came to conclude River had been having seizures and he was now epileptic. Fortunately for him, his epilepsy is caused from a small blood vessel that broke when he was in the womb, because of this the broken blood vessel created a small lesion which rubs and causes his to have a seizure. It is something we hope he can grow out of, but since then has been on medication.
Happy First Birthday, River!
He is now a bubbly, happy, silly 15 month old toddler! Who is growing a mile a minute. He just started walking the other day! He loves to meow with the cat and play Peek-a-boo. I love when I ask for kisses and he gives them or when he says ‘what’s that?’ hehe!
Toddling around like the rest of them
Snuggling with Dad.
I’m working hard to have a healthier pregnancy next time, it can only help. Also knowing what to expect I think will take a huge amount of stress off of us for baby #2.
Mama’s, always listen to your body and your doctor! I used to think bringing a baby into the world early was a death sentence, but the technology and medicine at their finger tips, is truly life saving. A premature baby can live just as healthy of a life as any full term baby!
Mandy, your last few weeks of pregnancy sounded stressful and miserable. We are so happy to hear he is doing so well despite a few hurdles. What a cutie!