God answered our prayer, she was 523 grams! Our MFM decided it would be good to go ahead and start steroids to help strengthen her lungs. We had also made it to the third trimester which was HUGE! After getting my first steroid shot, my MFM called me from his cell phone. He told me after talking to the head of Neonatology (head of NICU) he thought it would be best to deliver soon. I'm freaking out. I have no idea what to expect. I had my second steroid shot 24 hours later and had my bags packed just incase. We called the MFM to meet us for the shot. He told us he wanted to wait a few more days. My OB was out of town at this time, so I was completely ok with waiting a few more days until she was back. We scheduled another ultrasound for January 3 to check the cord flow. This time our MFM was in the room during the scan. He looked at us and said, "I think I'm ready to see her on the outside." We didn't ask many questions. We knew delivery was the best option at her survival. Hal and I had decided the best chance at us having a live baby was a cesarean birth. The risks of stillbirth were too great with the induction of a vaginal birth. We went home, finished packing our bags and were back at the hospital less than 2 hours later to get checked in for the birth of our daughter.
At 2:16 pm on January 3, 2018, Everly Jade Rogers came into the world via cesarean. She weighed a mighty 570 grams or 1 lb 4 oz and 12 inches long. She literally came into the world kicking! She was the strongest, most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Shortly after her birth, she was whisked away to the NICU with her daddy in tow. She was remarkable. She may have been the size of a Coke bottle, but once in her presence, you quickly forgot her size. She had the biggest personality ever! She kicked and threw her arms around all the time. At one point, they had to restrain her little arms & legs to be able to put an IV catheter in. The nurse told us "your daughter defeated me." We laughed, Everly Jade didn't know she was little. After less than 24 hours she was extubated and changed to a CPAP machine. This is the same type of machine you get if you have sleep apnea and snore at night. She was doing so well! Shortly after CPAP, they changed her AGAIN to nasal cannula. This is the same type of nasal tube I had been given during my cesarean. I was the proudest mom.
The only way I have found to describe the next few days is as follows. She did so well, until she didn't. It seemed every time we would get 1 step ahead, we would get followed with 2 steps back. We couldn't get ahead of her. Her belly started swelling late one night. The doctors did ultrasounds to figure out if she was bloated due to air or liquid. At the time, nothing could be determined. On Sunday, the beginning of the end started. Her body was becoming acidic. If the acid in her blood wasn't able to be under control, her organs would start to fail. The doctors quickly decided to put in some "pigtail" drains in her abdomen to release the pressure created from the bloating. At this time, we realized she had liquid in her abdomen which was probably causing the acidity. We were sat in a room with the doctor and asked the question no parent is ever ready to answer. "Do you want us to resuscitate your daughter if her heart rate drops?" Hal and I looked at each other. We weren't ready for this type of parenthood. I finally answered, "can you resuscitate her until we can make a decision based on the situation?" The doctor agreed and assured us that could be done. She also told us if her acidity level didn't change, her organs would begin failing and in a sense she would become pickled from the inside out. We didn't know what to do. So, we prayed. We asked our friends to pray, our families to pray. We even asked our preacher to come pray with us as soon as he was done with his Sunday sermon. We were so close to losing our baby girl. After her next blood gas, the doctor came to us in disbelief. Her ph level was starting to come back to normal. We were overjoyed. Her next blood gas came back. It was right where it needed to be. That evening, I asked the doctor if she was going to sleep that night. She probably thought I was crazy. I wanted to know if she felt comfortable enough to close her eyes that night or if she would be near in case of another episode. She told me, she was going to sleep so I should too. I took great relief in that, and did my best to rest. She congratulated us again on our daughter. She knew congratulations were in order because of the close call of losing her. Monday was slightly better than Sunday, but just as bad in a sense. Due to how distended Everly's belly was over the weekend, her lungs ended up collapsing. I stood outside her room, while another surgery took place on my 1 lb diva. This time, they were placing tubes in her lungs to help where they had collapsed. At this point, my angel baby is on sedatives and paralytics. It's hard seeing our baby lay there so still. They placed her on the paralytic since she was such a wiggle worm! They were afraid she would start tugging on drains or tubes that she didn't need to be messing with. She was notorious for pulling on tubes. That night, we went home to rest and left my dad on Everly watch for the second night in a row. It was the worst feeling of my life. I had a feeling I didn't need to be far from my baby girl, but I also knew I was helpless in her care. Around 2:30 or 3:00am, my dad called Hal and told him it was time for us to come. The doctors were running out of options. According to my dad, before we got there the monitor screen was blank. No heart beat, no blood pressure, no oxygen. He circled the doctors, nurses, my mom (who had beat us there) and anyone else in the room and prayed. He was terrified we would walk in and see the blank monitors. After praying, a beep occurred and everyone looked up. Her heart rate was back where it should be. Another beep, her oxygen level was picking up. Another beep, her oxygen level was back to 100%. Everyone in the room starred in awe at the monitors. The doctor told my dad, "I believe we just witnessed Divine Intervention." Hal and I walk in at this moment. I couldn't understand what the fuss was about, her levels looked great! Her blood pressure wasn't measuring but I figured she had just moved where it wasn't able to get a good reading. I put my fingers on her tiny blood pressure cuff & I begin to pray. After less than a minute, her blood pressure is perfect. The next little bit happened so fast. As quickly as everything went good, it went bad just as quickly. Her levels started tanking. We all step back as chest compressions & oxygen are administered. I sat next to her praying & singing "He's Got the Whole World in his Hands". The doctors and nurses have exhausted every measure by this point. The doctor looks at me with love and sadness in her eyes and says, "I think its time for you to hold her." I knew what that meant. It meant it was time for my daughter to pass away peacefully in my arms. We asked if we could call our preacher so we could have her baptized first. She agreed. The doctors and nurses then took turns doing chest compressions and oxygen on Everly as Hal and I took turns holding her. Once our preacher arrived, he baptized our sweet baby, Everly. At 4:51 am, Everly Jade Rogers went to be with Jesus while being held in her parent's arms. While nobody prepares you for the birth of a child, they certainly can't prepare you for the loss of a child.
The rest of the month was a fog. I had been pumping milk for Everly every 3 hours while she was alive. She's deceased so now what? My body didn't know she was gone, so I kept producing milk. The milk that was going to be her lifeline is now a painful reminder that she is no longer on earth. Before her funeral, we decided I would keep pumping to avoid mastitis and that I would donate all of my milk to a baby I had found out had RSV. What was supposed to be a few weeks of pumping, turned into months. In 16 weeks, I roughly pumped 20 gallons of milk. Even though my pumping journey is done, Everly's milk is still being consumed by the sweet baby we donated to. Even though today marks 4 months since her birth and the 4 month mark of her death is fast approaching I can tell you, she impacted far more people in 6 days that I have in all of my years. People from all over the world have been lucky enough to learn of a loving God that is providing peace and comfort to Everly's grieving family. With Mother's Day around the corner, I know I am a mother. I may not look like a mother to a stranger, but the mark she left on my abdomen and my heart will stay with me forever. I told my dad that since becoming a mom I will never be the same. He replied, "You are forever changed, forEverly changed"