Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lourdes Marie Talbot Boever- Your Birth Story (Part 1)

(Parts of your story are probably very dark and sad.  I want to tell your story as I remember it.  I believe in my soul the promise of the Resurrection so for now, I have to write the cross the precedes this promise.)

I don't have my calendar in front of me to write down the exact dates so for now I will go off memory.  When I was around 35 weeks pregnant,  Dr. McNeely and Dr. Kenney suggested inducing a week before you were due which was February 18th.  My sister Samantha had so graciously offered to fly in a spend the week with our children while we were in the hospital.  She was flying in for a family wedding in Kansas City February 7th so this worked out perfect for her to venture over to Nebraska.  I asked Dr. McNeely if we could be induced Feb. 9th, but after consulting we settled on February 11, 2015.  I called John at work so he could schedule his appointments and days off.  As I told him the date he was glancing at a calendar and said, "Oh good, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes." We hadn't decided on your name yet and were waivering back and forth between Avila (after St. Teresa of Avila), Ireland (after St. John Ireland), and Talbot (after Blessed Matt Talbot).  We had been praying to Bl. Matt Talbot since learning of your diagnosis.  After I heard your induction date, I almost instinctively knew your name would be Lourdes. 
I wanted to make one more visit to see my mother in Kansas City before you were born.  John surprised me and took the day off work so I could go be with her right before her first chemotherapy session.  It was so good to see her.  We went to noon mass, ate at Winstead's, and visited my grandmother for four hours.  My grandmother has always loved Matt Talbot (I didn't know this) so she began talking about him and visiting Ireland many years back.  She came from an alcoholic family so she had quite the connection to him.  I chose Matt Talbot many years back as my confirmation name due to my mother offering me his short biography a couple weeks before confirmation.  I read his story and loved his simple spirituality.  I wondered what role he would play in my life.  He is the patron saint of alcoholics and those with other addictions.  I have probably had 20 sips of alcohol my whole life so I wasn't sure what the connection would be.  Anyway, she was telling me about visiting Dublin and looking for a different saint, but happened upon a street sign that said "Matt Talbot's relics".  She ventured over to the church and found his body in tomb and other relics.  AND.....guess what church he was in.....OUR LADY OF LOURDES CATHOLIC CHURCH.  It was his home parish and where he spent hours in prayer and attended daily mass.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!  I am completely freaking out.  I said, "That is the day I am supposed to be induced!"  She just smiled as if she already knew things I didn't. 

A couple weeks later, my mother had been at her holy hour and sent me an email stating, "Lindsay, I know her name...Lourdes Marie Talbot Boever."  She is supposed to tell the world about the message of Lourdes and St. Bernadette.  John came home from work and I showed the email to him and he immediately agreed that was supposed to be her name. 

During my pregnancy with Lourdes, I decided to write any convent, monastery, and religious I could think of to pray for our daughter.  I remember Dr. Kenney telling me right after your initial diagnosis that I did nothing to cause this and there is nothing we can do.  I decided that I can do this.  I can ask for prayers on her behalf.   If I traced a map of the addresses I wrote to,  it oddly formed a cross across the United States.  Each letter I wrote was always greeted with a return letter of prayer and encouragement.  I knew our daughter was covered in prayer.  John's cousin also is a nun in France so I knew she was covered overseas as well.  I received a letter from a Carmelite order in New York that said they were praying a novena to Our Lady of Lourdes and mentioned how wonderful it would be if she were born on that day.  I wanted to call them and say, "THAT IS THE DAY!!!"  I hadn't told them about her induction. 

On Tuesday February 10th, I was out running errands with Dominic and contractions started.  I tried to dismiss them, but they were coming every minute to the point I stopped talking to him as I was trying to concentrate.  We skipped getting his hair cut and headed home.  I called John and he said that we better head in due to her special circumstances and Kapaun being born within 45 minutes of arriving.  Dr. McNeely concurred so off we went.  I was standing out on our driveway waiting for him with my sister and we were laughing at me standing there waiting.  John came peeling around the corner which made us laugh harder. 

We arrived at hospital admissions (around noon) and I told them that I better skip it as the contractions were coming fast and hard.  I got into my room and was only 2 cm dilated and her head was no where close to being engaged.  Wow.  How did I read that so wrong with this being my 9th baby?  They decided to keep me since I was being induced the next morning.  Pitocin was ordered.  I always go into every delivery with the same attitude.  I always want to try to have a natural delivery, but am not opposed to getting an epidural at all.  I have had three natural deliveries and the rest I got an epidural.  I have had great epidurals and bad epidurals.  I was a little tainted because my epidural with Damaris was horrific.  I thought that was a freak accident and couldn't happen again.  With this delivery, I was already emotionally raw going into the hospital.  I had no desire nor stamina to endure a natural delivery so I already knew I wanted a epidural.  I talked with the anesthesiologist about what happened with Damaris' epidural.  He agreed that it was probably put in the wrong place so he changed things a bit.  Everything was set to go.  As he placed the epidural in, everything happened exactly with Damaris again.  The only way I can describe what happens is that it feels like I am having a heart attack.  It is instant.  I told them what was happening and he took it out immediately and thought maybe he had hit a blood vessel.  A few moments later, he started again and it felt right.  I was so relieved that this was the problem.  About fifteen minutes in and after everything was finishing, it started again.  I go pale, sweat profusely, become so weak I can't turn my head, heart rate becomes crazy.  He concluded after trying several things that my body must not be able to handle that specific medicine.  My nurse knelt down next to me and said, "You are going to have to do this without an epidural."  I started crying as I knew I was only 2 cm dilated and no where near prepared for a natural labor.

I remember looking at the clock and it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  I thought that maybe I would have to endure about 4 more hours of labor. I wish I could describe the spiritual warfare that I knew was occurring.  I brought a picture of my mother with me to the hospital and offered labor for her.  I knew it would be tough, but I had no idea the war that was about to begin.  Every time the nurse checked me I had barely dilated.  I kept glancing over at the heart rate monitors and Lourdes' heart rate would dip on and off.  Dr. McNeely rarely left my side from noon until she was born 15 hours later.  He stood vigilant watching and waiting.  I am so glad that it was him there.  He has delivered almost all of our children. He is so prayerful especially during delivery.  I can read his eyes and he reads mine.  Her heart rate was ticking along at 135 and then suddenly it dropped to 75 and then to 55.  That is the only time I saw him get really nervous her whole delivery.  He decided to break my water around 5:00 PM.  There was meconium in the water so that added a bit to the urgency of her delivery.

As time wore on and progress was so slow, I wish I could explain the places your mind goes to.  We tried different positions and nothing helped to speed her delivery or engage her head in the birth canal.  The clock was right in front of me and I remember I couldn't believe each hour was ticking by and no baby and such slow progress.  I truly went through every saint I could think of to help me.   I asked my father over and over for his intercession and help.  I was desperately begging for relief.  When I am in pain, I say nothing. I turn inward to a point of despondency.  At one point, his presence was so real that I reached to touch him.  I am sure I was delirious at this point because I hadn't slept the night before and her labor was so painful and long.

About 11:00 PM, I remember glancing at the clock and had such peace.  I knew I had to endure one more hour.  At midnight, it would be the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.  I knew God wanted her born that day.  I knew there would be a miracle.  I knew it would be one more hour.  I had an extra strength to last one more hour.  I was finally dilated to a nine and they had me start doing practice pushes as she was still so high.  We were trying to get her to come down.  Nothing.  I got on my hands and knees.  Nothing.
I need to post a picture side-by-side to this to what she looks like now. You can see her small intestine here, but her new stomach looks like any other baby.  Surgeons are amazing people.

At Midnight, contractions were in full force.  I knew she would be born soon.  I was pushing with all my might.  Nothing.  Dr. McNeely was trying all his tricks.  Nothing.  I hate pushing more than anything else.  I was sweating, vomiting, and pleading with God in my head to PLEASE HELP ME.  I would feel the contractions building each time and push so hard and NOTHING.  I wonder how close I was to a C-Section.  He never mentioned it.  I pushed for three hours with her.  It felt like I was on a sea during a hurricane.  The storm was raging. I was so desperate for her to be born.  I brought John's head close to mine and whispered "Please help me."

 The emotions at her delivery were so different than the others.  There was such a sense of urgency.  There were so many people in the room waiting for her.  John's parents were at the hospital until she was born at 2:54 in the morning waiting.  The neonatology team lined the back wall waiting. Dr. McNeely worked with me for three hours.  In all his years of practicing medicine, he has never delivered a baby with an omphalocele.  After 2.5 hours of pushing, he sent the NICU team away for a while as the progress was showing no signs of progressing.  I continued to push and then SUDDENLY everything changed and happened FAST.  Literally, Nothing to Everything in one push.  A nurse pulled the alarm for the NICU team to come back and my mother-in-law said they came running down the hall.

The transport team leaving for Omaha.

I remember her coming out.  I remember looking at Dr. McNeely's face.  Once the head is out, he usually tells you to wait a minute.  The cord was very tight around her neck.  Dr. McNeely later told me that he almost had to cut it before she was all the way out as he couldn't lift it around her head.  I remember the worried look on his face.  I remember John's worried look.  I turned to John and asked if the omphalocele was there.  He shook his head "YES."  I knew her labor had been so hard because we were going to have a miracle.  I was so disappointed there wasn't.  She didn't cry.  Dr. McNeely handed her straight back to the NICU team and they started working on her.  I kept asking if she was alive.  I saw John crying and he turned to me and said, "Lindsay, they have to take her now.  The membrane surrounding the omphalocele has ruptured.  She needs surgery immediately."  I never saw her right away, but I did see her body wrapped in a plastic bag to prevent infection.  They reassured me she was alive and breathing on her own, but they were taking her by ambulance to Omaha for surgery.

We had been in contact all day with a our pastor so he could come and baptize her.  Since my labor was taking so long, we told him we would call when it got close.  Since we had no idea the membrane had ruptured, the urgency was less at the time because we knew we were going to have a couple days in Lincoln before heading to Omaha for surgery.  After we realized she would be heading right to surgery, John baptized her with Lourdes water immediately.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the room.  I remember hearing him amongst all the people,

"Lourdes Marie Talbot Boever, I baptize you 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit'." 

He used holy water from Lourdes, France. 

All of her small intestine and a portion of the large intestine were out because of the membrane rupturing
She was taken to the NICU to prepare for travel.  I asked them to stop by my room with her before they left.  I keep saying this, but the emotions surrounding such an event are nothing like I've ever experienced.  I was not holding a baby in my arms.  I truly went to hell and back during her delivery.  I had nothing left.  I had offered so much for my mom and a miracle for Lourdes and the situation went from being very serious to EMERGENCY NOW that I felt so defeated.  The transport team brought her by my room before they left.  I remember reaching through to touch her and weeping uncontrollably.  Every pair of eyes I looked at had such sympathy in their return.  They wheeled her away and John followed the ambulance to Omaha that early Wednesday morning.

Transport Unit for Ambulance ride

They stopped by my room so I could see her. 

The pain that took over my soul is nothing like I had ever experienced before.  I watched my newborn child wheeled away for surgery and taken by ambulance.  My husband left to be with her.  My mother was preparing for her second chemotherapy treatment that day.  My senses were overloaded.  I wonder what the term is for that type of pain.  I stopped feeling.  I don't remember feeling any post-partum pain as the pain of seeing Lourdes taken away trumped any other thought. 

After a while, I was alone in my room.  John was gone.  His parents went home.  I remember looking around and recalling to mind war scenes I remembered from movies.  I saw all the remnants of that 15 hour labor. I had no baby in my arms nor John by my side. "Please Lord, be with my baby."

We are Home

I guess when you go from these early pictures to the later pictures in a three week span in takes a while to process in your mind and heart. Lourdes and I arrived home on Friday, March 6th in the late afternoon. Lourdes is doing so well.  She is very loved by all her siblings. She hasn't figured out how to sleep at night so hopefully we can do that soon.  She is gaining weight and eating well.  My sister was on spring break the first week and then my mother was well enough to come a portion of the second week. Thank you for praying. I attempt to get to the computer every night to write all my memories of her birth and three week stay in the NICU.  
We are still awaiting the results from her genetic testing.  Babies born with omphaloceles have a thirty percent chance of having an additional syndrome called Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome.  Children with this syndrome lead a completely normal life in all realms.  What is especially worrisome is that if the syndrome is present, the child has an increased risk for developing cancer at an early age. If her results come back positive for the syndrome, she will have a blood draw every 6 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound every 3 months for the first 8 years of her life to check for tumors.  I really get overwhelmed at this possibility because of all the extra appointments and namely waiting "the call" every 6 weeks to see if anything was found. I know how it felt to wait the first time to hear if the mass was cancer so to do this every 6 weeks for 8 years is very overwhelming. Several have asked what they can pray for.  We would very much appreciate prayers for this testing to come back negative.  Thank you so much.