Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sweet Evelyn

This is going to be long, but it needs to be chronicled
The Birth Story
Jana and I headed to Floyd Medical Center around 8:00 in the evening on June 3rd. She was going in to receive Cytotec the night before being induced in the morning. Induction wasn't ever needed. Around 5:00 in the morning, Jana began active labor on her own. She progressed fairly rapidly. Jana's OB/GYN came by around 8:30am to check Jana's progress. She was pleased that Jana was progressing quickly, and decided to break Jana's water. While breaking her water, she checked Jana. After talking with the nurse who had checked Jana just 10 minutes previous, the OB/GYN realized that Jana was progressing very rapidly. Upon arrival, the OB/GYN had said that she was going to check Jana and then head to her office for an hour. After checking, she said, "I gonna' go put my boots on." Jana pushed for about 10 minutes, and Evelyn Nadine Barker was born at 8:54am on June 4th, 2010.

Jana got to hold Evelyn for a few minutes before the nurses took her to wipe her down and perform an initial exam. Evelyn received initial Apgar scores of 9 and 9, which were very good. The nurses then attached hospital bracelets, a security monitor and swaddled her and handed her to Jana and I. Evelyn lay in Jana's arms and let out a loud, contented sigh with every breath.

Taking Her Away
Jana got to hold Evelyn for about 30 minutes before she was taken back to the nursery for full metrics and exams. I followed, hoping to get as much information (and pictures) as I could. Evelyn weighed 6 lbs 15.1 oz. and was 19 inches long. Throughout all of this Evelyn had remained calm, with little to no crying. The nurse picked up on this and said, "She needs to start crying because her color needs to improve so I can keep her." I perceived this as an offhand comment, but it was the first indication that something might not be normal. I got kicked out of the nursery while they ran the next set of tests, but they promised to call me back before they bathed her so I could capture her first bath. I returned to Jana and reported what I had learned, downplaying the offhand comment.

About 10 minutes later a nurse burst into our room and, with little warning, cut off the security monitor that was attached to Jana. The only information that we got was that they needed to admit Evelyn to the NICU, and the security monitor was hindering them. This experience was very traumatic for all of us, because of the abrupt loss of safety and security. Jana's nurse followed a few minutes later with a little more information: Evelyn's pulse oxygen levels were dangerously low, so they took her to the NICU to fix her.

In the NICU
We had to wait almost an hour before receiving any more information. The NICU doctor came in and gave us the news: Evelyn was breathing, but her heart was still acting like she was in the womb. Although her lungs were working, all of her blood was bypassing the lungs. This caused her blood to be very low in oxygen. They had hooked Evelyn up to a ventilator and were supplying her with oxygen. The doctor laid out the facts: this was a common disorder (what we later learned as PPHN) in otherwise perfectly healthy babies; that things could easily get worse before they get better; and that the full range of outcomes was possible. Jana was slowly moved to a postpartum recovery room, and the information from the NICU trickled in. Evelyn was still not getting all the oxygen she needed, prompting the doctors to crank up the ventilator to its highest settings for supplying oxygen and forcing a fast breathing rate. Additionally, an echocardiogram revealed that Evelyn's heart was performing poorly. Not only was the heart still bypassing the lungs, but the heart was not pumping very strongly. At this point we learned that Evelyn was fighting two battles: low oxygen and a weak heart. Jana's nurse had served as a NICU nurse for eight years prior to coming to Rome. She was our liaison, and also fed us enough information to be specific in our prayers. I was also able to use this information to help me research and interpret more information. The nurse also helped prepare us for the road ahead.

Throughout this time family members with us at the hospital and I were contacting friends and family members to provide information and seek prayers. God's mercy and grace are a power that cannot be matched. The Holy Spirit poured over us and sustained us while waiting for news of any kind. The phrase the doctors and nurses kept using to describe Evelyn's condition was "very scary." After visiting her in the NICU, Jana and I got the impression that "very scary" wasn't sufficient. Without the comfort from the Holy Spirit, we would have been laid low to the depths of despair. At this point it was incredibly difficult for us to fear God more than our circumstances. We are so thankful that God's grace is wonderfully stronger than our weakness. More important than us, the Great Physician was keeping our little girl alive. One nurse later commented that the NICU nurses were certain that Evelyn must have had many people praying for her because that was the only explanation for her remaining with us. I am so thankful that God is glorified even in the worst situations.

The Road to Atlanta
One of the things that we had been warned of was the possibility of transporting Evelyn to a hospital that had more options and expertise to help Evelyn. Floyd's NICU was limited to one treatment option for her lungs and one for her heart. By late afternoon, she was receiving the maximum support that Rome could offer. Floyd's NICU staff made the best decision for Evelyn, and looked to transport Evelyn to Children's Hospital at Egleston in Atlanta. The transport team arrived around 8:00pm, and took Evelyn. Around this time, the neo-cardiologist came in to update us. He brought news that Evelyn's lungs were starting to open up. We were also informed that it appeared that her heart and lungs was structurally normal, which was comforting. He also told us that her heart was very weak, to the point that he described it as heart failure, which was not comforting.

I followed Evelyn as soon as I could, while Jana rested and recovered overnight in Rome. My parents drove me because I wasn't in a position to drive. We arrived at Egleston around 11:30pm. After waiting for few minutes, Evelyn's neo-natalogist came to speak with us. He was wonderfully positive. The news was good: Evelyn was responding to treatment in the two hours she'd been under their care. Her lungs had indeed opened up, and they had already started dialing the ventilator settings down. Also, her heart was not failing as first thought, but dysfunctional. That's not what every parent wants to hear, but dysfunctional is better than nonfunctional. I called to let Jana and her mother know that things weren't as grim as we once thought.

Life at Egleston

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." Lamentations 3:22-24

The next morning I arrived at the hospital to find Evelyn slowly progressing. Overnight, the support from the ventilator had been reduced, and was further reduced throughout the day. Also, the dose for one of the medicines for her heart was slightly reduced. This too would continue throughout the day. Even through all the good news, Evelyn was still very critical. Her heart was still weak, but it was strengthening. Jana arrived in the afternoon and we've both been on an emotional roller coaster as we look on in sadness at our baby girl who is hooked up to several wires and tubes and then watch in joy as the nurses slowly wean her from the artificial support. Jana left the hospital around 8:00pm because she needed to rest and recover from giving birth just 36 hours ago. I stayed to keep an eye on my precious baby girl. Even as I was leaving, the nurse was preparing to reduce her heart medicine and the ventilator was only serving as backup.

God's faithfulness exceeds our expectations, and his mercy refreshes us better than the morning dew. We awoke this morning and called to check on Evelyn. We were told that they had tried to completely take her off one of the heart medicines. Evelyn didn't take to the change too well, so they put it back at the lowest possible dose. By the time we arrived at the hospital and hour later, they had succefully removed that heart medicine and halved the dosage of the other! Additionally, they let us know that they would be removing the ventilator! How merciful is our Lord! We also got to talk with the neo-natalogist about her current condition and future prospects. We were wanting answers to the hard questions. In response to our line of questions, he handed me his business card, turned to Jana and said, "You probably won't remember to do this, but I want you to send me a picture of her when she is a year old. I'd also like one of her high school graduation." Praise God that our little girl has such a favorable outlook!

As the day wore on, Evelyn continued to improve. I've been trying to write this post while also paying attention to her. Since I started, they have completely removed all drugs that were steadily going into her system. She is only receiving nutritional fluids on a regular basis. Evelyn has started kicking her feet and grabbing onto our hands (and the IV lines). Jana even got hold her for a little while (My turn is coming soon!). While Jana was holding her, Evelyn made very faint little sighs just like she did the first time Jana held her. That was the first noise we've heard out of her since they took her to the nursery at Floyd. Praise God for the contented sighs of a precious little girl! And yes, we'll still be praising God when we hear the wails of a unhappy little girl too.

Jana and I continued to be surrounded with love and prayers. I think I've cried more tears of joy from the comfort that I've received from God's Kingdom as tears of sadness from despair about my little girl. In light of all the good that is happening, we still need your prayers:
  • Jana hasn't really had the time or desire to rest and recover from the birth, so pray that she is able to do that even while being with Evelyn in the NICU.
  • Please pray that Evelyn can be transferred to the "lower" side of the NICU. She's been in the more intensive NICU, and we hope she can move to the less intensive in the next day or so. This is one of the big steps towards her discharge.
  • Please pray that we can start feeding her the milk that Jana has been freezing since her birth. Everyone agrees that this will help speed her recovery, but the doctors aren't sure her digestive system is quite ready.
  • Please pray that Evelyn takes to breast feeding. According to the doctor, this is the next big hurdle. The ventilator tube was very invasive at a point in time when she should have been learning to nurse. Her muscles and mind will have to make some serious adjustments to overcome the trauma and nurse properly.
  • Please pray for continued recovery. Although her progress has been excellent, Evelyn is still "critical." The day she isn't is the day we get to go home.
  • Please pray that God will provide. With Jana recovering, we've been staying at a hotel only a block away. We have had offers to stay elsewhere, but the distance is prohibitive for Jana right now. We're waiting on a spot to open up at the Ronald McDonald House nearby, but may have to wait another couple of days.
  • Please pray for all the little babies in this NICU and others. We are not alone in our fears and despair, and our hearts go out to those whose little ones are also suffering.
  • Please praise God. He has moved mountains to help Evelyn recover so quickly. His timing of events has been perfect. His Kingdom has rallied alongside us. He has comforted us even in the dark hours in Rome. He has encouraged us with nurses and doctors who have said the right things at the right times. He has supported us with the love of friends and family. He has given us His Word to heal our brokenness. He has not given us anything more than we are capable of handling. He has provided for MK in that she is happily entertained with cousins while Jana and I have been focused on Evelyn.
  • God is doing more than I can even fathom, and my biggest prayer is that He will be glorified in all of this.
Be well and strong,



Heidi said...

Loved reading it and seeing those sweet pics of our little Evelyn!

Andrea said...

WOW!!!!what an amazing story...God has big, big plans for your Evelyn...Praying with you that God will be glorified...Love to the Barker Family Party of 4!
BTW, GREAT pics...both Mommy and baby girl are just beautiful!

Shari 3 boys said...

This brings tears to my eyes! Congrats on another sweet baby girl. I have been praying for you all. Jana Im sure you have been thru alot of emotions these last few days. I will continue to pray for you and your sweet baby girl that things will continue along for her.
Praise God for what he has done and will continue to do!

Christy said...

Kane, thank you for posting this and sharing the story with us all. We continue to stand in the gap for little E and praise God for this miracle baby!

Liz T. said...

Madison & I are both praying for y'all during this time! God is so good.

Susanna Rose said...

Kane and Jana,

God is being glorified so much through all that you guys have and are going through...your faith and trust is an example to us all and I am just so thankful to read of Evelyn's steady recovery! And I love the pictures too...she is so pretty and looks so happy in her mother's arms!

Praise God!

Dad said...

Kane, thanks for giving us all the background information. I'm sure that if I had heard it all as it was happening, I would have been even more afraid than I was. Praise God for His Mercy and Grace!!

Rebecca said...

i'm so glad she's getting better. and, what a wonderful testimony of God's grace to you all. i'll keep on praying, thanks for the list of requests at the end!

helms family said...

Kane and Jana-

Susanna notified us of your story. I have been praying hard for your family today- and especially Baby. I hope you are encouraged and strengthened. And above all, hope you can go home and be a family very soon.

Thanks for sharing and letting us pray with and for you!

Maryanne Helms

Lorie said...

Kane, you captured it all so well. I have had the privelege of being here through all of this. God truly has been glorified over and over again as we walked through this trial that felt like a nightmare! I have just been awed by the Body of Christ in action! God has been right here with us or we could not have made it through. God was taking care of her when the hospital in Floyd was at maximum help and it wasn't enough. We could feel the prayers. Jana and Kane, I am so proud of you both and how you held on to your faith in God through it all. He is our strong tower! My cup is overflowing with joy as I look back on all of this. Thank you again, Kane, for capturing the events so well. I love you all so much! Love, Mom B.

melbelle said...

Kane & Jana, I know what it is to be in the hospital with a newborn and having to process information coming rapidly like water out of a fire hydrant! We will continue to pray for Evelyn. Our Lydia sure gave us a scare twenty (20!) years ago. We also felt the amazing presence and healing power of God through the prayers of other people. We continue to follow your story with interest, love and prayers.

Anonymous said...

We were at Rick & Susanna's when they heard. My heart goes out to you all, with this sudden, unexpected change of plans. Please let us know if we can help in any way- we are right here in Atlanta. I will continue to pray for Evelyn's healing, and rest for all during this tough, tough time. Praise God for all the progress so far!!
Sandy Rose (Rick's mom)

Lisa Redding said...

Thank you so much for sharing more information about little Evelyn! We've been praying for you ever since we heard the news. Praise God for his great mercy to you -- He has been truly glorified in the midst of this scary situation. Your faith is such a great testimony to all those around you.

Much love,
Lisa and Jon