In 2005 we were pregnant with child number five. I was monitored with monthly blood work to check titers. They stayed low and again we were told baby would be fine because of low titers. I was induced at 37 weeks and had a quick delivery. Shortly after birth my baby boy was transferred to a higher level NICU at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. His bilirubin was too high so he also received an exchange transfusion. He needed another one at 48 hours old. An exchange transfusion is different than a normal blood transfusion. It slowly removes a baby's own blood while replacing the complete blood volume with donor blood. This procedure saved two of our children's lives.
We know our pregnancies won't be easy and uncomplicated. We see MFM, I'm induced, baby goes to NICU, but daily I am so thankful for the blessing of our children. With proper monitoring and a team that you trust it makes all the difference.
Our journey began in the summer of 2003 when we were expecting our fourth child. My first prenatal blood work came back showing I had antibodies to the little c antigen. We learned my husband carries two copies of the antigen so we knew the baby would definitely be affected by my antibodies. Throughout the pregnancy my obsterician took blood work to check my antibody titers. My titers stayed low and under critical so I never saw a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor. Because of my low titers I was told there would be no issues and baby would do fine. However within 24 hours of birth she was rushed to the large Children’s Hospital. Due to the rapid red blood cell destruction caused by antibodies, her bilirubin quickly rose and was already at dangerous levels. The neonatologist tried to control her bili levels with phototherapy lights but she was too high and on day two my sweet girl received an exchange transfusion. She went on to have two more smaller transfusions. We later found out that my last titer draw showed titers were critical.
Our next baby we saw Maternal Fetal Medicine the whole pregnancy. Dr. Brian McCulloch was an amazing blessing. We really loved everyone at the practice. I was monitored with middle cerebral artery scans (MCAs) and this time we delivered at Lutheran General Hospital with our great NICU team waiting. She did great and only spent five days in the NICU receiving phototherapy and being monitored, but didn't need any blood transfusions. We were shocked and really expected her to be worse.
We have gone on to have four more children. They have all spent around two weeks in NICU under phototherapy lights and being monitored. The NICU nurses and neonatologist were fabulous! I do not know how we would have made it without Kim and Cindy! Our last baby needed earlier delivery than her siblings because her fetal monitoring told us it was time for her to be born. So she was delivered at 36 weeks. In addition to phototherapy while she was in the NICU she had two blood transfusions when she was three weeks old. We continued with blood draws until her hemoglobin was going up on its own. She was around two months old when we knew she was finally done with the antibodies!
I'll close with a verse that means a lot to my family:
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.