Irelyns Birth Story

The beginning of August 2009 I had an ultrasound that showed a completely healthy, very cute little baby girl just waiting to be born. On August 20th I woke up with very mild contractions that continued to get worse throughout the morning. By 10:00 am I was at Community Hospital in the Labor and Delivery unit thinking they would check me, say false labor, and send me home. I am so glad I decided to go into the hospital that day! (Gratitude #1)While all of this was happening Jesse was out of town taking depositions. Around 2:00 we decided Jesse should cancel his last deposition and head home. (Gratitude #2)

They kept me there all day until 5:30 pm when they decided I was not ready and they would discharge me. A new nurse came on shift and decided to monitor the baby a little longer. (Gratitude #3) Thank goodness they did not send me home because it was discovered that the baby was not moving much and her heart rate was a little low. An ultrasound was ordered. (Gratitude #4). Jesse and I's world changed! The radiologist read the ultrasound and discovered a very large amount of fluid inside Irelyn's chest. It was explained to us that she had so much fluid in her chest it had displaced her left lung and heart and pushed them both over to the ride side of her chest. Both lungs were also completely collapsed. Several explanations were given to us as to what could have caused this:  Down syndrome, diaphragmatic hernia, congenital heart problems, or hydrops fetalis.  Any of these diagnosis' would lead to us needing to be in Seattle for Irelyn's birth.
We were given four options. A.) Deliver in Missoula and be flown later to Seattle with the chance of survival very slim. B.)Drive to Seattle the following morning and deliver there. C.)Buy a ticket and fly to Seattle the next day. D.)Be flown medically to Seattle that night. (Gratitude #5) Jesse and I knew right away that a medical transport team would be taking us to Seattle. There was no way Jesse was going to be left in a car or on an airplane with a lady still in labor, with a very sick baby!  So we were boarded onto a life flight jet and headed for Seattle at 1:00 am. 

When we arrived in Seattle at 1:00 am (yep, with the one hour difference our flight actually took no time) the doctors ordered an ultrasound hoping that the delivery could wait until the morning when radiologists could read the ultrasound and a team of doctors could be put together for the greatest chance of success. After seeing the ultrasound it was decided that little Irelyn would be born within an hour. (Gratitude #6) Within that  hour a large team of specialists was formed, given the background of what they were dealing with, and prepared for surgery. We will be forever grateful that all of those doctors (8) were available and ready at 2:45 am on a Friday morning! Irelyn was born by c-section at 2:58 am and immediately moved to a separate room to be put on a ventilator and have chest tubes placed. I did not get to even see my newborn miracle for several hours after she was born. 

Finally, at 24 hours old little Irelyn was given no chance of survival if she was not moved from U of W Medical Center to Seattle Children's Hospital where the ECMO machine was available. The ECMO machine is a heart/lung bipass machine that is a last resort life support.  This was most definitely the hardest thing I have ever heard. It brought to light just how sick Irelyn was. At 1:00 am the night after her birth the very risky job of transporting little Irelyn was underway. I was given a pass to leave the hospital for 4 hours, remember I'd just had surgery the previous night! Dr. Loren pulled some strings because he felt it was very important that I be at Children's when she arrived in case little Irelyn did not make it, I would be able to hold my baby and say goodbye. Thank God Irelyn is a fighter (Gratitude #7) and she made it through the transport and onto ECMO with shining colors. Irelyn was then on ECMO for 10 days in order for her lungs to heal and the fluid in body to stop being produced. She was on a ventilator from day 1 until she was 5 weeks old at which point she was on CPAP for two days and then oxygen cannulas for 1 week.  We learned that her diagnosis of Hydrops (fluid in the 2 or more body cavities, Irelyn's was in her chest and throughout the tissues of her body) was due to Chylothorax, or a malformation of her lymphatic system.  The challenge for the doctors was to figure out a way to stop a tiny leak in her lymphatic system, which was producing the excess fluids, that could not be detected on any scans.  Its similar to having hundreds of lines of Christmas lights that all go out, then figuring out which tiny little bulb is causing the problem.  The extremely intelligent and compassionate doctors decided to try an experimental drug used for chemotherapy patients that constricts the vessels throughout the body.  Octriatide was started at the highest dose possible and we saw results within 12 hours!

The ECMO machine that pumped and circulated all of Irelyn's blood to remove Carbon Dioxide and add Oxygen.  Her lungs were non-functioning at this point.

Irelyn with the two large cannulas placed in her neck from the ECMO machine.

Our little miracle was also forced to fight off a terrible blood born sepsis infection with the aid of some very strong antibiotics, including Vancomiacin! We also discovered during one of the many scans that Irelyn was born without a gall bladder.  We would likely have never known this had she not been so sick and gone through so many medical procedures.
Through all of this Irelyn continued to amaze the doctors and nurses as she charged along on her recovery much quicker than anyone expected. Irelyn checked out of the NICU after 7 weeks and was discharged home without any medical assistance, no oxygen, feeding tube or medications! I've now been giving my baby loves for 4 years! If any one of these things had happened differently Irelyn would not be with us. Thank you God for watching over our Irelyn and providing all of these opportunities!
Irelyn ~ Day 1
Before being transferred to Seattle Childrens Hospital.
After being taken off the ECMO machine, still on a heavy-duty ventillator.

 Irelyn ~ December 2010 ~ Happy, healthy, and sledding :)

Irelyn - 4 years old