I knew my whole life that I wanted to have a baby, and ideally a little girl. Growing up my best friend, Caleigh, and I would always play “babies.” In our make believe world (which included “Babyland”) there weren’t ever husbands, it was just us and our babies. I had a Baby Shivers doll named Misti, and she had a Cabbage Patch Kid named Tina.
Literally, having a baby girl was always part of my plan, which began around age 4. Fast forward about 30 years, my husband and I were ready to have a baby.
We are both essentially only children (we each have a half brother, but neither of us grew up with our brothers, so we and our brothers all grew up as only children), and knew we wanted to have an only child too, and we were both totally hoping for a girl.
We started stalking ovulation kit readings, pregnancy tests, the whole deal. Month one I had a chemical pregnancy, month two I didn’t pregnant, and then month three, success – I was pregnant! We didn’t want to tell anyone until 12 weeks, and we had a few ultrasounds before that point. Unfortunately, that baby wasn’t to be. I had a miscarriage and a D&C at 10 weeks. That was beyond depressing and sad. Lots of people want to tell you things like “at least it happened now and not later,” etc., but that doesn’t make you feel any better. No matter when a miscarriage happens, it’s a big deal to the people experiencing it.
Doctors told me to wait a few months to try again, and when it was time to start trying again, we had success on the first month! And that’s where Kennedy’s story begins.
Because of the chemical pregnancy and then the miscarriage, I had my first ultrasound at 6 weeks, and the peanut had a heartbeat!!!!! We went back at 8 weeks, and things were still awesome! I was soooo desperate to get past the 10 week mark. There was a constant fear that something would happen again, which would be devastating. Thankfully things kept clicking along perfectly. Once we got past the critical 12-week mark, I couldn’t wait to find out who was inside!!
I accepted that I could have a boy or a girl… until the ultrasound tech said during the 12-week appt that my baby’s “nub” looked horizontal. A horizontal nub means a girl! I’m not a fan of wives tales, but the Nub Theory is actually based in some anatomical science, so I was pretty pumped that it looked like my dream was coming true! There was no way I could wait until the 20-week ultrasound, so I made an appt at a local ultrasound facility and found out our baby was a GIRL!! Brian and I were both ecstatic, and so were our families when we shared the awesome news.
Things kept going along as planned… until the 24 week appt. when my blood pressure got nuts. I ended up spending the night in the hospital. I totally thought I was going to go to the hospital, get some tests and leave. Then they handed me a gown and told me I was being admitted.
Long story short, from that point on, I started seeing a high-risk doctor several times a week, taking medication, and also continuing to see my regular ob about once every week or so. No matter how much medication or which type of medications I took, my blood pressure crept up and up. It was regularly around 170/100+, and finally got to 176/112 or so, and I had to go to the hospital. I went to the hospital where I planned to deliver, and this time I was like, okay, I’m going to go, spend the night, and then go back to my high risk doctor on Monday. Nope. They did keep me overnight, but then they told me my lab work was high, I had preeclampsia, I was delivering the baby that morning, and they sent me to a different hospital to have the baby.
I was on Magnesium (totally necessary, but also a totally miserable experience), put in the ambulance, and transported to the other hospital. The NICU doctors came down to talk to us, gave us the 24-27 week pamphlet of what to expect, and we were ready to become parents (well, as ready as you can be at 27 weeks). To our surprise, the amazing doctors ended up stabilizing me and sending me to antepartum. Those high risk doctors thought they could get me to 37 weeks – they weren’t sure if that meant I’d get to go home, be on bed rest, stay in the hospital the whole time, etc. The plan changed daily as my blood work continued to deteriorate. One the 4th or 5th day my blood work was super crazy again (my mom said at one point my blood pressure was 190+/100+! I ended up with severe preeclampsia or early HELLP Syndrome (I was pretty out of it because of the Magnesium… I had 3 24-hour drips of it – and Brian said the doctor said I either had HELLP already or it was right at that point.).
A quick c-section at 27 weeks 6 days resulted in our perfect little Kennedy! She cried when she came out, opened her eyes, pooped, grabbed my husband’s finger, and was only on c-pap. Who could ask for more!!!
She spent 12 weeks and 1 day in the hospital and went home on her due date! She had a tough road at the beginning. After her initial delivery room success, she ended up developing a serious lung condition in one of her lungs (it’s a condition that most often effects both lungs, and treating a unilateral case can be more challenging because baby equipment is too tiny to treat lungs independently – so what you do to one lung, you do to both, and in a case like hers, that meant a constant dance between improvement in one lung and harming the other). Thankfully that resolved when she was about 4 weeks old, but we still need to be cautious even now about avoiding sickness since preemie lungs are already weaker than full term babies, and a preemie with a lung issue is even more sensitive.
We found out the day that she went home that when she had the lung condition, she was the sickest baby in the NICU. I’m so glad we didn’t know that when it was happening! The NICU is a roller coaster that you can’t prepare for – and there are days that feel like 5 years, but somehow you get through (I’m still not sure how, but you do).
Her doctors and nurses were FANTASTIC!!! I really couldn’t ask for a better team. They were so incredible, constantly working to ensure she recovered and keeping Brian and I from losing our minds with fear.
Fast forward to now and we’re very close to Kennedy’s one year birthday!!!! Preemies typically take about 2 years to catch up developmentally to their peers, but Kennedy is (and has been for several months) almost exactly on track with her birth age. Her early interventionist said it’s mind blowing, and she’s never seen a preemie like her!
Kennedy is the light of our life. We can’t believe we are so lucky to have her. We have the most perfect human in the world as far as we’re concerned. I don’t know what she’s going to do when she grows up, but I know it’s going to be epic. That girl is a fighter. She’s tougher (and cooler) than anyone I’ve ever met.
There are many other things that happened between Kennedy’s birth day and now, but those are stories for another day.