Quite a few people are reading the blog now who didn't get the original emails when we started down this path. I thought it might be useful to give a summary of what's happened so that everyone can have a clear understanding of the powerful miracle that is taking place before our eyes. It is wonderful to see God's hand at work.
Alisha's pregnancy was progressing normally from our perspective for the first 20 weeks. Alisha's belly was a little small, but we assumed it was because of her long torso and small frame. To us everything looked normal on the 20-week ultrasound: we could see her moving, everything was in place, and they were able to tell us it was girl. The ultrasound nurse took a while getting back to us, then scheduled us for a follow-up visit 2 days later. At the follow-up visit a specialist did another ultrasound and informed us that our daughter had IUGR, which was making her grow slowly. Essentially the placenta was defective and so our daughter was being starved of nutrients she needed for growth. The doctor informed us that IUGR babies (especially those detected this early) are often born early and ours was "almost definitely" going to be born before 27 weeks. She was at risk of survival and even if she survived she faced possible major long-term issues. He scheduled us for ultrasounds every 1-2 weeks and planned to monitor the growth until she reached 500g (the weight at which they can fit a breathing tube).
For the next 6 weeks we had a lot of stress and did a lot of reading on the internet. We found success stories and stories with negative outcomes in similar situations. As our daughter became more active, each day we'd wonder if she was still alive if she didn't move for a short period of time. We prayed a lot. Each week the ultrasounds were stressful as we wondered how much she'd grown. She went from 183g, 230g, 265, and 377g as the weeks progressed. The weekend prior to Alisha's 26-week ultrasound we went to Apple Hill and shot some maternity pictures for Alisha, because we suspected that she might be admitted to the hospital the next week if the baby's growth was on track.
Her growth wasn't on track. Due to margins of error in ultrasounds, the 26-week measurement came out at 393g which was a half-ounce of growth over an entire week. On top of that, Alisha had started having relatively strong contractions which made her lower back sore at 3:30am on the day of our 7am appointment. Basically her body was rejecting the defective placenta and trying to push it out. The doctor saw the contractions and admitted Alisha to the hospital. By 8am Alisha was in a high-risk labor and delivery room, with contractions 1-2 minutes apart and doctors coming in frequently. Alisha was put on magnesium sulfate (to protect the baby's brain) and steroid shots 12 hours apart (to strengthen the baby's lungs). We didn't know it at the time, but the NICU had already prepared a bed for our daughter, who they expected to be born at 26 weeks. Thankfully, God prevented the birth from taking place and gave Alisha 3 weeks in that same hospital room as our daughter grew to her 530g (1lb 3oz) birth weight. Over those 3 weeks, this blog has unfolded as God's power was revealed in our daughter's life.
We prayed for Dottie to reach 500g at her last ultrasound: she measured at 500.24g. We prayed for Dottie to be born healthy and stable: she came out at 28 weeks and 5 days with an Apgar score of 8-9. We prayed for Alisha to have a standard (non-classical) caesarian section: it happened, even though doctors estimated a 5% chance of it being feasible.
Today Dottie is breathing mostly room air on a ventilator (with some supplemental oxygen), she doesn't have a breathing tube, and she is able to maintain her body temperature better than she was before. She has started eating her mother's milk through a tube and she is now back above her birth weight after a few days of evaporative weight loss. Doctors and nurses have been caring for Alisha and Dottie, but it has been God who has sustained them, given them health, and caused Dottie to grow. Seeing these events unfold has given me faith in God's power and his answers to prayer like never before. I hope it does the same for you as Dottie's story continues ...