Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy Birthday Brianna!

My sweet little girl is THREE today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TINY!!
(if you are on a reader, take a look at the blog backdrop this week with a newborn, 1, 2 and 3 year old pic' of Brianna!)

Brianna has changed so very much this year!

In January she turned 2 and just 2 weeks later Mike and I left for Ukraine. I didn't see my Tiny girl for 7 weeks and that felt like FOREVER! When I left she was 17 lbs and when I came home she had gained 2 lbs! She started crawling just before her 2nd birthday after watching our little friend AB do it (I watched AB during the day up until January). During those months I was gone Brianna learned to pull up to a stand all by herself! She also was making good solid steps when holding someone's hand :)

When we got home just a few weeks in Brianna started cruising furniture and she opened her whole world up so wonderfully to her new siblings as well. Brianna's tender heart is obvious and she has never yet had a moment where someone is fussing and I have to tend to them and she gets mad. Generally she comes right alongside and tries to comfort the other kids as well. Even when it means sometimes she gets put down and they get picked up, I can't think of an instance she was upset about it (though I tried not to do that!).

Brianna understands so very much and her expressive language has just blossomed this year! At the beginning of the year she had a few signs and a few words but now she will repeat all kinds of things! I can tell her what it is I need to do when I set her down and she understands and will come along to help now.

During the times that the other kids were in and out of the hospital, and when Mike was home and I was still in Ukraine, too, Brianna formed a special bond with her Daddy. Kristopher already had that father/son bond but Brianna was always Mommy's girl! She's definitely still a Mommy's girl (or should I say she is AGAIN?) but Brianna learned to attach strongly with her Daddy and has that special desire to spend time with him ever since.

Brianna took her first steps just a few months ago but now is wanting to walk FAST! She was hesitant about ramps and any thresholds at first, but now she's becoming more proficient at both of those. Steps still pose a bit more difficulty but she has a perseverance that keeps going strong! (Though at the moment she sits to make it work :) ). We thought maybe Brianna would hold off until after she turned three to start walking, but she proved that she could do it just a bit sooner!

Brianna is our little treasure. I don't know if she'll ever really understand the positive impact she's had on our life and so many others, but she is the light that God used to spark our heart for Down syndrome, the yes that we needed for special needs adoption, and the joy that helped us along the way. Two special siblings came about as a result of Brianna's birth... I know of 7 other adoptions that have taken place as a result of their adoption... and so many others continue to happen in a steady "chain of events" from each of the other adoptions. What a gift we were given 3 years ago!

But Brianna didn't come in to this world easily, she didn't let us know all the answers up front. No, she came via emergency c-section by a plan of God's design. Her tiny size had us worried and at 37 weeks an ultrasound left us knowing she hadn't grown since 33 weeks. We held off a few days, monitoring each day and knowing she was doing ok, and then on Jan 2nd I was scheduled to be induced. Since the 1st fell on a Sunday in 2006, the hospital had a "low staff day" in the OR on the 2nd and just in case... they bumped my induction to the 3rd.

I was brought in to triage in a room with 3 beds in it and they did the initial workup. Very soon the other 2 beds filled and another person was coming in, so the nurses decided to move me to a birthing room since they knew I would be giving birth that day (and others might not be). When I moved over to the other room they began hooking back up the monitors and they couldn't find Brianna's heartbeat. Then they found it... 72. It quickly recovered but they put me on oxygen and called in the doctor. Because I was moving rooms it wasn't hooked up to the machine to be printed out and the nurse was afraid the doctor was going to be mad that she used emergency O2 when nothing was documented. The nurse was a friend, though, and she knew her stuff.

The doctor came in, checked things out, then left again. At this point I had an IV with fluids and they'd started antibiotics for me because I have a heart murmur (an innocent one) and need anti's before birth if possible. I shifted in bed and again the heartbeat went away. Mike quickly flagged down a nurse in the hall, though we thought it was likely just that I moved. No, there was no heartbeat. The doctors- both of them that work at our practice- both were making rounds and BOTH were at my bedside in just a manner of seconds. They now saw it charted on the printout.

Then a third time, this time... this time with two doctors and three nurses standing at the bedside and no movement from me... Her heart rate was gone.

Within 5 minutes the anesthesiologist was giving me a spinal block and within 20 minutes Brianna was born! They are a QUICK team. Only one difficulty. When the doctor went to pull Brianna out and cut the cord, she didn't come. He looked and sure enough, Brianna's umbilical cord was only 4-6 inches long. He clamped it off inside and cut the cord inside of me in order to get her out. The cord was thin, short, and hard- not soft and rubbery like it should have been.

We know that God saved Brianna's life that day by the chain of events that happened- and probably mine as well. The result of trying to have her naturally could have been devastating for both of us and though I'd been monitored for 4 days it wasn't until I was in the hospital and hooked up to the right things to get a very quick anesthesia that God revealed something to make the doctors jump, run, and do this another way.

Brianna was 5 lbs, 2 oz and born at 9:18am on January 3rd, 2006 at 38 weeks gestation. Her small stature as well as her heart rate dropping and her low amniotic fluid (another thing we were dealing with in the end) were all blamed on "Intra Uterine Growth Restriction" or IUGR, which was reported as "possible IUGR" on her birth record. After a c-section and having a 5 lb baby, I was released from the hospital early just 48 hours after her birth.

Five weeks later when we still struggled with Brianna gaining weight as she was still just about 6 pounds our pediatrician said he wanted to test Brianna for something called Turner's syndrome. This is when a female has one X instead of XX and causes short stature, lack of growth, and the only symptom that showed any kind of possible "irregularity"... the thick skin at the nape of the neck. This would require a chromosome analysis and we had the blood drawn for it just a few days later.

When Brianna was 8 weeks old we received that phone call which makes you know that something was wrong- "we have your test results and the doctor would like you to come in at noon today to discuss them." We hadn't told any family or friends even aside from maybe 2 people what tests were being done. We were told it was "a long shot" and we didn't want everyone googling this diagnosis befoore we even knew if Brianna had it. Everyone knew that she'd had bloodwork to rule out some things though...

That appointment didn't go anything like what we expected! We were sure Brianna had Turner's when we went into the room, but when the doctor examined Brianna then looked at Mike and I he said "well, we have a problem with Miss Brianna. She has Down syndrome." We both just about laughed! Seriously? Down syndrome? YAY! I can handle that!! We eat lunch each week with a friend that has Down syndrome. We were so scared of this great unknown with Turner's syndrome, but Down syndrome was familiar!

Then the shock came when he said "we also think she has a heart defect, the hospital is expecting you for an echo immediately." We went and 2 days later got the results from a cardiologist in Maitland (who I now credit with saving Emma's life). She told us Brianna would need surgery by 6 months of age (she was 2 months already...) and to bring her the next day to her office. Brianna had a complete AV canal, and ASD, and a VSD. 40% of her blood was recirculating within her heart.

Though I could go on and on about the next few months and YEARS, that sums up her birth and diagnosis that soon followed... She did have heart surgery at 5 months (8lbs) and her heart is doing great now. She began sitting just before her 1st birthday, standing just after her second, and walking just before her third!

Our sweet little miracle- HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIANNA!!


  1. Aww, Happy Birthday Brianna! Your Mommy sure wrote a nice post about you. You've grown up a lot over the past year!

  2. What a wonderful treasure you have in Brianna! Her sweetness, tenacity and determination showed right from the start, and have served her so very well. I look forward to reading more about her adventures and achievements in the year ahead.

    Happy Birthday, beautiful Brianna!

    Susan in Ky

  3. Happy Birthday sweet pea! You're such a beauty and a treasure to us all-hope your day is perfect and filled with everything and everyone you love :)

  4. Happy birthday Brianna! So sweet to hear all about her birth. It must have been so scary not knowing what was wrong. Praise God for a diagnosis so you could take care of her properly.

  5. Wow, she's so old! Happy birthday Brianna! =]

  6. Happy Birthday sweet Brianna! You and Polly have such similar birth stories! You are so special and we are blessed to "know" you.

  7. Ah, the story that ony a mother can share and give as a blessing to each child. Brianna is our multiple blessings kid. SHe is a joy Love, G mommy

  8. Happy Birthday Brinna. It has been so much fun watching you grow up. We think you have a pretty special family!

    Alison for the McKay Family
    (Tate's mommy)