The Birth of a Fighter

February 13, 2013

I've been wanting to write and share our daughter Brooke's birth story for some time now, but as usual I had to wait for God to lay the right message and words on my heart. I would love to finally share with you the birth of our miracle baby. 

I had no idea the journey that would lay ahead of me when I stared at those two pink lines.  I had no idea how I would be changed by someone so small.  I had no idea the trials we would endure to get her here and get her healthy.  And I certainly had no idea how God would use our situation to once again show us how great and powerful He really is.

My pregnancy with Brooke was filled with ups and downs; many that a lot of people never even knew about.  Brian and I were so relieved to have gotten pregnant at all that we never would have thought anything could go wrong.  At our first doctors appointment in my first trimester we were asked to come back the next week because my tests had revealed extremely low progesterone levels in my blood work.  This basically meant the baby wasn't growing.  We hadn't been able to hear a heartbeat yet, but it was early so I had faith that it would be there at our next appointment.  My doctor cautioned us that I may not carry the baby much longer.

At our next appointment we cautiously watched as the doctor tried to find a heartbeat.  Please Lord, let there be a heartbeat.  I know this baby is a fighter.  And there it was.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.  Thank you Lord!  I will never forget my doctor telling us how surprised he was to hear a heartbeat that day and that it looked like baby was improving and growing on track.  "Well, that's where my God trumps your medical science all the time," I said with a confident smile. 

Fast forward through the next few months of morning sickness, picking out cute outfits, hosting a gender reveal party, and lining up baby showers.  We found out we were having a girl and couldn't have been more thrilled to start planning for her arrival. 

At our church shower: Alice in Wonderland theme!


Around the 26th week of my pregnancy I began to itch all over my body.  It was so severe that it kept me up at night. I would just claw away at my hands and feet.  Something in my gut told me this was not normal.  I called the doctor and made an appointment because I wanted to make sure it wasn't cholestasis of pregnancy or ICP.  My doctor assured me that ICP was extremely rare but to come in anyway and we would run some tests.

On October 31st I was driving in my car when my doctor called with the news that I did in fact have ICP.  I really don't know how I kept my eyes on the road.  Being diagnosed with ICP meant that Brooke would have to be delivered early because once past 38 weeks, a high risk of stillbirth could occur.  It meant being monitored extremely closely for the remainder of my pregnancy, being put on a handful of medications to monitor my blood levels and itching, and having her and I both exposed to many other scary risks.  This condition is so rare that my wonderful doctor had only ever had one other woman have it in his years of practice.  Most likely Brooke could have some difficulty breathing when she was born and I had the possibility of hemorrhaging as a side effect. Although the itching was unbearable at times, I told myself it was temporary and it would be over soon.  I also tried to have a sense of humor about it all.  I mean, I would be the one to get a rare condition!

On January 6th, I was admitted into our hospital and they began my induction process.  I had just turned 37 weeks.   

After 3 long days of labor and waiting; filled with moments of threatening a C-section, heart rate drops, and dangerous obstacles, we finally got to meet our beautiful girl. 

I have only shared the following pictures of Brooke with family and close friends.  I didn't want everyone seeing her in the state she was in when she was born, but now I understand that it's part of God's story for her.    
  
Brian and I didn't get to have the moment like what you often see on T.V.  There were no tears of joy, or a moment where she was put directly on my chest and we locked eyes for the first time.  Brooke had swallowed meconium and had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and wasn't breathing when she came out.  No one would tell us anything about her condition but I knew it was bad.  I didn't even know what she looked like, I could just hear her struggling to breathe.  She wasn't that beautiful pink color some babies are, she was blue.  She was immediately surrounded by doctors, nurses, and a respiratory team.  Then she was quickly taken to the NICU where she fought for her life. We just recently found out that her APGAR score was a 3 at birth.

One of the sweetest moments after Brooke was born was between my mother in law and I. They had been working on Brooke for some time and weren't telling us anything. My mother in law came into my room and put her check to my check and we both just started crying. She leaned into my ear and began to pray for Brooke. I will always cherish that beautiful moment between us. It helped me to calm down and begin to grasp what had happened.

 
 
 
 
 
 
It wasn't the blissful moment I had thought it would be.  It became about survival for my daughter.  I just wanted her healthy.  I wanted her safe.  I wanted to hold her, but I couldn't.  That was the most difficult thing I think.  I sat by her in the NICU just watching her trying to live and I couldn't hold her, comfort her.  Finally getting to hold her was a huge victory but it broke our hearts to see her hooked up to all those wires and machines. 
 
 

 
 
 
Over the next few days Brooke made great strides and it was such a joyous moment when we were finally able to have her in our hospital room.  We had so many people praying for us that I know it made a difference in Brooke's recovery. 
 
After a LONG stay in the hospital, we were finally able to bring Brooke home.  We would still have a battle with jaundice and weight loss ahead, but Brooke continued to fight her way through everything. 
 
Almost two weeks to the day after I had Brooke, I began to hemorrhage.  I walked out the door of our house thinking I might not return to my baby girl.  It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced.  After a successful surgery, I was able to return home to my sweet girl and finally begin my recovery.  Brooke and I were two peas in a pod, sharing our war wounds. 
 
 
 
Brooke amazes me everyday.  From the very beginning she's had to fight her way through everything.  I definitely think God blessed us with a strong willed little girl. 
 
Although I didn't know all the trials we would face throughout my pregnancy and Brooke's birth, I see now how God made all that a part of her story.  She's already dealt with a lot and that's going to contribute to her character as she grows up. 
 
I'm so happy to share that Brooke is a healthy girl now.  She is beautiful.  Strong.  A night owl like her mama.  Laid back like her daddy.  And she is a child of God.  We can't wait to raise her up to be an example of all that God has blessed her with and His never ending love.  Her birth once again showed me God's power and His unending presence.  There is no sunshine message in this post other than to say that God never lead us down the wrong path during this whole experience.  I know that His healing hand was always over both of us at all times.  The situation could have easily been worse, but He wrapped Brooke in His arms and gave her strength to get better.  So yeah, I guess that is a sunshine message.  She is my sunshine.  She is my message.                  
 


 
Go now baby girl and make your place in this world. 
 
Brooke Catherine Martinsen
01.09.13
7lbs. 0oz.
20.5 inches long
 
 
Thank you for reading this long post!  There was so much to share and I confess that I need to work on editing down my posts!
 
 
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with ICP?  Click here for more information on the condition and treatment options. 

 
What trials have you faced where you God gave you the strength to fight through them?
 
 

4 comments :

  1. That was beautiful amanda! Seeing you go through hard times and come out with a postive outlook on Gods plan for you just makes more of a better role model and you are my role model.-Erin

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  2. Aww, I love this Amanda. I'm so glad you both are doing great. God is still in the healing business and no matter what doctor's say and can do, God is still greater!

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  3. That was beautifully written. She is a beautiful baby and will continue to grow and become stronger. It never fails to amaze me the power of God. She really is a miracle baby and shes lucky to have you and Brian for parents.

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  4. Amanda, what a beautiful story that is. I just had to cry as a read it. The part about your monther-in-law really got to me. As a mom, I could feel the fear and sadness that you must have felt so many times...knowing you still had to be strong. I didn't realize what a little miracle I held in my hands when we came by to see you and Brooke...and you still speaking with such confidence about everything. You are a wonderful young lady and you are going to always be a wonderful mom. I feel blessed to have you for a niece in a way I never realized before...love you lots!

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