I know so many of you have been informed of what has happened out here in CO. You have been praying for us, are really concerned and want an update.
So what happened?
Previous to last week, we spent the last 5.5 weeks in Ft. Collins, CO taking seminary classes through our work with Campus Crusade. Last week, after all that, we vacationed with my family further up the mountains in Dillon, CO in a cabin. We arrived in Dillon last Tues .
Thursday evening Erin began to get symptoms of High Altitude Sickness. Headache, nausea, lack of appetite, couldn't sleep. Friday AM she began to vomit, couldn't keep any fluids down. After 4 hours of throwing up, we called a doctor. High altitude sickness is so common one guy has made a practice of making house calls in the resort areas of the mountains. (His name is Dr. David Gray and he saved Erin's life. So he is good at what he does!) Upon evaluation he was suspicious it was something more significant when we informed him that we had been in Ft. Collins for 5 wks. He felt we should be acclimated to the elevation and that Erin shouldn't have been having such a violent reaction. Erin's blood pressure was so high he wanted us to see an OB doctor immediately. At 230PM we checked into the Frisco, CO hospital. They began to do lab work on her blood and urine and monitor her vitals and Harrison. Her BP was consistently around 170's / 90s.
As soon as her labs came back she was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. A rare pregnancy disease where the placenta throws off blood chemistry circulation in the mother and causes BP to elevate. Veins constrict in the major organs so they do not function properly, and essentially her blood becomes more toxic. If it progresses to far, the mother can have a seizure. Medication can help lower the BP to buy time, but the only cure is to get the placenta out of the mother. So it is a balance of letting the baby keep growing as long as possible and making sure mom will be okay.
Before her lab results came back in the mountains, the doctor told us that for certain the baby would not go to full term, but that we could perhaps buy weeks of time with medication and bed rest. He instructed us that we would most likely need to descend to Denver and be monitored for days until we could be sure she would be okay.
When her labs came back the situation elevated. They were so high he wanted us in Denver immediately. I asked if we could drive, thinking to avoid an ambulance ride, and he said, "no you will be transported by helicopter life flight." It was stressful the entire day, but my heart sunk at that point. They were trying to save her life at this point, and if need be have her in a place where they could receive Harrison in a Neo-natal ICU (NICU). Erin asked if I could go too. "No, only room for 2 nurses, you, and the pilot."
15 minutes later 2 nurses in flight suits walked into the room and began to switch over all of Erin's wires and cords to their machines, put her on a stretcher and get her comfortable for a 26 minute flight to Denver.
I was in shock this whole time, tears welled up, praying my wife would be alive when I saw her again, and extreme gratitude that care was available for her. These guys were amazing. So kind and encouraging. These nurses are the best of the best of the best and I was reassured through their behavior and professionalism that Erin couldn't be in better care.
I watched the helicopter take off and bolted to the cabin to get our stuff say goodbye to my brothers, and headed to Denver. My mom rode with me, and my dad followed in another car.
3 hours later I met up with Erin in her room. Upon her arrival in Denver, they had proceeded with another lab of blood and urine and determined her numbers had slightly elevated. Shortly after, a doctor came in and told us that they would likely need to do a c-section within 48hrs. If it could get any lower at this point, it just did. Our hearts hit the floor. We asked how big Harrison measured and they estimated he was a little over a pound. We looked at each other in disbelief.
6 hrs later, at 3am they did another blood lab and the numbers hadn't gotten worse but they didn't lower. At 6am they informed us her urine sample came back so bad that it was in the best interest for Erin to proceed with surgery and get Little Man and the placenta out.
6:43 they began surgery. 6:51 Harrison was born. 7:30 Erin is out of surgery. 36 hrs prior to all this we thought Erin was having issues with altitude sickness, and now we are parents of a 1# 8 oz, 13 in long beautiful baby boy.
During the surgery they discovered the placenta had pulled away from the uterus and there was some internal bleeding going on. Bad for Harrison and for mom. One of the surgeons said this was the perfect time for him to be taken out. It would have only gotten worse from here.
Did altitude cause this?
There is no determined cause for pre-eclampsia. Young moms can get it, and old mom's can get it, and women with high BP have a tendency to get it. Erin is none of those. In fact after talking with Dr. Gray on the phone in an emotional conversation thanking him for saving my wife and son's life, he felt if anything the altitude brought this silent sickness to the surface and let us know something was wrong that we otherwise probably would have had no idea. We could have been driving through some remote part of any state between CO and NC and had no idea anything was wrong.
Update on Erin:
Erin's recovery- Erin has been recovering really well from surgery. Her BP began to fall soon after surgery, she got an appetite, and was able to get fluids. She is on pain meds and will continue to be on bp meds until her body recalibrates which could take weeks. But she feels fine and has been recovery really well. She delivered on Saturday and will likely be released from the hospital Wednesday 8/3.
Update on Harrison:
Today is day 4 for Little Man.
Harrison has been impressing nurses and doctors every step of the way. I actually heard him in the operating room whimpering so he had a little lung function then, he was struggling to breathe but even at that point it was a really good sign. They put in a breathing tube immediately and had him on a ventilator. There were 16 people in the operating room during the c-section. About half on erin and half to receive Harrison.
He has had 3 remarkable days and today is another. He is doing so well, he almost couldn't be doing better. He is on antibiotics cause his white blood cells are high, so he may be fighting an infection. But different nurses use the same words to describe him- "a fighter", "feisty", "active" "has a temper" When they get in to work on him he begins to churn his arms and kick and pulls on wires around him. They love to see this. It makes them believe he has no infection and think his body is responding to the stress he has been introduced too.
The nurses we have begun to have a relationship with are all optimistic and tell us to be hopeful. This is going to be a "roller-coaster" full of good days and bad days. And there are many complications which they know of that they are keeping hidden from us because it would be too much too soon and perhaps unnecessary. But right now he is doing really really really well. And praise God for that. Everyday that is a good day is a miracle. I have been overwhelmed with the care and consideration they have for us as parents. They have been so informative, realistic, and hopeful with us.
One nurse in particular said, "I've been doing this 25 years and seen kids younger and worse of than him turn out to do great." She is from TX and has been really firm and honest. She said, you can't be concerned until we are concerned, and right now we are not concerned. He is off to a great start, and it could turn on a dime. But we can't think about the what if's, another nurse said, we need to only consider the window of time around us and take one day at a time. At noon today they removed his breathing tube, which was a huge step, and gave him a CPAP mask. So far he has responded really well.
We are going to be in Denver for sometime. God willing, until his due date October 24. There is a chance we could have him transfered to NC, but that would be 2 months out, and a huge insurance claim Blue Cross would need to say yes to, away.
We are in the Ronald McDonald House in Aurora, CO It. Is. Awesome. 3 yrs old, and unbelievable.
Our address is:
Josh and Erin Smith
Room: 3S (as in Sam, NOT 5 as in 6-1=5)
932 Potomac Circle
Aurora, CO 80011
We hate that we are not at home and won't be for a long time. But it is just a mild inconvenience in light of Erin and Harrison being in such good hands and health now.
Here are a couple things you can do if you want to help out:
Target Gift Cards - to help us get settled to life out here
Gift cards for eating out food places. Franchises, chipotle, Jimmy Johns, etc. We are basically operating out of a hotel. Volunteers do provide several meals a week and this is a great set up, but we are basically out here for a long time and have to make it work with only the stuff we brought for the summer with us.
Email us- I know so many are praying for us, but if you would feel led to email us your prayers that would be really encouraging to hear from you that way. Mark Carrington a really good friend just did this and moved me to tears. It was amazing to hear his voice through words and know we are being lifted up before the throne. If you want to email prayers for us that would be amazing. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Many of you have offered us housing and for now the ronald mcdonald house I think will work for us. If anyone knows of something in the Aurora area close to University of Colorado Hospital for short term housing for our family that comes to visit us that would be a great thing for them...
That is enough for now, more to come soon!
Rooting for Little Man,