October 27, 2010 was the last day that my daughter breathed on her own.
If we want to get technical, Abby has never breathed unassisted. She had a trumpet clearing her airway put it immediately after birth and was placed under an oxygen tent until she had her emergency tracheostomy at five days old on October 27th.
To relive that difficult day a little...Abby had been really struggling to breathe, and the day before had given us enough of a scare that the emergency response team had been called in. I felt completely helpless watching the team work on my little girl. Saturation levels were down in the 30s (out of 100%) and we were constantly repositioning and stimulating Abby to try to improve her breathing. It was becoming more and more evident that the trumpet wasn't working.
I had gone to the rest room and was then heading downstairs to grab some lunch with Matt and bring it back up. I popped my head back in Abby's room to let the nurse know we would be back in a few minutes.
She stopped me, told me that the doctor had decided that Abby needed to be intubated, and informed me that they were heading to the OR. I asked if I could go get Matt, and she told me to hurry. I distinctly remember saying, well it's not an emergency...and she looked at me with very serious eyes and said, "Yes, it is."
I ran down the hall to get Matt and we hurried back to Abby's room. They quickly ushered us through the halls with Abby to the OR. During the traveling, we were asked if we wanted them to proceed with a tracheostomy if the intubation was unsuccessful. We said yes without a moment's hesitation because we knew that the tracheostomy could very well save Abby's life.
After hurriedly signing the consent forms for the trach outside of the OR (they had already taken Abby in to get her prepped), I looked the ENT in the eye and said, "Don't you dare let anyone else touch her but you!" He assured me that he wouldn't (I'm kind of anti-residents using my kid to learn on, but that's a different story.) Then I broke down in sobs and begged him to save my girl.
We were taken to a waiting room where we cried and prayed for what seemed like an eternity before the nurse practitioner came out to tell us that the intubation had failed and that the ENT had to proceed with the tracheostomy. We sobbed for the hard road ahead, but prayed fervently that this would work and that we would have Abby. Please just let us have her. I'll take her any way. Just let us have her.
Fast forward 22 months, 5 surgeries, 10 nurses, and 4,389,2068 I Love Yous later to September 6, 2012.
Abby was decannulated at 12:10 p.m. and is doing GREAT! After a long nap where she slept off the last effects of the the anesthesia, she played, charmed, and sassed her way through the evening!
She has been asleep for about half an hour and her saturation level is currently 99% out of 100%. Keep it up, Abs!
As long as everything looks good tonight, we will go home tomorrow and begin the next chapter.
If you didn't catch the emotion in the first half of this post, know that we are beyond amazed that this is happening. I never, ever thought that Abby would be decannulated before her second birthday. In fact, my answer to that question was always that she would go to school with a trach.
There was a time when I couldn't think about Abby's future much beyond that day, because it was too painful to think that I may lose out on so much time with her. One by one, the limitations that had been placed upon Abby were torn off by a God who is much bigger than statistics. This was the item to be crossed off of the "Abby Will Never..." list. I think we can officially chuck it in the trash!!!!!!!
There's so much more floating around in my head, but the emotional and physical exhaustion from the last few days is keeping me from staying focused and formulating coherent thoughts. So I apologize if this is a little all over the place! I did want to make sure I shared tonight though, because I wanted the raw emotion to be felt.
For now, know that we are so incredibly thankful for the family members who have supported us every step of this journey, for Abby's cheerleaders (there are many of you!!) who have encouraged her and us, for the therapists and nurses who have pushed Abby to get her to where she is now, and most of all...to a wonderful God who chose to perform so many miracles in our daughter so that we might share His power and faithfulness.