Bryan and Tania Nelson
It was a 20 hour bus ride home to visit my parents. I was six months pregnant, tucked away in my bag were pictures of the ultrasound of a beautiful, happy, little girl. I couldn’t wait to show my Mom and Dad. I had a previous miscarriage at three months, but this baby had made it to the six month mark. Every little kick in my belly reminded me that something really special was about to change our lives. We had already named her, Evangeline Shirley.
When I arrived at my parents, my Mom propped up some pillows to elevate my legs that now looked like two large tree stumps. Everyone swells, it would go away in a few days. But a few days came and went and the swelling never went away. My sister convinced me that a small check up would be quick and mind easing. So we went. A listen to the heartbeat, a blood pressure check, then this hooked up and that hooked up, till I was surrounded by every piece of equipment a small town hospital could hold. I was still convinced that they were outdoing their precautions, inside my bag my little girl still looked happy and healthy.
And then a stretcher and then the ambulance and then being tied down to a bed to be rushed to a University hospital in the nearby city. The precautions suddenly seemed like overkill. My sister was soon on the phone to my husband. A long ways away and now panicked, he began the long journey to be with us.
I was rushed into the woman’s delivery ward, nurses quickly attending to me, taking blood, giving me an IV and hooking me up to machines. On my belly was a heart beat monitor. Finally, I could hear her, little Evangeline, the clear and strong sound of her heartbeat, the muffles from her moving around in my belly. What a sense of relief and joy it was to hear her. But the sense of relief was short lived.
We’ll have to do a blood transfusion in-utero, the doctor told me.
Back upstairs in the delivery ward after the transfusion, I saw my Mom let out a huge sigh of relief as they wheeled me back into place next to her chair at my bedside. The nurses came about quickly, searching around my belly for Evangeline’s heartbeat so we could hear it once more. You are mirroring her, they told me. Sometimes a Mother’s heartbeat rises when the baby is sick. Just to be sure, they had her heartbeat and not mine, they brought in the ultrasound machine.
There were five nurses there with my Mom and I, looking at the screen and watching Evangeline. The room was quiet and I leaned up again to catch a glimpse of her on the monitor.
The nurse looked back at me sullen and gentle. I’m sorry, she said.
Oh Evangeline, my little Angel, you didn’t make it.
Bryan and I got to see her, lifeless but beautiful and hold her in our arms for a little while, her perfect nose and tiny lips, her beautiful fingers and cute little toes.
NAIT. Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia. A large and awful name for what happened to my little girl.
Two years later, I was six months pregnant again. Full swing into treatment, which consisted of 23 total weekends of 24 hour IVIG infusions, 90 mg per day of prednisone and exhaustion.
In February 2014, at 35 weeks pregnant, our little girl arrived by C-section. In the operating room, we learned she had 11,000 platelets but no bleeds. Josephine received IVIG, two platelet transfusions and only days later her counts went up and remained stable.
Josephine brought a happiness to hearts that we hadn’t experienced since Evangeline’s death. She is a beautiful little girl with a brilliant future and an angel watching over her shoulder.