Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The history of Savannah - (A review of my pregnancy and her birth)

Terrence and I kept our 4th pregnancy on the down-low until I was about 4 months along. With our prior 3 pregnancies, we were quite vocal and made the announcement to everyone as soon as we found out. However, with our third pregnancy, just within a week of making our announcement, I had a miscarriage. It was so devastating to us, that we didn't want our friends and family to have to suffer in our pain a second time if the same thing were to result with our 4th pregnancy.

After we reached the 4th month, we felt pretty confident that we could share the good news with everyone. We made the announcement on Mother's Day. It was such a good feeling to have everyone share in our joy and excitement.

Not long after we made this announcement, the troubles began. I started spotting. I went into panic mode, as this was how we found out about our miscarriage the last time. After having an ultrasound done, we were told that I had a small blood clot on my placenta. I was told I could continue working but not to overdo it.

On June 5, I was at a wedding, and the bleeding got worse, in addition to turning bright red. It wasn't terribly heavy, but it was enough to cause alarm. Again we had this checked out by ultrasound. Everything looked fine for the most part, except now I had developed a marginal placenta previa. This is when the placenta is close to covering the cervix. A full placenta previa is when the placenta completely blocks the cervix, which, in turn, blocks the baby from being able to be born by a vaginal delivery. I was told that it was normal for many women to bleed lightly throughout their entire pregnancy, and there wasn't much I could do about it.

I was also told that as the uterus grows, the placenta could likely move out of the way of the cervix and everything could be fine, and I might still be able to have a vaginal birth.

Not much longer after this, I caught a cold, and was having a great deal of coughing, sneezing and blowing my nose. While I was still sick, my water broke! We feel that the symptoms of the cold aided in this misfortune. I had this confirmed by a visit with my midwife. She said that our lives would greatly change over the course of the next several months, as I would have to go on a strict bed rest. I followed her orders and remained in bed, only to get up to use the restroom.

After 8 weeks on bed rest, I began to get really stir-crazy. I was alone upstairs by myself all day long. Terrence took the kids over to my mother-in-law's house in the morning and didn't pick them up until 10pm or later some nights. I had a ton of work to keep me busy on the computer, but I felt so empty inside and so isolated. I didn't have my kids, and my husband was downstairs working all day.

I cheated a few times. Yes, I admit it. I was tired of bed rest. I went down stairs, did some walking around when I shouldn't have, cleaned some dishes. Terrence even told me to go back to bed. I didn't listen. My nesting instincts were kicking in like crazy, and I was hungry for attention.

I landed myself in the emergency room one morning after waking up at 4am with a blood-saturated mattress and having passed a blood clot the side of a tennis ball.
I was released two days later, after the bleeding lessened a bit, and given modified bed-rest, meaning that I could get up to eat meals. I took full advantage of this. I perhaps took this too far, and began to help prepare the meals as well. For the most part, I still remained under full bed rest.

Two weeks later, there was more bright red bleeding with contractions. I went in for an ultrasound and was told to take pills to control the contractions and stay on complete bed rest.

Not quite two weeks following this, I began to hemorrhage. We called our midwife for advice. She told Terrence to have me drink some juice to see if I felt the baby kick and call her back in 15 minutes. I drank the juice, and we felt the baby kick. We asked the midwife what to do next, and she said she thought we should go to the hospital. We delayed in going. I had just taken my pill to stop contractions, and Terrence wanted to wait to see if the bleeding would stop.

It didn't.

After lying down on the couch for 15-20 minutes, the clots started to come one after the other. I couldn't change pads quick enough. I slumped over on the toilet and eased myself down onto the cold tile floor. I had no energy to stand. I told Terrence to take me to the hospital immediately.
A friend of ours arrived just in time to watch our kids while Terrence helped me to the car. When we arrived, I was beyond weak, and felt that death was all too near to me and my baby. I was praying continuously that God would save us. I heard the nurses talking to me but had difficulty responding and answering their questions. I was so, so weak. Shortly after arriving to the emergency room, I was being prepped for surgery. I was laying on the operating table praying over and over to God. They said there was no time for an epidural, and they were going to put me out using a gas mask, so they could get the baby out as quickly as possible.

Just before they put the mask over my nose and mouth, I asked them all if they would pray for me and my baby. I heard an overwhelming number of voices say, "Yes, absolutely." One nurse came up to me and put her head next to mine and held my hand as she prayed in my ear. That is the last thing I remember before I was out.

When I woke up, I asked how my baby was. They told me she was very sick and they were working on making her stable. They told me that I had a complete placental abruption, something they had never witnessed before. When they pulled Savannah out of my womb she was completely blue and not moving, barely even alive. The placenta lifted right out, it wasn't attached to anything. The placenta is supposed to remain completely attached to the lining of the uterus until after the baby is born. That is what supplies the baby with oxygen. If the placenta detaches, the baby's oxygen supply is cut off.

Hours later, after they had her stable, they let me see her before they transported her to another hospital that had a level 3 NICU.

One of the doctors told me that Savannah had some seizures and if we found out she suffered severe brain damage, the best thing might be to let her go.

Following the surgery, we learned that each minute we delayed in getting to the hospital was one extra minute Savannah was without oxygen.

Savannah is now 4 weeks old. She is still in the level 3 NICU. She has not cried since she was born, and she is still being tube fed. Luckily, she can now breath on her own, but after getting the results of the MRI back, we now know that she suffered horrendous brain damage at the time of birth. Both her right and left sides of the brain have been affected. The doctors are over 90% (if not 100%) certain that Savannah will have cerebral palsy and mental retardation. On a scale of 1 to 10, with a 10 being completely brain dead, Savannah's brain scored a 7. Her brain is also not growing at a normal rate, if at all. It has only grown 1 cm since she was born 4 weeks ago, and a healthy baby brain grows at the rate of 1cm each week.

We have been doing quite a bit of research on treatment programs available to help Savannah and have come across a clinic in New Orleans, led by Dr. Harch. Here are some encouraging videos we have watched that have given us some hope. They have to do with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).

We are continuing to do more research, and will be doing as much fund-raising as possible to get Savannah these HBOT treatments. The first set of 40 treatments, done over a 2 month period, will cost $9,000. Savannah will more than likely need 2 full years of treatments, with on-going booster treatments.

We will keep everyone posted with up-coming fund-raiser events, which will hopefully start soon, as we are looking to begin the first set of treatments the first week of December. Donations can be made right here on our blog as well! Thank you so much for your support!


  1. Thank you for posting your journey! We continue to pray and send love to you and your beautiful family, and will be happy to donate very soon. This could have easily happened to us, and I think it's so important to make people aware. Thank you Suzi!

  2. You guys are so strong, Suzi & Terrence. We will do what we can to help you guys with this tremendous burden. I hope to be at the next LVWP mixer and I will bring something for the auction. I'm tweeting & your story and this blog. God bless you all.

  3. I am so happy that this is up now! You guy are so strong and will be continually in my prayers! Love you!!

  4. I will link and post this blog. My thoughts are with you. You are so brave.- Melissa Webb

  5. I just finished reading it all and watching those 2 videos and the tears are flowing! What an amazing miracle.

  6. I just read ur blog and can't stop the heart fully goes out to u an ur family! My daughter was born 14 weeks early and could have been in this same situation...not being able to make ur baby better, or be able to take her home with u was the hardest thing I have ever went through. I am so very sorry that ur little girl is going through all of this! U sound like a very strong person, and that will help ur baby girl stay strong too! I will pray for little savannah and ur family every day!!!

  7. I'm so touched that sharing our story is making an impact already! Thank you all for your comments and support! Truly, truly, I am appreciative of all the encouragement.

  8. Suzi and Terrance. We don't know you as well as we'd like too, but we LOVE YOU! I can't stop thinking about what you have all been through. Those video's are very inspiring. Joe and I will be donating very soon and often. Our hearts and prayers are with you. <3

  9. As I read this aloud to my wife, Jackie this morning, I couldn't get through this without having to stop many times to pull it together. I cannot imagine experiencing this level of pain and sadness. Suzi, you and Terrence are both very strong people. It is critical, for the well being of your family, and especially Savannah, that you two stay strong for each other. You are in our thoughts every day, and in our prayers every night - Kevin and Jackie Cordova

  10. Suzi & Terrence...I know without a doubt, that our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ is with Savannah & hasn't left her for even one second. Always remember that nothing is impossible for God. I believe in God & miracles. I know that God's will & plan for this precious child will be done. I will be praying every day for her & for your family. Keep your eyes on the Lord & put your complete trust & faith in Him. He's never left or forsaken any of you & He never will.
    Love in Jesus
    Velvet Blodgett
    (Ashley's mom)

  11. Hi, your blog was forwarded to me by my sister in law, and I would like to help. I have an active organization called Parent Resource Network in Pittsburgh that reaches across the nation to help families like yours. Please contact me at and we can talk! Kelly Fraasch

  12. Hi Suzi,

    I just got done reading your post and my heart feels for you. I know we've only spoken once before but I could tell that you & Terrence are WONDERFUL people. My husband and I will keep you & your family in our prayers.
    <3 Wendhy Jeffers

  13. Hi! We are here in Las Vegas too and heard about you through the Portrait Palooza site, I am going to photography school right now and I felt a real connection to your story. I actually was crying while reading your blog as it brought back memories of my 15 yr old daughter's birth. Different complications, same outcome, emergency Csection with gas mask, blue baby, seizures, long stay in the NICU and , in the end, a Dx of Choreo-Athetoid CP and moderate MR, with a seizure disorder, permanent feeding tube and quadriplegic. The grieving period was hard. Dealing with PPD and basically the "loss" of our child while she was still in our arms. She is now 15 and things have been a roller coaster over the years, sometimes harder, sometimes a breeze. We love her to pieces and God has used her and our story tremendously over the years to minister to people but we would never wish this life on anyone. When she was about 5 yrs old we first started hearing about HBOT and looked into it ourselves only to find that it would probably be a futile attempt because it had been so long since the oxygen deprivation. I've heard wonderful things about it and truly pray that your family gets the opportunity that we didn't have available.

  14. May you feel the comfort & strength of God's arms wrapped around your family. A child's brain is amazing in it's ability to regenerate & God is an amazing healer. Miracles be upon you all.

  15. christina_m_stephensDecember 28, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    I have been through 4 preemies and one of them had a level 3 cerebral hemporage and fluid on the brain (34 1/2 weeker, a 29 1/2 weeker, a 28 1/2 weeker and a 29 weeker). He is now a thriving 5th grader in normal classes. I was told to give up hope and that he would never be "normal". Turns out the brain regenerates, rewires and re-programs. Don't give up hope....
    I remember the horrible road in NICU every time. I had two of them in a hospital that was about 100 miles away from my home.
    I remember the challenges of Drs not listening when I voiced concerns when I was pregnant.
    But, now sense time has passed and all of the hard work is done... I know it was all worth it and that my children are where they are because I never stoped fighting for them... I never gave up hope...
    Keep fighting the good fight...