Ava Rose & Arya Rose Bilodeau
Ava Rose & Arya Rose
I learned I was pregnant on Mother's Day this year. I was surprised and happy...but certainly...thrown...for a loop...I was thrown again when I found out at my first ultrasound there was not one...but... two sacs...two placentas...two babies.
Pregnancy was wonderful, I still miss it to this day. I wanted to share my joy. Pregnancy made me want to reach out to every person I felt far from. I begged Jeff for us to move back to Minnesota so I could try and mend every avenue with my family. They also wanted to give it a shot...and offered us their beautiful apartment to stay in free of charge, no strings attached, so we could save. In July we tried it...Jeff's love truly shines for me in this move because we left an amazing thing...despite his qualms...we left a great at job...a rental in our dream country city of Calhan Colorado, three bedrooms, five acres, three outbuildings ($550 a month). Unfortunately we stayed at my parents home only three days realizing very quickly that we had made a mistake.
We traveled then to Illinois, our last resort and only hope for security since this was and is Jeff's home base. The two months in Illinois were grueling, we were homeless and I was getting more and more pregnant. Jeff worked so hard for us and eventually we added another vehicle to our world, a 2007 12 passenger van. We converted it into a live-in vehicle.
In September I began having issues with my pregnancy. I felt funny. I ended up in the emergency room three times within two weeks, I tried to convince the doctors I was not in a good place...that I needed to be looked at thoroughly. Nothing was taken seriously in Illinois. Nearing the middle of the month of September Jeff tried to convince me to move back to Colorado ahead of him because of the amazing doctors we had...he wanted me to go alone and to let him finish out his work commitments in Illinois he said he would meet me in October. I felt...in many ways, abandoned by him when he said that, but ultimately I knew he was right. This also meant I would be striking out on my own as a homeless pregnant woman...scary on a lot of levels...this lead me to understand I would have to give up my best friend and dog Joy. I knew I wouldn't be able to leave her in my car as I was at the hospital (I intuitively knew I was not in a good place with my pregnancy). I called up my old docs in Colorado Springs and they said "of course come back". I rehomed joy to a great lady after talking with her vet and her reference I felt...mixed emotions about the transition but I knew somehow I had to move quickly. The day I gave up Joy was the day I left for Colorado...September 19th.
On September 20 around 3 am I arrived at St. Joseph's fresh off the road after a long trip from Illinois...trying to get back to Colorado in time for my doctor's appointment at Colorado Springs Maternal Fetal Medicine by October 8th. I was having contractions much of my time on the road but after talking with one of my nurses over the phone she assured me they were likely just Braxton hicks...since they were only 5 per hour
As I traveled on 80 I was passing Denver...something inside of me told me to stop and go to the hospital. I did not know of the existence of the St. Joseph's incredible NICU.
Ava Rose was born on September 22nd at 24 weeks and 1 day gestation...at 9:58am 480grams. When she was born her father and I chose to do comfort care...(we chose not to resuscitate her, and to let her pass on). We chose this because of the uncertainty of the quality of her life. We were told she would be gone within hours if not minutes, we were told she would not have the capacity to cry or to swallow...we were also told that if we allowed her to pass on we could try and experimental procedure of putting her placenta back inside of me attempting to give her sister another chance to grow. It was the hardest decision I had ever made (with another one coming). The promise of Arya being given more time was what we chose, if we would have chosen to resuscitate her they would have done a C-section and this would mean they would have to take out both babies...both at 24 weeks and 1 day. Both with the chance of having many challenges (risks we own today). Ava's was a breach natural birth with her little feet and legs and even torso hanging in my cervix. The labor was not as intense as it had been but it was the experience I had always longed for...I pushed only a few times dilated to 8. She came up to me and we both cried...I looked at her...I immediately felt I had chosen wrong. Ava nursed and cried and lived on and on. At the second hour we asked if we could change our mind. The doctors said no...that the damage had already been done. Going on 12 hours Ava lived. After this amount of time, Dr. Pantoja one of the lead NICU doctors heard through the grapevine what was happening with this remarkable infant...and came to see her...after some time trying to decide the best path to take we chose the long road ahead of us here at the NICU.
And her sister? The team did try and keep her inside...but it was hard. Arya Rose was born 8 days later, 25 weeks and 2 days. With Arya there was a lot of scary things happening... Her heartbeat kept dipping and her water was discovered to have been broken the day her sister was born. There was tremendous risk and we wanted to keep her safe. On September 30 at 11:43pm Arya was whisked from my cut open belly and placed in an incubator I watched as they wheeled her away as an OB put me back together. This was the most bittersweet moment of my life to date. I longed to hold her but couldn't...the black and white nature of the medical industry is a confusing thing. I had pleaded with my team to see if I could have a moment with her...any moment at all but since we chose the NICU road for her...they followed protocol. Ava was the exception, Arya was routine.
Both girls have defied odds in the beginning of their journey. Arya was on high flow oxygen (very little support) for nearly two weeks. Ava recovered from a routine heart surgery remarkably well, yet, as of today, there are still many hurdles ahead and they are both as of today average in their healing and progress for infants of their gestational age. There have been ups and downs and more to be expected.
I will be updating this site Sunday nights. Thank you for joining us on our journey. These two roses have their thorns, but we believe they will make them stronger, if not for this world, for the next.