I've Gained a New Title...Aunt!
"In all things it is better to hope than despair."- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Hey little fighter, soon it will be brighter" - Sunrise Avenue
On Monday, August 29th, Kennedy Ann Contrera entered the world with a bang. This little firecracker decided she wasn't going to wait any longer and must have known her mom's last day at work was Monday, she wasn't going to let her relax, nest, put her feet up..nothing. Little Kennedy knew it was her time to shine. Kennedy was 7 lbs 4 oz, 19 inches long. Her story this far is a big one, but nothing that her brave, strong mother and supportive family can't handle. I want to share her story with you because not only am I all about educating others but right now, it's all about this little babe so the more people who know, the more prayers and positive vibes can be sent her way.
My sister said it best, "Feeling impatient but hopeful that God only gives us what we can handle. I didn't choose this path but I am strong enough for it! August 29th at 5:42pm Kennedy Ann Contrera came into my life with a bang! 7lbs 4 oz and 19 inches long! After an emergency C section and a traumatic delivery this little fighter continues to pull through! Hope for HIE // hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy! Until a beautiful soul reached out to me this afternoon I felt fairly alone with this diagnosis of my daughter. However, after speaking to a complete stranger who's daughter also was diagnosed with HIE or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy I have regained hope for the future! This is never how I pictured my birth announcement to be or my delivery! But that's ok Kennedy and I just have a different path <3 A path that we are both strong enough for!"
According to HopeforHIE.org, HIE can be best understood as "Hypoxic (lack of oxygen) Ischemic (restricting blood flow) encephalopathy (affecting the brain). When the brain is deprived of oxygen, brain cells are injured. Some may recover, some may die. The most common causes of oxygen deprivation to the brain are low levels of oxygen in the blood or a reduced flow of oxygen to the brain. This can happen in a variety of ways prior to birth, during the birth process, after birth, and during childhood. Different alternate diagnoses include perinatal encephalopathy, perinatal asphyxia, neonatal encephalopathy or birth asphyxia.
As my sister stated, this diagnosis is not an easy one to come to terms with, but we are remaining positive. I can't say enough about my sister, Amelia. She has taken full control of this situation, has talked with others who have a child with this diagnosis, is learning as much as she can from the nurses and doctors, and is nothing but a supportive, proud momma and advocate for her daughter. I don't know if I would be able to remain as strong as she has been through all of this.
Let's give a little story from the past week so you can understand this rollercoaster ride.
On Monday, Amelia went in to the hospital because she wasn't feeling Kennedy move much that day. She got to the hospital around 4:30 and within 20 minutes was getting prepped for an emergency c-section, which they were about to do in the hallway if the O.R wasn't clean! Within 10 minutes (about 4:40-4:50), her texts to me went from the doctors just monitoring baby to holey cow they are taking her out. Mind you, we had this big plan to have her sit on an exercise ball, have some nice oil diffusers in the room for calming, try and go the all natural way, I was the planned coach to be with her..apparently we should have listened when people laughed at us when we told them about the 'plan'. I rushed out of my house, yelling at Curtis to throw things in a bag like food, phone charger, whatever I could think of, and made it to the hospital before baby was out. My biggest worry was Amelia being there alone, I didn't want that at all so thank goodness for no traffic that afternoon because it was definitely rush hour. I made it to the hospital, they put me in O.R clothes (what do you call those? safety gear? zip-up blood protectors?) and took me back to sit with her while they got the baby out. Once Kennedy was out, the doctors had a lot of work to do and I was told to go back and wait in the triage room where my sister would eventually come back to once she was all stitched back up. That part was scary, all we wanted was to hear Kennedy's cry that never came. The next few hours were tough for Amelia, filled with uncertainty and confusion I am sure. Not being able to see your baby for hours would be so extremely difficult. She had so many questions not only for the doctors but for herself as well. All I wanted was for her to not feel guilty or that this was her fault, but it's not fair for someone to tell someone else how they should or shouldn't be feeling so all I could do was be there for her and comfort her.
The next couple of days were hard but slowly started to get better. We had a small baptism for Kennedy with Amelia, Travis (our brother who flew in Tuesday from St. Louis), myself, and the pastor from our grandma's church. That was quite beautiful and she even had some funny reactions during the small service. Kennedy has been on a ventilator and a few other machines since birth, and is having constant tests to monitor her status. Like I said, though, things are starting to look better. We can't lose sight of reality, though. She is still considered 'critically stable' and is still in the NICU, but her ventilator might come out today or tomorrow! My sister has been up there often to assist with oral care, reads books to her, sits at her bedside to keep her company. She has been limiting visitors to avoid Kennedy feeling over stimulated because in the beginning, the presence of people would cause stress and we just want her to heal.
The only thing I want right now is for Amelia to hold her daughter and have that bonding time with her, to make up for the past week, Poor Kennedy has looked so uncomfortable laying there, but the NICU nurses at Henry Ford are amazing and we know she is in the best hands.
There's a long road ahead full of healing but full of so much love for this little girl. These women in our family are STRONG, I have faith that Kennedy will make it home soon. She has a beautiful room full of elephants and books and stuffed animals and soft blankets. She has a guard dog just waiting to snuggle her. She has a momma waiting to get even less sleep because she will be up all night watching her and cuddling and feeding her. She has a crazy aunt that will be there all the time holding her and playing with her. We will give her the best life possible. The future is still unclear, but as the days progress we learn more and more what it holds. More tests will provide a better understanding, and we are ready and accepting of whatever comes our way. That's what family is for.
Here are some pictures of baby Kennedy, or as I like to call her (just decided the other day), my little cookies & cream, or maybe just cookie for short. Still working on it those nick names. My favorite is the nickname given to her by her momma...little chicken nugget.
If everyone can send their prayers and positive vibes her way, that would be incredible! She's a warrior, but let's help her out. No one should have to go through this, especially not a new born baby and her sweet mom.
For more information on HIE, visit http://www.hopeforhie.org/