When Lauren found out she was pregnant in 2009, she began to plan for her beautiful bouncing baby to arrive on April 10. She'd always wanted to be an "organic mommy" - one who uses cloth diapers, breastfeeds, makes her own baby food, etc. She was going to have to do it alone without the father of the baby in the picture. While living with her parents she'd have to make do with whatever help they could lend but she planned to do as much as she could on her own. When she found out her baby would be a girl, she named her Lillian Rachelle and began planning her girly wardrobe, nursery and life.
On February 25, Lauren was put on bed rest for high blood pressure and protein in her urine. She showed signs of preeclampsia and her OB wanted to protect her body and her baby from harm. A few weeks later, on March 11, when Lauren was 36 weeks and Lilli was measuring 4 pounds and 6 ounces, her doctor put her in the hospital for monitoring of her preeclampsia. On March 14, Lauren missed one of her baby showers because she was in the hospital.
Finally, after 10 days in bed at the hospital, Lauren was induced on March 21st (with Cervadil). At noon on March 22nd, the Cervadil was taken out and Pitocin was started. At around 1:30, Lauren was 1 cm dilated. By 5pm, Lauren's blood pressure had risen too high - a C-Section had to be done. They started the C-Section at 5pm on March 22 and Miss Lillian Rachelle Flournoy was born weighing 5 pounds and 1 ounce!
The C-Section ended at 7:16 pm but Lillian had already been rushed to the NICU at Texas Children's Hospital. Lauren's health declined once again and she had to endure a blood transfusion at around 9:40 pm on March 22. Not only did Lauren not get to see or hold her baby but she was near death and found out that her child was very sick also. At 3 am on March 23 doctors told Lauren about her newborn baby's condition (she had a diaphragmatic hernia - her diaphragm did not form during development which allowed all of her abdominal organs to push up into her chest cavity whereby impeding proper lung formation), Lillian was put on an ECMO (or heart/lung machine) while in the NICU to help her breathe. Her heart was in distress and her breathing was labored. On March 23, Lauren got a CT scan to make sure she had no more internal bleeding. On March 23, Lauren was told that Lillian also has a condition called Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (Lillian is missing the section in the middle part of the brain that connects the left and right sides to each other). On March 25, Lauren's hemoglobin levels were tested once again and she was deemed well enough to leave the hospital to go see her baby girl down the street in the NICU at TCH.
On March 26, Lauren was told that Lillian also has Turner Syndrome. We must point out right here that when baby Lillian made it to birth with both Turner Syndrome and a diaphragmatic hernia, many MIRACLES happened. Lillian is the only child on record (per Texas Children's doctors) to ever be born and have both conditions. Most fetuses that have Turner Syndrome (98%) pass away through miscarriage.Lauren was also told that because of having Graves disease herself, that the chances of her ever having a baby were 2%. Having Lillian on the opposite side of town from where we live, and it just so HAPPENED that we were on the same street as Texas Childrens Hospital.. 1 of the 100 facilities in the USA that works with ECMO machines... which Lilli needed to live that night truly makes a whirlwind of miracles.. LILLIAN IS A TRUE MIRACLE AND SHE IS A BEAUTIFUL MIRACLE AT THAT!! :) Because Lillian is considered the sickest baby at Texas Children's right now, Lauren has a standing bed on the floor of the NICU in the Ronald McDonald House room. Lauren has only stayed a few times because it is too quiet and no one is around. She says that no one stays the night to visit their babies that are in the Level III NICU (which is strange because these are the sickest babies...very strange). She doesn't know why but when she's there (which is almost all the time) no other parents are there. She is not comfortable sleeping in the bed there since her C-Section is causing her problems so she's had to be driven to and from NW Houston to The Med Center on a daily basis. On March 26, Lauren was told that Lillian's heart was ok although it was pushed to the right side of her chest due to the diaphragmatic hernia. The doctors began speaking to Lauren about upcoming surgery to repair the hernia so that Lillian's abdominal organs could be put into the right place in her body. On March 27th, the morphine drip for Miss Lillian was reduced (yay!). On March 28, doctors determined that Lillian's blood was not clotting properly. They did reduce the settings on the ECMO from 100% down to 80% and Lillian began sucking on her binky! :) On March 29, Lillian was successfully taken off of ECMO to see if that would help with her bleeding problem. They were able to weigh her and due to all the swelling (from not urinating), she weighed 7.5 pounds. On March 30, Lauren began to get an infection of her C-Section. She went to the doctor and had to be away from Lillian for several stretches at a time and missed her so much. In the meantime, on March 30, Lillian got a PICC line and the doctors switched meds to see if that would help her urinate. On March 31, Lillian lowered her morphine, got off 2 meds and urinated a little!! She opened her eyes and stared at her mommy for the first time and cried a little bit (because of all of the tubes, Lauren cannot hear the cries much - they are muffled - she so wishes she could hear Lilli's cries!) On April 1, Lillian got off all of her meds except for one that helps her urinate (and morphine). Doctors are still talking about surgery for the hernia and hope to do it very soon. On April 2, Lillian begins to lose a lot of her fluid and is very ready for surgery. Doctors think that maybe early the next week it can happen if she continues to lose fluid and if her heart stays strong. Since Lauren is pumping her milk all night every night (and during the day at the hospital), she calls the nurses in the NICU whenever she can to check-on her precious Lilli Bug. She hopes they don't get annoyed but knows that they better get used to her calling!! During a visit to the NICU on April 2, Lauren's hematoma under her C-Section incision began to bleed - all over the NICU!! Lillian's primary nurse helped Lauren and took her to St. Luke’s hospital ER (right next door) where they could fix her up quickly. Luckily she got help when she did or she might have had more problems. While there, Dr. Jen Arnold from "The Little Couple" on TLC, reached out to Lauren to check on her and baby Lilli. On April 4 (Easter), although the nurses told Lauren to stay home and rest after her ordeal on the 2nd, Lauren knew she couldn't miss seeing her sweet Easter Lilli! She saw her and kissed her for a few minutes. On April 7, at 9:06 am, Lillian got wheeled into surgery for her diaphragmatic hernia. Unfortunately, Lauren was on the NW side of town when she got the call even though the doctors and nurses promised her that they'd call her before they prepped her so that it would give Lauren enough time to get to the Med Center before the surgery so she could kiss her baby before surgery. Lauren was not happy but the waiting game had begun. She was driven to TCH by her parents to wait for the 3 hour surgery to be over and to get news that it'd been a success. At 2:47 pm, Lillian came out of surgery and the doctors said that it was successful.
On April 8, Lauren was finally told by her doctor that she could begin to drive again. This was such happy news for her - now she could visit her baby whenever she wanted (not having to rely on parents or friends to drive her 30 + miles one way)...On April 10, it was Lauren's BEST DAY EVER! She got to hold her Lilli Bug for the first time ever! Also, she got to change Lillian's diaper for the first time! Lillian also got to eat Momma's milk (just 6 cc's) for the first time ever!!
Lauren hopes for more good days than bad. She's a positive person, but as the days have turned to weeks and Lillian turns 3 weeks old tomorrow (April 12th), Lauren has begun to think about the future and what it might hold. She planned and dreamed about her future with Lillian. Now she doesn't know what to think. She's not sure how long her baby will be hospitalized. She's not sure what the future holds for Lilli with her medical conditions and needs. She's not sure who in the world would employ someone like her when she's got to have a flexible schedule to care for her precious daughter. And, right now she's still in school (to become a Child Life Specialist). How will she be able to concentrate and finish her degree while going back and forth between NW Houston and the Med Center to visit and take care of her baby in the NICU - ALONE? All Lauren wants is to take her sweet baby home to live as much as a normal life as possible. Hopefully with help from God, friends, family and maybe even some complete strangers, she can try to live out that wish.