Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It was the best day of our lives, it was the worst day of our lives

Our baby girl is already 8 days old.   She finally decided to make her entrance on June 26th (a full 10 days late), and a dramatic entrance it was.  My plan for a homebirth ended when after 7 hours of active labor and a few hours of pushing she wouldn't descend far enough to come out.  After being transported to the hospital, the doctor decided that a cesarean was needed because baby was in too much distress during contractions to merit any further pushing.  So, I found myself on the operating table within minutes and at 1:34 pm, Avienne was born and handed off to a very relieved papa who showed her off to me with more pride than I've ever seen a man have.  We were completely in awe of how perfect she was and how full our hearts felt at the sight of her.  It was the most love-filled moment of my entire life.

Sadly, though, our happiness was short-lived when 10 hours later, my doctor came in to deliver us the most shocking news. An HIV test that I had agreed to have in the recovery room only a few hours earlier, had come back positive and was going to need a much more reliable test called the Western Blot to confirm its accuracy.  My doctor tried to reassure us that the so-called "rapid" test that the hospital performs is not always accurate and has been known to provide false-positive results in pregnant women during their third trimester. Since the blood that was used for the test was taken when I was still pregnant, there was a significant chance that the test would be a false-positive, but we would not be sure until the results were in at least 48 hours later. Unfortunately for us, 48 hours turned into 5 days of the most torturous waiting that we've ever experienced. And, during this time, not only was I requested not to breastfeed my newborn, but as parents we faced the most terrifying decision of whether or not to administer a preventive medication to our 12-hour old daughter that would reduce her chances of contracting the disease from 30% to less than 2%. 

The first few precious days of our baby girl's life had now been tarnished by an unbearably heavy cloud of guilt and worry. At a time when we are supposed to be losing sleep over a crying, hungry baby, we were losing our minds with impatience. The guilt of what we had done to our child, the bonding I was losing out on because I couldn't breastfeed, the agonizing decisions we had to make, the shame of not knowing where I could have contracted the virus, all could have been prevented had I been tested earlier in my pregnancy as is standard practice for all prenatal providers in Texas. Very unfortunately my midwife never offered me this test and when my blood was tested, HIV was completely left off the slate. When the hospital nurse came into my recovery room to tell me that my chart didn't show I'd been tested for HIV during pregnancy, I didn't understand why the test had not been given nor the implications of getting a positive result now that my baby was born. 

But, this isn't a story with a sad ending. While waiting to see a pediatrician at the Infectious Diseases office, I got the call with the results that I was definitely HIV negative and was told that the rapid test had indeed produced a false-positive result like it had done for many other pregnant women. The worst waiting game of our lives was over and we can finally get on with our lives as new parents to the most precious baby girl we could have ever hoped to call our own. 

This incident, as tragic as it was for us, will forever be a part of our first born's birth story.  My hope is that by telling it, I'll help prevent it from happening to other unsuspecting parents who may not have been given the option of a test early in pregnancy.  It's the one and only thing that could have been done to prevent the horrifying week we spent in limbo. Now that we can move on with our lives, we're doing so without taking any single moment for granted. We're putting this behind us and doing everything we can to make up for lost time.


A few photos from this first week.








11 comments:

Justin said...

I love you three so much. So sorry to hear about all the complications. I'm just glad after all of it the end result is three, beautiful, loving and amazing people.

Irisa said...
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Irisa said...

Still cannot believe the week you all have had. But, I'm happy all is better and now you can focus on all the happiness and joy that is to be had for the rest of your lives! I cannot wait to meet Avienne! :)

Hannah said...

congratiulations! She's soooo beautiful. her hair, her gorgeous mouth. perfect. can't wait to see more of her

Crystal said...

Wow, Sarah, I can't even begin to imagine how stressful that would have been for all of you. I'm SO happy things turned out ok, and that you can move on from this.

Your daughter is as cute as a button, and I wish you all the best in your new life together as a family of 3 :)

Bisous from France

Diary of Why said...

That sounds traumatic and terrifying, but I'm happy everything is ok in the end. Congratulations on your gorgeous family!

Jennie said...

That must have been so incredibly stressful for you! I'm so sorry you had to go through 5 days of torture because of that darn false-positive. I'm so happy that everything turned out great and everyone is healthy!! Félicitations !!! Gros bisous d'Australie !

Ksam said...

Oh my gosh, I can 't believe you guys were in limbo for so long - how stressful!! I'm so relieved it all turned out in the end though!

And little A was just waiting to be born on the best day of the year! :)

Rachel said...
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Rachel said...

Meilleurs voeux pour toi et toute ta famille. So cute!

Trish said...

What an insane thing to have to go through. But at least the end result was a happy one.

And thanks for sharing so other women know that if they aren't offered an HIV test, they should request one in the beginning of their pregnancy. I'm not sure if they hadn't offered it to me it would have occurred to me to ask for one.