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Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Anniversary....Or Two

June is a busy month here at the Thornton household.  It's Father's Day, Arlee's Birthday, our wedding anniversary, and another anniversary of sorts.  Many people don't know about the "extra" anniversary we have now added to our June calendar.  Let me start from the beginning.  

On June 17, 2013 this sweet baby was born. 

Arlee Dru was due on June 11th.  We should have known then that she was going to be a little stubborn.  ;) We were scheduled to be induced on the 18th (our wedding anniversary :) ).  But in true Arlee Dru fashion, she had other plans.  I woke up on the 16th, which was also Father's Day, not feeling so fantastic.  After laboring at home until 4:00 p.m. we decided to head on up to the hospital.  And HALLELUJAH I was in labor! This sweet pea decided to wait until 1:09 a.m. to make her official arrival and we were in heaven! 

We got to take our bundle of joy home on the 18th and we couldn't have asked for a better anniversary present.  

(let's pause for a moment and check out how HUGE my face got, seriously tragic)

We made it home, and my sister came over for Arlee's first official photo shoot. 
I can't even handle the sweetness. 
Look at that hair! 

During a diaper change, Blakelee found this behind Arlee's knees
Not what you want to see when you have literally had your baby home for a few hours.  I immediately called the nursery back and they told me to call the pediatrician's office.  We already had an appointment scheduled for the following morning due to her high bilirubin levels.  They said to just watch it and to make sure we made it to our appointment. Needless to say, we ended the photo shoot and my worry set in.  I had noticed other random "dots" like this on her while we were in the hospital and I was assured they were just from delivery and that one was probably going to be a mole.  But, something didn't feel right and I was very uneasy.  We got up the next morning and loaded up for our very first Dr.'s appointment.  
They checked out the "rash" behind her legs and took some blood.  We knew something was wrong when our pediatrician came back in and his first words were, "I've called the emergency room at Children's and they are waiting on you"  The rest is a bit of a blur.  I know I asked questions through tears and Tyler sat in shock.  But, we loaded up in the car and headed to Little Rock.  After sitting in the emergency room and having a very rough time, 3 blown iv's, lots of crying, and a couple of breakdowns, we finally started getting some answers.  We were admitted into the NICU.  We were given our own room since we had already been home and exposed to the real world.  After blood tests and brain scans, we were told she had Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia. In other words my antibodies were attacking her platelets.  She had 5,000 platelets and the LOWEST she should have was 150,000.  Talk about scary.  
Her condition is similar to the RH factor that all expecting moms get tested for.  But this is dealing with platelets and not blood cells.  There is no test for it, and until something goes wrong with your first born, you have no idea you have it.  
The staff at Children's Hospital was amazing and comforting.  No question I asked was stupid.  No breakdown I had was met with anything but love and compassion.  Our first plan of action was to give her a platelet transfusion and wait 24 hours to see if the level increased and how quickly her body would then attack the new platelets.  The count rose and then dropped again. This went on a few days and we were finally able to keep the level up to a "comfortable" amount.

When we were sent home we were told that we would be back.  So the plan of action was to go in for blood work every other day to our pediatrician and check levels and then decided what would happen on a day to day basis.  
AHHHHHHH!!! Hello hormones! How scary is that?! You want me to take home a baby who can't bruise, or bleed, and has a tremendously low platelet count.  Not what we were expecting! 
We went home and did a whole lot of cuddling and lots of trips to the Dr's office.  And as expected we ended up back at Children's.  But this time we rode in an ambulance. 

We were admitted back into the NICU and played the waiting game.  

The nurses came in every morning at 4:00 and took blood so the results/counts would be available when the Doctors made their rounds that morning.  So each morning we patiently waited.  We finally got back up to the count that was "safe" to go home and that's where we went.  
We still had to go get blood work every other day.  We patiently waited for the day when her count was at 150,000 and when we wouldn't see this tiny foot constantly bruised. 

 We finally reached that day, and we celebrated! With cake of course.  Who doesn't love a good celebration??! 

(Thanks for the cake Ne and Pops)

I've thought about that first month a lot today.  And I realize that I was very secretive about it and probably came across as very standoff-ish to a lot of people.  I wanted to be the one holding her, I didn't want to leave the room to eat, I didn't want to miss the doctor coming in, I was downright stingy with her.  And I'm not even going to act like I am not still stingy. LOL.  I was so worried and scared and overwhelmed. Our family and close friends were amazing and so comforting.  If we needed food, they brought it.  If we needed clothes, they brought them.  If we just needed a moment, they were there.  And often it was just an encouraging text that made the day so much more bearable.  

I had all of these ideas before I had her of what the first few nights or weeks or month would be like and all of that was blown out of the water.  It made me think about things in an entirely different way.  No longer was it about who was coming over to visit or what cute outfit I would put on her.  It was about survival.  It made me have so much more compassion for those Mom's who have babies for months and some even years in the NICU.  And it made me appreciate what we had.  I had a baby who would eventually be healthy and we would walk out of those NICU doors with her and take her home. Some moms with babies there would never leave.  I needed that.   

I needed the reminder that I wasn't in control.  I don't get to decide what happens.  I think most new moms learn how to pray and worship and appreciate their faith in the Lord in an entirely different way once they have a baby.  I am one of those moms.  I sat up every night and cried (and not just because I was hormonal, haha).  I cried because of how much our Savior must love us if he sacrificed HIS son for us.  A love that is immeasurable. 
And in that hosptial, my faith grew right along with Arlee's platelets. 


  1. Wow!! No words adequate enough to say how much strength, faith, & courage you must have obtained through all of this. As a childhood cancer survivor, I can relate to so many of these scary feelings, but as an adult thinking of going through this with one of my children is just so heart wrenching. Your story teaches so many important lessons on what matters most in life. I loved & appreciated your open, honest heart. Beautifully written post. Sending love & hugs your way!!

  2. I have now read this entry 3 times through tears! What an amazing outlook you have after going through such a rough start with that sweet baby. I know that no one's experiences are exactly the same, but we had a somewhat similar beginning with our oldest, Brady. He was born a month early and seemed fine until day 2. He stopped breathing and was taken to Akron Childrens Hospital by ambulance. He had premature apnia (which is where he would just forget to breath). I remember feeling the exact way you said- standoffish, and not wanting to be away from my baby to shower, change, eat, anything. He went home after a week in the NICU on a breathing monitor and several meds. He had the monitor for 3 months and it was soooo scary. It was so frustrating to me because I had the birth and beginning of life as a mother so built up in my head, then had to deal with all of that. As you beautifully said, we are the lucky ones who got to take our babies home. The line that touched me the most was when you said "as he platelets grew, so did your faith"....what an amazing testament to God and what we can learn through trying times! I think that you should celebrate this month every year with cake, balloons, a circus, and anything that sweet Arlee wants!!! Thank you for sharing such an emotional story and teaching others to always remember how precious life is and what a gift our children are. Love and Prayers! xoxoxo