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  • Writer's pictureJodi Laughlin

Her Journey in the Womb- from Conception to Death

I want to start off by telling our story, the ups and downs of our pregnancy with our beautiful first born, Noelle Philomena who was born and passed 12/13/16.

I was told that we would have a difficult time conceiving, as I only get my period every 3 months or so. My husband and I decided to throw caution to the wind and see what happens (assuming it would take some time). Well, it only took one try-we were blessed with her as soon as we were ready. As with every child, we know she was meant to be.

Right away, we had "concerns" as we were in Jamaica just a couple weeks prior and the doctors were worried about Zika virus. We waited a few weeks to get results back and thankfully they were negative. Just a few weeks later, one of our tests came back for possible downsyndrome and we opted to get a diagnostic test which a couple weeks later came back negative. This takes us to week 16 in our journey.

Week 19 starts our journey with what would ultimately be the condition that took her life. Fluid around her heart, that eventually led to fluid around her abdomen, scalp and lungs. Initially it was thought to be a heart defect but when the fluid around the abdomen developed, we were told she had Hydrops Fetalis, which can be caused by various diagnoses. They offered us options at this time, one of which to terminate since this condition often ended in heartbreak. We never thought of this as an option and knew whatever happened would be God's decision. We kept fighting for her sake.

With the God given hands of the doctors, we had two surgeries to place shunts in both of her lungs. Throughout these procedures the doctors would say she was "sassy" they called her "Diva" because she was always moving about, always marching to the beat of her own drum.

The shunts did work and our little girl continued to fight, this gave us hope that she would be with us here today. By the week of thanksgiving, week 27 of our journey we began to really be hopeful again as the fluid was now, mainly, just around her heart.

Now they started to search for ways to drain the fluid around her heart. They attempted one more procedure but the fluid around her heart wouldnt drain. The heart function was good though and they said this was a reassuring sign. When they would ultrasound her heart they would always say it was strong and that it appeared to be "bright". They decided just to watch and wait and see if the function became compromised.

Then, week 30 of our journey, Tuesday December 13th, I knew something was wrong. I hadn't felt Noelle move since the night before that was unusual, she was VERY active in the womb. I had a home heart monitor/doppler and her heart sounded good so we waited until our appointment we had that day at 10am. Immediately they could tell blood flow was decreased to certain areas and she was in distress. She was suffering and it was time to give her a chance outside the womb. I was scheduled for an emergency c-section that day.

We knew all the possibilities but we never really thought she would be gone today. The prepared a resucitation room in the OR where they would take her shortly after delivery to try and drain the fluid from around her heart. They succeeded but her lungs were not responding, they said they were "hard" and after 20 minutes they stopped trying and they gave her to us, still in the OR, to hold.

The next three days in the hospital we would be able to hold her and to say goodbye to her physical presence, even though she wasn't really there.. We had professional photos taken and were able to soak in her adorable features which we will never forget and will forever cherish the photos.

We kept faith hope and love strong throughout our journey and we know that there's a reason, beyond a medical diagnosis, that God ended her fight with us. But she truly changed our lives forever, we know we will be better people because of her. We feel blessed that she made us parents. We feel blessed that we got to hold her and to see that she looks like her dad and that she has curly brown hair.

When I was pregnant with her I would always sing to her- "you are my sunshine" and Alex and I will forever think of her as our guiding light, our beautiful angel.

Her name, Noelle Philomena, we chose for a few reasons. We were thinking of naming her faith or hope or something that meant miracle, and we then thought that Noelle, meaning Christmas, really embodied all of these. Philomena was chosen mainly to be named after my Mom, who is my spiritual guide, but also because when we looked up St. Philomena we found she was a fighter and the reason for so many miracles. In researching about her after Noelle's death I came to find that St. Philomena is also the patron saint of infants. We feel her name suits her perfectly.

And so our fight and her fight here on earth ended, but we know she is our little angel in heaven. And so my journey begins, with my Husband, to find new meaning in life, to find a reason for the darkness, to find Noelle's light everyday.

#hydrops #firstborn #Noelle #shunt #faith #angel

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