Saturday, July 2, 2011

Unexpected Delivery

On Wednesday we had a little surprise: Leann's water broke. We weren't expecting anything like this to happen for another two months, so we rushed her to the hospital.[1] The doctors quickly gave her antibiotics (to prevent a bacterial infection of the remaining amniotic fluid), corticosteroids (to help the baby's lungs start producing pulmonary surfactant [2]), and a tocolytic (to suppress the contractions). They also administered low doses of painkillers to help Leann deal with the pain. Despite all this the contractions slowly increased in intensity and frequency. After 40 hours of labor the nurse checked and determined that Leann was dilated to a 9.5. Leann immediately asked for her epidural. Our baby girl was delivered at 1:53 am on July 1st (8 weeks early). At the time of birth she was 17 inches long and weighed 4 pounds, 1 ounce.

WARNING: If you are bothered by descriptions of surgeries or pictures of infants in intensive care, you probably shouldn't read on.

After she was born they let me cut her umbilical cord. The cord was thicker than most full-term babies have, so it took two snips from the scissors. When I did get all the way through, blood splattered all over the doctor and on me. So instead of following the baby to the NICU as was originally planned, I had to go wash off. Before that, though, they brought her back so that Leann could hold her for a few seconds.

When they took her out into the hall, on the way to the NICU, Grandma Martin and her Aunt Jennie got to see her briefly.

After I finished washing off, they took me to the NICU where I watched them prepare her for her incubator. Thanks to the corticosteroids her lungs were in fairly good condition. They gave her a little extra pulmonary surfactant [3] and put her on a CPAP machine [4]. They also started her on IVs with antibiotics [5] and some glucose.[6] You can also see heart and lung monitors strapped to her chest and a blood-oxygen monitor cuff on her right foot.

At ~4 pounds she's pretty tiny![7] But we still think she's cute and we love her so much!

This morning (day 2 of her life) they took her off the CPAP and Leann and I got to hold her for a while. She was pretty content while being held by her mom. And she opened her eyes really wide when I held her. (I've shown you enough distressing photos, so for now I'll spare you any pictures of my chest hair.)

Here's a little video of her. She's crying, but it's very quiet. I started rubbing her foot, which calmed her down, but then (about 3/4 of the way through), she noticed that my hand was cold and jerked a little.

She still has a long way to go before she can come home with us, but we're optimistic about her progress. We are overwhelmed with gratitude that our Heavenly Father has blessed us with her in our lives. We're grateful for the advances in technology that have improved her chances of survival and for the skilled doctors and nurses who've done so much for her. She's our little angel. We've decided to name her Lillian.


[1] Of course, even if it were time for this to happen we still would've rushed Leann to the hospital. And when I say "we" I actually mean her sister. I was teaching a class, so Leann couldn't get a hold of me. Thank goodness for family living close by!

[2] Pulmonary surfactant is a sort of soapy lubricant produced by the lungs to keep them from sticking shut when you breathe out all of your air. To learn more (using more technical language) see surfactant and respiratory distress syndrome.

[3] This was recombinant pulmonary surfactant. So if anyone ever tells you about the evils of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) you can tell them that they helped save my daughter's life.

[4] CPAP stands for "controlled positive airway pressure". It is a machine which blows air through a face mask and is less intrusive than the tube from a ventilator (which is reserved for more serious cases). CPAP machines are primarily used to treat sleep apnea in adults.

[5] This was 1. in case the premature delivery was caused by a bacterial infection (called amniotic infection syndrome) and 2. because of the possibility of an infection by Streptococcus agalactiae (often referred to as Group B Strep or GBS) during the birthing process.

[6] Full-term babies have stores of brown fat that they draw on during the first few days of life, during the period when the mother is starting to lactate. Pre-term babies usually don't have these needed fat stores, and so have to be supplemented until they can start nursing.

[7] She's lost a little weight since she was born, but this is normal.


  1. I'm so thrilled you've finally had a chance to post on your blog!!! I've been checking several times a day! Oh, that video of her crying is so sweet. She's so beautiful and tiny. I'm so excited to meet this little lady who just couldn't wait to come. What a unique experience for you as parents.

  2. Matt & Leann, I was kind of excited to hear about the birth of your baby as I wasn't aware you were even expecting. Then, having experienced a premature birth with my son, I was excited to hear that your girl is doing so well from the beginning. I know that unsolicited advice can become annoying so for now I will only say congratulations on your new arrival and, no matter what other challenges present in the coming weeks during Lillian's hospital stay, the Atonement truly can bring the peace you need in your mind and heart as you face this new and unexpected experience.

    And you may find new appreciation for the experience shared in 3 Nephi 17: 20-24

    PS If you don't recognize me right away, I am one of Matt's Crook cousins :)

  3. She is beautiful. :-) I'm so happy for all of you.

  4. She is so sweet. What a little doll baby! Congratulations! I hope you are all doing well as you adjust to parenthood and her unexpected early arrival.

  5. This is amazing. I can't wait to meet her. Love love love everything about the Crook family!!

  6. Congratulations. Well be praying for her!

  7. She looks great for being 8 weeks premature. I'm so glad that things slowed down so the steroids had a chance to work. Leann you look amazing and your little blonde baby is freaking adorable. Can't wait for more pictures. Congratulations.

  8. You guys have a beautiful daughter. All the best,

    from the Moores in Ohio!