Giovanna's story begins on January 1, 2010...with two lines, what a great way to start the New Year! After having a miscarriage in Nov we couldn't have been more excited and cautious. This time there were going to be no disappointments to our other children, we were being extra careful and waiting until the end of the first trimester to tell them. It's not easy keeping a secret from four noisy kids but we did it. Of course Nick and I went through the usual debate of finding out what our baby was going to be...I told him it doesn't matter what you say I know its a girl and on April 1st we found out I was right. The pregnancy progressed without any physical complications aside for the usual heartburn and sore back. By the end of Aug I was more then ready to meet my baby girl. The kids started back to school and one week turned into two, due date came and gone and still no baby. I had an appointment on Thurs Sept. 9th at which Sandy (my midwife) asked if I was ready for an induction, which I was more then ready for. She wanted to induce my Tues Sept 14th and I said no, she'd have to do it another day b/c Joey had a follow-up scheduled with the liver surgeon, so we settled on Thurs Sept 16th....little did I know Giovanna had a schedule of her own. I woke up around 5:30 on Tues Sept 14th having contractions. I told Nick I thought I might be in labor but wasn't sure (after all it was only my 5th baby) after some debating we decided it was best for him to call off work. All of the kids awoke early that morning I guess due to the excitement Joey insisted on pancakes while I finished packing their bags for grandmas. Nick took Bailee to the bus around 6:40 and that's when my water broke, while getting the kids their school clothes. I knew something wasn't right b/c my water was green. I had already had a call into the doctor to let them know that we were heading to the hospital. I remember on the way to drop the kids off at my moms how excited they were...talking about coming to see the baby as soon as school was over and I told them who knows, I might not have had her by then. They couldn't wait to meet their new baby sister; I think Jaden and Joey were especially excited.
We arrived at the hospital around 8 and got checked in. They put me on the monitors and started my IV. Nick and I were joking around and debating what time she was going to be born, Nick said by 10 I said not till after noon and if she was still a she. After about an hour of monitoring and everything looking good, they said I could get up walk around. I didn't make it very far; I made it to the bathroom and was in so much pain I headed right back to the bed. Around 10 the pain was getting to me so I had some stadol, which took the edge off. All the while Giovanna was being monitored and showing no signs of distress. At about 10:30 I was ready to push, I swear it was like two pushes and at 10:46 our precious baby girl was born. All I remember saying, is she still a girl...then why isn't she crying.
They told us they didn't want her to cry until they suctioned out her lungs. The doctors and nurses began to suction the meconium from her lungs and they were doing chest compressions. It seemed like an eternity they were working on her, while we were sitting helpless on the other side of the room. After a few minutes they took her out of the room. The nurses kept telling us she was going to be ok she just needed help breathing. To say Nick and I were shocked would be an understatement, we just sat there, we didn't call our family and friends to share the news, we just waited and prayed. I remember Gretchen (my midwife) coming in and telling us that she was doing ok but was going to have to go to the NICU at West Penn and I asked her how long her NICU stay would be and she said probably 7-10 days. When she left the room I said to Nick, it's ok, it could be worse...oh if I only knew how much worse it was about to get. Around 11:25 we decided to call our parents and let them know what we knew and that was that she was born and we were waiting to hear from the doctor but they were planning on transporting her to West Penn's NICU.
Sometime around noon the transport doctor from West Penn came into our room to talk to us...she gave us the worst news imaginable she told us that she had been without oxygen for too and long and there really was nothing they could do for her. She had already had two seizures and irreversible brain damage. I was shocked; Gretchen and my nurse both told us she was fine just having a little trouble breathing. I said to the doctor, they told me she was fine and she said she was never fine and I don't know why they told you that. She said we had two options, we could hold her and spend some time with her or they would continue working on her. We hadn't even named our baby girl yet and they were telling us she was dieing...we asked the doctor if we could see her. They cleaned her up and Nick went in to see her, and I called my mom to give her the news no grandparent wants to hear, she might not even get to meet her newest granddaughter. Nick came back and told me she looked like Bubba but with dark hair, that's when we decided we were going to name her Giovanna Jean instead of Mackenzie Jean. After that I was able to go in and see her. It was the first time I really got to see her and she was beautiful. While we were visiting with her the doctors decided they were going to go ahead and transport her to the NICU. It was about 1:30 when we text our family and friends asking for prayers for our baby girl.
Luckily I was able to be transported to West Penn also, Giovanna went by helicopter, I went by ambulance and Nick drove himself. It was one of the longest rides in my life. I arrived at West Penn around 3 pm and was taken straight into the NICU. Our precious baby girl was hooked up to all kinds of machines including a ventilator. I was meet by another doctor who immediately asked my where my husband was, I knew in my heart then that things were not going to get better. I was told that Giovanna’s condition had worsened, her right lung had collapsed and there was a hole in her left lung. She said that her heart wasn’t functioning like it should and that her organs were beginning to shut down and that she was in extreme pain, along with many other medical terms I couldn’t’ understand. I was told that it wasn’t if our baby was going to die but when. As I sat next to my baby girl waiting for Nick I felt like I was in a bad dream, none of it seemed real. I called Melonie to see if she could have Father James come and baptize her b/c we didn’t know how long she was going to have.
While waiting for Melonie and Father James, Nick and I were able to hold our baby girl for the first time and take some pictures of her. It was bittersweet knowing that our time with her was limited. We had a little over an hour that we got to hold and love our baby girl. It was about 5:30 when she was baptized. After the baptism the ventilator was shut off and we were moved to a private room to spend out final time here on earth with our sweet angel.
My parents arrived shortly after that with the kids. My mom had one of the hardest tasks breaking the news to the kids that we weren’t going to be bringing their baby sister home ever. I can’t imagine how I would have even been able to do that, knowing their excitement only to have it all taken away in a moment. Nick and I were unsure as to if we should let them see her, neither of us had ever imagined a situation like this. the kids were in the waiting room so I told Nick I was going to ask them and the decision was going to be theirs. After many tears they all decided that they wanted to meet and hold their baby sister. It was heartbreaking knowing that not only was I losing my baby girl but our kids were losing a part of their innocence. My heart is breaking for them; this is the second time they had to suffer through a loss with us. I will ever be grateful that they had the chance to meet their little sister, hold her and love her. Giovanna was surrounded by people who loved her when she went home to be with Jesus at 7:14 pm on September 14, 2010...her birthday.