In general, I do not use the term “Miracle” lightly but I honestly believe Brenna’s life is truly a miracle. Yesterday she underwent surgery to have a VP shunt installed to drain excess fluid from her head. This is the 7th surgery Brad and I have endured on our girls (Brenna’s 5th) and I can honestly say it never gets easier. In fact, this one was the most difficult for me yet. I held her all night before the surgery and tried to prepare myself for the following day but nothing can prepare you for handing off your wide eyed baby girl to the pre-op nurses in the OR and knowing what awaits her. After about an hour and a half the surgeons came out; the surgery was a success. The most ideal place for the shunt to drain is the abdominal cavity and thankfully that is where the doctors were able to put it. Unfortunately, when Brenna’s stomach was opened up it revealed numerous adhesions as a result of her previous perforated bowel which is not good news, but also not surprising. The end of the shunt must be placed in an area free of adhesions or it will not function, thankfully the surgeons were able to find one pretty big pocket free of adhesions. However, should the shunt need to be revised in the near future, it will not be an easy task and may not even be able to go to the stomach. Please rlay that Brenna’s new shunt will hold out long enough for the adhesions to clear. We are told to anticipate at least 5 shunt revisions in her lifetime, we just pray she doesn’t need one anytime soon. The next few days will determine whether this shunt is functioning as hoped.
Brenna’s surgery started around 8 and by 1 she was off the ventilator. Soon after she decided she no longer needed her second IV and proceeded to pull it out on her own rather than wait for the nurses to do so. By the evening she was back in mommy’s arms and playing and talking. Since the first self-performed IV removal was such a rousing success, Brenna decided to attempt to remove her other IV during the night. While she was successful in removing this as well, it was short lived and another had to be put in for her fluids. She is still rather fussy dealing with recovery and an empty belly but overall doing amazingly well.
As I said above, I try not to downplay true miracles by using the term on a day to day basis but as I had a lot of time yesterday to reflect on these last few months I can honestly say Brenna is a miracle. We are so very fortunate that given the circumstances surrounding the triplets’ extremely early birth and the complications that can result that Anna and Lucy have done so very well…this is not the norm. While they had their issues and will likely face at least a few more, we are thankful for what we have. It has been said that God never gives you more than you can handle (with His help of course) and I am so thankful for Anna and Lucy’s paths thus far as we were in for a real rollercoaster with Brenna, one that we are probably not done riding yet.
Brenna’s troubles started early on (about a week after birth) with her perforated bowel. We knew things were serious when we received a call to hurry back to the hospital after just leaving one night. We were told she was very sick and it was very obvious from her appearance that she was not doing well. We were prepared by the NICU staff that it was possible she would not survive this complication. Her very first surgery was to repair the perforated bowel. There were 2 options for surgery that night, one to attempt to fix the problem and repair the bowel, the other a temporary fix to attempt to save her in the short term. Brenna was in such bad shape that the first surgery wasn’t even an option as she would not have survived it. So, we had to go with the temporary fix and hope she pulled through and stabilized for a later surgery to repair the problem. Weeks later the doctors were astounded to discover than her bowel had repaired itself and wouldn’t require further surgery. The gastro surgeon was so amazed with our girl, he had never seen this great a recovery in his long career as a surgeon. Only later in talking to our NICU nurses did we truly understand how grim the situation was. We are so grateful for the prayers raised up for Brenna and we know God answered those prayers.
Brenna is such a little trooper; having now endured 5 surgeries, battled IV infiltrations, infections, and undergone too many sample draws and blood transfusions to count and is still such a sweet lovable little girl. She has many NICU nurses fighting to care for her because she truly is something special, a gift from God, and unlike any other. Only after the girls were born and named did I take the time to look up the meaning of the names we chose for them. Lucy means light and she definitely is the attention grabber with her funny expressions and vocal personality. Annaliese means grace and she is our mild-mannered joyful little girl. I was initially disappointed at the meaning of Brenna’s name, after the other two girls’ names having such pretty meanings. Brenna means hill…how dull is that? At least that is what I first thought. 143 days after her birth and many complications later, I think she has the most perfect name possible for her. Since day one she has climbed hill after hill put to her and does so with a determination unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met. As one wise nurse has said “I’m amazed that such a little person can teach us so much.”
Brenna is going to be a powerful warrior for God; an example of HIS undying love and faithfulness even in the most desperate of times. One look at her and you have to know there is a God with the power to overcome all things and while I wish she never would have had to endure all this in her little life I know she will make the best of what she has been given and I pray I will always do the same. In preparing for this shunt surgery one of the difficult things I’ve had to face is that this will make Brenna visibly different than “normal” babies for quite some time. Her shunt will be very visible until she has enough hair to cover it. It breaks my heart that my little girl may have to endure stares and questions that other kids won’t but what I’ve realized these last few days is if she can handle all she has, a few odd glances and inconsiderate questions will be nothing for her. Still, I wish they weren’t going to happen but I have the utmost faith that Brenna will be just fine.
I can’t wait for everyone to meet this little girl. She is unlike any other and I thank God she was given to us. If all goes well, she should be home with us soon.
In His name,
Angie, Brad, Anna, Lucy and Brenna