Sunday, March 15, 2009

Erin is Home

I brought Erin home today.

All her blood tests looked good. She has about 6 weeks of recovery in front of her, but is already making great progress.

We saw Dr. Buckmaster today and he was optimistic about her recovery. Erin will see him next week to have a checkup and get the staples out of her incision.

Lauren was so happy to see her mommy walk through the door.

We got to say one last good bye to little James' body today. He was so small, but so sweet. He had obvious Barnicle and Herrick features. Its very sad thinking of what could have been.

Whenever we got really sad in Erin's room today the sun would come out. When we walked out of the hospital the sun broke and shined right on us. We couldn't help think that it was our little guardian angel James telling us that he was going to be there helping us through this.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Erin

Today is Erin's birthday. Unfortunately, she will be spending it in the hospital.

Looks like we'll get her home tomorrow (Sunday) at the earliest.

Anyone who has read this blog the past few months understands what a lovely person Erin is.

She put her heart and soul into giving James a chance at life.

She sacrificed a lot and did it with a smile.

Words can not express how proud I am of my wife.

Happy Birthday Erin!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Better Day

The weather in Portland has been beautiful the last two days.

I can't help but think that James had a little bit to do with that.

The day he was born and died was very cold and grey.

The sunshine has really helped lift my spirits.

Lauren has been a joy to be around in the hospital. Children are wonderful. She was very sad to hear about her brother James. She didn't know what death was until yesterday. She asked to pray to him before we went to bed last night. Today at the hospital, she wanted to go to the hospital chapel to say hi to him. Although this is sad, its also comforting.

Erin continues to get better. She is walking around a bit and the color has returned to her face. Her blood tests are looking good. She is smiling.

We no doubt have a long road in healing the hurt of losing James, but after today, I know that with time and love we will get there.

Steady Progress

Erin is making good progress in her recovery.

She got the catheter out last night and is starting to walk around a bit.

She was transfused some more blood yesterday to bring her levels back up.

We are looking forward to getting her home when she is ready. Seems like it will be Saturday at the earliest.

Thanks everyone for all the emails / comments. They really help.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Best Medicine

Click picture to enlarge

Lauren is of course going to be our family's best medicine to get through all of this. Such a sweet child.

I picked her up from pre-school, got some pizza with her and Nana & then brought her to the hospital.

She was very happy to see her mommy.

James Michael Herrick

We decided on a name for our son: James Michael Herrick.

Its a family name that means a lot to both of us.

James was baptized yesterday. The priest said a very special prayer. I don't remember the exact words, but he asked God to take James into heaven and make him our guardian angel.

My mother said that she thinks that James started protecting us when we rushed Erin to the hospital. She thinks he realized that he couldn't survive without resulting in the loss of his mother so he sacrificed himself for us while he still could.

Safe Night

Erin had a safe night.

She is recovering at a good rate. They had her sit up and stand up last night.

The nurses are very impressed with her progress. They are taking great care of her.

We are learning more about how serious the situation was yesterday. Luckily, Dr. Guinn acted quickly and set a plan into motion to get her to interventional radiology and into surgery with the surgical specialists Erin needed including Dr. Guinn, Dr. Buckmaster, an oncologist, and a urologist.

We didn't know it at the time, but the doctors hoped that when they took her to interventional radiology that they could control her bleeding and somehow buy her enough time to carry our son a few more weeks where he could have a chance at life.

Unfortunately, the interventional radiology stuff wasn't enough to stop the bleeding so they had to proceed with the surgery to save Erin.

They also hoped that they would be able to save Erin's uterus, but her placenta bleed so badly during surgery that they couldn't.

There was a 10 minute period of time that things were very scary. The nurses brought me our son and told me that the doctors were working very hard on Erin. It was terrifying. Thankfully, the time passed quickly and they checked the operating room again and the surgeons had things under control.

Erin's OB stopped by Erin's room last night and did say that what occurred is typical for how emergency c-section & hysterectomy typically go. There is so much blood flow to the uterus that the surgeons only have minutes to do their work.

As the fog clears from the events of yesterday, we are very thankful that the outcome was quick and clear. We are glad that Erin's body and our baby gave us such a clear warning sign and that we got her to the hospital so quickly and the doctors did their jobs so well. This of course isn't the outcome we wanted, but things could have been so much worse.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maternity Ward

Erin got transferred to the maternity ward a few hours ago. I'm writing this from her room.

My mom is here.

Lauren is at her friend Hannah's for a sleep over.

Erin will recover here for the next few days. Sounds like the earliest she will get out of the hospital this Friday.

We have gotten to spend a lot of time saying good bye to our son. Its incredibly heart breaking, but definitely something we wanted to do.

Thank you all for all your well wishes - they really really help. It is good to know that your friends share your pain and truly care.

The nurses gave us some good booklets to read. Its sad, but true. I think that the booklets will help us find the miracle in this some day. A sample excerpt:

Our joys will be greater; Our love will be deeper; Our lives will be fuller; Because we shared your moment

Its hard to see getting over this. I don't think we really ever will. And I think thats is eventually going to be ok. But right now its awful. Especially for Erin.

We really are glad that we tried our best to make this work. Erin was the best patient imaginable. We took risks, but were not reckless. We'll never wonder what could have been. For us, that is going to help a lot.


I met with some of Erin's surgeons and they were happy with how the surgery went.

I'm relieved we acted when we did. They said that if we hadn't acted, we would have had to rush her into surgery later.

They had to give her a hysterectomy and take 1 of her ovaries. This will be ok with Erin.

She did need 2 units of blood and they recycled 2 units of her own blood.

She is in surgery recovery now (not ICU). Hopefully I will get to see her soon.

Sadly, I met our baby after he had died. He truly is beautiful. He weighs just 1 pound and is 11 inches long, but already had the beginnings of black hair. I got to hold him and talk to him. I'm glad for that. Erin will get to hold him when she recovers a bit.

The nurses and doctors really know what they are doing here - I'm glad somebody does.

I'll update this later on tonight or tomorrow with an update on how Erin is doing.

Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes.

Sad Conclusion

Sadly, I'm writing this from the waiting room at the hospital.

Erin had another bleed tonight - much more than the previous ones.

Her doctors said that Erin's health is now the priority.

Her main doctor - Dr. Buckmaster came into the hospital to make sure that he concurred with the recommendation to deliver tonight - he did.

Sadly, the baby is just 23 weeks old today. He isn't old enough to live.

Erin is with the interventional radiology team now.

After that, they will take her into surgery where they will do a c-section and likely a hysterectomy.

I will get to hold our baby before he dies and they will make a memory book for Erin that she can have when she wakes up from the surgery.

This isn't what we wanted to happen - its very sad. I'm very sad that I'll have to say good bye to our son, but am glad that I will get to meet him.

I just want to get Erin through this. They are hopeful that she will be fine, but with the previa and accreta there could be complications.

Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


We put it off as long as we could, but we just told Lauren that mommy was going to the hospital Wednesday.

Erin found a coloring book on the topic named Mommy and the Hospital. We read it to her and then told her that her mommy is going to the hospital.

It was a bit of a tear jerker to say the least.

But she seems to understand. The two thin mints (girl scout cookies) seemed to help ease the pain temporarily :)

Nana (my mother) is in an airplane right now to help. This is going to be quite the transition.

We hope we have the happy ending that the coloring book has.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hospital Living

With the support of Erin's doctor (John Buckmaster), we decided that it was time to admit Erin to the hospital.

Starting next Tuesday (March 10), she will reside at St. Vincent until Herricle is delivered.

The doctors think its best although if we really wanted to, we could have kept Erin home longer.

This should maximize our chances at success and safety for Erin.

The doctors remain cautiously optimistic that we'll walk away from this with a healthy little boy.

There are of course lots of risks, but at least she'll be in the right place. This will introduce new stresses, but decrease some anxiety we have.

My mother will be arriving in Portland on Sunday. This should help Erin, Lauren, and me a lot.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Disability Education & Philosophy

I'm starting to look around the internet for information on what to expect as we approach viability.

Our doctors say viability is 24 weeks, but there are cases where babies survive before that.

In a quick tour of the internet yesterday I found this article that sums up the stage we are in reasonably well. It references this study: Neurologic and Developmental Disability at Six Years of Age after Extremely Preterm Birth. Both articles cover from now until 26 weeks (5 weeks from now).

Some highlights:

  • 41 percent of the extremely premature group have severe or moderate mental impairment at six years of age

  • 20 percent of the children had no problems, while 22 percent had severe disability, such as severe cerebral palsy (children not walking), very low cognitive scores, blindness or profound deafness

  • The proportion of children with cerebral palsy with severe or moderate motor disability was 12 percent, and 24 percent had moderate disability, such as cerebral palsy (but walking), IQ/cognitive scores in the special-needs range, or lesser degrees of visual or hearing impairment

  • one-third (34 percent) had problems considered mild, such as wearing glasses, a squint or low/normal cognitive scores

So when you sum it up, reads like if the baby is born before 26 weeks and survives, he has a 50/50 chance at severe disability.

Herricle is a pretty active baby; he is much more active than Lauren was. But he's a boy so maybe they just are more active in general.

We are hopeful that he's a fighter and if he is one of these extreme preemies he can survive and thrive.

My general philosophy on life is influences by a couple general thoughts:

  • You make our own luck.

  • Do your best with the cards you get dealt.

This philosophy has mostly been applied to my work life tho so it may need some adapting.

My mother is happy I go to church more often now. Maybe that will end up being a more prominent part of my philosophy :)