Autumn Strong - Born Fighter

Autumn Alaina Bahe made an unexpected early entrance into the world at 4:36 AM on December 21st, 2017 (coincidentally the last day of Autumn), weighing in at strapping 1lb 7oz.  The emergency C-section was ordered 15 weeks before her due date after it was determined that Mama (Michelle) had developed HELLP Syndrome, which is rare life-threatening pregnancy complication. 

Autumn is a little fighter (nurses called her a bit of a show off when born) as she did not require a respirator after birth, instead she relied on a little CPAP machine to assist with her breathing.

26715882_15156399910_r.jpegAutumn 1 day old on her CPAP 

 On December 28th, 2017 Autumn was 1 week old.  Each day since birth we were told how much of a fighter Autumn was and that she was very “feisty”.  She loves to kick out her legs and wave her arms around.  No matter what the nurses did Autumn always finds a way to wiggle at least one arm out.

 The night before she turned 1 week it was determined that Autumn needed a little help breathing, so they had to switch her to a breathing tube.  It seemed that her little lungs just got tired of doing all the work.

The next day Matt and I were able to hand hug Autumn for the first time. When you aren’t able to hold your child this is a huge milestone, as it was truly the first time we could really “hold” our daughter. 

26715882_15156396210_r.jpegDad (Matthew) hand hugging Autumn.

 This was also the first day she was stable enough for Matt and I to change her diaper.  I know this sounds like it is not an exciting moment, but it truly meant the world to us.  To know that Autumn was finally strong enough for Matt and I to hand hug her, and to change her diaper meant that she was getting stronger, and that we were one more day closer to her being strong enough to bring her home. 

On New Year’s Eve we had another amazing day, as Autumn was finally strong enough for us to “Kangaroo Hold” her.  This is where you hold your preemie skin to skin against your chest.  Mama (Michelle) was the lucky one who got to hold Autumn first.  On this day, she weighed 1lb 10.5oz. and continued to take feedings very well.

26715882_15156396740_r.jpegOur first family picture

 Matt and I were flying high and felt as though nothing could take away the happiness that we felt.  We were told this journey would be a roller coaster, but when you’re so overjoyed it is hard to think of anything else other than the current moment.

The very next day was our first big dip in the roller coaster of emotions.  On New Year’s Day we were told Autumn would need to be moved to a different ventilator due to what they were seeing with her oxygen, labs, and X-rays. Her labs showed a sign of an infection, but several tests needed to be done in order to figure out what was ultimately causing the signals. Earlier that morning she had an X-ray that showed her lungs were partially collapsed, so the doctors were watching that closely.  After she was transitioned to the new ventilator her labs and oxygen levels began to improve.  We were, and continue to be, so thankful that Autumn is such a strong little girl, as we couldn’t imagine our world without her.

26715882_15156397240_r.jpegAutumn on her new ventilator 

 Autumn was 2 weeks old on January 4th and is now in the 2lb club. Her X-ray still showed that her lungs were wet, so medication was given to help her get rid of the extra fluid.  She continued to tolerate the feedings well so they kept upping her food and calories. She was still on the new ventilator from Monday, and it seemed to be helping her. This new vent gives her lots of short breaths, so it shakes her constantly (Matt jokes that it’s like she’s on a bed from a cheap motel that you put quarters in).

The doctors hoped she would continue to get better so they could lower her settings and go back to the other vent in a few days or so. Unfortunately, we weren't able to hold her again until she gets better and is back on the other vent. Autumn has been alert and had her eyes open that day. It was the first time she was so alert and looked directly at Matt and me.  I felt as though I could see right into her little soul.  She has such an amazing personality and will to live.

26715882_15156398160_r.jpegAutumn sleeping peacefully

We thought Monday was the hardest day for Autumn and us but we didn’t know what Friday would bring. On January 5th, we arrived at the hospital at 1:30 pm and got a call from Autumns doctor while in the parking ramp letting us know they wanted to do surgery right away. It wasn't that she needed the surgery right away but the pediatric surgeon was available. I skipped my doctor appointment and we went right to her bedside. The surgeons and doctors were all already there waiting to get consent and start. This was the first time we heard the words, “Autumn is critically ill”. We knew she was trying to get better, but it hits you hard hearing those words. Of course, mom lost it, and cried nonstop.

When Autumn was born the Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) valve in her heart didn't close like it does for most full-term babies. This is actually common in preemies, but it typically closes on its own or with the medication treatment. Autumn was put on the medication when she was first born to help this close, but it didn’t work. On Monday, the Echo of her heart showed that the PDA was closing, but Friday the Echo showed it got bigger. The doctor believes this may be the reason she wasn't getting better. If they didn't do surgery to close the PDA, she would have kept getting worse. As with any surgery there are risks, but we knew it was the best option for her so we signed the consent and begin praying for a successful surgery. Needless to say it was the longest two hours of our life. When we finally heard she did great through the surgery mom lost it again, this time tears of relief. I still cry thinking about our sweet angel having to fight so hard. 

People have told us how much our lives would change when we had kids and man they are right. I can't explain the amount of love we have for Autumn. We would do anything to take away her pain, and just bring her happiness. The love is something you can't explain, but takes over your whole body.  

26715882_15156399560_r.jpegAutumn after heart surgery, since she is so small the doctor had to go through her back and between her ribs to get to her heart.

It has only been two and a half weeks since Autumn was born but our life is forever changed.  We will experience different milestones than most parents of full term babies but this is our new normal.  We will celebrate the first day she is without a ventilator, the first time she wears clothes, the first time she is off a feeding tube, the first time we can hold her, and many other firsts. 

We believe Autumn truly is our little miracle baby.  Matt and I had tried for over 8 years to conceive naturally, but were not successful due to my endometriosis.  In November of 2016 we started the In Vetro Fertilization process, but we started feeling a little discouraged when the first two rounds didn’t work.  In July of 2017, we decided to try In Vetro for a 3rd time and were ecstatic when it worked.  We were pregnant! After 15 eggs were fertilized only two of them were strong enough to be implanted at the transfer.  We believe Autumn was meant to be in our life, as she has always been a fighter.

This site was created to share Autumns journey in the NICU, and to say thank you for all of the love, support, and prayers we have received and will continue to receive.  If you are able to help financially, we will be using all funds donated to help cover the rather significant unexpected medical bills, as well as the travel costs to drive the 45 minutes each way to the hospital. If there is any extra, we will use it to cover other related expenses, such as food while at the hospital.

THANK YOU again for taking the time to read about Autumn’s journey.  We will try to keep this site updated in addition to Autumns Caring Bridge site, see below.

Visit online

Site Link: 

Site Name: autumnbahe

We appreciate all of the love, support, and prayers.

Best Regards,

Michelle, Matthew, and Autumn Bahe
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Michelle Bahe 
Albertville, MN
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