>Through the month of July, I wasn’t good for much. I got up each day, went to work, came home and laid on my left side all evening. My blood pressure was already beginning to creep up, but I didn’t let on to anyone. I don’t remember even telling Paul, but I’m sure I mentioned it after my doctor’s appointments. I was feeling it and he knew it. He was incredible. All the chores fell on him. Most evenings, he made dinner, cleaned up and got Hannah bathed and in bed. By the end of July, my condition was pretty apparent to everyone. My hands and feet would swell terribly, and my co-workers would periodically come out to check on me and have me put my feet up. I was a pretty good patient, though. I knew that if things got out of hand, it would be bad for the baby and for me, so I didn’t need much coaching when it came to taking care of myself.

On the last Saturday in July 2007, Paul and I helped out with our niece’s wedding. Basically, I arranged people and he took the pictures. While we were driving to the rehearsal, I began having sharp pain in my upper back, wrapping around my side to just under my breastbone. It hurt so badly, we stopped at a drug store on the way to rehearsal to get one-use ice packs and Tylenol. I later learned that kind of pain is a classic symptom of pre-eclampsia. If I’m not mistaken, it’s also a symptom of a placental abruption.

During the wedding, my feet were so swollen, I had to put my feet up in the pew. When posing the wedding party, I’d take lots of breaks and sit as often as I could. I left the reception early and went to my sister-in-law’s house to get a nap. I felt awful. I probably shouldn’t have gone, but I’d given my word and wanted to keep it, though I know almost everyone would have been understanding if I had stayed home.

I had an appointment with my regular OB the following Tuesday. I began my maternity leave on Wednesday, August 1st. My dad had an appointment with one of his doctors on Thursday. All his doctors are in our town. He stopped by the house to visit and while he was there, my OB called and said, “Aimee, you need to go to Cincinnati.””When?” I asked. I was already scheduled to go there the following Monday.

“Today. I got your test results back and I’ve already talked to Dr. Livingston. We want you to get up there today. I’m not sure if they want you to go directly to the hospital today or if they will wait until tomorrow.”

Immediately, I called Paul and told him what was going on. He had to wrap things up so he could leave and I packed for all of us. Paul and I would go to Cincinnati. Hannah would go with my dad and stay with my parents. Not knowing how soon Abbie would be born, I took two things I had bought early in the pregnancy: a soft white blanket with silky ruffle trim and a white nightgown with, “Heaven Sent” in silver embroidered on it.

Then I called the FCC and they told me that I had an appointment with Dr. Livingston the next morning.

We drove to Cincinnati and stayed in a place for patients going to University (of Cincinnati) Hospital. It was ok, but the best features were: it was available and close by my doctor’s office. My first of twice-weekly appointments was on Friday, August 3, 2007. While Dr. Livingston was doing the belly examination, poking and prodding my belly and thus, Abbie, she began kicking him. He’d push my belly, she’d kick him back. They did that about 4 or 5 times and he chuckled, “I could do this all day.”

That interaction cemented my intuition: Abbie was feisty, strong and funny. Laid back, but won’t take junk from anyone. A year later, I can tell you, I was totally spot-on. She’s all of that and more, but most remarkably, she’s one of the happiest babies you would ever meet.

During that first visit, Dr. Livingston told me that he wouldn’t put me in the hospital IF I did everything he told me. I enthusiastically nodded my yes, promising to follow his instructions to the T. My next appointment was made for Monday morning; if things were better or the same, I would stay out of the hospital. If things got worse, I would be admitted.

During my appointment, we got the call that a room had opened up at the Ronald McDonald House. We had already paid the next night’s fee at the other place, but happily packed up our things and moved over to RMH.

I don’t think I could adequately describe what it was like walking into the RMH. It was beautiful. We toured the house with the House Manager, completed the paperwork and got settled in. Soon, it was dinner time. Most days, dinner is provided and on weekends, brunch or dinner is provided, sometimes both.

Paul and I both choked back tears as we ate our first meal at the RMH. The generosity was overwhelming. This little family had provided dinner that night, just them, not a company or church group. As other families chatted and ate, Paul and I scarcely said a word; we didn’t need to. We were both feeling the same thing.