30 July 2008

The Story of Bennett's Birth According To Mom, Part 4

Surgery ended at 9am.  We were able to go to the NICU and visit with him, take our first picture together and begin to learn more about the journey we would be facing.  We were told it would be weeks before we came home.  I had secretly wondered if maybe they were exaggerating and he might come home sooner.  He would not do so.

It was on day 2 of Bennett's life that we first heard the words, "Cystic Fibrosis."  Meconium Peritonitis is a classic but rare sign of CF.  But Meconium Peritonitis can also happen for no reason.  And Hirshsprungs disease can cause it too.

Cystic Fibrosis was the worst of the three potential reasons for the Meconium Peritonitis.  They took his blood to run a genetic test, which we would have to wait a week to receive.

On October 6, I was driving to get my hair cut - trying to carry on my life as normal until my new baby came home - when I got the call.  Dr. Guo was so very gentle and kept apologizing.  She knew this was bad news.

I had already accepted it...just like I had done so with my fear of his death on the day of his birth.  I was ready to hear the words even as she said them. 

It took months and months to really grieve what this diagnosis fully meant.  But I was ok hearing the test was positive.  At least we knew what was wrong and could now deal with it.

We consider Bennett's diagnosis part of his birth story...because CF is as much a part of his birth as it is a part of his life.  But even as I write this a year later - living it again through my memories - I am struck by how strong our little guy was from the very beginning.

He fought to live.  He fought to survive.  He fought to overcome.

Bennett's birth story is one of strength and hope.
His birthday is a reminder of this.

Bennett is a gift from God, our blessed little one.

{Acts 17:25 ...because God himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.}

The Story of Bennett's Birth According To Mom, Part 3

It was hours before the doctor came down to tell us how Bennett was doing.

There I sat alone in the Recovery room waiting to hold my newborn.  My sister, mother and son had arrived to keep us company.  But my mind and heart was still in the other room where I had last seen him.  It was very painful.

Brian offered the Psalms to read as a way to encourage me that God is good, even when life feels scary.  I wanted to read scripture.  Scripture always comes alive when you need it most.

Eventually, the NICU doctor came down and explained Bennett had meconium peritonitis (there was NO mention of Cystic Fibrosis at this point).  He expalined he would likely need surgery within the next 24 hours for a perforated colon.

The doctor said they would be life-flighting Bennett down to Scott and White hospital in Temple, Texas.  But he said we could go up see Bennett in the NICU if we wanted.  Bennett would not be coming down to see me.

We went upstairs to the NICU.  I don't remember alot about it but I do remember seeing my baby.  He didn't look like a newborn at all.  He was purplish red.  He was swollen and still.  He had tubes everywhere. The baby I had carried in my womb for 9 months looked like a plastic doll.  I didn't get to touch him.

Another few hours later, I saw him once more.  The life-flight EMTs brought him down to see me.  He was hidden within the NICU isolet strapped to a ambulance bed.  Apparently the helicopter wasn't working.  They were going to take him by ambulance.  He was more irritable now.  I could hear that faint cat-like cry.  I could not touch him to comfort him.  I said goodbye - still not fully aware how serious his situation was.

The OBGYN came in shortly after with my discharge papers.  She explained she wanted me to be with my son during surgery and wanted me to be free to go as I needed.  She also offered me a sleeping pill to take in order to help me sleep through the night if I decided not to leave the hospital until the morning.

Brian and I agreed that unless they called to say they were going to do the surgery that night, we would spend the night in the hospital to get good sleep and wake up early the next morning to leave for Temple.  I was confident that Bennett would not need emergency surgery (still, I was unaware of Bennett's critical condition) so I took the pill with the hopes I could sleep away my first night without my new baby.

It was a rude awakening at 2am when the Pediatric Surgeon called to state Bennett would be going for surgery within two hours.  I was doped up on a sleeping pill and Brian had only an hour of sleep but we decided we needed to go where Bennett was.

My mother and sister kept Oliver.  Brian and I packed our bags for the night and went to the hospital.  We arrived just in time to kiss Bennett goodbye.  He was being taken out of the NICU door to be rolled to surgery as we walked through the NICU doors.

The Pediatric Surgeon had coffee in his hand and seemed to be a bit drowsy himself.  But he sat down with us to go over any questions we might have had before he went into the several-hour surgery.  It was the words, "a bowel malrotation may not be compatible with life" that stuck with me.  This was the first time I really understood the weight of what was going on.

No, I had not lost my baby in the womb.  But no, there was no guarantee that just because Bennett was born that he was going to survive.

Fortunately, Bennett did not have a bowel malrotation.  But he did have a huge hole in his colon that needed to be repaired.

Brian and I slept in a hospital room near the NICU during the surgery.  Brian would answer the phone when the surgeon called for updates.  I slept through the entire thing as the sleeping pill I took knocked me out, for which I am so very thankful.

Click here to read "The Story of Bennett's Birth According To Mom, Part 4."

The Story of Bennett's Birth According To Mom, Part 2

No, Brian wouldn't miss his son's birth.  Once I got ahold of him (his phone had been on silent for the last hour), he jumped in the car and came to the hospital.  I never knew someone could get from Baylor to Hillcrest that fast.  He didn't want to tell me what the speedmeter read.

It took me a bit to get into labor.  I was given pitocin and an epidural.  It all seemed rather similar to my first pregnancy, just not quite as well-planned as before.

The nurse and doctors came in to visit me regularly through the hours of my labor.  It was all fairly normal.  But it was hard to not notice that some things didn't feel quite as laid back. 

At one point, I was asked to turn on my side.  Then, I was given an oxygen mask to make sure the baby was getting enough oxygen.  Later, a monitor was placed on the top of the baby's head (yep, he hadn't been born yet) to make sure they could better evaluate how he was doing.

The doctor seemed concerned but not overly alarmed.  Brian and I just tried to enjoy these moments with each other.

Eventually, it was time to push.  I knew it was time, despite that my nurse told me it wasn't.  A girl knows when she's just about to push out a human. :)

"Push," they said.  The head came out.

"Keep pushing," they said again.  This time, I was having to push out Bennett's body.  Typically the doctor can just pull out the baby once the head is out.  But Bennett's abdomen was bigger than his head.  It wasn't going to come out without a push.

Bennett began to cry but there were no robusts screams from Bennett.  Only a tiny cry like from a baby cat.  A team of people took Bennett to a corner of the room and began to clean him off. 

On the home video we have of Bennett's birth, you can see Brian and I laughing and smiling.  I was exhausted and Brian was on cloud nine.  The video starts only after Bennett is pulled out and stops when you hear the doctor say to Brian,

"I don't think you want to be filming this."

This was our first clue something was not right.  Well, not our first clue...there were many more before this.  But it was our first of many more dark moments when our world began crushing in on us.

"We don't want to be filming what?" I thought.  The doctor explained they were concerned about Bennett and would be wanting to take him to the NICU for evaluation.  I didn't know about his tummy at this point.

I also didn't know, until later after we saw the after-birth video, that immediately after his birth, Bennett was "bagged."  This means a bag-like contraption was used on him to force air in his lungs.  If you saw the video, it'd remind you of a EMT resuscitation.

Before taking Bennett out of the room, they announced his birth time, weight and length - as well as his APGAR score.  1 out of 10.  That's the worst you can get, besides 0.

Fortunately, after 5 minutes, the APGAR score had improved to an 8.

Off he went.  Out of the room in a NICU isolet.

I never held him.

I never really saw him.

He was gone as fast as he arrived.

But surely, we thought, he'll be fine.  Things don't go wrong.  Nothing is wrong...right?

Click Here To Read "The Story of Bennett's Birth According To Mom, Part 3"

29 July 2008

The Story of Bennett's Birth according to Mom, part 1

{We thought in honor of Bennett's first birthday, we would document our emotions and thoughts about that day, which we haven't done until now. We tell this story because it reminds us where we have been and why Bennett's first birthday is particularly special to us today. This is Breck's story, told in 4 parts.}

One year ago today, I was sitting in the admissions office of Hillcrest Hospital. The young girl behind the desk seemed be taking forever to process my insurance information. My heart was beating rapidly - just as I wondered if the heartbeat of the baby inside me was beating at all.

I remember it was a Wednesday morning. Brian was in class, blissfully unaware that his wife had decided to check herself into the hospital concerned she might be experiencing a stillbirth.

I didn't want to believe it could be true. But the last time I could really remember feeling Bennett kick in the womb was days before.

In fact, I remember that last real kick. I was at an after-church lunch get together when a friend noticed me flinch (having been kicked by the 38 week old fetus) and wondered if I was in labor. I laughed knowing good and well I was not.

But within 24 hours of that kick, I was becoming aware that Bennett wasn't moving as much anymore. Eventually, it was no longer "as much" but "at all."

I wished I could hurry up the hospital admissions process. I just wanted to know - is it over? have I lost my baby? has my worst nighmare just arrived? But why be so impatient to find out this might be true? I carefully waited for this young girl to get through her paperwork. I realized she had no idea what kind of agony I was feeling inside.

I sat all alone in her office. I had tried to reach Brian by phone at least a dozen times but he did not answer. He had left for school hours before, kissing me on his way out. I had been wide awake all night and had fallen asleep on the couch only an hour or so before. I aroused to say goodbye but at that point, I didn't have the energy to tell him my deepest fears - or my plan to see the doctor in the morning. But now, I needed him to know.

I had called my parents. They were anxiously waiting for me to call them to let them know what was going on. Oliver was being watched by the babysitter who wanted to come keep me company. But the only person I wanted with me was Brian.

Finally, I was taken back to a small room in the Labor and Delivery ward. They took only a few minutes to hook me up to the monitors.

I heard it! The heart was beating! It was so unbelievable! I was about ready to jump up off the bed and walk out the door with joy! I was so excited that my fears were just that!

But they didn't want me to leave quite yet. The heart was beating but the doctor was concerned that the baby wasn't moving.

"See? See!, I thought. "I knew he wasn't moving!"

The doctor wanted to monitor me some more. But within a few minutes of looking at my chart and noticing I was already scheduled for an induction, she decided to make today Bennett's birthday.

I was thrilled. I was tired of being pregnant, tired of the worries that come with it. I was anxious to meet our second child.

I made another frantic call to Brian. Surely he wouldn't miss his son's birth, right?

Click Here To Read "The Story of Bennett's Birth According To Mom, Part 2"