She almost literally couldn’t breathe. She had so much pressure in her abdominal cavity, that it was difficult to inhale deeply enough to get enough oxygen. Her belly, which 24 hours before had been the normal size for a 6 and a half month pregnant woman, now looked like a full term belly. She was placed on oxygen and the on-call doctor was called in. After what seemed like forever (but really was quite quick) the doctor arrived, assessed the situation, and called for an emergency c-section. I was relieved, to be honest, and so was HTBM. Friday, December 7, 2012, would be my son’s birthday.
They wheeled her into the surgical room to prep, and I changed into my scrubs. And then I waited. And the fear, and the overwhelming, just washed over me. I sobbed on my own, and then paced as my eyes leaked some more tears. I just wanted my wife to be okay. And I wanted my soon-to-be preemie son to be okay. There are no promises here. There are no guarantees.
I walked into the c-section and saw my beautiful life, obviously sedated but looking a whole lot more relaxed. Her breathing was lots more relaxed. And at that moment, I relaxed. It was only later that she told me that despite that sedation, she was worried she was only moments away from death.
The c-section went quickly. I was invited to stand and snap a picture with my iPhone of our little guy as they took him out of HTBM. And I nailed it – got a great one of our little Leo. Born at 2 lbs 4 oz, 15 inches and 11 weeks premature.
He was perfect.
I accompanied him to Children’s hospital, about a quarter mile walk through a tunnel from Abbott, to the best Level 3 NICU in the Upper Midwest U.S. This is why we wanted to deliver at Abbott, in case this NICU was needed. Well, it’s needed now. I walked with my son, as I thought of my wife. If I could have ever elected to be in two places at once….
Once I was confident that Leo was stable on his ventilator, I started to walk back to Abbott to find my wife. Halfway there, I saw her being wheeled in her bed toward me. She was okay, and was coming to see our son! She got to look into his face, hold his hand….it was perfect. She only got a few minutes before they wanted to get her back to Abbott.
The next couple of days honestly sucked. She was back on magnesium sulfate, as it would take some time for the blood pressure to go down and stabilize. And Leo had a very common problem with preemies like himself: Respiratory Distress Syndrome. His lungs had to start producing its own surfactant, and his lungs weren’t able to do that. He was taken off the ventilator after just 18 hours, but struggled a bit on his CPAP assistance on days 2 and 3. His CO2 levels in his blood, while not dangerous, were rising. They needed to go down, or he was at risk of being put back on the ventilator. Meanwhile, I did google research (horrible idea) about babies with RDS. While prognosis was much, much better than, say, 50 years ago, RDS remains the biggest killer of premature babies. I prayed in earnest the evening of 12/9…just prayed for a sign that everything would be okay. While HTBM was getting better, my little boy was struggling.
One more entry should do it. Thanks for sticking with me.