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Miracle – Part 3

December 3, 2007

Continued from Miracle – Part 2

Once I heard that cry, I knew that all was right with the world. The fear, the worry, the stress of not knowing, the overwhelming sweet anguish of waiting to meet my baby boy was over (and so, amazingly, was the pain). I breathed.

The doctor spent a minute or two more suctioning and cleaning him, while his cries got louder and louder, and then he laid him on my chest. It was the most emotional moment of my life… ever. I thought my heart might burst, I loved him so much just at the sight of him. I touched his head, his tiny hand, his soft downy back and he stopped crying. I couldn’t. As tears streamed down my face and my voice caught on the lump in my throat, I introduced myself to him.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m your Mommy. I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you. Welcome to the world, little man. I love you.”

It was incredible. This little, perfect person, that had been growing inside of me for eight months was finally here. From two cells, this. Could there be any more striking evidence that God exists? What a miracle!

My time with him was short. You’ll remember that the doctor thought he was awfully tiny back when he did the ultrasound–and he was. Four pounds and seven ounces, with an initial Apgar score of 2. They were all concerned, wanted to just check things out. So they hauled my husband and my miracle away to the NICU after just a couple of precious minutes.

I thought it would be perhaps an hour–that they would check him out and all would be well. They wheeled me back to my labor and delivery room and brought me some food. I don’t recall exactly what it was, only that after three days of ice chips and popsicles, it was divine.

Two hours later the pediatrician came by. He said that my little guy was doing really well… but they had some concerns and needed to keep him in the NICU for awhile. I still wasn’t processing, and I was exhausted, so I just nodded. He wasn’t able, at this point, to maintain his blood sugar or body temperature, and they needed to keep him there until he could do it on his own. Not unusual for preemies, for someone as small as he was, the pediatrician said. I nodded and he headed back for the NICU, promising to return in a few hours with an update.

Then my doctor came back in, with bad news. The blood they had taken? The tests results were not good. I had developed something called HELLP syndrome. Evidently this had been occurring while I was laboring over the previous three days, but I was unaware. Maybe he had told me and the drugs and the excitement and the stress had caused temporary deafness. I’m not sure. Either way, I had no idea really, until that moment, that I was in dire straits.

HELLP stands for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, and Lowered Platelets and translated to English means that you’re in some serious trouble. It’s a rejection process, if you will. Your body rejects the fact that you’re pregnant, your red blood cells begin to die, your liver enlarges and threatens to rupture, and your platelet count drops through the floor. It’s a race against time. You hope against hope that your body will discover that it’s no longer pregnant before you bottom out–before your liver actually ruptures, before your platelets fall so low that you hemorrhage. It’s an ugly thing.

I became, then, a human pincushion as they took blood every 3.2 seconds to see how things were going. The blood pressure cuff was permanently attached to my arm and would go off every 30 minutes to take a new reading. Things didn’t get better. My blood pressure didn’t go down, but my platelets did. I remember that we reached a critical point (14,000 when a normal reading was 150,000, if I recall correctly) and the doctor told me we would need to transfuse if the next draw wasn’t better. My father offered to give me a transfusion if I needed one, everyone looked worried, and the number of people rotating in and out of my room increased.

The doctor was on constant call. I was terrified. And the worst part? I couldn’t leave my bed.

I couldn’t go to my baby and my baby couldn’t come to me.

My folks, my in-laws and my husband took turns going to scrub in and visit. They reported that he had ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes, a sweet little face. He was long and very lean.  He had a little blue hat that kept his head warm and made him look a little like a Smurf.  He liked his pacifier.

The pediatrician brought pictures and assured me that he was doing fine. All systems were go except the blood sugar and body temperature. No breathing issues, no kidney problems, no digestive issues. I was relieved that he seemed to be alright, but as his birthday turned into the next day, and another, and another, our separation was agony.

To be continued…

10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2007 7:10 am

    I can’t even imagine…to finally meet the little guy, say hello so briefly, and then be separated, must have been hell. Babies are tough little fighters, aren’t they?

  2. December 3, 2007 7:55 am

    Okay, I am glad you lived…but waiting for part 4…

  3. Lynda permalink
    December 3, 2007 8:37 am

    So glad that our prayers were (obviously) answered for your healing and recovery. But I’m enjoying the retelling of the story very much. Looking forward to part 4.

  4. Robyn permalink
    December 3, 2007 2:24 pm

    I remember most of this so well but am enjoying reading about it in detail.

    Little did you know at the time, that while you were going through all of this, I was interviewing away to leave my job & leave you with quite a mess to come back to after maternity leave (and a very short one at that)!

    So sorry about that again my friend but glad we both scurried out the door eventually!!!!

  5. December 3, 2007 4:20 pm

    Stephanie – what an absolutely terrifying experience, with so many things that could go wrong for you and the little one. I think I understand why you have such a strong faith. I knew you were a strong person, but WOW…

  6. December 3, 2007 7:59 pm

    Hi, I found your blog via a google alert for HELLP. I had HELLP with my daughter in 2003 just shy of 35 weeks. She weighed 4lb even and spent 15 days in the hospital. I know how scary the experience can be. There is so much going on that you can’t make sense of it all.

    Best wishes for your family.

  7. December 3, 2007 8:26 pm

    I know the pain of having a wonderful child and then have the doctors whisk them away. It’s painful on many levels. What a little blessing that one is…

  8. tia0220 permalink
    December 4, 2007 6:54 am

    What a blessing! He’s such a cute little peanut!

  9. December 4, 2007 8:33 pm

    and i thought, after i gave birth to my second child, my 2 week hospital stay was a nightmare…but, your story is giving me chills! but…the pictures of your little boy…so gorgeous!


  1. Miracle - Part 4 « In this house, I’m the Mama…

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