The birth of a 28 week premature child turned into a miracle and life saver.
An Unexpected Miracle
When I was 17yrs old in college I made the decision to move in with my boyfriend who at that time I had been with for 2yrs. I was living a great life, right out of high school and starting college. We got our first apartment together and life was great. We had everything going for us. There was a little partying but for the most part we worked, attended class and took care of our business.
One night I had a dream of holding a child that I had given birth to that was so realistic I went out and bought a pregnancy test the next day. I woke up the next morning and felt compelled to take the pregnancy test. To my shock a horror the test came out positive. I was pregnant.
We made the decision to go on with the pregnancy and I started going to the doctor’s appointments. Everything was normal as far as the doctors and I could tell. At 27 weeks pregnant I made a trip to San Antonio to visit my grandparents.
While I was there I started feeling abnormal. Being only 17 I did not realize why I felt the ways I did or understand the physical changes that were happening. The last night of my visit there I started feeling my stomach get hard and then soft over and over again. I tried to ignore it because in my ignorant 17yr old mind I thought there was no way something could actually be wrong. I was only 27 weeks pregnant. I didn’t know a thing about premature births and complications.
The next day I drove home to Texas City where I lived. By then I was seriously ill and didn’t know it yet. Strange things started happening when I would use the bathroom and by then I realized that I was having contractions, strong ones. I waited until my spouse came home from work to take me to the hospital were we found out that I had chorioamnionitis. Mine and my unborn child were very ill. The chorioamnionitis had put me into early labor.
I was admitted to the hospital that night and every measure was taken to prevent me from having a 28 week premature birth, and getting me well enough to continue the pregnancy. I was hooked up to all the monitors and given medication to try to keep me comfortable, when all of a sudden doctors and nurses rushed into my room at about 1:30 am and told that the baby was in distress. I was told that I had to have an emergency C-section. The last thought I had before the general anesthetic knocked me out was “oh my god, I’m losing my baby.”
After I woke from the anesthesia my first thought was if the child had been a boy or a girl. At this time I still thought I lost my baby. Then I was told by a team of doctors, nurses, and my spouse that the child was alive and was a boy. I was told all the complications that were happening or could happen. He went straight to the NICU and was put on a ventilator, lung medications, heart medication and an NG feeding tube.
Now at this time I was supposed to be recovering and going to the NICU to meet my son but I was not recovering for some reason. I was getting sicker and sicker. I couldn’t even walk to the NICU to see him for the first time because I was so sick. I started to turn grey and vomiting. The pain was so intense I thought I was dyeing and I was. No one could figure out what was going on until one competent doctor ordered an abdominal x-ray.
To mine and the doctor’s horror the x-ray showed that there was a sponge in my stomach near the C-section wound. All the while I had my premature, sick newborn in the NICU that I had still not met. I was rushed to emergency surgery to have the sponge removed. I don’t know what hurt worse, my back to back abdominal surgeries or the fact that I could not get to my baby in the NICU because I was so sick and it was too painful to make the journey across the hospital to the NICU.
After the sponge was removed and lots of antibiotics I started to get better, slowly but better. On the 5th day I was able to make it to the NICU. I found myself scared, shocked and in a state of denial. Then they introduced me to my son, Dylan. He weighed 2.9lbs; he was hooked up to so many machines and had tubes coming out from everywhere. I was only allowed to hold him for 15 minutes at a time because he could not regulate his own temperature. He had a feeding tube because he was so premature he had not gained the reflex to suck from a bottle or breast. He had what is called the A’s and B’s or apnea and bradycardia which means that he would forget to breath and his heartbeat would drop so when the monitor would sound the closest nurse or me and my spouse would have to stimulate into remembering to breath.
For the bradycardia I decided to do this natural thing called kangaroo care. It requires going somewhere private but still close to the NICU and me removing my shirt and holding him chest to chest with a blanket covering us. It synced his heart rate with mine. It also allowed for bonding between him and me.
After 2 months in the NICU he was allowed to come home but we made the choice to have a computer monitor strapped across his chest and it would alarm if he stopped breathing or if his heart rate dropped. I remember when the monitor would sound and I would run to him and he would be blue and we would have to stimulate him into regulating himself again.
After 6 months we were able to take the monitor off. Later on I was informed that he had periventricular leukomalacia. (PVL) is a type of brain injury that affects infants. The condition involves the death of small areas of brain tissue around fluid-filled areas called ventricles. The damage creates "holes" in the brain. "Leuko" refers to the brain's white matter and "peri" refers to the ventricles. He had a little hydrocephalus that cause worry for a while but it the fluid in his ventricles evened out without shunts.
9yrs later he is as healthy as he could be. He’s smart, funny and charming. He does have cerebral palsy and he has to use a wheelchair but that does not slow him down. He’s as healthy as anyone I know.
Due to the sponge left in my stomach when I was 17 I became ill in many ways but every day that I don’t feel well I look to him. He makes me happy, he makes me smile every time.