Monday, December 3, 2007


One year ago from this past Saturday William was released from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's Hospital in St. Paul after ten long, agonizing days of lung problems following his birth. I am often asked if we knew there would be problems with our baby upon his birth or if there was anything we could have done to prevent it. The answer is no and no.

William had what was called a pneumothorax, a pretty common and treatable condition mostly occurring in white males who are born early. In fact, the doctors and nurses made us feel so confident that it was common and easily treatable that we initially didn't even tell a lot of people when we called to announce William's birth. But unfortunately William was an atypical case and his condition quickly worsened and became quite critical. At 2:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning four medical staff came to transfer William via ambulance from the hospital where he was born to the NICU at Children's Hospital.

A little later on Thanksgiving morning Brian called the hospital priest to come and baptize our new baby as he continued to get worse. It was then at that moment that I knew my perfect plan of having my baby sleep beside my hospital bed while I relaxed for two days after giving birth and then being able to bring our new baby home just in time for Thanksgiving dinner had perished.

Lately I've been reading a lot of the website we had set up to keep family and friends informed while William was in the hospital and I can't believe how positive Brian and I were. Now that a whole year has passed I can honestly say it was one of the most trying times in my entire life. It seemed that with everything the doctors and nurses were trying William just got worse. For three days he was the most critical patient in the NICU even among all the 2- and 3-pound babies. And then when he finally did turn a corner he had, what seemed like, an endless list of milestones to reach before he could be released.

When you are holding another baby and the baby starts to fuss it's always the mother who is there to say, "Oh try this, he loves to be held like this." But instead I had all the nurses telling me things like this about my own son. And while I know they meant well, I hated it. I wanted to hold my own son without having to ask and I wanted to feed him when I knew he was hungry and not because he had to stick to a strict 2-hour regimen. But when visitors came or when we talked to friends and family on the phone we just smiled and said, "It's ok" and, "We're fine." But the truth was that I was so bitter and angry that I wasn't going to get my picture perfect first week with my new baby like every other mother gets to.

But God always seems to have a different plan. And while I still can't look back on that experience and say that it was a positive one I can say that everything turned out just fine. We are now so thankful to have a happy and healthy 1-year-old who we can someday tell about the adventure he put us through after his birth. And we have memories to tell him about like Dean, the Harley-Davidson-riding, leather-jacket-with-fringe-wearing nurse; and Nurse Ratched, who kicked out Brian's dad from William's room when she thought he was talking too loud; and the time when our friend, Santo, snuck in much-needed beer for Brian one night. Things like that make me remember that while my experience wasn't the one I had painted my head, it actually didn't turn out so bad.

1 comment:

  1. What a scary and heartbreaking experience! I'm glad to hear that your baby boy is now a happy and healthy one-year-old.


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