Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Andrew's NICU Story

When the baby's heart rate continued to lower with each contraction Rachel was having the nurse and doctors decided to investigate further. Rachel had been in active labor for at least 12 hours when the doctors found that the baby's face was coming out first (face presentation) and decided to order a C-section. The doctors told us that that the baby's forehead was getting pushed against Rachel's pelvis every time she pushed. This would make it nearly impossible to have a vaginal delivery.

I became concerned when we were told that Rachel would have to have a C-section. Rachel was told to pick who she would want to go with her to the operating room. She chose me. I was given hospital scrubs to wear (like in the movies). I looked like a doctor. My heart started racing as they wheeled Rachel into the operating room. I was told to wait outside as they got Rachel ready. I had about 15 minutes of waiting.

I began to pray to God that he would be with the doctors as they performed this procedure and that he would guide their hands. I prayed that Rachel would be okay and that Andrew would be born healthy and well. I also prayed for strength for me that I would not faint.

I was then told that I could come in and sit down next to Rachel. I held her hand as they began the procedure. Before I knew it they flashed a picture of an ultrasound that showed Andrew's neck hyperextended in the pelvic area. The doctors were concerned about this awkward position. They said something about how babies are very flexible and that gave me some reassurance.

The Birth

Then before I knew it they said that the baby was delivered. But as soon as they cut the umbilical cord the baby began having problems breathing. His head was really big and tilted back and he was very blue. He seemed limp and doctors scurried to him. The anesthesiologist ran over and helped resuscitate him. For maybe five minutes (the longest five minutes of my life) I held back tears as I feared losing him. I realized at that moment how much my wife and my son meant to me. I could not live without them!

I tried to encourage Rachel, who was also having breathing problems at this time. I told her the doctors were working on Andrew and that he was still okay. And then the doctors declared that he was stable. Andrew was wheeled out and then put on oxygen. I got to catch a glimpse of him before they wheeled him out. What a relief!

The NICU

Forty-five minutes later I was able to see him and he was doing much better. In the next 24 hours he was taken off the oxygen and was breathing on his own. Each day that we visited him in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit) he got stronger and better. On his third day he came to stay with Rachel and I in her hospital room. We would soon take him home!

In the end, Rachel and I both agreed that this ordeal was a blessing in disguise. Andrew received a lot of attention in the NICU and we were coached and trained by his nurses (one on one) on newborn care every time we visited Andrew for his feedings. The training was extremely helpful for us as first time parents, and because Andrew stayed in the hospital for a few days we got to watch and learn how to keep a good feeding schedule, to keep up with the daily routine they had established for our baby. Before we went home, we even got an extra day with Andrew in our room, with the NICU nurses checking in on us from time to time to make sure we felt comfortable enough with the routine. The nurses in the NICU were like angels ministering to us and our baby as we went through a very scary and traumatic time.

We thank God for being sovereign and for protecting our baby as he underwent a tough entry into this world. Andrew is now three years old and fully healthy. He is enjoying being a big brother to Adam, who is four months. Just yesterday he came up to Adam and put his hand on his shoulder and said, "You are my best friend." I just can't imagine what life would be like without moments like that. Children are gifts and precious. May we never forget that.

Note: Andrew, who was already lifting his head, was 3 days old in the picture above. Also, stay tuned for Adam's NICU story. That's right we went two for two in the NICU. Story coming soon.

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