The hours passed slowly, and eventually, we were preparing for our new arrival. Exactly 36 hours after the start of induction, my little one was preparing to make his grand entrance, errrr…exit. The room was packed. We were at a major trauma center/teaching hospital and had a variety of students, residents, an attending physcian, labor and delivery nurses (including a traveling nurse from California), a neonatal specialist, and a couple of NICU nurses.
We had been prepared to expect trauma. Immediate emergent care.
We were ready to meet our son.
Eli was born at 5:17 pm and weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces. He was the perfect size, not too big and not too small. Good thing we were doing this 2 weeks early….
And he was pink.
We didn’t expect that.
The NICU nurse held him up for about 10 seconds so I could see him before she dashed out of the room and headed to the Newborn Center.
I didn’t even get to hold him. All I could do was wait.
Within a couple of hours we had an initial report that he was doing well. He was indeed pink with oxygen sats in the high 90s. We would be able to visit him soon. I was moved to the post partum floor and a NICU employee brought me a Polaroid photo. I remember my nurse coming in and asking why he was in the Newborn Center. This hospital has a high number of micro-preemies…babies weighing in at a pound or so.
Nothing compares to entering a NICU unit to visit your baby. Every mother should be required to visit a NICU unit. Most mothers have wonderful delivery experiences and healthy babies and never think twice about the miracle they have been given. We take it for granted.
Even though we had been through all of this before, we had been blessed with three healthy children in between. Just enough to get comfortable again. Just enough to take things for granted.
A walk through NICU changes your perspective. The babies there are so premature, so tiny, that you can’t imagine survival. Some you can hold in one hand. I remember walking past bed after bed occupied by one pound babies. And then, there was my porker practically hanging over the sides of the bed.
Not really, but he was definitely the odd man of the bunch.
I wasn’t there very long before the cardiologist on call introduced himself. Dr. L gave me the first of several artistic renderings of my son’s complicated heart. He also gave us the news that we had not dared to expect--no intervention needed at this time. Even though Dr. L would not become Eli’s primary cardiologist, he was very involved in his treatment from the beginning.
We are so thankful for wonderful doctors….
Although complicated, Eli’s complex heart defects were balanced. Somehow, the narrowing here and the holes there controlled the blood flow, even though his arteries were in the wrong places, his ventricles and valves were switched and the right side was smaller than the left.
How could that be balanced?? I don’t know. It.just.was.
There was no medication administered, there was no ventilator, there was no surgery.
We took him home.
Today, we celebrate his fifth birthday.
We will eat Toy Story cake, open gifts, and reflect on the last five years. We’ll think about those difficult first months, the roller coaster that is Congenital Heart Disease. We’ll remember friends we’ve made along the way that share this common bond. And we’ll remember those who lost the battle-gone too soon.
But mostly, we will give thanks.
And then, we will watch Toy Story. Again.
Happy Birthday, my Eli Punkin Pie. I’m so thankful for the chance to see you grow…