Saturday, December 8, 2012

7 years ago this day, I was witness to a birth...

She wasn't due until January, but had been both at home and then in the hospital on bed rest for 'broken water' for 2 weeks.  She had polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid) which can be a sign of a defect with the baby, but it wouldn't be known for sure until he was born and a big deal was not made of the possibility.

I remember a phone call earlier in the afternoon while I was shopping from her, pondering if she was in labor despite nothing on the monitors and the nurses not terribly concerned about her inquiries.  She was only 34 weeks pregnant, to the day.  It was early to tell if it was really labor, but it was possible.  She was pre-term, the NICU team would be at the birth if it were labor.

I checked in with her again a few hours later.  She seemed to be in denial.  My favorite sign of labor, although given she wasn't full term yet, I was hoping I was wrong.  On my way to teach a childbirth class I talked to her again and it seemed she was indeed in early labor.  I asked if she wanted me to come, she said no.  I told her husband to call me if anything changed as I was an hour away and I'd leave my class and go to her.  I was surprised I heard nothing.

There was a big snow storm forecast. That should have been a clue... ;-)

I ended my class a bit early and called.  Her husband said something to the effect of "We need you RIGHT NOW, how fast can you get here?!".  Um... that bit about calling earlier...  Men!  ;-)  He's my BIL, so I can razz him a bit.

I hauled ass to the Boston hospital.  I walked in to find her sitting on the birth ball in the dark making lovely birth sounds.  He looked terrified and relieved when I walked in all at the same time.  She said "Thank God you are here, let's do this".  She almost immediately said she had to go to the bathroom.  Doulas like this sign.  She sounded 'pushy'.  I told her husband to get the nurse.  Yep.  10 cm.  I was barely there 15 minutes!

Just about an hour and a half later Samuel Henry finally made his appearance.  A lovely un-medicated natural birth.  It was shortly after midnight.  It was only the first indication he was going to do things his own way!  For such a small baby, he sure took his time on the way out!  The NICU team was present as he was a pre-term baby.  (In a small world moment, the supervising nurse was someone for whom I babysat when I was younger.  Those boys were in medical school now!!!)  After Sammy was born he went right to the warmer and I took pictures for mom.  Although breathing, he was struggling a bit so they opted to intubate him.  They couldn't nasally intubate him.  This was the first sign something was not quite right with Sammy.  It's called choanal atresia (no holes in the bones of his skull where you usually can breathe through your nose).  His very first surgery just days later was to create those holes.  Mama got to hold him for a few minutes before they brought him to the NICU.  His dad went with him and I stayed with mama, who is also my sister.  She was able to visit him in the NICU a bit later where he was in an incubator and intubated.

It was later determined that Sammy had  CHARGE Syndrome.  From their Web site,

 "CHARGE syndrome is a recognizable (genetic) pattern of birth defects which occurs in about one in every 9-10,000 births worldwide. It is an extremely complex syndrome, involving extensive medical and physical difficulties that differ from child to child. The vast majority of the time, there is no history of CHARGE syndrome or any other similar conditions in the family. Babies with CHARGE syndrome are often born with life-threatening birth defects, including complex heart defects and breathing problems. They spend many months in the hospital and undergo many surgeries and other treatments. Swallowing and breathing problems make life difficult even when they come home. Most have hearing loss, vision loss, and balance problems which delay their development and communication. All are likely to require medical and educational intervention for many years. Despite these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, children with CHARGE syndrome often far surpass their medical, physical, educational, and social expectations.

One of the hidden features of CHARGE syndrome is the determination and strong character these children display."

He came home from the hospital just before Christmas. Sammy has many of the features of CHARGE, but fortunately no heart problems and has had 15 surgeries in his 7 years.  He also has Autism.  He has had many challenges and many more ahead.  Despite that, he is a resilient, intelligent and endearing little guy and his Auntie "Himmie" adores him!  I can hardly wait for him to open his birthday present!

Happy Birthday Sammy!  You've come a long way in 7 years.  May lucky 7 be just that for you!  You have so much to teach us!  I can hardly wait to see what the next seven bring.  Holy crap, you'll be a teenager by then!!!

Auntie Kimmy

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