Even though I had experienced bleeding on and off during my pregnancy, I was not considered at risk for premature birth. Needless to say, I was in shock when my water broke and the umbilical cord ruptured when I was just 24 weeks into my pregnancy. When we arrived at the hospital, the nurse checked me out and informed me that I must have been mistaken—everything looked fine. I will never forget the nurse’s loud gasp when my OB came in to check me out and gestured her over to take a look.
Because the baby was breech and at great risk of becoming hypoxic (suffering from lack of oxygen because of the prolapsed cord), my OB gave us a choice: have a radical c-section and the baby would have a 50 to 60 percent chance of survival (and all my future pregnancies would need to be c-section), or deliver the baby naturally and he would die. I didn’t even pause to consult my husband before I blurted out “I’ll take the c-section.” I knew that Christopher was meant to live.
Christopher was born weighing 610 grams (1 lb, 6 oz.) and measuring 11 inches long. Amazingly, he did not have a brain bleed. My OB later confessed that she thought that he looked like a fetus when he came out, and that she was convinced he would never make it. (I’m glad she waited awhile to inform me of this.) He was red and bruised with translucent skin, scrawny and tiny, and very, very sick. To us, he was the most beautiful creature we had ever seen. I remember how much it meant to me when our family members expressed how beautiful he was. I needed to hear that.
Christopher was on the vent for about 5-1/2 weeks, went onto nasal cannula for a few days, and back on the vent until he was 7 weeks old. The hardest thing was not being able to hold him until he was 5 weeks old. Even then, we were only able to hold him once a day until he moved to Level 2. I so desperately wanted to cuddle him and make him feel better!
We sang to Christopher constantly and soon became known on the unit as the singing parents. We made him a tape to play in his isolette when we were not there. We found that music calmed him and made his sats go up. To this day, Chris absolutely adores music. He loves to play the guitar and the piano and sing. Today, his birthday party featured a talent show with his friends, and he performed a song he had written. (I told him that I wrote my first song when I was around his age too!) There is no doubt in my mind that this love of music comes from those days before he was supposed to be born, when his understanding of us was the songs that we sang to him daily.
Right before discharge with primary nurse Marcia
Chris' First Birthday! (at 8 months adjusted)
Around 4-1/2 years old (Photo by Laurie Bentley)