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Andrew’s Arrival

by Minnie Lee Lambert

With my Momma and Doug by my side, I was in a bed at East Copper Medical Center awaiting the arrival of my little Clemson Tiger. I had no clue that our lives would be turned upside down.  I had no clue that anything was wrong with Andrew.

They had given me medication to induce my labor last night and broke my water around 11 AM this morning.  Today was a slow day with very little progress.  Andrew was trying to come out looking up and was not turning.  This epidural was Hell.  Took that guy over 14 tries to get it in my back and it felt like fire was shooting out of my feet.  I tried not to break Doug’s hand but this was hard.  Momma stood behind the bed and rubbed my head and told me I was doing so good.  The talks of a c-section have started.  The thought of surgery scares me, but there is no turning back now.  Doc says we will wait a little while longer, but by 6 PM if he is not here, we are going to the OR.

Doug is dressing in a white suit and looks like he is scared to death.  They are getting ready to wheel me out.  I have never been in the hospital before and now I am heading into surgery!  Why couldn’t this little guy just turn and come on into the world?!  Why couldn’t my body have just done what is should and he would be here by now?!

6:48 PM Andrew makes his entrance.  The doctor told me what he needed to tell me something about him.  I looked up at him and laughed and said, “What, he’s a Gamecock?” I could tell by the look on his face this was not the Clemson/Carolina jokes we had been having all day.  Dr. Osbourne tells me that my baby has a cleft lip, but not to worry because he has a good friend that will take very good care of Andrew. Doug is crying.  I am crying.  Is this a dream? How can this be? They bring him around and I see his face.  He is mine and he is BEAUTIFUL! Then they take him away.  After surgery I see Babby.  She is crying.  I ask about his lip.  No, something else is wrong, she tells me. His feet with BLUE.  Blue like blueberries.  This has to be a dream. No way this is real. Where is my baby? I need to see him NOW!!

They bring him to me and I’m loving him through the tears. Momma is crying and Doug is being very quiet.  The nurse said she will take him back to the nursery again soon. They have to put a feeding tube in his nose because no one is here to help me learn to feed him.  We were not expecting this!

They took him to the nursery and they never brought him back. By now I come to realize that something else must be wrong. Th attending physician came in and sat on the side of my bed. A doctor sitting on the bed is never a good thing. She told me that they thought he had a heart murmur, but when they went to put the feeding tube in his nose, his O2 stats plummeted.  The helicopter is coming. He is going to MUSC.  I am terrified. I want my baby!

10:20 PM The door opens.  Two nurses, three flight crew members and the attending physician come into my room. They push my bed into the corner and bring in the long transporter that looked like something from Star Wars. It had O2 tanks on the bottom and small arm holes on the sides. Lying inside it was the little 7 pound, 13 oz baby that had just broken my heart into a million pieces. He seemed a mile away. I could not even reach him, so I rubbed the little blanket that he was wrapped in. They gave me a picture of him, then they took him away. My heart left with him. How can they take my baby and give me a picture? I don’t want a PICTURE! I got upset to hear the other babies in the hospital crying. I yelled at Doug and told him to shut the door! I did not want to hear some else’s baby, I wanted MINE!

Today Andrew is my little miracle.  MY HERO! I so openly share our lives and his story because I want everyone to know how truly special he is. If he can come through all of this, there is NO LIMIT to what he can do. His life has been a battle since day one, but anything worth fighting for is definitely worth having!

I am thankful for each and every day and all of the pebbles along the way! I am thankful that the Lord chose me to be Andrew’s momma!

A Well-Deserved Snow Day

by Lisa Weir

How fortuitous to wake up this morning, the morning of Kennedy’s 13th birthday, to learn it would be a snow day. This meant both she and I would be staying home together today. I think it is a well-deserved snow day and only fitting, given the events of her original “birth” day.

We were living outside the city at the time. It was just a few short weeks after the horrific ice storm that crippled much of Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces. It was said that the ice storm of 1998 directly affected more people than any other previous weather event in Canadian history. Like that ice storm, another January event that year would forever profoundly change the course of our lives.

Knowing how quickly I had delivered my second child, about 50 minutes start to finish, and knowing we lived about 45 minutes from the hospital, we had planned to come up to the city to stay with family within a week of my due date. Kennedy, however, had other plans. She decided to make her entrance thirteen days early.

Graeme and I had settled into bed on the night of the 26th, where we both slept soundly until about 4:15 AM, when I woke with the need to use the washroom. Seeing the tell-tale pink when I was finished, I summoned Graeme with a “You need to get up NOW!”. We prepared ourselves quickly and made our way, excitedly and apprehensively, to the car.

Believe it or not, we both remained calm as the still dark night we were driving through on the way up to the city, despite the dwindling number of minutes between my contractions. We made it to the hospital and my doctor was called. We were pleased he was able to make it before she was born. I believe his familiar and calm presence was one of the things that helped us through what was to come.

The labour was going very well.  I was very calm, concentrating on my breathing with a musical, back and forth, conductor-like hand movement indicating the commencement and conclusion of each contraction. Graeme held my hand and comforted me throughout each one. The nurse remarked that he and I should give lessons. We all had a laugh about that. One oddity occurred that neither Graeme nor I thought much of, but I am sure alerted knowing hospital staff that something may be not quite right. When my water broke, it kept coming. And coming. It was like Niagara Falls compared to what I’d experienced with my other two babies. It turns out this condition, polyhydraminos, aka “lots ‘o’ water”, can be an indication that there are swallowing issues that have been present in utero.

6:59 AM The moment arrived. That moment that is simultaneously terrifying and exciting.  It’s like the feeling you get as you inch up to the top of that first incline on a rollercoaster and prepare yourself for the crazy ride that will ensue once you’ve reached that apex. There is no turning back now. And so, with very few pushes, our beautiful baby girl made her grand entrance into the arms of my family doctor. We held our breath and waited. Nothing. The only sounds in that small contrived-to-look-homey room were the scrambling noises of the nurse and my doctor as they whisked her over to a little table and began to work on her. To their credit, they were incredibly calm and reassuring, given the fact that the baby in front of them was cyanotic, her skin getting darker before their eyes.  “We just need to clear her nose out.” Then, “We’re going to take her down the hall to get her nose cleared out.” That was the last thing I remembered hearing.

A half hour or so later, Graeme helped me up off the bed so I could get cleaned up. I was still lying there in the same position I’d been in since she was born. I was dressed and sitting up on the bed. We called a few people to give them the wonderful news.  “It’s a girl!” “Yes, everything is fine, they are just cleaning her nose out. There was a lot of vermix. Yeah, you know, that white, thick gunk that’s all over babies when they’re born.” As the minutes passed, though, we looked at each other, still cautiously optimistic, still blissfully ignorant, but wondering what was really going on and when they’d bring her back to us.

We eventually were taken down to a room on the floor, out of the Labor and Delivery Unit. The minutes seemed to take forever as we waited for word, all the while listening to the ebb and flow of the busy floor: nurses bringing babies from the nursery to parents, babies crying, and parent caring for them.

We finally received news sometime around noon, or maybe it was a bit after that. The day from that point on becomes a little blurry for me. It seems their attempts to pass a catheter up her nostrils to clean out her nose were futile. She had a condition called ‘bilateral choanal atresia’ (which was the first indication of what we would learn was CHARGE syndrome in the coming days). I remember spending much of the afternoon worrying and crying. Crying because I didn’t know what the future would hold for my beautiful daughter, crying because there was something wrong that I didn’t quite understand, crying because I’d given birth 6 or 7 hours ago and still hadn’t seen her and crying because I couldn’t even pronounce the name of the darn condition the doctor had told us.

Late in the afternoon, we finally got to go down to the neonatal intensive care unit to see her for the first time. There she was. A big, 7 pound 14 ounce baby, looking so huge in the little incubator next to all the preemies around her for whom the incubators were designed. She had a large black contraption in her mouth to keep it open so she could breathe from her mouth and was hooked up to what seemed like a zillion tubes andYet, despite all the hospital paraphernalia, she was our beautiful baby girl. I knew, in that moment when we first laid eyes on her, that our lives would be forever changed but I also knew that we would love her more than any words could ever express. We would go to the ends of Earth and back for her. No matter what was to come, we would get through it. And we did.

Fast forward to today: it is another January 27th and we have reached yet another amazing milestone. Kennedy is a teenager. She has survived 20 surgeries, hundreds of appointments and tests, hours and hours and hours of therapy and remains on the happiest people I have met in my entire life. She is a cheerleader. She is an actor. She sings and dances. She gives speeches. She runs and jumps. She loves movies. She loves games. She loves the Wii. She loves Facebook and chatting with friends on the computer. She loves Justin Bieber and Glee. She loves her cell phone and her iPod. She has done so much more that we could have ever possibly dreamed on that very first day. She has an exuberance for life and energy that would lift the spirits of even the most cantankerous curmudgeon.

And so here we are, it is a snow day. I am a teacher and Kennedy is a student. We will be together all day today, which I feel is most deserving, considering the amount of time we spend apart on her very first day.

It is truly a gift to be her parents. She makes us happy every day.