By Ryan Anderson
On the evening of Monday March 5th my wife who was 25 weeks pregnant started feeling pains in her abdomen and lower back. It became painful enough that we decided to head to Sparrow Hospital to get it checked out. We figured they would run a few tests, give her some meds and we would be on our way. We entered the doors at around 6:30pm and by 8:30pm they had done enough tests that they were able to find out that there was an infection somewhere in her body. They then sent us to a room in the hospital and we sat there waiting to find out what the next step was. We were definitely getting a little nervous by this time. They returned to the room sometime close to midnight to extract some of the amniotic fluid from my wife to see if the infection was near our unborn child. It was extremely scary to watch the Doctor’s cart in a mini ultrasound machine and a huge needle to pull some fluid. I remember watching my baby move on the ultra sound screen and then watching them strategically place the syringe away from his body to extract some fluid.
At 5:00am the doctor’s came in with the results from the fluid sample. There was an infection in the amniotic fluid and the doctors tossed me some scrubs and said you need to get changed, we are going to be performing an emergency c-section very soon. Our little miracle, Reed was born that morning at 6:23am on March 6, 2012. He weighed in at 2lbs and was 13 inches long. The doctor’s forewarned us to not be surprised if we didn’t hear him cry out loud because his lungs would be very premature just like the rest of his body. Well, when he was born we could hear him crying out loud and that made us proud. They immediately placed him in a plastic bag to help keep moisture in his body because his skin was so thin that it couldn’t manage to do that on its own.
I remember that first day in the NICU my wife and I were so scared that we didn’t even want to put our hands inside of his incubator. We didn’t want to do anything to harm or disturb him because of how fragile he looked. Almost 14 weeks later our son Reed Thomas Anderson is no longer on any oxygen support, is taking all of his feedings from a nipple, lives in a crib, we get to give him baths, and we can take him out of his crib and unplug his leads and hold him just like a term baby. Last Saturday he was even a featured baby on the Children’s Miracle Network telethon at Sparrow Hospital.
Reed currently weights 5lbs 8 ounces and is 19 inches long. We have begun having talks with his Neonatologist and nurses about a plan for sending him home. This has been a long process but wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel like a “veteran” NICU dad based on how long we have been driving up to visit our son daily. I would like to leave any new or future NICU dad’s with some tips that really helped my wife and I to stay positive through these 14 weeks.
1) If you can be with your child during “rounds” do so and listen closely to what the doctor’s say and ask ANY AND ALL questions you have. If you are fortunate enough to get time off work like my wife did to be with our son every day; you end up knowing your child better than anyone and your input and advice is very valuable.
2) Get to know the nurses and be their best friend! They are with your child more than anyone else up there. Bring snacks for the whole crew if you can. When you find nurses you really like there is a good chance they will “follow” your baby and having nurses you trust makes it much easier for the parent when you have to go home or back to work.
3) Be involved in every thing you can. Whether it is kangaroo care, changing diapers, bathing, feedings, etc. It allows you to not feel “helpless” and as though you are really helping your son/daughter grow.
4) Read them books.
5) Keep a journal. My wife and I (mostly her) have written in his journal every single day of his life beginning with day 1. Sometimes it is nice to read through his old ones and really see how much your child has improved.
|Ryan doing kangaroo care with his son Reed|