Monday, April 29, 2013

I Choose Hope- Kim Johnson

By: Kim Johnson

After this past year, there’ve been many times that hope was all that got us through the most incredible & difficult journey we’d ever been on . I’d like to share just a little bit of our story.

When we’d been married for about 18 months, I started feeling…different. I just dismissed it as any number of possible explanations. But, in the back of my mind, I’d started wondering if I was pregnant. One day, my husband jokingly suggested that I take a home pregnancy test. I got a test and went to prove him wrong. Three minutes later, I was in the bathroom shrieking that the test was wrong. Yeah, that wasn’t my proudest moment; but I truly was baffled because it was POSITIVE!

7 weeks in to my pregnancy, I started having lots of complications. At one point, I ended up in the ER. The doctor was convinced I was miscarrying and apologetically sent us home. Despite everything, I chose to be hope everything would be ok.

The next morning, another ultrasound was done. There was a heartbeat! This little one was still alive and seemed to be fine! I chose to hope the pregnancy would continue to be successful and healthy.

I was put on bed-rest. That was a hard time for me. But eventually I was allowed to return to work and resume some sort of a normal life, even though I needed to be very careful. Things seemed to be going very well. At 20 weeks, we found out baby was a BOY! The pregnancy was progressing pretty uneventfully by this point and we were starting to relax a little bit.

At 25 weeks, I suddenly went into labor. I was TERRIFIED! We went straight to L&D. They thought I was dehydrated and sent me home with orders to stay off my feet, drink lots of water, and see my doctor on Monday. Ok, this was only for the weekend. I made myself comfortable on the couch and just relaxed. For several hours, everything was fine.

Six hours later, labor started up again. But this time, the contractions were much stronger. I called my doctor’s office, got the on-call doctor and explained what was happening. I KNEW something was very wrong and eventually convinced her to meet us at L&D. So back to the hospital we went. We still had no idea what lay ahead of us.

By the time we reached the hospital, the contractions were only 3 minutes apart. The triage nurse checked me, lost all the color in her face and called the charge nurse. She came right in and told us our son was coming right then and there was nothing they could do to stop it. 25 weeks was WAY too early for a baby to arrive. What would happen? Would he be ok? We didn’t have time to think. Everyone flew into action. All I remember was them telling me to not have the baby for 12 minutes because Life-Flight was on the way. It turned out they didn’t have a NICU at this hospital. We didn’t think we’d need a one, so we’d never thought to find out if they had a NICU.

A few minutes later, a crew who’d been specially dispatched from the closest NICU arrived. These flight nurses worked with very early, sick babies regularly. If anyone could help him, it was them. Very quickly, our son arrived weighing a tiny 1 pound, 12 ounces and measuring 13.5 inches. We named him Xander.

He was rushed out of the room, never once making a sound. We waited to see him for what seemed like years. In the meantime, no one wanted to answer our questions about how he was. A worked desperately to (as we later found out) resuscitate Xander. In addition to prematurity, he was septic and in shock.

Two hours later, we finally got to see him. He was SO tiny! He was also critically ill and they weren’t sure he’d survive a 12 minute flight, let alone longer.

The next day, the Neonatologist called: Xander’d made it through the night, but he was still critical. His delivery and the flight to the NICU had been hard on his tiny body. The doctor asked how quickly we could get there. I was still a patient in the hospital myself. My doctor realized that Xander needed us more than I needed to be in the there, so I was discharged a mere 12 hours after giving birth. We chose to hope that both Xander and I would be ok.

The sights and sounds that met us were surreal. There’s no way to prepare for what the NICU’s like. Walking into his room started us on a 93 day roller-coaster ride. For a long time, Xander was too immature, fragile and sick to be held. I chose to hope that we’d be able to get him well enough to hold him, and offer him some comfort.

One day, his nurse asked me if I wanted to hold Xander. YES!! So, at 22 days old, I FINALLY held my baby for the first time! Unfortunately, holding him was still very hard on him. After about 30 minutes he was too cold, stressed and had to be put back in his isolette. I chose to hope that he’d get to snuggle with his Daddy before too long!

One week later, Xander got to snuggle with his Daddy for the first time.

We chose to hope that Xander would continue improving. Slowly, he came off the vent, got to wear clothes, had his first bath, moved to a crib and learned how to eat. Then suddenly….no more tubes or oxygen! And one day, we got to go home! I kept checking the carseat to make sure Xander was really in it and that no one had changed their minds!

This is Xander now. I still choose to hope that despite everything, he’ll be just fine.

Our NICU journey taught me a lot, but mostly it taught me to choose hope because that’s carried us through the challenges. I still choose hope every day.

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