After Timothy was born, he was taken out of the operating room to be examined by specialist doctors. He was given lots of drugs to stimulate and protect his lungs. He was intubated so that his lungs could be given assistance in the task of breathing. At only 25 weeks, his lungs should still only have been breathing amniotic fluid, but they were now forced to breathe oxygen and they simply weren’t ready for it.
I was stitched back up and taken into recovery. A few minutes later, they brought Timothy to me so I could see him. He was like a little doll, a tiny 840 gram doll. I cried and smiled and laughed. (To give you some perspective on his size, my husband was at Chipotle the following day and texted me: "Our son is as big as the burrito I'm eating.")
Here is an update I posted to Facebook a few hours after Timothy was born. It was very important to me that people know that we were beyond thrilled to add this precious boy to our family. Yes, the circumstances were tragic, but he was still a treasured member of our family, one whom we knew was being used by God for purposes of which we still aren't completely aware. Because I try to find joy in even the smallest things, even this difficult experience couldn't keep my humor down.
Our family rejoices in the addition of Timothy to our whanau (which means family in Maori, one of the languages of New Zealand) but we also know that his life is fragile. We pray and beseech and beg God, knowing that God loves him even more than we do and his ways are not our ways. But despite the gravity of the situation my spirits are high so please don't be offended if I'm cracking jokes or just generally acting like myself.
It was explained to us that the first 24 hours were incredibly critical, then the next 48 hours and then the first two weeks of his life. So many things could go wrong, so many things. His little body simply wasn’t supposed to be living in this world yet.
Another post from my Facebook:
I just returned from visiting Timothy in the NICU. When I first saw him I cried. He is so very small and they fully expect him to lose 10% of his body weight just like a regular newborn. I wanted to turn my wheelchair right around and go back to my room. But I made myself stay. And as I watched that tiny boy with the hiccups, God's love for that precious one overwhelmed me. That's my boy and I love him.
I stayed in the hospital for four days after he was born, recovering from the c-section, pumping milk just as much as I could and spending time by his bedside whenever I could. I wasn’t able to hold him yet at this point.
Tomorrow, I go home. I'm excited about living with my family again but now part of our family will be missing and I know that will hurt. Be praying for my heart tomorrow as we move into a new phase of our lives.
The day that I walked out of the hospital without a baby in my arms, I cried. Bawled, really. No mother is supposed to leave her baby behind.
Timothy was doing well in the NICU. He was intubated for only 12 hours and then was put on oxygen and allowed to breathe on his own. He was stable, eating increasing amounts of breastmilk through a tube in his nose. To give you perspective, his first few few days of food he received 1ml of breastmilk every three hours, which was quickly increased over the next few weeks.
So, I left the hospital, without my baby. And every day, my life was the same: Leave for the hospital about 8am, with all the milk that I had pumped the previous 16 hours in a little insulated bag. Arrive at the hospital in time to meet with the doctor and get updated on his care. Sit by his side, singing to him and talking to him. Lots of talking to the nurses. Leave for home about 1pm. On the 25 minute drive home I would start to mentally switch over to being a mom of three. I'd arrive home and get an update from the people caring for my other kids. We'd do family things, spend as much time together, all the while I would be pumping every three hours, desperately trying to provide enough milk for my newborn son. We'd have dinner and put the kids to bed. Often my husband would then go down to the hospital to spend some time by our son's bedside. Every night I would call about 9:30pm to find out his new weight for that night. We cheered for every 15 grams he gained.
Then one day, when he was about two weeks old, we received a call early in the morning. The doctor told us that Timothy hadn’t done very well overnight and wanted us to know before we came to visit so that we wouldn’t be surprised when we saw him.
When we walked into his room, he was back on a ventilator, unable to breathe sufficiently on his own. It was explained to us that he had developed an infection, something similar to pneumonia. It's not surprising, considering that his skin had been pricked for various blood draws and he had semi-permanent IV lines. Every prick of his skin brought the possibility of introducing infection. This infection had landed in his lungs, probably the most vulnerable part of his body.
From my Facebook:
Looks like Timothy is fighting an infection. They have started him on antibiotics and he is still on the ventilator. Nurse said he just isn't feeling well and so can't keep his stuff together. Her comment was that we are asking him to do things that he isn't supposed to be doing yet and he's tired.
Once again, we were faced with the possibility of losing our son. We didn't know if his little body would have the ability to fight the infection. We also were aware that the longer he was intubated the more serious long-term complications he could have had, if he survived at all.
We did the only thing we knew how to do: prayed. And prayed some more. I cried out to God through my tears, asking Him over and over why this was happening. I remember standing next to his bed, watching the machine breathe for him, listening to his heart beat on the machine. All I could do was tell God "Please don't let his little life be for nothing. I want your will, not mine."