Thursday, July 8, 2010

9 lives and outfits

This time two years ago, I was finally breathing a sigh of relief. We had received a call at 6am saying we needed to come down to the NICU right away, Matthew had taken a turn. Just a couple days prior we had started getting the paper work ready to begin our PD training to go home, so this call kind of came out of left field. I quickly called Ian's parents to come get William (as they live 5 miles from us) and ran to the car.

Matthew, the week before he got sick.

Let me back up a bit. Matthew has more lives than a cat is supposed to...and technically - he'd already used them all up during the pregnancy itself! It was both awesome and terrifying to go in for fetal surgeries. To watch my little 12oz son be "put to sleep" and have a catheter placed through his stomach into his bladder. I couldn't stop watching the monitor, partly because I'm a science geek and LOVE stuff like that, but mainly because I'm a mom and I wanted to be with my son every step of the way. If the surgery caused him to bleed out, (which the last one he hemorrhaged from causing them to stop surgeries all together) I wanted to be there for him (as best as I could) singing, talking, stroking my belly until his little heart stopped blinking on the screen. I was both excited and nervous to see him every time I walked in the door. I had two ultrasounds (sometimes three) every week of my pregnancy from week 16 to week 31. I just didn't know if I'd see our baby happily wiggling (because that's all you can do with no fluid to move it) or our baby eternally sleeping. His birth itself: all the complications with the pregnancy, oversized bladder not leaving a lot of extra room for his lung/heart development, low to no amniotic fluid except for a couple of days each week when I'd get an infusion and let's just add on a prolapsed cord while we are at it ok! Let's just say his guardian angel is working overtime!
We made it to Scottish Rite and doctors were surrounding his isolette. He was limp, unresponsive and whiter than snow. He was back on oxygen and his heart rate was everywhere! At one point, he coded while I was holding him and the nurses had to physically restart his heart in my arms. I think I went into shock because I took it in very calmly. Peritonitis had gone septic. Being only at the gestational age of 36 weeks (or 4 weeks before he was supposed to be born) probably didn't help as he had no reserves to fight with.
Since then Matthew has been septic three times, all causing the same reactions but without physically restarting his heart luckily. Though they did bring up a code cart twice during hemo when he went into septic shock. Another time they were set to replace his hemodialysis catheter, but his potassium was just too high to operate. At that time the kayexlate (really gross thick, grainy and sickeningly sweet medicine that binds to potassium in your body) wasn't working on its own any more. He had had 4 dose in 24 hours and his potassium only increased. So we had no choice but to go ahead with the surgery. The surgeon told me to have family near, their was a higher chance that he wouldn't make it than him actually pulling through. That was the only time I cried in the OR holding area when they came and took him from my arms. I didn't know if the next time I held him if he would be warm or cool.

Here he is back in my arms that afternoon:

Since then he has fought off congestive heart failure, outrageous blood pressures that are high enough to send a grown man into a stroke, line infections, meningitis and encephalitis. All in a days work for him. The nurses often remark how calm I am about this, how they never see me break down. I don't let myself break down until that situation is over. When it is over, we get discharged and I run straight for the shower. I turn the water to scalding, my skin is swollen, red and tender...and I cry. I allow myself five minutes to get it out and over with. I don't have time to dwell. If things still need to be said, I talk to my husband or a friend. I write a blog or a journal I keep bedside. It used to help when I would lots of nightmares during the last couple months of hemodialysis when they said my son was fading. Yes, lots of nightmare...
But in the end, my dream has come true. My boy lives to fight another fight another day. I remain stoic to all things medical, he remains strong. It works for us.
I've met many people in the past two years, when my small little sheltered life of all babies are happy and healthy was opened to a much broader range. Filled with more love and more pain than I could have ever imagined. I've been witness to both miracles and tragedies and they both haunt me in varying degrees.
For every size of clothing Matthew has grown into, I've picked him out something to be buried in. Morbid? Perhaps...but I knew I wouldn't be able to cope if the time came. I have outfits from preemie size up to 24 months. Only twice did I actually pull them out thinking I really was going to use them in the next day or two. Matthew has grown into a new size - 2T. (no more baby clothes) :( And I have NOT picked out an outfit. I don't know why the sudden change in my behavior. Just a month ago we had a scare with his brain swelling up! I think I'm finally at peace with EVERYTHING! I'm finally accepting what God has given me, given my son to deal with and I'm OK with it. I will no longer prepare for the worst case scenario. I will handle things as they come, like all parents do.
Two days ago, our little family joined our extended family at Chick fil a for the first time in almost a year. I took Matthew onto the playground there. He isn't supposed to be around that many children, especially with his biopsy coming up (I purelled that kid until he was wet and reeked of alcohol!) He went down his first slide. He looked at me - "gen" he said with a smile. On the top of the slide he said "I luv slide" and then "weee-ed" his way down.
The only outfits I will pick out will be which ones he can get dirty as he plays and lives.


Randi Jo :) said...

sniff sniff hug

Randi Jo :) said...

and p.s. what a BEAUTIFUL pic of him omgoodness - looks so much like william. he is sooo gorgeous! :)

Jamie H said...

NOT a good post for me to be reading in the middle of work! I'm fighting tears! Beautifully written!
I'm so glad you are not picking out a 2T outfit! Out of the baby clothes and the funeral outfits all in one shot.

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