Austin's Birth Story
A couple of days before our son was born, my husband and I were remodeling our bathroom. That afternoon, while getting ready for work, I started feeling what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions. I was 29 weeks pregnant, and the books I had read as well as my friends’, family’s and doctor’s comments had told me about the contractions, and that they could start happening by that stage.
I started to worry the next day because by then the contractions were becoming regular and were starting to hurt. That day a friend stopped by who was pregnant with her third child. She told me she had “cramped” during all her pregnancies but said that if I was worried to call the doctor. I did. They asked all the questions, but since it was my first pregnancy I didn’t really understand what they were asking me and described what I was experiencing to the best of my knowledge.
Since I was scheduled to go for a 3-hour glucose test the next morning we decided to wait. However, I was instructed to show up at my doctor’s office as soon as it opened if the contractions continued.
At 8:00 a.m. I was still having the pains, so when my doctor’s office opened I was already waiting. They got me in quickly and the doctor on call checked me out. When I heard “uh-oh,” I became very worried. Apparently by that time I was in active labor, 2 cm. dilated, 75% effaced with a bulging bag. By 10:00 a.m. they had me admitted and had started the magnesium drip to stop the contractions along with steroids to help develop my baby’s lungs. This was approximately 43 hours after I started feeling the pains.
Nothing was working, so the doctors told my husband and I what consequences to expect, and of course everything sounded horrifying.
At 7:40 p.m. on September 16, 1999, our son, Austin was born, weighing three pounds, two ounces and measuring sixteen inches. I remember hearing one loud cry before they had to put him on a ventilator. I thought to myself: “He’s going to be okay.”
Austin received 9′s on both his APGARs but stayed on the ventilator because his lungs weren’t developed. When I finally got to the NICU at midnight (they had emergency surgery on another premature baby) he was on a warming bed, under bili lights for his jaundice with IVs stuck everywhere, both arms, both legs, his belly button and his head as well as the ventilator tube in his mouth and a blindfold on his eyes to protect his paper-thin eyelids. He was so small. His cousin gave him a TY Beanie Baby Dog that we placed next to him; it was the same length as he was.
When Austin was three days old, the hospital called late at night to let us know that he needed a blood transfusion.
“Do what you need to do,” we told them. The transfusion was successful. I couldn’t hold Austin the first week but I was there every moment I could and talked to him, encouraging him to stay strong. My mother drove in from California and our family in Texas quickly surrounded us with their support. At eight days old my son was taken off the ventilator and moved to an isolette where I was able to hold him for the first time in his short life. Finally!
The worst part of all this was knowing that there was nothing we could do except watch and wait but we surrounded him with pictures and blankets from home, along with the family members who were constantly coming to visit: Grandma, “Grandpa”, Poppy, Nene, Mema, Grandaddy, Aunties, Uncles, Cousin’s (if they were old enough) and friends. Everyone gave their support.
Austin did very well in the NICU and at 14 days he was moved to the Special Care Nursery. While there he thrived on all the attention and love we constantly gave him, including the nurses who would literally fight over who would take care of him that day. They just loved his “fuzzy little head”. He had a problem with his bowel movements and ended up with a bilateral inguinal hernia, so at 6 weeks he went into surgery to have it removed. We had him circumcised by the same token. He came through with flying colors and has no lingering problems.
The only thing we were waiting for was for Austin to continue to gain weight and take all his feedings from a bottle. Unfortunately, he had been “spoiled” too long. He was lazy with his feedings and didn’t take to the bottle since, so far, he hadn’t had to do anything but have the food settle in his tummy through the NG tube going there from his nose. He didn’t want to cooperate.
After a couple more weeks and arguing with the doctors, telling them that I felt he needed to be left on the bottle to see what would happen, they conceded – with limitations. They allowed him to stay on the bottle only if he did not lose weight. That day he started drinking from a bottle at all feedings, no more NG tube. He didn’t gain any weight but did not lose any weight either. The second day he gained almost four ounces. The following day he gained another two ounces and the doctor announced: “Austin can go home on Sunday as long as he continues to gain weight.” He did.
After two and a half months of being in the hospital Austin, by then weighing five pounds, six ounces, came home with no machines, only two medications and it was the Sunday just before Thanksgiving!
As with any preemie baby we had some more hurdles when he got home. It took Austin longer to feed, roll over, hold himself up, sit, crawl, eat solid foods, and walk but today he is a happy, healthy and very active runner and talker. He is almost three years old and shows no lingering side effects. He now weighs twenty eight pounds and is thirty six inches tall. He is truly our miracle child and we thank all the doctors, nurses, family and friends for their support, prayers and love.
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