I will never forget the day that my wife told me that she was pregnant It was one week after we had just moved into our second home. What we did not know at the time is that my wife was pregnant during the move lifting heavy boxes and furniture with the rest of the crew.
For the most part, everything started normal with regular doctor appointments. I found it rather amazing to hear the heartbeat for the first time and to see my daughter (at the time we did not know that she was a girl) on the ultrasound. I enjoyed taking the ultrasound pictures of Morgan to work with me and showing it off to my co-workers.
Just when we thought that everything was normal, that is when it all turned around in a flash. My wife and I had attended a family dinner at a local pizza restaurant. During dinner, my wife had commented about how she had noticed some swelling in her legs that did not seem normal for the 24th week of a pregnancy. It was dismissed as a side effect of pregnancy. Two days later, my wife called my desk at work (we both worked at the same company) to let me know that she was feeling ill and we needed to see the doctor. I finished up some work and met her 15 minutes later to drive her to the doctor's office. While we were in route, the doctor's office contacted the nurse at the office's health clinic in a panic wondering why we were not at her office yet. What neither my wife nor I were told is that my wife had all of the symptoms of severe toxemia and the pregnancy was in serious trouble.
Approximately 1 hour after the first contact with the doctor's office, we arrived at her office waiting room. The obstetrician did a quick 5 minute examination of my wife and told us to drive directly to the hospital because they were waiting for us. Once again, we were still not informed of the severity of the problems.
Once in the hospital, I sat by and watched a flurry of activity as the nurses, doctors and other specialists worked hard to stabilize my wife and the pregnancy. Four hours later (it was now approaching 9 p.m. & this started at 4 p.m.), my wife was up to 7 IVs and we were visited by a neonatologist and an anesthesiologist. We had a brief discussion of the chances of survival of a 24 week old baby. After the discussion the doctors told me in private that they were giving my wife about another hour to stabilize otherwise the baby would be delivered that night. I asked the doctors why and they told me that if she continued to get worse there was a high probability that neither my wife nor the baby would survive.
She did stabilize and the wait began. By this time, my wife's condition was very fragile and she was on heavy restrictions (no lights, no TV, no radio, no telephone, but I was allowed to read to her). Lab technicians had to cover her eyes with towels, because of her unstable blood pressure, in order to turn the lights on so they could see well enough to draw blood . I spent every hour with her for the first four days. By the fifth night, I decided to head home to get some sleep because she was still stable and not going anywhere until my daughter was born.
At 6 a.m. the next morning I contacted the nurses station and received a surprise. My wife was no longer stable and they were just about to call me to let me know that it was time to perform emergency surgery to get Morgan out.
Everything was prepared and at 10:20 a.m. Morgan was born. Morgan managed one little squeak before the neonatologist intubated her. Our bright red bundle of joy entered this world on 11/3/1997 weighing in at 1 lb. 2.5 oz. and 11.5 inches long and in for a long battle in the NICU. I baptized her right after the birth because there was no room in the OR for the pastor (I counted 17 medical personnel present, not including my wife, daughter or myself) and we had no way of knowing for sure if Morgan would survive.
Meanwhile, my wife continued to struggle with her health problems for an additional 7 days after the birth. For a while, I wasn't sure which one was more critical, my wife or my daughter. After several days of bouncing back and forth between the NICU and the intensive care section of the Labor & Delivery area, my wife was discharged. This added a totally new dimension of complexity to caring for two sick family members because the hospital was 10 miles from our home. But, thanks to the help of several family members, my wife received the help that she needed while I spent the majority of my days at the hospital.
In the first 24 hours, Morgan coded once and she was resuscitated. Things started getting better but it happened again at 5 weeks. We were on a emotional roller coaster with good and bad days. But something amazing happened after she coded for the second time. She steadily improved and came off the ventilator at 11 weeks (2 days after we held for the first time). Finally, after 4.5 months (3/12/1998) we were able to take her home. She now weighed 4 lbs. 8 oz. and had grown to 16 inches.
Today, Morgan is still developmentally delayed (9 to 12 months physical, 15 to 18 months motor skills, 24 months speech) at 34 months of age and we are attending therapy sessions four days/week to help lessen the impact of low tone Cerebral Palsy on the left side of her body. The good news is that she is very healthy and should be walking soon. She has proven to us that she is very determined to "catch up" and God has truly blessed us with a big challenge of parenting a micro-preemie child. We have had our moments of tears of joy, frustration, lack of sleep, additional ER visits, and countless medical follow-up evaluations, but we will never stop thanking God every day for blessing us with this wonderful child who greets us with a smile each morning and a kiss on the cheek at bedtime.