My pregnancy started out perfectly. Everything was normal and progressing wonderfully. This was our first child, and we were excited to be having a little boy! While at work one July morning, I suddenly had a huge cramp. I wasn’t having regular cramps, but it hurt to move or walk. Scared and in tears, I called my doctor’s office and then waited for a reply. I was 23 weeks and 6 days along.
The doctor advised me to put my feet up and wait for it to go away. My boss drove me home and I spent the next hour talking with my mom on the phone. During our conversation, the cramps kept getting stronger and closer together. I called my doctor’s office again and was directed to go to the hospital immediately.
The first check at the hospital revealed that I was dilated 8cm with a bulging bag. Suddenly a crazy mob of activity began all around me—IVs, shots, fluids, medications, people. They were able to stall my delivery for about 12 hours, until the monitors were no longer picking up his heartbeat. Suddenly it was pure chaos again. Two pushes later, Zachary Joseph was born.
He weighed 1lb 9oz and was 12 inches long. There he was. It was surreal. It was nothing like what you see on the baby shows on TV. He didn’t make any noise—he didn’t even move. The doctor held Zach up for me to see, and then he was gone.
It was intimidating to go into the NICU for the first time and see Zach attached to all sorts of tubes and wires; but, underneath all that I could see a beautiful little boy. It was amazing. I talked to him and he held onto my finger. At that instant I knew that nothing in the world mattered except for helping Zach get big and strong.
Zach spent 133 days in the NICU. Those days were full of challenges. He survived a staph infection, pneumonia (three times!), level II hemorrhage in his brain, perforated intestine, septic shock, and heart surgery. He was transferred to Primary Children’s Medical Center for part of this time, and it was very difficult to be so far away from my baby boy. Zach pulled out his breathing tube four times. Weaning him off of the ventilator was a slow and frustrating process. Fortunately, he was a champion eater. He was a better eater than any 23 weeker the nurses had ever seen!
And then, finally, it was time to bring him home! It was such a rewarding feeling to know he survived! After months of coming home alone, he came with us. He’s been a joy and a blessing ever since.