Save My Son
I met Ima via social media shortly after both our babies were born. Two years ago, Instagram looked so different and there were not as many Mamas openly sharing their journey with a premature baby. Since we both had preemies close in age ( almost exactly 2 months apart) , both were sharing our journey openly, we connected as soon as we met. I kind of clung to any mother who was the same as me. Mama's who go through having a baby in the NICU for months have an instant connection that could only be understood if you experience it for yourself. Ima is such a strong and positive woman, an incredible Mama, a fierce advocate for Jaxson, a blogger, speaker, and a business owner. Addie Belle now works as a rep for her inspirational apparel company, Halos and Miracles. I was so honored she wrote a piece for She Got Guts and shared such an intimate decision about whether or not to medically intervene when her son was going to be born at 22 weeks gestation. -Stephanie
Those were the words my OB uttered as he sat at the edge of my hospital bed. I cried and asked, “Why is this happening to us?” I was 22 weeks pregnant and 2.8cm dilated. His usual candor went from upbeat to sad as he responded, “Sometimes these things just happen. You guys are good people and I hate when bad things happen to good people.” We wanted the truth and his advice…that’s when he said straight forward that we should do "comfort care". Going that route would mean that we would not stop the premature labor, and there would be absolutely no medication given or intervention when our son was born. Simply put, this suggestion meant that if our son was born before 24 weeks, we would hold him until he passed away. Most hospitals won't save a baby unless they are 24 weeks gestation. That's the gestation that many deem viable, although many babies are born and survive at 22 and 23 weeks.
We asked for time to discuss what we wanted to do and felt would be best. So many things transpired that morning, I was mentally exhausted. Upon my admittance to Labor & Delivery, the NICU team visited my room almost immediately to discuss the role they would play in our situation. As my husband and I were surrounded by our parents, (who rushed to be with us), the team recited statistics of a baby being born THAT early. We were told he could have deformities, CP, extreme developmental delays and possibly not survive the first 24 hours. Their words were cold, raw and not optimistic. He was given a 20% chance of survival. Although healthy in utero, due to his size and early gestation there was no guarantee that he would survive. I cried, and cried and cried. I felt helpless and afraid. When I asked the Neonatologist in charge, “do you believe in miracles?” She said with a straight face, “I BELIEVE IN SCIENCE”. Her words and lack of bedside manner were upsetting to me. I was expecting a different response or a little more compassion yet I her words were chilled me to my core. We had done everything right, why us? First pregnancy, first baby, newlyweds, devoted Christians. I cried out to God and said “Why us? What did we do wrong?” It was hard to wrap my head around the cards we were being dealt.
A few hours went by. We prayed and cried some more. We consulted with our parents. My husband expressed his concerns and initially felt like comfort care would be best if our son was born before 24 weeks. He didn’t want our child to potentially suffer and we had no idea of what Jaxson's condition would be once he was born. We thought about his future and what that could look like. We knew little to nothing about micropreemie’s so when your “ignorant” to something the first reaction is fear. But through the fear and uncertainty I felt in my spirit that I had to fight and not give up on our unborn son. While I too didn’t want any suffering for our son, I had faith that a miracle would happen. I knew my son deserved a chance and if no one else believed it, I was going to fight for him!
So as my OB sat at the edge of my bed, he asked had we made a decision. My husband stood next to my bed with a tear stained face and told me he trusted my decision and no matter what, we would get through this together. With tears in my eyes I asked my OB to save my son.
I didn't understand the magnitude of what all of THAT meant but I was willing to put myself on the line for him. That moment was so defining for me. I was a mother willing to leave this earth for my son. Wow! That day is forever engrained in my mind. It was the day I fought for Jaxson's life and have zero regrets about it. It was the day I learned what unconditional love really meant. It was the day I made up in my mind that I would be his advocate and voice for him until he had his. I wasn't going to let my baby boy go due to grim statistics. I knew in my heart that he would be ok, I never doubted that. I knew we would have to go through a storm to get our promise. The promise that God would never leave us nor forsake us. The promise that "He who began a good work in ME would be faithful to complete it." I was on hospital bedrest full of hope.
While none of this was a part of our plan, it was where God wanted us to be and He was guiding us every step of the way. After 4 uneventful days of hospital bedrest, lots of medication and focusing on “operation keep baby baking”, Premature labor started again and could not be stopped. After 10 hours of painful labor, Jaxson was born at 22 weeks 6 days weighing 1lb 2.9oz and 11 inches long via an emergency c-section. He had to be resuscitated 3 times and showed everyone in the operation room that he was a fighter. He was fully formed, not one deformity. Although his eyes were still fused shut, he had all 10 fingers and toes, and a noticeably beautiful head of hair. His skin was a bit bruised and gelatinous, which meant we couldn't really touch him right away, but that was ok, he was my little miracle and I was just happy he was alive!
I can't say thank you enough to the men and women who honored my wishes to save our son. From what I'm told the NICU team thought we were crazy- but they did their job anyway. I truly believe that God was with us in the operating room with us. He walked with us through our 119 day NICU stay, and we watched miracles take place right before our very eyes. Jaxson's journey through the NICU made people believe and have hope. Our journey has strengthened my faith and I have grown so much as a woman, wife and mother.
There are so many families facing similar challenges who may not have been given a choice to save their baby’s life. Some may not even feel as though they have a voice to speak up and advocate for their baby. But I want to let you know that YOU DO! Don’t give up because you may be scared of the outcome of a situation. Take the time to seek wise counsel, research, and surround yourself with support to help you in making those tough decisions. Every situation is different as well as the outcome- but with that I believe every baby deserves a chance because often times, they beat the odds. Saving Jaxson’s life was truly a miracle. I can’t imagine our life without him and while many days were hard, I learned that their is beauty in the broken roads we travel.