NEONATAL INFANT:PART I_A LIFE THREATENING BIRTH DEFECT
News In The Park
I was in the process of remodeling an old bakery in Phoenix, Arizona when my wife brought me lunch one day following her visit with the doctor at his office. When I saw her, she walked straight towards me with a serious look on her face. Even though I was expecting some definitive news about her medical exam, the news that came from her lips shocked me.
Without wasting any time, she let me know she was pregnant. When she gave me the news, she said the funny look on my face was telling. I guess I didn’t get very excited like most husbands do. Raising kids was not a priority in my life at the time.
Knowing my temperament, she was afraid that I might do something drastic when she told me, like maybe leaving her to fend for herself with this newborn child. As expected, she saw fear in my eyes the moment she told me. This was my first biological child and I wasn’t really sure how to handle the whole thing. In any event, we had a new baby on the way and that was that. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that this blessed event would become an extremely difficult experience like one we never could have possibly imagined.
The Absence Of Any Warning Signs
Her pregnancy was uneventful for the entire length of the term. She carried the baby well, never got sick, and worked at her job right up close to the due date. It seemed like everything was going to be as normal as any typical birth sequence should be.
Then the day before Labor Day, everything started going wrong. All the things that happen to a woman’s body were starting to happen, but not in the right sequence. We immediately went to the hospital not knowing what to expect. There, the baby was signaling that it wanted to be come out, but it was not being moved forward into the birth canal. Adding to that dilemma, the doctors at the hospital could not induce the natural birth delivery procedure.
After multiple delays in the medical staff’s decision-making process, I could see that my wife was getting very frustrated. I finally let my angry disposition get the best of me and wound up throwing things at the wall and kicking chairs across her room. Fortunately, the stunt finally got the medics in gear to formulate a solution before things got out of hand.
Even though she wanted me in the delivery room during the birth, it was something I absolutely did not favor at all. She even chose the birth place as part of her overall planning, a facility called Glendale Hospital, which was small enough to allow my presence in the room when the baby emerged and took its first breaths of air.
Even though I had finally geared myself up to honor her request, it was not meant to be. That’s because the decision was finally made to take the baby by Caesarean Section, and I would not be allowed into the room during a real surgical procedure.
Baby Cloaked In Blue
I had waited for what seemed like hours to hear what the outcome might be. When a nurse finally came out with our child in her arms, the first thing she told me was that we had a baby girl. However, when I got a good look at her face, I noticed that the coloration of her skin had kind of a grey-blue tone to it. Even though I was not all that familiar with the look of a newborn child, I immediately came to the conclusion that something was seriously wrong with that picture.
As a result of this condition, our daughter was quickly whisked to an area where she could be closely monitored. When the doctor came out soon after and met with me, he said that I had waited for what seemed like hours to hear what the outcome might be. When a nurse finally came out with our child in her arms, the first thing she told me was that we had a baby girl. However, when I got a good look at her face, I noticed that the coloration of her skin had kind of a grey-blue tone to it. Even though I was not all that familiar with the look of a newborn child, I immediately came to the conclusion that something was seriously wrong with that picture.
It didn’t take long before I was able to go and see my wife. Even though she was feeling the pain of a difficult birth, panic mode was setting in as her fears focused on the health of our baby. The big question was whether this newborn infant was going to live or die. The situation became dire as time seemed to march by very quickly.
The Transfer To Good Samaritan
Soon after these initial events played out, the attending physician came in and informed us that there was some type of growth in the baby’s throat that was stifling the breathing process. In order to save her, she would have to be transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix which had a facility set up to handle crises like this that were abnormal in nature.
During all this hoopla, my wife’s parents had just arrived after traveling some 400 plus miles from the Los Angeles metropolitan area in Southern California. Before they could get settled, they were immediately faced with the prospect of having to follow the paramedic vehicle to the new location. While in route, I was sitting next to my Father-In-Law in the front seat of their motor home. We both talked and prayed that the emergency lights would not light up before we got there. We both knew that if they did, it would indicate a turn for the worse that required a sudden need to get her to the hospital as quickly as possible. Not a good situation by any stretch of the imagination!
Arriving at Good Samaritan, we were eventually pulled aside by a hospital technician and made aware of the fact that this particular facility was one of only a few in the entire nation that had the required expertise needed for handling our baby’s demise. One year earlier, a brand new classification had been orchestrated by the American Board of Pediatrics, and they called it the science of Neonatology. It was a hospital-based specialty division that catered to newborn infants who were seriously ill or required extraordinary medical attention. In other words, baby’s that previously were dying, were now being kept alive by this newly established discipline.
So, it just so happened, by the grace of God, that we were in the right place at the right time for this complicated event to happen. Good Samaritan had recently adopted the new Neonatology protocol and had a fully functioning ward in place. Our baby was now in their care and hopefully in the good hands that would help her survive.
In spite of the this positive bit of news, the horror of this pending nightmare was just getting started. We soon learned that our baby had a very rare tumor just below her brain area called a Teratoma. The tumor contains various forms of human development including hair, teeth, limbs, and various other body parts. A biopsy done through her mouth and throat was needed to get a tissue sample and verify the existence of this freakish anomaly of the medical world.
First of all, the doctors had to perform a tracheotomy in this tiny baby’s throat to allow her to breathe properly. It was a necessary procedure done to buy time until a decision could be made on how to deal with this mass inside her. On top of that issue, they found that most of the tumor was intertwined within the nerves coming out of her brain. This meant that any type of corrective procedures would be extremely complicated, to say the least.
If you are wondering at this stage of the story why I haven’t mentioned the baby’s name, I will tell you. It is because I definitely told my wife that I did not want the baby named after me if it was a boy. But she tricked me. Since I did not place any restrictions on the name if the baby was a girl, she went ahead and named her Stephanie. There being all that we were going through at the time, I could not object and succumbed to her wishes.
Introduction To The New Concept Of Neonatology
Now comes the kicker. We knew nothing about this science called Neonatology. It was too new a discipline to learn about in existing medical books. Many of the incorporated procedures that catered to keeping problematic births from ending prematurely were in the early stages of development. And now we had to trust our baby daughter to possibly untested solutions to fix her malady. Things started becoming more intense as all this sunk in.
As Stephanie’s condition stabilized, we were allowed into the ward to view her. It was not a pretty sight. She had this tube going into her trachea and needles stuck into various parts of her body. When she opened her eyes, they had a very dark, almost black, appearance to them.
So, we started making daily visits to see her. While we watched her lay there in her cubicle, the seriousness of the condition she was in was manifested through the conditions of other babies that were in the same ward with her.
One night while visiting, we heard the monitor of one infant nearby quit blinking. My wife then asked the attending nurse if she had died and were given the sobering answer that confirmed our suspicions. If that didn’t shake us up enough, we witnessed another child’s predicament when it was rushed into the ward vomiting up some type of green fluid full of thick globs of goo. Moments later, the father came to the viewing window and started beating his head against the glass while screaming out loud. It was an awful sight to watch and didn’t help our disposition any.
Eventually a decision was made to operate and remove the tumor. While consulting with the designated surgeon in his office, we were told that the removal process would be very risky and that there was a very good chance the baby would not survive the ordeal. To help comfort us in this trying moment, he let us know that our baby would be allowed to come home with us for a short while until the surgery could be scheduled.
When my wife heard this, the next words out of her mouth broke my heart. She looked straight at the doctor and stated that If Stephanie didn’t survive, she would be glad that we had been able to spend this little time with her. Suddenly, I felt myself looking away as tears began to fill my eyes. I didn’t want her to see me this way.
Her Temporary Visit To Our Home
Something else that I haven’t mentioned yet is the fact that we had made the decision before the birth to make this child our last one. During the Caesarean Section, we required the surgeons to tie her tubes to prevent any further pregnancies. The premise of this decision was that my one and only biological child could have her life terminated on the operating table. Thus, even more anxiety set in as we prepared to bring her home.
When they released her into our temporary care, we were suddenly faced with the prospect of carrying a tiny baby home with all the paraphernalia required to keep her alive while she carried the weight of an enormous defect inside her body. It crossed our minds many times that this short visit might be her last. Not being spiritually inclined at the time, I didn’t even entertain the concept of prayer to soften the fear that I felt inside me.
At bedtime, we learned quickly that one of us had to be vigilant all through the night. The tracheal tube would need to be cleaned out periodically because it would often fill with mucous and cut off her breathing capabilities. To make matters worse, the tumor was still growing in her head and blocking the air supply into her lungs even further..
I volunteered to be the chosen one to spend most of those nights with little rest waiting for any indications of labored breathing patterns and possible choking sounds from Stephanie. When any said difficulties presented themselves, I would get up and clear the tube until normal breathing started again. It was exhausting work, but I felt satisfied that I could play an important role in her immediate survival.
Finally, the unwanted day of surgery finally arrived. We took her back to the hospital fearing the worst. By now I had been entrenched in being a father and very much wanting my baby daughter to survive. I finally had reached the point of realizing this baby was the product of my essence and I would not have the chance for another one. A very sobering thought indeed.
My wife, Gene (short for Geneva) was very wrought with fears of losing the only child she had with me. She often became emotional when thinking or talking about the possible outcome of our brand new baby girl and it got to me. I found myself searching for answers as to why this was happening to us.
As we released our baby into the arms of the attending nurse, we were then ushered into a private waiting room. A special hospital rep was there to sit with my wife. I sat in another corner of the room by myself. All alone in my thoughts, I stared blankly out the adjoining window. I remember looking at a large tree with fading leaves filling the view.
It was there that I realized I was totally helpless as I sank into despair. Finally, I began to pray. Pray to a God that I hardly knew. Where was He and what power did He have to save my baby. I uttered silent words that came from deep within my heart. Little did I know at the time that He was there in my presence all the while and was using my newborn child as a means of reaching me and drawing me closer to Him. It was a defining moment in my life!
The News We Had Been Waiting For
After seemingly endless hours in the waiting area, the surgery was over. For the very first time I saw the surgeon display a smile on his face as he came out and gave us the results of the operation.
This particular surgeon had never operated on an infant before. I guess he was chosen because he was an expert in this type of medical procedure and probably the one individual best qualified to turn the whole ordeal into a successful outcome.
He was thrilled to report that the surgery was very tedious but that he had achieved everything he set out to accomplish. They were able to go in through her mouth to cut away the mass and made no external incisions whatsoever. The best part was that they were able to get all of the tumor. He spoke with a very upbeat manner in the tone of his voice as he explained how they performed the procedure and that our baby was now doing very well. To sum it all up, she was going to Live and had an excellent chance at a normal life!
We were absolutely elated at the news. My wife could finally breathe a very deep sigh of relief and her joy that followed filled her entire being. As for me, I was suddenly embraced by the feeling that God does answer prayer and listens to your pleas no matter what your state of spiritual awareness is at any point in time..
Since I was raised a Catholic by my mother I was not familiar with the Holy Bible as an entity unto itself. Later on I would begin to learn important passages from It’s pages that I could relate to. One of them was: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding , shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.“Philippians 4: 6-7 King James Version
What mattered most now was that our baby was alive and breathing and the tumor was gone. What an incredible moment in both our lives. Adding to that, there was no doubt in my mind that the God of Creation was the central entity involved with helping us through the whole ordeal that we had been going through.
Welcome Home Little Baby Girl
Baby Stephanie was required to remain in the hospital another week or so before we were able to take her home for good. It was amazing that with all the needles and probes stuck in her afterwards, only one tell-tale sign remained on her body. It was a scar where the tracheal tube had been inserted into her throat. The only other issue was that she had a drainage tube implanted in her left ear to allow any built up fluid resulting from the surgery to escape.
So, there we were. We had just survived a very real near-death experience that threatened our newborn child’s existence on planet earth. This whole adventure had a lasting impact on future decisions that affected my way of thinking. It also enlightened me to the fact that the aura of ensuing spirituality was gaining a foothold in the very essence of my being. This mysterious God had spared my life on 3 separate occasions, and now he chose to spare that of my daughter’s. I knew there had to be a reason for his putting me through all this torture and that I might soon discover what it was.
Along with the other stories I plan to tell, I now find myself on the verge of writing articles and creating poems that enshrine my relationship with Him. Now writing about my take on spiritual insights, it is one way I can communicate to others about what I believe in and how it has changed my life. Stephanie’s survival story is the one key factor that put me on the right track to a sincere relationship with my Creator and I gave heed to making that happen now more than ever before. Amen.
PS: I wrote this article shortly after the State of New York approved “very” late term abortions. Also the governor of Virginia was pushing for the legal termination of an infant’s life shortly after birth. That is no longer an abortion, dear readers, it is outright infanticide. Can you spell the word M-U-R-D-E-R?
I am requesting that my readers click on the links provided and download a sample read of each book and give a review on Amazon. You will have free access to the first four chapters of each book. My hope is that you will like the story lines enough to obtain either an eBook version or a paperback copy that you can put on your bookshelf as a masterpiece when you are done. FATE STALKS A HERO I: RESURGENCE, FATE STALKS A HERO II:THE FIJI FULCRUM, and THE SAGA OF HERACLES PENOIT. I will be giving excerpts on these works in upcoming blogs to familiarize you the reader with exciting details about the contents of each one. Thank you!