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Aug 20

Happy Birthday, Matthew!!

Happy, happy birthday to our wonderful little Matthew!! I can’t believe he’s already six years old!! He had quite an exciting birthday, and I’ll write a separate blog entry about how we celebrated (complete with pictures), but right now I’d like to take a look back six years ago and celebrate how far our little guy has come.

Six years ago today, I was lying alone in a hospital bed. The birth of a child is supposed to be a wonderful, magical, amazing thing. It wasn’t for me. It was terrifying and awful. Without warning, after many assurances of myself and my unborn baby being in good health and no pregnancy complications whatsoever (by two different hospitals and several different doctors), I gave birth to Matthew after only 24 weeks and 3 days of pregnancy. A full term pregnancy is considered 37-40 weeks. I wasn’t even anywhere close to that.

After being brushed off and ignored by two different hospitals and countless medical personnel, when my OB finally decided to examine me and discovered not only was I in active labor, but I was fully dilated and nothing could be done to stop my labor - then I was worth the attention of the medical staff. The panic and confusion set in, all of a sudden it seemed like there were at least 15 different members of the medical staff around me; I remember the rails on the side of my bed going up and it felt like we were flying down the hallway. They literally ran down the hallway pushing my bed to get me to a birthing suite. I remember them wheeling my bed next to the birthing bed and them being so concerned about me climbing onto the bed…they kept telling me to move slowly and carefully and I was just so angry – why would they care now what I did, when they spent the last 5 hours ignoring me?!

I don’t remember a whole lot of this part, honestly. We had to wait for the NICU response team to arrive at the hospital because the hospital I was at didn’t have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). My bed was put in trendelenburg (meaning my bed was angled so my feet were higher than my head), and we had to wait. I remember making a lot of phone calls during that time; I got my cell phone out and called friends and family, and after getting a couple words out, I’d shove the phone at my mom. Poor mom had to do most of the explaining, I just couldn’t. My mom was there from the beginning, and she was there supporting me the whole time (just like she always has) and was there to see her first grandchild come into the world.

When the NICU response team arrived and unpacked their equipment, it was show time. At 11:28am, Matthew James was born. He was silent, and immediately was handed over to the response team. It felt like an eternity later, but in reality it was probably only a minute or two, and I heard his tiny cry for the first time. The NICU response team worked on him, and my staff worked on me. Too soon, the team wheeled him out of my room where they could work on him in private. I wasn’t even allowed a glimpse of him.

During the time Matthew was being worked on, my visitors were allowed back in my room. They waited with me and tried to comfort me, but all I wanted was news of my baby. I didn’t even know if he was alive. Over an hour went by, and finally, finally, the neonatologist came to my bedside. He told me Matthew was stable. And then he went on and on about different abnormalities and conditions that may affect Matthew – ranging from cerebral palsy to brain hemorrhages. I really have no idea what all he said. All I wanted was to see my baby. And finally, he was brought in.

He was already all packed up in a transport incubator, wrapped in a blanket with a tiny little hat on. All I could see was his face and one tiny hand reaching out to me. I was allowed one precious touch of his hand, and then he was gone.

I waited and waited in my bed for the promised phone call from the NICU response team – the phone call that would tell me if he survived the ride to the other hospital. It seemed to take forever. Finally, my phone rang. He was there, settled in and stable. He weighed in at 685 grams (one pound eight ounces) and was 13 inches long. He was in for a long, rough ride, but he’d made it so far.

My mom left to head to the hospital and take pictures of Matthew, promising to return with them. My grandma stayed with me. I was forced to stay at the hospital until the following morning, so I wasn’t allowed to see my baby at all. The next morning I was dizzy, exhausted, in pain, and vomiting pretty often, but they still let me go. I’ll never forget that first trip into the NICU.

The first week went by in a fuzzy blur. Matthew remained stable. He was so fragile that touching him would actually cause him pain, so I mostly sat next to his incubator and watched him. I always hoped he could feel my presence and he would know he wasn’t alone. I was allowed to bring him things to put inside his incubator, so I decorated the inside with things to keep him company. A small bear, a guardian angel pin. Over the weeks, he got better in some ways, worse in others. One thing has always been true with him, however…he’s always surprised us.

I’ll write more about the NICU ups and downs another time – believe me, there are many to write about. For now, I’ll leave you with some pictures:

Here’s Matthew the day after he was born.

Here he is at two days old. His name band is around his head, and you can see each of his ribs.

Matthew and I – he was 2 months old here.

Matthew stayed in the NICU for four very long months, and came home on December 19, 2006, right before his first Christmas. It’s been a very long road…but he’s an amazing little boy and continues to show me that every day. I’m so proud of him – more than I could possibly say. Happy birthday, my sweet little boy.

6 comments

  1. Karen Lindenmier

    Katie, you did a great job with this blog. He is a godsend that is for sure. He has changed so much since the first time I met him. I am so happy that I know all of you and part of your life. Happy Birthday Matthew, love you, Auntie Karen…

  2. Mark P-R

    Life is wonderful and we are so happy Matthew and you are in our life. He is a very special young man, and you are a wonderful mom. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

    Happy Birthday Matthew!

  3. Camille

    Matthew is SUCH an amazing little guy, and Katie you are SUCH a remarkable mom!! I’m so very sorry that you had to go through so much fear and worry when he was born, and as a mom I cannot even BEGIN to imagine how stressful that must have been! But going through all that you and Matthew have been through, as difficult as some of those times have been, clearly has given you two a bond so tight and strong – something very few people will ever feel! With your patient and nurturing love your little man has grown in leaps and bounds, even since I first met him! And I think that now with his new daddy Edison’s love also in the mix, his family circle is even stronger and clearly all of you are thriving together! And this is still just the beginning of his little life! So happy for you all!

  4. sharon

    There truly are no words to give justice to the pain, trauma, beauty, and continuing Wonder of Matthew’s life story. Our hearts swell and burst with love and pride with each thought of Matthew and you, Katie. How precious to love and be loved by you. God bless you always.

  5. Jason

    lady i will always remember that phone call i got and driving to the wrong hospital at first and i remember seeing him in that room and seeing how small he was. i remember going to the NICU i remember how happy you were when he came home. and to see how big he has got it is sooo great

  6. JG

    Happy birthday to our family’s miracle baby. Nothing beats a smile and a hug from Matthew especially when its a while between times I get to see him. I love you both so much and wish you every happiness. I’m so proud of you for being the amazing mom that you are and so happy to see him grow everyday. What a wonderful world!

    God bless

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