Happy first birthday, Elijah!
Ever since I found out I was pregnant with you, I have kept an Elijah journal (in addition to the journaling I've done on this blog). I try to write in it often, talking about what we've been up to recently and what cute new things you've been doing. One of my favorite entries I made in this journal was the story of your birth. I thought this would be an appropriate entry to share today, exactly one year after you entered this world. I wrote the entry in March of 2007.
I want to thank you for choosing ME as your mama and for being such a good, STRONG, fun boy for us this first year of your life. You amaze me every single day! Hugs and smooches to you, little one. Happy birthday.
Welcome to the world, Elijah Daniel! You were born four weeks premature on February 20, 2007. The day before, it was a Monday, I had a routine appointment with my doctor to check your growth. We did the weekly dreaded ultrasound and saw that you were still growing very slowly in my tummy. The doctor worried us a bit and told us some scary things to possibly be prepared for. When we got home, I couldn't handle the worry anymore and I did a lot of crying. Daddy did a good job of comforting me, but I know he was really scared and tired of all the worry, too. I had a serious talk with God that night. A very serious talk! I told Him that we'd had enough and that we couldn't take any more of this particular "chapter." I told Him to do something, anything, because I loved you and wanted to know you were going to be safe and I didn't want to feel beat down anymore. Every doctor's appointment we had gone to while I was pregnant brought more bad news. Every car ride home had an even sadder, heavier feel than the car ride before.
Eight hours after my very serious talk with God, at 2:30 in the morning, I woke up abruptly from a strange "punch" in my tummy. The punch was scary. It felt like someone had kicked you around and like you were bouncing off the walls of my insides. It turns out that was actually my water breaking, but I didn't realize this until later because none of the water had come out yet. Then I felt a very intense pain that I thought for sure meant that I was going to be sick. I started heading to the bathroom when I realized it was more than just that. The pain was coming in waves and was very intense. Daddy called the doctor and they told us to come in as fast as we could. On the way to the hospital I continued to have contractions about 5 minutes apart. Ouch! They were painful! At that point I knew that we'd be meeting you in a few short hours. I was very scared and very excited all at the same time.
When we were about 10 minutes away from the hospital, I felt a big gush of fluid soaking my pants. It was my water finally coming out. (Good thing we brought a towel!) By the time we got to the hospital, my contractions were very close together and they were getting more and more intense. I was dilated to 2 cm. Things started to progress really quickly. It was obvious you wanted out. I asked for an epidural to help with the pain, but we had some problems getting it in a timely manner. First of all, none of the nurses could find a good vein in my arms/hands to put an IV in, and an IV line was necessary for an epidural. At this point, I was in more pain than I'd ever been in in my life and I was screaming and asking WHERE IS MY EPIDURAL!?!? Daddy was wonderful. He helped to calm me down (as much as I could have been calmed in this situation) and kept reminding me to breathe. This went on for three hours.
Once they finally found someone who got the IV in my arm, they couldn't find an anesthesiologist. I was told that the doctor was on her way and wouldn't be there for 20-30 minutes. I said, "NO! I can't wait that long! I'll DIE!" Somehow I managed to cope through that last 30 minutes and when the doctor arrived I almost kissed her. I remember telling her how wonderful she was. I got the epidural and instantly felt a million times better. By then, I had dilated to 3-4 cm and then quickly to 7. You were coming fast! We had been monitoring your heart and it seemed like we'd be able to do a delivered birth. In just another little while, I was dilated to 9 cm and they were wheeling me into the delivery room.
Dr. Saul had me push for an entire hour. I remember feeling like I had no idea what I was doing. I had a constant feeling that I wasn't doing it right. Your heart rate kept dropping to a scary range and the doctor didn't like that (neither did I, it was freaking me out!), so after a failed attempt to "vacuum" you out, she called for an emergency c-section. Once this decision was made, I started to get really scared. Suddenly there were about 50 people in the room getting me ready for surgery. Daddy was still doing such a good job trying to make me feel calm. The doctor cut into my belly and I realized that I could feel the incision being made! That wasn't good, so they decided to completely sedate me and that meant that Dad had to leave the room. I was pretty upset about him having to go, but then the world went blank and I was out like a light.
It turns out that your umbilical cord was pretty short, so that's probably why you couldn't come out the natural way. You were born at 9:55 am on that Tuesday. When I woke up I was in a lot of pain and Grandma was holding my hand. I asked how you were doing and she said, "He's perfect!" I had a really talkative nurse who was giving me every different drug under the sun in an attempt to lessen the pain. You had been taken to the NICU right away and Daddy went with you. Later they wheeled me in my bed down to see you. I was very drugged up and feeling loopy, but I'll never forget seeing you that first moment. You were incredible and so beautiful! You had so much dark hair and such a sweet little perfect face. I loved you instantly. I only got a moment with you because I was wheeled back to my room to recuperate from surgery. Luckily, I was able to watch you from my room. There was a camera pointed on you in the NICU that I could watch on the tv. I didn't take my eyes off you. I watched the nurses draw blood and listen to your heart and poke around on you. I sat for hours and stared at your sweetness. Thankfully, Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Lissa were there with you almost the whole time. Daddy wheeled me down later so I could spend some time with you.
We found out your official heart diagnosis that day. You have Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia and MAPCAs. Thanks to the MAPCAs, we are able to hold off for a few months on your first heart surgery. That was a blessing that we didn't expect. We also found out that your right kidney appeared to have never developed, so you were operating on just your left kidney. You stayed in the NICU for almost a week and Dad and I visited you every chance we could. Once I healed up enough from my c-section to be released from the hospital, we were by your side constantly.
Little by little, you gained strength and almost all the wires and tubes were removed from you. You got transferred to the ICC, which is a step below the NICU, so that meant you were getting stronger. The doctors performed a lot of tests on you and you were such a strong little guy! You were so well-tempered and you kept showing us over and over that you were going to be just fine. Your one kidney was working great (with a jump-start from a little medication) and your blood-oxygen levels were fantastic, considering your heart issue. Dad and I lived there in the hospital with you and we fed and held you as often as possible. You were such a good baby! A lot of the other babies in that same unit cried a lot. I remember Gage, in particular. He was the screaming baby at the end of the hall that everyone talked about and none of the nurses wanted to get assigned to. The nurses loved being assigned to you, though, because you were so easy and good.
After two weeks of being in the hospital, we were able to take you home. You still had an NG tube (for feeding) in your nose, but we just wanted you home with us. Two days after we got home, we had to bring you back to the hospital because you weren't taking your bottles as well as you had been and you were breathing extra hard. It turns out that you were having congestive heart failure, so they increased your dose of Lasix and that helped out tremendously. Daddy and I were both shocked at how quickly that extra dose of Lasix turned you around. You instantly started eating well and breathing better and we got to bring you home again two days later.
We have now had you here for one whole week and you are doing great! We pulled your NG tube out because you have been eating your bottles like a champ! You weighed 4 lbs. 14 oz. when you were born and as of yesterday you weighed 5 lbs. 12 oz. You're growing so well! Our goal is to get you as big as possible for your first surgery, so weight gain is very good to see. Your dad and I have completely fallen in love with you. You are such a wonderful baby. I thank God every day that it was His plan for you to be here with us right now and that you're healthy and STRONG. Oh Elijah, you are so very strong. Some days I feel like you are light years ahead of us and that you have things completely under control. I love you so much, my sweet little man, and I look forward to living life with you.
Right now you are snoozing in your vibrating bouncy chair. You look so cute in your St. Patrick's Day shirt (from Gina) and wrapped up in Grandma Pauline's blankie.
Your proud mama