There will be two versions of this.
For the just-give-me-the-details-and-don’t-waste-my-time person, you can read this:
- Courtney needed a c-section.
- Ethan had a birth defect requiring surgery.
- Ethan’s doing well in recovery (which will take a while).
- Mom is doing well.
- It’s been a long two days.
For the people who actually have a heart (I kid, of course), you can read the following as I try and recount the past 48-or-so hours.
Our day started innocently enough. Courtney had some weird face problem that needed correction. Apparently she got caught in a blender with someone who had a gigantic jaw and slanted face and came out looking a little funny. Poor girl. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that she looked a little funny. But we got that fixed.
Okay, that’s not what really happened. Instead, we got up early. 2:30 AM early. If I see 2:30 AM it is NOT because I am waking up, it is because I’m going to sleep. (I blame high school, college, seminary, prime-time TV [which I don’t really watch but thought it’d make you laugh]). Still we got up early and didn’t die. In fact, Court looked pretty excited to be rolling out of bed at such an early time. Yes, the red bag is open. No, we did not pack in advance. We packed that night.
We got to the hospital at 4 AM and began our induction. Believe me, there is nothing glamorous about that process. Courtney, a type-1 diabetic, is connected to two different IVs (on in each arm), given medicine to begin contractions, having doctors and nurses coming in to check things that made me have to turn away several times.
Shortly after contractions began the baby’s heart rate dropped. It dropped after each contraction so they called our OB and she gave the order to take us off meds (this is about 6:00 AM). As a husband this was such a pain to watch. I wanted to cry each and every time something was happening to Court (and the baby, of course). Our doctor, who was amazing, came in around 8:30 AM and said this: “We can keep trying to do this but it looks like the baby doesn’t respond well to contractions. I’d suggest a c-section.” The conversation didn’t go exactly like that, but that’s the gist.
Parents, who had a moratorium on arriving at the hospital before 10 AM, got a note from me saying “come on.” And they showed up. Quickly. I’m not sure speed limit laws were observed.
30 minutes later Court was being prepped for surgery, I was being briefed on what to expect, and then put on the BIGGEST PAIR OF HOSPITAL CLOTHES I’VE EVER SEEN. Is XXXL even a common size? Sheesh.
All wasn’t lost, though. Those big clothes came in handy for the footprints that were put on me when Ethan showed up at around 9:45 that morning. I gotta be honest, when he first came out I thought this kid was an alien. There was no way something that wrinkly, pasty, crinkled and noisy came out of Courtney. Five minutes later he came back looking like this:
Even the world’s biggest liar would have to betray his own character in describing this boy.
That’s going to be the clearest picture you see of him for quite some time–so take it in. Why? Ethan was born with an intestinal blockage called duodenal atresia (we have known about this for many, many weeks–no surprises). Here’s the 411 on that: his duodenum (which comes after the stomach and before the rest of the intestines) was not connected to the rest of the intestines–causing a swollen duodenum and inability to tolerate food. Without surgery it is deadly. With surgery he wouldn’t know the difference. That in itself blows my mind.
Because it was a c-section, and because Ethan needed some special care with other tests (x-rays, sonograms, blood testing, etc.), mom was kept away from us for about an hour and Ethan was off with a neonatologist somewhere. I got to see him about an hour after delivery in the NICU. This is what he looked like:
The tube at his mouth is suctioning out bile and fluid in his duodenum. The leeds monitor heart rate, respiration, and temperature. The IV in his right arm gives him nutrients so he can remain hydrated while unable to eat, and the thing on his foot watches oxygen saturation. Is that too much info? I don’t care. 🙂
This is all happening yesterday, mind you. Ethan still needed surgery at this time. However, it wasn’t a surgery that required action right away. So they wanted to make sure he was stable–and stable he was.
The NICU has been wonderful thus far. They allow 24-hour visitation (but only mom and dad can come and go as they please). Guests have to be escorted by mom or dad (two visitors at any given time). Since Courtney had been recovering from surgery I was the guy to walk visitors back and forth between then NICU and our room. I am not kidding: the NICU could not be any farther away from Court’s recovery room than it currently is. I have walked miles. Good thing, too. I don’t think stressing out counts as exercise. I needed my walking.
Okay, back to the story. Surgery was scheduled for 12:30 PM today (Tuesday). But we got a call from the NICU that it was getting bumped up. This freaked me out because he had had some old blood getting pumped out of his belly the night before and I thought that perhaps they were doing an emergency surgery. That, however, was not the case. Just an opening in the schedule. Still, we wheel-charied mama down to the NICU to hold him. That was cool.
Court hadn’t been able to hold the boy for over a day. When he came out they showed him to her but then took her off for recovery in a different direction. She hadn’t yet been able to hold him. The NICU team reserves the first hold for the parents (so when Grandma asked if she could hold him, they shut it down—thank you NICU nurses, I did not know you were my advocates in baby holding). I had seen Ethan a lot over those 24 hours, but I didn’t want to be the first one to hold him. I wanted Courtney to. I wasn’t let down.
I just started taking pictures.
Beautiful. I’m glad she got to hold him first. Courtney needed no mom training. She’s always been one. Just never had an object to pour all of her love on as little and in need of her love as her boy.
Of course, our love alone won’t fix his tummy. Surgery was right around the corner. I talked to a pediatric surgeon several times. That title (pediatric surgeon) is not one that I can take much delight in. Surgery and young children should not go hand-in-hand. Come Lord Jesus.
The doctors were wonderful. Surgery finished early and there were no problems. Of course, now our boy looks like this:
New tubes, new IVs, new medicine, new scars, but new life. 6 pounds, 1 oz, tube-filled, and a repaired stomach. When our surgeon came to the waiting room to tell me all was well I felt like I could leap over a wall.
Instead, I cried.
These days have been exhausting. Mom has surgery to get the baby out of her belly. Baby has surgery to fix his belly. Parents, in-laws, other family, friends, doctors, nurses, consent forms, no sleep, stupid fold-out chair/bed thingies that make no sense. I simply had nothing left in the tank. I cried.
We aren’t out of the woods yet. We will be in the hospital a while longer as Courtney heals; and Ethan will be in several more weeks as his stomach learns how to work properly and they slowly start feeding him real food.
I have to say a few things: Thanks to EVERYONE who has come by. Please don’t stop. I will walk each and every one of you to the NICU so that you can see him. But more importantly, God has been strong, and He has been faithful. And the suffering of my son is nothing compared to the suffering of God’s son, Jesus. It hurts to watch, but Ethan certainly wasn’t bearing the sins of the world as he went under the knife. I felt like I was, but it was a far cry from what Jesus has done to make us right with God. That’s more important to put your faith in than anything else.
And with that, I’ll leave you. I will update more later. But right now I am tired. Court’s asleep to my left and I think I’m asleep as I write this. And this boy is on his way to recovery. . .