The Most Beautifully Terrifying Day

What is supposed to be one of the most exciting and beautiful days of your life, quickly turned into the scariest for us.

The birth of our son didn’t go as we had planned. He was born “limp”. He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, pretty much not living. The scariest scenario I could have ever imagined. The worst possible thing. I carried him safely and healthy for 9 months. I had the perfect pregnancy, with a little morning sickness in the beginning, but otherwise perfect pregnancy. I loved being pregnant. He was so active the entire time, kicking and moving all day long…then born lifeless. What happened? How did this happen? Why us? What did I do?

This wasn’t how “WE” planned it or imagined it, but GOD has another plan for us. Not one we prayed for, but one we are praying through. 

First, a little backstory…
Let me start by saying we have seen God’s hand in everything, every step of the way. We could not have gotten through this without Him. We are still navigating this with Him. This wasn’t how we thought our story would happen, but that’s not how life goes all the time. God’s always orchestrating the perfect story, even in the darkest of times.

We were expecting our second son, Walt, to be born on January 11, 2020. My family always takes a vacation right after Christmas and this year with my due date being so close; we decided to rent an RV and keep it close to home. We had a campground reserved up in North Georgia and knew of a hospital 5 minutes away. My husband was terrified that we would be delivering Walt in the back of an RV on the road. So naturally I would ask my midwife closer to time about my travel plans.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
One week before Christmas, I saw another midwife and Walt’s head was still “floating” as they say, and I was good to go on the trip. She was very encouraging, seeing no issue with me traveling. Even recommended some great hospitals with amazing midwifes close by!

Monday, December 23, 2019
I told my midwife, Melissa Fish, about our travels plans. She gave me the most motherly/doctor look (like um…no ma’am you think you’re doing what?) and asked how far away we were going.
“Um….about 3 hours away.”
She said she wouldn’t recommend traveling more than an hour and a half away after 36 weeks and asked if I had been checked last week; I was 37 weeks at this time.
“No ma’am, I have not been checked yet.”

Of course, I end up being dilated to 4cm already! She told me that I wasn’t going anywhere! Naturally, she tells me that I can go if I choose, that most patients will not listen to her, but that she strongly suggests that I stay home.

My husband was elated! He was so worried that we would be in North Georgia or driving the RV somewhere and I would go into labor. Now, we get to stay home. We decided to listen to my midwife and ended up staying home.

Here’s the first time God’s hand was over us: we decided to stay home and not travel to North Georgia. We would have had a completely different outcome.
Of course we were bummed about the trip, but are thankful for God’s perfect timing.

Saturday, December 28, 2019
Brian and I had fallen asleep on the couch as usual. We got up to go to bed and at about 12:00 midnight on December 28 I randomly threw up and then contractions started. I looked at Brian and asked if he was ready for baby #2 because I think he’s ready. I started timing my contractions and they were about 4 minutes apart, nothing crazy bad or painful. I called the hospital and gave them my info and the details. Melissa called me back within a few minutes to see how I was feeling. At this point, I’m feeling great, getting a few things together to throw in the bag and Brian was getting ready. I talked with Melissa for a minute and she told us to head to the hospital since I was already dilated at 4cm on Monday and we live about 30 minutes away. I called my sister to come over and stay with Whit for us. She was at our hunting land and needed time to drive over. My mom was going to be in the delivery room with Brian and I so I started calling her also…and no answer. She would be devastated if she missed this! I call and call and call…..finally I asked my sister to stop by her house (she’s right next door to us) and wake her up! Bailey gets to our house and Brian and I take off to the hospital.

It’s now 1:28 am. I send a Snap Chat to a few friends showing we are on the way to have baby #2!!! We arrive at St. Francis and I’m admitted at 1:50 am. At this point my contractions are so freaking close together! They have quickly progressed and intensified. There’s almost no time for a breath between each one. We get to triage and I’m now dilated to 8cm!!

“Excuse me?! 8cm?”
“What about an epidural?”
The nurse says, “Maybe?”
“Well we gonna try! Maybe…I would like to have that please!”

We finally get to the delivery room, things are becoming a blur. My mom arrives, thank the Lord! The anesthesiologist is on the way to my room. My midwife is telling me that I’ll need to sit up to get it and that she doesn’t think I’ll be able to stand it for that long. She checks me again and I’m dilated to 10cm! Melissa tells me that hard part is over, the laboring, now I just need to push. I thought that was the hard part…pushing the baby out…tearing open myself…well if this next part is easy well alrighty then.

It’s go time! No epidural! Ready or not…here he comes!

2:38 a.m. Walt is born!
Walt is out in 3 pushes (thank you Jesus that is wasn’t longer!)

Here’s were our beautifully perfect delivery changes.

Walt is blue. He’s not making any noises. He is limp. They laid him on my chest and the mood in the room quickly changes. I’m still processing what just happened. I just delivered this little guy, all natural, in 3 pushes!  I’m looking down at him and talking to him. Then I hear, “Ok, we are going to take him now.”

God’s Hand #2
If I would have waited for the epidural, or tried, then that would have been 15-20 minutes longer with Walt in distress. Without oxygen. 

Wait, what about the “Golden Hour” of skin to skin time? I did that with Whit. I had an hour right after delivery of just me and him, skin to skin. Then they took him to weigh and be cleaned up.
Brian didn’t get to cut Walt’s cord, Melissa did it and then passed him off.
There was no time.

Walt was born not breathing and with no pulse. The worst possible thing I could imagine, happening to my son, right in front of me. A team swarmed around him and immediately started working, and talking so quietly. We just sat and watched. All I could do was sit and watch. Brian and I would occasionally look at each other, knowing that something serious had happened. We knew something was wrong, but no one was talking to us, they didn’t have to. Them working silently told us all we needed to know. He wasn’t crying. The look on everyone’s face was so focused and serious, as I would want it to be, focused on my baby.

The nurse who was in charge of me started asking me questions.
The usual family history, questions about myself, the pregnancy. I answered them without question, focused on Walt the whole time. Can’t we do this later? My son is right here, still not making a noise and I’m supposed to focus and answer questions. I know it’s her job, not her fault, just awful timing.

Then a quick quiet grunt! The smallest noise. Walt made a noise, ok that’s good! No, he was being intubated and when they pulled it out, meconium came out (baby poop) that had been stuck in his throat, so he was able to finally make a sound.

Walt had a bowel movement in utero and then swallowed it. He had been without oxygen for some time. They were able to clear his throat and his lungs, after 3 tries and get him intubated. We aren’t sure what happened to cause him to go into distress. We will never know. We aren’t sure how long he was without oxygen, but we do know it was a significant amount of time.

We delivered at St. Francis Hospital. We loved it there. Delivered Whit there. No problems. But they don’t have a NICU there. We never dreamed that we would need it. The neonatologist immediately called the transport team from Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital; they have the best NICU in the Southwest.

My mother-in-law Melody works here at the hospital, as a Nurse Practitioner. My mom texted her to come back, we needed her. She came back and started working on Walt too. It was comforting having someone you know and trust there helping. I know everyone else was doing the best they could too, but I know it was hard working on your own grandson too.

God’s Hand #3
God placed the right people at the right time in Walt’s corner. Everyone who we needed was there when we needed them. The best nurses and doctors were on call and available. 

We sat there and watched them work on Walt for what seemed like forever. It was the longest silent moment in my life. They worked, walked in and out, grabbing things, talking to people, looked at other nurses, nodded, talked some more, walked out for something else…on and on for forever. And still no sounds came from Walt; they wouldn’t for quite some time.

“Walt is really sick.”

They took Walt out of the room, to get him ready for the transport team.
We learned that his Apgar scores were 0, 4, and 4. It’s a test they do on newborns at 1 minute after birth (he scored a 0), 5 minutes and 10 minutes after birth (he scored a 4). Average Apgars are 8 and 9. This means 1 minute after birth, Walt showed 0 Activity (muscle tone), 0 Pulse, 0 Grimace (reflex irritability=floppy), 0 Appearance (skin color=blue; pale) and 0 Respiration.
They were placing lines in his bellybutton, an umbilical artery catheter and venous catheter; these would be what give him his fluids and medicine. They cut him umbilical cord down so the lines could go in.
Then Melody came back in to talk with us. She sat down on the end of my bed and I’ll never forget the words she said next, “Walt is really sick.”
Those words rang in my head over and over. She updated us on his status and what all they were doing to him to help. I don’t remember much. I’ve had to ask her later to remind me about what it was that she told us. Then the team came back in with Walt in a NICU transport incubator, all hooked up and ready to go. I got to see him, hold his hand and tell him bye; for now.

God’s Hand #4
The transport team just dropped a baby off in Lagrange and was headed back by. They came in with lights and sirens running. They cleaned the transport incubator and got everything ready. The hospital has one cooling blanket and it was available. They have one tank of oxygen, just enough to get Walt hooked up and over to the NICU. The transport team was able to get Walt on the cooling blanket at St. Francis before they left and got the process started. 

The cooling blanket is an incredible invention. It took the damage that was done to his body and brain and stops it from progressing or getting worse. It was explained to us like this: When a child falls in icy water and come out fine, the freezing cold water preserves their body. They have a 6 hour window to get Walt on that blanket and get the process started. He was on it within two hours after being born.

I had to stay at St. Francis while they took Walt to the NICU at Piedmont. This was the hardest part. Watching them wheel him away, to another hospital, away from me. Not what I envisioned.

We were supposed to bring Whit in to see his new baby brother. We were supposed to get the cute pictures of our new family of four all in the hospital bed, gathered around, in awe of new little Walt. We were supposed to stay there a few days then go home. He was supposed to sleep in the bassinet beside our bed. There were a lot of things that were supposed to happen.

Brian stayed with me for a bit before going over to Walt. The transport team needed time to get him over and set up anyways. We sat there and prayed. All we could do was pray.

At this point it was still like 5:00 a.m. Brian got ready to head and see Walt. I started pumping, knowing it was all I could do for him at this moment. The nurses checked me out. My midwife told me I could stay for at least 6 hours then she’d discharge me if I wanted. I asked her for her opinion, which was to stay at least 24 hours and make sure I took care of myself. I couldn’t do anything for Walt right now anyways. We can’t hold him, can’t really touch him and I wouldn’t do him any good if I didn’t take care of myself. So I decided to stay and just make sure I was all good to go the next day. My mom and dad stayed with me that night. Brian stayed with Walt in his little NICU room. My sister kept Whit for us.

Brian sat with Walt all day. He would send me updates. But then he called me. The doctors did a test that showed damage to his heart and liver; meaning there’s a big chance of brain damage. Sitting in another hospital, split from them, was incredibly hard to hear. Not being there with him, helpless. It was a terrible feeling.

People started finding out that Walt was born. They also found out about the situation we were in. The outpouring of love and prayers was incredible. We felt so surrounded by our community. It really gave us a sense of peace and comfort, to know Walt was prayed over by so many.

God’s Hand #5
It wasn’t long before a sense of peace fell over me. I know it was all God, all those prayers, all faith. I just knew Walt was going to be ok. I knew he was in God’s hands.

Sunday, December 29, 2019
If you’ve never been inside a NICU unit, it’s a whole different world. Machines, beeps, cords, wires and tiny babies. But our little guy wasn’t the usual tiny premie baby, he was a big full term baby. He was big next to his friends in there. But he had a long road ahead of him just like the others there too.

Walking in was the most overwhelming thing. Seeing Walt laying there, all hooked up to all of those machines. The tubes. The beeps. The machines. He was so swollen too because of all the fluids he was pumped with. My heart was broken. Then the nurses and doctors catch you up to speed on everything. Spewing out his numbers and stats. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s hard to process.

Minutes passed, then hours and days. We would have ups and downs. It’s the biggest rollercoaster ride we’ve ever been on. He would have great moments, then some set backs. There’s a million more details to Walt’s story. I’ll add them to more posts later. But for now, Walt is doing fantastic! He’s made incredible gains. He’s impressed the doctors and nurses and all those surrounding him.

Now, this is just our birth story. Walt has come a long way!
We are home now, after 13 days in the NICU; which is incredible! We weren’t sure what to expect. We thought we may be there much longer, but he hit some big milestones quickly and was ready to come home.
There’s more to his story for sure. God has huge plans for this little man’s life. We see that for sure. Walt has inspired and brought together so many people in the 2 weeks he’s been with us already. I’m so incredibly excited to see what else God has planned for him and what all he’s going to accomplish.

I’ll keep posting more about Walt’s updates and progress.

Our Little Miracle, Walt Lee

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