Friday, November 23, 2007

My Blessing

Right now it is snowing--HARD! We woke up to about three inches, and now there is about six. It has been a relaxing and cozy morning. I always love the day after Thanksgiving. We don't do the "Black Friday" thing, so it's a time of togetherness and down-time around the house. Pat did have to do some shoveling, but we also played with Matthew, watched some football and enjoyed leftover turkey and trimmings together. I've also been able to sneak in some tea-drinking and mitt-knitting. :)

Of course, like many people, I've been reflecting on what I'm thankful for. This year it goes without saying what I'm thankful for--my son. I thought I'd use this post to write about Matthew's birth.

Before I conceived Matthew, I had three miscarraiges. Since I was a healthy woman in my early twenties without any family history of miscarraiges, my OB/GYN was baffled. He sent me to a fertility specialist in Albuquerque who did a number of tests. A couple of weeks later I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time, but not all of the tests had come back. When they finally did, one indicated that I tested positive for a phospholipid antibody. Basically what that meant was that my body was recognizing the embryos as "foreign," therefore cutting off blood supply to them. Since I was already pregnant, the doctor put me on blood-thinners right away. The heparin I was on was injected twice a day--ouch! I was on that for about eleven weeks.

During my 17 week check-up with the perinatologist, we found out that Matthew was a boy. We were delighted (but also would have been delighted with a girl)! The perinatologist also discovered that the umbilical cord only had one artery instead of the usual two (this happens in under 1% of pregnancies). This statistically implied that there was an up to 40% chance of a congenital or genetic disorder such as Down Syndrome. We would love any baby God would bless us with, but did want to be prepared, so we had genetic testing done. Luckily it found that the risk was extremely low for us.

Because of the single artery umbilical cord, I was induced a week early. It was a fairly easy birth (after the epidural!) and that happiest day of my life. Matthew looked perfect. He was, however, having difficulty breathing. That evening he was taken out of my room to pediactrics to be monitored. The following day I was able to change rooms to be closer to him. He was on oxygen and had various heart/breathing monitors hooked up to him. His breathing kept getting worse and I just knew that something was very wrong. He seemed happy and comforted when I held him, but nursing was just too difficult. It was taking all of his strength just to breathe. The next day (Wednesday) the pediatrician inserted an IV into Matthew and told me not to nurse him anymore. That evening he called the NICU at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque (I delivered at St. Vincent's in Santa Fe) and set up a transport team to take him there.

Pat had gone home to Los Alamos to pack some things to take to ABQ when the transport team arrived, so I was alone when the nurse practitioner in charge of the team told me that they would have to intubate Matthew. She told me that he was working too hard to breathe and that if they didn't intubate him he would stop breathing. I signed the papers, but couldn't watch them do it. A couple days later Brenda (the NP) told me it was one of the most difficult intubations she ever did--Matthew was such a fighter even with a sedative!

Matthew ended up being in the NICU for seven days, and they never did figure out what caused his lungs to have such difficulties. Every day he got stronger, and after four days they took the breathing tube out. It was a very difficult time, but I knew he was in good hands.

So, after my history of miscarraiges, the phospholipid antibody problem, the single-artery umbilical cord, then Matthew spending a week in the NICU, you could understand why I am thankful for every day, every moment, with my son. He is the greatest blessing in my life, and I will forever be grateful and praise God for the privelege of being Matthew's mother.

Here is a picture of Matthew shortly after he was born (ignore me!):
and now:
What a little chunk! :)


Benjamin said...

What a wonderful post, Katie! He looks so big (grown up) in the last picture! He is a beautiful baby:)!


Knitty Gritty Thoughts said...

Awe what a little cutie - he is so adorable! And quite a story of how he came into this world - I am so happy everything worked out all right in the end.