“YOU GUYS ARE YOUNG YOU CAN ALWAYS TRY AGAIN LATER”
Those were the words my OB uttered as he sat at the edge of my hospital bed. I cried and asked, “Why is this happening to us?” His usual candor went from upbeat to sad as he responded, “Sometimes these things just happen. You guys are good people and I hate when bad things happen to good people.” We wanted the truth and his advice… that’s when he said straight forward that we should do “comfort care”. Going that route would mean that we would not stop the premature labor, and there would be absolutely no medication given or intervention when our son was born. Simply put, this suggestion meant that if our son was born before 24 weeks, we would hold him until he passed away. Most hospitals wouldn’t save my son unless they are 24 weeks gestation. That’s the gestation that many deem viable. I was 22 weeks pregnant with my first born and 2.8cm dilated.
We asked for time to discuss what would be best. It felt as if time was moving fast but also the correct pace that was needed for us to make a well informed decision. Upon my admittance to Labor & Delivery, the NICU team visited my room almost immediately to discuss the role they would play in our situation. As my husband and I were surrounded by our parents, (who rushed to be with us), the team recited statistics of a baby being born THAT early. We were told he could have deformities, Cerebral Palsy, extreme developmental delays and possibly not survive the first 24 hours. Their words were cold, raw and not optimistic. If born at 22 weeks gestation, they told us he would only have a 20% chance of survival. 20%!!!!!
Although healthy in utero, due to his size and early gestation there was no guarantee that he would even survive once delivered. I cried, and cried and cried. I felt helpless, mentally drained and afraid. When I asked the Neonatologist in charge, “do you believe in miracles?” She said with a straight face, “I BELIEVE IN SCIENCE”. Her words and lack of bedside manner were upsetting to me. I was expecting a different response or a little more compassion.
Sadly, I wouldn’t find that from the Team of Doctors. Her words chilled me to my core but ironically lit a fire in me! It was in that moment I just knew in my heart that God had a plan. So although I questioned, why us? And what did we do wrong?”, I had to remember that no one is exempt from trials. For it’s in the trials that we are made stronger. It’s where God gets to show out an show off! I was ready for the road that lied ahead.
A few hours went by. We prayed and cried some more. We consulted with our parents who were beyond supportive. My husband expressed his concerns and initially felt like comfort care would be best if our son was born before 24 weeks. He didn’t want our child to potentially suffer and we had no idea of what his condition would be once he was born. We thought about his future and what that could look like. We knew little to nothing about having a micropreemie, so when your “ignorant” to something the first reaction is fear. But through the fear and uncertainty I felt in my spirit that I had to fight and not give up on our unborn son. While I too didn’t want any suffering for our son, I had faith that a miracle would happen. My son deserved a chance and if no one else believed it, I was going to fight for him!
So as my OB sat at the edge of my bed once again, he asked had we made a decision. My husband stood next to my bed with a tear stained face and told me he trusted my decision and no matter what, we would get through this together. With tears in my eyes I asked my OB to save my son. I said, “I don’t care what happens to me, just save my son.”
I didn’t understand the magnitude of what all of THAT meant, but I was willing to put myself on the line for him. That was such a defining moment for me. It was at that moment I truly embodied my role as a Mom. That day I fought for Jaxson’s life and put my complete trust in God. It was the day I learned what unconditional love really meant. It was the day I made up in my mind that I would be his advocate and voice for him until he had his own. I wasn’t going to let my baby boy go due to grim statistics. I truly felt in my heart that he would be ok.
So while I laid in my hospital bed being pumped up with medications to stay pregnant a little longer, I held onto the promise that God would never leave us nor forsake us. The promise that “He who began a good work in ME would be faithful to complete it.”
After 4 uneventful days of hospital bedrest, lots of medication and focusing on “operation keep baby baking”, Jaxson was born at 22 weeks 6 days weighing 1lb 2.9oz and 11 inches long via an emergency c-section. He had to be resuscitated 3 times and showed everyone in the operating room that he was a fighter.
I can’t say thank you enough to the men and women who honored my wishes to save our son. From what I’m told the NICU team thought we were crazy- but they did their job anyway. I truly believe that God was with us in the operating room. He walked with us through our 119 day NICU stay, and we watched miracles take place right before our very eyes. Jaxson’s journey through the NICU has helped others believe and have hope. He is now an active and healthy toddler who his life is still inspiring others!
There are so many families facing similar challenges who may not have been given a choice to save their baby’s life. Some may not even feel as though they have a voice to speak up and advocate for their baby. But I want to let you know that YOU DO! Don’t give up because you may be scared of the outcome of a situation. Take the time to seek wise counsel, research, and surround yourself with support to help you in making those tough decisions. Every situation is different as well as the outcome- but with that I believe every baby deserves a chance because often times, they beat the odds. And every difficult time is an opportunity for a miracle to happen.
So keep on believing, don’t loose faith because your MIRACLE is on the way!
Mommi Contributor, Ima Carnelus
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