What I Have to Celebrate This Christmas – Part I

It’s with a sweet spirit that I write this post. Each and every year that I am alive, to see the beginning of a new year, I am thankful and have cause to celebrate. This year those reasons are abundant. I want to share them with you. These posts may get lengthy so bear with me while I recount the past year for you.

First and foremost I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I celebrate my salvation and give thanks to the Lord for all he has done for me and for my family.  He has seen us through many trials this year and for the outcome of each of those trials I am truly thankful. I will, over the next few days give you the story of why this year is our “special” year.

How It All Started:

On Mother’s Day 2006 Stasha told me she was pregnant. Stasha is my youngest daughter, 17 at the time.  I remember folding my hands and asking God why? Why us? Why now? … AND … Why under these circumstance? I also remembered that we are not supposed to question God that He will reveal to us why things are the way they are … but He will do it in His time … not in ours. I knew I had to be patient and wait on God. Wait I did and God did reveal to me His purpose …

Allow me to elaborate … I ask for your patience while I reveal God’s answers to you. I will begin with the birth of Lil Man.

With the arrival of 2007 we were preparing for the birth of Lil Man. Stasha had experienced a rough pregnancy but I was proud of her for making the decision, at 17, to have her baby rather than the alternative which was suggested to her. We knew it would be a struggle but we also knew that God would see us through.

Stasha was scheduled for admission on the evening of Jan 8 with induction on Jan 9. On the evening of Friday, Jan 5 Stasha was not feeling well at all. She was achy and hurting all over. We thought maybe she was in early labor so we called the hospital and they had us come in. After a few hours on the monitor they saw no activity and sent her home to more bed rest. At this point Stasha had pretty much been on complete bed rest for the past 18 weeks. They did offer Tylenol for the aches and pains and they also let us know that her doctor was on call all weekend should we need him.  That in itself was a world of relief. Friday night was sheer hell. Neither of us got any sleep. Stasha was very uncomfortable and the only way she could get any relief was to sit in a tub of warm water. She ended up spending the night in the bathtub. When the water would get cold she would get out, dry off, lay in bed while I cleaned out the tub and refilled it with warm water. This went on all night. 

I had to work on Saturday so when the appointed time came I woke up Stasha’s sister, Heather, and asked her to please get up and hang with her for the day so I could put in my 10 hours and get the day behind me. I knew that in a few days this would all be over! All during the day on Saturday Stasha would call to keep me posted on how she was feeling. Heather would also call and tell me how uncomfortable Stasha was. Again, Stasha spent the day in and out of the bathtub. When I got home on Saturday evening she was adamant about feeling so bad and needing to get past how she was feeling so she could at least get some sleep. By this time she had been awake pretty much all of the past 24 hours. I noticed that she was looking rather flushed and she did say she had been extremely thirsty and hot all day.  I took her temp … and WOW … the thermometer finally stopped rising at 103.4. I immediately called the hospital and was told to give her Tylenol and check her temp again in one hour. In an hour her temp had fallen to 100.3 so the doctor ordered Tylenol every 4 hours through the night along with cool baths to keep the fever down. He wanted to see Stasha in the Women’s Healthcare Unit (WHU) on Sunday. I was to call the next morning and see what time to be there.

Saturday night was a repeat of Friday … another night in the bathtub only tonight we added Tylenol and keeping an eye on the temp which hovered around 100 most of the night. In the wee hours of Sunday morning we finally got a temp of 99.4 so I felt like maybe the ‘bug’ had was passed and she would start feeling better. On Sunday morning Stasha actually wanted to eat. She then fell asleep for a couple of hours and got some rest. I called the WHU to see what time to bring her in and they said they would call when the doctor came in. Stasha and I both really wanted to go to Church but we opted out and simply asked for the Church to say a special prayer for us while we waited at home for the WHU to call. Shortly after noon they called and said to bring her on in and the doctor would be in later that evening. He wanted to monitor her for a while and make sure there had not been any change and that the baby was okay. He also wanted to do a bio-physical sonogram and measure the amniotic fluid level around the baby. If all was good then they were going to let her go home on complete bed rest until Monday evening when she was scheduled for admission.

We arrived at the WHU and Stasha was put on a monitor. We had gotten use to this process since it had been a twice a week occurrence for some time now. While we were waiting Stasha’s temp started to rise again and, as you can imagine, she was begging to be able to get in a tub of water and try to relax.  She was showing some mild contractions on the monitor but nothing that would indicate early labor. Her doctor came in and talked with us for a bit. He explained that from the monitor strips the baby looked good but to be on the safe side he was going to go ahead and do the Sonogram and just make sure.

The Sono lady finally showed up and we got another look at Lil Man.  She had done several sonograms on Stasha during her pregnancy and she was normally talkative and anxious to show us what she was doing.  During this sonogram she was much quieter. She would point out the things she was doing but she lacked the enthusiasm we were use to seeing from her. I finally asked her bluntly if everything was okay.  She said there was a little bit of reduced activity and the amniotic fluid level was a little low but she assured us there was nothing to worry about. She was going to share this information with the doctor and he would be the one to make a final decision.  I asked her to be honest with me and tell me how much reduction and how much fluid loss she saw. She explained that Lil Man was completely out of room to move thus explaining the loss of activity. She did ‘promise’ me that his heart was functioning without flaw and that he was ‘practicing’ his breathing just like he should be, and that his kidneys were functioning like they should. She then attributed the fluid reduction to the high fever and to Stasha being dehydrated. She gave me and Stasha a hug and told us not to worry … she assured us everything would be fine. She wiped the goopy stuff off Stasha’s belly, took her machine and left.

About 15 minutes later I walked down to the nurse’s station to ask for Stasha something to drink. The nurse told me they had to hold off until they got the orders from her doctor. I looked at her with a puzzled look and asked … “Orders”?  She then told me they were getting ready to induce Stasha and that her doctor would be in to talk to us. The nurse then told me she would be in shortly to move Stasha to one of the Labor & Delivery rooms. I was standing in the hallway in shock.  I quickly made my way back to the room where Stasha was waiting and fighting back the tears of fear I told her they were going to move her across the hall and induce her. SHE FREAKED!!  She got up and started to get dressed. She said she was going home … she wasn’t ready for this … she cried … I cried … then I knew I needed our support team … I made my first of many phone calls and got my support team on their way. Of course by now my Mama and my sister were at Church so I knew I could get the Church to praying for a safe outcome. My best friend in the world, Angie (who is also Stasha’s Godmother) showed up and I knew we would be okay. Angie is our rock in time of need!

Stasha’s doctor came in and explained to us that with the high fever which was once again rearing its ugly head, the reduction of baby movement, and the reduction of fluid around the baby, he wasn’t willing to take any chances and wait. He wanted Stasha on large amounts of fluids to get her hydrated and he was going to go ahead and insert the balloon catheter that would be the first phase of her induction. He was also going to run some blood test and determine where the fever was coming from. He also decided to do a flu test. (Wanna guess what came back positive?)  Sure enough … Stasha tested positive for Influenza … just what a pregnant woman needed when she was about to give birth. With the introduction of large amount of IV fluids Stasha started feeling better and things with the baby started looking better too so they decided to not rush the induction. They wanted Stasha to have some time to receive antibiotics and hopefully get past the worst of this flu before Lil Man made his entry. We knew the waiting had begun and we had NO idea how long we would wait before they finally induced her. I knew her doctor was going to wait as long as he possibly could in order to have a more favorable environment for a baby to be brought into.

Family and other members of our support team began to show. Everyone was anxious for an update, relieved to know that Stasha and the baby were both looking/feeling better, but disappointed that we were going to have to wait.  After a few hours everyone, except my Angie angel, started leaving with instructions to call if we needed anything. Angie had already been asked to wait it out … I knew she would not leave me there alone!

Now would be a good time to introduce our support team …In addition to Angie, there was my oldest daughter Heather and her friend Lee Lee, my mother Mary, my sister Glenda, her husband Dean, their daughter and son-in-law Deanna and Brandon, and our Church youth leader Brian (he played a very special role in our families life and I will cover that at a later time … just know that Brian is very special to our family).  It’s also important that I tell you this … of all these people I had a list of the order in which they should all be called in the event something unexpected happened and the list order was by the distance they lived from the hospital. Of course Deanna was the top of the list … on a normal, clear day, driving safely; she lives about 25 minutes from the hospital. Second on my list was Brandon because although he was married to Deanna he was working and his job would help me out in a time of need. Ya see … Brandon is a 911 dispatcher and he could set off fire department tones to wake up my sister and brother in law if needed … they are both firefighters! (I had this plan down!!) He would also have better luck with getting Deanna to wake up in the middle of the night if need be.  Mama lives with my sister so calling her wasn’t necessary. Brian was next on the list and last but definitely not least Heather. She is a very light sleeper and we only live about 5 minutes from the hospital. I figured she would be the last called but the first to show up. In the wings with a prayer we had our Church Pastor Mark, his wife Linda, and Stasha’s best friend Stephanie. They would get a call but not in the middle of the night!

Left alone … Stasha, Angie, and me … Around 10pm they moved Stasha out of Labor & Deliver into a regular patient room so we could all get some much needed rest. They did leave her on the fetal monitor and had lowered the flow of her IV fluids since she had done a good job of tolerating the fluids and was perking up quiet a bit. Lil Man looked good on the monitor and they wanted Stasha to sleep. They showed us how to unhook the monitor belts from the machine so she could go to the bathroom and she did … often!! The rapid influx of IV fluids had put her bladder to work so about every 45 minutes or so she was up to the bathroom, back to bed, back on the monitor, and we’d hold our breath until the monitor picked up and we started to hear the beat of Lil Man’s heart. Then we would settle back in for a little more sleep until the next bathroom run. About 5 minutes until 3am (remember this time!) Stasha once again said those infamous words … “Mama, I need to go potty” … I got up, unhooked her, helped her maneuver to the bathroom, waited while she did her thing, and helped her back to bed. Only this time everything was different … We got her settled back into bed and got the monitor hooked up, we waited … we waited … we waited … I checked to make sure the cords were plugged in correctly … we waited … Stasha said … “Mama get the nurse, something isn’t right” … about that time, not one but two nurses came bolting through the door. They turned on the overhead lights and one of the nurses literally picked Stasha up off the bed and repositioned her then grabbed for the fetal monitor and attempted to locate Lil Man’s heartbeat. I panicked … Stasha was scared to death … my Angie angel was standing right there beside me to support us through. The second nurse put oxygen on Stasha, increased the IV fluids, left the room and then came back with another type of IV fluids, started those infusing with the ones she already had going and all the while the nurse with the fetal monitor was watching and listening.  She had found a heartbeat but it wasn’t strong like before. The second nurse started out of the room and I heard the first one say … “Get him in here, baby’s bad” … I FREAKED OUT!! … Angie was there to calm me down so I could make the right choices. The second nurse returned to Stasha’s room with all this ‘stuff’ and told the first nurse to prep, meaning they were taking her to emergency C-Section. Forget the monitors … they went out the window!  Angie grabbed the list and started making calls to the support team.  She made contact with everyone but Brian … Stasha cried … she wanted Brian so Angie tried again. This time Brian sleepily answered his phone and said he would be on his way. They brought papers in to be signed, they started talking to me about … what ifs … and asking questions that I couldn’t or maybe didn’t want to answer. They mentioned a baby doctor and since Stasha’s doctor was also going to be Lil Man’s doctor, and since his partner was coming in to help with the C-Section I was offered a list … I quickly chose the doctor who saved my Mother’s life and knew if they told him who Stasha was that he would be there … HE CAME.

I knew that our support team wouldn’t make it … but I knew they were on their way. While the nurses were prepping Stasha for surgery and others who were assisting with the surgery did their thing …  Angie and I prayed … we paced … we waited … and I watched for someone, anyone, another familiar face to walk through the doors of the WHU and to tell me that everything was going to be okay. The last person I expected to get there in time was the first one to show up … Deanna … she was awakened from a deep sleep, dressed, and at the hospital, driving after dark and in the rain … in just less than 15 minutes! Within minutes after she arrived Heather and Lee Lee got there. Heather wanted a minute with her sister before she went into surgery and watching them from the door was one of the most heart wrenching yet tender moments, I as a mother, have ever experienced. During this time my mother, sister and brother-n-law showed up. Brandon was quickly on their heels.  All but one of our support team had made it. The scrub nurses came to wheel Stasha down the hall to the OR. They told me that as soon as the spinal was in and the doctors were ready to make the first incision they would come get me and I would be able to sit on a stool at Stasha’s head and be there with her while Lil Man was being delivered. I remember looking at the clock on the wall and was shocked by the time … 3:20am. In about 25 minutes time we had gone from resting peacefully to emergency C-Section and had all but one of our support team there.

The last thing Stasha said to me as they wheeled her away is “Mama, where’s Brian? … He said he would be here”.  I paced the hall outside of the OR waiting for them to come get me. For visual aid … the OR is on one end of the WHU along with the nurse’s station and the nursery … at the other end of the hallway is the doors to the WHU. These doors are locked and you actually have to pick up a phone and request to be admitted to the unit. On my final trip pacing down the hallway, waiting, I looked up and saw Brian standing at the door. He was there … he had made it … I quickly made my way down to the opposite end of the hallway to open the door and let him in … at that moment I felt a ray of hope … an ounce of relief … I knew that God was there with us … God had timed everything … in his time … God was working … As Brian and I joined the rest of the family in the hallway outside of the OR one of the scrub nurses came out to get me … they were ready to start.

I made my way to the stool.  I remember looking at Stasha and the first thing she said was “Mama, Brian made it didn’t he?” I told her he did and she said she knew he was there because she felt calm … she felt a peace that she didn’t feel when all of this started. She told me not to worry that everything was going to be okay. All I could say to her was “no matter what happens, I love you and don’t you ever forget that.” In what seemed like forever I could hear the doctors talking and every now and then one of them would say “we are doing this or we are doing that” … keeping us posted on their progress.  I swear it seemed like forever but from the time I went into the OR until Lil Man made his first sound was less than 6 minutes.

At 3:57am on Monday, January 8th, 2007  Lil Man came into this world with one strong cry, a few whimpers, then pretty much peaceful baby grunts and such. The doctor who had come in to take care of Lil Man spent a lot of time working with him and they wouldn’t let me walk over to the area where they were doing baby care. This concerned me but the Anesthesiologist that was monitoring Stasha told me not to worry, they were checking him out and making sure everything is ok.  They then told me that there was meconium in the amniotic fluid and they thought maybe Lil Man had swallowed some or that it had gotten into his lungs and the doctor was taking extra precautions to suction him out good to prevent infection in his lungs. We anxiously waited to be able to see him for the first time. I then heard Stasha’s doctor ask Lil Man’s doctor how soon they could move the baby.  Lil Man’s doctor, in medical stuff I didn’t understand, asked a couple of questions and almost immediately they wrapped Lil Man up, brought him over to where I was with Stasha, held him close for her to see, then gave him to me and told me I would be the one to carry him from the OR and stay with him until Stasha was out of surgery. While I didn’t want to leave Stasha, I also didn’t want to let Lil Man go and by this time I could tell that Stasha’s doctors were anxious to get me out of the OR.  On my way out of the OR doors, Lil Man’s doctor on one side and his nurse on the other, I looked back to tell Stasha I loved her and was SHOCKED at what I saw. Blood … blood everywhere … blood covering both doctors … blood pooling into the floor … I knew something was wrong … I remember glancing into Stasha’s eyes and fearing that would be the last time I saw my daughter alive.

I was ushered down the hallway, by my family/support team, and into a recovery area where they told me they would continue to monitor the baby and we could visit with him until Stasha came out of surgery. I looked at the nurse and asked her if Stasha was going to be ok and she told me there had been a slight complication but the doctors were working diligently to make sure that everything was ok. The nurse did her assessment of Lil Man and while she showed a bit of concern she didn’t seem to be overly worried so I felt that everything was going to be fine with him.  The doctor who had come in to take care of him dropped by the room a couple more times to check on him and his last trip in he told the nurse that he thought Lil Man may just be suffering side effects of his mother having the flu and that he may be a little dehydrated. He said they would follow up with Stasha’s doctor when he came out of surgery since he was going to be Lil Man’s doctor also.

In about 45 minutes or so Stasha’s doctor finally came out of the OR and told me that Stasha had lost a lot of blood but she was going to be fine. He said that with her having the flu they were going to pump her full of antibiotics and keep her pumped full of fluids to help alleviate the discomfort from that, along with a special pump with pain medication for the surgical pain she would experience when the spinal wore off. He said they would be bringing her out of the OR soon and she would be coming to the same room where we had Lil Man and she would stay there for about 2 hours to be monitored before going into a regular room. He checked Lil Man over, asked the nurse a lot of questions, then told her that they may want to move him to the nursery, give him some oxygen, monitor him more closely, start an IV, and get a chest X-ray. She then told us we would have to say our goodbyes for a little while so she could take Lil Man and work with him. Little did we know where that was going …

They brought Stasha out of the OR and I was able to stay with her. She was pretty groggy and asked to see her baby. They brought Lil Man back in for a quick visit with mama and then he was whisked back to the nursery for 1on1 care from his nurse. My sister was with Lil Man in the nursery, the rest of the family and support team was watching from the nursery window and I was sitting vigil by Stasha’s bedside … watching for one glimmer of the excited, anxious, new mom I was expecting to see … She slept … fitfully … restless … erratic … she slept. I prayed … I prayed … I prayed … for both of them.  I honestly didn’t know what was going on in the nursery … Stasha … my baby … that was my first concern.  About 45 minutes after they brought her from the OR she came around enough to tell me she was hurting and the nurse was able to tell her how to use the pain pump to administer her own pain meds. A shot of that and she was back off to dreamland. I made my way to the nursery to check on Lil Man.  I was shocked … they had put him under an oxygen tent and he had needles in his little foot … and they were watching the monitors closely. Everything was a blur … I heard my sister talking to the doctor but I was oblivious to what they were saying.  I do remember hearing the words ‘ship him to Asheville’ and that was more than I could handle … I came so close to losing my daughter and now … was there a chance that I could lose my grandson … I prayed …

I went back to Stasha, not about to tell her that there was a chance her baby was going to be shipped to Asheville. I couldn’t tolerate that thought and I knew clearly what it would do to her. Finally they moved Stasha into a patient room and got her settled in. They told her to rest and they would keep us posted on the baby. She slept a little … I paced the floor and cried. There was a good deal of traffic in and out during the day but it all seemed like a blur. I was sick with worry and knew that Stasha would eventually come around enough and demand to see her baby.  That happened about 4:00 that afternoon. She started begging … pleading … demanding … wanting to know why. God sent us an Angel … her name was Leslie and Stasha knew her from the visits she had made to the WHU during her pregnancy.  Leslie had seen us through a miscarriage scare and seemed to always be the one working when Stasha had to go in unexpectedly. Leslie came in and sat down on the bed with Stasha.  She explained to her that they were monitoring Lil Man closely and that he was having some respiratory difficulties. She explained that Lil Man had apparently swallowed some of the amniotic fluid and that fluid contained meconium which could cause him to develop a serious lung infection. She explained to Stasha that it was important for her to stay strong for her baby, to pray for him, and to be patient until things settled down and she would then wheel Stasha (bed and all) down to the nursery to see the baby. Stasha calmed down and remained that way for about 2 hours then she started again. She thought enough time had passed and they should be able to take her to see her baby and to do it NOW. Leslie asked for 30 more minutes and told Stasha that her shift would be over then and that she would stay on her own time to move her down to the nursery with the baby.  Leslie then folded her hands with Stasha’s and prayed with her. Leslie asked for God to bless Stasha with patience and to bless Lil Man with good health. She left the room and as she promised in about 30 minutes or so she returned to Stasha’s room … only she wasn’t alone … she was pushing a baby bassinet in front of her.  She told us that when she left Stasha’s room she went back to the nursery to check on Lil Man and that his nurse was moving him from the special care warmer to one of the regular bassinets they put in the mother’s rooms. She said that Lil Man had done a complete 180 and was breathing just fine on his own.  She said the only thing we had to watch was his body temperature because he was having a little bit of trouble keeping it up but other than that he looked fine.  They had some monitors on him but told us we could keep him in the room and they would check on him often.  Leslie then took Lil Man and laid him in bed with Stasha. They both snuggled in together and slept … peacefully … for about 2 hours.  The nurses would come in and check the monitors and check to make sure he was holding his temp AND that Stasha wasn’t running a temp … they would then leave them alone to sleep.

Three long days later I took Stasha and Lil Man home … both happy and healthy … We came close to losing both of them … Stasha and Lil Man … It was a very scary time but I believe now that it was God’s way of humbling us to lean on him and trust in his wisdom. We experienced a miracle … God’s blessings were showered upon both Stasha and Lil Man and our family was blessed by this beautiful baby boy and I still wasn’t sure why …

Stay tuned for Part II


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