Oren Henry, A Birth Story: Act Three

posted on: Saturday, May 21, 2011

The relief I felt after the delivery my new son was short lived - he was immediately taken to be seen by the team of nurses. They suctioned his nose and mouth, but he wasn't breathing. They gave him oxygen but he still refused to breath on his own, still wouldn't respond. I couldn't see him from my position in the bed, so my nurse relayed what was going on to me. After a few minutes I could tell things were getting tense, the neonatal nurses began to work on him more frantically, whispering quietly to one another. Then we were told they were taking him down to another room, one with more equipment they needed to help him breath. And just like that, they were gone and he was with them. The room suddenly fell silent. Josh and I were left sitting there with empty arms, waiting for news on our baby, hoping they would bring him back to us soon.

I don't know how much time passed, but eventually my nurse came in to update us on what was happening. She said they had intubated him and so the machine was breathing for him. A neonatologist was on her way over from Children's Hospital to examine him and may have to have him transported there --- where they were more capable of taking care of him in his condition. My nurse said the doctor would come talk to us soon but she wanted to come give us some idea of what was going on. She said she would want to know if it was her child.

Finally, the neonatologist came in to see us. She said Oren had begun to breathe a little bit on his own, but not enough. She said he was finally moving and responding to stimulus, but he still needed to go to the NICU. They had to move him to the other hospital and she wasn't sure how long he would be there. She promised they would bring him to my room so I could see him before he left.

When I finally saw him for the first time he was already in the transport isolette. His face was turned away from me and I could only touch his hand and arm. I wanted to know what he looked like, what it felt like to hold him. But more than anything, I wanted to know that he would be alright.

I told Josh to go to the other hospital with the baby and soon they were both gone. My midwife's work was done, but she stayed with me until I was moved to recovery. She gave me a hug and said there was no way she was leaving me there alone. When I was moved out of delivery they graciously gave me a room with two beds, the extra one was for Josh so he could stay with me later. Then my mom came to my room as soon as I got there and kept me company while we waited for news on the baby. The kindness of everyone surrounding me was overwhelming. Josh's mom and stepdad even rescued my bags from Josh's car and brought them over to me so I could shower and change.

When I finally spoke to Josh a few hours later things were already looking up for our little boy. He said Oren had been trying to pull the breathing tube out so they went ahead and removed it.  He was finally breathing on his own now. And even though I had only delivered the baby a few hours before, they gave me a pass to go over to Children's Hospital to be with him. I was so excited and relieved and I couldn't wait to get there. My mom drove me over and Josh's mom and stepdad met us at the entrance so they could show us where to go. I waited in the lobby while we tried to locate a wheelchair I could use (extended periods of walking were not quite in the cards for me yet).  No one could seem to find a wheelchair and I was getting anxious waiting. A young guy sitting near us must have overheard what was going on and insisted I take the wheelchair he was using. Despite all that had gone wrong that day, I couldn't help but feel overcome with gratitude. It seemed everywhere I turned someone was right there, offering me the support and help I needed to make it through.

When I got up to the NICU I started to cry as soon as I walked through the doors. It's a scary place to be and somewhere no one wants to see their child.  I told a nurse who I was and she smiled at me, "Don't cry, honey. He's getting out of here!" As she led me over to where he was sleeping she told me the doctors had already decided he was doing so well he could be moved back to the nursery at my hospital, so we could be in the same place. The news seemed too good to be true and I was thrilled to say the least. But the best part was yet to come.

Because that's when I got to see my baby. I mean, really see him for the first time.

He was gorgeous.

I even got to hold him.

I melted.

I never wanted to put him down again.

And just a few hours later, he was back at the hospital with me. He was placed in the special care nursery, just down the hall. And it was there that I spent the next four days holding him, nursing him and falling completely and madly in love with him.

I could tell you all about his time in that nursery and every slow step he made toward getting out. How I'm pretty sure every single one of his nurses should be considered a candidate for sainthood and his doctors too. I could go on and on about Wes meeting him for the first time ("I DO like him!") and how, right from the beginning, he loved his little brother more than we could have ever even hoped for. But what I think I will remember most about those four days in the hospital is the love and appreciation I felt for my husband and how the whole crazy experience brought us even closer together.

Josh was by my side the entire time. He slept in my room with me in the other bed until I was discharged to a bonding room where he slept in a pull out chair for the next two nights. He brought in dinner and did my laundry. He stayed up with me through all hours of the night and went to nearly every feeding with me round the clock. We kept ourselves awake between feedings watching bad TV, curled up together in my tiny bed. Trekking back and forth from our room to the nursery, we walked the empty halls of the hospital every night, hand in hand. He held me when I was scared and comforted me when I was overwhelmed. Through out it all, I just kept thinking how lucky I was to have him for a husband and how lucky my children were to have him as their father.

They will be better people because of him. I know I am.

No matter what we faced, Josh was there, by my side, for all of it. Our partnership survived the test, in fact, it thrived because of it. So yes, I will always remember, treasure even, those days we spent there, watching over the new, precious little life we made together.

And believe me when I tell you, what we made was perfect.


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