|Samuel Obadiah Bennett|
5 lbs 8 oz
20 1/2 inches
On November 20, 2013, I went for my checkup with the OB/GYN. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary other than the fact that I was extra waddle-y at this point in the pregnancy! They took my blood pressure first off and the girl was pretty certain the blood pressure machine she was using must be broken since it was giving such a crazy high reading so she got another one. When the second machine provided the same reading, she paged the doctor and got me in a wheelchair. She kept asking if I was okay and rushed me to the inpatient unit that I was familiar with after having several trips there throughout the pregnancy for various minor issues and monitoring sessions. Long story short (only since I'm playing catch up because we all know keeping things short is not exactly my forte), they believed I had preeclampsia and were concerned. I was put on magnesium and we waited. After 24 hours on magnesium, my levels were such that an emergency delivery was necessary. Mr. Sam was in a very strange position; not breech but sideways! Little stinker! He was actually stuck in my ribcage. They tried moving him, which was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced, but it was unsuccessful. So the only option was a C-section. Once the decision was made, it was quick! I couldn't believe it! I was so upset about having a C-section rather than a vaginal delivery, but during the delivery I had the most spiritual experience and it was confirmed to me that this was the safest way for me and for Sam. So that was that! I didn't get to hold him in the delivery room, but Oby held him up for me and a nurse took a few pictures with my phone. Then they whisked him away and took care of me. Magnesium and preeclampsia are hard on a body and I wasn't doing super hot! They told me he was doing great and Oby kept texting me pictures.
After an hour or so, Oby came back to my room and told me they had Sam on oxygen and in the NICU for monitoring. I wasn't too alarmed since he was a month early and we worried about his lung development. They wouldn't allow me to go see him until my blood pressure was controlled and it was still through the roof. I was exhausted and peaceful and as much as I wanted to see and snuggle my sweet boy, I knew he was in the best care and I was grateful to be able to rest. I just loved this picture that showed how tiny he was compared to Oby's hand:
So I was in my room being taken care of. They had me get up and I passed out for ten minutes. They called in my doctor and her team to evaluate me. They said until my blood pressure was stable, I couldn't even get out of bed and absolutely could not go to the NICU. So the first night I rested and Oby kept going back and forth, sending pictures and reporting in. It was hard, but I was super tired and just okay. UNTIL I got this picture of Sam...
And my heart broke. Oby was so excited to show me his eyes open, but all I could see were all the tubes and that thing in his head and he just looked sad and like he was having a hard time! I wanted, no NEEDED to be with my baby! After several insistent conversations with nurses and doctors, they finally allowed Oby to wheel me to the NICU. Just sitting up was rough on me at that point, but I had to see my baby.
And finally I got to be with my boy! It was perfection! I could not believe how tiny he was. I feel like I know him by heart, I know him in the eternal perspective and he is wise and compassionate and large. I don't care who might think that sounds crazy, it is just true. I KNOW him and to get to be with him in his tiny baby state seemed foreign to me at first, but I was so grateful and blessed to finally get to hold and care for him. His vital signs, especially his respiratory rate improved dramatically after just moments in my arms, but I became weak and light-headed so moments were all I got. It was enough to get me by at the time, though.
The following day, I was still having terribly high blood pressure that dropped dramatically even when I just sat up in bed. So I was put on several medications and they were taking my vitals every 15 minutes, I believe, just to make sure I was stable. Poor Oby was running to the NICU to check on Sam, running back to check on me (and the NICU and mother rooms are unbelievably far apart at the University of Utah Hospital), then would drive back and forth between my parents' and his parents' houses to shuffle and be with Chloe. I felt so bad for him, I knew he felt a lot of pressure. So the Saturday after Sam was born (I think he was 2 days old), Oby was spending some time with Chloe, as she was feeling extra emotional not being at home and not being with me. I was in my hospital room battling my crazy blood pressure and trying to stick to the doctors' orders of physical and mental rest. And it was hard, but I was doing okay with the orders and felt okay about Sam. In fact, I think I was more worried about Chloe at the time.
Then a NICU nurse came into the room and proceeded to tell me Sam was not responding to treatment and they might have to put him on a ventilator and both of his lungs were collapsed and he might have brain damage and he probably had a heart defect.... I mean basically all of my worst fears were being spewed out of this woman's mouth in a not very delicate manner. I was all alone, I couldn't get out of bed and go be with him, and I really didn't understand what she was saying because no one had communicated to me that he was in such dire circumstances. I called Oby nearly hyperventilating thinking we are all dispersed and our baby is near death and all alone! Oby, of course, rushed to the hospital. I contacted my nurse and said look lady I'm going to the NICU like it or not and she said nope, you're staying here, like it or not. My blood pressure, not surprisingly, was worse than ever and they wouldn't even let me sit up in my bed, let alone take a hike to the NICU. So I had to rely on Oby going there to find out what was going on. His dad came too and they administered a priesthood blessing. I think it bothered Oby that I asked to have his dad give the blessing, but I felt like Oby would just say what he wanted and hoped that maybe his dad would pause and be able to listen to the spirit more objectively to give Sam the blessing he needed at that time. He blessed that Sam would respond to the treatment and go on to live a happy and healthy life and be a great joy to his parents. I cannot tell you how much peace hearing that gave to me. Sitting in the other room, seemingly ten million miles away, I needed to know that Sam's spirit knew he was loved. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. And cried and cried and cried and cried. I honestly don't think I have ever felt so helpless and sad in my entire life from the moment that nurse came into my room until possibly a week later. Just thinking about it, I think my blood pressure is shooting the roof. So sad and stressful!
So what was happening, they believed, was that because Sam was stuck in my rib cage, when they tried to pull him out, it took a minute. During that time, his body started to breathe when he was still in my body so he breathed in fluid. This caused both lungs to collapse and the fluid was probably causing a pneumonia. He had a heart murmur, but they felt this was minor and would heal on its own. So in order to get those lungs to open up, they felt a ventilator, which would basically breathe for him, would force air in there to open things up and let him rest while his body healed. Once things were explained to me, and especially after the blessing, I was able to rationally process the information. I was also given a blessing and my blood pressure stabilized not long after so I was able to go to the room and be with Sam. After holding him for just a half hour or so, I knew he needed the ventilator. His respiration rate was through the roof and it was actually painful to watch him struggle to breathe. So Oby and I consented to having him put on the ventilator. We texted our parents and I don't remember their responses, but I felt like they did not agree with our decision. But without a doubt we knew this is what needed to be done. Then, since my blood pressure had stabilized, I was discharged as a patient and a half hour after they put Sam on the ventilator we had to leave. Even though I was much better than I had been, I was still not well...very light headed, weak, and unable to even stand on my own for more than a few seconds. Oby wheeled me out of the hospital in absolute tears. Leaving him after just putting him on the ventilator was, without question, THE hardest thing I had ever done in my life. Deep down, I felt like he was going to be okay, but I knew he was literally fighting to live at that time and I just felt like I was abandoning him at his time of greatest need. However, I also knew I needed to continue to heal and I knew Chloe needed me. In other words, I knew I needed to go home, but it was SO HARD.
Just looking at those pictures is breaking my heart right now. Ugh. I am so glad I only have to live through that experience once.
So we went home and I kissed and snuggled Chloe and prayed, prayed, prayed. The first few nights, I would call the nurses every 4 hours to get an update. I was up anyway to pump breast milk. I was hardly producing any, but they said every little drop would help him so I did what I could and pumped every 2-3 hours. Anything I could do for my baby.
Of course we would go see him every day and we both loved holding him, talking to him, smelling him. Even changing him was fun and a privilege! His skin was so wrinkly from being not quite developed. It was just soooo cute!
I would just hold him skin to skin because the moment I did, all his vitals would improve immediately! I was so amazing to behold the power of mother-baby bond. Being a mother is such an astonishing PRIVILEGE! Just holding and rocking him each day, it was hard to not stare at the monitors and try to will the numbers to be what we wanted them to be.
Not many days before Sam's unexpected arrival, I had read a talk about being precise in keeping your covenants and being precise in your prayers. I think it was by Sister Elaine Dalton. I kept thinking about that one day as I was holding Sam in the NICU. So I talked to the nurse about exactly what needed to happen in Sam's little body so his vital signs would improve and I asked exactly what the ideal range would be for all his vital signs. I studied a bit about preemies (though he didn't officially qualify as a preemie given his gestational age and weight at birth, but he kind of fell into that category with his symptoms). Then I hit my knees and I prayed for all those little things to happen for him. This was after he had been on the ventilator for 2 and a half days. The next morning when I called, the new nurse said his vitals had been in the normal range all night and she couldn't believe it! I could!!! Prayer works. Precise prayer works a little more precisely! What a miracle and what a gift!!! He was able to come off the ventilator THAT DAY! He still needed oxygen and a feeding tube, but he had made a turn toward recovery and it was wonderful!
Up until this point he had been in the second to highest acuity portion of the NICU. Once he got off the ventilator, they were able to move him to the less critical room. This was such a huge graduation of sorts for us. It was a different feeling because instead of a quiet room with just two babies and one nurse, he was in a giant room with, I don't know, probably 15 babies and 5 nurses. So a vast difference! But it meant he was doing better so that was great! Visiting him after he started to improve became much more routine. I would get Chloe off to school, then shower, get ready, and drive up for the afternoon. Oby would either come after work to switch me or I would stay until 8 or 9 pm and Oby would go home to be with Chloe. Of course our parents helped so much and also came to visit Sam quite a bit as well. It was kind of chaotic, but sweet to look back and realize that it was a special and even sacred time.
Then the day came that he was doing well off oxygen, able to eat from a bottle, and all clear to go home! They let me come stay the night in a special room the night before and I would get up whenever the nurse fed or changed him to help. The next morning, I gave him a bath and got him in his new outfit. I cannot explain how excited I was to put him in his clothes and wrap him in the homemade blankets we had for him! I had sort of hated all the used stuff at the NICU for those three weeks. I wanted him in his new, cute, just for him stuff! So silly, I know, but I know most people reading this will understand. The day before he got to go home, it snowed so the day he went home, it was a beautiful white winter wonderland! So special!!!
Then just like that, we were a family of four at home together. Chloe and Sam met for the first time and it was every bit as magical and beautiful and wonderful as I ever could have hoped it would be!
Welcome home, Sam. We love you so much!