Well, it has been a difficult few days, so rather than repeating this story over and over again to each of you in person, I think it will be easier to simply write the story down here. I hope this will make it easier to concentrate on the present and on Truman's progress rather than dwelling on the difficulty of his arrival.
A word of warning: You may not find this an easy read, but this is exactly what I (Ben) experienced. This was hard to write, but I feel it's accurate and honest.
======================================Monday, July 24th
Kara and the Baby had their week 21 sonogram, and we finally got to find out the gender: it's a boy! This is a wonderful day, and the appointment concludes with a consultation with Kara's obstetrician who is encouraged by everything that she had seen to that point. Promises could not be made of course, because there are a number of problems that are undetectable in utero, but so far as anyone could tell, we are all on our way to having a perfectly healthy and normal pregnancy.Friday, August 4th
After an evening of home remodeling, including lots of painting and getting up and down off of the floor, Kara has her first spotting of the entire pregnancy. It happens only once and it's brown, which is an indication of older blood, and is not usually something to be concerned about. Kara checks her reference books and messageboards, which all reassure us that such spotting is often common among pregnant women, and that so long as it is not accompanied by cramping that there is nothing to really worry about.Saturday, August 5th
Kara spots once again (only once), but it is brown and there is no cramping of any kind. We attribute it to all of the extra exertion of the last two days from working on the house.Sunday, August 6th
Once again, Kara has a brown spot which is not accompanied by any cramping. We wonder if this can really be being caused by the extra physical exertion of the previous few days. I try to make Kara sit on the couch and watch her favorite TV shows rather than let her be her normal, high-energy, always-busy self.Monday, August 7th
Morning - After getting up, Kara find yet another brown spot. There's still no cramping, but we're not really buying the theory that this is fairly routine for pregnant women anymore. Kara calls her obstetrician who tells us that in all likelihood, she might have picked up a yeast infection, but to come in for an evaluation on Wednesday, August 9th just in case.
10:00pm - About an hour and a half after some slightly spicy noodles from Pei Wei, Kara starts to experience gastrointestinal pain accompanied by ferocious flatulence. This pain gradually intensifies until midnight, when I run out to the nearest drugstore to pick up some Pepto-Bismol and some Gas-X. After I get back home, Kara is still in pain, and takes the medicine. After about 30 minutes, it appears that the medicine is going to have little or no effect. We're starting to get frightened. We look in her pregnancy reference books for information regarding GI pain and excessive gas, and cannot find anything other than advice to stay away from certain kinds of foods (possibly implicating the noodles from dinner), and that this kind of pain and bloating is not all that uncommon among pregnant women. Telling us to watch what she eats wasn't particularly useful at that time, I must say. Still, because of the amount of gas being constantly expelled and because of where the cramping seemed to be originating, we were led to believe that this was still some kind of gastrointestinal problem. We could not find anything in our books that indicated this could be a symptom of anything else.Tuesday, August 8th
2:00am - Kara encourages me to go to bed, since I am going to have to go to work in the morning. She lies down next to me, but as I gradually fall asleep, the pain keeps her awake, and she eventually heads to the bathroom around 3am.
4:00am - After an hour of sitting in the dark in the bathroom feeling nauseous and incontinent, something tells Kara that she'd better switch on the light. There is red blood in the toilet; a sign of real trouble. She immediately dials the hospital which orders her to come in to the emergency room, and she wakes me up.
4:09am - The on-call obstetrician from Kara's doctors' office receives the call that we are on our way to Baylor hospital.
4:12am - Terrified, Kara and I are both dressed and we head to my car. The route we take is primarily down Skillman. After about one minute into the trip, I realize that there's no time to wait at stop lights, so I switch on the hazards and take the car up to nearly 70mph in spots, only slowing down enough at intersections to make sure that it is safe to cross.
4:15am - During the car trip, Kara's pain continues to intensify, which is exacerbated by our mental states. We know that there is a problem and that our little boy could be at grave risk. We worry about whatever may be happening, and tears start to flow.
4:20am - About 2 minutes away from arrival at the emergency room, Kara's water breaks. For the first time, we both realize that she is in labor. How can this be happening? We're only just about to enter week 23!
4:23am - We arrive at the Baylor women and children emergency room driveway (after driving past it once because we were looking for a sign that said "Labor and Delivery" which we'd been told to look for). I leave Kara in the car, sprinting inside, only to be greeted by locked doors and no one to talk to. After what is probably only 20 seconds (but seems like an eternity), a voice comes over the intercom telling me to step away from the doors. When I do, they are unlocked. I run inside and speak (as well as I can manage) to the people at the reception desk, who immediately bring out a wheelchair to the car where Kara is waiting.
4:25am - As Kara is changing clothes and being positioned onto the emergency room delivery table, I call her parents as well as my own to let them know that something has gone terribly wrong. Kara's parents, only 80 miles east, immediately get ready to head to Dallas. My parents, 400 miles to the west, are too far to come immediately, so they take to prayer.
4:30am - While waiting for the resident obstetrician to come down to the emergency room, the team of nurses already there does a sonogram on Kara's uterus, but they cannot find our boy's hearbeat. Sheer panic begins to set in on me. However, after a couple of minutes they are able to find it... in the birth canal.
4:34am - The resident obstetrician arrives and lifts up Kara's hospital gown. I see our boy's head already crowning. Despite our protests, the doctor tells us "You're having this baby now." She instructs Kara not
to push because we need time for the neonatologist and his NICU nurses to arrive on the scene. I call both sets of parents again, to inform them that birth is imminent.
4:36am - The neonatologist and the NICU nurses arrive. Kara is given the instruction to push.
4:38am - Our boy is born to the world, 17 weeks early. He does not cry, and is immediately taken by the NICU team. After about two minutes they take him from the room. He comes out completely purple and unmoving, and I am crushed with despair, thinking that he is stillborn.
4:43am - Dr. Craig Schoumaker, the neonatologist, returns to our room to let us know that our boy is alive! A bizarre sense of relief and dread sweeps over me at the same time. At this point, we have no idea what sort of condition he is in. We are told that he currently has a good, strong heartbeat and that he is breathing on the ventilator, but that is all we know, and all we will know for some time. We are told that a child born at his age stands a 50/50 chance of survival.
4:55am - The on-call obstetrician from Kara's Ob/Gyn office arrives, too late for the delivery but quickly enough to offer us advice, answer questions, and to try to console us.
5:10am - Kara has been cleaned up a bit and I've packed our things. We are getting ready to head up to the hospital room when we are invited to come see our new, tiny little boy. As we look at him for the very first time, the emotional roller coaster we had just been on contributed to a temporary, surreal sense that he wasn't really ours; this poor, tiny little boy with tubes coming out of his stomach and his mouth, eyes still fused shut, and practically small enough to fit in the palms of my hands. It is really
hard seeing him like this.
5:20am - Kara and I head back down to her hospital room, where we grieve together until her parents arrive around 5:40. At this point in time, it is very difficult to find any joy in our hearts. Of course we love our son, but we want him to begin his life being able to be touched, spoken to, interacted with, and comforted. None of those things are an immediate possibility. It just seems so unfair to make him start out this way.
Wow, that was hard to write. But trust me, it's easier than telling it over and over again.
Since the day of Truman's birth, Kara and I have both learned a lot, and despite the extreme emotional difficulty of this situation, we have come to trust the good and gifted physicians and caregivers at Baylor hospital, and we have come to expectantly hope that our son will come through this ordeal with surprising success.
In conversations over the past week with Kara's Obstetrician and the neonatologist, our view of Truman's early delivery has been changed. The doctors believe that Kara had a condition called "Incompetent Cervix," where her body was simply unable to hold the weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic sac. Most women who have this condition lose at least
one pregnancy before the condition is identified, and sometimes more.
When a woman has Incompetent Cervix, as the weight that is being carried presses down on the cervix it starts to give way, and the mother begins to dilate slightly. When this happens, the amniotic sac becomes exposed to the vagina, which can cause it to become infected. Once the amniotic sac is infected, it becomes weak, and coupled with the increasing dilation of the mother and the weight continuing to press down, things eventually give way and the water breaks, whereupon birth cannot be avoided. For that matter, once the dilation begins and a small infection begins, it is too late to do anything about it, and the birth will soon take place, unavoidably. This condition is extremely hard to detect in women with no risk factor, especially when it is their first pregnancy. Kara was doing everything in her power to give our boy the best chance possible, and was told that there was nothing else that she could have done to prevent what happened.
When most women lose their pregnancies due to Incompetent Cervix, it tends to happen before week 20. Kara and Truman made it all the way to week 23, which gave him just enough time to develop to have a real, fighting chance at survival. When you couple that with the fact the we got to the hospital just barely in time and that he is now being cared for in one of the best Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the state, you can see why we have come to feel like Truman is here for a reason.
We all continue to appreciate the help, warm-wishes, and prayers. Thank you, everyone.