I was wheeled into recovery. As the visitor’s came in I could feel myself getting tired. The cocktail in my epidural was making me very sleepy and I was shaking uncontrollably. Soon after my face started itching. My eyes were burning from the tears. How was my son? My sister and mother came to tell me he is beautiful and not to worry because he is doing just fine but needs a little help to breathe.
After an hour I was taken to my room. I still hadn’t seen my son but for a few seconds. The doctor came down to do her report. Was it just me or did she look like she was 25? She informed me that although Kaleb weighed in very large he still has preterm lungs. They determined he was 36 weeks and 1 day when he was born. His face was bruised from using the forceps to get him out. She told me he has a spot above his eye that could grow into a large birth mark that would need to eventually be surgically removed. Kaleb was working so hard to breathe that he literally “popped” a tiny hole in his left lung and the air he was breathing was leaking into his chest cavity. They had him on a hood vent with oxygen. She also told me that his neck looked larger than normal. I lost it.
I was sobbing so hard I could feel it pulling on my incision. My son was only about 2 hours old. I needed to see him. I felt like I couldn’t breathe until I could see his face. My nurse told me that my bed couldn’t fit back there so I could go down when I got up that evening at 5 pm. “She’s nuts,“ I told myself. I told her she could help me up now or I’d do it myself. By 11 am I walked to wheelchair and got to see my son.
He was the most amazing thing I have ever laid eyes on. He had a “fishbowl” on his head which helped him get oxygen. He had a tiny IV in his head and monitor’s all over his body. I sat and held his hand as long as I could. Finally a much older doctor came to talk to Brian and I.
His neck is normal. The spot above his eye was not a birthmark and had already disappeared. He would need to stay until he could breathe without help and if the hole in his lung didn’t heal he would need to be transferred for a chest tube.
The doctors determined that his hand wasn’t anything genetic. It is a condition called ABS or amniotic band syndrome. It effects 1/2000 births and it is completely random. The amniotic band theory is that ABS occurs due to a partial rupture of the amniotic sac. This rupture involves only the amnion; the chorion remains intact. Fibrous bands of the ruptured amnion float in the amniotic fluid and can encircle and trap some part of the fetus. Later, as the fetus grows but the bands do not, the bands become constricting. This constriction reduces blood circulation and Kaleb’s left fingers are missing. Not his hand like we originally determined.
We took a sigh of relief. We decided the second he was born that his hand didn’t matter and he didn’t need it. He was perfect and the most amazing gift from God. We prayed for the next days watching Kaleb’s progress. All we cared about were his tiny lungs.
For the first 4 days of his life he got worse. We spent hours in the chapel praying for our son. We had prayer chain’s across the nation…even a church in Guatemala! I was pumping like a mad women. When Kaleb was ready to eat I was going to give him the best! His oxygen requirements continued to increase or stayed the same. No improvements yet.
On Sunday morning I woke up about 5 am with the sunrise. I prayed for my little man and decided to head to the NICU alone. My mom and Brian were sleeping peacefully and I was walking on my own since day two. As soon as I walked into the room the nurse was changing his bed around and she had just taken his IV out. His lung hole had healed itself! She handed me the oxygen mask and I finally got to hold my son. He was wired down and I had to constantly hold oxygen support to his tiny face. Tears of joy streamed down my face as the sun rose over the 9th floor ICU. Gospel music was playing in his radio. It was the best feeling in the world. I memorized every inch of Kaleb... his smell... his features. Brian and my mom came rushing in when they noticed I was MIA. They both cried when they saw my joy.
Over the next 3 days our son steadily improved. He was moved to a nasal cannula and taken off the hood vent. He started feeding from an NG tube . He moved to the bottle and finally I got to breast feed. I was discharged on day 4 but simply moved to another room at Christ Hospital. I was no longer a patient but they allowed me to stay with our son.
On October 2, 2008 we were discharged and got to bring our son home. The struggle with his lungs during his first hours made his hand seem so insignificant. We believe God has bigger plans for our son. We cannot wait to watch him grow!
Our blog is http://erickaanni.blogspot.com. Please encourage everyone to email us or leave a comment on our blog. We can't wait to get in touch with other families like ours. Thank you for such an amazing site!
To communicate with Kaleb, you may contact his mother via email.
Kaleb, Cincinnati, Ohio
On Tuesday, September 23 my mom and I headed to Dr.Grim’s office for my 36 week appointment. At the visit my blood pressure measured in the 170’s and they decided to perform a NST (non-stress test). Kaleb’s heart was fine but my blood pressure was not. Even after laying down for the NST my blood pressure did not waiver. Although I was 36 weeks my ultrasounds showed I was at 38 weeks and according to my LMP I would be at 41 weeks. With all of my symptoms and swelling the doctor was concerned about becoming toxic and scheduled me for an induction on the 24th.
We arrived at the hospital and got checked in. I was a -3 station and not dilated at all. I was having random contractions but it wasn’t anything worth measuring. After 4 rounds of medication applied directly to my cervix and increasing contractions over 12 hours I was checked for progress again. I was less than a finger tip dilated. They decided I would have a c-section within the hour. Both Brian and I felt relieved we would meet our son very soon!
The order for the C-section was given and they attempted to wheel me into the operating room before my mom and sister could arrive at the hospital to see us into the room. I cried and Dr. Grim agreed to go grab some breakfast so I got to see mom and Olivia before being wheeled into surgery. The epidural was amazing! Our anesthesiologist was amazing and talked with us for 45 minutes. He also agreed to take tons of pictures and video tape the birth for us. He even asked if we had any requests for what the Ipod would be playing when our son was born.
Once I was on the table Brian held my hand and kept me distracted. At one point I heard a huge splash and everyone talk about not falling in the blood. The drainage bag holding all of my blood had fallen off the bed and exploded on the floor. I didn’t find this out until the next day. Brian did amazing even though I’m sure he was freaking out!
At 8:31 am our son, Kaleb, was born. He weighed in at 7 pounds 7 ounces and was 21 inches long. Jimi Hendricks’s was playing when he entered the world. I knew immediately something wasn’t right. They didn’t hold him over the curtain but took him straight to the warmer. Brian left my side to be with Kaleb. I strained for what seemed like hours to see what was going on above me. I could hear our son crying and felt instantly relieved.
When Brian returned to my side I knew immediately something wasn’t right. He said, “Don’t worry. Kaleb is fine. He is healthy but he is missing his left hand.” I felt like I was in a dream. What? His what? I couldn’t catch my breath. I grabbed Brian’s hand, “He’s healthy right? He’s okay? It’s just his hand?” I could still hear his screams behind me. “Yes He’s fine.” I instantly felt relief, “Then who cares?! He’s healthy… go be with him!” Brian took my order seriously and went to stand next to his son.
They let Brian bring him to me and give him a kiss before they both headed to the NICU. Kaleb was having trouble breathing on his own and his APGAR score was only a 5. When they both left the room I could feel one serious panic attack coming on. I felt physically sick. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. What couldn’t he breathe? What happened to his hand?
Dr. Grim leaned over the curtain and asked how I was holding up. “Okay…” I replied. “Have you ever heard of Jim Abbott?” asked Dr. Grim. He spent the next 45 minutes keeping me entertained and preoccupied. He told me all about Jim being born without his hand just like Kaleb. He ended up playing major league baseball and college football. He even pitched a no-hitter for the Yankee’s. I am truly grateful for my doctor during those scary minutes away from Brian and our son. He was amazing.
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