Friday, July 10, 2015

July 10 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Blogger Linda Clarke)

Dear Mr. Sparks,

My pregnancy was totally planned. 6 months prior to attempting conception I stopped taking birth control pills, stopped drinking caffeine and stopped all alcoholic consumption. In September 1995 I became pregnant. I have always been very athletic and continued running up through my 7th month. My pregnancy was very easy, no morning sickness, no swelling, slow, steady weight gain. In February, during a routine, mid pregnancy ultrasound the technician discovered a two-channel umbilical cord. Normal is three, 1 artery and 2 veins. I was told that this is indicative of kidney problems, but the probability was very low. Most babies have no problems what so ever. I made an appointment with the Maternal Fetal Center in our hospital where I had a second level ultrasound. Dr. Susan Rutherford looked everything over thoroughly and said that there were no problems associated with the two-channel cord, however she said that she had found something else. At that point she indicated the dark mass on the screen in the same view as the heart, which you could see pumping. She said this is the baby's stomach, which should not be anywhere near the heart. She immediately diagnosed the Diaphragmatic Hernia. From that point on Michael (my husband) and I spent a great deal of time planning the birth of our baby. We met with Dr. David Tapper, chief of pediatric surgery at Children's hospital in Seattle. He described for us what to expect. He personally gave us a tour of IICU and introduced us to the support team. We met with Dr. Badura the neonatalogist who would stabilize our baby after delivery and prepare him for the trip to Children's. We put a birth plan together with Ann Kepler, co-author of Pregnancy, Birth and the New Born. She did a wonderful job helping us lay out all the events and things we wanted to have done during the birth. We talked endlessly with Fr. Andy, our priest and we were all prepared for whatever God had the plans. Everyone was wonderful.

June 14th came and went with no baby. Dr. Wayne Hill, my ob/gyn and I decided that we would induce labor. This allowed us to schedule all the specialists and equipment required to stabilize Jamie immediately after birth. On June 17th I went home with a vaginal catheter which began dilation. At 7:00 am June 18, 1996 I checked into Evergreen Hospital and at 2:00 pm after a very easy, pitosin induced labor our beautiful boy, Jamie was born. Jamie let out a huge cry and was passed immediately to Dr. Badura who established an airway and put Jamie on a ventilator. Michael performed Jamie's baptism and at 4:00 Jamie was ready to be transported to Children's Hospital. I was able to kiss him goodbye and off he went. Michael followed behind the ambulance and got Jamie settled in. I joined them the next morning. What a strange, empty feeling to be in a hospital without a baby after labor and delivery. Jamie's hernia was repaired on June 20th. Dr. Tapper was able to use existing tissue to repair the defect. We spent the next 4 weeks working on getting Jamie home. It seemed like such a long time. I would be at the hospital for 15 hours a day reading and talking or just sitting with Jamie. We live in Seattle, so I was fortunate enough to be able to go home every night. Jamie made great progress. There were no other defects. We attempted extubation at the end of June and he just wasn't ready. I was able to hold him with all the equipment installed the next day. What a joy, I just cried and cried as I rocked him. He probably thought I was nuts. He was finally extubated on July 4th (new meaning to Independence Day). The next hurdle was eating. We spent the next two weeks weaning off of the dietary supplements and drugs. He was a champ and ate with fervor. The nurses attempted an NG line to his stomach and he pulled it out within minutes he only wanted a bottle. He was transferred out of IICU on July 11th and on July 18th, one month after delivery, we took him home. It was a beautiful sunny and warm summer day.

I must acknowledge the nurses who cared for Jamie for those weeks. They are truly the heroes in this story. They work long hard hours and have the most difficult, demanding job I have ever seen. And yet, they always have the time to tell you what is going on, what progress has been made, what is your next goal, as well as that shoulder for the difficult times. We visit the hospital regularly to keep in touch with everyone. The experience has been a good one for Michael and me. It has opened our lives to a whole new group of people, both at the hospital and in our church, who are now as close to us as family. I feel terribly blessed and fortunate it has all worked out so well. Jamie is two and doing just great. All he has to do is be a kid!! When you see him with the other children, you could never tell what a difficult start he had. What more could a mother ask for???

Jamie's mom, Linda Clarke (Washington)

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