November 24 - Dear Nicholas Sparks (Guest Blogger Jackie Horn)
Dear Mr Sparks,
It was 10:02 pm on December 12, 1990 when Hannah made her grand entrance into this world, just seconds after the doctor arrived. After 2 sons, I was blessed with a daughter. My sister, Lu, was on a conference call to our mom and older sister, bragging about her new niece and how she practically single-handedly delivered the baby. Lu stood in as proxy for my husband who had recently suffered a serious knee injury that left him incapacitated. I couldn’t wait until things settled down so I could introduce Hanna to her father via the telephone. But some things weren’t meant to be. Hannah was in respiratory distress and she was whisked away for evaluation. Lu and I waited in silence. A short distance down the hall, in another birthing room, we heard an excited cry from a father who had just witnessed the birth of his son. His jubilant cry pierced my heart as I waited on word about my own daughter. The wait seemed forever but it was actually only 30 minutes before the pediatrician entered my room. I held my breath expecting the worst when the doctor took my hand in hers and spoke. "You have a very, very sick little girl. The x-rays show that Hannah has a diaphragmatic hernia. This means she has a hole in her diaphragm which allowed the intestines to move up into the chest cavity, hindering the growth of her left lung and caused displacement of her heart. We placed her on a ventilator and a helicopter was called to transport her to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for immediate surgery". In less than an hour the helicopter was gone, carrying my little girlie to the hospital. In the quiet of my room I called my husband and told him about his beautiful but very critical daughter as I gazed at the Polaroid given to me by the helicopter team. The dawn greeted me with a phone call from Hannah’s surgeon. He said, "She came through like a champ. Her condition is stable but very critical. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the next 48 hours". I thanked him and he told me that Hannah is a beautiful baby. That morning, I made my first of many trips to the Children’s Hospital. Hannah was an extension of wires and tubes. Her heart monitor begged for attention while her vent forced air into her lungs. Just seeing her like that left me emotionally exhausted. It was here that I introduced my husband to his daughter. It was very difficult to go home that night and leave my baby but I had to establish some degree of normalcy before my husband’s scheduled knee surgery the next morning. At 1:00 am, less than 24 hours after Hannah’s surgery, her doctor called to tell me that Hannah needed another surgery in order to sustain her life. ECMO would replace the work of her heart and lungs, allowing her own organs to rest. The side effects could include deafness, blindness, brain hemorrhage, even death. But this was our only hope. Family and friends babysat my sons, chauffeured me to the hospitals, brought food, cleaned my house, and stayed with me through the endless nights. The new week brought good news. Hannah was successfully weaned off ECMO and my husband was released from the hospital. Hannah depended less and less on the vent and on December 23rd, she was completely weaned off and breathing on her own. After a month in the hospital, Hannah came home. That was over four years ago and Hannah is doing Great. She walked before her first birthday and at 18 months, passed her neurological exam with flying colors. By three she was roller-blading and at four she rides her two-wheeler without training wheels. She has a passion for books and loves to read. She has a thirst for learning and enjoys doing her letters and simple math with our computer. This January she stared ballet and tap lessons. Some people think Hannah is quite amazing, I myself think she is quite normal. I attribute her quick learning to the fact that she tries to keep up with her older brothers. I thank god for sharing the miracle of Hannah with us. I’ll never forget the support, the prayers of Job (Job 42:10 The Lord restored his…happiness. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before).