Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Child Is Born


It was midnight when the phone rang. The doctor wanted permission to perform an emergency Caesarean section. “Your wife’s condition is extremely serious. Her kidneys are failing; her liver is failing, and her blood pressure is 210 over 180. We had to medicate her to prevent a stroke. She’s not sufficiently coherent to grant consent for the procedure. The baby has to come out, now.”

Stunned and shaking, I woke my other children, packed them in the car, and raced off to Kapi'olani Medical Center. When we arrived, a nurse handed me a set of scrubs. Apparently, I was going to be permitted to enter the operating room for the birth of my daughter. I dressed and waited, but no one ever called for me. An hour passed. Two nurses emerged from the operating room, pushing an incubator. Kyra had arrived ten weeks early. She weighed only three pounds, six ounces.

I walked with the nurses as they transported my daughter to the neonatal intensive care unit. Kyra appeared lifeless. Her legs were wrapped in white bandages, covering the spots where wires and tubes touched her tiny body. Her head was no bigger than a baseball, her threadlike fingers translucent. I fought the urge to cry and scream; I didn’t want to frighten my other children.

At the neonatal unit, Kyra was unresponsive. The doctor explained that at birth, Kyra was not breathing on her own and had to be resuscitated through the first five minutes of her one-hour life. They felt confident that she was never deprived of oxygen, but they wouldn’t be able to fully assess her condition until the drugs given to her mother to ward off a seizure had passed from her system.

Three hours after our daughter’s birth, Kellie finally exited the operating room and was wheeled into the intensive care unit. The doctors had tremendous difficulty controlling her bleeding. Her surgeon looked exhausted. Kellie’s complexion bore a mask of pale winter grey, a stark contrast to the mottled mess of black and purple that covered the remainder of her body. She looked as if she had been hit by truck.

Kellie was seldom conscious, so I spent my days with my infant daughter. The nurses placed a rocking chair next to the incubator where I took up residence for the next week. I held my daughter whenever the doctor’s allowed, rocking her in the chair, letting her lie against my bare chest so she could feel the warmth of my skin on her face, feeding her from a miniature bottle so that I could wean her from the feeding tube that her medical team had snaked deep into her chest. A card hung over her incubator enumerating the various symptoms and conditions that commonly plague those born too soon. None of the items on Kyra’s card were checked. Scribbled large in bold black marker were the characters “F & G.” I asked a nurse to explain. “It means feed’em and grow’em,” she replied. “Your daughter is small, but healthy. I think she’ll be okay.”

Kellie was not okay; it was day five and her condition had not improved at all. She was getting worse. Even when she was awake, she was hardly aware of her surroundings. Almost in desperation, her doctor began transfusing whole blood. Then, as quickly as this nightmare had begun, it ended. Pink suddenly returned to her cheeks, and Kellie began to recover.

Eight days after giving birth, Kellie came home.  Kyra joined us nine days later. Our pediatrician told us that she would need to monitor our daughter’s progress closely over the next two years to ensure that she met developmental milestones.

Last Thursday evening, the memories of her birth came flooding back; I couldn’t stop them. Once again, I struggled to hold back the tears. Kyra had just left our bedroom after showing her mother and I her grades. On Wednesday, she completed her freshman year at Mission Vista High School, ranked first in her class of 396 students. 
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Click here to view a small album of photos related to this story.


Today's post will be entered in yeah write's weekly writing challenge. Entries will be posted on Tuesday. 


read to be read at yeahwrite.me

38 comments:

  1. Joe, you have such a storytelling gift, whether relating joyful or difficult times. Tears. Congrats Kyra :)

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  2. Frightening, scary, sweet, and victorious all rolled up into one!
    Congrats to your daughter for a job well done!

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  3. Wonderful story--and so great to hear how well things turned out. Congratulations to Kyra. She's a lucky girl to have such great parents.

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  4. I got chills reading this. I think you have an idea of how incredibly lucky you are to have a healthy and developmentally typical child. I see the children every day in my classroom that did not have that same experience that Kyra did. What an awesome story

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    1. I do know how lucky we are, Michel. Ever since Kyra showed us her grades and class rank last week, I haven't been able to stop looking at the pictures from the hospital. I'm just in awe about what she has achieved given where she started from. The outcome could have very easily been much different.

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  5. Kids don't become who they are without good parents. So glad everything has worked out for you guys.

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  6. The detail of the story made me think this was a recent event. When I read the end, I got goosebumps. I was expecting a 2 year update, not a 15 year one. You are an excellent story-teller.

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  7. Tears. I had a traumatic birth experience with my first daughter and almost died. I could see through my husband's eyes as I read your post. Fabulously written. You are a masterful storyteller, Joe. And congrats to Kyra, what an accomplishment!

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  8. I can't even imagine the emotions you went through. To not only risk losing a child, but to see your wife that ill?
    Oh wow.
    I am so happy that things worked out well, and what a smart little cookie you have there.

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  9. Very sweet. I think people forget that even in the 21st century childbirth can be difficult and even dangerous.

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  10. Well told story Joe. Again we have a bit in common. We will tell you the story of our first born when we see you next.
    Congrats to your daughter for her hard work and dedication.

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  11. My heart was racing as I read this post. I can only imagine the terror you must've felt in those hours. I'm glad your wife and daughter were both all right in the end, and congratulations to Kyra! What an accomplishment!

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  12. Damn! Way to bury the lead! Awesome story with a killer ending! Go, Joe! And Kelly! And Kyra! Love this story! Erin

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  13. Ugh, how scary for you! Glad everything turned out alright..

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  14. Such triumph after so much fear...

    Congratulations on her impressive achievement.
    (And on yours and Kellie's too.)

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  15. Wow, that would have been so terrifying. My first baby, Gabe, was born 6 weeks early. My water broke with him and I had to be induced at 34 weeks. He spent 13 days in the NICU and had one year of intervention for some of his physical issues (he didn't use the left side of his body...which is weird since now he's left handed), and he just completed speech therapy (from the age of two until four). It's been a long journey but it was totally worth it.

    I cannot imagine how hard it would have been though to be so worried about your daughter and your wife. Every new post from you makes me admire you a little more!!

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  16. Oh, that ending! I'm welling up over here.
    I'm so happy for her, for you and Kellie. What a beautiful ending to such an uncertain and scary start.

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  17. How powerless you must have felt! So glad that Kellie and Kyra are fine!

    Nice post!

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  18. That is quiet an inspiring tale after a scary beginning. It sounds like everyone has thrived since that unthinkably difficult period.

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  19. What a great ending to a riveting story. How scary that must have been for you and your kids.

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  20. You really can tell a story. Absolutely loved this post.

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  21. I loved this! I hung on every word. What a way to show how quickly time passes! Congratulations to your graduate!

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  22. I was completely drawn into your story. Scary how quickly they grow. I liked that you included the photo album too - between your writing and the photos, I felt like I saw this transpire personally.

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  23. What a beautiful gift for story telling you have! I can't begin to imagine what it must have been to go through this with your wife and child. So happy for the happy ending. And congratulations to your daughter on a wonderful achievement!

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  24. As much as I loved your post from last week, this one was amazing. What a story. Wow. I am so incredibly that it had such a happy ending. You told it so well.

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  25. When I first read this over the weekend I was floored by it. It had no less of an impact on round two. Great post - great story. Congrats to your daughter, and to you and your wife.

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  26. Beautiful Joe! You have so much to be proud of. I just celebrated my daughter's High School graduation and it all came flooding back. Milestones evoke such powerful memories, how bitter sweet this memory is.

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  27. Great storytelling. TIme for you to write a book. So happy it all worked out. How effing scary.

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    1. I want to, Christie, but getting started is the hardest part.

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  28. We sometimes forget that even with all of our medical advances, child-birth is still a risky venture. I'm happy that everything worked out well for all of you.

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  29. Wow, this is an amazing story. It's scary the things that can happen. Women always get all the glory for childbirth, but when things go wrong, I think the husbands possibly suffer the most, fearing the lives of both their wife and their child.

    I'm so glad everything worked out so wonderfully for you!

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  30. I was on the edge of my seat reading this. I'm on my way over to your archives to get the back story...

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  31. This was beautiful... how proud you must be :-)

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  32. Brought back serious memories: my first son was born early and weighed less than 2 pounds (no, that's not a typo). He was in his little plastic nest for 2 months, but ultimately also become a "feeder & grower." Now he's a ferocious 11 year old with an indomitable spirit, sort like your daughter. Sometimes I wonder if those early days shaped their fighting spirit and drive to succeed.

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