Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strength - Part 2

A new room completed our new beginning the next day. The glorious sun shown bright through the wall of windows. I felt stronger, was starting to move more and needed less help getting out of bed. Ben's jaundice levels were still the same, but overall he was a healthy baby. I read the tear stained pamphlets and, after Paul pulled some strings at the hospital, the blood test to confirm Ben's secret was scheduled for the next morning. 
I remember laying in the hospital bed while everyone left to get something to eat that evening. It was the first time I had been left alone. I remember thinking to myself, "Gosh, I'm really cold." I tried to get out of bed to turn off the air conditioning but couldn't. I tried to find the nurses call button hanging on the side of my bed. I could see it, but couldn't reach it. I started to get colder and colder. So cold that I was shivering. Finally, I was able to send Micah a text message despite the lack of signal in our new room. He gave me the number to the hospital's front desk and I was able to get a nurse to get me a blanket. I was feeling fine when Micah and his mom came back to the room. We made the decision to have Micah go home and sleep in a comfortable bed while Beverly stayed with me that night. 
I remember being able to hear the blood flowing through my ears and feel my heartbeat through my chest. I assumed it was normal. After all, I had never had major surgery before. 
Benjamin's last feeding was at 2:30am. I was told to skip the rest because of the upcoming blood test and I would be able to feed him again at 8:30 the next morning. 
The nurse making rounds to check vitals stopped me in the hallway on the way back to my room after that 2:30 feeding. She checked my pulse and said my heart was beating entirely too fast. She told me to go lay down and rest. She came back a little while later, checked it again and said it was better. 
"Finally, I can sleep." So I thought... 
I don't remember a time a nurse wasn't in my room for the next 4 hours. They took my blood twice, checked my vitals every few minutes and by 5:30am I had an IV in my arm waiting for a blood transfusion. I didn't know what was going on. Nobody ever told me why I needed blood. 
I remember feeling so overwhelmed I couldn't see straight. My questions weren't getting answered, my husband wasn't there and I couldn't get out of bed to turn off the overhead lights the nurses left on. 
I hadn't slept since Monday. 
My new nurse for the day came in to check on me. 
I felt like a medical experiment. I wanted somebody to tell me I was more than just a body laying there. I needed somebody to tell me what was going on. 
A little compassion would've been nice. 
At 7:45am a bag of blood was rolled in. I told the nurses I was supposed to feed my son at 8:30. 
"This is more important." This?! What exactly is "this?" But, I couldn't get those words out. Why couldn't I feed my son?    
My thoughts rang in my ears louder than the blood flow I had been hearing. 
I lost it. 
I broke down. 
I've never cried that hard before. 
I yelled across the room for Beverly to call Micah. 
As they were hooking me up to the bag I remember hearing Beverly say, "Oh, you'll be happy to see who's here." 
It was Paul. 
Answers. Finally.
He sat down on my bed and I cried so hard I couldn't see him. He grabbed my hand and explained that my hemoglobin levels had gotten all the way down to 5 (normal is 10; dangerous is 7).  He compared his arm to mine and said my coloring was way off. He asked me how I was feeling and I mustered up the answer, "I really feel fine." He chuckled and said, "Well, you'll probably feel a lot better after this" as he pointed to the bag. 
In other words, I was sick and didn't know it and there was power in that blood.  
Micah finally got there and I had calmed down enough to tell him the events of the long night. 
The blood transfusion lasted all day. I wasn't allowed to leave my room. 
But, Paul was right. I really felt a lot better after two bags of blood. 
So, if you've ever donated A+ blood.. Thank you. 
Your donation may have saved my life. 

April fools day 2011 was one I'll never forget.
It wasn't easy.
God is good. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Strength

I've got a lot to share, so I figured I'd get a head start. If you've been on my Facebook page you may have read something similar to this in one of my notes. 
Here we go... My Benjamin's story.

It was early in the morning on March 29th, 2011, when I started having contractions. I remember laying in bed and staring at the bright red numbers on my alarm clock.
 20 minutes apart... 15 minutes apart... 10 minutes apart. 
That's when I got out of bed. 
I kept thinking, "Don't wake up Micah until you have to. He needs his rest." So, I called my doctor and he told me to come on in to get checked. (I have the best doctor in the world, by the way. I babysat Paul Lin's kids for six years and here he was taking care of me and my blessing. Awesome.) 
We went in and, lo and behold, my water had broken and it was time. 
We were having a baby! 
We rushed back home to grab our bag. Micah stopped to get himself some breakfast. My head told me to eat something, but my stomach was full of knots. 
Off we went. We parked across the street and that turned out to be the first of many long walks. 
Everything was progressing normally. I got an epidural right away and they put me on pitocin to speed the process up a little because we weren't sure how long I had been without fluid. 
Benjamin didn't like pitocin. His heart rate began to drop and I was given an oxygen mask. 


Nurses checked on me every few hours. I went from 2 to 5 centimeters relatively quickly. And then stopped. For hours. Every time someone checked me it was the same. 
"Still a 5."
 Paul came in about 6:30pm to see what was going on. He checked me and noticed Ben was coming out face first. Not okay. After a sonogram to make sure, we made the quick decision to have a c-section. 


The anesthesiologist came in with the stronger drugs. "Nope. I can't feel a thing." 
And, off we went to the operating room.


 Benjamin Popejoy Webb was born Tuesday, March 29th, 2011, at 7:16pm. 5 pounds, 11 ounces; 18 inches long. I remember them taking him to the table and using some sort of contraption to make him breathe. 




He didn't cry for a few minutes and I was scared. The anesthesiologist standing behind me reassured me that everything was fine.


 He was right. 
There it was - the first cry. 
What a beautiful song. 



Micah brought him over to show me. 
The last thing I remember was asking him if he was cute. 


My body freaked out. I was shaking so uncontrollably that they had to give me something to knock me out. 
The next thing I knew, we were back in the room we started in. Ben was wrapped up in a blanket and had the cutest little hat on. 


I was still shaking so uncontrollably I could barely hold my baby. 
But, it was bliss. He was perfect. 
He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. 






That first night was magical. I stayed up and just stared. I couldn't believe he was mine. I thanked God over and over. Ben and I snuggled and drifted off to sleep for a couple of hours before the nurse came in the next morning for his check up. 
He was gone a long time. A very long time
While he was gone, we were moved to a different room. I was in a lot of pain, but I didn't care. It was worth it. 

Ben was finally brought back to us. 
I was in heaven watching Micah bond with his little boy. 
They were made for each other. 


A few hours later, the pediatrician came in and told us Benjamin's jaundice levels were high and he was going to be taken to the NICU and put under a light. We were reassured that it wasn't an unusual occurrence and he just needed a tan. 
It was a strange feeling not being able to get myself out of bed. We walked the slow walk back and forth to the NICU several times so I could feed him. 



I had just gotten done feeding my Benjamin when the nurse practitioner sat down beside me. It was 10:30pm. I was absolutely exhausted and was looking forward to getting some rest that night. I hadn't really slept since Monday. 

I'll never forget the way her voice shook when she told me the pediatrician had noticed some features that "led him to believe Ben could have Down Syndrome." I was alone. Micah had stepped outside to greet his cousin who had flown in from North Carolina. He came back to find tear stained pamphlets in my hand. She said it again. I heard it twice.
 Part of me wanted to tear those papers apart and slap that nurse in the face. 
My heart ached. 
I couldn't move. 
I remember Micah saying he'd be right back, but I had to get out of there. 
I got out of the rocking chair as fast as the nurse could help me. I tried so hard to look at my son still laying under that blue light. 
I couldn't.
I shuffled to the door as everyone watched. 
I remember seeing Micah staring at me from the other side. He opened the door for me and I fell into his arms. I remember trying to say something. 
I couldn't. 
All I could do was cry. 
I remember wishing I could run away. 
I couldn't. 
I could barely walk. 
I had to face the people staring at me in the waiting room whether I wanted to or not. 
It was silent. At least to me. If anyone said anything, I didn't hear them. I remember the hugs and the tears. 
I had to get out of there. 
It was a long walk back to our room. Micah and I cried the whole way back. We got back and sat on the couch together. I remember trying to say something.
I couldn't. 
I remember Micah saying, "That means I can't teach him to fly." 
My heart ached. 

It was a long night. Micah went home to try and sleep. His cousin, Christina, stayed with me. I tried to sleep. 
I couldn't. 
I clung to my pillow like my life depended on it. 
It wasn't easy.
God is good. 

I remember the sun coming in through the window the next morning.
 I've never felt so at peace in my life. 
I visited Ben all throughout the day. 

He was perfect. 
Absolutely perfect. 



God is good. 
All the time.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beginning

"The test is going to be positive." I remember holding Ben in my arms when the pediatrician's nurse said that before the blood test had even come back. Up until then, it had all been speculation. As we slowly were telling immediate family members we would say things like, "Well, they think he might;" "It's just features;" "We don't know for sure." It wasn't that I was in denial. I knew in my heart it was true, but it wasn't until that moment that I fully accepted the fact that my son had Down Syndrome. 
We were able to breathe a sigh of relief after that visit. We finally knew. We came home and made the appropriate phone calls. Most were positive reactions. "Oh, he's just perfect;" "He has such special parents;" "He's going to bring you so much joy." 
There was one reaction that I thought I was ready for. I wasn't. "Why?" 
Why?! Why!!? I didn't know why. The only answer I could muster was, "Well, it's just a God thing." I remember pondering that question and crying. I really didn't know why. All I knew was that he was perfect. He was my son. He was a gift from God. Why did I have to know why he was different? It didn't really matter anyway. 

Our normal is different than yours. If you had asked us when we got married where we thought we'd be in four years, we probably wouldn't have told you, "Micah will be in Afghanistan working for the military as a civilian contractor while Amber stays in Longview taking care of our son with Designer genes." It's been a wild four years. Join me as I write about our experiences - past, present and future.