Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Begining......

I remember it just like it was yesterday. We had been trying to get pregnant for a while, I had an ectopic pregnancy just a few months earlier, and I knew that there was someone special just waiting to come.

I was managing a local video store, and I had been feeling so exhausted. On my days off I would sleep until noon, and then take a nap around four. So the day that I missed my period I knew. I went to the grocery store that was right next door on my break, and I bought a pregnancy test. I was so scared I was shaking. I wanted another baby so bad, yet I did not want to relive the horrible experience of signing another release form for the doctors to go in and take my baby, so that I could survive.

As I went into the restroom, I remember my stomach feeling like it was doing flip-flops, I took the test and within minutes the double pink line showed up. It was positive. At that moment I knew. I knew that this was going to be far different from the rest of my pregnancies, far different from all of the other births. I just didn't know why.

My first thoughts were that something horrible was going to happen during the pregnancy, like loosing the baby. I was so anxious for those first few weeks. I knew that my doctor would do an ultrasound on the first appointment to make sure that all was well, given my history. We went in, and I remember that it seemed like forever to get back to the ultrasound room. All I wanted to hear was that everything was ok, that the baby was there, that the sac surrounding the baby would be normal, and nothing was wrong.

We finally got back into the ultrasound room, I undressed, and the doctor came in. He put the cold gel on my stomach, and stared scanning my abdomen. I was watching the screen like a hawk, looking for some sign of life. There was nothing there yet, no baby. Just a perfectly round sac. I was ecstatic. It was round! Not misshapen like the last time! It was there as clear as day! But we were not out of the woods yet; we made an appointment for another week for another ultrasound.

This time it should show a baby developing. I still knew in the back of my mind that something was wrong. I just could not shake that feeling. We went back the next week, and there it was a little tiny peanut, growing inside of me. It was no bigger than a pencil eraser, but it was there. I had proof, everything was going well!

We made another appointment for another week; my doctor wanted to see the heartbeat, just to make sure that all was well. I made it about 4 days and then I came home from work because I had been cramping, and I realized that I was bleeding. I was so scared I just sat in the bathroom and cried. I dropped to my knees, and I begged and I pleaded with God to please, PLEASE, let this baby be ok. I could not handle another miscarriage. I promised Him that I would love this baby and take care of it, no matter what the circumstances were. I just wanted this baby to be ok.

The next morning I called in sick to work, and I went back to the doctors. Andy went with me, I think we both expected to be told that this baby was not meant to be, and that I was going to miscarry. My legs were shaking so badly as we walked back to the ultrasound room, and I remember lying on the cold table, thinking that this was it, we were finding out that our baby was gone...

Yet I saw something was going really fast, I looked up at my doctor, and he was smiling. My heart leaped, and I am pretty sure it started beating just as fast as that little peanut on the screen. My baby was OK! The heart was beating! I think I was too stunned to cry, instead I just beamed. He finished scanning everything, and found that I had a small pocket of blood in my uterus, but he assured me that it would go away, and that everything looked fine.

As excited as I was about this, I still had that feeling. I was always worried about all of my pregnancies, you know the normal things, am I eating enough, is the baby healthy, yet I knew that they would be fine. This time it was just so different. I didn't know why, but it was just different.

I went to many a doctor's appointment, but slowed down on the ultrasounds. This was by far the most active baby I had carried. It was constantly moving, or as I called it, rearranging its room. 20 weeks came by so quickly. I had been offered the AFP test, and I told my doctor no, just like I had with all of my other kids, I had enough worries, and if there were problems, it would not change the way I feel, I would not abort the baby. Besides, I am only 26 years old; people my age don't have babies with Down Syndrome! Ha! What are the odds?

Yet that feeling came back again. Something is not normal, and I know it. But again I just push it away. I go in for my 20-week ultrasound, and I do not want to know the sex of the baby. She does all of the measurements, and everything looks fine, and as I am watching, the little snot rolls over, and bares everything to me. This is child number four, I have now become an expert at reading ultrasounds. The tech looked at me, not quite knowing if I realized what had just happened. I grinned and said, "It's a boy, isn't it." "Yep" she says, "it's a boy." "I guess he doesn't want to give me any surprises huh," I said. "Nope" she says, "I guess not". Oh how wrong we both were.

As she countiues the ultrasound, she started scanning his heart. She spent alot of time on it, and I kept asking her if it was ok. She told me that it was, but it was just hard to get a good look at it, because he was moving so much. She called the doctor in, and he looked for a few minutes, said it was all fine, labeled the four chambers, patted my leg, and left.

I knew that something was wrong. I knew that they were mistaking. In all of my other pregnancies, they had never spent that long on the heart. Yet these people were professionals, who do this every day, they know what they are looking for why should I not trust them?

Over the next few weeks I contracted alot, I knew that they were braxton hicks contractions, so I just let them be. I was just so amazed at how much this baby moved. It was non-stop. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and my stomach would be moving all over the place, you could even see it through my pajamas, and the blankets. The whole blanket would just move. I remember thinking that I was really in for it. This baby was going to be a ball of fire!

As I got further along I remember thinking how it was so odd, that I could still wear my regular clothes. I went in at around 30 weeks for another ultrasound, the heartbeat was always up really high on my stomach, and they started suspecting that this baby was breech. Which made alot of sense to me, as it always felt like the baby was going to "fall out". There was not a whole kicking going on around my ribs where it should have been. Most of it was happening around my pelvis, and tailbone.

Sure enough, the little stinker had his head lodged up in the right side of my ribs, and his little feet were kicking away down where the head should be. Once again, my doctor kept looking at his heart. I remember asking somewhere close to ten times if everything was ok with his heart. I kept getting the same reply that it was just fine, and that they were just trying to get him to hold still long enough to take some good measurements.

I was told that the baby was small, they wanted me to come in for another ultrasound in 2 weeks. I knew that things were not right, and to this day, I still ask myself why I did not say something, and ask for further tests. Maybe it's because God knew that I could not handle everything at that time in my life, or maybe it was because Andy couldn't. For whatever the reason, I took their word, and left the office feeling uneasy again.

As the days went by, I knew that I was not getting any bigger. When I went in for the next ultrasound, the tech kept asking me if I had ever had any low birth weight babies. I felt like she was accusing me of not taking care of my baby, I snapped "NO!" at her. "ALL of my babies have been either 8 lbs. or really close to it!"

I knew that something was wrong, and I wanted to know what they were hiding from me. She told me that the baby was measuring small, and the amniotic fluid was low. I asked her what she meant by that, I asked her what was wrong, she just ignored me and said, it is probably nothing, just maybe a miscalculation of my due date. She said that I was probably only 28 weeks rather than 32 weeks.

I wanted to jump off of the table and yell at her...."How can that be! We have followed this pregnancy with ultrasounds since day one! We saw the heart beat just a day or two after it started!!! HOW on EARTH can you say that nothing is wrong with my baby!!!!" Instead I just calmly asked to speak to my doctor.

He came in and told me that as for now it all looked fine, the fluid was a little low but not anything to be concerned about, as far as the weight went, he could not be sure, but he thought that everything should be fine. I kept hearing these words, and my mind was processing them, but my heart kept screaming that things were not ok.

At this point my doctor decided to do weekly ultrasounds, and non-stress tests. We also discussed that my best option for delivery would be a C-section. He said that he did not feel comfortable trying to turn the baby, with the low fluid it would be a risk to the baby. He decided that we would just continue to monitor the situation.

I went in the next week, and had another ultrasound. Again I got the same answers, low birth weight, low fluid and breech. The heart rate was good, and everything seemed well so we were to come back again in a week.

This next time I was thirty-four and a half weeks, and I was feeling lousy. I barley had any energy, and this kid will NOT stop moving. I got comments at work, about how they could see my shirt moving, and at the time I did not think it was so cute! There was one point during that week, that he moved non-stop for 8 hours straight one night. My stomach was so sore to touch, and I just wanted to cry because I hurt so badly.

We went in that week, for another ultrasound. I was so sick of this by then, they were becoming painful, and I just did not want to be touched. This time, my doctor sat there very quietly and was not himself. I was told that he did not like what he saw. He kept asking me if I was leaking any fluid or contracting. I told him I was having contractions, but not regular, and I was not leaking fluid.

He just sat there with his brow furrowed for what seemed like eternity, all the while, I am thinking what is wrong, why won't he talk to me? Last time this happened I ended up in emergency surgery, and loosing my baby. I can't even begin to tell you all of the thoughts that were running through my head. I was so frightened. This time it was a baby that I had carried for nearly nine months, I could not handle loosing this child.

I once again found myself closing my eyes and asking God to let this baby be ok, and once again telling Him, that I would love this child unconditionally, just to please let him survive, and let him be ok.

My doctor finally looked at me and told me that I needed to go home and be on bed rest. He said that he had to really struggle to get any type of reading on the amniotic fluid. I was to drink alot of water, and not do anything. I followed his directions, and went home.

My mom and my sister came over to help me with my then three-year-old, and to get my boys off to school. Andy was trying to save his vacation for when the baby got here, and truthfully I was glad to be alone. It gave me alot of time to reflect.

I kept thinking about all of the things that could be going wrong, trying to pinpoint exactly what it was that I was feeling. Was I afraid the baby was going to die? A little. Was I afraid that he was going to be really sick at birth? Yes, I think I knew he was. Did I think he was going to have a disability? No not really. I honestly thought it was going to be something far more serious than that.

A few days later I went back to the doctor, and he did an exam on me this time, as well as another ultrasound. It was probably the most painful exam I have ever had. After all there were two little feet down there rather than a head, and those little feet were constantly kicking, and moving around. To be honest I am surprised he did not fall out right then and there.

I was dilated to a 2, and the fluid was still really low. I was sent home with the understanding that if I had any contractions, or any fluid leaking I was to go straight to the hospital. The next day I started having regular contractions, and then I some green discharge. I called the doctors office, and he told me to come in.

He did another examination, and told me that my water had broke, we needed to get to the hospital to have our baby. He did another ultrasound, and yes the baby was still breech, so now it became a little more urgent, as there was the chance that now that my water had broke, the umbilical cord could fall out. C-section here I come.

We arrived at the hospital, and got settled into a room. It was about 6:00 p.m. by this time. One of the nurses, who just happened to be a really good friend of mine, started looking around for the heartbeat up where it normally was and could not find it. She went lower, and there it was. I looked at her and was awfully confused. I told her that it had not been down that far my whole pregnancy.

She grinned, and said, "Do you think he flipped?" My words were, "I sure hope so! If he did then that means I don't have to get my tubes tied, and Andy has to have a vasectomy!!!!" I am surprised Andy did not punch me.

She went and got the ultrasound machines, and sure enough in the 45 minutes that it took us to get from the doctors office, to being admitted in the hospital, he had turned, and his little head was right where it should be.

They decided to start me on some pitocin to get things going a little faster. They wanted my labor to be quick. They put in an internal fetal monitor, and did an amniotic effusion, where they put fluid up around the baby, to help cushion some of the contractions. This helps so the uterus does not clamp down on the umbilical cord too hard.

I remember lying there, watching the contractions on the monitor, and wondering why they were so high, yet I wasn't having much pain. His heart rate stayed good for a while, and then it started dipping with each contraction, not much just a little, but it would always jump right back up to where it should be.

Andy was so excited. He was jumpy and bouncing around, laughing and joking with all of the nurses. I wasn't in much physical pain, but my heart knew that something was not right, that something was wrong. I wanted to scream at him to stop it; didn't he realize what was going on? Didn't he realize that things were not right with our baby?

Of course he didn't, he was going to have another son. We had talked about this son; we had chosen the name Rhett, because it sounded strong. This child was going to be a football player; he was going to be the quarterback on the high school football team. He was going to play baseball, and he would wrestle too. He was going to be Rhett the ladies man. All of the girls were going to fall all over him. We had chosen Rhett...because it sounded strong...yes, very strong indeed.

Finally the contractions were getting stronger, and they were getting uncomfortable. I was only dilated to a four, and it was almost midnight. I asked for an epidural, the call went in to the anesthesiologist, he came in and proceeded to do administer the epidural. It was the same old thing, the cold wipe, the iodine, the sheet across the back, the first little shot to numb the area, then the big stick, and the crackling sound as it went in.

All was better now, for me anyway, I was not feeling anything, but yet I noticed that the nurse was not leaving either. She was standing by the computer screen watching it so close. I too was watching. With every contraction, the heart rate was dropping to the 90's then the 80's. It was having a hard time coming back up.

The nurse came over and put some oxygen on me. Flipped me over to one side, watched for a minute, and then the heart rate really dropped, I remember her saying "ok. Ok. I get it, you don't want momma to lay on that side...." At that point the heart rate dropped to the 30's, but this time it did not come back up, the nurse hit a button and a bunch of people came in, all of the sudden, everything became a blur.

They told me that I needed to get up on my hands and knees, but they did not want me to move. They wanted to do it for me. There were about 6 people around my bed flipping me over. This still did not help; the heart rate was not coming back up. One nurse yelled if someone had called the doctor, and someone said yes, then another person asked if the NICU team was on their way, I heard another yes. While I was on my hands and knees my nurse checked me, I was complete.

The person who was standing up at the top of my bed, grabbed my face, and said "we are going to turn you back on your back, I want you to push as hard as you can and get this baby out. He needs to come out." I nodded my head yes, while they were turning me, I think I was already pushing.

I was so scared, I just remember pushing so hard, I was so determined to have this baby and to do it fast. Andy had disappeared in the whirlwind of activity, and all of the people in the room. I think he just stood back and let everyone do their jobs. I wanted him next to me, but I knew that this baby needed me to focus on pushing. I know I pushed for one full count of ten, and then I think I got to five, the next time. His head came out, and then the rest of his body. They didn't even have time to suction him. He was so small. The nurses had to deliver him. It all happened so fast. One minute I was dilated to a four, and the next I was watching my baby being rushed to the warmer, only to be surrounded by doctors and nurses. The time frame of this was only a short fourteen minutes, but it had seemed like an eternity.

He did not cry at first, and I kept asking if he was ok, they told me yes, I was asking Andy what they were doing to him, he told me that he was breathing, he was pink, and man was he tiny! He finally started crying I was so excited to hear that little itty-bitty cry.

He was retracting a little bit, but not bad. The NICU team decided that he would be fine. He could go to the regular nursery, just to be watched to make sure that he could maintain his body temperature. They wrapped him up in his blankets and brought him over to me. There was no indication that anything was wrong with him. Each one of the nurses were falling all over him, telling me he was just perfect.

I couldn't wait to see him. They laid him on my chest, and I looked right at him. He was beautiful, but his eyes were different, and the bridge of his nose was flat, not rounded like my other kids. He looked just like our other son Hunter did at birth, except for the eyes and his nose. He sat there in my arms, and we watched each other. He kept sticking his tongue out at me, and tasting his blanket. I talked to him, and told him how much I loved him; I told him that I was so lucky to be his mommy. I smiled up at Andy, and knew that he was just as in love as I was. He was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. I almost asked the nurse if he looked like he had Down Syndrome, but then I thought twice, because Andy was standing right above me, he was just beaming. I could not bring myself to ask anyone about it.

They transferred me to the mother baby unit; Andy went to go be with Rhett. They bathed him, and Andy took lots of pictures. He would come back into the room, and show them to me. I kept asking him if they thought he was ok. He was always so positive, and was just so excited, he would tell me that Rhett was fine, he was just staying in the nursery to keep warm.

Andy went home that night around 2:30 am, after once again telling me that Rhett was fine. But I just laid there in bed, wondering why they would not bring him to me. I knew something was wrong. My nurse would come in and do my vitals, and I kept asking her if my baby was ok. She too just kept telling me that he was fine, they were just observing him. My insides were screaming, all I wanted was to see my baby, and hold him in my arms, tell him that I love him, that I will always be there for him.

There were other babies in the unit, crying those glorious newborn cries. They got to be in the rooms with their mothers, why wasn't anyone bringing my child to me? Finally around 5:00 am my nurse came in and confirmed all of my fears, they were transferring Rhett up to the NICU because his breathing had taken a turn for the worse.

I waited until around 6:30 am to call Andy and let him know. It still did not affect him the way it was affecting me. To him it was no big deal, yet to me I was hurting so badly on the inside. Nobody had offered to take me up to see him, he was only one floor away, and yet here I was stuck in my bed, with all of these horrible thoughts running through my head. I was so alone.

I knew that he had Down Syndrome, and I knew that somehow I was going to have to tell Andy, yet I was so afraid of what he would say. Would he love him like he did all of our other kids? From the first time I had met Andy, he had always told me that God was going to "curse" him with a disabled child. Yet, as I sat there thinking about this, I realized that the last two or maybe three years, he had changed the word "curse" to "bless." Surely God was preparing him for this.

Andy got back to the hospital around 8:00 that morning, he stopped by to see me, then went straight up to the NICU. When he came back down to my room, I was jumping all over him asking a bunch of questions, was he ok? Was he breathing on his own? Was there anything wrong with his heart. He told me that all was well, there were a few things they were doing, but he was awake, and moving around, he was sucking on the side of his oxygen hood, he was already making everyone laugh.

He told me that Rhett's body was making too many red blood cells, his blood was the consistency of oil. They were going to give him an infusion, where they take some of the blood out, then mix it with a saline solution to thin it, they would then put it back in his body. This way, it could pump through the body and heart like it should.

Then he told me they were going to send off a chromosome test. I looked at him, because I knew that my suspicions had just been confirmed. He said it so casually, I knew that there was no way he understood what that meant. I asked him, I asked him if he knew what they were checking for, he told me no. My heart sank for my husband. I could not look at him when I told him that they were checking for Down Syndrome.
When I finally looked up at him, his eyes were wide, and he was in shock. I did not know how he would deal with this.

I knew that I would be fine. It really did not bother me. I just wanted Rhett to be ok. Down Syndrome would not hurt my child. It would just make him my child, whom happened to have an extra chromosome! I asked him if he would go get me a wheel chair so that I could go up and see my little boy. He was so tiny, yet I think he was one of the biggest babies up there. He was just a mere 4 lbs. 4 oz, and only 16 inches long, but what a beautiful child he was! He was lying in a warmer with a head box over him. I had never been in the NICU before, it was so overwhelming.

His nurse explained everything to me, the wires, the headbox that was giving him oxygen, how much oxygen he was requiring, and then the chromosome test. That was when another nurse came over and told me that she did not think that he had Down Syndrome. He just did not have enough markers. She said that even the admitting doctor did not think that he had it, and almost regretted sending the chromosome test off in the first place.

I explained to her that it was very kind of her to say that, but I was pretty sure he did have it, and not to feel sorry for him or me because I was ok with it. He was my child and I had loved him from the moment he was conceived, from the first sign that there was a life inside of me. They could tell me anything they wanted, but nothing was ever going to change the way that I felt about this special little boy.

I asked once again about his heart, was anything wrong with it? I was told that they had done an EKG, this had shown that right side of the heart was enlarged, but they were attributing it to the fact that his blood was so thick. They were thinking that the blood was having a hard time pumping through the heart, and this was the reason why it had become enlarged, because it was working overtime. They had also done an Echocardiogram and everything looked good from there too.

Yet when they were telling me this I knew that it was just not right. I started trying to convince those and myself around me, that everything was fine with his heart. If he did have Down Syndrome, we had beaten the odds of having the heart defect, and the intestinal problems! So why did I feel so rotten? I am sure all of the staff in that NICU was so sick of me asking about his heart. I knew, oh I knew there was something wrong, deep down inside, even though I just kept trying to hide it.

The days wore on, and I became accustomed to the NICU life, then it was time for me to go home. I was in the room, packing all of Rhett's things, loading up the empty carseat, and watching all of the other mom's going home with their babies. When Andy got there, I just sat there and cried in his arms. All I wanted to do was go home with my baby. Not leave him in the hospital for strangers to take care of him.

We were only about a half an hour away, but the agony of it all just was horrible. My heart felt like it was going to break in two, not only for me, but for my other children as well. They wanted him home just as bad as I did.

We rented a pump, and I started the ritual of pumping every 2 to 3 hours. I would go in and feed him, then go pump afterwards. Rhett really struggled with breastfeeding. He was so tiny, and my breasts were so big, it was hard for him to latch on. We tried using a nipple shield, but it just seemed like it was too much for him.

He did well from a bottle; he drank like a champ. However, I kept pumping, in hopes that he would soon grow big enough to nurse. Even if he was getting it through a bottle, at least it was breastmilk, and he was getting those very important antibodies.

I spent my days with my daughter, going back and forth to the NICU, dropping her off at the daycare in the hospital, while I went in and fed Rhett. Then I would get home in time for my two older boys to come home from school. I would get them dinner, so that when Andy got home, we could drop the kids off at my mom's, and we would head back to the hospital.

I got to a point where I was so sick of the nurses telling me how to take care of my baby, I just started going in, and doing my own thing. I would pick him up when he woke up, give him a bottle, record how much he ate and when, then put him down long after he went back to sleep. Andy would sit at his bedside for hours reading him Dr. Seuss stories. It was amazing to see Rhett respond to the little voices that Andy would make for each character.

On our rides home Andy and I would talk about what we would do if the diagnosis came back positive for Down Syndrome. He told me that he was not afraid of Rhett having Down Syndrome, just afraid that he would have to protect him. He was afraid how he would react the first time somebody made fun of Rhett. As the days wore on, I think Andy became a little more accustomed to the fact that having a child with Down Syndrome was going to be a wonderful journey. After all, he was going to have a fishing buddy for life!!

The Sunday before Rhett was to come home we were sitting in a restaurant with my mom and my sister. We still had not received the diagnosis yet. As we were eating a family came in with a boy who was about 15 years old. You could tell that this boy was BIG into motorcycles, he was so funny talking about them. I didn't even have to turn around to tell that he had Down Syndrome. Andy just sat there smiling at this boy and his dad. I knew then that everything would be ok, and I thank God everyday for sharing that family with us.

We went to the hospital that night and did our routine, but everything was so peaceful this time, there was no more tension, no more wondering if we were going to be ok. Just knowledge that things were just as they should be.

The next morning the doctors were talking of releasing him, if he could wake up on his own, and nurse on demand. Plans were made for me to spend the night in the hospital, so that I could be there to feed him. As I was sitting there with the Doctor discussing things, she told us that she had scheduled for a pediatric cardiologist to come in that night and do a quick echocardiogram on Rhett's heart. My heart sunk again, knowing deep down that she would find something.

I brushed the feeling aside, and asked if she had seen the results of the chromosome test. It had been nearly two weeks since it had been done, surely they had the results by now. She left for a few minutes and came back with one of the social workers. As soon as I saw them I knew that it was positive.

As I reflect on that day, I think they thought I was going to fall to pieces when they told me the news. I know they were very shocked when I told them that I was one of the most blessed people, for God had chosen me and my husband to take care of, and love one of his perfect little angels.

I asked her if she would tell Andy when he got there. This way if he was mad at someone for giving him news he did not want to hear, he would not be mad at me. When he got to the hospital, I handed him Rhett, while I went to the pumping room. When I got back the curtains were closed, and he was sitting there holding Rhett as tight as he could crying. All he could say was, "I love him so much, I just love him so much." He was not sad; he was just as much in love with him as I was.

As we sat there and enjoyed our time with Rhett that night, we were brought back into the real world, by the cardiologist. She pulled up, with the Echo machine, and started to perform the Echo. As I watched it, I was worried. I had that horrible feeling again. Andy looked at the screen, and pointed to a huge space. I will never forget his words... "That isn't supposed to be there, is it."

The cardiologist went on to explain that our son had an Atrioventricular septal defects (AV Canal), and a Ventricular septal defect (VSD). An AV canal is a large hole in the center of the heart. This means that the walls between the two upper chambers (the atria) and the two lower chambers (the ventricles), as well as the valves between them, were deformed. The large opening in the center of the heart allows the red oxygenated blood to mix with low-oxygen blood and return to the lungs. This extra effort then causes the heart to enlarge. The body receives less oxygen since it receives red blood that is mixed with low-oxygen blood. Most babies with AV canal grow very slowly and stay very small. Because of the high volume of blood that is pumped into the lungs, this results in high blood pressure in the lungs, which then leads to damage to the lungs and blood vessels.

We were told that our son would have to have open-heart surgery by the time he was 6 months old, or twelve pounds, whichever came sooner. The world had to have spun around me at least ten times before I could even speak. I just sat there and asked if she was sure. How could this be? What about all of the ultrasounds, the EKG's, the other ECHO'S! They all showed nothing!!

After the echo was done, I fed Rhett, and laid him down for the night. I kissed him and told him that I was so sorry. I told him if I could take away the pain and make everything better I would. I told him he better put up a good fight, and come through that surgery with flying colors. Then I went to my room, and I cried. I cried like I have never done before. I was beyond hysterical. I scared Andy. I scared myself. I just couldn't stop.

How was I going to give my baby to someone, knowing what they were going to do to him? I had been ok, until the cardiologist mentioned the words heart lung bypass machine. I do not know how I made it through that night. I think it was his nurse that was there taking care of him, that made me finally feel better.

I came up to feed him, She looked at me with tears in her eyes, choked up, and said, " I see alot of babies come in and out of here, some with Down Syndrome, and some without. You and your husband have got to be some of the most loving and sincere parents I have ever met. The love that you are showing this little boy now, will get him through anything he will have to endeavor." I knew then that I could do it. I will never forget her.

The next day Andy and I both stayed at the hospital, this time Rhett was in the room with us, we had to take care of him on our own. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that he was not going to be hooked up to a million machines, just me my husband and our baby. It was a wonderful night, knowing that we were going to take our baby home the next morning.

The night was a success, and the next day we were able to go home and begin our journey together as a family. We have had our ups and downs, but if I ever had the choice to go to Italy, or just hang out in Holland, I would have to choose Holland. It is amazing how Rhett has shown me how not to take the little things for granted anymore. Not just with him, but in life itself.

As I sit back and think of my pregnancy, the birth, and the diagnosis, I marvel at our abilities as parents to handle all of the stresses that come with raising a child. I never was upset about Rhett's Down Syndrome diagnosis. But Andy and I both did the natural thing and grieved for the child that we thought we were going to have. The one with the perfect heart, the star quarter back of the football team.

Rhett will still do many things, he will go camping with us, he will go four wheeling with us, he will play baseball, but most of all he will teach us, how to laugh, how to love, and how to be better people. I love my son with all of my heart. He is so special and dear to me. Our family is truly blessed to have an angel with us here on earth.


Princess Morgan said...

Such a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing such raw emotion. I found myself in tears & smiling with joy. Rhett is one very lucky boy to have you for his Mommy!

Michelle - Momma to 2 Muffins - Soon to be 3! said...

Again, beautiful. I'm glad that you shared!

amy flege said...

all those emotions gave me goosebumps girl!! that was wonderful. thank yo for sharing!

Kei said...

Beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. You inspired me to put William's on my blog. (((HUGS)))

Megan said...

That was wonderful Pam!

Megan & Abby

mum2brady said...

Awww - beautiful Pam!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written!! I had tears pouring down my face as i read it!
Thanks for sharing Rhett's birth story.
Jo and Jackson

Mrs Wibbs said...

Oh Pam, I have LOVED reading through your story tonight! I think it's made me fall in love with Rhett even more... And it also brought back many memories of how it was during my pregnancy with Tom, and his birth and everything that happened after. Bittersweet memories, certainly a very special time.