Encouragement, Health, Life Is Beautiful

The Miracle of Premature Birth

God is good. It’s a simple phrase of three words that we hear often. It’s usually followed by “all the time.” Right now, for me, the phrase reminds me of a raw fear I felt 13 years ago at this time. Thirteen years ago on this day, I was a few days post-op from having my first Crohn’s-related surgery.

It had been a painful time leading up to this emergent surgery. I had months earlier happily discovered I was expecting my second child, something I had been hoping for. I knew almost as soon as the early pregnancy test showed a faint positive that Fourth of July, that this pregnancy was very different from my first.

I was sick…morning, noon, and night sickness for three months that ended when the real pain began. I had such severe abdominal pain that by the time evening arrived each day, I was literally crawling to bed because I was in too much pain to stand upright.

Doctor visits and ultrasounds revealed an intestinal narrowing–an unfortunate but common occurrence in Crohn’s patients. The plan? Wait it out and see what came first–delivery or bowel perforation. I prayed for a healthy delivery.

I prayed for my children before they were ever conceived. I had been blessed with a perfect first pregnancy, delivery, and longevity with breastfeeding, something that was of incredible importance to me, for obvious reasons but also because I’d read that the longer I nursed my babies, the stronger their immune systems would become and the smaller the chance they’d develop Crohn’s disease.

But now fervent prayer kicked in. I knew the longer my baby was nestled in my womb, the better off he’d be. (Yes, he. We found out on my daughter’s fourth birthday that we were having a little boy!) Every week when I marked the next week along in my pregnancy (week 22, 23, etc.), I prayed for ten more weeks. I knew with the strides made in modern medicine that early 30s in weeks of gestation offered a great chance for a healthy baby.

I was due March 12, the birthdays of my nephew and best friend, but in mid-January I was hospitalized with pre-term labor and intense abdominal pain. As the baby grew, the inflammation got worse and as the inflammation got worse, the pregnancy became more dangerous to us both.  The waiting game continued as I was sent home with prayers that I’d be able to carry him a few more weeks, at least. But my boy’s birthday came much earlier than planned. At 34 weeks gestation, I was being rushed to the hospital late one night in severe pain, worse than it’d ever been. The perforation, as it turned out, came before the baby and I underwent surgery to remove a portion of my intestines. The surgeon later told me that he patted my son’s precious head while performing the surgery. Days following this surgery were brutal. I was in terrible pain and didn’t want to risk taking much medication for pain relief. I was suffering and a week later, still hospitalized with the hopes of being discharged with a chance to begin to recover and schedule a C-section to safely deliver my son.

God had other plans and exactly one week to the day after the first surgery I was still hospitalized and found myself being rushed into the OR to deliver my son by emergent C-section. Although the hospital I was in wasn’t equipped to deliver a baby of his too-early gestation, we had no choice. The closest one that was equipped for premature deliveries was an hour’s drive away and I couldn’t risk delivering “naturally” in an ambulance en route. In a flurry of panicked medical personnel (something that gave me a feeling of foreboding immediately), C-section commenced. My son was delivered and wasn’t breathing. Within seconds, his father (a respiratory therapist) got him breathing. Relief. But when he started breathing, my breathing stopped. For reasons they wouldn’t discover until later, I was suddenly rendered unresponsive for the next several hours. However, in the many minutes following his birth–as doctor after doctor rushed into the OR to try to determine what was wrong with me–I could hear every word that was spoken.

I can’t say I had an out-of-body experience, although I could tell where every person was positioned in the room. I recalled exact words that were spoken, every test they performed trying to solve the mystery of why I stopped breathing and was coding. I later retold the story in exact detail of who did and said what, even their gestures. I did not think I was dying. I had decided while I was “out” that since I hadn’t seen my Mom come to greet me, then I was going to survive this. Meanwhile, the doctors had told my family who was in the waiting room that he didn’t think I was going to make it.

But again, God had other plans. Despite many medical mistakes made that day, my son and I survived. My little preemie was tiny, jaundiced, and we both had bottomed out with our sugar levels, and my organs were quickly shutting down due to an adrenal crisis caused by a major mistake. But by His grace, we are here and I am telling our story. It humbles me, what happened. It marvels me. It makes me so very grateful.

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My tiny 4 pound, 3 ounce boy was ready to leave the hospital before I was able to and on Valentine’s Day that year, we brought our tiny bundle home. He was a fighter and I had known early on that God had special plans for this boy. He is beautiful and tall, funny and tender-hearted, creative and athletic. Though this boy had a rough start and had to fight for his very survival before he even made his debut into this world, God has protected him.  When I look at him sometimes, I know how blessed we are and I am moved to tears. I know how sick I was, less than 110 pounds when he was born. I know how tentative the situation was. But I know this more…God is good. He has plans for my son who is now becoming a teenager with  no residual effects from his traumatic birth. He knew when he was but a tiny, tiny baby not-yet born, that he was going to achieve greatness.

When I start to worry about silly things, things I know in my heart God has promised to take care of…things I have no business worrying about, I remember how good God has been and how much he has brought us through. When I look at my children, I know how much God loves us. He saw fit to allow me to be the mother to these amazing children. Every day I am blessed and when this once tiny 4-pounder who’s now taller than I am celebrates another birthday, I am reminded how much He loves us and how amazingly good He is.


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22 Comments

  • Reply Barbie February 8, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Wow, than you for sharing your premature birth story. God is so good and I’m thankful He brought both you and your son through!
    Barbie recently posted…An Invitation: Come As You Are // The Weekend BrewMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 8, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you, Barbie! I’m SO thankful too. I love to see both my kids thrive and I’m thankful every day for that.

  • Reply ashley@blondegirlcravings.com February 8, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    wow what a touching story am so glad that you have a healthy happy boy now!
    ashley@blondegirlcravings.com recently posted…Pimento Cheese Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno PoppersMy Profile

  • Reply Gina Duke February 9, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Yes, God is good! Your story of being “out” is very unique and a reminder that even when we think patients cannot hear us, we should talk to them. My husband got deathly sick in 2001, and was intubated. When his sister and I went in she happened to ask him that if he could hear us to move his thumb, and he did! We were so elated and relieved that we could still talk to him and comfort him with words. He recovered as well. I am your neighbor at CBCE.
    Gina Duke recently posted…Chronicles of the Corporate Mom – Overcoming Both Professional & Personally Embarrassing Snafus!My Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 9, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Hi Gina! Thanks for coming over from the CBCE group. 🙂 Isn’t it amazing we could both hear during those times of crisis. God is good indeed.

  • Reply Dr. Michelle Bengtson February 9, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Melanie, I love your perspective that when you start to worry about things, you remember how much God has brought us through. That is Key!! He is the maker of heaven and earth, the Great Physician, and the author and finisher of our faith. I was a premie (less than 3 pounds) during an era when premies didn’t survive. Your post and others’ stories like it (including my own) remind me that “It’s not over until God says it’s over.”
    Dr. Michelle Bengtson recently posted…Get Out: It Does a Body Good!My Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 10, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Michelle, I’m so glad that you not only survived, but are a powerful force for God now in the lives of others! 🙂

  • Reply Jenn Stanley February 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    What an inspiring story, the glory of modern medicine and having faith!
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  • Reply Sheila Edeliant February 9, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Wow, I must agree with the other commenters: what an amazing story! And your conclusion is so important. One of my favorite quotes is by Ellen White: “We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” It’s no wonder God told us to keep telling the story over to our children and our children’s children! 🙂
    Sheila Edeliant recently posted…I’m not a perfect exampleMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 10, 2015 at 8:56 am

      Sheila, this is a great quote! I deal with fear a lot and I’m trying daily to overcome those fears and anxieties!

  • Reply Mary Collins February 9, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    What an uplifting post. Sounds like you and your baby endured quite a bit but God brought you all through the other side. Praise Him! It’s good to look back and see how good the Lord has been to us.
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  • Reply Walter Kahler February 9, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    As I was reading this it moved me with compassion. Thanks for sharing this powerful testimony of how powerful God is. Your experience will help others struggling with the same issues. I work at a hospital and have been blessed to connect with newborn babies both critical and healthy. God has allowed me to feel His presence while witnessing His creation. Thanks Melanie for putting perspective on the important things in life.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 10, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Thank you, Walter. I’m sure your experience at the hospital was both challenging and rewarding. Every life, every breath is a gift and a miracle!

  • Reply KC February 9, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    What an amazing story! It’s so good to have this in your mind when you start to have those little worries. Happy birthday to your boy 🙂
    KC recently posted…It’s All Lies!!My Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 10, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Thank you for the birthday wishes! It really is a good reminder of the great things God can do and how He loves us!

  • Reply Shaney Vijendranath February 10, 2015 at 12:33 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. Very touching!
    Shaney Vijendranath recently posted…5 tips for taking better photographs with your phoneMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com February 10, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Shaney, thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. 🙂

  • Reply Jenn March 13, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. As a NICU nurse I love reading stories of these tiny babies growing up. It reminds me so much why I love what I do.

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com March 15, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      Jenn, what you do is so important! My little guy is taller than I am now and I’m so happy and blessed to have two healthy children. <3

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