Donovan will be 10 on March 19th! Donovan is such an awesome son and human being I thought I would share with you all the story of Donovan's rough beginning
When I found out I was preggers with Donovan I was so very happy! Unfortunately, not very far into my pregnancy I started to bleed on and off. My doctor determined that I had a placental abruption which basically means that part of the placenta was separating from the uterine wall and bleeding. I worked at the time and was told I would have to take time off. At about 23 weeks I went into labor and rushed to the hospital. At the hospital they had to decide if it was worth it to try and stop the labor since I was so early into my pregnancy and abruptions can be fatal to mothers. My doctor called the closest hospital with a NICU that could handle micro preemies and asked if they wanted me or thought they could help. One of the doctors said go ahead and start me on some medicine to stall the labor and send me to them by ambulance. I spent the next 2 weeks there. They gave me shots to try and mature his lungs and kept me on strict bed rest. Finally they sent me home. It was my brothers wedding and everyone was gone. I remember being so scared, there alone. My contractions started again and I couldn't get ahold of anyone. By the time someone came around I couldn't wait to get back to the hospital! I went back and they gave me more meds to stop the contractions. This stuff, magnesium sulfate, was wicked! I don't remember how many umpteen times I had to get it during those 2 plus weeks , but each time it made me feel like I was burning alive from the inside out... Soon after my return trip to the hospital I realized I was in active labor despite the meds. The trick was convincing the staff! I told them I was having more and stronger contractions but the nurse insisted I wasn't because nothing showed up on their monitors. After a few attempts I got them to take me down to labor and delivery where I think they just thought "eh, we aren't busy so just take her down there to pacify her. My mom and dad came up and we were visiting when all of the sudden I knew the baby was coming. I told my Mom to hurry and get people, like doctors or nurses or someone who was gonna know what to do to help this 25 weeker. My Mom ran out yelling and with just me and his Papa in the room Donovan came. Within seconds the room was swarming with nurses, this bundle that somewhat resembled a human was thrust into my face for approval? fright factor? and quickly whisked away. People worked all around me, on me and I just laid there. I can't explain what I was feeling. Relief maybe, that it was over (hah, not even close) I had been in this hospital trying to save a baby they didn't really have much hop for while my 3 year old was at home, passed around to whoever was free. I had been so scared I might die, the baby might die, Trent (3 at the time) must be confused why Mommy just disappeared. To be honest, I don't remember feeling anything at all. I was numb and stayed that way for a loooong time. I also don't remember asking about my baby, but soon they came to me with a wheelchair and told my mom she could take me down to look at him. I wordlessly got in the chair and we made our way to the NICU. We approached this flat 2ft by 2 ft table, it had 10 in high Plexiglas sides and the top of it was covered with plastic wrap. Overhead was a strong warming light. It was taller than my chair so I had to stand up to look in. The sight inside that thing was ..... he weighed 1 pound 9 ounces and was maybe 12 inch long, lacking fingernails, nipples, toenails, eyelashes, instead of ears there were just these rolled up buds on each side of his head, he was red, real red and he was just bones with this red wrinkled up skin hanging off. I sat down after 30 seconds and said take me back. As my Mom started wheeling me back I passed out.
I would like to say one look at him and I was in love, that he was so beautiful to me, that my motherly instincts went into overdrive! But it wasn't true, I thought my baby is not even real and he is going to die. Nothing that underdeveloped could survive.
They told us the next 36 hours were critical. He did well, considering, for those 36 hours. I started to have hope and thought, well we will just wait it out until he can suckle and puts on weight! Oh, how wrong I was! He started having breathing problems, then they found a small bleed in his brain, then he was improving, then he wasn't.....Through all this I would just sit at home and pump out breast milk for the baby that wasn't with me, or I would sit in the hospital and stare at the baby I couldn't even touch. See, it isn't like in the movies where you sit rocking your baby while you wait for him to get well enough to come home. You can't touch them, they can't tolerate your touch.
At one point we get a call in the middle of the night saying he has taken a turn for the worse. I get to hospital and they tell my mom and I that they have done EVERYTHING and he can not hold his oxygen up to levels he needs to keep his body and brain healthy. The doctor said the only thing left was prayer and pray we did. We prayed in their chapel, at home, and had prayer chains states long . Eventually he turned a corner and started rapidly improving. He improved so much they offered (after almost 3 months) to let us hold him. My Mom wanted to be first so badly. Now looking back I wish I would have let her. You see, my Mom only left Donovan's side for work and sleep. She was my only back up. Mom and I were the only 2 people that went up to that hospital and visited that very sick baby, mostly. I could stay at home , guilt free, with my 3 year old because I knew my Mom was with Donovan. Sure some people came up to look at him, but they never came back. I don't blame most of them. He was quite a sight and it was ever so scary. Mom though... Mom was always there and strong! She sang to him, talked to him, read to him, believed in him, completely. She was better than I was. I was still all numb, confused, scared. Still, I took my chance to hold my baby and it was terrifying and exhilarating. He improved steadily from there. Soon, we could do his feedings, change him, clothe him. Then they said the craziest thing "You can take him home" He was still on oxygen! Weeks ago you said he was going to probably die! You tell me he will most likely not be normal and probably have brain damage! What do you mean take him home! Oh, I was terrified. I had to actually spend the night at the hospital in our own little private room so they could teach me all I would need to know and make sure he tolerated a night out of the NICU. I took him home the next day with heart rate monitors, oxygen tanks, 5 different doctors appointments and numerous medicines. Excuse my language but, WTF! I was not equipped (even with all that junk) to do this! The first night at home I woke up to find him completely pale with his oxygen cannula out of his nose. I cried and cried thinking to myself that I gave him more brain damage or if he didn't have it before he did now!
Even so, time moved forward, we saw the pulmonary doc, the heart doc, the brain doc, the pediatrician, the respiratory therapist. We got oxygen deliveries until he didn't need it anymore, we got visiting therapists until he didn't need it, he started and stopped preschool, he made it through kindergarten and into 1st grade. Then it was time for my first parent teacher conference for the first real school grade that counted. This was where I was gonna learn the real damage. When he walked late, talked late etc.. they said he was just catching up, but now he should be caught up, this 1st grade teacher was going to tell me the real damage. I walked in, scared and ready to defend and she says "I don't like to say this but.... Donovan is my favorite" "He is so good and sweet and nice to the other kids" and I say "Oh, but is he ya know, doing....O.K?" She looks at me quizzically and I realize, she doesn't know his history, she is just an outsider and to her he is NORMAL! What a beautiful word, I have always loved, quirky,crazy, interesting, but on that day normal was the most beautiful ! I told her of his struggles and she was shocked and never would have guessed. Every parent-teacher conference goes much the same as that one did. Donovan is sweet and bright and one of their favorites! I got the best of both worlds too, cause Donovan is normal with his school work but as a person he is quirky, crazy, interesting and I am so thankful for my blessing and miracle, Donovan Jay! I love you sweet boy!