The Littlest Lynch
Winnie Palmer Hospital began carving out a special place in our family's heart during the Winter of 2014. Our family had recently moved to Orlando from Atlanta, and in the midst of the stress and chaos of moving between states with two young boys, I found out I was pregnant with our third son.
Unfortunately, my pregnancy with Wesley did not end up being a normal, healthy pregnancy like the ones I had experienced with his older brothers. Routine, scheduled checkups were replaced with middle of the night emergency room visits and high-risk monitoring. Instead of one doctor, I now had a team. Ultrasounds delivered fear and uncertainty instead of peace of mind that all was well with our son. Violent contractions that shouldn't have started until much, much later in the pregnancy started showing up at the 20 week mark. Finally, after experiencing a massive hemorrhage at 22w5d, I was admitted to Winnie Palmer for the duration of my pregnancy.
I was barely past the midpoint of a full-term pregnancy. Yet I was admitted to Winnie Palmer because my son was now "viable," and he had a shot at life if he were born. As the nurse fastened a medical ID bracelet to my wrist, I wept, recognizing the magnitude of what was happening and giving thanks that I was so fortunate to be exactly where I needed to be. To some hospitals, 22/23 week babies aren't even given a chance.
But not at Winnie.
And for that I was grateful.
I was in the antepartum unit at Winnie for five weeks before going into full-fledged labor. I ended up contracting a bacterial infection that turned septic and necessitated an immediate delivery. Both my life and Welsey's life were in immediate danger.
As I was wheeled into the operating room for an emergency cesarean, I said a quick prayer of thanks for the betamethasone injections I was given to help Wesley's tiny, fragile lungs. I expressed gratitude for the several rounds of magnesium sulfate I received and prayed they would provide my precious boy with neurological protection from the brain bleeds so common in premature babies his age. And once more, I found myself so very thankful to be at Winnie Palmer.
Wesley and I must've made for a pretty interesting medical case because the OR was packed with doctors, nurses, therapists, and residents who were there to treat a septic woman with a placental abruption who was about to deliver her son while still in the second trimester of her pregnancy. I knew we were in tremendously capable hands, and I had full confidence that every person in that room would do everything within his/her power to insure the best possible outcomes for me and my son.
The doctors disentangled Wesley from my body and immediately began working to stabilize him. I remember my doctor noting that at the time of surgery, over 50% of Welsey's placenta -- the life-sustaining organ babies rely on in utero -- was already detached from my body. That my 2lb15oz 27w5d son -- who grew inside me with only half of a placenta -- emerged from the womb able to cry and breathe is nothing short of a miracle. And I know the tremendous care I received in the antepartum unit prior to Wesley's delivery went a long way in making this miracle a reality.
Unfortunately, after Wesley was whisked away to the NICU, I grew sicker and began floating in and out of consciousness. The majority of what happened the first few days of Wesley's life is a total blur -- I only remember bits and pieces of those early days, as my body slipped in and out of consciousness in an effort to regain strength and heal itself. I remember waking up in the NICU, next to Wesley's isolette for the first time, sobbing briefly and then passing out again. I remember waking up in the recovery room, delirious and unsure if I had actually delivered Wesley. I remember waking up and not knowing where the heck I was.
Thankfully, the tremendous care Winnie delivers continued, and I was soon much stronger and healthier. I began walking down from my room to the third floor to visit Wesley each day. I became familiar with the process of getting my NICU name badge and scrubbing in. A once-foreign medical lexicon started to become familiar and, eventually, comfortable. Once Wesley was strong and stable enough, I learned how to care for him at "hands on" time, always making sure to use the "firm but gentle" touch preemies crave.
Wesley spent the first 60 days of his life at Winnie Palmer, receiving round the clock care from some of the finest health care professionals in the country. Today, he is a thriving, happy 4.5 year old boy who displays little evidence of his extreme prematurity. That these two facts co-exist is no coincidence.
And for that I am grateful.