Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lil’ Miracle

My oldest daughter was born almost a month early. She was born on a nice Saturday morning in August. She decided it was time to make her entrance to the world, because she needed help. A condition called congenital diaphragmatic hernia could have threatened her life. The pediatrician who was on call that day noticed that her heartbeat was weak in the area where the heart should be, but stronger a few inches more to the right. He got an x-ray of her chest. It showed that her bowels were pushed into her chest through a hole in the diaphragm. This caused her heart to be shifted and her lungs to be squashed.

She was flown via helicopter (Flight for Life) to Children’s Hospital of Milwaukee. There were four paramedics preparing her for her flight. I was just numb.

She had surgery the following Monday, two days after her birth. The surgeon cut across her chest, along the ribcage to put the bowels back in place. She put it in backwards and took out the appendix. This was because if she ever developed appendicitis, it would be on the wrong side and unless I had the appropriate medical proof that it was on the wrong side, the doctor would rule out appendicitis because of the location.

She was in PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) for about two or three weeks. She had all kinds of tubes and needles sticking into her tiny hands and feet. She had a paracentesis on the side of her chest to drain fluids out of her chest cavity.

She was moved to NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for the last six or seven weeks of her hospital stay. Her lungs needed some time to fill up the space that was crowded when she was born. She was able to breathe on her own.

I was able to hold her then. It was a little tricky. I worried about pulling out the tubes by accident.

When we were able to take her home, she quickly caught up to her peers. She was never really behind. She didn’t roll over or sit up at the age most babies did, but she made up for lost time. She walked at 9 months. She had a slight murmur, but doctors believed that it would correct itself when she grew older. The last time it was checked, the murmur could only be detected in the supine (lying down on the back) position.

She is truly a miracle. Most babies born with this condition have more problems. Some don’t make it or they don’t breathe on their own as quickly as she did.

People were sending prayers throughout her stay in the hospital. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

My ex-brother-in-law and his wife went to a wedding one day and somehow they got to talking about babies and hospitals. The person they were talking to was a paramedic. He remembers this case. He didn’t think that my baby was going to make it. (When they told me about this, I got chills going up and down my spine.) I think she surprised everyone. To this day, she’s a normal 12 year old. All that’s left is a surgical scar across her abdomen. It’s her badge and she’s not ashamed of it. She wears two-piece swimsuits proudly.

She’s had quite a journey, even if she doesn't really remember it. She’s my miracle.


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