He was born at 6:01, on a Friday – June 15, 2001. This was after 30 hours of labor, 3 doctors, 5 nurses . . . and then she pushed for 3 hours. They were about ready to do a C-section when the doc saw the head.
He came out grey . . . and not breathing. Mandy’s uterus wasn’t clamping back down, and she was losing so much blood that they were going to transfuse her. They hit the red button on the wall, and my parents, and brothers and her parents, and sister watched from the waiting room as every doctor and nurse on the floor ran into the room. RAN into the room. Apparently that’s what the red button did. At some point, a nurse came and got me and sat me down in a chair because I was standing in between the bed my wife was on (watching the doctor literally kneeling with all her weight on top of my wife’s belly to get it to contract and stop bleeding) and my son on the little baby inspection bed, with nurses beating him with this suction cup hammer thingy, trying to get him to breathe – and all I could do was cry – not knowing which bed to go to.
So they whisk drake off in an incubator, and take him to the NICU at northside (in atlanta) which is where we were. and mandy finally stopped bleeding, and then the neonatologist came in to sit down with us and tell us that Drake is in the NICU, and they’re not sure what’s wrong, and he couldn’t tell me for sure that he was going to live (i asked him).
He then informed us that Drake couldn’t stay at Northside, because the NICU was full, and they were moving him across the street to Children’s hospital (scottish rite).
They moved Mandy to her recovery room – and they wheeled Drake into the room in the ambulance incubator. He had hoses and tubes and all sorts of stuff plugged up to him, and he had his eyes shut – a respirator in, and a feeding tube. Mandy stuck her arm out and put her hand on the glass, and called his name, and he opened his eyes and looked at her – but then had to be quickly rolled away because there’s only so much O2 on those rolling buggies.
He took the ambulance ride to the hospital. I stayed with Mandy. We had several friends come to visit. I remember Eric and Shea coming down. Shea said “I told Eric that I just felt that we needed to come see you.” They wanted to buy our family dinner. No one wanted to eat. They were gracious and bought dinner anyway – and I’m pretty sure it sat in the bags . . . Sorry Eric and Shea. Our pastor (that we had known for a brief 4 months) came up from Newnan.
The next morning, I went over to see Drake, and he had already come off the respirator, which was great, and the nurse was feeding him from a bottle. The doctor said that things were going to be OK, and we could go home on Monday (this was saturday).
Mandy was having an extraordinary time recovering, what with all the blood loss, and the 30 hours labor.
I stayed with Drake. took some video. Took some pics.
The next morning, I called the doc to check-in – per his request, before going over to be with Drake. The doctor said “Mr. Sears, I’m having the lab re-do this test, because according to his bloodwork – called a CBC, his white count dropped from 13,000 to 3000, overnight. I’m sure it’s a mistake. Call me in 30 minutes.” I called in 30. He was now having them do a hand count, because he couldn’t believe it. “I’m not sure what’s wrong, but he’s going to be here for a while.” I lost control. I said “Doesn’t an infection mess with your white count?” the doctor said “yes, but it drops when the infection is winning.”
Mandy wanted to go over to see him, so she got in a wheelchair, and we rolled out of Northside hospital and across the street to scottish rite.
We weren’t able to hold him, and he was hooked up to machines, and this was Father’s Day – Sunday. Awesome Father’s day. We had to check out of the hospital the next morning, and we didn’t want to go back to Newnan without Drake
I went to the Ronald McDonald house – because I heard they had a room available. I can remember sitting in the little office with the lady that ran the place, and she asked me how long I thought I would need to stay, and through that gagging, choking tears thing, I told her I didn’t know, and that my baby was in the NICU at Scottish Rite, and they didn’t know what was wrong. I toured the house with her, and it was a nice house, and there lots of families there, having to stay for various reasons. We ended up not staying. With Mandy’s recovery issues – still major, there was no way she was in any shape to share a single bathroom with 10 other people . . .
So we checked into a hotel next to Scottish Rite. Her teacher friends took up a collection at the school, and somebody knew someone that worked for Marriot, so they dropped our rate to a ridiculously low rate. So we’d get up early every morning and go be with Drake, and watch the monitors, and the heartbeat, and the blood oxygen sensor, that would FREAK out every time drake would kick his foot. And we’d return every night and hit our knees, and thank god that drake lived another day – and acknowledge that even the best kids doctors in Atlanta didn’t know what was going on – but He did . . . and that was going to HAVE to be enough for us . . . And when I say “hit our knees” i mean it. We weren’t a praying couple until then. We had our own prayers – but not together, as a married couple. It changed that week. We’d pray, together, and out loud, and intentional, and heard each other’s hearts, and joined together to plead, and beg, and thank, and plead . . . We continue to this day.
Over the next 7 days, he was seen by a cardiologist, a hematologist, a neurologist, really every kind of -ologist. Literally. No one could tell us what was wrong. We got to know the nurses well. There were lots of babies in that room, with lots of problems. It takes an unbelievable soul to work in that environment. They liked Drake, because they believed he was going home soon – and they don’t get many that do go home “soon” or at all . . .
I can remember one night – probably day 5 or 6. We had left the hospital pretty late that night, and ended up sitting at a red light for over 10 minutes because something had malfunctioned. Neither of us said a word. I didn’t react. At the time – nothing was worth reacting over. Nothing seemed important – even sitting at a red light at 12:30 in the morning.
we took him home the next Friday. He was actually circumcised on the 8th day – which was cool. The entire day preceding (Thursday) they took him off all of the monitors and wires and tubes. I FREAKED out. My response was “how am I supposed to know if he’s ok!?!” One of the nurses looked at me and said “Look at him. Does he look ok?”
He was discharged with a low, but climbing white count, and we were told that if he runs even the slightest fever, we were to bypass any other doctor or hospital and get him back to Scottish Rite as fast as possible. He was sent home with a follow-up appointment with the hematologist the next Tuesday. We went in. They drew blood. Tested it. Results came back. Doctor said “He’s completely normal.” I think we were actually shocked. I remember looking at the doctor and saying “What do we do now?” He replied “Treat him like a normal baby.”
By the way – i asked how we could keep him from getting sick, and the doctor said “just wash your hands.” hence the hand washing problem that I have.
So we’ve got a Christmas song that says “He is with you in the ICU and the doctors don’t know what to do, and it scares you to your core . . . “
I found it difficult to even type in the words on the chart without tearing up.