This is from your father. Your mom is preparing your meals for you. I’m sitting in the waiting room of the NICU at the University of Virginia. It’s a light green color, like my office. They say light green is a calming color. That’s probably why they picked it. There’s a beautiful painting of Charlottesville on the wall. It is quiet for now. This afternoon the Davis and Torrance clans will fill the waiting room.
Right now you are on ECMO, a machine that serves as your lungs. It takes your blood, puts oxygen in it, warms it, and then sends it back into your body. You are on a blood thinner that keeps you from clotting, but this procedure has risks because if you were to start bleeding, particularly in your brain, there would be little the doctors could do to help you stop. You are stable, a lovely pink color. The plan is to let you build strength. We want you to be able to sustain yourself. Then the doctors will rebuild your diaphragm. After you recover some from this surgery, the doctors need to repair your heart (this is actually why we brought you to UVA). Your aortic arch is too narrow in one spot. So, my dear, you have a long road ahead. So, what do you say we take things one day at a time. Really all you need to do is keep doing your thang. I have also noticed that your nurses like to work with you. You were a little high maintenance at first, but you are very beautiful and beauty does warm people’s hearts.
Your mom may want to fill in the details, but I figured I’d tell you about your birthday. On Tuesday, your mom started experiencing stronger contractions. They were not consistently strong and seemed to vary in frequency. However, she did not sleep much Monday night. We wondered if you were ready to go. I don’t think she was quite ready to turn you loose on the world. It is a scary thing for a Mom to let her child go from a safe place to a unknown territory. I’ve seen the phenomena at other transitions, but had never really thought about birth in this way. We bought her a giant, polka dotted body pillow. For the remainder of the afternoon, we watched movies. Actually, I was trying to finish up my list of things to do before everyone came into town. The contractions were less frequent, but more painful, so we decided to go to the hospital to check in with Dr. Lucas. We also hoped he would give something to help your momma sleep.
When your mom and I (and you too) got to the hospital, it was bustling. Dr. Lucas was busy with something else, so we waited. Then we waited. Then we waited a little more. After an hour, he came to check your mom’s cervix. Although generally a cool cat, he did show a little shock on his face over the next few seconds. This part was bit of a blur, but among other things, he said resolutely “you are 8 and ½ cm dilated.” That means you were coming soon.
Your mom was shocked at this news. As much as we planned everything, you had a different plan. She cried and became very anxious for a minute or two, but Dr. Lucas was good and talked her down. Originally, your mom wanted to have you without medication for pain, but the day's events (what she thought were pre-labor contractions) changed her mind. However, at this point, much of the work of labor was done. You and your mother are currently tied for the most courageous women I have ever met (well, I can think of one other). She brought you into the world without a drop of pain medication. I’ll let you ask your mom about labor. I just stood beside her and told her I loved her. I let her squeeze my hand if she wanted. I was excited the whole time to see you. I was nervous, wondering if you would be able to stay alive. Sure enough, about an hour later (at 10:18 pm) you arrived. The other doctors worked on you. They let mom hold you for a moment and then swept you off to the NICU to see how you were doing.
Of all the guests planning to come, only Shelly was here to see zero hour. However, not long after, my family (Kelly, Misty, Keith, Elaine, Nikki, and Dad), Katie’s parents, Katie’s other best friends, and some of my friends from school arrived. We waited around with them for several hours to hear from Dr. Farhi, your neonatologist. You needed a lot of help from the ventilator, but you were stable. The plan was to wait to see how you would respond to the next few hours and days. When everyone left, around 2:00am, your mom and I were both exhausted. So, we went to bed. That was your birthday my dear daughter. We’ll tell more of your story later.
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