My second born son – where do I begin?
He was delivered to us some time ago, a forever that was only yesterday, by cesarian section.
The day before his arrival, I remember the phone call I received from my wife while I was at work. She went for a weekly check up because the baby was due at any time and her blood pressure was not co-operating. Her mother drove her to the doctor’s office. I was trying to save my days off for when my son was born so I could be at home with the both of them. I remember the scared-nervous-happy-excited inevitability in her voice. Then she confirmed what I already somewhat knew.
“They want us to check into the hospital, tonight, at eight.”
I began to sweat. This was no surprise to us and was something we had been preparing for months on end, yet it did not seem fully real until that point in time.
After ending the phone call with her, my parallel started changing in front of my very own eyes. My reality was transforming and changing from what it previously was into something new and unexplored. The sensation was not bad. It was normal. Then a thought began to creep into the recesses of my brain –
The previous night was the last night it was going to be us as two. From this point forward, we were going to be a wolfpack of three.
Most people know the process of checking into the hospital when it comes to labor and delivery – you are led to your room, the tending nurse goes over personal information, he or she starts numerous IV’s, the mid wife and doctor make their rounds, the expecting couple patiently waits the process out, nature and science runs its intertwined course, you cross your fingers, you pray, and you watch the one you love go through some of the most ungodly things that your mind could ever comprehend, all the while breathing through oily, sweat stained masks of the cursed Covid circus.
I observed the bare skinned bellied battle start for my wife as she transitioned into becoming a mother. The contractions began to interfere with the lifeline that fed our soon to be born son. When her contractions peaked, his vitals staggered. I stared at the monitor that displayed the ups and downs of this struggle. The longer I watched the sawtooth wavelengths chase one another, the more it began to resemble the mountain scene I had painted on my son’s nursery wall.
Hours on hours of waiting and watching and praying, the previously described scenario did not improve. The call was then made by our caretakers. There was no more waiting around.
They wheeled my nervous wife downstairs to prep for surgery. I remember the emotions that floated inside my body as I put on my operating room scrubs at one o’clock on a Saturday morning. My heart was racing. My anxiety overcame me. My perception had been completely turned upside down as compared to the previous night. I feared for so many things. I questioned my faith while believing in it at the same time. I did not want to lose either one of them. My world began to warp and move like the lines of the vitals that I had been gazing at for hours on end.
I held my wife’s hand as they performed the surgery. I watched her move with each jerk they delivered in order to free my son from his crumbling comfort zone. All she could do was look into my eyes, shake, and hold my hand. Then, we heard it. His first cry. His first newborn sound in a world that was and continues to be chaotically beautiful and bittersweet. They held him above the cover so we could see him before they started the baby and mommy cleaning process.
They led me over to where my newborn son was being warmed and wiped down and let me interact with him. I felt sorry for my wife since she could not initially hold him first like most normal deliveries are depicted on television. I coaxed him as he screamed and cursed the Earth he was brought into. I rubbed his head and talked in my high pitched daddy voice. I told him how much we loved him and how brave I thought he and his mother was.
One of the nurses told me to look only at my son and not behind me as they patched up my wife. That lasted about two seconds and, of course, being the curious cat that I am and knowing that I would never be in this certain situation ever again, I did the inevitable. I understand now why the nurse warned me. You can combine all the YouTube videos on C-Section surgeries and think you have it figured out, yet nothing compares to seeing it in real life.
The things you cannot unsee. Right?
The baby and I went to the room and waited for momma bear. I continued to coax my son. They finally wheeled her in and let her hold her manifested dream. Her blood pressure dropped to eighty over fifty-five. She turned pale because she had been laced with God knows how many drugs and was exhausted and tired from a day long battle.
After they balanced her out, we were led to our new room where we were going to be housed for the duration of our visit. We could only have one visitor a day due to Covid. We knew if we could wait out the after birthing scenario then we would be going home just like everyone else. Simple as that.
Or so we thought.
They took our son from our room so they could perform his circumcision before we could be discharged, and, immediately, we started planning out all the things we were going to do when we made it home. One hour passed, there was no news on him. We waited and tried to distract ourselves because we knew he would be coming back to our room and everything was going to be fine. We asked the nurses how he was doing, and they said he was doing okay.
The physician finally came in and said that they had to administer our newborn son glucose because he was acting fidgety and they were going to see how he responded to that. Another hour passed, nothing. Another hour passed, nothing. No word. No news. No updates. No warnings. Nothing.
We asked the nurses, and they continued to say that he was fine. Another hour passed. A bad feeling began to settle deep within the depths of my tired soul. My wife picked up on my energy even though her motherly instincts had already kicked in. After numerous hours of waiting and no communication, they finally came for us and showed us the way to the nursery where our newborn son was being held for observation.
Five hours later, after being stuck in limbo on the status of our son, the nurse led us to where he now lay. The baby we had been holding onto and loving and taking pictures of and showing off on social media and absorbing with every fiber of our soul was now lying on a table, under a heat lamp, naked with just a diaper on, with numerous wires and tubes running out of him. He had oxygen tubes taped to his face, and each time he took a breath, there was a clicking sound.
My initial response to the physician was, what the fuck happened here? How does this happen and the parents know nothing about it until they see it? I had these harsh feelings considering we, the parents, knew nothing about this until after a five hour wait and no communication from the physician. I was angry. I was confused. I was scared. I wanted to John Wick her ass. I was every negative and scared emotion, combined, all at once.
My wife immediately broke down and began to cry. This was her baby. This was something she had nurtured and protected for nine months. This was a piece of both of our souls manifested in the flesh. I felt hopeless. I felt the most helpless I have in quite some time.
We asked the physician if our son was going to make it, and she said that she did not know. After she strolled back to her lair, a nurse tended to our son and told us that he was going to be fine. All we could do was cry together and coax this other version of our son that no parent should ever have to experience.
The hospital staff informed us that our son was going to be airlifted to a facility that could handle cases like his since they were incapable of doing so. Considering what we had experienced that afternoon and what we were now being faced with, we did not disagree.
I remembered rubbing his cheeks, kissing his forehead, praying to God while cursing Him at the same time. I whispered to my son, over every one of his raspy breaths, that he was a fighter, a warrior, and this was not how his story was going to end. I told him that he was going to be okay and was going to grow up to be a better man than I could ever be.
I could hear the roar of the helicopter blades getting closer and closer and closer to the hospital. Our two day old son was going to take his first flight to a hospital forty minutes away driving time, twenty minutes flight time. We did not know if this was going to be the last time we laid eyes on him while he still had life in his soul. What I did not realize yet was that the three angels that arrived by bladed chopper were the first of many we were going to encounter.
The nurses discharged us within the next hour. Our parents met us downstairs as we loaded our bags back into the car for the next leg of our adventure. My wife was still in shock while being fresh off a C-section. She became sad when she looked in the back seat of the car and saw an empty baby seat and blue ribboned bow.
I thought, no mother, or parent, should ever have to experience this.
My reality became even more warped than it ever had been before.
My parents were sitting in the parking lot as the helicopter took off and transported our son into the night sky. I’m sure my mother prayed for a fleet of heavenly hosts to watch over and protect him. Her mother was visiting us in the room at the time of our melee and could not believe the scenario that had just played out.
The only thing that stood in our way now was a late night, forty minute drive to the NICU of another hospital.
The drive there was somber, chilling, and nauseating. All I could do was console my wife and try to find some kind of positive energy that was nowhere to be found. I told her that God did not bring us this far to let everything crumble here at the very end. At the same time, some other entity made me want to question Him and and His love for his people considering this was happening to us, as well as other people in the other situations all across the world.
I found myself sitting in doubt. Fear. Anxiety. Anger. Paranoia. Confusion.
My mind tried to untangle the idea that so many of us face –
“Why is it that humans praise their faith when things are going right and curse it when things are going wrong?“
My second lesson I was going to be shown over the next week was this : Vernon, if you do not believe in the power of positive prayer for other individuals, you will by the time this is over!
Long story short, we arrived at the Children’s Hospital’s NICU unit, checked in, got my wife into a wheelchair, and pushed her to room C-160 where our son currently was. We were tired. We were sad. We were disheartened. We were in shock. Needless to say, there were more dark, negative emotions floating around inside our bodies than positive ones. We still had hope. We still had love. We still had faith, even though our temporary judgment and long time belief was being clouded.
When we rounded to corner to his room, our son was dressed in a onesie, had a couple of cords running from him consisting of vital nodes and an IV, was breathing on his own, and was patiently lying in his bed, waiting on us. The nurse immediately greeted us and knew that two anxious, distressed parents were on the way. She handled the scenario with grace, dignity, comfort, and peace, and was the first of many angels that was put in place for us. My wife was able to hold her son and sleep next to him in a fold out recliner, and, since the room across from his was not being used at the moment, they were able to wheel another chair inside it and let me crash there since we were already operating off very little sleep.
We had no clue where we were going to stay. My wife was breastfeeding our son so we knew we were going to have to be close to him, and if we were going to leave our second hospital in three days then it was going to be with our son sitting in his car seat on the way home.
By eleven o clock a.m., a social worker for the hospital had reserved us a Ronald McDonald sponsored room around the corner from where our son was being cared for. That, in itself, was a big burden that was lifted as though it did not, and was not, going to exist in the first place.
When the doctors made the rounds that morning, a lead doctor and his team thoroughly informed us of what was going on and the process we were going to have to patiently work through to get us where he knew we wanted to be – home. They related the issues, out loud, in front of us (not five hours later), and debated the scenarios as a team of brains acting as one big, super-brain.
One of the biggest obstacles we were going to be faced with in the days to come was weening our son off a sugar water IV drip, letting his body raise his own platelet levels, and hope the blood culture came back negative for bacteria or viruses.
Each day, we fed our son every three hours, on the hour, with us having to miss one feeding a day so we could sleep, (two feedings if he woke up before we got there and was hungry). The nurses, that were assigned to us or assisting us while ours took a break, were angels in a time of need and informed us of what was going on, answering our questions and teaching us tricks and tips along the way. Without them, there was no way we would have been able to reground our inner spirit and outer body like we did.
Day Two – his blood sugar teetered up and down around the fifty mark, with one as low as the thirties / the blood culture still did not show any growth. Day Three – his blood sugar ranged around the sixty mark, our target to stay above, and they weened him little by little off his IV / the blood culture still not showing any hints of a virus or bacteria. Day Four – his blood sugar stayed above the sixty mark and ranged in the low seventies, one of his blood sugar foot pricks climbed as high as one hundred and eleven – the IV drip was turned down more and more until it was finally turned off / the blood culture still showed nothing adverse, finally releasing us from its limbic thrust. We knew if we could make it to Day Five and his body could keep sustaining and improving like it was, then we were in the clear.
Our baby boy’s body did exactly that. Five days after witnessing one of the most traumatic experiences of my life and questioning my faith, as well as my path, we were loading our son into his car seat, at one of the greatest NICU’s in the entire state, and finally heading home. Our eyes were filled with tears, our hearts were filled with joy, our souls were filled with hope, and our faith had been reestablished in the strongest way possible.
While staying at the hospital that week, one of the many things that stands out in my mind was an encounter we had on the last day we were there. I was pushing my wife (we had a wheelchair that I formally named Wilma – street name Rhonda) back from the cafeteria to the NICU to start another round of feeding. My wife could not walk due to her surgery, and we were already living a hospital life on a very limited time frame.
Me, my wife, and Wilma were strolling down a long hallway, sipping our coffee, trying to voice the positives amongst the negatives. We were tired. Exhausted. We were far from giving up or in. We were questioning things.
Then, it happened.
An aged black man approached us while pushing his cart of supplies and asked,
“Do you mind if I pray for the both of you?”
We had already been receiving prayers from all over the continental states of America so there was no way we were going to turn another one down. We gladly accepted his invitation. The man adjusted his face mask and knelt down on one knee in front of my wife and prayed a prayer that I had not heard in quite some time (despite my Mother’s and Aunt’s prayers, of course).
He told God that we were already in His favor and to keep us there while showering us with blessings and mercy and miracles and to keep us in his light, to keep us near to Him, and to show us the way. He told God that he already knew that a miracle existed and it was time for it to come to fruition for me and her.
After the amen’s were said, the man stood, thanked us for allowing him to pray for us, and continued on his way. My body was warm. I could feel my heartbeat again. All doubt and confusion was obliterated from the recesses of my body and brain. There was a tingling pulse that could be felt throughout my entire body. My wife felt these things too. It was like a weight was slowly lifting itself off our pilgrimed bodies. It showed us that, even in the darkest hours, that kind of power still exists.
When I turned around and looked to see if the man was still lingering in the long hallway, blessing other people as they passed by him and his cart load of boxes and papers, he was nowhere to be seen. It was like he had vanished into thin air. I accepted it for what it was, knowing deep down inside my soul that I would never be the same man I was whenever I entered the hospital.
Looking back on the longest week I have been faced with in quite some time, if ever, I realize how fragile life truly is. When bad things happen to good people, I realize that it doesn’t matter what color you are because we all need one another in this battle, whether we want to admit it or not. Your seed manifests wherever you decide to plant it, and sometimes you have to start over to get a crop worth harvesting. Angels come in many forms and ways and once you open yourself to experiencing them, you might just do exactly that.
I found myself listening to the beeps and dings of other baby monitors going off around my son’s room, the aged battle of babies struggling to live, and I wondered to myself – have I been taking things for granted and forgot about the silver lining in my life? Is my focus where it needs to be?
I have always prided myself in wanting to write and become a published author and pursue other forms of secondary media like screenplays and television and movies. Have I lost myself in the process? Does writing need me as much has I need it? Are all of my typed words in vain or are some of them still valid? My relationship with my gift is give and take, but I found myself thinking on how unbalanced that scale truly is and how I need to shift my focus on how I look at my life.
I thought – what am I doing here?
I thought – why am I here?
I thought – is there anything more to life than loving the life you are given?
Over the screams and cries of babies in distress, I asked why, “why?”, and I found myself circling back to the principle that surrounds us more than we would like to admit.
‘Where am I going’ versus ‘Where do I want to be’.
Today is the greatest day most of us will ever have.
Make it count!
: Thank you for reading :
: Genuine prayer works :
: My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a child at any point of their life :
: Push Play below for Personal Playlist Jam :
“Sometimes the best miracle is for you to become one.”