Okay. Everyone in my life knows that my life revolves around my family. I make it a point to be the best husband and father I can. I’m not a perfect father or husband, but it’s not from not tryin to be. With Emma Jo, I get upset when she has a boo-boo. I try to keep the balance between protecting her and holding off on buying her a bubble. Some may not know it, but she was taken a week and a half early due to low amniotic fluid levels. Of course she was fine, but the catch was only because the Dr. noticed she was breech at a check-up and wanted to see an ultrasound. This gave Lisa and I an elevated level on concern of a replay with Wyatt. There were some preliminary precautions taken to check if the same thing was happening with him. Each time the tests and checks came back clear. But Lisa and I still had a feeling that we should take the conservative approach and try and have extra ultrasounds towards the last few weeks.
We had discussed things, and thought it best to ask for an ultrasound at Lisa’s next appointment. On 23 January, Lisa had one of her appointments and wanted me to go with her to push the ultrasound. The check-up went by without a flaw and the Dr. asked if there were any concerns or questions. Lisa whispered a request for an ultrasound, and the Dr. stated it wasn’t protocol or needed. So I spoke up and made it clear our concern with the fluid level issue happening again and that we needed the ultrasound and would pay whatever we needed to. He was totally cool with it and we were escorted to the ultrasound room.
Sure enough…. Same thing happened as last time. The same nurse as before said y’all are having a baby today! I grin ear to ear; Lisa starts bawling. Although she was an emotional mess, he was 37 weeks so there were definitely reasons to be concerned. The nurse asked if she could pray with us, which I thought was pretty cool. Lisa cheered up once we got into our room. I realized that I had a couple hours to tie up loose ends at my work, then swing by the house and get my clothes and stuff before game time. I “passed” by two cops on the way back to the hospital. My hazard lights were on and they apparently felt nice cause I didn’t get pulled over.
I made it back and got my scrubs on. I asked the nurse where their one armed gowns were and she froze like ice. Lisa called me and idiot and the nurse realized I was messin with her. These outfits are awesome.
When I got into the surgical room for Lisa’s c-section, our great friend Jenn was able to be there to help with the anesthetics. Once things started, I stood up like I did last time. The anesthesiologist with Jenn told me I needed to sit down and not watch in case I got sick. I laughed, sat down, and said I’m pretty sure I’ve seen worse bud. I sat at Lisa’s head and rubbed her hair, waiting patiently. They were laughing about how big his head was as they jerked Lisa around. If any of you have a spouse that has had a c-section, you know they are not so gentle when getting the baby out ha ha. At one point, I remember Lisa joking, “Hey I need those lungs y’all are jerking on…..” After what seemed like forever, I heard them say, “alright”! I jumped up and saw my handsome Wyatt Levi. I held my breath like I did with Emma Jo, waiting to hear that first cry. He cried alright. And loud!
We were so happy to finally meet the little man.
I went to the nursery with the nurse and Wyatt while Lisa was sent to recovery. While cleaning him up and doing all the checking and all, the nurse and I noticed him having rapid, shallow breaths. I just kept watching her because I was starting to get nervous and figured if she looked calm I was alright. I enjoyed this initial time with Emma Jo and Wyatt so much. It was like my time as their father to introduce myself.
After about a half hour, the nurse told me they wanted to put a dome oxygen thing over his head to help him catch up on his oxygen. They said he may have a partially collapsed lung. I did not like hearing that and was struggling to stay calm. I felt bad watching him and not being able to do a thing.
Going into the recovery room and telling Lisa was not something I was looking forward to. But she handled it so much better than I thought she would. I underestimated the drugs. I went back and just hung out with him in there by himself. We had some nice conversations about a wide array of topics. Good stuff. They told us they wanted to keep him under the dome for the rest of the evening. Now, there’s nothing like getting a Christmas present as a kid and getting it taken away within an hour. I was used to this growing up, but this was slightly worse. One thing they did that was totally cool was roll Lisa in and let her see him in the nursery.
This is something they rarely did. Little did we know that the first person they did it with at the hospital was my sister Shannon when her daughter Addison had some breathing issues. We hung out in the hospital room and I went in to check on him every half hour. The nurses knew my name fast.
The next mornin Lisa wanted to get into a wheelchair to see Wyatt. I was amazed at her determination after having a c-section. Even though she’s a first class hypochondriac, she’s very tough when she wants to be.
He was such a pleasure to see. We stayed in there for a long time with him. And for the first time we actually got to hold him!
That afternoon, we got to bring him in the room with us. He still had shallow breathing though. Man was it nice being able to hold him in our own hospital room. Family came and went. Friends came and went. Church family came and went. It was a great day. The conversations drugged up Lisa was having proved to be quite the entertainment.
That night, Lisa and I noticed his breathing had gotten worse. It was enough that we decided I should go take him to the nurses. In a matter of 30 minutes, I went from concerned to really concerned. The pediatric doctor on call thought it best to have an x-ray of his lungs. After viewing the x-rays, the doctor slipped into the other room to make a call. I knew what he was doing. You see, the hospital doesn’t have a NICU, so if complications occur, the babies have to be transported to another hospital across town that has the 3rd largest NICU facility. I remember the conversation so vividly. “The results show a hole in his right lung. That’s why it’s collapsed. We’re gonna need to get him over to Roanoke Memorial.” I was terrified. I mean terrified. Going into our room with the doctor to tell Lisa was horrible. I felt like it was a dream.
I called and woke up my mama to ask if she’d stay with Lisa at the hospital since Lisa’s mother was at her house with Emma Jo. I followed the ambulance to the other hospital and was met at the NICU elevators by my father. My mama had let him know what was going on without me knowing. I’ll say this: Lisa and I have great caring parents. I can’t stress that enough. I was a nervous wreck. My dad didn’t say a word. He just pointed to the direction I needed to go. We went in and I was told what all was going on. I can’t tell you how hard it is to look at your newborn hooked up to a bunch of stuff. They had to put a cantilever tube over his nose for breathing. This stuff may be no big deal to a grown up, but when it’s your newborn it’s devastating and terrifying.
They sent me out to the waiting room to “rest” while they ran some tests. At around 4 am, they came and got us. They informed me that the breathing had worsened to an alarming level and the build-up of escaped air, which is called pneumothorax, was not only making the collapsed lung worse, but was starting to barely push against his heart. The doctor informed me that they needed to stick a needle in his chest cavity and relieve the pressure, then make a hole in the chest cavity to have a tube placed. The tube would have negative pressure that constantly pulled escaping air out of the cavity. I’m not really big on personal issues and all. In fact, I wasn’t even going to do this post at first. But I think it’s too good an example of the power of prayer not to share. It’s at our weakest moments that we rely on God the most. So I’ll leave it at this: I have never in my life been that scared. All my experiences in Iraq paled in comparison and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
I went back into the waiting room and waited. Once it was done, I came back in to see him. It was tough. Like I said, I’m not gettin into a bunch of details cause I really don’t like talkin about stuff like this. Emma Jo passed out once and I still get upset talking about it. For the next 8 days, I spent all my time beside him. Once Lisa was discharged, I’d take her up there with me each morning. I’d bring her home at supper time, spend an hour or two eating and playing with Emma Jo, then go back out there for the rest of the evening. Each night I came home, it sucked. Big time. Over the course of that week, we met some amazing nurses and experienced some amazing support from our church and our old church that we still had ties to. Our family stepped up and helped tremendously. My mama and dad helped out so much and Lisa’s parents watched Emma Jo for us without fail. My sister Heather cleaned our house for like hours one evening while my other sister Shannon watched Heather’s boys. Our Sunday school class brought over meals each night. Other friends brought over meals. At one point I remember texting my sister Heather and saying you’re doing so much for us. Her only response was Proverbs 17:17.
I found great peace in talking with God over the next week. I can’t tell you how many people expressed their prayers and concerns. It was so nice to hear. It was so very tough seeing him hurting and drugged up, but the staff thought it best for him to be calm and still so not to irritate the hole in his chest for the tube. I completely agreed.
He slowly got better and better and each day his x-rays showed improvement in his pneumo. First he was fed milk through a feeding tube instead of getting IV fluids. Then his chest suction was turned off. They started to back off on his narcotics and he was becoming aware. What a great sight it was to see!
Next, he was fed from the bottle. Things were lookin great. But the next morning his x-rays showed a small amount of new air in his chest cavity. Of course we became worrisome again. But the nurses kept him calm and it dissipated without further measure. After a few days, he was really lookin better. I remember in one day he got the IV, feeding tube, oxygen, and chest tube all taken out. And when that happened, Lisa and I could actually hold him! We hadn’t held him in almost a week so we were thrilled. Apparently, I fell asleep a lot….
We also took that time to bring Emma Jo up for a short time to finally meet her brother. Everything is “her” to Emma Jo, so she repeatedly told us, “Aw, I like her.”
Over the next couple of days, he continued to get his daily x-ray to check on his pneumo. He started to double on his feeding amounts and was so alert. It was so nice to see him not all drugged up! The last couple of days were spent treating some jaundice. At first, they kept him under a direct light. Although he pulled the outfit off nicely, he wasn’t a fan and was very vocal bout it.
He graduated to a glow blanket….
I do plumbing design at my job. The company is called Aecom; formally Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern (HSMM). We do numerous different types of buildings, including a lot of hospitals (even local). In the hospitals, the plumbing team designs for medical gases in addition to the normal plumbing stuff. Although I’ve always taken my job very seriously and always do my best, I have a new intimate connection with the hospital design work I do. You never know if you’ll be the one at the hospital needing those things….
All NICU babies have to go through a 2 hour car seat test on their last day to make sure they can handle it okay. He did great and we busted him outta there.
We finally brought him into our home and instantly felt a sense of relief and happiness. It didn’t take long for everybody to become tight.
Of course Dixie had to be introduced as well…
I was able to take two weeks off for paternity leave and am so thankful for that. Of course when it was all said and done, we spent 9 days between two hospitals. Going back to work sucked. You get used to something real quick and it was nice being around Lisa and the kids. I was pretty anxious to come home that first day.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Emma Jo is going to be a great big sister.
I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for the support from God, family, the Church, friends, and the staff at both hospitals. Without them things would have ended very differently. I am so blessed with an amazing family and we couldn’t have picked a better name for such a tough little dude. Just as with Emma Jo, there’s no doubt in my mind that Wyatt Levi is gonna do big things in this world.