Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Introducing One of the World’s Smallest Cancer Survivors!

My sweet Amari,

Let me tell you the story of when you were born!
Never have I felt more anticipation, excitement, and fear all at the same time.  May 6th was finally here!  Time to meet you!  Before we entered the hospital your dad and I said a prayer together that everything would be ok- that we would all be in safe keeping. 

Dr. Wothe, the resident “Baby Whisperer” was called in to see if he could flip you around since you were breech but his Version Technique was no match for you.  You were right where you wanted to be and you weren’t moving.  So it was on to the C-section, something I didn’t want but I was quick to accept.  I felt maybe there was a reason….maybe you just knew that there would be more complications with a natural labor in the end. Yes, funny to think that an unborn infant has intuitions but from the beginning of this journey I’ve always felt that we were in this together and that you were always protecting me, as I promised to protect you.
Unfortunately we received some unanticipated news.   Since it was certain you’d be in the NICU and that today was the day, we were supposed to have a room reserved.  But, understandably they had ran out of rooms due to a rush of deliveries.  So we were sent home, worried, because in my situation every single day counts and we weren’t sure when a room would open.  I had already stopped my chemo for a little over a week and now that I needed a C-section I would require more down time to recuperate – leaving me unprotected.  Here we had emotionally prepared ourselves for what was about to happen and we were being sent home.  I felt devastated.  Our doctor did too.   She did everything she could to see if we could get in at that time. 

Everything seems to work out for a reason though.  It was only a short time until they called us back in again.  This gave us some time to go home and get some more things wrapped up before you came. Grandpa and Grandma Serbus already had arrived to help. It also allowed us some time to try to make this feel more normal.  We rushed back to the hospital, excited, just like we would have if my water had broken.

And so, at 9:05pm you entered this world…both of your parents, nervous as ever, but faithfully trusting that all would be ok.   You were 3 pounds and 13 ounces.  One of the most precious things that has ever graced my ears is hearing your cry for the first time.  The second most precious thing…hearing the words, “She has hair!”.   Hair meant the chemo hadn’t touched you.  Hair was something I was hoping for.  Just to reconfirm what I knew, that you were going to be ok.  We saw you for a brief moment and then you were wheeled away.  Oh how that hurt.  I barely saw your face.  I didn’t get to look at you and study every little inch; see if I could make out which features were from me and which were from your dad.  It was as if I got a glance of a celebrity surrounded by bodyguards getting hurried away. 
It took several hours to control my pain.   I don’t really remember but I believe it was close to 1 am before I finally got to really meet you….and that’s when my heart melted.  How perfect you were!  It was hard to see all of the wires.  We learned that your lungs were still underdeveloped so you were on a ventilator and receiving a drug to help your little lungs grow quicker.  The next couple days were emotionally hard as we waited to see you progress and get stronger.  When we came down to visit it was still so difficult to see your face with all the wires, tubes, and masks.  I felt terrible…that it was my fault that you had to endure this….if it wasn’t for my body failing me, if it wasn’t for my cancer.  I wanted to hold you.  I missed that closeness we shared when I was pregnant. 

The first time I got to hold you was three days after you were born.  They call it Kangaroo Care, skin to skin contact that is proven to help preemies progress.  It was such a production.  I believe there were four nurses there working quickly to remove you from the incubator to my chest.  Your dad looked on nervously; his protective nature was having a hard time with this.  I think the Kangaroo Care may have helped me as much as it helped you.  I cried as I finally got to hold you in my arms.  You were so tiny! The time was brief but it made such a difference. One day later I told the nurse that we barely had seen your face.  She was so nice; she decided we could move the phototherapy mask.  And at that moment we really saw you!  You were alert, your eyes open!  You just stared at each of us…. your dad, me, your Uncle Adam.  Our eyes locked and I felt that bond, it was magical!  Looking into your eyes I felt an unexplainable connection.  We had already been through so much together.  What you were enduring at that moment was a sacrifice for me; just as I had sacrificed for you…nothing more could define our love for each other. 
After that special moment things changed quickly.  The next day we got to hold you longer and following that they slowly removed each one of the wires.  And as true fighters do, you continued to surprise everyone with your spirit.  Within two and a half weeks we were heading home!  You were way ahead of the game, eating on your own and everything. 

As I type this, six weeks have passed since you’ve been born.  You sure do turn heads.  It’s hard to even go shopping as people constantly are stopping us to see how tiny you are.  So many people were excited to meet you.  Your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family and friends lined up! We even had people asking about you at the Chemo Lounge!  You’ve blessed our life and turned it upside down in so many ways.  Your dad and I used to have everything so under control and now we are flustered in everything we do!  We laugh at ourselves as we do everything everyone told us we would do as first time parents.   We laugh as we constantly fight over who gets to hold you!  I love when I catch the cutest pictures of you snuggling on your daddy’s chest.  You both look so peaceful.  There are moments that I wish I could just freeze in time….when all 4 of us are snuggling in bed on a Sunday afternoon or when I’m holding you and you are fighting to not fall asleep, making those cute faces.  Pumpkin, I love every minute of being your mommy!  There is nothing that makes me want to fight harder.


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