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Challenge: NICU Parenting

Our NICU story: Ezra Joel

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My husband and I had tried for a couple years to get pregnant without any luck. I was diagnosed with PCOS not long after we were married. We had seen my doctor several times and started on fertility meds to try to speed up the process. In June of 2015, I took a pregnancy test and was beyond surprised when it said YES!! The next few months were normal and mostly uneventful. I had an extremely easy pregnancy, but I always get something wasn’t right. I remember sitting at the dinner table with my husband a couple weeks before our son was born and telling him this was too easy, and I was concerned that something was wrong but I didn’t know what. On December 10th, I went in for a normal doctor’s appointment to take the gestational diabetes test. My blood pressure was a little high but nothing to be too concerned about. Before leaving, I asked my doctor, who is a family friend and fellow church member, if I could have an ultrasound picture as a Christmas present because I just wanted to see my sweet little boy’s face. Of course, he said yes. As the ultrasound tech was finishing up with the ultrasound (remember this is just for quick pictures, not a scheduled ultrasound), I felt the need to ask how much he weighed so she checked. That’s when I saw the look on her face. She asked how far along I was and I answered 28 weeks. She said hold on, let me get your doctor. A couple minutes later, he came in and said that our son had severe IUGR and weighed only 1lb 4oz, the size of a 23-24 weeker at 28 weeks gestation. He sent me to see the high risk doctor the same day who immediately admitted me to the hospital for what was the worst night of my life. I was admitted with the intention of being there hopefully for at least 4 weeks before delivery; of course, that didn’t happen. I was fine that morning when I walked into my doctor’s office but by the night, my blood pressure had spiked so high that I was at risk of seizing and 3 medications later and it still wouldn’t lower. I remember laying in that bed with a monitor on my stomach to monito my baby’s heartbeat, but he was so little that when he would turn, it wasn’t able to find his heartbeat. So 6 to 7 nurses would come rushing in my room which didn’t help my blood pressure. I remember being told to calm down as if I could magically do that. By morning, the high risk doctor came in with my blood work stating that preeclampsia and toxemia had set in, and we would deliver today as my son’s life and my own were at risk. At 11:35am on December 11, 2015, Ezra Joel Daniels was born into this word by c-section weighing 1lb 5oz and 11 3/4 in length. He was rushed out of the room so fast and I just kept asking if he was okay, if he was breathing. The nurse practitioner on duty came in with a video to show me of my baby’s very loud, first cry. At that very moment, I felt a peace inside of me; I knew he would be okay. I knew that the journey might be difficult, but in the end, he would come home with us. Ezra spent 85 days in the NICU which quickly became our second home and the nurses became family. My husband and I remained positive always and looked at it as a parenting training course for new moms and dads. They tell you it will be a roller coaster ride in the NICU, and it definitely is. Ezra’s time there was easier than a lot of babies. He had one horrible day out of the 85. It was a day filled with prayer, a lot beeping machines, a blood transfusion, lots of talks about a ventilator and the next steps if he didn’t get his numbers back up. I believe that prayer worked, God answered, and Ezra must’ve not wanted that ventilator because he started doing better and the next day, he was doing great. His biggest issue was gaining weight and learning to eat. For such a tiny little guy, he was very healthy with no long term complications. Even with a healthy baby, the NICU was still hard. Not being able to hold my baby. Not being able to take him home when I left in the evenings. Waking up during the night to call and check on him. Hearing the beeping of machines and monitors all day. I remember one day sitting in Ezra’s room holding him against my chest and sobbing because in the room next door, a priest was being called in because the sweet baby girl didn’t make it. I watched families come and go—some joyous as they finally got to take their bundles of joy home for the first time, others heartbroken as they walked through the NICU doors for the last time empty-handed. One of the coolest things about the NICU journey was literally watching my son from before my very eyes. One day, we walked in and the cartilage in his ears had literally formed overnight. It was beautiful and overwhelming at the same time. So on March 4, 2016 (3 days after my original due date), we brought Ezra home for the very first time, and the rest is history. We’ve hit a few bumps in the road. Lots of sickness his first winter, one hospitalization for respiratory issues, and 2 surgeries (inguinal hernias and tubes for his ears). He has been in WV Birth to 3 since he was 10 months old with physical (graduated), speech, and developmental therapies. However, Ezra is now 23 months old, weighs 23 lbs, and is a happy and healthy little boy. He is caught up in every area other than speech. He’s very smart and very wild. And his laugh has the ability to make anyone smile. I thank God everyday that He chose me to be Ezra’s mother, and I’m thankful for our journey. As difficult as it was in the NICU, it brought us closer together as a family and built an inseparable, indescribable bond for us. I hope every mom looks at their child the way I do Ezra. He is my whole world wrapped in a tiny little body. He is my very own miracle, and I’m excited for what his future holds in store for him. I know he will do amazing things!

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