As Gabriel’s third birthday quickly approaches I remember the oddness of his birth. Yuppers my son has been quite the individual from day one! He has kept Gabe and me on our toes.
Due to the blog picking up at heart surgery time I figured I would fill everyone in on Gabriel’s life pre-blog.
On January 1, 2008 I did not feel right, there was something different. We had some friends over for new years the night before and I did not drink. Weird I know. Alcohol just did not sound good. So while Gabe was at work I bought a pregnancy test. Then I went back and bought three more in different brands to see if the first one was broken. After four broken tests I figured it must be me and not the test that was broken. I don’t have a fun story about a cute creative way I told Gabe. I all but spit all over him as I tried to get the words ‘we are going to have a baby’ out of my mouth.
The next few months ran pretty fast. I switched obgyn’s after several months because I did not ‘feel’ right about the one I stared my pregnancy out with. With the switch I also switched the hospital I would be giving birth at (thank goodness!). I was pretty healthy though the whole pregnancy. All ultrasounds went very well. We chose to not do any extra testing.
August 19th I went to the hospital because Gabriel was not moving around very much at all. After observing us for an hour they decided that he was doing fine and sent us home. I was so ready to be able to see my feet again. I knew they were there somewhere under my belly.
August 20th, we were back at the hospital at around 9pm. I was having sporadic contractions and as a first time parent I was ready to have this baby. After a lot of conversation my OB decided to check me in and induce labor in the morning. I was checked in around 10pm and given an Ambian. Gabe went out to the car to get our things and call our parents. Through all of this I had regular contractions and the nurse told me basically to suck it up because it would get a lot worse in the morning.
That is where things get a little hazy. Well, so hazy that I don’t remember much. Sometime after Gabe left to get the things out of the car and got back I went into the restroom. This does not surprise me because my number one fear about giving birth was pooing myself. TMI I know but it still makes me laugh. From the restroom I started calling Gabe. He came to see what drama I had dreamed up while he was out getting our things. I told him the baby was coming out ‘NOW’. He looked down and rushed me to the bed before taking off to the nurses station. They were eating lunch as he rushed out there telling them that the baby was coming out now. He said he was sure they did not believe him. Yet they still followed him. They got in the room in enough time to see my water break, get gloves on and deliver Gabriel. My OB was on her way to another hospital down the road and diverted to us in time to take care of stitching me back up. Gabriel took all of the fun out of her day!
The nurses weighed Gabriel, a 7lb 1oz bouncing baby boy born at 11:13pm on August 20, 2008.
I do not know the apgar scores because I was completely out of it. I do not remember the nurses starting to whisper. I do not remember my OB asking who our pediatrician was. I do not remember him coming in and telling us they suspected Gabriel had Down syndrome. I do not remember calling our families. I do not remember the doctor asking if they could take Gabriel’s blood to makes sure he had Down syndrome. I do not remember passing out on the floor. I do not remember that the nurses had to use three sticks of smelling salts to get me awake. I do not remember getting to hold my son for the first time. I do not remember feeding my little man for the first time. The next thing I remember is waking the next morning and the love I felt for my new baby boy!
Our stay at the hospital was interesting. Gabriel was doing AMAZING the first two days. On the third day he was having trouble keeping his temperature up and his breathing was more labored. They quickly put him on oxygen and heated blankets. We were to be released that day. They allowed me to check out and still stay in the room so that Gabriel was just down the hall. On the fourth day Gabe and I decided to get some clothes from home (who knew how long we would be at the hospital). We were on our way home when we got THE CALL. They got the results of Gabriel’s blood test back, he did indeed have Down syndrome AND they believed Gabriel was too sick to stay at that hospital. He would be shipped to Devos Children’s hospital and the ambulance would be there shortly to pick him up.
We turned around and headed back to the hospital not really knowing what to expect. We got there, the ambulance showed up shortly after we arrived. They packed Gabriel up and were off in no time flat. They were very wonderful people but it was extremely overwhelming.
We went home. The ambulance crew told us to go home, shower and get some sleep. Gabriel would be going through tests and busy for several hours. We would not be able to see him during that time so there was no reason to rush to the hospital. It was an extremely empty feeling walking into our house without the child we left to have. I am not sure if I slept, I know we packed some clothes and personal items not knowing how long we would be gone.
At Devos, Gabriel was a giant compared to most of the babies in his room. So many of them looked so sick that surely he would be able to come home in a couple of days, he did not look sick to me at all. We were quickly visited by so many doctors my head is still spinning. This is the part that was necessary but still hurts. The group of doctors who filtered through were telling me that my perfect baby boy had several major medical problems. We had much more to worry about beside his having Down syndrome.
The oncologist told us that Gabriel had a lot of immature white blood cells and it looked like he had leukemia. He does not have leukemia but the odds are high that he will have it in the future. He would need blood testing on a regular basis so that they could have a jump on the leukemia if it did show its ugly head.
The cardiologist drew a lovely heart and showed us where our son’s heart was broken. He was born with a complete AVSD and it would need to be repaired with surgery. Surgery would be put off as long as possible or until Gabriel was six months old, whichever came first.
I dont remember what other doctors we saw but those two stick out the most.
Gabriel was still Gabe and my perfect baby. He has an amazing ability to draw people to him. He is so strong and loving.
We spent the next 18 days living all day at Devos visiting our son. He had trouble keeping his stats correct to be able to go home. Every time we thought we were going to get to go home he would do something funky and we would be granted a longer stay. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald house part of the time and with amazing friends the other part of time.
We finally got to take our little man home. It was very interesting to take an almost month old baby home for the first time. We already had a routine in place for feeding, knew his temperament and his likes and dislikes. The feeding schedule was rough to say the least. I would pump for 40 minutes, then we would offer Gabriel food for a half hour and then tube feed him whatever was left which took about a half hour. We did this ever two hours. We needed to get his weight up as high as possible so he could be as big as possible for heart surgery.
My days were full of feeding. I went back to work after my six week maternity leave. It was (and still is) very hard to be an hour away from home. Gabe was able to switch to 3rd shift so that Gabriel was not in daycare.
Gabriel’s first six months were full of many little achievements. He is such an amazing little man. I am so proud that I won the lottery with him. 1 in every 900 births is a child with Down syndrome. Gabriel’s first year was very busy here at the Purdy house but I would not trade it for the life of me!!!
Happy Birthday little man!
Photo that hung on Gabriel's crib in the NICU. I am sure he was the talk of the nurses station!
Gabriel at one day old
Gabriel during his stay at Devos
Gabriel at two months old
Gabriel at four months old