I had a commenter ask about Carter's colostomy in the last post. It made me realize that since I didn't keep a blog until the babies were about eight months old, most of you don't know Carter's story. So here goes.
The kids were born at 32 weeks on Friday, December 8th. The first week and a half, was super smooth and they were talking about them coming home by Christmas. All of that took a drastic change on Monday, December 18th. All three had a little blood in his stool, but they though it was something I had eaten that had gotten passed to them through the breast milk. Throughout the day, Hudson and Ella had no more issues, but Carter seemed to bee getting worse. More blood in his stools, difficulty breathing and he started turning yellow. Jake, my mom and I were at Chili's eating dinner when I got the call. Carter was struggling so hard to breathe that they decided to put him on a ventilator. I will never forget how he looked when we got to the hospital that night. He was laying totally lifeless, hooked up to this giant machine. He was yellow. His little belly was swollen and huge. His eyes were open and he would look at us and try to cry. He was in so much pain and it was heartbreaking. This was the first time I cried over the kids. When your a first time parent with a baby in the NICU, you don't feel like a parent at all. Well for me at least. You know that they are your babies, and you know that you love them, but you don't feel like parent. Someone else takes care of them, someone else feeds them and changes their diapers, someone else holds them more than you do. Tuesday night and Wednesday were rough, but he was stable so we started to feel a little better about the situation. He was diagnosed with NEC, Necrotizing Entercolytis. Basically it is an infection in the intestines. Blood flow is cut off to part of his digestive track and it dies. A bowel can perforate, and basically poison them. That night, I realized what it was like to love someone more than your own life. By Wednesday, we were exhausted. They told us he was stable, to go home and get some rest. I didn't sleep very well, between pumping and calling to check on Carter. He was stable through out the night so I had started to feel a little bit more confident about his condition. Then the phone rang at 7:45am on Wednesday, December 20th. Jake was still asleep, my mom had just woke up, and I had just got done pumping. The charge nurse said we should hurry and head to the hospital, Carter was starting to get worse. We threw some clothes on and headed to the NICU. We were about ten minutes away when we got another call saying they were going to life flight him to Cook Children's two blocks away. That's when we knew it was bad. I remember walking into the NICU and seeing twenty people around him. He wasn't moving. They had switched him to an oscillator, which is a high powered ventilator. Every time it made him breathe, it looked like his chest was going to explode. They let us say goodbye and then took him away. There was construction from our hospital to Cook Children's and the roads were all torn up. They couldn't risk hitting a bump, everything had to be perfectly smooth. When we got to Cook, we met our wonderful surgeon, Dr. Bliss. They told us he needed surgery. Carter's bowel had perforated. It was leaking toxins into his body and air into his liver. His appendix had burst, and it didn't look good. Dr. Bliss told us what they were going to do, in detail. They would cut him open, hip bone to hip bone, and once they got in, they could see the extent of the damage. He also told us, that at Carter's gestational age and size, his liver is like Jello wrapped in wet tissue paper. And then he said something that will haunt me forever. "If we touch his liver, he will bleed to death". He apologized for being blunt, but told us he would never lie to us. After that they took us to this little room, where he lay in his little box and we waited for someone to come and take him. Looking at him, I felt so guilty. If I could have just held on a few more days, a few more hours, maybe he wouldn't have gotten sick. Second guessing everything I did, wondering what I could have done different. I knew that in reality it wouldn't have mattered, but I finally understood that I was a parent. It seemed like hours that we were in that pale pink painted room with different nurses and doctors coming in and out, having us sign papers, explaining to us the risks, all the legal stuff. And then they came to get him. They told us to take a minute and say goodbye. We couldn't hold him, we could barely touch him, but we told him we loved him and to be strong, we needed him. This was the first and only time, I have ever seen Jake cry. They called and kept us updated throughout the surgery and finally two and a half hours later, we saw Dr. Bliss coming down the hall way. He said everything went perfect. Carter was a tough little guy and it went absolutely perfect. We got to see him pretty quickly and he looked like totally different baby. He wasn't yellow, his belly was a normal size, and he didn't look like he was in any pain. He was on a ventilator for one day after surgery and then we finally got to hold him. Every day, he got a little better. He didn't get to eat for a few days until they were sure they got all of the infected intestine out. Once he started eating, you would never know that something was wrong. He was released from the hospital the same day as Hudson and Ella. He went back in for his second and final surgery in March of '07. They reattached his intestines. Today, you would never know there was anything wrong with him, if it weren't for his giant scar on his belly.
This was right after his surgery
He had a tube in his mouth to suck out the leftover poison and toxins
This was his first bath at home, challenging with the colostomy bag
This was the morning of his second surgery to get rid of the bag, yeah!
Right after the second surgery
This was the day before we got to go home, after his second surgery