Thursday, February 5, 2009

Carter's Story

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

13 comments:

Gibson Twins said...

Poor guy! I didn't realize he'd already been through so much. If you hadn't mentioned it in the last post about his colostomy bag, I would've never known any different! Looks like they took very good care of you little man :)

Heather said...

Well that’s enough to make you cry! What a strong kid…and you! Holy crap girl, you’re amazing.

Susan said...

Wow....wow....what that little guy had to endure - yes he is tough!! Go Carter. And for him to come home the same day as the other two...double wow. I'm glad he is healthy and happy.

Rebecca said...

I also have a 32 weeker and NEC was something we worried about too. I'm glad your little guy pulled through with no lasting side effects.

Jen K. said...

Hi, Lindsay.

I've been reading your blog for a few months, and I am constantly amazed at your strength. I've never commented, but after this post I just had to. I'm a first-time mommy of a 13-month-old girl. My husband and I were blessed with this beautifully healthy baby, but I've still found the mommy road challenging at times (it's also the most rewarding thing I've ever done). But my challenges are small compared to what you have faced, and you were and remain so positive through everything. I just wanted to let you know how much I admire that.

Annie said...

Amazing story. He is tough!!! God bless him.

Jennifer said...

This post was beautifully written. I am a NICU nurse and we see the bad side of NEC all the time. I think its one of the worst things that can happen to the little ones in the NICU. It takes so many lives so quickly that it always breaks my heart. I remember every little one that i have taken care of that passes from this disease, and i cried reading your post because it brings back painful memories. I think the hardest thing of NEC is that no one knows what causes it and it comes on so quickly, and its usually too late once the baby starts showing symptoms of it. Its was nice to read the post and see the families side of the story. Sometimes being a NICU nurse, its hard to see the families perscpective of what is going on. I love my job as a NICU nurse, but sometimes it leaves my heart so broken. I am so glad that you had such a happy ending and wish you all the best in the future.

Cindy (and Brian) said...

What a fighter! That must have been so hard for your family. I can relate somewhat with our trio's NICU experience and almost losing our baby-girl. Thank God they're all so healthy!!

Hilary said...

Wow what an amazing atory..he's a tough guy!! God is good :) have a great weekend :)

Leslie said...

WOw I had no idea. I can't believe you handled all of that plus two other babies. You are so strong and a perfect mother for those 4 kids of yours. Thanks for sharing!!

Rachael said...

wow, i had no idea! what an amazing story!

Joy said...

Oh my goodness Lindsay! I had no idea you guys went through this. I had tears as I was reading it. What an amazing story and what a fighter your little guy is!

Karen said...

what an amazing and frightening story. I'm so sorry that your little guy had to go through so much at such a young age. I suppose one of the blessings is that he won't remember it. Of course, the biggest blessing of all is that he's thriving now.