A week prior to the scary evening when I knew something wasn't right, we found out we were having a boy. We already decided on the name Asher, as I love names that have special meaning and are more unique. God truly guided us to the perfect name because Asher means "happy, blessed, fortunate," which truly defines him!
I began leaking what I didn't realize was amniotic fluid. I had a normal pregnancy up to the night that my water broke at only 22 weeks. That night, I lay in the Obstetrical Emergency Department at the Women's Hospital learning that my baby would soon be born and that he would only live for a few short breaths. I just remember sitting there holding tight to God and asking for prayers from close friends and family. After losing my only brother in 2000 to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, prayer and faith were very important to me. Also, Asher was due on my brother’s birthday in late September, so I just had this strong faith that he was right there with Asher and me.
The next morning I woke with no more contractions and with the amazing hope of Dr. Fitzpatrick who informed James and I that Asher had a chance. We learned that when your water breaks there is still a chance to keep baby and mom safe with strict bed rest. To me, keeping a tight hold to God and my faith was most critical. We also learned at 22 weeks, his chance of survival was in the 2 to 5% range, but if we could make it to 24 weeks, he would be considered viable.
Dr Fitzpatrick said our long term goal would be to make it to 28 weeks. At that point, Asher's chance of survival would be a lot greater. I just remember that seeming like a long way off, but we made that our mission because we truly felt Asher had a special calling in this world and we would do anything for our little fighter.
I remember James and I still feeling a little unsure of all the statistics at the beginning, so we asked if there would be any way a NICU doctor could come down and explain the percentage of survival each week. We wanted to be informed of possible expectations, as this was all new to us.
I will never forget the moment I met Dr. Pyle. He was truly an angel sent to us, and we refer to him as one of our heroes. Even though Asher was still not considered viable at that point, Dr. Pyle took heart in our concerns and sat there on my hospital bed with a huge smile and a cross around his neck. He brought us a paper that charted out the increase of survival each week, along with some other data. It was so nice because both of our families were in there and able to understand where we were and our goals for our little warrior. He truly made us understand the journey we were going through and gave us so much faith. He even inspired me to start a blog during the journey, which ended up being my comfort throughout my bedrest and NICU journey.
Dr. Pyle made a special point to visit me each week to see how I was and to cheer me on. He believed in me and Asher. He would also inform me about where Asher was in progress. That meant so much to us.
We made it to 28 weeks... which meant higher survival... but Asher fought even harder and made it to 29 weeks with a survival rate in the 90% range. He went from a 2% survival rate to mid 90%! To us that was huge! With my water breaking so early, he was surviving with little fluid. Asher making it to 29 weeks helped him greatly.
When Asher arrived at 29 weeks, he did very well at first. He weighed 3 pounds and was on a normal cannula. But we soon learned about the "honeymoon phase" and experienced rocky moments where he wasn't doing well and almost lost him. He was ventilated for several long weeks as his lungs were still hard. This was due to the fact that he had such little amniotic fluid for them to develop correctly. I will never forget those scary moments, but I held tight to my Rosary and Cross and prayed, prayed, prayed! We also had a lot of prayer warriors praying for Asher, some who we didn't even know. They had started praying for us as they began following my blog.
Even through those very tough moments, the doctors and nurses kept us positive. They would take photos of Asher and give them to us. One I remember was a photo of Asher with a Happy Birthday Daddy sign on his giraffe (James’ birthday was 2 days after Asher arrived). The staff always found ways to lift our spirits each day through smiles, stories and accomplishments. Dr. Pyle would always call Asher his little rock star and kept us strong throughout. Yes, 12 weeks in the NICU seems like forever. Believe me, there were days that seemed really long, especially those tougher roller coaster rides, but with the staff's above and beyond support and guidance, we kept strong and Asher fought like a warrior! They even let us put a photo of Jesus, a Rosary, and a photo of my brother on Asher's giraffe. They stayed with Asher until the day he got to go home with us! These special items are now in his room, as I know they helped Asher stay strong through it all.
We will forever cherish all of our firsts with Asher…The first time holding his tiny hand, the first diaper change we got to be a part of, the first time we took his temperature, gave him a bath—the first time we held him and the first time we got to dress him. The lactation department was also amazing and Asher became a rock star at breast feeding! He still exclusively breast feeds today.
The NICU along with Dr. Fitzpatrick, Marcella, and all of the high risk nurses will forever be family to us! In fact, Dr. Pyle stays in contact with us and is always there for any questions we have. Like I said before, he will always be a special hero to us! We look forward to visiting the NICU staff and high risk department in July for Asher's 1st birthday! It is because of them, the prayer warriors and the amazing God above that our little miracle is here today, healthy and strong. I know God has a special plan for him for he truly is happy, blessed, and fortunate.