My son was born 8 hours into my 35th week—which in itself is a miracle. I started having contractions around 17 weeks. At 22 weeks, I was just praying that I would make 25 weeks. At 29 weeks, I was receiving medicine to stall contractions. And, at 34 weeks, I finished my time in the hospital until my water broke and he rushed out.
Okay, kidding. He did not rush out.
He came out 4 and 1/2 LONG hours later — especially because the epidural I was begging for never came at the Polish hospital where I was delivering my little man. And that pain and humor all tied into one is best saved for a personal retelling of my story (as I find myself extremely humorous, so you must see my expressions while storytelling :)).
He was not making noise when he was born—and so they slapped the cry into him. Literally slapped the cry into him. Just like the good ol’ days (that you hear of) or the movies that you see.
He was not a healthy looking color although they gave him a 10 on the APGAR scale (totally a huge LOL for us).
And within 5 minutes of his birth, he was whisked away from us and put in NICU, in an incubator, on oxygen, and a feeding tube. He was also immediately started on antibiotics as there was already an infection in his lungs that they called “newborn pneumonia”—that’s the best description we could get from the doctors considering having a baby in a foreign country is REALLY difficult already and then having a baby with complications even more so—and then trying to figure out what “newborn pneumonia” is—impossible.
But our little fighter made it through === and we eventually brought him home.
And then at 5 weeks of age, he nearly died again. Of, lack of a more respectful way to say it, horrible horrible horrible care of RSV in a premature newborn that already had trouble with his lungs and a hole in his heart that turned into full-blown pneumonia.
For 3 days they did nothing to save our baby—often leaving us alone at night for more than 8 hours at a time.
The night before he entered heaven (don’t worry, we got him back), he was only taking 1-2 breaths a minute. It was 9pm and the doctor had to shake him to get him to take a breath. We said, “HE’S NOT BREATHING!”
She looked at us with this horrible ugly air of superiority as if to wrinkle her nose at mere parent mortals and LITERALLY said “It’s sleep apnea—very common in newborns!” And she walked out.
And I stayed awake ALL night giving my baby a little shake every 5th or 10th second to remind him to breathe. And he would gasp for breath and then stop breathing all together again. I did this from 9pm-5am while not a single medical personnel entered our room to check on our dying newborn.
And that’s when he stopped breathing completely. Because I couldn’t shake my son forever to remind him to breathe. And his body wasn’t reminding him. And so the two of us together quit.
And when all of his alarms began to sound not a single healthcare provider responded, I literally ran into the halls screaming, “My son! My son! He’s not breathing!” (except in Polish).
Finally two nurses rushed in and got him breathing again. Not a single doctor came.
After they got him breathing, they left. Left. Left me and a near-dead baby alone. They didn’t even call a doctor.
My husband and I are now contacting a helicopter to whisk him out of Poland. We are wondering how fast we can get to Warsaw and storm the Embassy, demanding they get our son out of Poland. We are crying because we just know our baby is going to die this very day.
And it’s a horrible, horrible feeling. And it is the darkest you will ever be in your life—watching your child die (my great apologies to those that have lost children, as I know that is far darker…but this was that moment for me, watching him die).
The worst part of it all was that every single medical personnel we had encountered over the last 3 days were horrible and callous and apathetic to the life of our child. And we were at their mercy, even though they didn’t show mercy.
Even the cleaning lady when I asked for soap in my son’s room so I could wash my hands snapped at me and said, “I just gave you soap YESTERDAY!”
I looked at her with a death stare and said, “I don’t care that you gave me soap YESTERDAY—TODAY I have no soap!” Needless to say, she very begrudgingly returned with SOAP at my son’s sink so that I could wash my hands to help keep germs away.
Oh friends—there are so many other horror stories that accompany all of this fight. I will save those for another day.
But then a miracle took place. One hour after he stopped breathing, a new shift change took place and a doctor that I had not seen for the past 3 days came on shift.
I kid you not, I really thought she was an angel walking and working here on earth—because for the FIRST time in 3 days, someone looked at my baby and didn’t just tell us he was going to die and then walk away—but said, “Your baby is going to die!” And then she called an ambulance, put us on it, we were whisked to another hospital, and our son was put into a full coma and on a whole lotta machines—after all, he was a lifeless baby at this point.
Our heads were spinning — the doctors told us that we should not give up but we should also not keep hope because no one knew what would become of our baby.
But for at least this one more day, we had our son…
Our little premature child.
And, after many moons of him fighting and about half of his first year of life in and out of hospitals, our little man seemed to be on his way to living…
Finally we could sigh. Breathe. Have respite and relief???
This little booger went and vomited all of his mashed potatoes and welted at the touch to whipped cream on his scalp. This little stinker from head to toe reacted to a peanut kiss.
This little booger almost had us in the emergency room when we were merely sitting at a steakhouse that just so happened to have peanuts at the tables.
This little life-support NICU preemie baby also seemed to want to rack infant allergies onto his already impressive hospital accolades 😉
And ever since then, I have wondered strongly—do premature births and allergies go hand in hand???
After finally sitting down to become my own GOOGLE MD on the subject (haha!) I found two very interesting reports that came to the conclusions that they don’t. They don’t have any correlation that has yet been identified in the medical community.
My premature kid and his allergies are separate entities engulfed into one body.
Bummer to find out because it leaves me still at square one:
My NON-AMERICAN born kid is the ONE kid in our family that has the life-threatening allergies to both dairy products and peanuts/tree nuts.
The one kid that was never exposed to American processed food in utero or post utero. The one that did not even have American immunizations (his first immunizations were in Poland). His second round was well after we noticed his first allergic reaction to the touch of whipped cream on his skin.
The one out of my three.
How can this be?
And so, I—-like most all of you out there—continue to stand at square one.
Why does my child have so many allergies? Especially life-threatening ones?
Prematurity and allergies—non check!
In the meantime, I will continue to search and read and learn and wonder and do my darn best to try and keep him safe at home and in the world around him because he’s worth the fight—
And he’s been worth the fight from the start!
His dad and I are aren’t the only ones that think so—
His sisters are sure glad he’s around, too!
Here are three interesting articles. Two regarding allergies and premature babies. One regarding premature babies and increased infant mortality possibilities:
The risk of developing food allergy in premature or low-birth weight babies
Premature Birth and Food Allergies
(Which will link you to: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology)
And the article in regards to premature births and risks of mortality: Even Slightly Preterm Babies Face Risks