Story by Shelly Smith
I can remember like it was yesterday, yet it seems like a long time ago….
October 25, 1997, was like any ordinary Saturday, or so I thought. My husband, Scott and I were talking about how in less than a month we would be parents, and our lives would be changing for the best. Little did I know it would be much sooner than we thought.
We had plans that night to play cards with my parents. I made chili and apple pie. They were expected to arrive about 7:30 but at 7:00 my water broke. Our plans changed. Now we would be playing cards in my hospital room.
We settled in and knew it would be a long night. I won’t bore you with details, but it ended up being 25 hours of labor.
Our little boy, Zachary, was born at 6:06 PM on October 26, 1997, choosing to be born on the day when we “fall back.” Approximately 1/2 hour after he was born, they realized he wouldn’t stop crying and his fingers and toes were still blue. The nurses checked his oxygen level and found it to be very low. He was rushed down to the nursery and placed under an oxygen hood which helped some, but he needed to stay there. His chest was barreled from trying to breath and his lungs were sticking together. The pediatrician arrived and after lengthy discussions, decided that it would be best to transport him to a hospital that was better equipped to handle the situation. From what we understood, his lungs weren’t quite mature and just needed some time.
He was transported to a local NICU via ambulance. Would have been in a helicopter, except that he also chose a day of freezing rain. Zach left me at shortly after midnight. With tears in my eyes, I knew I would see him tomorrow. Scott, the new daddy, had to follow the ambulance and called me when they arrived and said the doctors thought he would be just fine.
Although Zach was born a month early, he weighed 6 lbs. 10 oz. and was a very big boy compared to the other babies in the NICU. Scott was able to stay at the hospital that night in case something went wrong. Well, around 4:00 Monday morning, the doctors decided to put Zach on a ventilator because he was just working too hard to breath. They wanted him to get a break and he was not responding to the medicine he was being given. If he could just make it through Monday night we knew things would be OK….. That night Zach crashed. We were whisked out of the NICU and placed in chairs outside. The doctors told us Zach’s only hope would be to be placed in an experimental treatment and that we needed to sign the papers right away. We could not wait. Of course we signed them. Zach was given a 30% chance of survival. Without it, it was zero. There was no option for us.
There had been prayer chains going all over, praying for good results for my little boy. I don’t believe I have ever been so frightened but yet I never doubted that Zach was in God’s hands with whatever the outcome was to be.
Zach responded immediately to the nitric oxide treatment. There was a slight chance he could get worse again, but in this case he didn’t. He continued to get stronger each day thereafter. We were able to sleep right outside the NICU and visit anytime. We attended support groups at the hospital, they helped immensely. To see such a tiny boy covered with tubes, an IV in his skull, and his little chest shaking due to an oscillating ventilator, was more scary than I ever imagined. I truly believe that I was able to handle this because of the strength God gave me to endure anything. Zach was given the strength to get better.
Things slowly began to be taken away, an IV, a feeding tube, and a ventilator. He was moved to a big crib from his warmer and I was finally able to feed him a bottle and give him a sponge bath. Nine days after being born he was coming home. He had endured so much in nine days, things I wouldn’t want anyone to go through in a lifetime.
He is now a healthy, energetic little boy with heart of gold. By looking at him you would never know how his life began. I feel so blessed to have him as my son and I am thankful every day for My LITTLE Zachary.