“’He’s breathing.’ That’s the first thing my husband, Myles, said to me as the doctor delivered our 1 lb. 14 oz. baby, via emergency C-section. A team of doctors and nurses swiftly whisked away ‘Baby Boy Grim,’ as they called him, to the NICU floor at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women in Memphis, Tennessee.
I lay there on the operating table, trying to process what just happened, and the fact that at 24 weeks, I was no longer pregnant. Myles tried his hardest to keep me distracted by talking to me. He knew I was nervous about surgery, since it’s the first one I’d ever had.
And we sure didn’t think it would happen today. We hadn’t even named our baby yet. I honestly had been putting that off for months, because I’d had such a tough pregnancy. I knew if we named him, it would be that much harder if something were to happen to him. I didn’t want the connection a name would have given us.
So, as the doctor was sewing me up, we decided to name the baby Mason. It was the name at the top of my list. I had a feeling it wasn’t Myles’ first pick, but he surprisingly agreed to it. I think at this point, he would have let me name the baby anything I wanted — it had been such an emotional roller-coaster getting to this point.
During my pregnancy, there were three specific times when I just knew I had lost him. I went to the ER fully prepared to not hear his heartbeat on the ultrasound. But every time I thought he was gone, there he was, with his heart beating away. At 24 weeks, I was referred to a high-risk doctor because I had a hematoma, which is a pooling of blood between the placenta and the uterine wall. Twenty-four weeks is the age of viability for babies, so that’s why I hadn’t seen this doctor before then. If something were to have happened earlier, there’s not much that could have been done.
To my surprise, when I got there, the doctor didn’t really address my hematoma. Instead, he was concerned about my low amniotic fluid. He told me to go straight to the hospital and to could expect to stay there, possibly until my due date. This was in September, and my due date wasn’t until January. I burst into tears and immediately thought of my 2-year-old daughter, Alana. I couldn’t leave her for possibly four months. I called my husband and my parents there in the doctor’s office and explained the situation through tears. My husband immediately left work, and my parents drove from their home, over an hour away, to keep our little girl.
So, there I was on the antepartum floor of the hospital. I had no clue how long I would be there. But six days into my stay, on a Wednesday afternoon, I started having contractions. Doctors and nurses tried to stop them, but Mason was coming. Thankfully, we were already there in the hospital, or Mason probably wouldn’t have made it. We live in Hernando, Mississippi, which is 35 minutes away. Even though it was so far ahead of schedule, it was perfectly timed.
I don’t believe it was an accident this happened on a Wednesday night, either. Because you see, our family is a family of faith. Myles and I were both raised in Christian homes, and we want to continue doing that with our own children. Our church in Hernando, my parents’ church in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Myles’ parents’ church in Mobile, Alabama, were all having Wednesday night services at this time.
Mason was born at 6:08 p.m., right in the middle of prayer meeting. People in our church, and even the youth group, were lifting us up in prayer at that very moment. When news was relayed to them that Mason was born breathing, the room full of youth erupted in applause. They were able to witness God working a miracle firsthand. To this day, it brings tears to my eyes knowing just how many people were praying for us at that specific time.
Mason was born breathing on his own, which surprised everyone in the operating room, since he was only 24 weeks. Lungs are one of the last things to fully develop in babies, so breathing issues are common in micropreemies — babies born before 26 weeks’ gestation. When I was able to leave the recovery room, nurses wheeled my hospital bed through the NICU floor to the back corner where the micropreemies were. It was dark and quiet back there, which is the best environment for them.
I remember turning my head to the side, while I lay there, and seeing Mason and his tiny self for the first time. He was snuggled tightly inside an incubator regulating his body temperature. It was warm and cozy in there, to mimic still being inside the womb. He would stay in there until he was able to tolerate room air and keep his body temperature up himself. There were tubes going everywhere and machines and monitors all around him.
One monitor was showing his oxygen levels and heart rate. I had no clue preemies deal with respiratory distress syndrome. Since their lungs aren’t fully developed yet, they have irregular breathing — it’s like they forget to breathe. When they have an apnea episode, the alarms will sound, and a nurse will stimulate the baby by patting or touching him.
The sound of those alarms is forever ingrained in my brain. Even though it is very common, it was still frightening to hear and know your baby’s heart rate is dangerously low. There were even a couple of times, when nurses ran to his bed and had to pull out the oxygen bag and manually pump breaths into his lungs.
I had never felt so helpless and terrified then when this happened during one of our visits. Myles and I took a step back so the nurses could have room to work on him. I just had to turn around, because I couldn’t bear to watch if something was about to happen to him. I remember praying, ‘God, let him live. Please don’t take him away from us right now.’ And thankfully he came back around.
There was another time when we thought we might lose him. Mason’s oxygen and heart rate were constantly dropping. The alarms kept going off and nurses couldn’t leave his side for one second. He had developed an infection. It was actually pneumonia. This resulted in severe sepsis symptoms. During the most critical point of this infection, we were told the next 12 hours were crucial.
I cried and prayed once again, ‘God, please don’t take him now.’ When I heard the word ‘sepsis’ come out of the doctor’s mouth, that’s all I could focus on. Neither one of us have medical backgrounds, but we knew sepsis was not a good thing. Thanks to our good Lord, the antibiotics kicked in and he started improving.
Myles and I went to the hospital daily to see Mason. We went through the protocol of signing in, wiping down our phones, and scrubbing with soap and hot water from our fingernails to our elbows for 3 minutes. We put on gowns, gloves, and masks if needed, every day. We called his nurse to check on him, every night before we went to bed and again when we woke up. We always got his weight and kept up with his progress. He was weighed every single night, and we celebrated every single ounce.
For the first two weeks of his life, he breathed on his own with the help of a CPAP machine. After that, his body got tired, and they had to put him on a ventilator. He stayed on a ventilator for about three months. And during that time, he endured more than some people experience in their lifetime — respiratory distress syndrome, apnea of prematurity, pulmonary interstitial emphysema, retinopathy of prematurity, blood transfusions, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, brain bleed, hernia, hydrocele, feeding tube, etc. He pushed through like a champ and overcame every single one.
I’ll never forget the first time I was able to hold him. Mason was 27 days old. I honestly didn’t want to hold him, because I was absolutely terrified. Terrified he would have an apnea episode and his heart rate and oxygen would plummet. Terrified I would accidentally pull out one of his many tubes or bump his ventilator. Terrified I would move him too fast, or in a way that would cause the tiny blood vessels in his brain to be damaged.
But thankfully, his sweet nurse that day encouraged me, and was able to get his 2.5-pound body nestled under my chin. We sat that way for an hour. I barely moved. My arms were falling asleep, but that uncomfortable numbing feeling wasn’t anything close to what he was going through.
After countless days in the NICU, we brought Mason home without any medicine or hospital equipment. Today, he weighs 20 lbs. and is healthy as can be. He is developmentally about 4-5 months behind other babies his age. But we are doing physical, occupational, and speech therapy weekly, to help him close that gap so he can reach his milestones.
The NICU will always hold a special place in our hearts. The doctors and nurses there are the salt of the earth and literally saved Mason’s life. We are forever grateful. Mason is proof God still performs miracles.”
Read more touching stories like this:
‘I kept crying out, ‘Please wait! It’s too early!’ I was 19, pregnant with quadruplets. My water broke at just 24 weeks and wouldn’t stop.’: Teen mom births miracle micro-preemie after losing 3 of her quadruplets
‘WHAT am I going to do with a sick baby?’ I was 18. Her heart began to give out, her little belly filled with blood.’: Teen loses daughter to congenital heart disease, donates 455 oz. of breast milk to save sick babies in NICU
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