September 23, 2008

What does a family do when their precious baby girl is traumatized at birth?

September 4, 2008 By Denise

Makayla in NICUThe story of Makayla’s birth in March 2006 in Cheyenne, Wyoming is heart wrenching and definitely worth repeating.

Chad & Heather had three children and were anxious for the birth of number four due a few weeks before Chad’s College graduation. It was a Sunday though and most of our family, living in many different states, were in various stages of going to and from church that day. When Chad called from the hospital to let us know there were some complications we had no idea the horrific scope of the scenario taking place just a few hours away from us.

Heather’s labor wasn’t progressing satisfactorily so a decision was made to try to speed things along. That may or may not have been an unwise choice but there were no early indications that it would cause a problem–it was considered a means to an end–the birth of a baby! Evidently the hard contractions that followed created a problem– perhaps the placenta was already weak and would have ruptured anyway. No one knows nor even thought of that during the next minutes.

Chad & Heather sensed distress as they watched the monitors, but no one else seemed concerned. Eventually they got the attention of a nurse. When the doctor arrived and assessed the situation he immediately realized that the baby needed to come out right away. It was an emergency, but there was NO ANESTHESIOLOGIST present! “Heather I can’t give you any anesthetic, but we must do a c-section immediately to save the baby.” Heather’s response to the the doctor was, “do what you have to do.”

In the next few moments he made incisions in the first layers, knowing that the last layer would be the most excruciating for Heather to bear. He told her he wasn’t sure if she could stand the pain. Just then the “lost anesthesiologist” burst through the doors. He had been unable to make his way through the stairwells for some reason. Everything had been readied so he was able to administer the drug immediately so Heather, thankfully, didn’t have to endure the last cut.

When Makayla was born she was barely breathing. No one knew how long she had been oxygen deprived, but it didn’t look good. Her APGAR was 0, and her prognosis was next to hopeless, but the parents didn’t know any of that as Makayla had been taken away immediately.

After an hour or so while Heather was just in the beginning stages of her recovery Chad & Heather were asked to make a serious decision for Makayla’s care. She was being prepared to fly to Denver to Children’s Hospital where they had tried an experimental procedure on other oxygen deprived infants. To make a decision about a new medical procedure with very little information was a gamble or was it “faith”. Everyone knows that newborn heads are kept warm with a stocking cap for at least 24 hours, but they were making plans to put an ice cap on Makayla in an effort to keep the damaging brain swelling from happening. It was a hard decision, but in hindsight, one that God used.

No helicopter was available and the only ambulance was one of Denver’s oldest! Chad insisted on accompanying Makayla on the long hour’s drive to Denver. Upon arrival they indeed put the ice cold, silver cap on her head along with needles, patches and wires all over her body. Each time we went in to visit her in the Neonatal Infant Care Unit (NICU) it never failed to grieve me.

Maykayla was beautiful! The nurses commented that she was the healthiest looking baby there, but she was the sickest! That hurt all of us and there were alot of us! Family and friends arrived in Denver daily to support Chad and Heather.

The Ronald McDonald House housed them and gave us all many free meals where all of us could talk and pray together for many days. We laughed and cried many times and had so many opportunities to testify to the Lord’s comfort in spite of the situation. Chad led a father to Christ and bought him a Bible. His son was facing surgery but it was not life threatening, not like Makayla.

On Friday of that first week the medical team met with Chad and Heather. The news was not good. They gave them almost no hope for her survival–maybe a few days, a month….but if she survived longer she “would need 24/7 special care. Care that could only be provided by professionals, specially Denver. Heather, still in recovery from her unconventional surgery and Chad, holding up, prayed with both sets of grandparents and then returned to the Ronald McDonald House.

In the meantime Jim observed Makayla’s doctors leaving the conference room where they had just shared with her parents her grim prognosis and their suggestion to “pull the plug” on her ventilator. They were crying. Only later did we find out that their tears perhaps were the result of the words Chad shared with them. He told them that they would leave things as they were and that they would continue to trust God to work through her doctors. If He wanted to take here he could, but they would not make the decision to end her life prematurely.

The next morning we began to realize that God had already begun healing Makayla. She had begun taking milk and within a few days she was taken off the ventilator and had learned to suck–something they were told would never happen. Her progress was nothing short of a miracle and that very word “miracle” was mentioned many times in the NIC unit by Makayla’s caregivers.

On her one month birthday, her dad was given the privilege of giving the “senior testimony” during his graduation ceremony while she slept in our arms in the audience. I doubt there were many dry eyes that evening as he briefly shared her miraculous healing to the many folks who had prayed for her — when it looked like there was no hope!

Today, a year and a half later, after heart surgery this past January 2007, Makayla is a beautiful little girl who walks around with a big smile, looking for things to get into and doesn’t seem to need much sleep! This family is grateful that God chose to answer beyond what we could ever have imagined when we prayed day in and day out for His will. What does a family do?

Makayla at 1 year

…have FAITH!

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