On Thursday afternoon, April 7th, just 40 hours after he was born, James stopped breathing and turned gray-purple. Josh's mom was able to get him to cry after thumping him in the back. We already had an ambulance on the way and we rushed off to the ER. He did it again while we were there. Having our newborn in the ER was a very scary experience. They were putting all kinds of needles into him to try to do blood work, he got a spinal tap to check for meningitis, x-rays, shots, etc. It was awful watching him scream and cry and wondering what was going on with our healthy looking baby.
He was care-flighted to the NICU in San Antonio and had to fly alone while we drove down. Nothing like putting your baby into the care of other people and then driving an HOUR to get to where he is. Our parents were great and packed food and an overnight bag for us. Kate went to spend the night at her friend's house. We had no idea how long this ordeal would last.
When we got there James was hooked up to all kinds of machines -- IV, oxygen, monitors, and a tube down his throat. They were doing vaccines of all kinds until lab work came back. He had a couple more episodes that night. The doctor told us in situations of newborn apnea they keep them in the NICU for a minimum of 5-7 days. Newborn apnea is apparently not uncommon and there is a whole list of things it could be. They had to start looking at and treating the more serious and life-threatening things first and then move down the list.
We were helpless to do anything. In fact, the first 24 hours we had to put on a plastic gown and gloves to hold or touch him. I had to pump because they were controlling his feeding. Josh's dad got us a hotel room which became our "home" for the next 8 days. Yes, folks, James was there just shy of 9 days.
After finding that, he went on a pedialyte diet for about 2 days until the mass was broken down. Then he could go back to milk. And he was hungry! We were hoping to go home once the diagnosis was made, but they wanted him to go 5 days without an episode. So we waited the rest of the week, going back and forth between the hotel and the hospital. We made one trip back to Kerrville to see Kate and she came down once to see us. It was so hard to be away from her and was exhausting to be at the hospital. We took an infant CPR class and tried to make use of our time in SA to run a couple errands.
It was a really tough experience. It was physically draining (remember, I had just given birth). It was emotionally draining. And as the bills come in, it might prove to be financially draining! (A helicopter ride costs how much!?!) Just kidding, we are not worried about the bills. Our God has always provided for us and we know He won't fail us now.
But we had amazing support from our family and friends. We had prayers covering us from the time we walked into the ER in Kerrville. We had friends waiting for us at the NICU that first night. We had people come visit us and bring us food and gift cards and send gift baskets. We had emails, phone calls, texts, and facebook messages of encouragement, offers to help, and support. It was amazing and we were strengthened by it. We did not ever feel hopeless.
We are so happy to be home now. I have been somewhat on my own with the two kids this week and we are surviving well. We have friends bringing us meals, which is fabulous. Both kids are sleeping right now and I probably should be too, but I drank a protein drink that I thought was just cappuccino flavored, not actually made with coffee. But it was made with coffee, so I'm up right now.
And now so is James. Time to go snuggle.