The Natural Bud

Blossoming into a Healthier Lifestyle


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A Time to Celebrate

Day Before Discharge

Day Before Discharge

It’s late Tuesday morning when I make my daily phone call to the NICU. I’m always nervous to call; I want to know how he is doing, but I don’t want to hear bad news over the phone either.

“NICU Seventh Tower,” the nurse answers, “This is Michelle.”  I haven’t met Michelle yet.
“Hello, this is Laurelyn Rosenberger, Benjamin’s mom.”
“Hi!  He’s doing very well […] The surgeons just did their rounds and […] he can come home this afternoon…”

Whoa.  What?  We weren’t prepared for that news.  I feel more panic than excitement at first. Michelle gives us a list of things to do before he can be discharged so that we’ll be prepared when we arrive at the hospital.

At the hospital, there is more prep to do for his homecoming.  A member of the surgical team shows us how to change the dressing on Benjamin’s chest wound*.  The nurses review a few other things and give us the list of follow-up appointments they’ve made so far….

That was 3 1/2 weeks ago.  Benjamin is home and doing well overall.  Jonathan loves being a big brother too!

Benjamin's Homecoming  Tuesday August 26

Benjamin’s Homecoming
Tuesday August 26

I wouldn’t quite say we are back to normal yet – a “new normal,” perhaps.  The first week in the NICU, when we were concerned about the initial fluctuations in Benjamin’s heart rate, Clarence (the nurse) said, “It’s normal.”  Then she corrected herself – “It’s not normal, but it’s expected after the surgery.”  That expresses our life pretty well – not normal, but expected.

Some of the best advice I received throughout this pregnancy was to focus on the positive.  As Jason and I were driving home from one of our many appointments – so far we have eight specialists to see over the next three months** – we were discussing the then-overwhelming road ahead. Jason commented, “I will say this.  I am in no way feeling ‘woe is me.’  There are people who have gone through so much [harder …] We have a lot to be thankful for.”

We certainly do.  The grace of God is written all over Benjamin’s face.  We are enjoying having him home and watching new developments each week. 🙂

I’ll share some specific blessings later, but we are overwhelmed by God’s mercy, and grateful for the help and encouragement from so many of you.

Benjamin 4 1/2 weeks old Over 9 lbs.

Benjamin 4 1/2 weeks old
Over 9 lbs. (born 6 lb 12 oz)

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*Clarification: his “chest wound” is a scar from his right side close to the middle of his back.  They did not go through his chest for surgery.
**Since writing this, we’ve seen three of the eight specialists (actually, four, counting the weekly casting appointments for his clubbed feet).  We are thankful and feeling slightly less overwhelmed now.  

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“Peace I Leave with You”

Benjamin after Surgery

Benjamin after Surgery

Benjamin was still under anesthesia, meaning he couldn’t breathe on his own, so he was on a breathing tube all that night.  While we were with him that evening, he started to sputter and turn red.  The monitor alarm went off.  The nurse put a tiny tube down his nostril to suction junk out of his throat but he was still red.  Within about two minutes a respiratory doctor was there.  The doctor acted calmly but moved quickly, and showed the nurse to suction further down.  (She had been hesitant to get close to the surgical site in his throat.)  After that he started ‘breathing’ again.

Jason looked at me and said quietly with a bit of a laugh, “I guess I’ll have to stay here all night.”

Jason holding Benjamin

Jason holding Benjamin

The doctor explained the problem to us before leaving Benjamin’s pod, then said, “You need to get some rest. I’ll be here all night,” he reassured us,  “So you don’t have to be.”

My dad put it well in a group text later that evening:

 

Text from my dad

 

As I went to sleep alone in the hospital room (a blessing in itself as we had not paid for a private room), I wanted to cry all night.  I knew I had to sleep and couldn’t lose hope.

In times when I’ve felt completely alone, the only true, complete peace has come through Scripture.

I got out my phone and read through almost the entire book of 1 John until I came across 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”  Ironic.  The last time that verse stood out to me was when I first considered dating Jason.  From all I could see God was pointing us in that direction but I was afraid of getting hurt.  And now God brought it to my attention with our son.  Another verse came to mind:

Psalm 4:8 photocredit: pinterest.com

Psalm 4:8 photocredit: pinterest.com

More recently I read Psalm 121:3-4 and it struck me – the God of the Universe is “up all night,” so I don’t have to be.

photocredit: biblepic.com

photocredit: biblepic.com

I went to sleep in peace, not knowing how Benjamin would do… but knowing our loving, trustworthy heavenly Father would guide us through it.


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An Operation Of Priorities

First Day

Benjamin’s Birth Day

On Saturday, August 9 Benjamin Paul Rosenberger was born.

 Two days later he was scheduled for an emergency surgery.  Here is what the surgeons explained to us the day before:

Diagram Dr. Chiweshe drew - TEF

Diagram Dr. Chiweshe drew – TEF

“It’s an operation of priorities,” Dr. Angela Kadenhe-Chiweshe said.  The surgery involves two steps:

1) Disconnect the fistula. This is top priority: the longer the esophagus is connected to the windpipe, the more chance the baby has of getting stomach acid into the lungs, which can lead to many possible problems like pneumonia.

2) Reconnect the bottom of the esophagus to the top. Benjamin was already being fed nutrition through his vein and would still be fed TPN through a PICC line after surgery until he healed enough to drink milk.

Ideally both procedures are done during one surgery, but not all babies handle the procedure well. Depending on Benjamin’s response, they may have to do two separate surgeries.  Since Benjamin was born at full-term they expected he would do well, but wanted us to be aware of all the possibilities. Dr. Kadenhe-Chiweshe also explained a few “side-effects” that almost all TEF babies have (e.g. acid reflux; Tracheomalacia – i.e. barking cough, high-pitched breathing).

Early Monday afternoon he went for his 4 hour + surgery.  When we arrived at the NICU before his surgery, they were putting the breathing tube in. We had to wait in the family lounge.  Another couple was in there also; the mother was crying over the phone. I prayed their baby was ok. Jason read a psalm and prayed with me while we waited.

As we watched them wheel him to the surgery room, I thought, this must be how Jason felt watching them take us for the c-section.  Our tiny vulnerable baby – the one we were given to protect – and there’s not a thing we could do to help.  It’s times like those that I’m thankful for a loving Heavenly Father and for the many who are praying for us; and certainly the skilled, compassionate doctors who do what we can’t.

Day 3: Surgery

Day 3: Surgery

I cried as we left our baby.  It was hard to see him like that… and hard not to think about what if… but we couldn’t focus on that.  As Jason wheeled me back to our room, I decided, if he didn’t make it – I would thank God for the time I already had with him and the precious memories we made in that first day.  (Easier to say that now, I know.)  Besides that, I wasn’t going to think about that possibility anymore.

After supper, the surgeons came into our room to tell us Benjamin was out of surgery!  They were able to complete the entire process in one surgery, as they had hoped.  Thank the LORD.


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From Home Birth to High Risk

After much research, prayer, and discussion with our medical caregivers, we decided to deliver our first baby at home.  God provided for my aunt (an experienced midwife) to catch the baby and on April 16, 2010, our son was born surrounded by a few close family members.

IMG_2382

Someone asked me later if I planned to deliver all of our babies at home. After thinking about it, I had to say no.  Jonathan’s birth was the best I could have imagined and giving birth at home would be ideal, but I don’t know how every pregnancy will go.

When I answered the question, it was only hypothetical.

Now I’m 36 weeks pregnant with our second baby boy.  On our first sonogram, a couple of concerns appeared but the doctor didn’t seem alarmed. They could easily be mistaken and they wanted to do another sonogram.

It wasn’t long before we determined that we should deliver at the hospital. Our midwife would still be there – the same midwife who did all our prenatal /postpartum care with Jonathan.

God is good and gracious in everything He does. Sometimes He allows trials to happen suddenly, and He provides grace and comfort through it. I’m glad He allowed us to learn a little bit at a time.

After the many tests and changes (including a 3D sonogram and a fetal MRI), here is some of what we know… Our baby will need immediate medical attention to save his life.

Last month we were transferred to a high risk hospital in Manhattan.

3D Sonogram

Our second son has an esophageal atrasia and a fistula.  Basically, he will need surgery soon after birth, both to prevent him from choking and to enable him to swallow.  He will be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at least a few weeks, possibly 2-3 months depending on the severity of the blockage.

We appreciate prayers as we continue to prepare mentally, spiritually and logistically.

Many of our ideals for birth will be impossible this time, but God is still good.  He continues to remind us how truly blessed we are here.  We’re in a place with some of the best medical care possible for a situation like this.  God has provided so much support through friends, family and medical caregivers.  .. And we still have a living, active baby inside my womb.

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well."  photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

photocredit: iamannekehn.blogspot.com

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14

*I had considered starting an entirely new blog for this journey, but it seemed appropriate to share here… showing the partnership between natural alternatives/nutritional support and necessary medical intervention.*