I’ve sat down, netbook on lap, determined to write a post here about 5 times now. Obviously I never succeeded. So here goes…for real this time.

Starting from the beginning: I got pregnant with Rheyn in the last month of my Senior year in high school. Daniel and I knew that babies were small, that they made big, poopy messes, and that they took a lot of time, money, and care…and that was about the extent of our knowledge. Neither of us had ever changed a diaper or taken care of an infant alone. Nonetheless, we were excited and ready (as ready as any first-time parent can be, anyway).

Pregnancy wasn’t a breeze but it wasn’t complicated, either. Throwing up every day for the first three months made things like taking an AP English final exam surrounded by teenagers eating McDonald’s breakfast burritos pretty difficult but after graduation (just a few weeks after I found out about my tummy parasite), it wasn’t so bad. Daniel and I started planning, reading as much as we could about things like recalls, co-sleepers, and birth plans, and of course – picking out names!

We decided we would wait to find out the gender of the baby until he/she was born. “Why waste one of life’s best surprises?” Dan would say. I finally went to the doctor when I was 7 months pregnant. Are you “woah!”-ing in your head? Yeah, well, when you grow up with parents who take the holistic/natural approach to everything, you’d probably be afraid to go to a “real” doctor, too. Not to mention, Medicaid’s snail-on-molasses speed didn’t help matters much, either. However, I did take extra care of my body and took my horse-pill prenatal vitamins from the very start, just in case you’re wondering. Anyway, I finally got insurance and made an appointment with a clinic to get all checked out. They told me everything was perfect, all of my tests came back the way they should, and my check-ups always proved that the baby was healthy. During my ultrasound, the tech told us that the baby’s head was measuring small and that my due date was now January 25th, rather than December 25th – according to the measurements. Even though I repeatedly told my doctor that I knew exactly when I got pregnant, she still assumed my dates were wrong and changed my due date. I went along with it but knew that I’d be having a baby in December.

A few minutes after midnight on December 22nd, I woke up to pee for the seemingly hundredth time since going to bed, wobbled my way to the bathroom and voila(!) – soaked the floor with a whole lot of non-pee. Why did I change clothes, wipe the floor clean, and head back to bed? I have no idea. I just had to get right back up and go through the same thing again, only to realize that, “Hey, this is probably my water breaking.” So I woke Daniel up and called the on-call OB. He told me to come in since there was a possibility that the baby would be a preemie so we headed in. Walking into the hospital, all I could think about was how much I hoped I wouldn’t mop the floor with amniotic fluid. (I got lucky, in case you’re curious.)

A little over nine hours later, we had a tiny baby boy, our Rheyn!

I got to hold him after they wrapped him up, and he was perfect. Tiny, wide-eyed, and perfect! After a little while, the nurses took him into the nursery, which was actually the NICU for him but I didn’t know that at the time. A pediatrician finally came back out to our room and started reeling off the unexpected. Rheyn had a cleft-palate and probably wouldn’t be able to breastfeed (which I had planned on), hypospadius, wide-set eyes, his chin sat farther back than normal, he was slightly tongue tied, his white blood cell count was insanely high, he only weighed 5 pounds (which brought up more concerns) but was determined to be full-term, and they suspected that he had a genetic abnormality.

I sat there, taking it in and nodding my head like I understood, which I did somewhat but most definitely not completely. They started genetic testing right away and gave him antibiotics to lower his white blood cell count, thinking the cause was from an infection. We were told that after three days, the antibiotics should help lower his WBC count and we could probably go home. He also had some jaundice so he was under the lights for a couple of days to clear that up. I attempted breastfeeding him but he just didn’t have the suction so we started using Haberman Feeder bottles and supplementing Neosure formula with my expressed breast milk. He wasn’t allowed to be taken out of the NICU so we requested that the nurses call us to let us know when he got hungry so we could come in and feed him ourselves. Doctors continued to poke and prod him and turned our three day stay into seven. Rheyn’s poor little heels and hands were bruised from all of the needle pricks but even so, he was a very well-tempered newborn. Except when he was hungry, of course. Then he would really let everyone know just how powerful those itty bitty lungs were.

We still didn’t have any answers by day seven and were starting to realize that even great doctors weren’t going to be able to tell us anything more than what we could Google ourselves. It’s times like those that our go-with-the-flow attitudes come in handy! We prepared to stay another 3 nights in the hospital with Rheyn for a third round of antibiotics and observation and waited for the results from his HIV and Leukemia tests. Even though we knew the HIV test was just a precaution and that there was no way Rheyn could have it, it was still scary. And of course no one wants to think that their child might have [any type of] cancer. We were relieved to hear that both tests were negative but even so, that only meant we were still in the dark. When day 10 came, the pediatricians agreed that it was time to let us go home and give Rheyn a break from the hospital. The first day of the new year was the perfect day to start our new life, all three of us together at home! It was like moving out of a dorm, with all of the stuff we had accumulated from our awesome friends and family during our hospital stay. Rheyn even got a sweet little Christmas bear from a family that had a baby in the NICU during Christmas years ago, who now deliver bears to the hospital on the holiday every year. We still didn’t know what the hell was going on but we were happy to at least be able to not know in our own home, eating our own food that didn’t give us unwanted, extended bathroom time, playing with our precious little man in his very own crib.

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4 Responses to Meeting Our Rheyn

  1. Mihaela says:

    Afryka,

    I didn’t want this to end. You write beautifully. I would love to see the next chapter.
    Not that I’ve submitted MY entry yet. Oh well.

  2. crivera75 says:

    Dear Afryka,
    Thank you for sharing this experience. When did you find out he had WHS? Reading about your experience is refreshing and relaxing. You never panicked or freaked out like I did. Even though we have never met, you have taught me a lot about slowing down and enjoying our children! Thank you!

  3. KevinO says:

    Afryka- Thanks for sharing and adding your story. We’re anxiously waiting to hear what happens next…

  4. Laurie says:

    Ooohhh… not fair! I was so into reading your story, and then it… stopped! lol. I cannot wait to read more about Rheyn– he is so precious!

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