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James’ Story: Part 3

Dr. Magee was an amazingly calm force during the chaos of that evening. He spoke slowly and deliberately. He gave us the bad news first, and prefaced it with “I’m only going to say this once.” Then he gave us some hope, and told us it was still possible to have a good outcome. He smiled and said he would see us again, as he was the doctor who did the ultrasounds for patients on hospitalized bed rest.

We spent that night in Labor & Delivery. I was hooked up to a monitor to watch for contractions, and Andy made numerous phone calls informing family of the day’s events. Nothing felt real that day, or for many of the days and weeks that followed. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I kept all of my appointments and did everything the doctor said to do, yet we found ourselves in an unimaginable situation that we weren’t even a little prepared for.

Dr. Stevenson met with us that night and came back the next day. She explained that at 23 weeks gestation they would do the first of 2 steroid shots to help with lung development. She also explained that at this hospital, between 23 and 25 weeks gestation it is the family’s choice of whether or not we want the doctors to do life-saving measures. They would have a neonatologist meet with us to explain some of the common issues and risks in the NICU, and we would be able to take a tour of the NICU. As we spoke Dr. Stevenson asked questions and took notes. “You’ll be 23 weeks Monday, right?” “No,” I started to say, “not until Tuesday,” but I couldn’t get the words out. There was literally something stopping me, and instead of correcting her I nodded in agreement.

The next few days were, thankfully, uneventful. We had wonderful friends and family who came to visit and called to help pass the time. We learned the routines of the nurses on our floor and knew what to expect from them each day. We met with the neonatologist, who said if we could make it to 30 weeks their job would be a lot easier and we’d have a much greater chance of taking our baby home. So that was the new goal, 30 weeks gestation.

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