August 1996 (A letter sent to family and friends)
Well, you may have heard by now that little Matthew has arrived! In fact, he’s actually a little over two months old, born June 19, and has more than doubled his birth weight of 2lbs. 4oz. and 15 inches long! The saga of Laura’s pregnancy began around Christmas 1995. So for those who already know many of the details, please bear with us as we update those who missed the blow-by-blow.
November 1995 was a tough month for the Taylors. Our fertility doctor informed us that after practically two years of trying to have a baby, “our odds” of conceiving on our own were very small. We’d dreamed of children from the beginning of our marriage and this was a big blow. So, with a desire to leave no stone unturned we began preparation for Invitro Fertilization to begin in January (1996). It was at that time Laura’s prayer turned to a difficult, but confident acceptance that in spite of all the wonderful technology available to us today, God is still the author of life and can overcome the most dire odds to create life.
Well, Christmas came and went and we counted the days before our IVF cycle would begin. Then on December 28 Laura quietly, fearfully, and with a bit of sick dread for the anticipated and familiar disappointment, took a home pregnancy test…and it came out positive. We were in shock. And so was our fertility doctor when we shared the news. God again demonstrated that He is a God of genesis…new life.
|My one pregancy picture...on bedrest|
Six months of nausea, colds, migraines. Ugh! Somehow we thought (naively) that since we’d been through so much trying to conceive that the pregnancy itself might be smooth. No such luck! The “fun” was only beginning. In late May (1996) Laura found herself at the doctor’s office midday with contractions. Nothing serious, they went away and she was told to take the next two days off. Then on June 5 at her next OB appointment the first signs of trouble revealed itself…creeping blood pressure and protein in her urine, clear signs of preeclampsia. She was told at 26 weeks gestation that she would not be returning to work for the duration of the pregnancy – hopefully 14 more weeks!
By week 28 her blood pressure was 170/116 and things were going downhill fast. Thursday, June 14, Laura was admitted to Stanford University Hospital. It’s at times like these that we actually can thank God for our mortgage payment in this “most expensive housing market” location…Stanford’s in our backyard. If we were going to have this baby early, this is where we wanted to be. To say we were scared would be an understatement. This was the baby we’d longed for and we were only just entering the last trimester.
Within two hours of admission the doctors at Stanford were giving Laura the first of two betamethasone shots – steroids to help the baby’s lung development in the event of a premature delivery. The neonatal team visited us in the middle of the night to prep us on what to expect from a preemie of barely 2 lbs. We got more scared. It became apparent that they didn’t expect Laura to “wait out” the pregnancy in the hospital. The race was on to prolong the pregnancy and give Matthew his best chance for life. Ultrasounds showed he was a very small baby even for his gestational age…another cause for concern.
Daily ultrasounds, hourly blood pressure and hyper reflex checks (another sign of the disease advancing) and ongoing fetal monitoring. Then on Tuesday, June 18 the blood stopped flowing through the umbilical cord and the decision was made to do a cesarean. When you know your baby is going to be born in the next 24 hours, 10 ½ weeks early, weighing probably about 2 lbs., it shakes your expectations about becoming a parent. They kept telling us about the amazing things they can do for preemies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)…but two pounds! Laura described his anticipated size as two medium potatoes lying end to end. People we didn’t even know were praying for us, and we needed it.
|The Polaroid pictures taped to my bed since I was too sick to go see him|
At 3:30 p.m., Wednesday June 19, Matthew was born. The neonatal team took him immediately; all we saw was this extremely tiny body being lifted out of Laura’s stomach. We heard one small cry before he was whisked away. He looked smaller than a child’s doll. Laura was then put on a magnesium sulfate drip for 24 hours and what Laura can only describe as physical and emotional misery. The bright spot was Todd’s constant movement back and forth between her room and the NICU and Todd’s glowing exclamations of how beautiful he was…Laura contented herself with Polaroid pictures since it would be two more days before she could see her son.
|Momma and Matthew|
|Daddy with the boy in the green cap|
Thus began phase three in Matthew’s joining our family—daily trips to Stanford. As with all babies, Matthew lost weight that first week dropping to a mere 1 lb. 15 oz. He was so tiny and sported a huge green knit cap to help keep his body temperature from slipping. Although tiny, the doctors’ proclaimed him to be in remarkably good shape with amazingly healthy lungs, but the prognosis was guarded as with all babies that small. Daily Laura held Matthew as part of Kangaroo Care: Matthew in only a diaper and hat would nestle against Laura’s bare chest. Her body temperature not only would keep him warm but also provide important skin-to-skin contact that helps preemies thrive. On July 3, two weeks after his birth Matthew was moved to the INN (Intermediate Intensive Care Nursery). This was an important step toward going home, and testimony that he was doing remarkably well.
|Matthew out of the incubator...finally!|
But, the morning of July 6 had the Taylors racing back to the emergency room at Stanford. Laura was in severe pain and could barely speak. After ruling out gall bladder and kidney problems, the ER doctors began to suspect pulmonary embolism. After numerous tests, it was confirmed that she had not one but two life-threatening blood clots, one in each lung and a third still in her pelvis. Laura was in the hospital for a week while the clots were dissolved. It was that weekend that Matthew flirted with trouble and was transferred back to the NICU for tests to rule out problems. Todd had his hands full and for the first time showed the wear and tear with both his wife and son’s lives on the line. Well thankfully Matthew needed only a blood transfusion (common for preemie since they aren’t mature enough to manufacture their own blood) and Laura needed time.
|Going home day -- a wee bit over 4 lbs.|
The next six weeks are now a blurry memory of daily trips to nurture Matthew. Like most preemies he struggled with apnea and bradycardis episodes where his breathing would stop and his heart rate would fall. Because he was gestationally so young, he could not immediately coordinate sucking and swallowing and had to be gavage fed (with a feeding tube). Once learned, the really difficult task for a preemie is coordinating sucking, swallowing and breathing all at the same time. Slowly Matthew passed each developmental milestone, never once succumbing to infection, brain bleeds or other complications of prematurity. We were blessed beyond measure to have a pediatrician who came to the hospital daily to manage Matthew’s care (and provide Mom and Dad with encouragement). Right from the start Dr. Greene assured us that Matthew was an amazing preemie and should have no long-term problems.
Well Matthew came home on August 11. We’re just like every other new family with an infant – not getting much sleep. As of August 21 he had grown to 5 lbs., 17 ¼ inches. We are so thankful to God for his loving care for us, who gave us the beautiful child, Matthew James, whose name means “gift of God.”