Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 1990

Our son Daniel was born too soon.  

I knew the doc was serious when he pulled grapefruit-sized clots away.  As soon as he took one, another one appeared.  "It's time,' he said.

I asked, "Are you sure?"  I was worried about the baby.  I thought he needed just a bit more time to grow.  He wasn't due until the first week of March, and I knew that premie boys had a rougher time of things.

Doctor Nurse (NOT kidding) pulled another huge clot from me.  "We have to go now."

Despite the many tests and ultrasounds that had been done, the surgical team cut right through the placenta in order to deliver my son.  I lost a massive amount of blood.  Worse, Daniel was born unresponsive and in shock.

I didn't know all this, because I was under a general anesthetic.  The first thing I remember when I came to was a nurse shoving a clipboard at me.  "Sign this!" she demanded.

"What is it?" I asked groggily.

"The consent form for your surgery."

I chuckled a bit, wincing from the pain.  "It's a bit late for that, isn't it?"  I could feel the tension in the room, and briefly wondered what would happen if I didn't sign.  I scrawled my signature, then promptly upchucked into a bowl.

It's disconcerting to say the least to be lying on a gurney, pillow against the incision, vomiting every few minutes.  "Where's the baby??" I demanded.  I want to see him.

"First the doctor wants to talk to you."

I expected Dr. Nurse to come to tell me how the C-Section went.  Instead, a somewhat familiar face appeared at my bedside.

"I know you", I said.

It was Dr. Peter Thornback, pediatrician.  I had no idea he was working at KW Hospital!  I'd met Peter 15 years previously, when we were expecting our first baby.  We lived in North Bay, and I'd been doing a lot of reading about natural childbirth.  When I saw an ad in the paper (The North Bay Nugget) about a course offered at Canadore College, I picked  up the phone and enrolled.  Peter and his wife Liz were also expecting their first baby, and took the course right along with us.  Our instructor, Meg, was brilliant and kind and supportive.  I'll never forget her card: "Congratulations! Now comes the hard part..."  Inside, it read, "... the next twenty years!"

We liked Peter and Liz immediately.  They were at least 10 years older than us, but were kind and friendly and welcoming, even inviting us to lunch at their home.  So when he showed up at my bedside that January morning, I was relieved to know he was caring for our baby.

Relieved for about 1.5 seconds.

Dr. Thornback was mad.  He told me that the surgical team should have known better than to have cut right through the placenta!  They had all the ultrasounds, and they knew exactly where the placenta was lying.  I don't know why they decided to do what they did, but I do know that it put our son in grave danger.

The doctor told me that Daniel might have to go by air ambulance to Hamilton, unless they could get him stabilized.  He told me more details about his condition, but all I could think was "my baby's in danger."

"Do you want to see him?"

Do I!!

They pushed me on the gurney down to the NICU.  There was our baby, mask on his face, tubes and wires on his head, his arm, his chest and his feet.  Poor wee baby.  But he was beautiful.

I couldn't see his face, but I loved him just the same.  I lay there and gazed at him, praying that God, the Healer of the sick, would strengthen and heal our son.

The next few hours were a blur.  I was taken to my room and given pain meds, so I drifted off to sleep.  Every time I woke, I prayed for our boy.  The day was a haze of meds and tears and prayers and ladies who came and stood by my bed, praying for me and for Daniel, that God would spare him, and that he'd grow up to be a man of God.

I don't remember how many hours it took, but suddenly Daniel rallied.  He didn't have to be taken to Hamilton.  He was able to be weaned off the ventilator.  Slowly they took out wires and tubes.  What joy!  He was in my arms.

I did a search for Dr. Thornback this evening.  He's now in his 70's, working overseas, still caring for little ones.  He survived cancer a few years back, and was the oldest person to compete in a Triathalon in 2011. I'm sure he's been a blessing to many, many families over the past 40 years he's been practicing as a physician.  But the blessing to the Billsons is Daniel, our son, who overcame a difficult birth and a rough start by the grace of God, and has increased in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man.

Happy Birthday, my son.

I'm glad Dr. Thornback was there that day. :D

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