On this day, where we bring awareness to premature births, I find myself full of differing emotions. Over five years ago, after a very tumultuous pregnancy, the doctors decided to do an emergency C-section. It was a very scary time for me. I knew that delivering the baby at 29 weeks gestation brought a lot of uncertainty. As I laid alone in my hospital bed in the middle of the night, I remember feeling hopeless and fearful of what might come. They prepped me for surgery, and I had to make a plan with the on-call doctor. All of the ultrasounds that they had been doing every 8 hours were showing that the baby was doing ok, but at midnight he took a turn for the worse and they felt it would be less risky to deliver, than for him to remain in the womb any longer. At the time, I was not happy that we hadn’t made it any farther than 29 weeks. When I had 20 weeks, I had prayed that we would make it further each week, so that his chance of survival would increase.
At about 3 AM on June 4th, 2012, John Daniel Puerto was born weighing a mere 2 pounds 5 ounces. Due to the many health complications that I was going through and the complications of the surgery, it was about 5-6 hours in duration. I was in a whirlwind afterward and had a long recovery ahead. I was still on oxygen 2 days later and the day after surgery was given a blood transfusion. These complications prevented me from being able to go see my little baby, who was fighting for his life in the NICU. Two days after birth, the NICU at Baptist Hospital realized that he wasn’t improving and needed emergency surgery. He was transported to LeBonheur for the surgery and further care. Yet, I was still in the hospital at Baptist Women’s, so it was a very discouraging time for me. I don’t wish this experience on anyone. They allowed me to go see him briefly for the first time as they were getting him ready for transport. I had to be wheeled into his room with oxygen, etc. As I watched his fragile body get put into an incubator for transport, I remember being afraid that I might not see him again. They called me on the phone for me to give consent for the surgery. My husband was able to go to LeBonheur and see him when he came out. He was hooked up to all kinds of machines: breathing assistance, pain medicine, 2 different IVs, one for fluids and the other for medicine to be administered. Finally, after being in the hospital for over a week, I was discharged and able to go see him in person.
Life in the NICU was a roller coaster of good and bad days. Often, we were not sure if he would make it. After 3 surgeries and almost 4 months of living at LeBonheur, we were finally able to bring him home. He only weighed barely 5 pounds, but he was thriving.
Just recounting this story brings me near to tears, even five years later. I feel humbled and blessed to have him in our lives. We have learned so much from our premature bundle of energy. Not a day has gone by in the past five years that I haven’t looked at him and marveled at his miraculous life. Here is this little boy that we were told would never walk, yet he is jumping on everything and climbing the fence. We were told IF he survived, he would likely be on oxygen for the rest of his life. Yet he is a rambunctious boy running around being loud and breathing fine. During this season, our hearts are filled with thankfulness at the miracle of life we are able to witness day in and day out. Grateful, that on this day in November, awareness is being made so that further strides can be put in place with the hope that premature births will decrease.