Hearing my son laugh is the sweetest sound in the world, and it’s a sound I have you to thank for.
It wasn’t long ago that he wasn’t laughing…he wasn’t even breathing… he was dying as I held him in my arms. He was only a few months old then, but this month my son Sebastien will turn two and half.
I was only 20 weeks into my pregnancy when the first signs of trouble began. My body was having difficulty carrying the weight of a growing baby, and during a routine ultrasound, doctors discovered Sebastien’s head was already in my birth canal.
I was given emergency surgery to avoid giving birth too soon, and to help my body carry him to term. But just three weeks later, I was back at St. Boniface Hospital in labour and terrified for my baby’s life. The staff tried their best to stall his delivery, giving me medication to strengthen his little body.
Sebastien was born weighing only one pound, eleven ounces. When I saw my little boy, it felt like my heart was breaking … he was so tiny, sleeping in an incubator, connected to so many tubes.
I was told he would have to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for the next few months, and to expect some complications. His first week in hospital wasn’t that bad, but soon after things quickly became very serious.
Because Sebastien was premature, part of his heart hadn’t developed properly and it was putting extra pressure on his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe. At just two weeks old, he had heart surgery and though it went well, Sebastien still had trouble breathing …
Every time we tried to feed him, he began to breathe very quickly and heavily. Sometimes he coughed, as if he was choking – I felt so helpless watching him struggle for air.
For weeks his condition continued to get worse. He developed pneumonia. I practically lived in the NICU, standing by his incubator for hours every day, holding him when I could.
The staff tried everything they could for him, and walked me through all of the possibilities. When he got another serious lung infection, they gently told me
I should prepare myself for the worst… that he might not live to see the end of the month.
The news was overwhelming. I had only been with my little boy for a few weeks – hadn’t even brought him home – I couldn’t imagine saying goodbye so soon.
One day, I was in the NICU holding Sebastien against my chest to help calm him the way the nurses had showed me. Suddenly, I felt him go cold and limp. His skin was turning blue as a flurry of nurses rushed to my side.
It felt like the entire NICU had just stopped. All of us – doctors, nurses, support staff, and parents of other babies – hoping and praying that he would stay with us.
After many, many tries, they managed to revive him.
That was the first of many scary moments for me and Sebastien. A month later, he got necrotizing enterocolitis, disease which attacks the intestine. Sebastien’s case was so severe, I was told that a hole had formed in his intestine
and bacteria was leaking into his bloodstream. He had surgery to repair it, and a few months later, double hernia surgery.
I often tell people it would be easier to say what Sebastien hasn’t gone through, as he’s had nearly all the complications a newborn can face. But you would never know it by looking at him now. He is the happiest baby you could ever meet and I attribute a lot of that to the love and affection he received from all the wonderful staff in the NICU.
I’m so honoured to be able to tell you our story, because I know now that the staff are able to save lives because of your ongoing support. Your continued donations to St. Boniface Hospital Foundation have given Hospital staff the training and equipment to give babies like mine a bright future.
I’ve included some recent photos of Sebastien for you to see. It’s hard to believe he used to have heart problems, and trouble eating and breathing. Today, Sebastien loves to laugh, chase me around the house, and his favourite food is broccoli!
Thank you for helping to bring him home.
P.S. Every day, there are many worried families in the NICU with babies like Sebastien. Please consider making a gift to St. Boniface Hospital Foundation to help save a life.