Silas was born very pale, cyanotic, limp and not breathing. He did have a heartbeat until one minute of life when it became very faint and weak requiring them to start compressions. He was intubated so that they could breathe for him since he failed to breathe on his own even after stimulation. They regained a heartbeat after four minutes. When you have a baby, you expect a cry. We heard chaos, alarms, and silence. No crying. (If you haven’t already, read my previous post before continuing).
Silas was then rushed up to the NICU, and Evan went with him. They did carry him by me so that I could see him before they took him. He was completely lifeless, tubes coming out of every orifice, and a nurse was breathing for him by squeezing a bag. Without God’s grace, I would have been a complete emotional wreck from this point on. But God set down his grace and peace upon me and Evan throughout this entire ordeal, enabling us to see His hand at work in our lives in a way that we had never experienced before. After Silas was taken out of the operating room, my procedure continued. A few minutes later, my doctor (the most amazing and admirable doctor ever) suggested that we pray for Silas. Now I know you’ve all seen the Facebook posts of a picture of an entire surgery staff praying over the bed of a patient, and may find it hard to believe in real life, but this is exactly what happened. Everyone in that room stopped what they were doing, mid-surgery, and we prayed. Well, let’s say that they prayed, because I was so humbled and overwhelmed by God’s presence that I couldn’t be sure how much praying I actually got done through my tears.
I was taken to recovery after surgery, and my same amazing doctor had brought my phone down to me from our original room. By this point, my Mom had made it to the hospital and came back to sit with me, well…stand with me. Evan called and all he said was, “I’m coming down to talk to you.” I asked how Silas was and he said “I’ll talk to you about it when I get there.” Honestly, I had the feeling that Silas was not alive. Like I stated in the previous post, God had prepared my heart for what would happen. I honestly had thought several times during my pregnancy that I wouldn’t be bringing home a baby. I had no logical reason to think this, but I thought it nonetheless. So when Evan called this first time, I was already prepared to hear that we had lost the baby. I was worried about how Evan would be taking it. I had never discussed the feelings I’d had with anyone before, because I felt guilty for thinking something so bad might happen. When Evan and our pastor got back to recovery with me, I was completely in shock when they told me Silas was alive. Evan explained that he had lost a lot of blood and the doctors believed he had also went an unknown period of time without getting enough blood and oxygen to the brain. We later found out this was diagnosed as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. As you may know, babies are give APGAR scores at 1 minute of life, 5 minutes and 10 minutes. These are scores on a scale of 0-10 based on criteria such as heart rate, respiratory effort, color, reflexes, and muscle tone. Silas’ scores were 2,1 and 4. Although these scores are not a predictor of any outcome, they may help you put into perspective his condition at the time. We were given absolutely no predictions or indications at all of what to expect the outcome to be. The doctors prepared us for the worst. Little did they know, God had already prepared our hearts for what would come.
Silas underwent hypothermic treatment for his brain injury for the first 72 hours of his life. They kept his body around 32 degrees Celsius, (about 91-92 degrees Fahrenheit). The purpose of this treatment is to slow all the body processes down dramatically so that the brain can heal and to reduce any swelling or damage that may have occurred initially.
Let me share here some statistics of cases similar to Silas’. According to the World Health Organization, 0.5-1 infants per 1000 live births have moderate to severe perinatal asphyxia developing into brain damage in the form of HIE. About 60% of these infants die. Out of the surviving 40%, another 25% are left with a severe handicap. It would be safe to say that there are very, very few infants that go through this and come out normal. In fact, it is recommended that any survivors be followed closely by several specialists and therapists all throughout childhood because of the likelihood that they may develop a handicap or developmental issue.
During these first 72 hours, Evan and I met with the nurses and doctors regularly. It was the same over and over, “wait and see”. There was truly no one except God that had any idea what the outcome would be. But then again, in any situation in life, God is the ONLY one who knows the outcome before it happens. Even doctors, therapists, family, friends, scientists, or even pastors can never truly know what the future holds for any of us. We may die this next second. Before you read the next sentence, you may die. So this “wait and see” that we were told so many times is really relevant to all of us at any given moment.
However, explaining to our family that the doctors didn’t know what would happen didn’t prove to be easy. The hardest part was repeatedly telling the many concerned family and friends that we didn’t know anything at all. He was alive at the moment and that’s all we could say. His blood pressure was very low (40s/20s), he had to get several blood transfusions, plasma transfusions and platelets because of the blood he had lost. He had numerous seizures that required resuscitation afterward to get him stable again. His kidneys completely shut down for 5 days. His heart had several issues on the first ECHO, including a large PDA, diminished function of the right ventricle and some other thick/thin issues in different areas. His EEG was abnormal and showed disorganization that warranted concern. In retrospect, I don’t think many of these details were shared with everyone at the time, and most will be reading them here for the first time. We were so comforted and at peace that God was in control no matter what would happen, that we didn’t even know many of these details ourselves. To us, none of this mattered. It was all just numbers and data that we would have filled our heads with. God had us completely at rest in Him so we honestly didn’t even think to ask many of these questions. We had no reason at all to know them, God knew them and He was in control of them.
Multiple times, the scripture Romans 8:28 was brought to my mind.
“For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.” KJV
One night the Lord even woke me in the middle of the night, with this scripture in my head. His gentle reminder that He was using my life for His glory!
In the next post, I’ll share some of the specific prayers that were answered during this period of time. You will see that God can and will answer prayers in miraculous ways, even down to the tiniest detail.