Friday, June 28, 2013

Battling for life in the NICU

8:19 p.m. Today's project is to finally sit down, prompted by the March of Dimes keepsake journal, "Baby," and reflect on the Lord's work in saving my newborn grandson Desmond's life from spinal meningitis.

At 1:10 a.m Monday morning, Heather and Nick called his mom Kathleen to ask what to do about two-week-old Desmond's 102 degree temperature. "Take him to the hospital!" she replied. At 1:45, I awoke to use my bathroom, and sleepily marveled behind my closed door that all the lights were still on upstairs in the rooms next to me, but figured the baby was up nursing, and went back to sleep. I had set a 4 a.m. wake-up alarm so I could drive my other daughter Heidi and her husband Pavel to LAX for their 2nd anniversary flight to Maui, so staying up was not an option.

At 4 o'clock, I went into the hall and peeked into the rooms and the parents and baby were gone. "Maybe they spent the night at Nick's parents' house," I thought. 4 a.m. was no  time to be calling anyone, so I hustled about and got out of the door and on my way to Redlands to pick up Heidi and Pavel. We traveled lightheartedly to the airport, I deposited them, and went on my way home with just a "pit stop" in Bellflower.

Little did I know that Desmond was fighting for his life!

I was most of the way home when a text message from Nick came in about 9:30 a.m., detailing Desmond's near-fatal fever, the painful tests, such as a spinal tap, which their little one had to endure without pain medication, and the prognosis: bacterial spinal meningitis,14 days' minimum in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit--in isolation!. Future complications include deafness and brain damage! However, since they brought the baby in so quickly, he had the best chance for survival. Thank you, Lord!!

We didn't see much of Heather as she and Nick came home to rest Monday afternoon, but he told me later that evening that the two of them had endured 2 and a half hours not seeing Desmond, but hearing him scream from lifesaving medical procedures. Nick and Heather were requesting total privacy at that time. I went over to Nick's parents house just to be together, commiserate, and talk about how we could help. Information was quietly going out to the families.My friend Linda Martinez' prayer chain had been set in motion for Desmond's complete healing.. As I tweeted earlier this week, "Praise God that He has not left us alone in our tribulations! Jesus said, in Hebrews 13:5,

I will never leave you nor forsake you."

It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done, to look at my daughter Heather, a new mom with her baby away from her for the first time in his life, standing at the kitchen counter quietly eating the poached egg and sausage Nick had fixed for her breakfast. You could cut both of our pain and sorrow with a knife. She asked me if I wanted to come see the baby, and of course I said "yes." I went upstairs and cried a little, because the loud sobbing I felt like doing would have upset my daughter and son-in-law. I was devastated, just devastated, horrified and frightened. As Nick's mom and I said, we've both had our full share of childhood mishaps and injuries, but nothing ever happened with our newborns.

Only God could intervene for Desmond, and He did! When I went to see him in the NICU, the visit began with a 3-minute surgical scrub and the donning of a gown.My old Bible study friend Ginger Fero, now a charge nurse, gave me a hug and reassured me that she had placed him in the NICU immediately (not in pediatric ICU) for his further protection. She arranged for the finest neonatal specialist to attend Desmond, knowing who Heather was right away (family resemblance). Christian doctors and nurses are attending him around the clock. And I was delighted to see that his color was regular newborn pink, and the stiffness in his little neck from the disease was loosening. He was nursing and eliminating, moving about as a baby should.On Tuesday, we still didn't know what the repercussions for the future might be, but people were praying.

As Nick asked for prayer on Facebook, a friend from their church set up "Meal Train," one of the websites that help friends organize meal deliveries to hurting families, those in crises of any kind. Nick and Heather's lunches and dinners are delivered to his parents' home, which is much closer to the hospital than mine. That way, Desmond's parents can head back to the hospital conveniently. In what happens to be the most critical week of my Mary Kay business year, the Lord allots time for me to spend an hour each day with Heather and Desmond, and have the privilege of seeing him progress daily.

Desmond hears, responds, looks me straight in the eye, coos, and does all of the normal newborn movements.He nurses vigorously. He turns his head and is even lifting it up to look around. And because of having formula during the night and as a daytime supplement to breastfeeding, he's even filling out, and looks cuter than ever! How hundreds of believers are praising God today!

As a believing nurse explained today, "All the prayers are working, most of us in here are Christians. So keep the prayers coming!" She went through the daily improvement Desmond has shown, and told us of the amazing skill of the doctor who found a way to get the IV into his umbilical cord area, not easy 2 weeks after birth, falling off of the cord, and the closing up of the area. As she left, it occurred to me that prayers not only helped Desmond and his family, but help the nurses and doctors too--giving them wisdom for enacting each part of their role, and not making costly mistakes--the stakes are high for the preemies and babies with life-threatening illnesses! David wrote in Psalm 144:1, 2a

Blessed be the LORD my Rock, 
Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle--
My lovingkindness and my
My high tower and my deliverer,
My shield and the one in whom I take refuge

It is with godly, God-honoring confidence that I thank the Lord Jesus, Desmond's Deliverer!


  1. Dear Dana,

    I am so fortunate to get paid for what I do! I love being able to love on our babies, and minister to their families.
    I want to clear one thing up...I had nothing to do with him being transferred to our NICU, or that the doc on that day was our beloved Dr. Joe...who loves Jesus. It was ALL God! He gets all the glory.
    I did get to sing praise songs over Desmond on Sunday morning, and I fed him and loved on him for most of the morning. He looks absolutely perfect to me....praise God!! Ginger

  2. Thank you, Ginger!! Indeed, God gets all the glory, and I hope to get back over to visit in person soon!!!