19: A Heart that Won’t Stop

19: A Heart that Won’t Stop

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

A Heart that Won’t Stop

Who so loves, believes the impossible.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Labor definitely got its name appropriately. After many hours of this strenuous work, the nurse finally said it was time to push, and the doctor was on her way. A short time later, my physician came into the room and immediately called for assistance. I quickly realized something was not right as an army of nurses and other doctors stormed into the room. They told me I might need an emergency caesarean section. Thankfully he came on his own, a beautiful, four-pound, eight-ounce baby boy; but he wasn’t crying.

Repeatedly, I asked the doctor what was wrong and why he wasn’t crying. The pediatric neonatologist, neurologist and cardiologist whisked him from the room. No letting my husband cut the umbilical cord. No placing him on my chest for pictures. They simply took him away before I even got to see him.

The nurses kept assuring me everything would be fine. The doctors were working with him and I would have news soon. I was finally informed my baby’s Apgar scores were 0 at birth and 2 at five minutes, which meant he was blue, had no pulse, no response to stimulation, no activity and was not breathing. After a while, they let us see him. He was so tiny and had wires attached everywhere. No “what to expect” book had prepared me for this situation. I was told my baby had brain damage, high acidosis, low blood pressure, and his lungs were not working properly. They didn’t give him much hope.

About eighteen hours after birth, a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit saw Spencer having a seizure. They gave him medication to try to stop the seizure and it sent him into respiratory and cardiac arrest. As they worked on him, they called my husband and me down to the NICU. After six shots of epinephrine to try to regulate his heart and breathing, six vials of fluid pulled from around his heart and manual CPR for over thirty minutes, the doctors gave up. They informed my husband and me that if we wanted to hold our son before he died, we needed to give them permission to stop working on him. My son had extremely low blood pressure and his heart was beating fewer than twenty times per minute.

They wrapped my newborn baby in a soft blue blanket and hat that covered everything but his little face, trying to hide the fact he was already turning gray. They said this was my opportunity to hold my baby for the first and last time. I hadn’t held him since he’d been born and now I had to say hello and goodbye.

They placed my husband and me in a room off the NICU and left us with our pastor to spend the last moments of my new son’s life. Not knowing what else to do, we began to pray. We prayed for God’s will to be done and whatever that will was, we would be strong enough to accept and face it together. We prayed the desire of our heart be given to us, which was for our son to live, but also acknowledged we weren’t in control, and whatever happened could and would be used for good.

The doctor kept coming into the room to check on us. Each time he would pull down the blanket and place a stethoscope on Spencer’s little chest to see if his heart had stopped beating so he could call an official time of death. The nurses had already filled out a death certificate and informed our family and friends in the waiting room that our son had passed away. Phone calls were made to more of our family, friends, and church.

The third time the doctor came into the room to check his heart, I knew something was different. He quickly pulled the stethoscope away and took Spencer from my arms. I cried out, “Please don’t take my baby from me, I don’t care if his heart has stopped beating. I just want to hold him a little longer.”

But the doctor replied, “I’m not taking him because his heart has stopped, sweetie. I’m taking him because his heart has started. It’s back over 100 beats per minute and we need to see what is happening.”

As the doctor met the nurse at the door, she asked for time of death.

“This baby isn’t dead,” the doctor said. “He is alive.”

We experienced a miracle that day.

We spent about two more weeks at the hospital where they ran every test imaginable on our baby. They just couldn’t explain how a baby that one day showed brain and lung damage, couldn’t breathe on his own, and had an irregular heartbeat was now perfectly healthy. But we knew. What happened to our son was not in the medical realm, it was in the spiritual realm.

They released us after ten days with instructions to follow up with a developmental neuropsychologist to assess how Spencer might progress in the future. After meeting with that doctor we were told our son had an “area of insult” on the left lateral hemisphere of his brain in the place that controlled speech and motor skills. The injury looked consistent with a possible stroke at birth. He most likely would never be able to walk or talk—another situation for which we weren’t prepared.

Again, we prayed. We also started occupational, physical and speech therapy.

With a lot of hard work and prayer, by age three Spencer could not only walk, he could run, play ball and talk. Sometimes I thought he would never be quiet, but I knew in my heart it was because God answers some prayers abundantly.

To be given life every day is a miracle. But sometimes there is a little more drama, and that is when God shows us just how great He is.

~Amy Wyatt

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