I became a mother for the very first time 5 months and 28 days ago. I had given birth to my beautiful baby boy, Cesar. I was so scared about giving birth and unfortunately it was a traumatic birth. My son was a full term baby, weighing 8 lbs. He was laying low in my cervix for a week and the OBGYN expected the delivery to be a smooth one. Boy, was it the complete opposite. During labor his head got stuck between my pelvic and pubic bone, so the obgyn decided to use a vacuum on his head several times, where he finally came out. Then that is when the room filled with more nurses and staff as they tried to get my baby to breathe in the corner of the delivery room. Minutes went by and they end up rushing him to the nursery of the hospital to continue their attempts. Feeling confused and exhausted, I asked the OBGYN what was going on? She said Cesar was stunned by the vacuum, that they were finally able to get him to breathe, but he was on assisted oxygen and would need to spend a week at a Children’s Hospital because he had a blood blister on his head from the vacuum, which needed to be drained at the children’s hospital. She explained that the Children’s Hospital would stall the development of his skull in order to drain the blood blister so it will not damage his brain.
The children’s hospital came and rushed him to their hospital, 4 hours away. That same night they called me when I was in my hospital bed to ask for permission to do an emergency blood transfusion on him because he was septic. I said yes. Sitting in that hospital bed, I felt confused and worried, not understanding what was truly happening. The pain of not being able to hold my baby boy in my arms or hear his first cries, just broke me down. My husband felt worried, wondering why our son was so pale.
The OBGYN visited me the next morning in her personal clothes and reassured me Cesar would be okay, that this is normal. That he would be just fine. She then began to cry, which made me worryingly ask her “what is wrong? Is Cesar really going to be okay?” She said yes he will be okay, she just was sad I could not hold him in my arms and I was her favorite patient. She then left. I decided it was best I discharge myself from the hospital and we visit Cesar at the children’s hospital.
Seeing our son for the first time in the neonatal ICU was heartbreaking. He was not moving, connected to several wires, surrounded by monitors and nurses. They explained his vitals needed to get better before they put him on a cooling pad to cool his skull to delay the skill development, that he needed a second blood transfusion. The next visit he was on the cooling pad. After 7 days in the neonatal ICU he was under a billy blue light, with a mask on his eyes. The doctors arranged a special sit-down with my husband and I. They explained to us the vacuum had given Cesar such severe damage to his brain, they were not sure how his future would be. They were deeply worried he had very high seizure activity and had to be put on 2 seizure medications 2 times a day, along with pain medication. He was on respiratory support, had no gag reflex, and would be put on a feeding tube. They felt the state he was in he might be on life support for the rest of his life. If he did make it, he would be guaranteed with some sort of disability due to the severity of his brain injuries. They explained this was not normal his injuries, he had a lot of damage and they wanted to brace us as parents. I just wanted to die right then and there. Our world was shattered. We couldn’t stop crying, while looking over our son. Just to understand the pain he was in. He had one arm bent over his chest that was twitching and as he made weak sounds as a result of the respiratory support also assisting him with breathing out, pumping his chest. I just wanted to hold my baby, and take the pain away. I just wanted him to be okay. I felt helpless, wanting to be the hero to my baby boy. The doctors asked us to be strong for Cesar and pray for progress.
The car ride home was shattering as I did not want to leave him, but my husband had to go to work the next day. We couldn’t sleep or eat that night. The whole next day I couldn’t operate, crippled by painful replays in my head of my son, crying and sobbing. I had to get myself together for Cesar. I had to be strong for him. I needed to talk to someone about this. I ended up calling a woman’s support group for emotional support. They were a group that helped pregnant women prepare for birth and gave tips as well. I had seen them once a couple months prior to birth because I was so nervous about giving birth, I just wanted everything to go right. I wanted to make sure I was eating right and everything. When I told them what happened, they broke down crying on the phone. They cried with me for several minutes. They said they would pray for Cesar and have faith. An hour later I get a call from a Chaplin of the children’s hospital asking me if I wanted to have an emergency baptism on my son. She explained she got a call from the president of the woman’s support group asking if there could be an emergency baptism done on my son and she wanted to know if I wanted one done on my son. I without hesitation said yes. I was baptized as a baby, and although I was not raised in a religious upbringing, I felt it would not hurt. I welcomed all prayers from all religions and wanted a miracle for my baby boy. I gave the Chaplin permission to proceed with the emergency baptism. When we arrived for our daily visit, his nurse for the evening was very bubbly with excitement. She told us it was her first time being his nurse, but the nurse from the prior shift explained he did not do much and was showing no signs of progress, but since she has been watching him he is a completely different baby from the one the prior nurse described. She witnessed him being baptized and he smiled during the baptism. She said all the nurses have noticed how different he has been behaving since the baptism. He was moving his arms, smiling, and his doctors had just taken him off the respiratory support!
Then the president of the woman’s group who arranged his emergency baptism arrived so she could see Cesar. She hugged my husband and I, holding back tears in her eyes, as I began to cry while hugging her. She asked if she could bless our son, that she had all the churches in in the area praying for our son and she had brought a St. Jude pedant for him to have by him on his bed. We said yes, and the nurse said it would be fine. She looked over our little Cesar in his hospital bed, who had his eyes closed, sleeping still. She raised her right hand and rested it gently against his golden heart monitor on his chest, as she began to bless him. In the middle of her blessing him, something amazing happened. Cesar slowly raised his hand and gently clasped it over the woman’s hand, and began to smile so hard. The woman paused in amazement and with a big smile continued to bless him. Once she was done I couldn’t stop thanking her. I felt like I witnessed a real miracle before my eyes. I felt like my son had a guardian angel watching him, helping him heal. I couldn’t stop hugging her and thanking her.
His nurse couldn’t stop smiling either. She said he really is a miracle baby. She then asked if I would like to hold him for the first time. She suggested I do skin to skin for an hour, and so he could feel the comfort of his mother’s warm skin wrapped against his. I was so so excited to hold my precious Cesar for the first time. Finally I could hold my baby boy. The nurse slowly removed him from his hospital baby bed, gently unraveling his IVs and monitor wires from the bed so they won’t pull out or get tangled as I held him. As she placed him in my arms and he rested his little head against my chest, it was that moment when I truly felt like a mother for the first time. Feeling his little face and body pressed against me, sleeping so sweetly with a smile on his face gave me hope that everything would be okay. The pain and fear I was carrying was instantly lifted from my shoulders. When it was time to leave, I just did not want to, but I knew we would be there tomorrow and I couldn’t wait. From that day forward he amazingly only began to progress. There was not even one setback in his progress. It was exciting each day to see how much he improved and after a month in the Neonatal ICU he was moved to the ISN unit. After a week there, he was ready to come home to us.
Cesar is a special baby to us. He is so sweet, loving, funny, happy, smart and just a joy. He continues to amaze us with his intelligence and progress each day. He is still on seizure medication, but his neurologist hopes he will soon be off of it before he turns one. We are just blessed to have our baby boy home. He has overcame so much already, I just want to give him the world and more!
Denise Blanco and her family reside in Hilton Head, SC.
“Miracle Baby” is part of Bump Club and Beyond’s “Like A Mother” series. These submissions detail the first time amazing moms around the world felt like mothers. Stay tuned for more “Like A Mother” blog posts in the coming weeks.