Alex's Birth Story

A dad describes the birth of a micro-preemie.

By Rick Martin

I was just getting settled into my meeting at work when the phone rang. I hesitated to answer it because lately the calls tended to bring bad news.

Several months previous my wife had been unexpectedly hospitalized in the 24th week of her pregnancy. For the next ten days a desperate struggle ensued to keep the baby inside without doing long-term damage to my wife. While her systems couldn’t really handle the strain, we knew that the longer the baby was inside the better the chance for survival. Finally, the time arrived when her body could take it no longer. We traveled down to the delivery room not knowing what was to come.

Two 'surgical' set ups awaited us in delivery one for the birth and the other to receive this terribly unprepared fetus that had leave the womb. I saw the baby rushed out of the room. The head of Fairfax Hospital’s renowned neonatal intensive care unit came over to say simply that the baby was "very, very small." I thought this was the explanation why the child had not made it. The only comfort was that my wife would be okay.

Back in a private room our priest, who happened to be the wife of our obstetrician, was waiting for me. We spent a tearful period going over what had happened and why. A knock interrupted my grieving and a nurse walked in. She excused the interruption but wanted to know "Mr. Martin, have you chosen a pediatrician?"

A while later I was escorted upstairs and shown how to clean up and put on surgical scrubs. I was led into the sterile noisy environment in which my incredibly small little boy (1 pound and 2 ounces) spent the first four months of his life. A short time later the priest joined me and Alex was baptized on the spot.

Now several months later I was wary of these kind of calls. We had almost lost him on several occasions and he remained dependent on the mechanical ventilator. The voice was my wife and I could sense tension and excitement. She had a report. Alex had pulled out his ventilator tube during the wee hours of the morning and had begun to breathe on his own. He was being monitored closely but the doctor were optimistic that this time he was ready. They said if it kept up for 24 hours he would breathe for the rest of his life. I began to cry in front of my whole staff…..