On Sunday, February 14, my wife and I were enjoying a great day with our 2 and a half year old son, Greyson. Greyson is a typical toddler which means lots of tantrums and mood swings, but when he is sweet, he is just about the most fun I can imagine. And this weekend, we were preparing for some extended time at home with him thanks to an historic double winter storm even sweeping across the entire state of Texas.
During the day, the snow started falling, as did the temperatures, and we enjoyed playing in our pajamas, sitting by the fire, and watching the snow. Greyson really tired himself out in the morning and had a nice long nap. After he got up, as it started to get dark, the main winter storm moved into our area and the snow really started to pick up covering everything in our yard and the roads. Later in the evening, Kristina started complaining that she felt odd and so we called the on-call doctor to find out if we had anything to worry about. Immediately after hearing Kristina describe her situation, the doctor said, “you need to go to the hospital.” In the middle of the worst snow storm in years. At 7:30pm at night. With no preparation. And with no plan for Greyson. You see, it turns out, Kristina’s water broke.
At just 34 weeks 4 days, it was way too early for Kristina to be going in to labor and having her water break meant she and the baby were at serious risk of infection. So, we frantically packed bags for us and for Greyson. We called my brother to see if we could drop Greyson off with them for an indeterminate amount of time, and we headed out into the storm. The road conditions were far from ideal, but fortunately not too dangerous as there was virtually no ice and instead just a very powdery snow. Still, it took us twice as long as usual to get to my brother’s house and then to the hospital.
Once checked in, the hospital staff went to work immediately and quickly determined that Kristina’s water had indeed broken and that she would need to be admitted for monitoring and eventually an early delivery. Fortunately, both Kristina and the baby were doing very well with no signs of infection or fetal distress. While it may have been an ordeal getting to this point, we were feeling calm and relaxed as we knew Kristina and the baby were both in great hands.
Neither of us got much sleep Sunday night thanks to constant monitoring and uncomfortable hospital beds, but on Monday morning, the doctor came in to discuss a plan. At this point in the pregnancy, the main risk of delivering comes from immature lungs in the baby. As a result, just as happened with Greyson, the doctor prescribed steroids to help the baby’s lungs mature more quickly. The doctor also felt it best to deliver the baby at 35 weeks to give the steroids enough time to take full effect, while also trying to reduce the risk of infection by delivering as soon as possible. Fortunately, delivery at 35 weeks or later does not require an automatic NICU stay. With the plan in mind, Kristina was scheduled for a c-section on Wednesday at noon and we settled in to a more comfortable hospital room for an extended stay.
Knowing that we would be in the hospital for a while, we turned our attention to planning for Greyson, our dog Lucy, and our home. We also started making a list of all the things we had not remembered to pack when frantically trying to get out of the house (like the car seat for the baby). Our original plan for Greyson and Lucy was for Kristina’s parents to come stay at our house while we were in the hospital. However, they live in Austin and were stuck in Colorado when we had to head to the hospital. Usually, our backup would be my parents, but with road conditions deteriorating from the ongoing winter storm, my mom couldn’t make it out of her neighborhood, much less down the 45 minutes of country roads to our house.
But we are so blessed to have much of my family very close and my brother and sister-in-law stepped in on a dime and have been taking incredible care of Greyson who may never want to come home after getting to spend all this time with his favorite person in the world, his 4-year old cousin, TJ. Once Greyson was settled, we turned our attention to Lucy and our house. Our wonderful neighbor Colleen was so gracious to brave the absolutely frigid temps (we are talking low single digits) to feed Lucy and let her out Monday morning which kept her covered until my sister and brother-in-law were able to come pick her up for a stay at their house.
With Greyson and Lucy covered, we decided that I would brave the roads to get home to pick up all the things we forgot and to check on the house and make sure faucets were dripping and the house was as prepped as possible for the record lows coming Monday night. While it took a bit of time to get home and back, I was able to get more essentials packed and to check on the house.
However, the surprises weren’t done yet. On Tuesday, when the doctor came in to check on Kristina, she let us know that as a result of the critical power shortage in Texas, all non-emergent procedures for Wednesday had been cancelled. Because both Kristina and the baby were stable, her case was considered non-emergent and her c-section had been among the procedures cancelled. At that point, we didn’t know when she would be rescheduled because it wasn’t clear how long the power crisis would drag on.
Fortunately, later in the day on Tuesday, we learned that they had gone ahead and rescheduled Kristina for her c-section on Thursday, but that the day and time was still tentative. We tried not to get our hopes up and instead just to relax and deal with things as they came, normally a difficult task for two type-A people like Kristina and I.
We spent our time in the hospital relaxing, watching TV, reading, and trying to keep ourselves entertained. Meanwhile, our family kept Greyson and Lucy well cared for and our neighbor continued to visit our house to check on our faucets and pipes. Kristina and the baby stayed stable the whole time we were in the hospital making our stay much less stressful than it otherwise could’ve been.
Yesterday, February 18, we were finally set to have the baby at 12:00pm. The anticipation rose throughout the day as the staff prepped Kristina for her c-section. Then, around 12:30pm, they finally took Kristina over to the operating room. The incredible team at our hospital made us feel extremely comfortable, from our nurse anesthetist (the same one who took care of Kristina with Greyson’s c-section) to the nursing staff, we knew Kristina was in great hands. The c-section went smoothly and at 1:07pm, the doctor lifted our baby over the drape and announced, “it’s a boy!”.
Charles (“Charlie”) Murphy Stockton came into the world weighing a massive 7 lbs 5 oz at just 35 weeks and 1 day. He was 19 and 1/4 inches long and beautiful. Because of how early he was, the NICU staff attended the delivery and began getting Charlie cleaned up under a warmer immediately. It didn’t take long to see that Charlie was having some trouble breathing properly. This was a result of premature lungs, the most common issue with delivering at 35 weeks, so while it was not what we hoped for, it was not totally unexpected.
Charlie ended up having to take a trip to the NICU. Once there, the staff got him all set up and hooked up to a CPAP machine to help him breathe more easily and promote continued lung development. The main issue was that Charlie was working too hard to breathe and breathing too fast, again the common symptoms associated with premature lungs. Fortunately, throughout the day yesterday, his breathing became less labored and slower. He’s still in the NICU, but he’s headed in the right direction and we can’t wait to hold him in our arms!