The day my daughter was born, my life changed forever. A lot of parents will say that but in this case, the moment was one I will never forget because it was the absolute scariest moment of my entire life.
I’ll never forget my wife being rushed into the special delivery room where they do emergency deliveries. I remember being taken to a room next door and watching nurses and doctors rushing in and out of the delivery room past the open door of the room I was in.
And once my daughter was delivered, I was taken to see her before they rushed her up to the NICU.
I remember seeing her limp, lifeless body. You see, she suffered a severe brain injury during birth from a lack of oxygen.
Her APGAR score was 1.
The APGAR is a test given to newborns soon after birth to see if extra medical care or emergency care is needed.
The test is usually given twice: once at 1 minute after birth, and again at 5 minutes after birth. Sometimes, if there are concerns about the baby’s condition, the test may be given again.
Apgar stands for “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration.”
In the test, five things are used to check a baby’s health. Each is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score:
- Appearance (skin color)
- Pulse (heart rate)
- Grimace response (reflexes)
- Activity (muscle tone)
- Respiration (breathing rate and effort)
Doctors, midwives, or nurses add up these five factors for the Apgar score. Scores are between 10 and 0. Ten is the highest score possible, but few babies get it.
My daughter’s score was 1.
The doctors were very honest. Her chances of surviving more than 48 hours weren’t great.
My world came to an end…
But something inside me told me I couldn’t stop.
When I was taken into the delivery room to see my wife, I didn’t cry. I knelt and said…
“We will get through this.”
And we did.
My daughter was given great care in the NICU. She was rushed to the children’s hospital in DC and placed in a state called therapeutic hypothermia, stopping her brain injury from spreading.
And we got through the next 6 weeks in the NICU. One day at a time.
And we got through the next 5 years of learning how to care for a disabled child.
And we got through deciding to have another child and the fears involved in that.
And that kid that almost didn’t survive 48 hours is now a teen who loves life and even though she has significant disabilities, they don’t stop her from smiling and enjoying the things that a typical teenager does.
When I think about this journey, I often think about the Pixar character Dory (Finding Nemo, Finding Dory).
It’s her mantra that has helped me through the last 13 years of my life.
Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming.
Everything is temporary, this too shall pass
Keep moving forward.