MomsGetReal is continuing to share the full story of Guest Contributor Wanda Morrissey‘s story in honor of Preemie Awareness Month. For more information about how you can help, contact the March of Dimes.

Although Jeffrey was feeding well and gaining weight, there wasn’t much improvement in his breathing. He had a lot of apnea spells and they couldn’t get his oxygen levels to stabilize (The amount of oxygen in the blood stream should be around 90% or more but Jeffrey’s oxygen levels often dropped way below this. Not enough oxygen in the blood stream can result in brain damage).

Not long after being held for the first time, Jeffrey also got sick for the first time. He got a blood infection which required antibiotics to be administered through yet another IV (to this day you can see little white dots on the back of his hands. They’re scars from all the IVs he’s had). He’d no sooner gotten over that infection when we were told he’d need a blood transfusion. He’d had blood drawn numerous times and was unable to replace it on his own.

We were given the option of Kent doing a direct donation (I have Rh factor and knew I wasn’t a match. We were told that most babies have the same blood type as their fathers anyway) or using the blood bank. If we went with direct donation then Kent could never donate an organ to Jeffrey should he ever need it. We didn’t know if Jeffrey would ever need an organ but we knew that he needed blood so we decided on direct donation.

After the transfusion there was another blood infection and then there was the phone call I’ll never forget. Early in the morning on February 22, 2008 we got a call from the hospital telling us to get there as soon as we could, Jeffrey was incredibly sick. That’s all they would say over the phone. I don’t remember the drive to the hospital that morning. I know we made the normal hour long commute in about 30 minutes during rush hour. I know I was praying the whole way there, please let my baby be okay. Jeffrey had NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis), an infection in the bowels that causes the bowels to stop working.

The doctor took us aside and showed us the x-rays, they were almost all black, there should have been white patches to indicate pockets of air. She told us that all of his feeds had been stopped and that he was getting five different antibiotics as well as all of his nutrients through an IV. She said they hoped they’d caught it early enough to get it cleared up quickly but if his condition didn’t improve then they’d have to perform surgery to remove the part of the intestine that was infected. I was hearing her words but they weren’t sinking in. I think she realized this and sent Kent and I to the family room to look up information on the hospital’s website. The first line read ‘NEC is almost always fatal…’

I got as far as fatal and couldn’t go any further.  I couldn’t read through the tears. I felt Kent reach for me and pull me close, he was crying too. Had we come this far only to lose our son?

Wanda’s story will continue …