I sat on the edge of my hospital bed holding my new baby in my arms. After 5 days of labor, & 2-1/2 hours of pushing, vacuum extraction, green fluid, & a traumatic birth; He was finally here. I remember thinking about how small he was in comparison to me as an adult. He was no small baby, he was 9 pounds 6 ounces, & he was 22 & 3-quarter inches long. He was my Nathan Angel (God has given Angel) I spent the next 2 weeks nursing, changing, & simply loving him.
The day of his appointment at Children’s hospital had arrived. I was nervous, because I knew these appointments all too well, they meant being held down while a doctor pried your eyes open, shined a light in them, & that was if you were lucky enough not to need dilation. My new baby, my sweet son would have to endure what I had felt many times before. Can’t I just take his place this time? No, he had to be checked for bilateral retinal blastoma (cancer tumors of the retina (. These are the same tumors that took 2 of my grandmother’s babies, my dad’s right eye, & both of mine.
So there we waited, in came the doctor, & I held my baby & my breath. Just as I had anticipated, he was strapped down, his eyes were checked, & he cried. So did I. But not as much as I would a moment later when the doctor who had treated me 15 years before proceeded to inform me that my son did in fact have the very same tumors.
I was crushed. I felt like someone had just kicked me in the stomach. He was so small, so innocent, and so sweet; & I was so sad. Would I lose my baby? No! We’re going to fight this. I held him, I cried, & tried so hard & so unsuccessfully to figure out what in the world I was going to do. I had so many questions & felt like nobody could possibly answer them all.
He had examinations under anesthesia several times over the next 4 weeks during which he received cryogenic treatments & laser heat treatments that killed some tumors but not all. It was decided that Nathan would need chemotherapy. At 5 weeks his pick line (a longer term version of an IV) was placed in his leg just _after waking from his examination that week. I took him home & tried to prepare myself, my baby & my family for what was to come. But I had no clue what to expect so really all I did was sit at home care for my baby & wait for the next step.
It was 2days later that we returned to the emergency room because Nathan being the now 5-week-old baby that he was kicked his pick line out of his leg. But we didn’t go home with a band-aid as I had hoped. Nathan had a blood infection & we were sent to the 4th floor & put in isolation for the next few days. Once his infection was gone, his doctor recommended a broviac line (a line placed just over the heart for the distribution of medication) be put in so he could begin chemo. Surgery was done after 14 hours of waiting for a space in the operating room. & The following Thursday he began his regimen. Nathan was now 6 weeks old & already so much had happened.
Every week we were at the hospital for 1 reason after another; infections, transfusions, examinations, infusions, & of course chemo treatments. Nathan was 3 treatments in to his therapy when he had a severe allergic reaction to 1 of the 3-chemo drugs he was taking. His heart rate was sky high, his body was almost twice its size, & he was a bright tomato red in color. I only know that his color changed because several nurses told me. I was so scared & so bewildered. Eventually that drug was stopped & he stayed on 2 of the 3 drugs for the remainder of his treatment. 6 months, of chemo, lasers, cryogenic treatments, & countless examinations under anesthesia Nathan was diagnosed with a retinal detachment. He had a clearal buckle (a band that squeezes the eye together so the retina can heal) put in his eye, 3 months later, that buckle snapped & was poking a hole in his eye socket. It was removed & at almost 3 years old he was finally in remission. In all, Nathan had had over 64 surgeries including his examinations, corrections, eye injections, & much more. We patched, we worked, & we did what we could for his vision but doctors could not tell how much vision he had. We would just have to wait for Nathan to grow up enough so he could tell us himself.
Nathan is now 9 ears old; He is growing up to be a wonderful young man. & I thank God everyday for that. We found out recently that the tumors took the center vision in his right eye, leaving him with nothing but perifferal & only about 6 inches of vision in that eye. & That his left eye has nothing but center vision, even though it’s his stronger eye. So he wears glasses both for correction & protection, but I am just glad he’s here. It’s been 6 years since his treatments. & This is the 1st time I am able to sit & write all of this out. It’s been too long, but until now I could not bring myself to revisit those years. It was so hard, but we prayed, & God saw us through. Nathan truly is a blessing as are all of my 3 cherubs, but I know that he is my miracle, God’s gift, & I love that lil boy.
If you take nothing else from my writing, please take my story with you & love love love your babies. I’m blessed to have mine, but there are so many others who don’t & I just pray that we don’t take our cherubs for granted. I know they try our patience, they test our strength, they simply make us crazy at times, but we even in those moments – especially in those moments, need to show them that we love those babies.
If you have a story you’d like to share with me please share. I’d be honored to have you guest post on my blog. I’m here sharing my stories with everyone in hopes that I can encourage someone.
God bless & as always, make it a great day!