I am blessed to have the family that I have. We are close. That has helped me get through some of the worst times in my life, and helped me enjoy even more the best times of my life.
When Ryley was born so early, so fragile, it affected more than just Michael and me. It also affected my parents, Michael’s parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews. I asked my brother, sister, and parents to write about how they were affected by Ryley’s early arrival, and what they remember of that time. My sister sent me hers today, and with her permission, I share it with you. You’ll know what I mean about being blessed after you read it, and you’ll remember too that prematurity affects the whole family….
It was a call I never expected to get from my sister. Only I wasnít there when it came in. I had to hear it on the answering machine. Iím at the hospital in San Ramon and Iím bleeding! Call Michael when you get this. Thankfully it was only an hour since she had called. I was so scared I was shaking. I made the call. What was going on, what did they know, what was going to happen next? Do you want me there? A lot of we donít knows and wait to come until we know more. So I waited and made phone calls. I took a shower and packed bags for the girls just in case I had to go. I was prepared but I wasnít. Michael called at 1:00. They were transferring Donna to Oakland and she wanted me there. So off I went, walked down the street with the girls in a wagon to our Uncleís house and took their car. The streets of Berkeley and Oakland are surprisingly quiet at 2:00 am. I was still scared and still unprepared. The plan was for me to be in the delivery room when she had this baby just like she had been there for my two. We go through things like this together. Itís how we get through them. This was not part of that plan. It didnít matter though, she needed me and I was going to be there for her. All plans were out the window now.
I donít remember much from the time I got to the hospital until a doctor came in and started stating facts to us. Giving us odds and ifís, and whenís. I remember hearing brain bleeds and blindness and developmental disorders and itís a lot of wait and sees. And in my mind Iím thinking, this will not happen to my sister or this baby, we are not going to lose this child and there will be nothing wrong with it (we didnít know it was a boy) when it does come. This does not happen in our family. But it was happening in our family and it was happening right in front of my eyes to my sister, my best friend. And worst of all I couldnít stop it and I couldnít understand why it was happening.
Ryley came three weeks later. I wasnít there. I was out running errands with Mom trying to keep my mind off of all the possibilities that the doctor had spewed out to us three weeks ago. When I heard I got there as fast I could. But where did I go first to the baby or to Donna. Who needed me more. Easy decision when you look at it that way. Donna needed me. We both cried and than she told me to go see him before they transferred him. HIM!! Itís a boy. And he was beautiful! So red and tiny but beautiful. And then the odds came back into my mind. Didnít the doctor say that girls had a better chance at making it than boys? What problems did he already have? Where were they taking him and how long was he going to be there? Michael went with Ryley to Alta Bates while I stayed with Donna and reminded the nurses of what she needed.
Ryley was two pounds when he was born. Two pounds! How does a two pound baby live outside of the womb? Ryley showed us all how it was done. He had good days and bad days. There was the brain bleed and the staph infection. But somehow he passed every test they gave him. I remember hearing that his vision was fine. How do you check a 2 pound babyís vision? I waited each day for an update from Donna. I made numerous trips to see him. I sat and watched his monitors. I watched other babies come and go. And I wondered when Ryleyís turn was going to come for him to go home. Then it finally came. Christmas Day 2000! Donna and Michael were so generous to share that day with us. It was incredible.
I learned a lot in those 93 days that Ryley was in the hospital. I learned that my sister is a very strong person. She amazed me the way she would go to work in San Jose, then drive to Berkeley in the afternoon and head home late at night, without her child, to do it all over again the next day. She even took time to call me everyday to give me updates and send emails with pictures attached. I learned that statistics are just that and not always are they fact. I learned that doctors can be wrong. I learned 2 pound babies do survive and come out the other side healthy and happy. And I learned that I do believe in miracles because Ryley is one!