Ok, on to the post and pictures...
Tuesday, June 29th 2010 was the most amazing and most terrfying day of my entire life. We woke up that morning around 5:00am, anxious and excited, knowing that in a few hours we would finally meet our son for the first time. Benson had set aside a special outfit (his favorite UK polo and shorts) to wear when he held his little boy for the first time. I sit here and cry writing this just remembering how happy and excited Benson was that morning. Since the day I met him, Benson had always told me how he could not wait to be a dad. Finally, that morning I would be blessed to be able to be a part of making one of his greatest dreams in life would come true.
On our way to the hospital...
We settled in our labor and delivery room at Norton's Hospital. They started me on Pitocin around 8:30am and I was 2cm dilated and 75% effaced. For hours, our family just sat around in the room watching soccer and laughing together. I tolerated labor really well and didn't even feel contractions until around 2:00pm. They broke my water at 4:00pm and around 6:00pm, I was 5cm dilated and the contractions were becoming a little more intense but still tolerable. I decided to go ahead and get the epidural (which I didn't even feel when they put it in!).
Our last picture together before becoming parents!
At 8:30pm I was finally 10cm and ready to start pushing. Mom and Benson stayed in the delivery room and helped me every step of the way. Benson was in full "coach" mode and got so excited I had to nicely ask him to quiet down. He was incredible though and I definately couldn't have done it without him. We laughed with the doctors and nurses between contractions and I never once became frustrated or overwhelmed. The peace in the room was so thick that I was able to enjoy every second of bringing my little man into the world. The moment Luke arrived the whole world stopped. I hold on to the memory of that moment - his first weak little cry, the look on Benson's face when he saw him, the tears that streamed down my mom's face we she became a grandma, his head full of hair and his long little legs. In that one special moment, everything was perfect.
Welcome to the world Luke Aaron Sexton!
6lbs 10oz and 21.5 inches
We all cried tears of joy as they cleaned him up. He was very blue and he wasn't crying much but at that time, we were not even thinking about him being sick. We were just so overwhelmed to finally see this little life that I had carried around for nine months that we didn't even think about things being wrong. They handed him to Benson to hold for a few brief minutes and then he handed him over to me. I remember looking at him and wrapping his little fingers around mine. I kissed his forehead and told him over and over again how much I loved him. He was so quiet and still and I knew that as much as I wanted to keep him with me - he needed to go to the NICU so I did not hesitate to hand him over and let Benson go over to the nursery with him. That was the last time I was able to hold my baby and the last time I saw him without any tubes and wires. I would give anything to go back to that moment and have him in my arms.
Hours later, our world turned upside down. After settling in recovery, my nurse literally came running in, put me in a wheelchair and ran through the halls of the hospital. When we reached Kosair's NICU, they were waiting for me with the doors wide open. I walked into a room of 50 people standing around my baby. For several seconds, I honestly didn't know if he was even alive. I started screaming for people to tell me what was going on. He was just laying here as dark blue as he could be struggling for every little breath. It was the most terrifying moment imaginable. You all have read the story on Benson's posts so there no need for any more detail. He was immediately placed on ECMO to save his life. The next morning he had a heart cath to map out his heart. These pictures are taken the morning of his Norwood operation.
Warning: Some of these pictures may be rough for some of you to see. However, they are our reality. To us he is beautiful no matter what and those wires and tubes are what have kept him with us this far so in our eyes they are beautiful too.
This is Luke's ECMO machine. His bed is behind it (next to the green piece of paper). It is takes up most of the room. He has several other machines connected to him on each side as well.
The red spots on his chest and face are a skin reaction from the cath. You can see all of that beautiful hair and funny little sideburns.
As you can imagine, every one of his hands and feet have IV's coming out of them as well as in his umbilical cord stump.
Monitors on his closed chest. After his surgery on Thursday, they had to leave his chest open to allow for swelling. It will be awhile before they are able to close it.
We are not putting any pictures of him post-op simply because it is tough to see. His face and body are completely swollen - he doesn't even look like a little baby. Once his swelling goes down, we'll post some more.
It has been a roller coaster ride to say the least. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Everyone in PICU keeps reminding us that we have to take everything day by day, hour by hour. We are thankful for every second we can sit beside him and be his mom and dad. There are moments when we are full of optimism and hope and there are times when we can barely pick ourselves up off the ground. We cry a lot - but we laugh a lot too. We aren't letting Satan steal away the joy of the first few days of having our sweet little guy. God has held us in His hand and guided us through every moment. Luke may not be able to cry right now - but he speaks to our hearts every second. His life has reached thousands of people from multiple states and it has only just begun. I praise the Lord for sending us such an amazing little guy. As much as I wish things were different, I know the Lord is using him in ways that I could never have imagined. God made him exactly the way he was supposed to be for a reason. No matter how messed up the doctors may say his little heart is, I look at him and know that he couldn't be more perfect.