Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 35: David's Dad's Email on David's Birthday

The following is David's Dad's email to him for his birthday today:

Feliz Cumpleaños  .....Happy Birthday David!  
Hey, hey, hey .... 20 Years Old, Today!!   :)

I know that it doesn't seem much like a celebration for you while you are on your mission, but believe me, .... we ALL are thinking of you today (more than usual) on your birthday.   No longer a teenager. Ha!

Michael, Brandon, and Julianne are down with me (from yesterday) for a few days.  We're going to celebrate your birthday today (I'll send you pictures).    I don't know what we're going to do today for your birthday, but it will be in honor of you.  :)

Only one more birthday away, then you'll be in the home stretch.  That will be good.  Of course, it's already good because you're there.  You're there making a difference.  I know at times it may not feel like you make much of a difference, but believe me, you do.

You make a difference in your own life, as well as others' lives.  Just the mere fact that people see you makes a difference.  A smile makes a difference.  If these small things make a difference, and you are representing the Lord and His Church just by being there, then how much more are you making a difference when you help others feel more love, and find peace in their lives? 

Everybody is on a spiritual journey here on Earth.  They are here to experience different things, and they move at their own pace, learning things along the way.  Some people you will be able to nudge a little closer along their journey, and others, you'll be able to help take a big step towards their salvation.   

Just remember, EVERYTHING matters!!

You matter.  You being there matters.  Your mission matters now, and through eternity.   So, despite it being your birthday, and missing Katie, you being there matters.   Be proud of yourself for who you are, and what you are doing.  Be patient with yourself and with others, as that spiritual quality matters ....that of patience.

Boy, I think back 20 years ago today.  The day you were born.  What a day that was.   The family had just moved down from Washington, D.C., as I just finished my ob/gyn residency at the end of June.  We moved into our newly-built home, our first home we owned, in Alpharetta, GA over the Fourth of July holiday. 

I just started working in my private practice, based at Northside Hospital (where you were born).  A month later, the evening of August 4th, we were with other doctors, their families, and office staff employees at a Braves' game.   We parked so far away, and your mother and I had to walk quite a distance.  She was three weeks away from her due date.  I offered to drop her off at the stadium, but she wanted to walk, because she was getting eager to deliver you, and knew that walking could help start labor.

On the way back to the car after the ball game she started having contractions, and then went into labor early in the morning of August 5th.  You were delivered in the morning (I don't remember the exact time, but your mom probably does). 

I remember how excited I was.  I felt so much love for you, my new-born son. I was so proud, and happy for your mother and me.   I was watching the nursery staff who were there cleaning you up within the labor-delivery-recover room.  Your mom's doctor (my partner), Dr. Kelley Dopson, who had just delivered you was still working on your mother. 

Within the first 2 minutes, I noticed that you were working a little too hard to breathe.  I made a comment saying as much, and the nursery staff reassured me that you were doing well, keeping up your oxygenation.   A few minutes later, I mentioned it again, and again they reassured me.

Then, I noticed that your breathing was a bit asymmetric, ...that one side of your chest seemed to be working harder than the other was ever so slight, and I noticed that you were working harder than before to breathe, was slight, but I noticed it.

AGAIN, the nursery staff reassured me, but, I turned and mentioned the issue to my partner, Dr. Dopson.   To reassure me, she asked the nurses to call the respiratory team from pediatrics to come assess you.   I felt better about that.

They came, examined you, watched you, ... I watched them watch you.  They listened to your chest, checked your oxygenation, etc.  And, after about 3 minutes said, "I think he's doing fine.  He just needs some time to adjust, but he's doing fine."   I had a sick feeling about what they were saying.  The best way to say it, is that it didn't feel right ...what was going on, and what they were saying didn't feel true.  Instead of feeling reassured, I felt more concerned.

I felt they were not seeing what I was seeing, and I said, "look at how he's breathing seems to be asymmetrical ... one side is working harder than the other."  They answered, "he's holding his oxygenation fine."  I could see the monitor as well ... 

I was trying to not step on toes.   I was only there at the hospital, and in practice for only a month, and I knew I was slightly annoying the respiratory team of nurses and a nurse practitioner by continuing to question their assessment of your breathing.

I said as nicely as I could, "yeah, I can see that he's keeping his oxygenation up, but I don't like how hard he's working to do so."   They said, "we don't see that."

Finally, my partner, Dr. Dopson, who heard all this going on, asked the respiratory team if they could take you up and be checked out by the nursery critical care pediatrician.    The respiratory nurse practitioner rolled her eyes at the whole thing, ...I'm sure she was thinking that they all just needed to humor a new, nervous doctor at the hospital.

I followed the team as they transported you upstairs to the nursery, not yet the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), but not the regular nursery, either.  You were brought to the in-between nursery.   They asked me to wait just outside the nursery in one of the nurses' room.  (Parents don't normally go there, but since I was a doctor on staff at the hospital I was allowed to go into the nurses station next to the nursery.)

The respiratory nurse practitioner didn't know I could hear her make the call to the NICU pediatrician.   I heard her say, "We have a new ob/gyn on staff who is concerned about his baby's breathing."   A pause, ...then, kind of with some annoyance in her voice .... "yeah, his oxygen is fine.  He looks good to me ...the father just keeps saying he's worried."    It was clear that I had annoyed her, and I felt embarrassed, ...and, I thought to myself, that I didn't want to make waves, but I had no choice.

I could hear that she finished with the call, and said to the other nurses, with a sarcastic and annoyed tone of voice, "okay, the doctor wants to reassure the father that the baby is okay, ....go ahead and get a chest x-ray."

I waited near by.  It was a few minutes, and the mobile x-ray unit was wheeled near your basinet, ....the nurses and x-ray tech, and others were just talking as they went about in a relaxed fashion ... and I heard again, "yeah, we're doing this to reassure the father ...I don't think it's necessary, but maybe the father will leave us alone after this."   Again, I felt embarrassed, and started to question myself that I had been concerned; after all, these nurses and respiratory technicians do this all the time for years ....and I didn't have as much experience with newborns as all these nurses and specialists.  I wanted the everything to be okay too, but I couldn't shake the feeling.

Then, within 4 or 5 minutes after the x-ray, I could hear the respiratory nurse practitioner on the phone with the NICU doctor speak in an urgent and concerned tone, "the baby has a left pneumothorax ... we're going to move him to the NICU .... okay, okay.... sure."   She got off the phone, "the doctor is coming, ...get the surgical kit, ...quick ... let's move this baby to the NICU."

I could hear 6 or 7 nurses scamper about quickly getting things, and moving your basinet unit to the NICU, in the next room ...  I saw the NICU doctor running towards, and then into the NICU. ... and I was scared.  
Instead of being relieved that they were doing something, now I was scared that something bad was happening, ...worse than I thought.   I guess it was a mixed feeling.  I did NOT want to be right, I wanted to make sure you were taken care of, and I was glad that they were getting the team to work on you, but scared that they needed to work on you, and I heard the nurse report on the phone,  "pneumothorax," which is what I was concerned about.

I heard the team in the NICU, and peaked through a small slit in the blinds of the window, .... I had to stay out of the way, but I could see the team around your unit.   I prayed.  With tears in my eyes, I prayed.  I had already been praying up to this point, but now I prayed with just as much urgency as the team was taking care of you.

Your mom was downstairs in recovery, continuing to ask about you, ...and I was upstairs near you, ...wanting to go down to be with your mom, but not wanting to leave where I could hear what was going on.   I wanted to be there when the NICU doctor came out.  I didn't want to be downstairs with your mom and miss the doctor; so, I called down to your mother who was worried sick.   I told her what was going on, and she cried. 

Grandma Donovan was already on her way that day.  It was just a coincidence that you were born on the day she was planning on coming already.  I had to pick her up from the airport soon.  I was concerned about that, because I didn't want to leave for the airport with you in the NICU.

Finally, about 45 minutes later, the NICU doctor came out and talked with me.  He told me what was going on, and that you were stable, but in quite a bit of danger, and would be for a while.  And he said, "It was a good thing the team picked this up early, as this could have been much worse."

On the outside you couldn't see what I was thinking ... "sure, ...what the "team picked up early," ... I would give him a break since he wasn't there to hear me make a pest of myself since the first 2 minutes after you were born.  I wasn't mad, just upset over the whole situation.  So many emotions.

The NICU doctor allowed me to get close to your unit, and I then saw all the tubes ... the IV tubes, one in one of your umbilical veins, the other in your umbilical artery.  A tube in your nose, going to your stomach.  And, of course, the tube in your chest.  The NICU doctor was explaining everything to me.  I felt sick.  I've seen this before during my NICU rotation in my training at George Washington Medical Center in Wash, D.C., but now, it was MY SON, who was there, so helpless and fragile. 

I felt love, compassion, and hurt for you, ...for me, ... for your mother.   I went downstairs to talk to your mom.  We hugged and cried.  I reassured her, but, I was still scared.

Shortly after that I left to get Grandma Donovan at the airport.  I brought her to the hospital to be with your mother.

They finally allowed your Mom and I to go back into the NICU, and touch your head, your hands.  There we cried.  There we prayed. 

You were in the NICU for several days.  Your Mom was in the hospital for at least 2 days.  While in her hospital room, after visiting you in the NICU, your Mom cried again with me, saying, "I can't do this again, Ladd.  I can't go through this again.  We almost lost Brandon, and then now, with David, it hurts too much.  I always wanted a girl, but, we'll just have to be a family with 3 boys."  

I knew she was upset and scared, ...and I knew now wasn't the time to make that decision, but it also wasn't a time to say anything different than, "I understand.  Whatever you want.  It will be okay."   Of course, that changed a few years later when your Mom had her own experience, and knew it was time for Julianne to join the family here on Earth.

You received a few priesthood blessings while in the NICU; from myself and our bishop and counselor; and again, after g'pa and g'ma McNamara came.  We visited you several times throughout the day, and after what seemed like days, some of the tubes came out and we were allowed to hold you, ...your Mom was again allowed to hold you.  She was aching to hold you again.  I don't recall if she was able to hold you immediately after you were born, but if so, it wasn't longer than a minute. 

Your Mom has a much better memory about these things than I do, but this is from my perspective.  You may want to keep this record, as this is the first time I wrote this up ...this part of your life; of your entrance into the world 20 years ago, today. 

I love you so much, and ache to see you and hug you again, as I did the day you were born.   I am glad you are there in Mexico, serving the Lord.  You came from the Lord's presence 20 years ago, ... you have been blessed by the Lord throughout your life, and you are now serving the Lord full-time; paying your "life's tithing," 10% of your life until now serving 2 years for Him.

Happy Birthday, David.  I am so proud of you, my son.  I am so blessed to have you as my son.

Eternally yours,

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