On August 27th, 2004 at 5:35 AM, Gavin Gatsby Sellers was born 3 months to the date early. The events leading up to his birth are saved for another post. He weighed 2 lbs, 5 oz, and was 14 1/2 inches long. He was met with a huge team of people. His lungs were dosed with surfactant, and he was immediately intubated. They rolled my bed over to his warming table and Chad and I held his tiny hands for just a minute as they were treating him (he was already trying to pull out his tube - feisty from the start!). Five years later, I find it hard to comprehend how tiny he was on that day, and how unaware we were of what the next 82 days would hold.
We had a hard time coming up with boy names, but one day I heard a talk show host discussing Gavin Rossdale on the radio. I don't have an opinion one way or another on Gavin Rossdale, but I fell in love with his name! Gatsby was easy, Chad and I met in high school English class and that year, "The Great Gatsby" was one of our favorite books. I would come to spend hours reading that book to Gavin in the NICU.
From the book "Preemies - The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies":
"The...survival rates of babies born between 26 and 29 weeks of gestation vary from about 75% for 26-weekers to 85% for 29-weekers...40% of those surviving will be normal, 40% will have mild to moderate disabilities, and 20% will have severe disabities."
As I figure, we had slightly above a 30% chance of the outcome we see today. Gavin is so normal, I don't even think of him as a preemie anymore. But I never want to forget how delicate his start to life was, mostly because I don't ever want to take anything in my life for granted. We were lucky, blessed, and Gavin's outcome is nothing short of a miracle we should always celebrate.
Gavin came off the vent within 6 hours. In fact, byt the time I was able to get up to the NICU to see him, he was already off. The first day I was in a haze; as I looked at him, I KNEW he was my baby, but strangely felt no connection to this tiny motionless thing that was under a plastic tent, his face covered with the CPAP, and tubes and wires coming out everywhere. The next morning, I went back up, and the nurse told me "he's on 26% oxygen". The tone of her voice told me that was a good thing, but I had no idea what it meant. I didn't even know enough to know what questions to ask. This began the start of an education I never expected. After all, I sucked at science.
He started off great. I got to hold him 5 days after he was born, on August 31st. He was just lost in a bundle of blankets. What a feeling to be terrified to hold your own child. It took two nurses to get him out and positioned in my arms.
10 days after he was born he got sick. The night before Chad and I went on a date at a nice restaurant (can you believe I was able to get right back into my fancy clothes?). I called up to the NICU and his night primary nurse, Kim, told us he was acting up, dropping his sats frequently, and he had to go up on oxygen (for those that don't know, the air we breathe or "room air" is 21% oxygen). The next morning I got to the NICU at 9 am. There was a nurse at his bedside and a respiratory therapist, he had been switched to a "cycled CPAP" which is more support, but he was still dropping and forgetting to breathe. A switch was flipped and the neonatologist, and more nurses, and NP's were suddenly flooding the room. I went into the bathroom to get out of the way and started sobbing. I didn't know what was happening. Was he just too little? Was his system giving out? Do they just give up the will to live? These were thoughts going through my head when my mom called. I managed to choke out what was happening, and she rushed down to the hospital.
That definitely was one of the worst days of my life. They started him on antibiotics, but we would not know for 24 hours if it was an infection. It turned out he had a staph infection in his blood. He also underwent a spinal tap to test for infection in his spinal fluid. That was a hard test to consent to as there was a risk of nerve damage/paralysis.
Gavin finally hit 3 pounds on October 1st and that's when he turned the corner.
During his hospital stay he underwent 2 blood transfusions, "tanned" under bili lights, was treated for staph infection, received two doses of indocin (which closed his PDA - thank GOD!) thus avoiding heart surgery, underwent eye exams for ROP, had two Grade 2 brain hemorrhages which resolved, had more IV's and blood drawn than I could count, learned to breathe, learned to eat, and after 75 days was ready to come home.
Until....concern that his reflux was something more (as it was not responding to meds) bought his several barium swallows and full GI scans. Turns out his stomach was malrotated! It was a matter of time before it would continue to twist and cut off blood supply and he would lose parts of his bowel. He needed surgery, it was not IF but WHEN. We made the difficult decision to do the surgery before leaving the hospital. We were terrified of how small he was, but delaying it would mean coming back to the PICU rather than the NICU. We were terrified of putting him back on the vent, how long he would remain on the vent, and how hard it would be to wean him.
That's the NICU, two steps forward, one back. We were actually extremely lucky we were in the NICU and it was caught before he lost part of his bowel. When they went in for the surgery, they discovered that not only was his stomach "upside down", but his intestines were all twisted the wrong way as well.
So Gavin ended up being the FIRST BABY at Blank to have his malrotation surgery done laparoscopically! No huge incision, no need for heavy pain meds. He came off the vent before leaving the OR. After a few crappy days not being fed and having a tube down his throat into his stomach suctioning air and bile from his tummy, he started feeds and came home a week after surgery on November 17th, 2004. 82 days in the NICU. Adding 4 inches in length, and gaining 4 lbs, 7 oz.
And here's how far we've come:
The First Picture ever taken, 8-27-04
Snuggling with Dad:
First Family Picture 11-6-04
With the Man that I Miss 3-21-05:
First Birthday 8-27-05:
Second Birthday 8-27-06:
Third Birthday 8-27-07:
Almost 4 yrs old:
Today - First Soccer Game 8-29-09:
Gavin, we love you and are so proud of how far you have come in these five years! You challenge us on a daily basis, but also inject humor in almost every situation you encounter. I can't imagine the world without you.