Clyde took us by surprise when he was born 13 weeks early, weighing just 2lbs 8oz. Needless to say, we did not expect my water to break on a Monday morning at 27 weeks in what was supposed to be a “healthy pregnancy.” I was rushed to the hospital that Monday morning and spent about 2 ½ days on bed rest while they monitored us. They gave us magnesium to keep Clyde in and steroids (surfactant) to promote his lung growth. After that, there was no holding him back. I had lost too much fluid and shortly after they stopped the magnesium, I went in for an emergency C-section. It wasn’t as expected, but as a parent you learn that nothing is that way anymore. For Clyde, it was how he first experienced the complexities of the world, but also how he came to know love and compassion.
I’ll never forget Clyde’s very first scream. A sound that not only let me know he was alive and breathing, but that he was going to be strong-willed and persevere. As he screamed, he was wheeled past me and hooked to cords and tubes and put in an isolette (a glass box). He would spend most of his time in that box for about a month and his very last tube (his oxygen) would be with him for over 4 months! In those first days, I would pull up a small corner of the blanket covering his isolette as not to let in too much light, carefully lay one hand on Clyde’s body, and read or talk to him quietly; trying to find any way possible to connect with him. I constantly asked when I could hold him, and I remember trying to hold back the tears each time they told me I had to wait. I’ll never forget the first time they put him in my arms and how his little body fit into my sports bra. I’ll also never forget the times his lips turned purple laying on my chest. So badly, I wanted to be able to control his breathing and make it start again. Those moments were the hardest. We had to learn to be parents in a whole new way. We couldn’t rock or stroke our baby, we couldn’t play music or expose him to light. We couldn’t even hold him without assistance and support.
Despite the difficult times, our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit experience was a positive one. Clyde made leaps and bounds of progress during our time there and most days were a celebration; that he had gained an ounce or eaten 5 more milliliters of milk. It was really about the small things. His body learned to regulate temperature; he learned to eat and breathe more independently each day; and most importantly, he learned that people were there for him in hard times, that we all cared about him and loved him dearly. Clyde was cared for by the amazing staff at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, CO for 77 days in the NICU. During that time, he received extensive care, including respiratory support, feeding/nutrition, and occupational therapy. He had treatment for a skin rash that required consultation with outside medical teams. He received phototherapy for jaundice. In addition, due to continued difficulty with his breathing and inability to keep his oxygen levels up, he had tests for infections (urine and blood cultures) and lung x-rays and echocardiograms to check for fluid. He ended up on regular diuretics to treat fluid build-up and promote breathing. He had regular ROP eye appointments to make sure his eyes were developing correctly, regular darbepoetin injections to increase red blood cell production, an NG tube and an OG tube for feedings, and continued to be on oxygen support even when he came home. Clyde also had regular labs to check his potassium, sodium chloride, and electrolytes. A few months after coming home, Clyde underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital in Aurora, CO to fix a right inguinal hernia. Now, we are forever grateful for our one-year-old miracle, weighing in at over 20 lbs, walking, giggling, and calling everything “dada.” We cannot even begin to understand the “behind the scenes” time, research, and sleepless nights that contributed to his success. We are very thankful for the research funded by the March of Dimes that helped our now healthy bundle of love thrive. We owe everything to the amazing medical teams and research along the way and the love and dedication of all of Clyde’s biggest fans, his family.