How Malachi found a "safe haven" in our hearts
Written by Summer: Mother to Malachi
It all started when this guy met this girl….wait, no it started before that! I (Summer) was going to nursing school and got some news, little did I know then, that was going to change my life in many ways. I had severe pain and got diagnosed with endometriosis, had surgery two days later and was told that I may never be able to get pregnant. Fast forwarding to 9 years ago when I met the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with! I told him that infertility may be a possibility, and bless his heart that he still wanted to marry me! We both desperately wanted kids, but little did we know that our world was going to be rocked in such a huge way!
After being married two years, we decided to try to have kids. Two years later and three further surgeries, we decided to try invitro fertilization. This last surgery, three years ago, my tubes had to be tied. Tim, my husband, and I were devastated when we got the news that the invitro did not work. We then realized that the desire to have children was much stronger than to have “our”children. We did not have the funds, after invitro, to consider domestic or international adoption. Our church family was a strong encourager to nudge us toward foster adoption. The book “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore opened our hearts and we got licensed!
Only two weeks after being licensed, we got a call on a Monday morning asking if we would take a “safe haven” baby boy. Safe haven is something that is available to women, who feel that they cannot take care of their child, can drop them off (no questions asked and no prosecution) at a fire station, hospital, police station up to three days after delivery. Malachi (our safe haven baby) was born at a hospital to a mother who didn’t know she was pregnant and had no prenatal care. He was born at 2 pounds, 9ounces, and was life lighted to the hospital that I worked at, as a nurse in the birthplace just a floor below! He was in the NICU for three days when we got the call! Immediately I said yes, and had to ask them to hold on the phone for a minute while I checked with my husband, and he jumped out of bed and said yes immediately as well! We had to wait 3 painstaking days to go and see him. My stomach was just in knots the whole time, and I was floating on a cloud! We went and registered for things at Babies R Us (my dream was coming true, I was actually going to get a baby shower!). When we went in to see him, he was just adorable, but, man, when I got to hold him for the first time – priceless! My husband was so sweet when the nurse asked if he wanted to hand Malachi over to me, and he said, no, just hand him to Summer just as if she delivered and gets to be the first one to hold him! My heart melted and was overflowing with love for my two guys!
Malachi was around 34 weeks gestation, per the neonatologist’s guess, but was severe IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation). He was the size of a baby at 30 weeks gestation. He was intubated just for a day and had a chest tube placed, as he had a pneumothorax (basically a blown lung). He was on IV’s, but did not need any oxygen after the intubation tube came out. He was on a feeding tube, and they had just started very small feeds when we became a family of 3! The NICU ride was a roller-coaster ride indeed! SO many tests, HIV, Hepatitis, chromosomes, drugs and alcohol, which meant lots of pokes (he was a brave dude, and rarely cried with these). All these tests, of course, took about a week+ to get results back, so you can imagine us sitting on the edge of our seats. We had to do all of these not knowing what bio mom’s history was. All she decided to share with us was that she drank a glass of wine a couple times a month, was a heavy smoker, had high blood pressure, and had her gallbladder out. Not much to go on. Malachi had elevated indirect bilirubin (not the kind you can fix with phototherapy lights), and they didn’t know why, so ran a lot more tests! At one time, they told us that Malachi may have Bili atresia, which is very serious and can end up with a liver transplant at some time in his life! They told me to get ready to fly to Seattle for this if needed – I went home and packed some bags! Thank the good Lord that after reviewing his tests and scan, the GI pediatrician decided that it probably was not this, but needed to do more tests to rule this out!! Best case scenario was an immature liver that needed time to grow, but worst case scenario, could still be Bili atresia. Lots of prayers were sent upstairs during this time, and we would not have made it without the love and support of all our friends and family! Well, then the GI doc decided we needed to do a liver biopsy, as his bili was increasing, so Cai had to be intubated and get a blood transfusion for this procedure. They let us stay in the room to watch – which was reassuring to me, being a nurse and all! The biopsy came back that it was probably just an immature liver (Praise the Lord)! We did a lot of cuddling, and I stayed working during this time, as I was blessed to be able to take my breaks and just run upstairs for some “Cai time” (skin-to-skin).
Speaking of cuddling, let me just say, being a labor and delivery nurse and an advocate of skin-to-skin, I personally know how important that skin-to-skin is. From the first day, and every day, I was allowed to do skin-to-skin with Malachi. This was so bonding for both of us, I think. See, Malachi did not know me from Eve at this point, so it was so important, not only for his health and growing in the NICU, but for him to know his Mommy! I would tuck him in my shirt and sing to him and read books to him and hold him (of course kisses were included). Malachi only had to stay in the NICU for exactly a month, and I believe this was largely due to the skin-to-skin we did, daily! Malachi was able to get donated breast milk for the first couple weeks of his life, until we had to use a special formula for his immature liver. Malachi came home at 4 pounds on the nose! So tiny, so precious!
We were blessed and did not have to do visitations as traditional foster parents do, as Cai was given up at birth. So we were the only parents he ever knew, and we were able to give him his first and only name, and do all the things new parents do! (except give birth, of course). We adopted Malachi on December 22nd! The BEST Christmas present ever! He is now 9 ½ months old and 15 pounds! The pediatrician is very pleased with his progress as he is a mover and a shaker (he had never seen a preemie so young and active as him), and still gains weight! We are SO blessed, as in God’s timing; we had the most wonderful miracle and couldn’t ask for a more perfect son! Malachi found his safe haven in our hearts. Now we are praying for some siblings for Malachi!
(pictures of skin-to-skin, our family in the NICU and now!)