Bradley was born April 23, 2013 via C-Section. Upon delivery he cried, but not the scream that you would expect or like to hear. Brad, my husband, was able to bring him over for me to see and I was able to hold him for a few seconds before they whisked him away to the NICU. The next couple of days were a blur to say the least and we weren't given much information (which is why we did not know the severity of Bradley's condition). Each time we went to visit Bradley in the NICU he seemed to only be getting worse. I could hardly stand sitting next to him watching as his little chest pumped in and out 100 times a minute.
April 25, 48 hours later, this day was a day we will never forget. By this time it truly had gotten unbearable to visit little B, so I sent Brad down to check on him that morning while my mom and I stayed in my recovery room. Brad came back up to let me know B was still the same, no real change and that he was going to go back down and hang out with him. About an hour later is when everything thing changed. Brad came back to the room with a look on his face that I had never seen, I instantly knew what he was going to tell me... I asked, "are we going to lose him?" and Brad replied (with tears streaming down his face) "yes, we are probably going to lose our little boy" – Crying, he told me, “ Bradley blew a pneumothorax while I was sitting with him, and the doctors attempted to put a chest tube in but he was not responding. Our Neonatal Doctor told me they had done all they could at that point.” In the midst of all of this information all we could do in that moment was hold each other and pray. During this time I had never experienced so much pain. I will never forget the prayer we prayed in that moment… We prayed that God would comfort Bradley and us, and we understood God may just want Bradley back. I remember telling Brad, “we are going to be ok, we will get through this.” I was suddenly overcome with this overwhelming peace that I myself had never experienced. After our prayer Brad hurried back over to Children’s of Alabama (which was just a small crosswalk away) to be with Bradley in case he passed in that time. Little did we know how much was going to change in the next 20 minutes.
My in room phone rang and it was one of the NICU coordinators from Children’s letting me know they had stabilized Bradley. I honestly was at a loss for words as I had just “accepted” the worst. I did not know how to even wrap my mind around what was being said. She told me he was being evaluated for a special machine, ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation).
In that very moment I began learning everything I could about this machine. I learned that there were limited machines across the country and although it comes with a long list of statics and risk factors… I knew this was Bradley’s only chance for survival. We were told if he had not been a crosswalk away we would have indeed lost him.
Bradley was placed on ECMO shortly after evaluation for an extreme case of PPHN (reversible lung disease). I will never forget the look of that machine. Completely horrifying, watching all of your child’s blood being taken from his body, pushed through a tube to be oxygenated, and filtered back into his body. However, the love and expertise of our nurses and doctors amazed us. I remember like it was yesterday as I was standing over Bradley … I looked at Brad and said, “Brad, if we make it out of here, it will be my mission to give back as much as I can to this place.”
Once Bradley was placed on ECMO we saw some of the first signs he may actually pull through. For those six days that Bradley was on ECMO Brad and I were zombies (the best way to describe it), but felt the love and comfort of God at all times. Family and friends surrounded us from all around and even strangers showed their love and support. An overwhelming experience in itself. ECMO came and went with ZERO complications, perfect MRI and Neuro tests and the tubes (from all over) began to disappear...
We spent exactly one month in the NICU at Children’s of Alabama. As any NICU parents would understand, these people become your family. It truly is unexplainable. Bradley has been thriving ever since. Now, I am fulfilling my wish I made that day standing over Bradley … I have now found a way to give back to this place that gave it all back to me.