My wife's water broke at 1 AM, about ten weeks too early. We were in such shock; we couldn't believe what was happening. After calling the nurse triage line, we rushed to the hospital.
The pregnancy was so rough for us. Not only did my wife, Camille, have the worst migraines and nausea, but we also discovered there were some severe complications with our baby. About ten weeks before ending up in the hospital, the California Prenatal Screening blood test discovered an elevated hormone in my wife's blood. Our primary doctor sent us to a specialty obstetrics office.
After the ultrasound, the doctor coldly told us that he suspected triploidy. This is an extremely rare genetic condition that is incompatible with life. Our baby, who we already loved dearly, was being ripped from us. We both cried like we never had before.
Two agonizing weeks went by before we were relieved; our baby did not have triploidy. However, there were ongoing tests to find out what was wrong. Another week went by before the testing told us that our boy had a severe genetic deletion on chromosome 22, called Phelan-McDermid syndrome.
There are less than 3,000 diagnosed cases in the world. The primary manifestation is mild to severe cognitive impairment and substantial difficulty or lack of speech. We realized we might never hear our boy say "mama" or "dada." My wife, a defense attorney, worried what the world would do to a boy who couldn't speak for himself — who would take advantage of him, what will happen to him after we're gone? Our minds raced.
Camille was stable for a couple of days in the hospital before the contractions came on strong. The nurses moved us to labor and delivery as a precaution. In L&D, her contractions became progressively more intense, but the doctor could not check on her as the doctor was in surgery. My wife endured 5 hours of excruciating contractions while waiting for the doctor.
We knew our boy was in a breech position and would require a c-section, but we weren't prepared for what happened next. The doctor rushed in at 11:14 PM, 46 minutes before my wife's birthday.
"Dad," she said while moving towards my wife, "get ready to move. We're probably rushing her to the OR."
The doctor checked my wife, and the world began to spin.
"I can feel the butt. We need to go now! Get the OR ready stat. This baby is coming right now."
My wife was out the door by 11:17. "I promise I'll be there, baby," I got off to her as she rolled by, "I love you."
The original scrubs I received were not made for a 6'2" frame, and I nearly ripped out of them.
"I can make these work if I have to," I insisted.
I waited for new scrubs then brought them to the "daddy waiting area." The nurse told me someone from the OR would be out to get me soon. Time lost meaning in that hallway. I was there for 5 or 10 minutes at most, but a whole lifetime passed by me. Thoughts raced through my mind, "has it been too long? should I go find her?" in an endless stream of anxiety.
Finally, a nurse came to bring me in. "Let's go quick. Stay to the edges. Don't touch anything. Come on."
My mom's advice rang in my ears, "You may be ok with blood, but don't look into the operating site. So many dads pass out from doing that." As a recently retired nurse, her words carried weight.
Not looking at the opening in my wife's stomach, I rushed into a room packed with strangers surrounding my wife. Lead to the head of her bed, I grabbed her hand and asked if she was ok. She was. The OR nurses then told us that our baby would be immediately taken from us to get him to the NICU because of how early he was.
"Go with him, baby," my Camille insisted. He was delivered at 11:38, 22 minutes before Camille's birthday and 24 minutes after the doctor first walked through the door. When he was out, I went right away, telling my wife not to worry and that I loved her.
I was so scared of what I might see. We never got a good look at our boy by ultrasound, and his syndrome sometimes causes mild deformities.
When I first saw my boy, he was perfect. When he should have been weak, he was so strong. He was crying. The nurses said he came out kicking and crawling. My boy is a fighter.
I followed him and the team of nurses and doctor's to the NICU while they stabilized him. Once stable, I went to find my wife. She had moved from the recovery room to the post-delivery rooms. It was about 3 AM before we both settled in. Like a kid on Christmas, she was up by 6:30 AM to see her boy. He was the best birthday gift she had ever gotten. His name is Ezra Cruz-Adams, and he is perfect in every way.
Beyond our extended stay, Ezra has been in the NICU for eight weeks now. During that time, I had plenty of time to think about our lives. I have a good corporate job. It pays well, but the hours are long and hard. I decided I wanted something that could support my family financially and allow me to be there for them physically and emotionally.
After speaking with Camille, I decided to move forward with Insight Projects, my first company. I was blessed to secure the involvement of two marketers that I genuinely admire. The team is growing, and we're actively taking on more clients.
My boy's road won't be easy. But no matter what happens, I know I can be there for him and my amazing wife, who has endured hell to give my son life.