HAPPY BOY | WHAT A JOY. happy birthday kenton.

Today is my first born’s SEVENTH birthday. SEVEN!! How do these things happen!? In honor of his birthday, I thought I would retell the story of his birth (even though it has nothing to do with this blog of mine, except that he makes our home a happy place and puts a smile on my face). 😉 Who doesn’t love a birth story, amiright? When Kenton was born, and his life was spared, I promised I would never stop sharing what God did and the immense power of prayer. I am forever grateful. ❤

My pregnancy had been smooth sailing. Besides a crappy first trimester, I LOVED being pregnant — watching my belly grow, feeling baby move and kick, and planning for his arrival.

My doctor approved for us to take one last trip before baby was born, during my 34th week of pregnancy. We flew to Wisconsin where my entire family planned to spend a week on a lake — boating, relaxing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, swimming, etc. It’s always a highlight of the summer.

About half way through the week, I noticed baby wasn’t moving or kicking nearly as much as he had been; fear and worry set in. When it’s your first pregnancy, however, it’s hard to know if your worries are valid or if you’re being hyper-sensitive. Maybe baby is running out of room in there and can’t move around as much? Maybe I’m just distracted and that’s why I don’t feel him move? Maybe I’m just a psychopath who is freaking out over nothing?!

I tried to stuff down the worries as much as I could, but on the flight home fear took over. I broke down in tears, right there in the aisle seat of the plane. Visions of a still born baby, MY baby, filled my mind. It was awful. Tears flooded my eyes as I begged my unborn baby to give me one big kick or ANY sign that he was okay. There was nothing I could do, except pray.

We got home very late that night and vowed to call the doctor first thing in the morning. Looking back, I should have called the emergency line of my OB, but I thought you had to be in labor or gushing blood or something. Friends, let me tell you, THIS is what the emergency line is for. I always tell pregnant friends to trust their instincts because Mama’s truly know best.

The next day happened to be our 5 year wedding anniversary, and we did call my OB right away when they opened. After finally getting a call back, doing a “kick count,” and not getting the results they wanted, they told me to come in right away.

The non-stress test we did at the office showed something was wrong and said they wanted to monitor me in Labor & Delivery. So they sent us to the hospital we were supposed to deliver at and said, “Don’t stop at home or anywhere else. Just go straight there.” Oh, and “don’t worry.” Yea right. What do they know that they’re not telling us?? What’s going on? I haven’t even packed my hospital bag! Are we having this baby TODAY?! Holy buckets, holy buckets, holy buckets!

In the hospital room, they immediately started an IV, asked me a million questions, and hooked up the monitor to see how baby was doing. As soon as the nurse saw the monitor, she called the doc, and told me his heart rate was “sinusoidal.” She didn’t explain what that meant and only said, “Honey, it’s not what we like to see.” The doctor then came in and explained that it could mean a variety of things: that the baby is severely anemic, or has been affected by drug use (definitely not the case!), or has an infection of some sort, among other possibilities. I later found out that a “sinusoidal heart rate” is a rare occurrence that basically shows the baby is dying and needs immediate intervention. Yikes. I’m glad they didn’t tell me that. In order to find out what was wrong, they needed to get our baby out ASAP. Enter…emergency c-section. Enter…extreme panic. And questions. And worries. But I’m only 35 weeks. Baby’s not ready yet. I’M not ready yet. WE aren’t ready yet.

They rushed me back to the operating room while Cory frantically called family to tell them what was happening. He came in just in time for them to deliver our 4 pound 11 ounce baby boy at 3:47pm, named Kenton James.

He was born white as a ghost, and had accentuated features…I can’t say it was a good look. But as all mom’s do, I loved him immediately.

I was able to hold him only for a minute and then he was rushed to the NICU. There, he began to crash. The doctors quickly discovered he was severely anemic. He had a hematocrit of less than 10 (the normal range is between 42-65). The neonatologist said she rarely sees babies survive with that low of a number and she was honestly surprised he was alive. This meant he had very little blood in his body and needed several life-saving blood transfusions. At some point after testing my blood, the doctors discovered that I had had a “fetal maternal hemorrhage,” which means that his placenta had a slight tear causing his blood to either slowly leak into me over time or it could have torn more recently (we’ll never know). He was losing his blood through the placenta and therefore, wasn’t moving because he was conserving energy to survive. Later on, I learned that this rare type of hemorrhage is a common cause of stillborn births. The doctors and nurses also told me that if I would have waited another 15-20 minutes, he may not have survived. I had a regular scheduled OB appointment for 4:00pm that same day that I had considered waiting for to address our concerns, but it would have been too late.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. Honestly, I was pretty clueless to how sick he truly was, which is sort of a blessing. It wasn’t until that evening when the doctor told us he was “extremely critical,” that I understood. I remember saying to my mom, “Wait, he’s in CRITICAL CONDITION!?  That’s really serious!” My heart would sink every time the doctor came into my room because I feared what she might tell us…it was such a terrifying time. I just wanted to see and hold my brand new baby but I knew the medical team was doing all they could. 

By later that night, the doctor told us she didn’t feel comfortable with the level of care their NICU could give our very sick baby. She recommended transferring him to a more specialized hospital, which was better equipped to handle such sick babies. Then the flurry started. They told me I needed to go “say goodbye.” Not like a forever goodbye, right? What the heck is happening? I overheard someone telling my mom that sometimes babies don’t make the transfer. What do you mean “don’t make the transfer”?! Can I trust these strangers with my baby? I actually got to spend quite a bit of time with him in the NICU as they tried to stabilize him before taking him away by ambulance. When they couldn’t keep him stable long enough, however, things got even scarier. They decided to take him by helicopter instead.

I had a nice little chat with my brand-new son, crying my eyes out, as I pleaded with God to let him be okay.  It took everything in me not to jump in that helicopter with him. Don’t they know he needs his Mama??! You can’t take him on my first night as a Mom! I had to let him go, packaged in a tiny see-through box, and do the only thing I could: trust and pray. I actually remember that moment clearly. I sat in a wheelchair as a team of specialists wheeled him out of the room, leaving me behind. BUT, I strangely felt peace. Pure peace in that moment. I felt the prayers, and God gave me strength knowing we were doing what was best for baby Kenton.

I couldn’t WAIT to see Kenton when I was finally transferred to his new hospital the next day. I was amazed to see how much better he looked in just one day. He finally had color in his body but I hated seeing him hooked up to so many things.

He remained critical for a day or two until they got enough blood into his system and stabilized his breathing with the help of some intense ventilators. He improved a little bit each day, which was a HUGE answer to prayers. He actually surprised us with how fast he made progress at the beginning and moved to the graduate NICU in just one week. Even the doctors and nurses were surprised with how fast he improved, which is just another sign that our great God was at work and that the power of prayer is a SERIOUS thing.

Truly, I’ve never felt the power of prayer so much in my life as I did when Kenton was born. We were overwhelmed by how much support and love we felt from family and friends, near and far, and even some strangers! SO many people let us know that they were praying for us and for Kenton, and for that, we can never say thank you enough! 

~ A ‘GOD THING’ ~

This is one of the BEST parts of Kenton’s story and sometimes I forget to tell it! When Kenton was born, there was another family from our church whose son, Ezra, was in the NICU at the same hospital.

On August 1st, Ezra’s dad saw a little baby, that he didn’t know, come rushing into the NICU with a flurry of doctors and nurses surrounding him; he knew it was serious. In that moment, he felt nudged to pray for this baby – OUR baby – and so he did. Some time later, he talked to our pastor and found out about Kenton. He said, “I saw that baby; I prayed for that baby!”

How cool is that?

Thank you for praying, Brad! And let me tell you, if you don’t have a church family…GET ONE. No church is perfect, but it’s amazing how God works through a church family, and how people come together to help each other out.

We are so thankful.

Fast forward seven years and this boy still has my heart. He climbs trees without fear, glides across monkey bars, catches frogs and snakes like it’s no big deal, asks thoughtful questions, talks your literal face off, dances with confidence, fishes like a pro, teaches his brother everything he knows, and holds his baby sister with such pride. And oh man, when the sun is shining in his bright blue/green eyes and he looks at me…take whatever you want, kid. You’re so stinking handsome.

Several months after he was born, a sweet old man from our church told us that he prayed for Kenton’s strength and healing…aaaaand he prayed that Kenton would be a little bit naughty. No joke. That’s what he said. And guess what? THAT prayer was answered too! Thanks a lot. 😉 And he’s more than just a ‘little bit’ naughty most days. Little stinker.

Kenton means “From the King’s estate,” and James means, “He who triumphs; gift from above; fearless; enthusiastic; adventurous; clever and witty.” And he certainly is ALL of these things. Every year on his birthday, we remind him how sick he was and the miracle God performed in his life. His eyes light up with amazement and wonder, and a smile stretches across his cute darling face. I pray he will always know and remember just how loved and valuable he is, as a child of God.

Happy Birthday, Kenton! We love you! ❤

Huge hugs! XO!

~ Kara

8 thoughts on “HAPPY BOY | WHAT A JOY. happy birthday kenton.

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