September 11, 2006 was an awesome and traumatic day for me. Awesome because my son, William, was born just after midnight. Traumatic because his birth was 14 weeks early AND he weighed 1lb-14oz. Ya, they call that a 26 weeker. That was my introduction to the word preemie.
Just the evening before my wife, Lisa, and I spent a few hours at Virginia Beach General getting checked on by nurses because of cramping. They gave us a thumbs up. Everything was fine. So, around 10pm we left the hospital reassured. At 12:07am reassurance went out the window. I was awakened by excruciating screams from Lisa. She was in the bathroom, on the toilet, doubled over, bleeding! The only words I could get out were, “what’s wrong?” I was in a panic, a frenzy! My wife was in agonizing pain and I felt helpless. I picked her up, put her on the bed, put her clothes on and the next thing I know we’re flying down Laskin Road headed for the hospital. I pulled up and tried to go to the same office that we were at just a few hours earlier BUT IT WAS CLOSED! To the emergency room we went! I ran in looking for help and found the security guard. All he said was, “Sir, what’s the matter?” and I lost it! I broke down and cried. “My wife. She needs help. She’s out in the car.” The security guard followed me outside with a wheelchair. I helped Lisa out of the car and as soon as she stood up her water broke. At the time, I had absolutely no idea that William would be born shortly thereafter. I just thought my wife was in a lot of pain, the doctors would help her and we’d go back home. NOPE!
The security guard led the way upstairs. Well, actually I led the way. I was pushing Lisa in the wheelchair while he was 4 or 5 steps behind me giving me directions! We got to an empty room that was quickly filled with doctors and nurses. Unreal! It was as if they all just appeared. Moments later one of the nurses tells me to hold Lisa’s leg back. I had the right leg and the nurse had the left. At 1:57a William M. Yancey Jr was born!!!! Life as we knew it changed in that instant.
Amongst several other serious complications, William’s most severe problem was the IVH Grade IV brain bleed. Grade IV is the most severe brain bleed possible. It leaves babies with severe brain damage, Cerebral Palsy along with a list of other complications assuming they even survive.
William was born on a Monday. His Neonatologist met with us and would be off until Friday. I’ll never forget what he told us when he returned that Friday. He said, “When I came in this morning I did not expect your son to still be here.” That cut through me like a knife. It wasn’t a feeling of hitting rock bottom. It felt more like I was falling in an abyss.