These past 30 days have felt like a slow year.
It all started on Thursday September 3rd, 2015. Holly, a healthy 7 and a half months pregnant mother noticed a change in her pregnancy. Her unborn baby wasn’t moving at all. She and Drew thought perhaps the baby had dropped into her birth canal in preparation for the birth 8 weeks away. They felt that was probably the reason but they decided to try a few tests to verify their assumption. Holly drank a real Coca Cola full of sugar and caffeine. This didn’t affect Hayes a bit. Next they played loud music close to Holly’s stomach. No movement still. Holly decided she would go to the ER at Grand Strand Hospital in Myrtle Beach.
This was the beginning of a journey no one vaguely expected. This was also the 1st of many wise choices Holly and Drew made which made it possible to have this opportunity to tell y’all about a story full of miracles. God was with them from the beginning. They didn’t know what they were about to experience.
Holly was pregnant with her 2nd child. She knew in her gut something was wrong. She told Drew she was going to the hospital. She figured they could run a test or two and tell her if something was out of kilter. The attending physician and nurses told her nothing was wrong and to go home. It was about 1 a.m. She refused to leave. She wanted another test. Something had to be wrong!! Fortunately a new female doctor had recently joined her OBGYN group. She had worked with Dr. Tripp Nelson at MUSC. He was reputed to be the best doctor for complicated deliveries. Her training enabled her to know what test to order, which identified the problem. Wasting no time she had an ambulance take Holly to MUSC in Charleston. Dr. Nelson would be waiting for her arrival.
Tests were immediately administered. Dr. Nelson identified the problem. Holly had a nasty, rare condition called “Hydrops”. It became the monster she and Drew would be fighting to save their baby’s life. (Hydrops is a name of a malady that basically means: the body has fluid in places it shouldn’t be. In Hayes case it was mainly in the lungs and heart plus between the skull and skin. Other areas showed the fluid but the lungs and heart needed immediate attention.)
Hydrops is rare; seen only once or twice a year at MUSC. Dr Nelson was honest with them. “Your baby is very sick. He has a 15% to 20% chance of survival.” I wasn’t there but it had to have hit them like a brick. Holly was the epitome of the perfect healthy pregnant woman. How could this happen to them? When did it appear? What caused it? Did she do anything she wasn’t supposed to do? Would our baby Hayes come home with us? The doctors told the truth from day 1. “Don’t have false hope.
After hearing the dire reports Drew called the family. “Holly might need an emergency c-section.” He needed us. We needed to be close to them. Holly wanted me to bring her Jack, her first born. She wanted to hug her “live” child. Crystal, Jack’s nanny, got him ready to be picked up. Loaded with everything we could possibly need we drove to Charleston. It was a long drive.
My husband, and I met in Charleston at our other daughter‘s home. We arrived with excess energy. We attempted to stay calm and take care of Jack. We had not heard from Drew. We did not know all the details. We just knew it was really bad. When Drew appeared with tears in his eyes we knew the pregnancy was in peril. There was nothing we could do but be strong, plead with God to make our daughter and baby well, pray hard and take care of Jack.
The next day we gathered ourselves to go visit Holly. She was in a room on labor and delivery. Imagine knowing your unborn might not make it and you are on a floor surrounded by women in labor preparing to have a normal delivery. The room was dark. It was very solemn. What could we say to make things better? Jack was the light in the room. For a short time the room was airy.
Holly was hooked up to many monitors. It looked like a room for a launch pad to fire missiles. The huge imposing screens were covered when Jack was there. No need to make him worry about his mother. The doctors had given her a cortisone shot 24 hours earlier (to help lungs mature). It was time for another. They wanted Hayes to have stronger lungs should there be an emergency C-Section. You see, the Hydrops caused pockets of water that had stifled the growth of the lungs and heart. His lungs had not developed like they should have and the heart was not strong enough. This was their main concern. Hayes didn’t have the strength to breath properly nor rid himself of Co2. They hoped the shots would help. I guess they did but not enough.
It was Sunday night. Dr. Nelson was not on call (even though he never left the hospital). A new doctor was in attendance. She explained to us in more detail what the monitors indicated. The main one showed every breath Hayes took. They wanted to make sure he didn’t go into distress. It was imperative Hayes remained strong to survive. Holly was told all was fine. She went to bed to try and get some undisturbed sleep.
Dr. Nelson, on his weekend off, had been checking on Holly since Friday. He dropped by to check on Hayes’ condition. He looked at the same data others had thought was ok and saw that it was NOT ok. He called Drew, told him to come to the hospital immediately and he called his special team of doctors and attendees to assist with the emergency C-section.
Everything had to go swiftly and with perfection. No room for error. Hayes was in distress. They had to deliver him quickly!!!
Everyone on Dr. Nelsons’ special team was in attendance but one. He couldn’t wait. It was critical to begin. He started the delivery and the section was over in 3 minutes. Every second counted. Hayes was not breathing at birth. The incredibly team with God given talents resuscitated Hayes. After 20 minutes of deliberate measures he was stabilized. Drew and Holly knew the chance of survival for their baby was very low. Drew had prepared himself with help from his aunt, who is a nun, to christen Hayes. He anointed his son in the delivery room. God was there. He had a special plan for his “flock”.
Hayes was whisked off. The timing was perfect. The transfer from one team to another to another went off like clockwork. Each and every person involved in these transfers was part of this miracle birth. No one expected Hayes to survive the birth much less each critical move. He finally was placed in the NICU (an intensive care unit for new born babies) He was immediately placed in an open incubator where he was connected to many life saving machines and tubes. There was no blue hat put on him nor was he swaddled in a newborn soft blanket. He looked defenseless. He had an army of caretakers which included many doctors, 3 nurses just for him, and the entire staff that commands this incredible unit. Hayes had so far defied all odds. God wasn’t surprised. His plan slowly began to unfold. At least 7 miracles had already occurred.
The next day we went to see Holly and Drew in their room on the post partum floor. We all tried to wear smiles and be optimistic but there was an air of despair in the room. Again Jack made the day for everyone. He was and is our “happy pill”. Also his other grandmother, Kathy Schaumber, flew in that day! Thank goodness. She was a breath of fresh air and two more very needed hands for Jack plus another heart to love on everyone.
By this time word had spread about this dreadful turn of events. Prayer chains were put in place. Word of mouth spread the news quickly. Hayes had a cavalry of angels gathering to pull him through.
Kathy and her husband Peter had also put many balls in motion. They are devout Catholics and they knew we needed prayer warriors all over the world. Many convents were notified. One in particular is located in Washington D.C. and is where Mother Theresa spent much time. (Kathy Schaumber actually worked with Mother Theresa and volunteers there today) In addition the nuns in Lourdes, France were asked to pray for Hayes. A Cardinal at the Vatican was notified. Special masses were held for Hayes. One of which was in the National Cathedral. In addition Drew’s aunt asked her convent and others to put Hayes on their prayer lists.
We needed a miracle. Prayer warriors banded together in so many places for Hayes. The prayers intensified.
Many friends (and people who did not know us) put Hayes on their prayer lists. The Prayers came from Bible study groups, prayer committees in churches, book clubs, supper clubs and anywhere two or more people gathered. Social media became a wonderful way to spread the word and ask for prayers. I am generally a private person but Hayes’ plight had to be publicized. Face Book was the social media we chose. Preachers even dedicated their sermons to Hayes. They prayed from the pulpit. We were overwhelmed at the outpourings of love and prayers. We still are.
One of the prayer teams was the football team at Pee Dee Academy in Mullins, S.C. One of their coaches informed them about Hayes’ story and they wanted to help Hayes. They began praying daily before each practice. They were learning first hand the power of prayer.
We were so thankful to have so many people praying but it was still hard to get our heads around the question “why us?”
“Why would God allow this to happen? Would he let Hayes live and then take him away?” We had no explanation. We just had to have faith. The doctors were being very blunt as to Hayes’ chance of survival. He had made it for 2 days but the future still looked bleak.
Seeing Hayes in NICU was alarming yet comforting. He had crossed many hurdles so far. One at a time, we spent time with him. We quietly talked to him in soothing tones. We prayed over him, and read him stories. Kathy anointed him ever morning with Lourdes water from France. I sang hymns from my Baptist Hymnal. We prayed without ceasing.
The NICU: If you have never been in a ICU for babies I don’t think words can paint a picture nor explain the feelings that hit you as you enter this room full of others’ memories and the present thoughts of those already there. You carry your own feelings when you enter and they have to mingle with what has already been there. It’s sacred ground. Lives saved and lives lost .You almost didn’t want to interfere with what used to be there but as you get comfortable a warm feeling enters and you can be at peace. Watching the angelic nurses performing their duties as they coo with their patients is moving. You can see they really care about their babies and they all work together. You begin to feel we are all part of a larger picture. These babies were fighting for their lives. We were their cavalry wishing we could save them all. We HAD to be strong. The fear, unanswered questions, and depressing feelings had to go away! We had a job to do. You can’t be weak when you are called to be strong.
They needed us!
Every day we all asked questions to the nurses and doctors. “How many children have you seen with Hydrops? Have they survived? Did they have brain damage? “ Each question was answered with ambiguity. You see, they were trained not to give a straight answer. We kept asking questions like we could talk them into telling us what they really thought. We never got a direct answer. They just wanted us to know that we were taking it moment by moment. Then hour-by-hour and then it was day by day. And in every conversation the only thing we were told for sure is “ don’t get your hopes up. Things could turn on a dime.”
It’s hard to express the many feelings that hung heavily upon all of us. Fear: would we carry a live baby home? Awe: the medical teams performed their jobs working through the hands of God. Confusion: Why did this happen to us? What did we do wrong?
As time went on our hopes increased! You could not help but get excited. Then they would be squashed. Then they would spring back up! We felt good about things and then we felt bad about things. We were up and down like a rollercoaster. We were reminded daily that Hayes was a very sick baby and he was in NICU. The doctors emphasized every morning in their rounds the severity of Hayes’ condition. They wanted Holly and Drew to be logical and face the hard cold facts. It was part of their job.
The fluid in Hayes was ebbing and flowing. He also had air pockets in his body. They still did not know what the cause was. They were treating the symptoms. It was scary when they told Holly and Drew that if the water and air did not dissipate they would have to start over. They gave Hayes two weeks to improve or a hard decision would have to be made. Infection could set in after two weeks around the tubes. So the nurses expertly took out tubes, put them back in other areas and remove air vents and feeding tubes and put them back in. I was scared to death watching the procedures we were allowed to observe. The nurses moved adeptly with confidence. Thank goodness!
Holly also had many tests administered to check her genetics. She was also checked for a virus. All of the tests came back negative. Now What?
I can’t emphasize how many times our sweet baby Hayes was poked, stuck with needles, injected with varying amounts of medicines. The numerous tubes were placed, replaced, moved, and changed out to find a better path to rid his body of the harmful pockets. Then there were feeding tubes moved around and ventilators changed. X rays and MRI’s were ordered to check Co2 amounts, where the pockets of water and air had moved, increased or come back. Hayes continued to be a very sick baby! But he was already a miracle baby to us. Every day he had survived was a miracle.
At some point we turned to Caring Bridge. This site on the Internet is dedicated to gathering prayers and sharing information about loved ones. We needed more prayers plus Hayes’ story needed to be told by Holly and Drew in their own words.
God was blessing Hayes daily. We just didn’t realize how much. We were embarking upon a miraculous voyage filled with prayers, faith and God’s Grace. It was none too soon. Our nerves were shot.
Towards the end of the two-week period we were warned infection was a real problem now. Doctors began making adjustments to Hayes’ treatments. All apparatus needed to be removed .The risk of infections doubles after 14 days. They could not take any more risks.
What was about to begin was not a clear path. Still not knowing the source of Hydrops, the medical team made critical choices. They explained what they had to do and were painfully clear that Hayes’ frail body might not be able to adjust to the changes. They had no choice .The adjustments could be life threatening plus it could take months for Hayes‘ body to accept the changes. After the next 7 days it became apparent. Hayes was being held by the hands of God.
Day by day major changes occurred. Every day a tube was removed. Instead of waiting a month for Hayes’ body to accept the changes it took a day or two .The medical team was surprised but did not want us to get too hopeful. They were cautious with their words. Daily the water and air pockets were checked. The levels did not increase. Next they told us he would be put on a step down ventilator. Two days later they decreased the oxygen being added to his “normal “ air and also decreased his pain and calming medications. They wanted Hayes to wake up! He did! I saw him open his eyes when I was with him. And then he squeezed my finger! He was aware he wasn’t alone! The next huge move was to take him off the ventilator completely. I was with Holly when they removed it. I was so scared. “Is he breathing?” He was and we heard him cry for the first time! He was going to survive! The only thing left to remove was the feeding tube. But first he had to learn to suckle and swallow. Holly and I knew that would be a piece of cake! We could see the light at the end of the tunnel!
The doctors said Hayes wasn’t taking baby steps. He was taking leaps and bounds. They went on to finally say encouraging words. What we were witnessing was rare. It was like God turned a key.
He had his fingers on Hayes’ pulse. All the prayers were working. The medical teams knew God had intervened. They had never witnessed anything like this. Hayes’ wasn’t supposed to live. It was then we learned his chance of survival was not 15 to 20 percent but merely 3 t0 5 percent. The doctor told Holly and Drew a little fib to give them hope. Holly then asked the doctors a question she had wanted to ask. “Can we smile a little bit now?” The answer was “YES”. WE went from high hopes to Blessed Assurance. God was now gently pushing Hayes to heal.
Before we knew it Hayes was moved to a step down NICU. It was still Intensive care but 3 babies shared one nurse rather than having one to themselves. When I visited Hayes in this unit the first thing I heard was “You know what you are witnessing don’t you?” “Your grandson is a miracle. We all know it. His condition has dramatically improved. It could only be one thing.” And then each nurse would become teary. They each told me times like this are the reason they were nurses. Two days later Hayes was moved down to an even lesser care unit. There I saw nurses and nurses’ aids that remembered me from NICU. “That’s not the same baby is it? Then we hugged and cried together. “God is good! Miracles do happen! You all are so blessed.” They knew we were all involved in a miracle from God. We were sharing emotions that can’t be explained in words. It was like a big secret but we had to tell others! God wanted us to share the good news. We have and we still are. It’s the reason I am writing this story.
The next step down was to a NORMAL nursery!!! Hayes’ story had spread. The nurses knew Hayes’ was a miracle baby. I was present during a nursing shift. With out hesitation the nurse leaving told the new nurse Hayes was a miracle baby. Also, the residents making rounds with the attending physician were told, “This baby isn’t suppose to be here. God has plans for this little boy”. I was encouraged by meeting so many outspoken Christians at MUSC both among staff and sitting in waiting rooms. It was a tight woven group of people comforting each other. God is good. He knew we needed each other.
The only thing left for Hayes to do was learn to eat well enough to gain weight. His feeding tube had been taken out and he and his momma had special times to bond .The lactation nurses were incredible. Before too long Holly was nursing Hayes. It took a week until Hayes began to gain weight. MUSC wanted to see three consecutive days of weight gain. That happened and it was time to check out.
The night before Hayes was discharged the delivery doctor, Dr. Nelson, came to visit. His gleaming eyes and warm smiles were contagious. He told Holly “Hayes fooled me. I didn’t make him well. I just delivered him.” He didn’t say the word miracle but he said something like it. God worked through him and delivered a baby that was going to have a chance to live. Miracle after miracle had occurred. Gods timing was right on and each person on the brilliant medical team plus the employees of MUSC were used as a passage for God to heal Hayes every step of the way. They all played a part in Hayes’ birth and miracle recovery.
The Pee Dee Academy football team’s commitment to praying for Hayes was a blessing for Hayes. Equally important was that many young boys got to experience being part of a miracle. They know their prayers counted. I hope their experience will have a ripple effect on others.
The family of Hayes Holliday Schaumber wants all of you to know how much we appreciate y’alls prayers. You were a big part of Hayes’ miracle. The outpouring of love was and is overwhelming. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you.
I always said I believed in the power of prayer but now I know how powerful it truly is. Being a witness to this miracle has changed our family forever. May God bless you all for joining us in mind, body and spirit. Please tell others about this miraculous story.
Hayes is now home with his brother Jack (18 months old), his momma, daddy, Emma the dog and two kitty cats, Punkin and Gizmo. Hayes looks and acts like a normal new born. He has no signs of anything out of the ordinary. No defects at all. He has his nights and days mixed up plus occasional gas. He can sleep through anything due to his time in NICU. No one would know what his first month looked like. Thank God he won’t remember it.
His parents want to put him on a schedule but for now they just want to watch him sleep and hold him while he’s awake. Sounds good to me.