This is the first draft of a speech
that I am due to give on Monday night--
- what do you think?
Children’s Miracle Network,
Mr. Wolverine~ Willamette High School
March 16th 2009
Hello, I’m Stacey and this is my daughter Jessica~
Jessica is a 2nd grader at Howard. I also have a son Shane, who is a kinder also at Howard. Their father, my husband, Jerry is at work this evening supervising the making of oatmeal.
I am here tonight to make you cry… and to talk about how CMN has been apart of our lives.
It was a Thursday, when I went to my regular check-up appointment with my OB/GYN -- I was 32 weeks along, the Dr. talked with me about how I was feeling, and if I was craving anything weird-- she asked if I was eating healthy. Then my NOT so favorite part, the blood pressure check, the blood draw-- and also the urine sample. Ewwwww….!
Apparently, I didn’t pass these tests with flying colors- next I had to spend some time on my side in a recliner being calm and still while their was a monitor keeping a close eye on Jessica.
When I finally got back to the exam room I knew something was up when I saw a wheelchair just outside the door.
The Doctor came back to the room with the nurse and explained that I would be immediately admitted to Sacred Heart-- I think the nurse was there just in case I tried to leave!
I remember I had my husbands’ phone and pager with me, I was supposed to get new batteries, I also had to stop my work, and run other essential errands. I did not realize how sick my body was, I was just frustrated that I was being told what to do and that I didn’t have a choice in the matter. There were so many things that needed to get done and yet I was being told to lay down and be calm and still--- what a challenge that was!
I spent a LONG week in the hospital trying to stay in bed and keep my blood pressure down-- I was on the phone, asking friends to bring me PJ’s, fun healthy food, and things to do-- I even spent some time coloring a coloring book!
Can you say Boring?
The nurses would take my blood, they monitored my urine, they took my blood pressure-- they even gave me shots in my hip-- that really HURT-- to help Jessica’s lungs get stronger. I decided to not let my frustration show-- I often responded to requests for bodily fluids and other tests with “goody goody gumdrops”
~( I am a firm believer in the phrase, never let them see you sweat!)
It was Saturday morning when the Dr came to say, that I was going to give birth, and that I should make the phone calls quick -- but that today was the day my daughter was to be born.
Jessica was born early-- at 33 1/3 weeks old she was only 3 pounds 4 ounces, and she was 17inches long. Her birthday, was the Saturday before our first Mother’s Day. I had toxemia -- which means that my blood pressure was increasing the longer Jessica was in my body. By inducing labor, the Doctors were hoping that I would get back to normal blood pressures-- and that Jessica would be healthy enough outside of me. Jessica was born after a 3 minute long emergency C-section.
There were some complications after Jessica was born, for both of us--she had to be resuscitated, and she also received a blood transfusion soon after she was born. I was under so many medications, the first time I got to see Jessica in person, she was already 2 days old. Jessica smiled first for the NICU nurses, her first bath, was given by a NICU nurse. For about a week Jessica was only known as Baby Girl Harris, I was too foggy from all the drugs to make any life long decisions.
Jessica must have been about 3 or 4 days old, my husband stopped by to visit, and refused to leave my room, until we had given our daughter a name. There was talk among the nursing staff that Jessica would have to be transferred to Dornbechers in Portland.-- After much prompting by my husband -- we decided that we would name our daughter Jessica, later we realized that there were 3 different Jessica’s who helped us at the very beginning of her young life-- The Doctor, my nurse and one of the nurses in the NICU -- were all named Jessica.
The rumors we had heard were true and we found out that I was being released, but that Jessica would be taken via NICU ambulance to Dornbechers’… There was concern that Jessica might have to have kidney dialysis-- .We knew then that this was serious and that it wasn’t going to be an easy ride. On the way to Portland, we stopped to eat at a KFC, I was craving mashed potatoes-- as I sat down to eat I started crying~ the restaurant was full of construction workers and you could tell that they all wanted to know what my husband had said to make me cry… It wasn’t what he had said, it was the song that I had heard --”I’m already there” by Lone star --
I couldn’t help but think that we were missing out on yet another of Jessica’s firsts’ ~ her first trip to Portland. I happen to have family that live in Milwaukie --they were so helpful they let us stay in their house-- although most of our time was spent at the hospital just praying and hoping that she would not have to go thru dialysis. When the Doctors came by one evening they told us that they had ordered the extra small catheter -- from a Seattle hospital and if Jessica’s numbers didn’t get better they would have to give my baby dialysis at less than a month old! There were many people who we had never met that were praying for all of us, God happened to be listening and Jessica ended up not having to go thru dialysis.
So, after about a week in Portland, we were sent back to Sacred Heart here in Eugene. The doctors told us, that we just needed Jessica to grow, gain weight and learn how to eat, regulate her body temperature and to breathe while sleeping.
We spent a month or so in limbo-- I would go every morning to visit and attempt to feed Jessica, I would rock her in a chair, while repeating suck, swallow, breathe.
(As funny as that sounds now, it was crucial for Jessica to develop these skills.)
While rocking Jessica, I was always trying to stay focused on good, when I saw a plaque on one of the incubators that said donated by CMN-- I asked what was CMN. Shortly -- after that a social worker came and talked with me -- she asked if I would be willing to go down stairs and talk on TV for the telethon. I think back now and I don’t understand why I said yes, but I did-- and just a few weeks after giving birth, I found myself on television with a picture of my daughter trying not to cry.
After a few ups and downs Jessica was gaining weight, ounce by ounce ~ the rule then was 5 pounds and or by the babies’ original due date. Jessica’s due date was June 23rd… Sadly, the day we brought Jessica home from the hospital was the same day that we had a memorial service for my Grandfather-- he had Alzheimer’s and so he knew that she was born, but he wasn’t able to ever hold her.
If our story ended here, that would still be a good story--don’t you think?
But -- our story continues~
What were you doing the summer of 2002 -- do you remember?
In August I was 8 months pregnant with my son, Shane and I was craving an Elephant Ear-- I had to beg and convince my husband to go to the fair. He was concerned, that since Jessica was only 15 months old and had only just gotten good at walking ~ the fair would be scary. I reassured him, we will be extra cautious-- I will bring extra clothes and wipes-- just in case. And we were careful~ but I am here to share with you this-- You can wash your hands, you can be careful-- and you still can potentially get E coli. It only takes a small amount -- for Jessica it only took just the size of a dime.
We found out later that you can ingest the E coli --just like you do with dust. It wasn’t the day we went to the fair that Jessica started to show sickness-- it was a few days later. She was puking and had diarrhea -- she didn’t want to smile or even to complain. We had to go to a funeral for a family member, Jessica just seemed to get worse, I called and got in as the last appointment of the day. As the doctor was looking Jessica over and asking me questions -- it was like she knew the answers already. The Dr went and got a colleague to confirm what she thought she was seeing, they both stepped into the room and then Jessica projectile puked all over the room-- the Dr’s just looked at each other and nodded. Our Dr came back in to the room and explained that she wasn’t able to confirm-- but that she believed that Jessica had E coli. apparently we were not the first case of that day. The Dr asked me if I thought I could take her home and take care of her-- or would I rather admit Jessica to Sacred Heart. I was so scared at that moment, I remember taking a moment to ask God for guidance and then saying, yes let’s admit her. I called my husband and asked that he come with me to the hospital-- I figured that I would not be a safe driver with my tears and Jessica so sick in the car. When we walked in to the hospital it was like we were on a red carpet just for us-- but this wasn’t a red carpet I wanted to be on. We walked through the double door of the pediatric intensive care unit, and I was surprised to see familiar faces.-- I recognized nurses from our last stay at Sacred Heart-- I also saw a customer from my work-- that’s when I started to realize that we weren’t the only one and that this could be really huge. We stayed in Sacred Heart for about a week and then -- the Dr’s came to tell me that we needed to go to Portland again. I was upset and unwilling to admit that Jessica was that sick, so I threw a hissy fit… and asked to talk with my regular pediatrician-- the staff got my Dr on the phone and I remember her words to me, “Just go to Portland and keep me posted.”
Because I was pregnant with my son and the staff knew about how Jessica had come early-- they were somewhat reluctant to have me in the ambulance all the way to PDX~ I convinced them that I would be “good” and not get upset and stress Jessica. I don’t remember much of that trip, I do remember how happy I was to be out of the ambulance and able to move. The nurses realized I was very pregnant and immediately they made me lie down with my feet up.--- The nurse was rather stern with me-- explaining that she only wanted ONE patient -- I was to be calm and not go into labor anytime soon. At the Dornbechers rooms, they have a little window bed, and so Jessica and I moved in. We were in PDX for about a month, I spent my 32nd birthday at my daughters’ bedside, I learned things about E coli and dialysis that I would rather not know. I learned about the tests that they took and which numbers should be higher and which numbers should be smaller. I learned that sometimes the simple act of a stranger praying for you can feel like magic. Sharing our story isn’t easy, but I do it to give back-- Please, know that what you do as a community has value and substance. Know that when you give your time or money-- you help more than just the kids, you help families-- and you help to make this world just a little more friendly.
Thank you for listening and crying with me!