Monday, February 15, 2010

Joey's Wings - our latest new project

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My name is Sara Walsh and this is my son Joey’s story…the story of an angel.
My pregnancy was uneventful, and halfway through we had our second ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. She confirmed our due date of January 8, 2008 and informed us that we needed to see one of the doctors to review the ultrasound. I never expected the doctor to give us the news that our baby had a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH for short). It wasn’t until I got home and did a little research that reality hit me. Only 50% of CDH babies survive and those that do live can have mild to severe health problems.
We learned we were expecting a boy, Joseph Frederick Walsh, our Joey. Joey had a left CDH that allowed his intestines, stomach and part of his liver to migrate into his chest cavity. This pushed his heart against the right side of his chest and was affecting his lung development. We also found that Joey had a heart defect, but the main concern was his lungs. The outcome for babies with CDH is very difficult to diagnose prenatally. The doctors felt that Joey’s CDH wasn’t severe, but that wasn’t a good indication for survival. It all came down to how well developed his lungs were when he was born. I cherished my pregnancy, met with specialists and prepared the best I could.
I was not prepared when I went into labor more than 5 weeks early at 3:30 in the morning on November 30, 2007. By the time I reached the hospital an hour later, I was already 5 cm dilated. They could not stop the labor; Joey was coming today. I delivered Joey at 3:17 p.m., 6 pounds and 5 ounces. The neonatal doctor had to prevent Joey from crying when he was born to avoid aspiration, so I never heard him cry. Two hours later, the neonatologists came in and updated us on Joey’s status. Joey did not have a right lung and his small, fragile left lung popped during ventilation. His chest cavity was filling with air and his organs were shutting down from lack of oxygen. There were very few options and it was obvious that the doctors weren’t hopeful for any chance of survival.
We met Joey around 6 p.m. He was hooked up to monitors and a ventilator. We held his hands, kissed his toes. I kissed his forehead and he opened his eyes for me. He looked at me as if he was telling me, “Mommy it’s okay, you did all you could”. We loved him and didn’t want him to suffer. We took Joey off ventilation and held him as he passed away, around 7:56 p.m.
Joey taught me to appreciate what I have, not what I lost. I am grateful to have had Joey for the short time that I did. I also learned that there is no way to completely prepare yourself, no matter how ready you think you are. We were lucky that the staff at the hospital had an outfit for Joey to wear, a stuffed animal for him, hand and foot print molds and a journal with a lock of his hair. I cherish these things and wouldn’t want any parent to not have the same.
Joey’s Wings is our opportunity to help others the way we received help. I couldn’t think of a better way to preserve Joey’s memory than by helping others.


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