Saturday, July 17, 2021

Prayers for the Maxwell Family

 The Maxwell Family - especially John and Chelsy - could use some thoughts and prayers right now. 

 Chelsy gave birth at 30 weeks to their first daughter Madeline after some kind of pregnancy complication.  

Madeline is a good, healthy weight but she's having some difficulty with her lungs right now.  As of yesterday, she's on a ventilator and needed pneumothorax tubes placed to remove free air outside of her lungs. 

That is, ironically, the exact same issue I had after I was born way back in the day.  Back when I was born, the ventilators that were used were often overpowered for preemie lung tissue and 'popping' holes in lungs was a common occurrence.   When Spawn was born, I was a very minor celebrity in the NICU as a former micro-preemie grown into a real adult.   The younger nurses (say under age 40) were horrified that the older ventilators were that damaging.  The older nurses assured me that pneumothorax was rare nowadays - but did happen occasionally to preemies in spite of their best efforts.

I hope for her family that her recovery is as simple as mine was; I needed two pneumothorax tubes placed to let the holes in my lungs heal - and then I turned into a feeding, growing machine.  

I'm having a mess of feelings right now. 

Sadness for the family because I know how unsettling NICUs are at first.   Sadness because my son is the best thing I've ever done in my life - and having a medically complicated child was the hardest thing I've ever been through - full stop.   Sadness because I don't want anyone to go through that ever again - and as much as I know that Madeline is going to be fine - I'll feel sad and nervous until she's breathing room air

Anger at the Maxwellian attempts to "rah-rah" pro-life crap in the middle of an update. (Jesus Fucking Christ - Madeline is at 30 goddamn gestational weeks.  Neonatologists agree that it is unethical to not try and resuscitate a baby whose only health issue is prematurity after 25 weeks gestation - and most will try at 24 weeks if the parents want to try.  No one was going to not intervene on a healthy baby girl born at 30 weeks.) 

Sadness because I saw far too many families who had a greatly wanted child who died in the NICU due to prematurity or a home birth gone terribly wrong.   

Relief that Chelsy didn't join the millions of women who died in pregnancy and that Madeline is likely going to be fine.

Anxiety because I'm seeing my OB this week to talk about my specific chances of having a baby born at the same gestation or earlier in a future pregnancy.  My husband and I would like one more baby - but the thought of a micro-preemie birth again makes me terrified.   I'm not so much scared about the risks for me - but I don't want to put a baby though that.   

I've not had guilt about Spawn's early birth; the complication was so rare and took such a strangely rapid course that no one could have prevented it.  The most common response to doctors and nurses to hearing my story of "I went from normotensive to severe pre-e with class I HELLP in ten days and the fact I was in multiple organ failure was only discovered because I was having nondescript abdominal pain" was "Oh, thank God you got to the hospital in time" said by a person wide-eyed with horror.  Medical professionals had seen much worse cases where the mom and/or baby died prior to getting a HELLP diagnosis - so I'm glad I called my OB when I felt sick.

I worry, though, that I'd be unable to forgive myself if I had a baby born that early or earlier again because I know I'm at higher risk for any of the complications of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy on future pregnancies.

 I have a whole list of questions about probabilities of pre-e and premature birth and what, if anything, the doctors could have done if we discovered my blood pressure was climbing in the week before Spawn was born.   Maybe we'll decide to expand our family by adoption from foster care.  Maybe we'll decide we are ok trying another pregnancy.  

I really don't know - and that's ok, too.  

That's why I've been posting less than usual recently.   When I have a lot of feelings, spending time pondering the quirks of CP/QF theology is not great for my mental state.   Instead, I exercise, hang out with people and spend time outside.  Soon enough, I'll be more settled - and the vagaries of CP/QF theology will keep until then. 

I am very glad that Chelsy and Madeline survived birth.  Pregnancy and childbirth are great when things go well - but so many people have forgotten just how dangerous both can be when things go wrong.  I'll be praying for them all - including the rest of the Maxwell clan.  They might drive me nuts on a theological level - but this is a hard time for them too.


  1. My son also had a pneumothorax after inhaling meconium. He wasn't a preemie but he was awful thin. 3%ile for his gestational age even though he was average length. It's definitely scary seeing your baby with the tubes and stuff. I hope Chelsy and Madeline feel better very soon.

    1. I remember you said that your son's birth had been scary - and that sounds quite scary!

      Good news is that both Chelsy and Madeline are doing great; Madeline got both chest tubes out today and Chelsy looks (and sounds) great!

    2. That's good to hear!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Thanks for sharing your feelings here and the updates. You have insight into what that's like that some but not all of us have (myself included). It's good to hear your empathy and the emotion arising for you.