Today’s post is going to be a guest post from Lance. This might be a bit long because Lance wants to tell his side of the story, and he talks a lot.
When I found out Heather was pregnant, I had never felt so scared and nervous in my life. I didn’t know if I was ready to be a dad. At 16 weeks we went to find out if it was a boy or a girl. I didn’t care what the sex was, I could see the benefits of either; if it was a boy, we’d get to go hunting and fishing and play football, ya know, man stuff, and if it was a girl, she would be a daddy’s girl. We found out it was a boy and I was super excited and told everybody we were gonna have a baby to carry on the Skinner name.
The pregnancy went on how I figured any normal pregnancy would, until Heather opted to get a blood test. We then found out that Dillon could possibly have a neural tube defect. We talked to each other and to our family and friends about it and most of them told us to pray. The doctor told us that the blood tests are often not very accurate and that he was 99% sure everything was fine, but it was going to be three weeks before Heather could get a 2nd level ultrasound. So for three weeks we prayed that Dillon would be healthy and that nothing would be wrong.
At our appointment, we sat through a very long ultrasound and although everything looked normal to me, the doctor then came on the screen and told us that Dillon had spina bifida and that the ventricles in his brain were slightly dilated. At first I didn’t really know what this meant and then he said that the higher the lesion the worse the paralysis and I was thinking, “Paralysis? Is my kid going to be paralyzed?” And it felt like my world was crumbling around me. I went from thinking about all of the sports he’d get to play, to wondering if he’d even be able to walk. I started to tear up and choked back tears to ask the doctor if he would be able to walk and he said that some are able to walk with assistance but some are in wheelchairs. Then the genetics counselor appeared on the screen. At that time I think Heather and I were both in shock, because we both were just staring at the screen not really reacting to anything. Then the genetics counselor said we still had the option to terminate the pregnancy and asked if we had considered it and we both said no without any hesitation. On the ride home, Heather and I didn’t say anything to each other, all I was thinking was, “Why is this happening to us? What did we do?” That night I had to go to work and I was just going through the motions, trying not to feel anything. It was hard telling people about it, because having to tell the story over and over was as if I was reliving the moment when the doctor told us about it. We talked to family and friends and they told us to pray and that God was going to heal Dillon. Heather and I talked about it and although we still prayed for healing we also decided that if this was God’s will, we would pray that he’d give us the strength and the knowledge to handle it.
After we found out about all of this, the pregnancy went by pretty fast, although given the situation, it put ten times more worry in my mind. I thought I was scared before, but now that feeling was magnified.
The night before we had Dillon, we stayed in a hotel in Little Rock, because we had to be at UAMS at 7AM the next morning. After waiting around in the hospital forever, I was ready to get this over with. They finally took Heather back to the OR at around 1:30PM. As they were prepping Heather for her c-section, I had to sit out in the hallway and wait for them to bring me in. Once I got in there it wasn’t too much longer before I heard my baby boy’s first cry. They rushed him out of the OR and into the stabilizing room and then called me over there to see him. When I got there and saw him laying on his back, I knew that the cyst on his back had ruptured during delivery. When I saw him, I was overwhelmed with emotions, mostly excited, but also nervous, thinking, “Wow, that’s mine, that’s my boy.” I never realized I could love someone so much who I had known for only a short time. They had to prep him to be transported to Children’s as Heather and I waited in the recovery room. They brought him in before they took him over to Children’s so Heather could see him. I was so excited for Heather to get to see him, but she only got to see him for about 30 seconds and then they were off to Children’s.
When I got to Children’s they wouldn’t let me back to see Dillon without Heather’s consent, because we aren’t married. It took everything I had not to turn into the Hulk when the receptionist told me I couldn’t go back to see him until they called Heather. When I finally got back there to see him, the fact that he had spina bifida didn’t even matter, he was perfect. He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. The first couple of nights were difficult because Heather was at UAMS and Dillon was at Children’s. Dillon had his back closure surgery the day after he was born. They said they had to sacrifice some nerves in his back, but they were unable to tell if they were nerves that had already been damaged. The surgery went well. Afterward I was in the NICU with him almost 24/7, but it was hard because Heather had not got to be with him yet. On the third day Heather finally got to see him, but she had to take it easy and Children’s is a very big hospital, so I had the privilege of pushing her around in a wheelchair as she recovered from her c-section. I was able to take off work for 2 days so I could stay at Children’s with Dillon, but I ended up getting sick and was not allowed back in the NICU. I had to get a hotel since I couldn’t even be in the waiting room and that was the worst feeling not being able to be with my fiance and my baby boy. I got over my cold within a couple of days and eventually got to see him again. Even though Dillon was in the NICU, I was still thankful, because a lot of the babies in there were in a much worse shape than him, and I started to realize that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I had to go back home for work and that’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. After working all night I drove back to Little Rock to see my boy.
On the 9th day we were discharged! He couldn’t be on his back for six weeks so we had to change his diaper with him laying on his stomach. Three weeks later, Dillon needed to have a shunt placed to drain the fluid off of his brain. This shunt would be a lifetime commitment.
So far, he has proven the doctors wrong. He has good leg movement all the way down to his feet. With the shunt I figured he would not be able to play sports and I really didn’t want him to because I was afraid he’d get hit in the head and it would cause his shunt to malfunction and he’d have to get a revision. I just recently looked up if kids with shunts could play sports, they say it’s really up to the parents and to talk to his neurosurgeon about it. I’ve decided that I’m not gonna hold him back from anything, if he wants to do it, then I will support him.
It’s amazing how rapidly your life changes when you have a kid. All of a sudden you have this other person who you’d fight for and die for in a heartbeat if it came to it. Heather and I have already been through many great and some not so great adventures with him and we have many more (hopefully great) adventures to come. I pray that God gives me the knowledge and patience to raise him to be kindhearted and respectful, but to also teach him how to take up for himself and to never give up on anything, to realize that he can accomplish anything as long as he has God in his heart.
I told you it was going to be long, lol. Awww, but I love him. ❤ I still can’t find that letter Lance wrote to Dillon before he was born, but the search is not over! So stay tuned!