On September 12, 2019, I became a grandmother for the first time when my only child gave birth to her first child. And like most Kentucky Wildcat fans, I posted the obligatory picture of this beautiful child proclaiming him to be “the newest member of the BBN.” Of course, that is our hope. We want our children and grandchildren to be as passionate about the Cats as we are.
But my grandson? I know he will be a true Blue Wildcat. There’s no other possible outcome. Let me tell you a little about him and then you’ll understand why I am so certain of this.
This spectacular baby boy, Sylas, made his entrance into this world at 5:30 am, but it was not without its share of drama. Young Sylas, or Little Man as he has become affectionately dubbed, wasn’t interested in showing up on his due date of September 7, nor was he all that anxious to come out even after 2 days of labor induction, but finally he acquiesced. An ultrasound a week earlier indicated everything was normal and we all expected a smooth delivery. Weighing in at a robust 8 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long, he looked to be the picture of health. Little Man had other ideas, though. First, he broke his clavicle during delivery and then immediately went into respiratory distress which led to him being whisked off to the NICU instead of my daughter getting to hold her precious bundle of joy.
Within a couple of hours, Little Man’s breathing issues were under control and the doctors were able to take him off oxygen. Everything was fine. Until it wasn’t.
Less than 24 hours after delivery, Little Man began having seizures, a couple of which were fairly severe. Then the testing began and this tiny human was placed on a warming blanket with a blood pressure cuff, sensors to monitor his heartbeat, respiration, and brain activity. Since the anti-seizure medications left him sedated, he also had to get a feeding tube to get nutrition. If that weren’t enough, he had to endure multiple needle sticks each day to check his blood sugar levels.
While awaiting test results, the doctors told my daughter all of the things that “could” be wrong with her precious baby due to the seizures. They listed an enormous amount of serious conditions and side effects (won’t be able to regulate his blood pressure, his blood sugar, or his body temperature), each one more frightening than the one before. And I stood there watching as my baby could only look at her baby and only touch his hand.
For 10 days, we watched and waited. One by one the test results were returned. Many of the serious conditions they feared he would have tested negative so the warming blanket was taken away, the blood pressure cuff removed, and the endless needle sticks ceased. But, other than very briefly on the day he was born, we had yet to see him awake and look at his beautiful deep blue eyes.
Gradually, the dosages of the anti-seizure medications were reduced and Little Man remained seizure-free, and he began to wake up. What a glorious day when we finally saw those eyes of his! As an added bonus, they finally let my daughter hold him for a bit, though it meant handling him very gingerly as to not dislodge the IV or move his broken clavicle. It was a joyous time and we knew we had made it through the worst of things.
But Little Man’s story does not end there. More test results came back and this time there were surprises as it was determined he had a rare condition that the doctors had not previously mentioned. Hypopituitarism. Such a big word for such a tiny baby. Essentially it means his pituitary gland does not function properly and he doesn’t produce many vital hormones his body needs to grow and handle daily life. That also meant more daily medications he must take for his whole life, but it is manageable. Finally, after 22 very long days in NICU, Little Man got the green light to go home.
It was certainly a time of adjustment for Little Man’s parents as they had to set alarms to make sure all the various medications were administered at the precise time prescribed and it was also critical that he maintained a strict feeding schedule. But all those challenges were met and Little Man got strong enough to be able to come and visit his BeBe (that would be me!) every week. We could see him getting stronger and more active and our spirits were high. That changed all too soon, though
On November 4, Little Man had a follow-up appointment with his endocrinologist. We were certain we were going to hear how good he was doing, so we were not prepared when the doctor advised us Sylas had to return to the hospital. Elevated sodium levels and no weight gain for 2 weeks were concerns so once again, this tiny human was poked, prodded, and more tests began. This time, we were told diabetes insipidus, which has nothing to do with diabetes but rather is a shortage of the hormone that helps your body maintain proper amounts of water (who knew there was such a thing?).
After a week, his sodium levels were normal and his weight was increasing steadily. Once again, he got the green light to go home. This was no small feat as he had already spent half of his young life in the hospital.
So, here we are at the end of November, and Little Man is doing quite well. He continues to gain weight and his weekly blood tests are normal. He’s doing things that normal 2 month-old babies do, like smile and giggle and roll over when you least expect it. He’s not out of the woods, nor will his current list of conditions likely remain where it is as there are still concerns. The biggest of these is septo optic dysplasia which can be a result of his underdeveloped optic nerves. In a few months, we will find out if he will be vision-impaired and if that impairment is mild or more severe.
Through it all, though, Little Man has emerged a little stronger each time. He is a gentle soul and fusses very little, but he has the heart of a Wildcat and a fighting spirit to match. He has already accomplished many things his doctors said he would never do, so we have every reason to believe he will continue to beat the odds.
At the beginning of this saga, I said I knew he would be a Wildcat fan. I think I’ve just explained why. No matter what hurdle comes his way, he fights through it. We know he will continue to do this and, just like the mightiest of the Cats, he will fight til the battle is won.
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