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Peter's arrival

posted Jun 9, 2013, 8:19 PM by Melissa Burke

Here is how Peter came into the world - a little more dramatic than we had bargained for...


Sunday, June 2: drama day

·         Started off totally normal - we even taught Sunday School in the morning! Around noon, Melissa started feeling really nauseous, started getting sick and couldn’t keep anything down until 8pm. Around 11pm she started feeling slight pains in her back, but nothing major. By 11:45, pain was unbearable and we rushed to the hospital (once Melissa’s parents got to the house to watch the other boys).


Monday, June 3: birthday (35 weeks, 4 days – 1 day before his brothers decided to enter the world in 2010)

·         By 12:15 Melissa was admitted and was fully dilated (so likely went from 0 to 10cm in just about an hour!) – unfortunately, he was breech so we did all that laboring for nothing. At 12:54, Baby Peter born by emergency c-section under general anesthesia. Peter wasn’t breathing upon delivery which they initially chalked up to anesthesia given to Melissa.

·         Peter was immediately put on a ventilator and went to the NICU; they removed it at 7am and he was breathing fine on his own. Until mid-afternoon, we thought things were just fine and he would be released soon, but then he started doing weird things like forgetting to breath and tremoring. They hooked Peter up to an EEG to measure his brain activity – didn’t see any seizures. After a spell of apnea while Melissa was holding him late Monday night, they decided to put the vent back in.


Tuesday, June 4: the worst day

·         Overnight, the EEG looked good and didn’t see signs of seizures but took him in for an MRI in the morning.

·         Then we got the bombshell: MRI showed mild swelling in Peter’s brain, most likely due to lack of oxygen sometime during the pregnancy. We have no idea when or why this might have happened but suspicions are that it happened sometime on Sunday when Melissa was also in distress.

·         Peter was then hooked up to the EEG again all day (24 hrs) to continue to look for signs of seizures and they sent off tests for multiple potential viruses and bacteria cultures to see if anything else might be the culprit.

James looking into Peter's crib in the NICU


Wednesday, June 5: a better day

·         Removed EEG because no signs of seizures which was great. Melissa and James got to do their first kangaroo hold with Peter which was amazing. Peter remained on the ventilator but was breathing on his own on top of the vent most of the time which was a good sign.


Melissa "kangarooing" with Peter


Thursday, June 6: another bad morning but turns around

·         Breathing looks better so they try to take out the ventilator. Peter breathes on his own for several hours but then stops 2 times and turns blue (we were there for that which was awful). Ultimately, they put him back on the ventilator.

·         By the afternoon he is stable and we are able to kangaroo hold him again. He also takes some milk by mouth and swallows it all. Bacterial tests still looking negative (which is a good thing). The day doesn’t end up half bad.


Some quality Daddy time

And don't forget Mommy too!


Friday, June 7: things are looking up

·         Peter is definitely more alert and making eye contact. He started eating more through his feeding tube. We did lots of kangaroo time today and he seems to really enjoy it. All viral and bacterial tests come back negative – hooray!! Melissa discharged from the hospital. Melissa & James got to take Jackson & Tyler to lunch – it has felt like a long week without them around. Ultimately decided not to take him off the ventilator just yet.

Peter much more alert


Saturday, June 8: a really good day

·         Peter is more alert than ever. Breathing looks strong. We waited all day watching his breathing and activity and finally decided ~5pm to remove the ventilator. He had a little bit of trouble at first mostly because of a ton of mucus and nasty stuff stuck in his throat but that little boy is a fighter. Now breathing room air with no assistance!!

Peter so sleepy after extubation


What a roller coaster of a week! We aren’t out of the woods yet. Peter has an MRI scheduled for Monday to see if they can better pinpoint the possible brain trauma to get a better read on potential long-term implications. We also need to get him to start feeding by mouth which may take some time. So we are resolved that we will be in the NICU for a while, but getting him off the ventilator and breathing on his own feels like a HUGE step forward!!


Even though we may never know what caused the terrible events preceding Peter’s birth, we are so grateful that God was watching over us and him that night. Perhaps the 60 min labor was nature’s way of getting him out as fast as possible because he was in trouble. We are thankful that we have a seemingly healthy little boy who can fight his way back from this trauma. It might be a slow road, but at least he now has a fighting chance and lots of love to support him in the journey.


We find it also helpful to reflect on all the things we are thankful for in spite of all the challenges the last week. Here are a few that rise to the top of the list. We are thankful that…


·         Melissa’s labor enabled Peter to get out as fast as possible

·         Melissa’s parents where home and got to our house to watch our boys so we could get to the hospital

·         We managed to make it to the hospital in time for the delivery

·         This happened on Sunday night and not Monday (James was scheduled to be out of town for work on Monday)

·         Melissa is recovering very easily from emergency surgery

·         Both sets of grandparents have been here in Raleigh to help watch Jackson & Tyler so James and Melissa can spend most days with Peter at the NICU – and they are having a blast so they barely notice Mom & Dad are gone!

·         Peter is in very good hands in one of the top NICU’s in the country

·         We have such an amazing group of friends and family who we know are praying fervently for Peter to heal and for James and Melissa to be strong through all of this