|Christopher Andrew Howard was born January 22, 1996 at 8:55 in the morning at
Fresno Community Hospital. Alice Howard, his mother, was in the 26th week of her
pregnancy when Christopher was born, the result of a uterine infection. He weighed 2
pounds 9 ounces. He was small, about a foot long. He had short, fuzzy black hair and
eyebrows. His fingers and toes were long and defined. His skin was dark red and a little
wrinkled. Doctor Woods performed the Cesarean Section, Dr. Helm assisted and Dr.
Rajani (from Valley Children's Hospital) handled everything for Christopher from the
time he was removed from Alice's Uterus. His eyes were open when he was born. He
was cleaned off and intubated. Since he was unable to breathe on his own after he was
delivered he was put on a respirator. His picture was taken for the first time about thirty
minutes after he was born, showing the IV's in his hand and umbilical cord, the tube
down his throat for breathing. He was wearing a little white knit cap to keep his head
Christopher spent no more than an hour and a half at Fresno Community Hospital. He was immediately packed up and transported to Valley Children's Hospital, a facility that specializes in children's health, and has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) capable of caring for 36 premature infants. The Transport Team from Valley Children's Hospital rolled Christopher into room 376 (Alice's birthing and post-op room) in a portable isolette (with monitors, respirator) so that we could touch him before the move. His fingers curled around one of mine very loosely. He had a slight gripping reflex. His eyes were closed because the ointment was thick and he was not strong enough to open them. The Transport Team signed Christopher's information card, S. Evans RN, and S. Shook, RCP.
I first saw Christopher Andrew after Dr. Rajani was done in O.R. and he came in to see me in Alice's room. She was still in surgery. He introduced himself and we shook hands. I remembered his name from the release papers I had to sign a couple days before. He was one of the attending physicians that I permitted to take care of Christopher. With a very calm voice he told me that he had to put a tube into the baby's mouth because he was unable to breath on his own. Christopher was on a respirator. (At this point we still had not signed anything with "Christopher Andrew Howard". He was still "Baby Howard" on all the documents). He told me the baby's weight, 1175 grams, about two and a half pounds, and that was encouraging. (The projected weights calculated from the ultra-sound images ranged from 1.5 pounds to "maybe a little over two".) Dr. Rajani explained the transport process, the baby would be brought in to allow us our first contact with him, and then taken to Valley Children's Hospital. He would remain in the NICU for at least a couple months. I asked when I could see the baby. He took me to one of the entrances to the O.R., punched in the access code for the door lock and opened the door about two feet. Over his shoulder I could see Christopher laying under the heat lamps with three or four people standing over him, cleaning him, and connecting the tubes to equipment. Dr. Rajani told the nurses to expect a knock on this door in about fifteen minutes, and allow me to see the baby. (I never did knock because a few minutes later Alice was rolled in on a gurney, curled up in a fetal position).
After Dr. Rajani left, a nurse entered and began the job of sorting out Alice's records (medications, procedures, and diagnoses). Apparently they were a mess because several nurses entered at different times asking for information or looking for a document and each complained about the state of Alice's paper work. I think their task was to sort it all chronologically, photo-copy it and send it along with Christopher to Valley Children's. One of the nurses asked me if the due date we had given the hospital, April 25th, was derived from an ultra-sound? It was. The calculated gestational age was twenty-six weeks and two days when Alice arrived at FCH.
An observation about staying in the hospital: You never know the nurse's last name, and you never know the doctor's first name. It was always Jim, Carmen and Joyce for the nurses, and Doctor Woods, Doctor Rajani and Doctor Mason for the doctors.
Video Files of Christopher in NICU: