Friday, February 12, 2010

Drake, My Little Hero

Drake Allen Herman
Born February 11th 3:55 am

Life is moving along 100 mph, always productive, always busy, always progressing, working hard, playing harder, helping out those in need, praying, learning, living, loving, fishing. Just usually a million things going on all at once all jumbled together. But then as I write this with tears in my eyes and just not knowing what is coming next and what plan God has with my new little boy Drake, life just almost comes to a complete hault. As I get down on my knees and just weep, pray, reflect, wonder and think about all life, all the things that were so important just hours ago, just don’t seem to much matter.

It is 5 am Friday morning and I just woke up fully clothed on a hospital chair in Brook’s room on the 5th floor at St. Francis. I must of come up from the NICU late last night and just completely crashed. It had been about 40 hours since I slept last, and even then wasn’t very good sleep. On Wednesday night, for some reason Brook just couldn’t fall asleep. Nine months pregnant and just 2 days before her due date, she tossed and turned all night. The baby was kicking, tossing and turning inside of her way more than any other night. Finally she woke me up about 3 am just to keep her company. We talked about this and that and like all conversationS recently it led to a barrage of girl baby names being flung back and forth. You see, we already had our boy name picked out, but for the life of us could not agree upon a girl name.

It seems all the good names have been already taken by one of Brook’s friends, Mae’s classmates, or one of my buddies dogs. Nowadays, you just don’t use a repeat name, you find one that absolutely no one has or you make one up. Anyhow about 4 am we both heard some noise and our bedroom door open up a bit. We just assumed Mae was coming into bed, but she never came in? Turns out there was a small earthquake up near Chicago at that exact time and we just might have felt it abit. Anyhow we still couldn’t agree on a name and we both fell asleep about 5 am ish. I got up with the kids at 7 and just decided to head into work late and let Brook sleep. She only slept until 8 am and then we both got rolling with the days activities.

Just as we were getting ready for bed about 10:30 pm, Brook felt her first contraction and man was I flying high!!! I didn’t want to mess around and end up having to deliver a baby so we got everything packed up and I was ready to go. Brook was the opposite, she was calm and surprisingly relaxed and just wanted to lay at home comfortably until the contractions were stronger and closer together. Finally at 2 am I said enough was enough and we are going to the hospital, contractions 10 minutes apart were plenty close enough for me.

At 2 am it doesn’t take very long to get downtown, so we breezed into OSF in a matter of minutes and got all situated in a delivery room. At 3:30 am Brook’s midwife said it was time and at 3:55 am on Thursday morning Drake came bursting onto the scene. Thank goodness it was a boy, we already had that name picked out. Not knowing the gender of your baby is truly one of the greatest surprises you will ever receive, but on the other hand it is really nice not to have to call the baby ‘it’ anymore. He now has a name and a beautiful face. He was 7 lbs and 6 ounces.

Here is Brook and Drake just bonding shortly after delivery:

By the time he was delivered, I was exhausted, hot, very nautious and completely out of my element. I don’t do good in hospitals and have even fainted a time or two at them with the site of needles and blood and babies and I really don’t know exactly what it is, but out of nowhere the world just starts closing in. Well the nurses picked up on that pretty quick as I sat down completely pale white. It almost seemed they were more concerned about me than Brook. She is a trooper and doing fine, labor on the other hand got the best of me. It took me about 5 minutes, some orange juice, and a few teddy graham crackers to get some blood flowing back to my head. The nurses were cleaning up Drake, and he was doing great, but I could see them sort of whispering and analyzing him just a bit more than normal.

They pointed out that he had little red dots all over him called petechiol. Having a few of those after birth is fairly common, but usually they are concentrated in one area and not consistent from head to toe. He also had a little bruise on his back about the size of a dime that wasn’t usual either. Anyhow, they weren’t too concerned and everything went on business as usual. He was breathing and acting just fine and even started nursing like a champ right away. About 4:15 AM and I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer and started texting pics and calling my dad and brothers. My mom is in the Caribbean on a cruise with her mother and sisters. They had the cruise planned since before the pregnancy and I knew she would rather stay and help deliver the baby, but encouraged her to go. She will be home Sunday and was just hoping to be home in time for delivery.

Even though I know that getting ahold of her and letting her know the news about Drake will ruin the rest of her trip, she would be very upset to not know what is going on. My dad said that the phone call to the ship last night costed $10 per minute, I just told him to make sure he got the most bang for his buck by not ending at the beginning or in the middle of a minute. Aunt Rachel even joked about how my mom is probably looking for a life raft and will somehow make it home earlier than scheduled. We also needed to get ahold of my mom, because we needed her prayers. Her prayers are powerful, she has God’s direct personal cell number.

At 5 am I followed Drake into the nursery and spent the next two hours holding him, giving him a bath, checking his ears, putting footprints on stuff, and just hanging out with my boy. Brook was moved to a temporary holding room (more like a holding cell) with a roommate and was getting checked out by nurses and then she was going to try and get some sleep. Drake seemed to be doing just fine just as cute as can be. The nurse called our pediatrician at 7 am and told her about the red dots and little bruise and Dr. Mccarthy said to take some blood tests and send them off to a lab just to be cautious.

At 7:30 am Brook and I decided I should go home and get the kids ready for Fawn to come pick up, show them all the Drake pics and videos and then get some sleep. Brook was just going to rest and try sleeping for the next couple hours. So I headed home and Mae was the most excited person on planet earth to hear about the baby and watch the videos and pics. She has been waiting patiently for 9 months to come see us at the hospital and bring the new baby home. She is a natural born mother whose life’s goal is to grow up to have babies. Not following the script she has prepared for for so long is very hard for Mae to understand. She wanted to see Drake last night so bad, but when her opportunity came to go in and see him she just couldn’t make it all the way into the room. Seeing all those babies with tubes and monitors just got her pretty worried. She was balling and said she just wants to see Drake when he comes home and can hold him.

Anyhow, while we were waiting for Fawn to come, I was falling asleep on the couch with Mae and Noah crawling all over me. The phone rang and when I saw it was Brook calling in I had Mae answer the phone, she was excited to talk to mommy. When Mae said sure I will give the phone to Daddy right away, my heart sunk. I could tell instantly that Brook had been crying and all of a sudden the whole world just stopped spinning and came to a complete hault. Drake had to be put on breathing support and some special doctor just came into her room, woke her up and told her a whole bunch of stuff that she didn’t remember or understand. Waiting for Fawn to come pick up the kids was the longest 15 minutes of my life. Brook who had been so strong and calm just had a doctor tell her something was wrong with her new baby and I wasn’t there supporting her. She was all alone at the most vulnerable time of her life, and that was hard for me.

When I got back to the hospital there was 6 people all standing around Drake doing all sorts of tests and making sure he would stay breathing. They told us they needed to take him down to the NICU for better monitoring and they suspected some sort of infection was in his body causing him to not get enough oxygen at times. They really didn’t know what was wrong, but knew something was going on pretty serious based on those preliminary blood tests the pediatrician had them take. His platelets and blood cell counts were dangerously low and at times he needed just a bit of help breathing.

It is a very good thing we delivered at St. Francis, because the NICU here is one of the best in Illinois. The nurses are awesome and super nice. They let us be down there with Drake 24/7 and keep us super informed about everything going on. Also if we would have delivered at another hospital, Brook would be there and Drake would be here. He has had like 50 blood tests, brain tests, swab tests, scans, shots and is hooked up to numerous IV’s. Its hard to see him like that, but the nurses let us hold him and Brook feed him whenever he needs. He is strong and doing good, we just need to get figured out what is killing all his platelets.

Dr. Tarantino just came in our room this morning and gave us an update. Its hard sitting there listening to possible scenarios of what is going on and not able to do anything about it. He is an internationally famed and one of the best blood specialists in the world. I try not to think about costs and money, none of that matters to us one single bit right now, but occasionally my thoughts do wonder how in the world are we going to pay for all of this. I would estimate that being in the NICU with all those IV’s and tests and scans costs tens of thousands of dollars daily, and visits by the blood specialists, brain specialists, infection specialists, eye specialists and all kinds of other specialists aren’t included in that package. We do have great insurance, and a meeting with the hospital’s insurance people later today, but even covering 10 or 20% of hundreds of thousands of dollars will take awhile to knaw away at. Thank goodness for a good insurance plan though.

By 4 pm on Thursday we finally started to get a few test results back and the doctors started putting together some pieces to the puzzle. The head scan showed bleeding near Drakes brain. They called it intraventricular hemorrhaging. Its where blood vessels are leaking into his ventricals that supply fluid to his spinal cord. Stage one bleeding is fairly normal, Stage two is not good but still usually doesn’t cause damage, Stage three is pretty serious and will lead to developmental challenges, and stage four leads to cerebral palsy and mental retardation. We found out that Drake is stage 2 on one side and stage 3 on the other. That head scan was yesterday and we are praying that todays head scan will show signs of improvement and not signs of getting worse. Helping us get through this is the fact we know there are literally thousands of people praying for us already and we know 100% that God is in control and has a plan for Drake from the moment he was conceived. That little boy is going to be a world changer and already has been a blessing to us more than we could of ever asked for. We will be meeting with the developmental pediatrician to come up with a plan for helping Drake learn and develop to the very best of his ability. The prayers and support we have received from family and friends has been felt, and we cant thank everyone enough.

Drake’s platelet count started at 75,000 at the first test, then by 4 pm it was down to 48,000 so they did a platelet transfusion and brought the count up to 106,000. It was very important for his body to accept those platelet’s and not reject them. Dr. Tarantino said not only did he take them, but 4 hours later his count was up to 111,000 and then this morning it was up to 117,000!!!! If that transfusion didn’t work, we were going to have to take platelets from Brook. Turns out that Dr. Tarantino suspects that Drake has Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia, and my platelets don’t get along with Brooks. NAIT basically means that Brook and my platelets don’t get along and then at birth Brooks body puts an antibody or something into the babies bloodstream that actually starts killing platelets. Our first child might have happened a little bit, but not enough to show any symptoms. Our second child probably happened a bit more, but no one tests for platelet counts on newborns without symptoms and after a couple days the problem is usually corrected. With our third child the problem keeps getting worse and finally we started to see some symptoms and side affects. Once Brook and I do some blood work today, the doc will know for sure if NAIT is the problem and thinks that if we have another child we will need to do quite a bit of medication and such before the baby is born or the problem will only be much worse and so forth.

So there are still many other question marks and tests and scans to go through, but low platelets causing the IVH (brain hemorrhaging) were caused by the NAIT. Now we still have the possibility of some infections and other stuff going on, especially with that awkward bruise spot on his back, but the doctors are pretty confident he is going to be ok from this point moving forward. He is still hooked up to all kinds of IV’s and such, but is eating and breathing on his own and is looking for strong and healthy. We still have to figure out whether or not the ventricals are still bleeding and what damage was caused already.

Here is a couple Drake pics. He is beautiful and an amazingly strong fighter! He is a miracle and we have seen God do amazing things through him already!


  1. I have been praying for Drake since I heard your story from my friend Star. God is truly in control and He alone knows the plan that He has in story for your son. Your writing is beautiful and brought me to tears. Our son was born with a heart murmur and a respiratory condition and thus I could relate to so much of what you were saying. We also noticed very early on that our son DJ was a fighter and he is now by far our strongest child yet! Drake is very blessed to be born into a God honoring home. I will continue to pray for you, Brook, Drake, Mae, and Noah. God bless.

  2. (I call a temporary truce in our blog battle)

    We are continuing to pray....God is good, He is unchanging, and ALWAYS faithful to His children.

    love you all.

  3. Your Pond Boss family prays for you and the entire family, Nate...particularly our new hero, Drake.

  4. So sorry to hear about this terrible misfortune.

    I do pray things will work out for the better and that baby Drake will come out of this completely healthy.


  5. Nate & Brook,
    Our thoughts & prayers are with you & your family. We'll especially hold Drake up in prayer.

    Dave & Joni Sefton

  6. Nate - congrats! we'll be praying for the little fisherman-to-be and you guys as well. Go get some sleep now. our love - John and Linda

  7. Wendy dropped what she was doing so we could read this together. Continued prayers my friend. Wyatt is in on the prayers as well.

  8. thanks for your post....I'm reading and crying for you guys. you are in our prayers constantly throughout the day. We love you and will pray for the continued gift of amazing peace God is giving you in these last few days.

    Billy & Jen

  9. Thinking of you and praying for your family!
    Keith & Carol Kaufman

  10. Hey, Nate. I just wanted to let you know that we love you and are praying for you, Brook and especially Drake. God's hand is there healing him. You are an amazing father and husband, I'll pray for you to have strength to be there for brook and mae and noah. He is adorable...he looks just like you! :)

    Rustin, Cara and Jaret

  11. Nate,

    We love you guys dearly and know that all things work for the good of those that love and honor God. Drake is going to be a champ and can't wait to see all the amazing things that he grows up to do and bring into this world. We are always praying.

    Love Brett and Star

  12. Steven & Christine SchmidgallFebruary 13, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Nate, what a wonderful blog. We are on vacation so Susie emailed us with your prayer request and blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Drake. He is a beautiful little boy. We pray for a miracle and he continues to get stronger without any symptoms to show the doctors the power of our Heavenly Daddy.Love, Steven & Christine

  13. howard and nancy hermanFebruary 15, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    Nate,Grampa here to say this is the test of life we go through and you and beautiful Brook have past the big test this past week.We'll continue to pray for your faith and strentgh to increase to meet all challanges w/raising a christian family.We'll pray our little great son Drake will be blessed w/prerfect health in the coming months and years. Your all so precious to Gma AND Gpa.God bless you all now and in the future,Amen and Amen