It was 10 ½ years ago that we had our first experience at Primary Children’s Medical Center. Our family would never be the same. When I was 22 weeks pregnant with our son, he was diagnosed with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. A birth defect that affects 1 in 2,500 live births – only HALF of which will survive. It is a defect where the diaphragm doesn’t develop all the way, or at all, causing the stomach, intestines, spleen and liver to move up into the chest cavity. When that happens, it squishes the heart and lungs, making it impossible for them to develop correctly. We were devastated when our beloved doctor here in St. George sent us to Salt Lake City to the specialists that would hopefully save the life of our unborn child.
After we met with some peri-natologists at LDS Hospital and at University Hospital, they made appointments for us to meet a doctor named Dr. Null. He, at the time, was head of the neonatology department at Primay Children’s. As we walked into the hospital, there was a different feeling. It was ALIVE!!!! There were 2 nurses that were pulling kids down the hall in a race in wagons!!! They were laughing their guts out. It was really a feeling I will never forget. I knew we were in a happy place. A place where miracles are performed!
We went up to our meeting, and in walked this man with a bushy mustache, bushy grey hair, and a LOUD Sesame Street scrub shirt on!!! It kind of took us by surprise! He skipped the handshakes and went right for the hugs. We knew then that we were in hands that were filled with love!
The next few weeks were during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, so to add crazy on top of crazy, we knew we were in for a wild ride!!!
At 39 weeks, we had a scheduled c-section at University Hospital, and a life flight team rushed the baby over the sky bridge to Primary Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We knew it would be a struggle to stabilize our baby boy, so our expectations were low. It was scary, but he was alive! A miracle. All the machines, the beeping, the medicines, the specialists all over, this was all completely foreign to us. We had studied up on CDH so we would know what everyone was talking about and were prepared as much as we could, but it was completely overwhelming at that moment.
As the first few days went, our son was extremely critical. Only time was going to tell if he would survive this horrible birth defect. On day 3 he took a turn for the worst. I was still at University Hospital recovering from the c-section when my mom came over and told us that Tyler needed a blessing right away, he was in trouble. My dad and husband rushed over to Tyler and called on the blessings of the Priesthood to help save our baby. All of our faith was being called in and from around the whole world. He was very unstable and everyone was expecting him to die. But he didn’t. He was able to stabilize. A miracle. The goal at this point was to get him stable enough to do surgery to repair the hole in his diaphragm (in his case, it was actually almost completely missing).
Day 5 came. We were staying at the Ronald McDonald house. We got a beautiful phone call early in the morning to get up to the hospital, Tyler was “well enough” to have surgery that day! A miracle. As we entered his room in the NICU, there were surgeons, pulmonologists, cardiologists, neo-natologists, the people that run the machines, all the techs, all the nurses and assistants and they were ready to go. They would do Tyler’s life saving surgery in his bed in the NICU because he was too unstable to move to a regular operating room. They sterilized the room, and it was time for us to say our goodbyes. That was extremely hard. We didn’t know if we would ever see our baby boy alive again. We put all of our faith, love, and trust in all of those amazing professionals, and walked into the waiting room.
The wait from that surgery seemed like years. It was agonizing, but then they came and told us that the surgery had been a success!!! A miracle. His belly had an incision halfway across it. He will always have this scar, but it will help us remember what a blessing we have in Tyler.
As he recovered, we were warned that he would “honeymoon” and once that honeymoon was over, they tend to slide back a little in their recovery. Well guess what? He never went off this honeymoon period! Another miracle! It was all looking up from then on. The doctors and the nurses, especially Molly G. our NNP, kept pushing him, helping him learn to eat, learn to breathe, and not forgetting about me the whole time. That NICU staff was unbelievable to this scared mommy. Such sympathy they had for me, my husband, our parents, our daughter and all of the other family members and friends that helped support us. We felt LOVE from them all.
Well, after a 28-day stay, we were on our way home. When Tyler was diagnosed, we were warned that it was 6-8 months in the NICU and then years of physical therapy, occupational therapy, etc. just for him to live. We were proving those stats wrong every chance we got!!! A miracle!
When Tyler was 4 months old, his diaphragm re-herniated and we again found ourselves at Primary Children’s. We had to travel the 300 + miles by ambulance to get him to the surgeons that could fix him again. There was a nursing shortage that was hitting the state pretty hard. What would we do? He needed intensive care after surgery, and there weren’t enough nurses for our son. During one of the early morning meetings, Dr. Null and Mollie saw that we were on the floor, waiting for surgery. They did the impossible and made arrangements for us to get back into the NICU. It’s usually impossible to go back to the NICU after you’ve gone home. We were counting our blessings and recognizing another miracle.
Tyler had his second repair and spent 2 weeks back in our beloved NICU. It was like being home again. We were loved. We knew that they loved Tyler; after all, Dr. Null had dubbed him “Miracle Tyler”! Thanks again to the surgeons and everyone who was involved in his operation to save his life. We had our boy back…. Again!!!!
What pulled us through these terrible times of seeing our baby boy in pain and struggling to live was the love we got from the staff. The care they showed not only to Tyler, but also to our parents and our daughter. We got chances to serve others while we were there. We got to paint ceiling tiles with butterflies and my husband helped re-paint the NICU family waiting room. Different family members got to assist in giving Priesthood blessings when needed. The staff of the NICU was always so positive and supportive. When my arms were bleeding from scrubbing so much, they would offer lotion to help heal those cuts. They helped our physical wounds, our emotional wounds, and our spiritual wounds.
I just don’t think there’s another place like Primary Children’s Medical Center. That hospital and all the staff up there have such a special place in my family’s hearts. We want to thank you all who had a hand in our experience over 10 years ago to let you know that a day doesn’t pass that we don’t think of you all. We were blessed to get to be there with such wonderful people. The angels walk amongst you all up there!
We love you all!!!
The Randy and Hope Clyde family
Maddison, Tyler, Cambelle and Harper
Story Lines is a feature on Play Ground telling personal stories and experiences about the hospital – written by the individual. If you would like to share your experience on the blog, please contact us.