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Michel and I were married in 1984. We had some difficulty starting a family and our first child, Elizabeth, wasn't born until 1992. Michel had to have laser surgery to clear up a problem with endometriosis before she was able to get pregnant. Early in this pregnancy, Michel went for a test called AFP. The AFP is normally used to determine if the child has spina bifida. Too high a result means that proteins from the fetus are leaking into the amniotic fluid. This could mean that there is an open hole in the baby's back that is allowing these proteins to leak out. Beth's result was low which can mean Down Syndrome. The doctors next recommended amniocentisis to rule out Down Syndrome. We had the test and the results came back normal. Beth did not have Down Syndrome. In November, Beth was born. She was a happy and healthy baby.
We had further problems having a second child, and Michel didn't get pregnant again until 1996. In the tenth week of that pregnancy, on April 11, 1996, we lost our child. At the end of that month, my father died after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease. April, 1996 was one of the worst months that Michel and I have had to endure. By the end of the summer, Michel was again expecting. This child was Michael.
This pregnancy was harder on Michel than her pregnancy with Beth had been. Michael was giving Michel a tough time with Morning Sickness (really All-Day Sickness), asthma attacks, and tachycardia. That combined with our fear of another miscarriage made this a miserable pregnancy. Michel waited with great worry every time she was scheduled for a sonogram. We decided not to have any testing done on our child because (1) the bad AFP result we had with Beth (2) the 1 in 200 chance of a miscarriage with amnio and (3) because we wouldn't do anything about the results no matter what they were. Michel's doctor was very supportive of our decision and never suggested that we did the wrong thing.
At the end of March, 1997, Michel was in a car accident and spent a night in the hospital for observation. Everything looked good and she was sent home. However, things started getting crazy soon after the accident. On April 4th, as we got ready for the last few weeks of the pregnancy, (Mikey was due on May 8th) we started to have problems. Mikey wasn't moving. The doctors admitted Michel to the hospital so that they could listen to Mikey on the fetal monitor. Mikey's heart was beating fine but he was not moving. At this stage of the pregnancy, Michel should have been feeling a good kick from Mikey at least once an hour. Instead she wasn't feeling anything. The doctors gave Michel some IV glucose to wake Mikey up but nothing happened. Michel spent the night in the hospital and the next day Mikey finally started kicking so Michel was sent home. On Sunday, April 6th, Mikey stopped moving again and again we went to the hospital for observation. This time the sonogram in the hospital showed Mikey was moving a little so they sent us home after a little while with orders to have a more intense sonogram done. This other sonogram was performed on Tuesday and showed that Mikey had a good strong heartbeat and had good blood flow through the umbilical cord but he was in breach position and the cord was near his head. The doctor told Michel to come back on Friday for another look. On Friday, April 11th, the doctors, after doing another sonogram, decided that Mikey was in danger of having the umbilical cord drop around his neck so they told Michel it was time to have a C-Section.
I got a call from Michel to come right to the hospital because she was having a C-Section right away. Fortunately, my office is very close to the hospital so I was with Michel in less than 30 minutes. As it turned out, there were several emergency C-Sections that had to be performed that day so Michel and I had to wait several hours. This turned out to be a good thing since it gave us time to decide on Mikey's name! We thought we had several more weeks before we had to decide on a name. We decided on Michael Frederick. We sat in the labor room for a few hours watching ESPN and nervously waiting. Finally, it was our turn.
The C-Section went without any problems and Michael Frederick Paul made his first appearance in the world on April 11, 1997 at 5:33 PM EDT. He weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces and was 18.5 inches long. The doctors and nurses huddled over him, cleaning him up and examining him. Since Mikey was 4 weeks premature, the neonatoligist was called in to exam him and determine if he needed to go to the NICU or if he could go to the regular nursery. It seemed like the exam was going on for a very long time. Finally, one of the doctors came over to speak to us. He took Michel's hand and gently explained that the examination revealed that Mikey had a chromosomal abnormality that was most likely Down Syndrome. Of course, it was a bit of a shock to both of us. Michel was lying down (she was still on the operating table) but I was standing up and felt like I was going to pass out. The doctor didn't notice but I felt as if all the blood in my head had just dropped to the floor. I had to remind myself to start breathing again. We asked to see Mikey and the doctor brought him right over. It turned out that Mikey was in good shape and would not have to go to the NICU. Mikey was beautiful. He looked perfect. His sister had an oddly shaped head because of the "trauma" of birth but Mikey was absolutely perfect. Our little angel was born.