James Rhett Yasuda Wammack (he’ll go by Rhett) was born on April 7th, 2016. He is the son of our beloved worship director Beau Wammack and his wife Andi. He was three months ahead of schedule. When he was born at 28 weeks of age, he was 2 pounds 7 ounces. He is tiny. He will be in the NICU at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for a while, where he is receiving the best care.
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Today was a hard day. The doctors and nurses continue to say that Rhett is doing well for his age, but today that phrase, “for his age”, reinforced that this will be a difficult road. Rhett has had, and continues to have periodic “cardiac episodes”. There is a fancy term for it that I can’t remember, but the gist is that periodically, Rhett forgets to breathe. That, coupled with a rapid heart rate deceleration, is what is considered a cardiac episode. The official term is Apnea of Prematurity.
I have seen a few of these episodes, and the nurses respond by rubbing him in order to wake him up a bit and to stimulate his breathing. He is also receiving small doses of caffeine for the same purpose. Today, however, an episode lasted a bit longer than I had witnessed before. The nurses assured us that it is normal for his age, but that was little comfort after watching him stop breathing for 20 seconds. His skin lost its healthy, pink complexion and turned blue. After the nurses and respiratory therapist rubbed his back and flicked his feet for a while he eventually resumed breathing.
The nurses say this is to be expected because he is so young. Developmentally, he should not have to be breathing. He should just be chillin in some amniotic fluid, letting me do the breathing for him. So it makes sense that his brain would periodically forget to tell his lungs to breathe. The nurses say he will grow out of it.
That doesn’t change the fact that every few hours, an alarm goes off, and for a few seconds we watch our son stop breathing.
A small update: Rhett has had “goopy”eyes for the past few days, which the doctors said was probably blocked tear ducts, but they sent a sample to be tested just to be safe. The doctor called this morning to tell us that the labs showed some kind of bacteria so they began giving him antibiotics. She said the medicine should clear up the infection in a few days.
Other than that, Rhett continues to do well. He has regained his birth weight and is tolerating increased feedings. In a few days they will remove his IV and all of his nutrition will come from the breast milk.
In other news, we have had so many visitors and it has been so great. Yesterday the Becks drove up and Atticus was SO excited to see her friends. Justin and Dawn got to visit baby Rhett and then they took the kids to the park for a bit so Beau and I could sit in the NICU together. And then they made us a delicious, home cooked meal.
Baby boy is doing well. He is tolerating his feedings, which are administered through a feeding tube as he won’t figure out breathing and eating at the same time for a while. The nurses have begun adding a fortifier to my breast milk to add calories so he can put on weight faster. He is still on the Bubble CPAP machine to assist with breathing, and he now has “goopy eyes” which they have tested for infections and the tests came back negative. It probably means he has blocked tear ducts which are not really a problem, just a pain.
The highlight of today was a visit from the Ungers. Along with getting to hang out with good friends and talk about regular life outside of hospitals, they also entertained Atticus for a bit so Beau and I could spend some time in the NICU together. Because Atticus is not allowed in the NICU, only one of us is ever in there with Rhett at a time. Today we got to spend some time in there together, and Beau was able to hold Rhett skin-to-skin for the first time. We can’t hold Rhett for very long, as his core body temperature drops so quickly out of the incubator, so it is a big deal when we get to hold him. It was the best. Thanks Scott and Kelsey!
Also I changed Rhett’s diaper for the first time. He wears the tiniest diapers I’ve ever seen.
Here's What Happened
On Monday April 4th, Beau and I were driving up the coast for a short getaway to San Luis Obispo. We had dropped off Atticus with my parents in Camarillo, and the plan was to spend a few days reading, hiking, and sleeping in til 8 in the morning. I was 27 weeks pregnant with our son.
We stopped for coffee at the Daily Grind in Santa Barbara (a favorite of our friends, the Butcheqs), and as I was walking back to the car my water broke. Sometimes this is experienced as a light trickle. Or a slow stream. This was not either of those. This was a gushing flood. Understanding what this meant and that I was supposed to still be pregnant for three more months, I began to panic. Beau, however, stayed calm and ran into the coffee shop to ask for the nearest hospital. As it happened, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital was two blocks away.
Continuing to gush water, I walked into the emergency room and announced the obvious: my water had broken. I was taken immediately to the hospital’s birth center where we waited for the perinatologist. My nurse was very experienced and gave us an overview of what to expect, which the doctor later confirmed. I was not going to leave that hospital until the baby was born. Without amniotic fluid to protect him, the baby would be exposed to any number of dangerous infections. He would also be more prone to “sitting on his cord” which restricts his flow of oxygen. As he was only 27 weeks old, it would not be ideal to deliver him now. His lungs would likely not be developed enough, which would be the main concern. The ideal scenario was that I would be on bed rest in the hospital for 7 weeks, until he was 34 weeks, and then deliver.
The first two days were especially critical. They needed to administer two doses of steroids 24 hours apart in order to jumpstart the development of the baby’s lungs. If I was able to receive both doses, his prognosis would be dramatically improved. Also, there was the possibility that the water breaking would release hormones that would trigger my body into beginning labor. If that were to happen, it would happen in the first 48 hours. We needed to make it two days without delivering the baby and then it would be likely that I could remain on bed rest for a number of weeks.
The next two days were a waiting game. Beau and I sat in the hospital and twiddled our thumbs. We watched soccer to pass the time. I recieved both doses of the steroids and we did a happy dance. I was monitored the whole time with a fetal heart monitor, and a separate monitor for possible contractions. The baby was having periodic episodes of decreased heart rate which was concerning, but each time he recovered.
But by Wednesday contractions had begun. They were intermittent and short, so we were not concerned initially. By the evening however they had become more consistent, and the baby’s heart rate was responding negatively to each contraction. Around 9pm, the doctor decided to begin administering magnesium, which would help prevent brain bleeding in preparation for delivery in the morning. There was a possibility that the magnesium would also slow my contractions to the point of eventually stopping altogether. They would administer the magnesium for 12 hours and reassess in the morning. But by 11 pm, contractions were coming every three minutes, and the doctor decided to not wait until the morning. Because he was breach, it would be an emergency c-section.
I was taken to the OR, prepped, and after 7 minutes, James Rhett was born at 12:49 in the morning. Beau watched the whole thing. I heard Rhett cry, but could not see him as he was immediately taken by an entire neonatal team, placed in an incubator, and rushed to the NICU.
After recovering for a few hours the neonatologist came to give us an update. He was doing well. His lungs looked good for a baby his age, and he would not need to be intubated. He was placed on a machine called a Bubble CPAP to assist with the breathing so he wouldn’t fatigue. He had no signs of infection. At 2 pounds 7 ounces, all he needed to do was grow. The doctor said not to expect that he would be released until his due date, July 3rd.
And so we have settled into our new home, Santa Barbara, and more specifically the NICU at Cottage Hospital. There is a chance he could be transfered closer to home once he is more stable, but we have been so happy with the care Rhett has recieved here. Santa Barbara is not the worst place to be stuck.
I don’t know that I’ll ever go back to Daily Grind though. Sorry Butcheq.
James Rhett Yasuda Wammack (he’ll go by Rhett) was born on April 7th, 2016. He was three months ahead of schedule. At 28 weeks of age he was 2 pounds 7 ounces when he was born. He is tiny. He will be in the NICU at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for a while, where he is receiving the best care.
That said, he is doing well. He is breathing with the help of a Bubble CPAP machine, but has not needed to be intubated, which means his lungs are doing well for his age. He has lost a bit of weight which is normal for newborns, but is tolerating his feedings well. We have been able to hold him for brief periods of time depending on his core temperature. Overall, the doctors and nurses are optimistic about his progress.
They continue to monitor him, checking for signs of infection and other potential issues.
Welcome to our blog about Rhett. This is where you’ll find updates about how Rhett is doing, but mostly pictures. Beau and I are so thankful for the outpouring of support we’ve received, and wanted to keep friends and family updated about his progress. Follow along if you’d like!