The Boy Who Lived

  • Nadine Shelley with Garrett Shelley
  • 11/18/2016

I want to start off by saying, I respect that everyone has their opinion, I have very close friends that I will never agree with, and that's OKAY. They are still my great friends! I am not arguing with anyone or pointing fingers. I am sharing my experience to spread joy and hope.

There will always be a debate on when people believe life starts. Some people will never see eye to eye. But my message is not to argue that point. It is to spread the word that fighting through difficult pregnancies is worth it!

My last pregnancy with my son Brayden took a horrible turn when I hit 17 weeks. We went in for a gender ultrasound only to find out there was little to no amniotic fluid surrounding him. There was nothing doctors could do for us then, because Brayden had not reached a viable age. I was told to try and stay pregnant until I was 23 weeks, because that was the only thing to do. At 22 weeks and 6 days, tests confirmed that my water had truly broken, and I was admitted to the hospital on bedrest. Brayden would later be born at 27 weeks and 6 days, and stay in the hospital for 76 days.

The choice to be admitted was obvious to me, but it was not easy. Brayden was given a < 15% chance that he would live, and we had a doctor tell us to abort the pregnancy. I personally did not feel like it was my decision to decide whether or not Brayden had the strength or capability to live. Brayden would decide that. All I could do was give him the best chance to live, and that was to keep him inside of me as long as possible. Everything we chose was to give him that chance.

People that know me best, know that I am big Harry Potter fan. I grew up inspired that it was Lily Potter's love that saved the life of her son. It was my belief in the power of love that got me through 111 days in the hospital trying to bring Brayden home.

"Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. Love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves it's own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever." -Albus Dumbledore

Now, I did not die for my son. As complicated as my pregnancy was, I never came close. Even though I (as my specialist put it) "lost A LOT of blood." My life was never at great risk. I was at risk as any average person on an average day. We all get into our cars and never think that is one of our greatest risks we take on a daily basis. We even eat, and put food down our airway, and never blink an eye to what a risk that is. My point is, I was safe. I was in a terrible situation, but I was safe.

People can argue that I put my own health at risk in fighting for him, and that's true. I bled almost every day from my second trimester until I delivered Brayden, some times in very scary amounts. But my health was always given priority. I had specialists round on me several times every day, had amazing nursing staff, and they were there for me 24 hours of the day. The second mine or Brayden's health showed risks, we were surrounded by a team of specialists in seconds and in an operating room in minutes.

Although I did not die for my son as Lily Potter did, I gave my life for him. I gave up my everyday life (including raising our 2 year old daughter) and laid in a hospital bed for five weeks to give him the opportunity to live. And that gave him protection. The best possible protection, inside of me and receiving a mother's love.

That love also carried over into his 76 day NICU stay.

I had to wait almost 2 weeks to hold my baby, my head rested on the outside of his incubator for hours upon hours. Days upon days. Many moms know how it feels to be discharged from the hospital without their baby, and it's absolutely devastating. My car rides away from the hospital during Brayden's 3 month NICU stay were some of the most dark and painful moments of my life.

Choosing to fight isn't easy. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We almost lost Brayden the day he was born, a moment that I suffered PTSD from for a long time. It was a day and moment I will carry with me for my whole life. But my courage and determination in those moments are what gave Brayden life. He has hopes and dreams and a whole life ahead of him. This little boy that has insanely cute hair callicks, dark green eyes, and one of the biggest toothless grins I have ever seen! You look into his eyes and he looks back, there is a deep connection there. His unconditional love and forgiving spirit speak to me through his eyes every day. It is the most rewarding feeling I have ever felt.

He is my boy who lives.

He won't go on to live a life defeating dark wizards, playing Quidditch, attending Yule Balls, and going to Hogsmeade like I would have hoped. But he will have a life full of trials and growth. Brayden will have a good quality of life. It's true that he is 6 months and only about 13 lbs, still requires oxygen, and will probably need physical therapy for a couple of years. He is our fighter, and will go on to do amazing things.

Life is hard, and there are lots of pregnancy stories that don't have a happy ending. But I have talked with several moms that have lost their babies, and they all find comfort in knowing they did everything they could. That is what helped me get through my 5 week hospital stay away from my family. I would tell myself, I am doing absolutely everything I know how to do for this baby. And if that is not enough, then I can find comfort in knowing I did my best, and I can't have any extra guilt because of it.

Please share his story. I want to spread the hope to all mothers going through difficult times with their children. Whether it be a high risk pregnancy, a child fighting in the hospital, cancer, genetic disorders, depression, anxiety, etc. that there is HOPE. Despite all odds, you can fight your hardest.

Life is hard, and things won't always go the way we want. But my message is, if I took those statistics at face value and chose to abort, I 100% would not have my Brayden to cuddle every night. But we chose to fight against all odds to give him a life. I would go through all that pain again to bring another life into this world.

It is hard. But we are strong. And it is a fight worth fighting.


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