Before I became pregnant, I had distanced myself from church, only going sporadically and was minimally involved. When I learned something was wrong with Omar, I decided to meet with a priest from church, Fr. Victor, for some guidance. I needed guidance on how I was supposed to go through a pregnancy fearing that I may lose my child. I was quickly reminded that I had to put all of this in God’s hands. I had done everything I could to prepare and now I had to trust in His plans. I wholeheartedly prayed like I never had before. We asked for the intercession of Sr Lucia of Fatima and St Gerard Majella. We also knew many people all over the world were praying for the wellbeing of our baby. It was all a very humbling experience that reminded me not to take anyone or anything for granted.
As my husband and I prepared for the birth of Omar, we were hopeful and prayerful, but we were also realistic about the fragility of children with trisomy 13. We only bought the essential things that he would need while he was in the hospital. We thought, if he does survive, we will be in the hospital long enough to buy whatever Omar will need when he comes home. We did not have a baby shower, but instead we had Fr. Victor, do a blessing for our unborn baby at our home, along with our close family and friends. It was so moving to see all of the support we had during one of the most difficult times in our lives. Everyone there put any differences they had with each other aside, to be there for our son. My son was already bringing people together, who had not spoken to each other in years, from inside of my womb.
Finally, Omar decided he was ready to come into the world. The first time I laid eyes on Omar, I did not even want to breathe. I didn’t want to distract anyone from taking care of him. My OB had told us she would not monitor my baby during the delivery, because she was not willing to put me through a surgery, a c-section, for a child that would likely die. So, we really did not know what would happen when he was born. When I saw Omar, he was purple and did not seem to be breathing or moving. I was able to touch him briefly while my husband cut the cord. At that time, the neonatal team, who was already standing by, took him to work on him. I couldn’t even bear to ask if he was alive because I was afraid of what they might say. And then, I heard him cry, a weak cry, but nonetheless a sign of life. After they stabilized Omar, I was able to touch his hand before the team, my husband and the deacon walked him to the NICU. He was baptized in the NICU.
Omar did amazing after birth. He only needed CPAP for less than 24 hours after birth. He did struggle with feeding, but we were working with the feeding therapist while in the NICU. He did have an episode of apnea, but they attributed this to him still learning how to suck on the bottle. Fortunately, Omar did not need any immediate surgeries after birth. The cardiology team told us some of the issues they saw, resolved at birth and the other issues, they were able to monitor for now. We were discharged home from the NICU after only 2 weeks.