Transfusion #6

Today is our baby Callum’s due date! It is hard to believe he is almost six weeks old on his due date.


Yesterday, Callum had his sixth blood transfusion (third post birth transfusion.) His hematocrit had held steady at about 29 the past few weeks but this week it suddenly dropped to 23. He wasn’t eating well and was more irritable than usual so his hematologist and I thought it was best to go ahead and transfuse. The doctors and nurses at Children’s of Alabama have been so wonderful, just like they were with Nora a couple years ago. They called IV therapy to insert Callum’s IV since he is so tiny and they hit his vein on the first try. They also had to double check his blood type since it had changed since birth. He was born O- because he was 100% donor blood at birth, but since then he has started making his own blood so yesterday when they tested him again, his blood type was O+. During the blood transfusion I was able to breastfeed Callum (some hospitals don’t allow baby to eat at all until the transfusion is finished) and I had a comfortable recliner to sit and hold him in the whole time. He handled it really well and slept in my arms or nursed throughout the transfusion. I think he was just happy to have a whole day of Mommy’s complete attention for once.

We will do blood work again in about two weeks to see how Callum is doing. They tested Callum’s blood yesterday to see if he still had some of my antibodies circulating in his system and he does, which means the new kell positive blood he is making now will be attacked by my antibodies. Hopefully soon he will be antibody free and he will be making all of his own blood with no further need for transfusions (like Nora.) Ok, I can barely keep my eyes open so I’m off to bed!

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His Name

Several people have asked us how we came up with the name Callum and others have asked why he has two middle names. Josh and I really struggled to come up with Callum’s name since we had already named seven babies before him (Liam Joshua, Asher Caleb, Lucy Dair, Jude, Pax, Scarlet Mae and Nora Juliet.) We are thankful that we found the perfect name for him and we won’t be naming any more babies after this!

Callum is pronounced “Cal” like in California and “um” like in umbrella. We have been surprised to hear lots of variations on the pronunciation (I guess since most people haven’t heard the name much.) We’ve heard “Caylum” and “Collum” a lot. The name Callum is Scottish, and it means “Peace/Dove.” God truly has brought us so much peace through this boy and He blessed me with a supernatural peace throughout my stressful pregnancy. Even while being wheeled into the operating room for a completely unexpected c-section all by myself with a premature baby who was showing signs of distress, I felt overcome by peace and excitement. I pray that in this world of suffering and chaos, Callum will know the deep, resounding peace of Jesus. I pray that God uses Callum’s life to bring peace and comfort to others.

Callum’s middle name, Joseph, means “God has added” which is so perfect. We never thought we would have any more babies after Lucy died, then we were blessed with Nora and even though we wanted more than three kids, we thought we had to stop after having our rainbow baby. God has added yet another beautiful little person to our family and we are amazed at His goodness to us. God has added, He hasn’t replaced Lucy or taken away our grief, but He has added joy, peace and fulfillment to all of our loss through this sweet boy. Joseph is also Dr. Moise’s middle name and we know that Callum wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Dr. Moise. Dr. Moise pioneered the use of plasmapheresis and IVIG for women with extreme alloimmunization during pregnancy (like me.) Callum would not have survived without plasmapheresis and IVIG treatments that kept him alive while he grew big enough for intrauterine blood transfusions. Dr. Moise also helped train Dr. Trevett and is part of the reason why Dr. Trevett is such an amazing physician. Dr. Moise collaborated with Dr. Trevett (all the way from Houston) for my care during my pregnancy with Callum and we are so grateful for his help.

Callum’s other middle name, Thomas, is after Dr. Thomas Trevett, who worked so hard to get Callum here alive.

It is rare to find a physician who is not only skilled at what he does but is also humble, generous and compassionate like Dr. Trevett. He always treated me with kindness and respect, even when I questioned him or when my anxiety bordered on controlling. Dr. Trevett was so cautious with our son’s life. He protected Callum when he was in his most vulnerable and helpless state, and for that we will forever be grateful. I would love for Callum to grow up to be a great man like Dr. Trevett.

A few people have mentioned to us that Dr. Moise and Dr. Trevett probably feel honored to have a baby named after them, but really we are the ones who feel honored to have these men in our lives. We feel honored that Dr. Trevett and Dr. Moise played such an important part in the life of our son and Callum gets to grow up admiring them.

So, that is how our Callum Joseph Thomas was named and he has a lot to live up to and we have so much to be thankful for.

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HOME!

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We brought our beautiful healthy boy home from the NICU a few days ago and it has been an amazing, exhausting whirlwind ever since. Callum’s doctor did a couple more x-rays and lots of blood work after his bloody diaper and all of it came back clear so she was able to rule out the transfusion related gut injury/NEC that we had feared. He has a dairy allergy instead so I’ve cut out all dairy from my diet and he’s on a dairy free formula (with occasional breastfeeding) until all of the dairy is out of my system (it usually takes a few weeks.) Then we will transition back to breastfeeding only. After Cal had his second post birth blood transfusion his oxygen was so much better (no more desats) and he basically took all of his feedings by mouth from that point on. It felt unreal when they told me I could take him home. I showed up at the NICU to get him and his tiny little body was completely wire free for the first time since he was born!

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The hospital has a rule that all babies being discharged from the NICU must be wheeled out of the hospital in their mother’s arms, which felt kind of ridiculous since I had been walking back and forth from the Ronald McDonald House to the hospital parking deck to the NICU and back for weeks. It felt so surreal and wonderful though, to be leaving the hospital with my healthy baby boy in my arms.

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We are overcome with gratitude to God for giving us this miracle and completing our family. Callum was His idea in the first place…a redemptive gift that I do not deserve. I get teary when I think back to the beginning of this year when Josh and I were trying to decide if we were brave enough to try for one last baby and God whispered, “Let me bless you.” over and over again. He encouraged us to be courageous and to trust Him. He had this sweet baby boy in mind and I’m so glad we took that leap. All of the fear and the physical pain and exhaustion and inconvenience was so, so worth it. Watching Nora meet her baby brother for the first time was one of the happiest, most beautiful moments of my life. We grieve the loss of her big sister daily. We ache for the friendship that was lost for Nora when Lucy died. She should have a sister two years older than her. It has been so sad to watch Nora play on the sidelines while her brothers play together every day in their own world that she isn’t really a part of. Josh and I prayed so many times for God to give Nora a sibling friend of her own and now he is here! Callum and Nora are almost exactly the same age distance apart as Liam and Asher and Lucy and Nora. Thank you, Lord, for hearing our pleas and for giving Nora her very own sibling friend.

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Seeing the relief on Liam and Asher’s faces when they are with Callum is so incredibly gratifying.

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I’m pretty sure Callum has a different take on things since he is constantly passed around, kissed, patted, hugged and manhandled by his older siblings. I think he longs for his peaceful NICU days of the past.

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Callum had his first follow up appointment with his pediatric hematologist in Birmingham a couple of days ago and it went really well. He literally slept through his blood draw and his numbers looked ok. His hematocrit was 30 and hemoglobin was 10 and retic had gone up to 1. I really liked his hematologist too. I think Cal will need at least one more blood transfusion before his body is making enough blood on its own, but maybe not. He will have weekly blood draws at the hematologist until he is cleared of his HDN. Thank you all for your support and prayers along the way. We don’t know how we could have done it without you all.