5 years later: An update from the first patient at Pavilion for Women



Brayten has brought so much laughter to our lives. He was an early climber, so it was no surprise when he scaled the walls of the baby bed at 18-months old. Once we converted the crib to a toddler bed he refused to sleep in it any longer.

His dad would lay down with him until he was certain he was asleep. But when we woke up in the morning we would find that kid asleep all over the house. It was like our own private “where’s Waldo” search – complete with his favorite red and white striped pajamas. We would find him asleep on the stairs, kitchen floor and the bottom shelf of the bookshelf. His favorite place to sleep was right inside his door so you could not open it without bumping him. How is it possible that this little guy is now 5 years old? I look at him expecting to see my sweet, snuggly baby, but the face staring back at me is much too grown up. In these moments I still catch my breath when I think about how different our lives would be without him.

At our 18-week anatomy sonogram we were just excited to learn if we were giving our daughter a baby brother or sister. However, during this scan it was discovered that I had an extra placental lobe and its placement near the birth canal was something to monitor. We returned in the third trimester for another sonogram. This is when we received the diagnosis of vasa previa, a condition where fetal blood vessels cross the birth canal and are at risk of rupturing when the mother goes into labor. If these vessels rupture, the baby quickly loses blood, which is almost always fatal. If this condition is detected early and the proper precautions are taken, the infant survival rate is almost 100 percent. We were surprised in our research by how few cases are actually diagnosed early simply because many facilities do not have a blood-flow doppler sonogram. While we never dreamed we would need it, we found ourselves being even more grateful that we had chosen the Pavilion for Women because of their expertise in high-risk pregnancies.

Brayten’s original due date was mid-April, but typically a vasa previa diagnosis results in a C-section at 35 weeks. After much monitoring by an expert team of doctors (including modified bed rest and an extended hospital stay), we decided to deliver by C-section at 37 weeks in order to give Brayten more time in the womb, but before my risk of going into labor naturally increased. Our name went on the schedule and at our appointment the following week we were told we were scheduled to be the first baby delivered at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women.

I do not want to downplay the worry and prayer that led up the day of Brayten’s birth, but looking back on that day and knowing that it ended with a healthy baby, it was a day of such joy. Everyone at the hospital was as excited about his birth as we were. Whatever nerves we had, we knew that all the doctors and nurses were confident and in control. One of my favorite memories of the day was leaving the OR with my baby in my arms and all the staff lining the halls to congratulate us on his birth. Every time I see the sky bridge I remind Brayten that one night it was lit blue just for him. I am forever grateful to Dr. Michael Belfort, Dr. Susan Leong-Key, and Dr. Carl Lee for the significant roles they played in Brayten’s safe arrival.

Brayten PicWhen most people think of Texas Children’s Hospital and all their affiliates, they think of an amazing hospital, but I cannot hear the name without being eternally grateful for the gift they gave our family – a perfectly healthy child. That baby is now so grown-up. Brayten is a highly intelligent child; he’s funny and quick-witted. He can argue himself out of trouble with surprisingly valid points – and if that doesn't work, he's quick with a killer smile and a big hug. Brayten loves building wood projects with his dad and spending time on the farm with granddad. He is obsessed with John Deere tractors, historical accounts of the Alamo (no cartoon fiction books for this kid) and if sports are on TV he wants to know why the Texas Aggies aren’t playing. The joy he brings to our lives is immeasurable. While I so desperately wish time would slow down, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him.

Read Andrea's first post about her experience being the first mom to deliver at the Pavilion for Women.