Bronxton Alexander • Heart Stealer

Bronxton Alexander, A Mighty Man of God, entered this world on November 22nd 2013. He was more than anticipated by not only Jake and I but really our whole family and church family. Before Bronx was even born we all knew he was a miracle.

When I was a little girl (like 5 or 6) I used to pretend that I was pregnant. I remember telling people to put there hand on my belly to feel it "kick". It was just part of being a girl and desiring to be a mommy some day. As I got older I hadn't put much real thought into all the logistics of me having a baby, but as Jake and I were approaching marriage the question became real, Can I have a baby? I never knew anyone with SMA II that carried their own child. I remember the day Jake and I met with an OB Specialist, she saw our desires but said she would have to do her research. She had us come back into the office a few weeks later and told us she found a few cases and didn't think it would be dangerous for me to get pregnant. Sure, there were some things we had to take into consideration but I had the green light to get pregnant and for me that was an answer to some of my biggest dreams.

Approaching our 2nd wedding anniversary, I started to feel pretty lethargic and EXTREMELY hungry (I now know that is a huge tell that I've got a mini growing in me) I took the test and before I could even finish peeing on it that test was screaming PREGNANT! Lol and Jake said, I knew it! Haha so I kept it from my family (which if you know my family that was extremely hard to do) we announced it by surprise at a big gathering at my parents and let's just say everyone was beyond shock and excited.

My pregnancy with Bronx was amazing! Didn't throw up once, never any signs of preterm labor (which is the biggest concern we had) and we planned to take Mr. Bronx out of my tummy at 35 and 5 weeks. As my tummy grew bigger and bigger and I could feel and see him grow and kick and flip in there I was so amazed at the goodness of God. I can really say it's the most incredible thing I've ever experienced.

As we were making our lists of names we liked we came across Bronx (yes, like The Bronx) and Jake and I loved it. We loved how strong it sounded! Since I found out I was pregnant I always spoke Strength and Joy over my growing nugget. (I later see why God had me speak that over him) HOWEVER, my mother, who is from back east, didn't like the sound of just Bronx for her first grandson haha. She would say "Do you know any CEO's named Bronx?" (I don't know any CEO's but I understood her point lol) so we made up the name Bronxton.

The day came fast and it was time to bring Bronx into this world. I remember that morning like it was yesterday. I woke up at 4 am, curled my hair with my sister and best friend Bree. Then Jake and my mom and I headed to the hospital. We checked in, got me all hooked up and ready for my C-section. I couldn't wait for them to get that baby out and neither could the 25 people waiting in the waiting room. I had an amazing doula who was there to capture all the pictures of my baby entering the world, of daddy getting to do skin-to-skin with him first, then of me meeting and kissing and holding my miracle for the first time. At 7:44 am I went under and woke up to a very different picture than I had expected. I was very drugged up but I remember waking and my friends Ashleigh and Alissa showing me pictures of my baby and some cute videos of him grunting (which we later found out was because he couldn't breathe) They were being sweet and positive but I was so confused why my baby wasn't in the room with me. Then they asked if I wanted to go see my him. That right there was a strange thing to hear. They wheeled me into the NICU. A place I ended up spending more time in than I ever wanted to. They wheeled me in on my bed and I saw a tiny 5lb 2oz baby lying on his tummy hooked up to machines that seemed bigger than a house. The nurses lifted him up so carefully so I could kiss him. But that was it. I went back to my room and waited for the doctor to come talk with us. Jake seemed positive and happy so I was just trying to understand what was going on. They then began to explain that Bronx's lungs simply weren't ready for outside of the womb. They tried their normal protocol with babies who have issues with lungs but it wasn't working on Bronx. The next 48 hours were some of the hardest times we had ever experienced. Bronx ended up tearing 3 holes in his lungs because they were like paper. He had to have 3 surgeries to release the air that was filling his chest cavity. Our little 5 pound baby was struggling and there was nothing we could do.

Jake would go back to the NICU to see Bronx, talk with the doctors and keep tabs on everything so he could report back to me. I had to give myself a little more time before I could get back in my chair and go see him. But he was nowhere near stable enough to leave the NICU. I remember a very pivotal point in this whole thing, one of the doctors (not my favorite one might I add) came in and so simply said (to these first time parents) "I'm just not sure what's going to happen to your baby" .... Like a knife in my stomach. What the heck does that mean??

At this point our friends Alissa and Eli had come back to the hospital just to be of support for us. This one time Jake came back from seeing Bronx and he lost it. Broke down in tears and that was it for me. I couldn't keep it in anymore and I was so sad to know there was nothing I could do to help him. My world felt like it was literally falling apart, but one thing I remember SO clearly is what Alissa and Eli told us " This is going to feel like it's  lasting forever, but he WILL be ok and in a year you'll look back and be amazed at the goodness of God and that you THREE got through it." That was the only bit of hope we had for Bronx at the time.

I remember one of the worst feelings I've ever felt was leaving the hospital without my baby. The diaper bag packed, car seat installed but no baby. No baby to wear the tiny thanksgiving outfit I bought. That's not the way we planned it. That's not the way it was supposed to be.

The next month Jake and I spent every morning driving 45 minutes, often in silence with just worship music on, to get to the hospital, then driving home every night still empty handed. Some days we would get there and the doctors would tell us he was making progress and some days seemed to be stagnant. But all his nurses and doctors would tell us "you have an amazingly strong boy". That's right! We prayed strength and joy over him since day one. They actually had to sedate him even more because he would try and breathe over the machines and they needed him to relax and heal. Bronx had to be sedated for more than 2 weeks and to watch a 2 week old then have withdrawals from these strong medications was so terrible to watch. His little 2 week old body would shake and sneeze and have different side effects but of course our little man was a champ.

4 weeks later and Bronx was finally ready to come home. It was like Christmas!! I remember the excitement inside that this was finally the day. See I didn't get to hold my baby for the first time until he was 2 weeks old, but the amazing part of the whole process is that the staff of the NICU taught us everything we needed to know. They taught us how to change his diapers, bathe him, feed him and they answered any other questions we would have. They even had us practice putting him in his car seat. It was like hands on training before we had to go home and do it ourself. Bronx came home and it was like a breath of fresh air

As an infant they don't do much so we couldn't tell if he was developing at the normal rate or not. But as 3 months rolled around we noticed some things just weren't coming natural for him. Holding his head, swallowing properly and just many "normal" milestone weren't being met at the typical time. With all of Bronx's complications from birth it did cause some developmental setbacks that again we were not prepared for. Bronx did not crawl until he was almost two, had and still has physical, occupational and speech and feeding therapy throughout the week. Bronx still doesn't sit or walk on his own but let me tell you some of his wins. He is Brilliant! He just started preschool and according to his teachers he has won everybody's hearts. This boy sings, prays, dances and laughs everyday. He is sensitive and he is silly. He has to work so hard for everything but that just makes me even more proud. The doctors, his therapists and Jake and I all believe he will walk and function just like any other kid but has to work a little extra harder for those things.

This obviously will not be the last post about our Bronx because come on, he's so darn adorable, but I just wanted to share again that my life and even my children's lives are different but perfectly placed in the hand of God. Bronx you are my miracle. I'm proud of you and I love you. The joy that you bring this world is life changing and you will always be a light for Jesus

Love you Bubba