Hi, my name is Michelle Simon, and I'm the proud mom of Alyssa Natalia Simon, a perfect little angel who's 21 months old. I found out about my pregnancy on the same day I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, so needless to say, my husband and I had mixed emotions. We'd waited so long to become parents, and the news was suddenly so bittersweet: We were too scared to even think about the possibility of my diabetes affecting our baby.
My husband accompanied me and held my hand at every doctor's appointment (and trust me, there were many). We tried our best to only think of our child and not about all the tests, but it was easier said than done. I was having weekly ultrasounds to monitor her progress, and at one point, my sugars dropped so low that the doctors thought I would lose her. After weighing the immediate risks against the long-term possible risks, I started taking a medication that wasn't approved to use during pregnancy.
When my daughter was born, we thought the nightmare was over. Little did we know that it was just beginning. She was born on April 24, 2006, via emergency C-section after her heart stopped twice during her birth at Brigham & Women's Hospital. We were told that she was having trouble breathing and they would have to bring her to the NICU. At that time, we were still completely ignorant of what lay ahead—until we got a call at 6 p.m. to tell us to come down to the NICU because our daughter was in critical condition.
With so much fear we could hardly move, we made it down to the NICU where the first words we heard were "Would you like us to get you a minister?" At that moment, we knew something was terribly wrong and we could lose our baby. They told us they had done everything they could and were completely at a loss as to why she couldn't breathe. So we brought her to Children's Hospital Boston to undergo treatment with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
All we felt was bone-shattering fear. Since I was still too close to post-op, my husband accompanied our daughter across the bridge to Children's and I was able to join them later. When I was first wheeled in to see her, I thought there was no way my baby was going to live. She had so many tubes and machines hooked up to her tiny little body: She was attached to a ventilator that forced her lungs open and was making her whole body vibrate. My husband and I stood by her side and cried. We saw so many doctors and kept answering the same questions over and over that we became automatons, answering and asking questions automatically.
We quickly learned not to run to her side when something was going wrong—we couldn't help her. We weren't allowed to hold her so we just looked at her and occasionally touched her little fingers.
After a few days, she was stable enough to be transferred up to the NICU. Even though she was intubated, this seemed like a step closer to home. Many setbacks and five-and-a-half months later, we finally did get to bring her home—with a laundry list of medications and a feeding tube. Taking care of her was overwhelming at first, but we soon became quite skilled at it. But three months later, just when we were getting into the swing of things, her heart stopped again during a routine gastrointestinal appointment. I got the call at work and immediately rushed over.
Alyssa was once again intubated and put on a ventilator. We spent Christmas and New Year's by her side on 7 South, watching doctors try to figure what course of action to take. It was a very bumpy month, but once again, our miracle baby pulled through. Now she's grown and gotten healthier.
And that is how I have come to call Children's my "second home." I wanted to help people the way so many people helped my family and me. Something as small as a security guard remembering my name when I walked through the door helped me keep walking to my Ally's side. Now, in my role as a medical secretary in the Urology Department, which I started this past July, I feel I can help people. Even if it's small, it matters—just getting them a speedy appointment or making sure test results get sent on time so that a child has one fewer test to take. And that makes me happy.