Thomas Clark King was born at 9:18 am on July 26, 1994. I had taken his mother Natalie to the emergency room of William Beaumont Hospital at approximately 8:30 am that morning. She had been having problems with vaginal bleeding and had been in and out of the hospital and Doctor's office the week prior to Thomas' birth
Thomas' early birth was due to a placenta abruption. A placenta abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus (Thomas' placenta was separated approximately 75%). When this occurs, a woman's body tends to deliver the baby in order to protect the mother and the baby.
This was a very dangerous situation as both mother and baby were in danger of bleeding to death. Having had various bleeding episodes the week prior, Natalie did not wake me to let me know she was having a new problem. When I saw her in the morning, I was alarmed at her appearance and took her to the emergency room immediately.
After we arrived at the hospital and Natalie had been examined, we were told that she was 3 to 4 centimeters dilated and in labor. This was only 5 months into the pregnancy. When I was told she was in labor, I believed that Natalie was going to have a still birth, that it was too early for the baby to survive.
What followed was the most frightening and amazing experience we had ever encountered. We were told that yes, babies born at 25 weeks do survive and that the hospital staff was going to do everything in their power to save our baby. Natalie was prepared for surgery (in case the baby needed to be taken cesarean) and I put on scrubs. She was then taken to the delivery room with me in tow.
In the delivery room, it was determined that the babies presentation was wrong and that he would have to be taken by emergency cesarean. I was escorted out of the delivery room and left in the hallway to wait.
After the longest short wait of my life, I was told that the baby would be coming soon and that I should wait close to the main hallway for when he came out. The team that took him out of the delivery room brought him out in a transport cart headed for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The Neonatologist (a doctor who specializes in premature babies) who had been present for the delivery allowed them to stop briefly for my first view of my tiny son. He had been intubated in the delivery room and was smallest and most sickly baby I had ever seen. I asked that they not stop long on my account (they wouldn't have stopped long anyway) and he was taken to the NICU.
After "Baby Boy King" had been taken to the NICU and stabilized, the Neonatologist escorted me up for my first visit to what would become very familiar territory for me and my family over the next four months, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of William Beaumont Hospital. I was instructed on the hand washing procedure that would become second nature to me. I was introduced to the yellow gowns required over my clothing prior to entry. I was then escorted into room 2 of the NICU.
No one could be prepared for what had happened to us that day. I certainly was not prepared to become a father just over halfway through the pregnancy. The baby that I was taken to see was like none I had ever known could survive. However, he was my son and I was doing my best to take on the role of being his father. I asked if I could touch him and was told to go ahead. I touched my index finger to his little hand and he grabbed the tip of my finger. His hand was too small to grab anything more.
The Neonatologist brought me two pictures that they had taken of him and asked if she should take them to my wife (one of those pictures is at the beginning of this page). I felt that the pictures made him look even worse than he did and requested that another picture be taken and that I take it to Natalie.
My mission at that point was to find my wife and give our baby a name. I felt that if I could give him nothing else, I could give him a name.
Natalie asked that we name him Thomas, because she knew that was my preference. We named him Thomas Clark King after me, his father, Clark Thompson King. He is the fourth generation of King men with Clark in his name.
2017 Note: Natalie claims she would have agreed to anything at this point as she was heavily medicated — which perhaps wasn't fair! Regardless, I think we are all happy with the name today!