Our little Giovanni was born at 26 weeks. When you’re born that early in a pregnancy, you face an uphill battle. You have to grow to a certain point before they’ll let you go home from the hospital. So that’s what we did. I learned how to feed him, how to take care of a preemie and just be a mom.
But after a few weeks, we got some startling news. He had developed a really bad infection called sepsis. The doctor didn’t expect him to make it through the night. That was the most awful night of my life. But he made it through the night. And then he was still hanging in there the next afternoon.
We agreed that Dr. McGahren should try a life-saving abdominal surgery. It would be the first of several surgeries. I braced myself for the worst. He made it through that, but we wondered if he would recover properly or if he would ever be able to eat normal food. I knew it was more important that he just survive. Ironically, Italian restaurants are our family business. Our life revolves around food. It was hard to imagine Giovanni growing up around our wonderful family culture and not being able to eat like a normal child.
But the doctors did a great job on the surgery even though he was so small. Then they put some tubes in his lower abdomen that somehow helped to drain away the infection. I’m not even sure how it works, but I don’t think they normally do this for such tiny babies. He had to have the tubes in for three months. It was a stressful period for our entire family, but we kept seeing him get stronger and stronger each day.
After his third surgery, the doctor said he was very pleased with how well he was doing. But it was taking a long time to recover. I was at the hospital every day for five months. The nurses and the rest of the staff became like a second family to us. They loved Giovanni like he was their own. It’s hard to put into words what a difference they made to us at such a difficult time in our lives.
Finally, we got to go home. And he’s doing so much better. He’s growing just like a little boy should. I’m so grateful to UVA that he is doing well and is in our lives. And did I mention he LOVES to eat? I have the cutest pictures of him slurping up pasta. I never thought I’d be so happy to see my little boy with red sauce all over his face.