The Birth of Katie Rose Davis

This story is a recapitulation. If you’ve been following Katie’s story, you may not find anything new here (although I don’t think I’ve explained what happened when Katie was born in this much detail before).

On a Saturday night in mid-May Phyllis’s placental membrane ruptured with fluid spewing over our bed. She was twenty-four weeks pregnant, or about sixteen weeks shy of her nominal full term. We got my parents to come over to take care of the boys, and I drove Phyllis into the hospital in San Francisco.

It was clear from the start that Phyllis would be in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy. There was a chance that delivery could be held off a while. The neonatologist, a doctor specializing in the treatment of premature babies, told us the odds weren’t very good for our daughter if she was born right away.

Kate Kangaroo

View this photo larger. Read the back story featuring this image.

They put Phyllis on an epidural to ease her pain, and tried different drugs to hold back labor. Tributalin gave her the shakes, and Magnesium sulphate made her temporarily diabetic, so they gave her insulin. The kept her head below her feet, so gravity would help (this may have contributed to the lung problems she had later on). They gave Phyllis shots of a steroid intended to speed lung development in the baby.

Tuesday afternoon as I sat at Phyllis’s bedside in the labor and delivery room in the hospital, I watched her temperature gradually, but consistently, rise hour-by-hour. I went to home to put the kids to bed, but came back to the hospital after her doctor called to say Phyllis was in all-out labor.

By the time I got back to the room, the baby had been born. She was a little, limp, apparently lifeless, blue thing. A huddle of half a dozen medical technicians, nurses, and doctors were working to try to resuscitate her. Things didn’t look good for our daughter. I turned my attention to Phyllis, who was shaking uncontrollably and having great trouble breathing.

First Look

View this photo larger. Read the back story featuring this image.

Phyllis was hit with a perfect storm. Her fever spiked to 105 degrees, her lungs were partially filled with fluid, she was in septic shock as the massive infection in the placenta hit her bloodstream, and her blood type was different than the baby’s. After some intra-hospital beaurocratic wrangling about who was authorizing the transfer, I went with her via critical care ambulance at 3AM to an adult cardiac intensive care unit at another hospital, where they stabilized her.

With Phyllis in good hands and highly medicated, I grabbed about an hour’s sleep on the floor of one of the waiting rooms. As a clear dawn broke over San Francisco, I found Phyllis and said, “Whatever happens, she deserves a name.”

Without missing a beat, Phyllis said, “What about ‘Katie Rose’? It was in my dream.”

I replied, “Sold!” I found a cup of coffee, and grabbed the intra-hospital shuttle bus to find the NICU (Newborn intensive care unit). At the NICU, I gave the nurse her name, they made a sign for her isolette, and with renewed hope I watched her for a long while, then headed home to be with the boys.

So far, knock on wood, Katie has consistently surpassed expectations. A few days later I wrote in my blog (photo above):

Katie Rose Davis was born on Tuesday, May 13 at about 10PM. Her gestational age was roughly 24.5 weeks, and she weighed a little under two pounds.

So today Katie was three days old. Her eyes were still fused shut at birth, and we were lucky enough to be in the NICU when she opened her eye for a first peep at the world.

It’s hard to fully fathom how small she is.

Katie under Billy Lights

View this photo larger. Read the back story featuring this image.

A few days after that, Katie was under billy lights:

Katie is under “Billy” lights. Like most preemies, she has a high level of bilirubin in her blood, which can lead to problems such as jaundice. These phototherapy lights break down the bilirubin. Her eyes are protected from the lights by a mask.

I intentionally underexposed this photo, with the idea of giving a sense of this tiny baby alone under the lights in a vast and dark world.

Katie continued to do well. In Katie Is Strong, I wrote:

When we visited Katie Rose at the NICU today she was snoozing comfortably on her tummy under a small diaper that served as a blanket. She opened her eyes a couple of times when she heard our voices, then went back to sleep.

Katie’s isolette was covered so it would be dark for her. I didn’t see any alternative to boosting the ISO fantastically, so I shot this at ISO 2,500!

Katie Rose is a fighter. Katie is our pixie daughter. Katie is strong.

Katie's Big Brother

Read the back story featuring this image.

When Katie Rose was about ten days old, I brought her two big brothers Julian and Nick in to see their new baby sister. (Mathew, our three year old, is just too rambunctious for an NICU.)

The big brothers are shown in this photo peering into Katie’s isolette. I wrote:

Katie, who continues to progress well, knock knock on wood, was sleeping peacefully. When she heard her brothers, she opened her eyes a little, waved an arm, and went back to sleep.

Both boys indicated they would defend their baby sister to the death, and backed it up by demonstrating fencing poses in the NICU.

Phyllis has been giving kangaroo care to Katie this week. It’s called kangaroo care because the preemie is nestled warmly, skin-to-skin, sort of like a kangaroo mom and baby.

Phyllis, of course, loved holding Katie this way. But it is a bit scary holding a human being that is so tiny.

Katie continues to do as well, or better, than can be expected. She’s drinking roughly a teaspoon of milk every two hours, pooping, and coming off antibiotics after two weeks.

But she’s still so tiny.


View this photo larger. Read the back story featuring this image.

I loved what one of Katie’s nurses said, “She’s tiny, but she doesn’t know she’s tiny, and we’re not telling her!”

So many people have reached out to support us through this and are rooting for Katie. The support helps. We’ve learned we have a community we didn’t know we had. We are deeply touched, and moved. Please keep on with invocations, prayers, and positive intentions for Katie. It is all deeply appreciated, more than words can ever say.

Katie is a small being with an indomitable spirit. We must take each day at a time, because there are a great many things that can still go wrong, and every day is a victory.

Back in Katie’s first days I wrote “Every day is a victory” in one of the emails I periodically send out about Katie, and a friend responded, “We’d all do well to live life remembering that.”

True, but truer than for most with our little Katie Rose.

This entry was posted in Katie Rose, Kids.

One Comment

  1. studiodw May 31, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    I’ve been a regular visitor to Photoblog for a couple of months now and have derived much enjoyment and inspiration from your wonderful photographs but your recent posts about little Katie Rose have moved me greatly, even, at times, to tears.

    I think it takes a special kind of courage to lay such intimate words and images before the world at large – my heartfelt prayers, along with my respect, go out to Katie Rose and all her family.

37 Trackbacks

  1. […] Photoblog 2.0 Digital Photographs and Techniques from Harold Davis « The Birth of Katie Rose Davis […]

  2. […] photo shows Katie Rose being fed by her nurse. Katie gets all her food from milk that Phyllis […]

  3. […] Katie Rose continues to do well. She is our literal miracle. Knock on wood. […]

  4. […] in a raised bed along the warm, southwestern side of our house. I took some time out from visiting Katie in the hospital, childcare, and mundane work to chill out and refresh my spirits with some […]

  5. […] took Mathew, our almost four-year-old, to visit his new sister Katie Rose in the NICU for the first time. As you can see in the photo, Mathew enjoyed his visit–and he […]

  6. […] and I were on our way back from a lunch break while visiting Katie Rose in the NICU. I noticed this security mirror in the corner of the hospital corridor, and […]

  7. […] grandparents are back from travels in Poland and Russia, and we were able to bring them to visit Katie Rose for the first time. The logistics of visiting in the NICU are a bit complicated because only two […]

  8. […] I got to hold Katie in the NICU. Katie Rose is looking more like a newborn baby. Katie is looking like herself. Katie is going strong and […]

  9. […] While we were in the NICU, neonatologist Doctor Christopher T Retajczyk talked to the boys. He’s “Doctor Chris” for ease of pronounciation, and he helped at the miracle of Katie’s birth. […]

  10. […] Phyllis holds Katie Rose, first Katie explores. She touches Phyllis with her hands, squeals, and makes little grunts. Her […]

  11. […] we visited Katie in the NICU today her weight was up 15 grams to 945 grams, approaching the magical 1 kilo benchmark. One day at […]

  12. […] we visited Katie Rose in the NICU today she was about to be fed using the gavage tube directly to her stomach. Phyllis […]

  13. […] was Mathew’s fourth birthday. Despite the stress of Katie Rose’s birth, not to mention our commutes back and forth to the NICU in San Francisco, we want to be sure that […]

  14. […] are visible from upper windows (and the parking deck) at California Pacific Medical Center, where Katie Rose is in the NICU. After a recent visit to Katie Rose, I had a little extra time, and I decided to explore this […]

  15. […] go around the world in the Jules Verne novel, and it’s been eighty days and change since the birth of Katie Rose. Our darling baby girl is home. What a gift and […]

  16. […] Katie Rose has come home from the NICU we hold her alot. We remember how tiny she was, and what a miracle she […]

  17. […] Katie Rose weighed eight pounds and eight ounces (about 3,856 grams). This is more than four times her birth weight of one pound fourteen ounces (840 grams). Eight eight is great. Go, Katie, […]

  18. […] a plane to catch in the morning for a business meeting, and I’ve been going on fumes since Katie Rose was born. I stopped the automated exposure process, and packed it […]

  19. […] also had a nice visit this week from Ashley, a NICU nurse who was there when Katie was born, and who helped take care of Katie in the NICU. This photo shows Ashley holding Katie Rose in our […]

  20. […] Briefly noted: A detail of the petal of a Dawn Chorus poppy in the early morning, shot this spring and never post-processed or posted due to the flurry of events around the birth of Katie Rose. […]

  21. […] hands…are the hands of Dr. Michael Katz, who delivered Katie Rose when she was very […]

  22. […] corrected.” Meaning, if she had been born when she was supposed to be born instead of born early she would be two months old. She is acting for all the world like a normal, happy two-month-old […]

  23. By Picking Up Big Brothers | Photoblog 2.0 on December 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    […] Lest we forget. […]

  24. By Speaking in Tongues | Photoblog 2.0 on December 14, 2008 at 12:56 am

    […] Below, Katie Rose explains to the good people at March of Dimes what life is like for a preemie graduate of the NICU. […]

  25. By The Day My Daughter Was Born | Photoblog 2.0 on January 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    […] on This is an account of her birth from my somewhat narrow perspective; see The Birth of Katie Rose for more of her […]

  26. By Cold | Photoblog 2.0 on February 1, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    […] Rose’s first cold, and it is not a pretty picture. Because of her damaged lungs (normal for a 24-week preemie who spent time on a ventilator in the NICU) her breathing sounds like a race car, fast, and kind of […]

  27. By Clinic | Photoblog 2.0 on March 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    […] The Birth of Katie Rose Davis […]

  28. By Hello World | Photoblog 2.0 on April 22, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    […] met girls my own age named Ingrid and Samantha. Dad can’t resist telling their moms the story of my birth, how small I was when I was born, and how I beat the odds. Dad says they gave me a “low […]

  29. By Kicking Up Her Heels | Photoblog 2.0 on May 6, 2009 at 9:07 am

    […] Stories from a year ago: The Day My Daughter Was Born; The Birth of Katie Rose. […]

  30. By Happy Birthday, Katie Rose | Photoblog 2.0 on May 13, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    […] all the attention. The boys enjoyed the cake, and Julian enjoyed holding his sister. Katie Rose has come a long way in a […]

  31. By Health Care in Cuba | Photoblog 2.0 on August 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    […] family has two premature kids (Julian and Katie Rose) and we’ve had four high-risk pregnancies. So I was very interested to visit the high-risk […]

  32. By Katie Rose Tutu Head | Photoblog 2.0 on August 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    […] photograph her or write about her without remembering. Here are two stories about her early days: The Birth of Katie Rose and The Day My Daughter Was […]

  33. […] Rose was born prematurely almost three years ago at 24 weeks gestation, almost 16 weeks early. In the dark, hectic days in the NICU that followed, we would have been delighted to know how well […]

  34. By Katie Rose Is Three | Photoblog 2.0 on May 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    […] how far she’s come from birth as 24-week preemie; check out The Day My Daughter Was Born and The Birth of Katie Rose for stories of her early days. She also has her own book on […]

  35. By Skinny on Fatherhood | Photoblog 2.0 on June 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

    […] Katie Rose was born she weighed less than two pounds. She’s still small for her age, and likes to fit in small […]

  36. By Kate Rose is doing fine! on January 4, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    […] up on the story of Katie Rose from people—both strangers and those I know—who remember how she was born. Katie Rose is doing just fine, which counts as a major miracle in my book, considering that she […]

  37. By Katie Rose and the ice cream cone on July 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    […] starts Kindergarten in a matter of weeks, and it is always appropriate to remember her beginnings, and to be happy with gratitude for her compelling life […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *