Our Stories

Touching Stories from members of TLC

Kyle Russo

When my husband and I learned of my pregnancy back in October 1999 we were ecstatic. Although the first seven months went well, having worked as a Speech Language Pathologist in a school for disabled children and Early Intervention, I could not help but worry. Just as my mind-set began to change, I went into premature labor at thirty-one weeks. I was placed on a terbutaline pump to control my contractions and remained on bed rest for the next six weeks.

At thirty-seven weeks, I was taken off terbutaline. I was now in the “safe zone”. Or so I thought! It was only a matter of hours before I went into labor. Although my baby’s heartbeat was slightly erratic, my doctor elected to perform a C-section since I was not dilating. We were informed that we should not be concerned because the Cesarean section was not an emergency. In fact, my section was due to follow another expectant mother’s vaginal delivery. Fortunately for us, her baby was not ready to arrive.

As I was being prepared for delivery and my husband Bob was prepared to be a proud new father, clothed in hospital garb with his camera in hand, my family waited outside the delivery room. Surgery then began. The tone in the delivery room was positive and supportive but there was soon a sudden silence. All that I could recall was the concern I noted on my obstetrician’s face. Bob and I kept looking at each other in fear. He was whispering to me, “Is everything okay?”; I kept whispering with tears in my eyes, “I don’t think so.” Immediately, the room swarmed with doctors and nurses from the NICU to work on our baby boy. Bob had already caught a glimpse of our lifeless child; but we were told that we would not be able to visit with him in the NICU for some time.

Following the section, the obstetrician told us that at the time of delivery our son had flipped into a transverse position, the placenta was found to be prematurely separated from the uterine wall (placental abruption) and there had been blood in the amniotic fluid. Later that evening, Dr. Schlessel informed us that our son was “critically ill”. During the first 24 hours our son, Kyle, was intubated, requiring 100% Oxygen and had experienced two seizures. According to one of the nurses, when Kyle was born admitted to the NICU, his lungs had collapsed which is not often the case with an infant born at term who is 7lbs 2oz. Therefore, a rapid diagnosis and response was carried out by Dr. Schlessel and the NICU staff at North Shore University Hospital-Manhasset.

Needless to say, we were devastated. Although we had only been parents for a short time, a part of us had died seeing our son on life support. Nothing could have prepared us for this nightmare. For the next twelve days we visited the NICU daily hovering over our son. As upset as we were, we were comforted by the staff and doctors, including Drs. Schlessel, Sia and Allen, who were always professional, compassionate and always up front with us. On the sixth day, Father’s Day, my husband and I got to hold our infant son for the first time and we instantly connected with him.

The next few months following Kyle’s discharge were quite rocky, as he continued to experience seizure activity and required Phenobarbital daily. In addition, he was later diagnosed with mild dysphagia (swallowing disorder) and infant colic, and required physical therapy. However, 4 years later I am so thrilled to inform all that Kyle is doing wonderfully. He is a happy, outgoing, handsome, and bright child. And yes Dr. Schlessel, you were right when you said, “Kyle Russo, that sounds like the name of a baseball player”. Kyle is very athletic and energetic, as he hits a baseball right out of our yard.

Not a day has gone by during the last four years that I haven’t reflected upon the night of June 12, 2000, the day of our son’s birth. And each year when Kyle’s birthday arrives, it is a sort of bitter-sweet day. The love we have for Kyle is immeasurable. He will always be special to all who know him and of our difficult journey. Thank you to the expertise of Dr. Schlessel, Dr. Sia and the NICU team at North Shore! To you it may just be a job, but to our family you have given us a life that is precious, and for that we will be forever grateful. Furthermore, we are thankful for all the love, support and prayers from our family friends and co-workers.