Mom to Ryan
Born and Died on April 22nd, 2002 at 26 weeks
Born and Died on January 19th, 2003 at 23 weeks
Born at 32 weeks on May 10th and Died May 12th due to a heart defect
I am the mother of 3 angels and my last angel died 2 weeks ago. My story starts 9 years ago when I had my first son Ryan. When we found out I was pregnant, I was 3 months along and told our family at a restaurant where we had lunch, everyone was ecstatic to hear our news. I can recall that it was a good pregnancy, no problems and all was going well until 18th April (Good Friday) evening at 11:50pm when I suddenly felt the urge to go to the toilet, which I did and to my horror, saw a thick mucus discharge with blood, my husband took me to the Medi-clinic emergency room immediately, where they admitted me as they suspected I was in labour, they put me on the monitor and had a look at my cervix which was not fully dilated yet. All was going okay during the night and when the OB/GYN came early Saturday morning, she discovered that I was 7 cm dilated and immediately put me on meds to prevent the cervix from dilating further.
She also had to find a hospital that had a NICU unit as the Medi-clinic was not equipped for a prem baby, after phoning most of the private hospitals, there was either no qualified staff or the NICU were full and I had to be transferred to a public hospital where I stayed for the entire long week-end. On Monday afternoon, the Prof came to have a look at my cervix and because of the risk of infection, he asked the nurses to stop the meds which meant that I was going to go into labour. I can remember how scared I was that night as I didn’t know what to expect and during the night, I could feel cramps and started bleeding which meant I was in labour. On Tuesday morning at 7:00am they rushed me to the labour ward where I gave birth to my son who was born in his sac, which my husband broke and called the Paeditrician who took him to the NICU. Due to the public hospitals policy of babies born with a weight of 1kg and more , they will be assisted with oxygen/help and because my baby weighed under 1kg, he was placed in an open incubator with no help. Ryan was a strong baby but because his lungs were immature and he couldn’t breathe on his own, he passed away at 10pm that evening. We were so devastated and had so many questions but no answers, only that he died of natural causes.
I felt that we must try again after my body healed and was lucky to fall pregnant later that year. It wasn’t established if I was carrying twins as I bled heavily at 8 weeks and the Gynae asked me to come back 2 weeks later to see if there is still a heartbeat and we were so happy when we went back that there was a heartbeat. At 16 weeks, I was spotting and almost thought that I was going to lose this baby, this turned out to be nothing serious as the pregnancy progressed without further incidents. I was in my 23rd week and on my way to work when I suddenly felt a cramp, I went to my GP who could not find anything wrong but phoned the Gynae who advised me to rather come in. As I was driving, the cramps got worse but I managed to get to the hospital. When I arrived there, I was 5cm dilated and they gave me meds to stop the contractions which helped during the day, however, at 3am the morning, I was rushed to the labour ward where I gave birth to my 2nd son. We couldn’t understand why it was happening as there is no forewarning of the labour before the time and we also wanted answers. My Gynae advised us to go and see a Professor at one of the big public hospitals for help. I had to undergo some tests which confirmed that I had an incompetent cervix. Because I now knew what the problem was, we were referred to a Specialist Gynae who would look after my next pregnancy if my husband and I decided to try again. We were not quite sure if we wanted to try again and go through the same traumatic experience but I kept telling myself that I have to give it 1 more try.
In August 2004, I fell pregnant and my new gynae and his wife (also a gynae) took over the care of this pregnancy. At 12 weeks, I had a shirodkar stitch and was booked off work at 20 weeks. On Wednesday, 23rd of February at 28 weeks, my stitch opened and my husband rushed me to the emergency room where I was given injections to stop the labour until Friday, 25th February 2005 when I would have a Caesarian. My daughter was born, wailing, pink and healthy and turned 6 this year. This was going to be my last pregnancy and requested to be sterilized but my gynae wouldn’t as I was too young.
The week before my daughter’s birthday, I had a stomach bug and went to my GP where he discovered that I was pregnant and advised me to see my Gynae as soon as possible. I can recall telling him that I had mixed feelings because of my past experience and he estimated that I was about 14weeks at the time. On the 25th Feb 2011(same day as my daughter’s birthday), my husband and I went to see our Gynae where it was discovered that I was already 22 weeks pregnant. What a shock this was for us and kept telling myself how could I not know, did I not feel anything (kicking), I definitely had no symptoms. I was also very apprehensive because over the holiday season, I had my glass or 2 of wine and did not really take care of myself by eating healthily or taking pre-natal vitamins. The only concern my Gynae had was that my cervix had already started shortening and booked me for a scan the following week where all was fine, baby was growing, was on par with measurements and we were having a boy. I could not relax and took 1 day at a time as we were expecting a miscarriage to happen at anytime (which I prepared myself for) but God had other plans for us. When I was 25 weeks, I was booked into hospital for the week-end for steroids for his lungs in the event that anything happens, was then booked off work and also took some leave to rest. I didn’t want to tell anybody about the pregnancy in the event of a miscarriage, nobody would know and feel sorry for me, however, the pregnancy progressed further than what we thought.
We eventually had to tell the family and friends as it was quite evident and it was also Easter which is family time. On Monday morning, 9th May, my husband and I heard a loud bang and he came running from the study to see what had happened and to our dismay a pipe had burst in the kitchen, the water was gushing so I ran around looking for buckets and he went outside to turn off the main water connection. Tuesday morning (10th May) at about 04:45am, I got up to go to the toilet and felt cramps but there was no blood or any sign of labour, however the cramps were getting worse and I woke my husband to take me to hospital. It was a 20min drive and fortunately for us, that time of the morning, the roads were empty. I walked up to maternity while my husband was seeing to our daughter in the car and asked the sister to phone my gynae to let her know that I came in. They took me to the labour prep room while they got the theatre ready for an emergency Caesaran, but I was already 3cm dilated. I told the midwife that I had the urge to push which I did not want to do but when she checked my cervix again, I was fully dilated, my water broke and Ethan was born legs first as he was breach. They rushed him to the NICU and I had to go into theatre to have my placenta delivered and have a few stitches. The Paed came to see me before theatre and said that Ethan was fine and I could see him later. Because of the anaethesia and morphine, I was in and out of sleep that day and didn’t go and say hello, but the NICU sister did come and see me the evening to tell me that Ethan was doing well.
Wednesday, 11th May, I went to see him early in the morning at 6am and he was so beautiful and pink. They mentioned that some routine tests would be done later that day but I could come in at anytime. My husband came after dropping our daughter at school with the list of things needed for Ethan – nappies, Vaseline, cotton wool etc and I took it to the unit. When I got there, the radiographer was about to take xrays as well as the cardiologist and they would let me know the results once they were completed. The cardiologist picked up a murmur and it was discovered that he had hole in the heart and a condition called: Pulmonary Atresia with VSD. He drew a diagram for me and explained what needed to be done to keep the duct open, they have to put him on a quarter tablet hourly as he was breathing normal air, however what he did not say was the side-effect to this tablet causes APNEOA. The cardiologist explained that he would need his first operation when he was 2.4kg and then another at a later stage but it would be okay. The sister in the NICU unit asked me if I was ready to express as he was ready to feed. I phoned my sister to ask her if she would get me a pump in the meantime which she brought to me that afternoon. I immediately started using it hourly as I needed to get some milk. Early evening about 6pm, the NICU sister came to my room and said that all was fine and if I come to the unit, the machines will be going on and off but shouldn’t worry. At about 10pm, I went to say goodnight but the doctor was busy with him and said they will come and call me when they are done as his heart rate kept dropping. At 11pm, they came to call me and she explained that they struggled to get his heart rate up and that they had to put him on a ventilator to help him breathe but that he was doing fine for now but we will have to see how things go during the night. I sat there for a while and told them to come call me if there are any problems and then went to phone my husband to tell him what was happening. I was lying in my bed and could suddenly hear in the silence, the machines going haywire, it was then that I knew something was wrong. Not long after, at 1:00am, the sister came to call me to come to the unit, when I got there, the doctor and 3 other nurses was busy giving him CPR as his heart had stopped beating, they were struggling to get his heartbeat back, one sister was suctioning his nasal passages but I could see that no matter how they were trying and saw blood coming out of his nose and I knew that he was bleeding internally, there was nothing they could do for him and he passed away at 1:10am, I sat there crying, watching hopelessly as there was nothing I could do. They took off all the pipes, wrapped him in his blanket and gave him to me and sat there holding him for 3 hrs till 4:30 and then the sister told me to get some rest. My husband came as soon as he dropped our daughter at school ( did not want to tell her yet) and we both sat there crying thinking, how could this happen, yesterday he was doing well and today he is gone , what went wrong. My husband went to take some photos as I asked the NICU sister to dress, wrap him and she took his footprints.
We have requested some tests to be done as the doctor that took care of him the day he died, suspected that he had a chromosome 22 defect and the paeditrician should get the results by the 2nd week in June when we will go and see him to discuss and also to get clarity on what really happened Thursday morning. We only had a committal done, this is when the soul is sent off and is busy planning a memorial for the 12th June to say Goodbye to our son, Ethan James, our last baby.
I will post the results once we have seen the Paeditrician.
Carmen can be contacted at Carmie@absamail.co.za