Mom to Atticus Erin
Born Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011
Died November 15, 2011
When my daughter self-weaned at 13 months, my husband and I decided we wanted to start trying for a second baby (we wanted to wait until my daughter was finished breastfeeding before we tried). I had my IUD taken out, and that day was the first day of my LMP before my pregnancy. We were so exited! With our daughter, we “tried” for only two months, and when I had walked out of the appointment to get my IUD out, I laughed as the midwife said “Hope to see you soon.”
I missed my period, so I took a test. It was negative. I waited a few days, took another test…still negative. Morning sickness had started at three weeks, just like with my little girl, and it was TERRIBLE. My friend had her little girl during those first few weeks and while I was at the hospital to meet her daughter, I was munching on whatever would stay down before I had to go to work. Finally, I got the faintest of lines. I went to a pregnancy resource center…and the test there was negative! I didn’t get a clear positive test until I was past six weeks, when my daughter’s had come back positive when I was three weeks along.
There were differences in this pregnancy; with my daughter, I craved spicy and sour foods during the early months and coffee or colas would come right back up. With my son, I couldn’t keep anything down unless it sounded good or had something to do with apples, and most surprisingly, coffee and Pepsi. All throughout my pregnancy, if it didn’t sound good, it came right back up. It was challenging and I lost 22 pounds during the course of my pregnancy (with my daughter I lost 15 pounds and regained it by the time I delivered). Because I am on the bigger size, the doctors weren’t too concerned about my weight-loss because my son was thriving.
His first ultrasound was at about 11 weeks. It was at the pregnancy resource center, and their ultrasound machine was not the best, and they couldn’t find a heartbeat. I nearly started screaming until he started doing flips. The little trickster. A few days later, my whole family came down with the stomach flu, and I wound up in the ER for dehydration. His second ultrasound was to determine that he wasn’t adversely affected by the stomach bug, but still, we didn’t get to see his heartbeat. I looked at my husband and TOLD him, that I thought this was a boy, and regardless, this baby was going to be named Atticus.
When I went to my appointment for the doctors after the trip to the ER, the midwife was happy to give us our first “official” ultrasound. We have a DVD of it, seeing him flipping about and seeing/hearing clearly his heartbeat.
I knew this little one was a boy, and at my 20 week ultrasound, it was confirmed. My husband and I were so excited! At first, we’d thought we’d wanted girls, but after the birth of my daughter, I wanted for a son.
We wanted to attempt a VBAC because of how bad the c-section had been with my daughter. My daughter had been breech, so it wasn’t a complication that had led to it, so everyone was happy to let me try, as long as no complications arose and Atti wasn’t breech. He would constantly not want to engage, which caused some concern, and they soon began pushing for me to schedule a c-section. I told them no, and we waited.
Deanna was born at just under 39 weeks, so I naively thought Atticus would be here before his due date (April 20th). April 20th came and passed. I held a diamond against him because we’d bought a mother and child pendant with and emerald (my daughter’s birthstone), and a diamond for Atti. We were sure he was going to be a little trickster and come in May.
However, I went into labor on April 23rd, and went into the hospital. I was in active labor, but I wasn’t dilating well, and while in triage, I felt a horrible pain very unlike the contractions. One of the midwives arrived, did a quick exam and then went to get an ultrasound machine. Wouldn’t you know it, but my son turned while I was waiting in triage to breech, the little stinker, so I was sent to a room and had to wait for a c-section. It was supposed to be in the morning, but instead, I got pushed back three times since it was not an emergency c-section.
Finally, Atticus was born at 2 pm on April 24th, Easter Sunday, when we were supposed to have been meeting our family for lunch. He was 8 lbs 8 ounces and 20 ¼ inches long. Unlike with my daughter, they didn’t take him away and I was able to see him until I was ready to be taken to recovery, and even then, he was probably only gone from my side for 15 minutes at most. Although it was hard after the c-section and recovery (emotional and physical) wasn’t easy, especially with a toddler in the house.
Atticus was amazing. He and his sister loved each other, and they were always happy to be together. He would cry and fuss just to be with her. We were so excited that Deanna was so taken with her baby brother. She would encourage him to do everything, and they would have conversations, she would “read” to him, play with him, and when he tried to crawl, she would yell at him “GO”. It was adorable.
On Sunday, November 13th, Atticus had his first taste of sweet potatoes, and he devoured the whole container. He was always an enthusiastic eater, be it breast milk or baby food (which he’d only just started on a few weeks prior; this was his third after bananas and carrots). On the Friday before, he’d had his six month check-up and although he was on the skinny side (both he and my daughter were tall and thin). He was active, so we didn’t worry; babies that aren’t fed enough aren’t so active, and since he was just starting on baby food, we expected him to pick up weight quickly.
Back to the 13th. After finishing his sweet potatoes, my husband took Atticus back for his nap (he wouldn’t sleep if I put him in his crib, or anyone else except Daddy!) When my husband took Atticus from the highchair, I was filled with this overwhelming sense of unease. I almost asked my husband to give me Atti to hold, but I stopped myself. I needed to pump so that he’d have milk for daycare the next day, and I’d been unable to pump since my husband, my daughter and I had come down with the stomach flu. Atticus was spared that.
We always made sure to check on him, but I would send my husband since I would wake him up whenever I was in the same room, so I even went to the bathroom in the front bathroom instead of the one in the master “suite” (where his crib was). I will always regret not going back during his nap that day.
Not even an hour into his nap, I asked my husband to get me a burp cloth from Atti’s dresser so I could start pumping. I will never forget what happened next. I heard a cry from the back, and my husband came down the hallway. At first, I thought he had been laughing about something, but then he said, “There’s something wrong with Atti.”
I ran. Jarred had Atti on our bed, where he had moved him. He was limp, gray, and his eyes were half open. I started screaming, telling my husband to call 911. I began CPR, even before the operator said to. I remember screaming, telling her to get the ambulance there quicker. I heard a sound that no one should ever hear. As I performed CPR, there was a gurgling. Atti had aspirated on the sweet potatoes that he had eaten so happily, and they had filled his lungs.
He was taken to NCMC, and they continued CPR until finally, they had his heart beating again. They didn’t get a heartbeat until he was in the ER. Shortly after, he was flown to TCH. My husband and I had to take a nearly two hour drive down there, and I was expecting to be told he had passed during our trip there. My husband asked if he should keep Atti’s toys in the car seat because he didn’t know if Atti would be strong enough to play with them when we brought him home. I felt my stomach fall because it wasn’t a “when” for me, it was an “if”.
They had stabilized him, but he was never responsive. His pupils didn’t dilate, he was trying to breathe on his own, but it was only gasping.
On Monday, they stopped giving him some medication that encouraged his heart, and things started to look better. I was hopeful. However, Monday night and Tuesday morning, his condition took a turn for the worse. His organs began failing, and he crashed Tuesday morning. They brought him back, but we knew by then it was simply so that they could make a final decision on organ donation. He was ultimately not able to donate.
We had him taken off of life support, and placed in my arms. I remember thinking that this couldn’t be my baby; he didn’t look right, he weighed too much….
My wonderful, precious, perfect baby boy held onto life for less than five minutes. They were the longest minutes of my life, because even though I knew it was over, so much of me believed he would suddenly start breathing again, that he’d be okay. I told him it was okay, that mommy loved him, that he didn’t have to keep trying.
He passed at 5 pm, on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, nine days short of turning seven months old. It was ruled as SIDS. We will never know why it happened, because SIDS is how doctors are allowed to say “we don’t know”. Atticus Erin Rubiss will always be our precious little guy.
You can contact Tanya at firstname.lastname@example.org.