Mom to Jaron Robert
August 3, 2012 – August 8, 2012
Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the early age of 14 felt like a death sentence, as the possibility of infertility was so high. My husband and I had been married 5 years and together for 13. During that time, we had said if pregnancy happens we will embrace it, but if it doesn’t, then we will embrace that, too…although, deep down I think we both wanted a child so badly and were using the “whatever happens, happens” motto to ease our pain. After 6 years of not using contraception, we became pregnant. It was the happiest day of my life. I came into our bedroom hysterically crying, and my husband thought something was wrong until I showed him the stick.
My pregnancy was typical, with nausea and exhaustion. At 15 weeks I lost my mucous plug, but was reassured by my obstetrician that it wouldn’t cause labour. Since I was a registered nurse who worked in labour and delivery and NICU, I was on top of any symptoms and even had a fetal heart rate monitor at home so we could listen to our son at our pleasing. It was reassuring to have that monitor after the mucous plug came out. At 22 weeks and 4 days I noticed some red blood. I went to see my co-workers in labour and delivery, thinking nothing was wrong as my son’s heart rate was normal, because I checked it at home. The resident gave me an internal exam and said I was 2 cm dilated. I was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix. My heart sank. I knew, as a registered nurse, that viability of a newborn is 24 weeks, and my son was only 22 weeks and 4 days. I also knew that if he was to live, the chances of disability were high. I was put on bedrest with bathroom privileges and admitted to the hospital. I was greeted daily by my co-workers to see how I was doing, which made the next four days on bedrest bearable.
At 23 weeks, I went into labour. It was surreal, as if I was the nurse helping this poor family in their time of need, not like I was the patient at all. I gave birth, and my son cried a very tiny cry as only 23-week old babies do. He was whisked away to be resuscitated (at my request and after much discussion with the pediatricians, who although wouldn’t normally recommend it, understood). While they worked on him, I continued to bleed with none of the usual methods working to control it. I required surgery to remove an accessory placental lobe, not realizing that during that time my son could have died, and I would be coming back to the unit without being able to hold him. Thankfully, when I returned from surgery, he was stable. He amazed all my co-workers and doctors, as he didn’t require oxygen or medications, and he was kicking and moving around. He was transferred to another hospital out of town for more intensive care, while we had to wait until 2 days later due to my surgery. Those two days were agony, as I had only seen him briefly before he left. He was doing very well and I was still thinking like a nurse, asking pertinent medical questions, reading his chart, talking shop to the physicians. The nurses said he had such a personality, as he never stopped kicking and moving about, just like he was when inside me. He was doing so well, too, well for a 23-week old baby.
On his 6th day of life, the bomb dropped in the middle of the night. My son contracted pneumonia and his bowel perforated from nectrotizing enterocolitis. He was no longer the jovial little boy in the incubator, but rather very still and guarded. He was on 100% oxygen and requiring medications to keep his blood pressure stable. The decision to stop treatment was an easy one, as I knew the chances of him surviving were low and the chances of lifelong extensive disability were very high. I couldn’t bear seeing him suffering and in pain. Thankfully, my husband and I were able to cuddle, sing to, touch, smell and love our son while he was alive and during his death. He grabbed our fingers, rolled his eyes when I spoke and sucked on his endotracheal tube while we held him. It was the most beautiful, devastating, joyful, unbearable time of our lives. I miss him every day and still feel like the nurse who had a patient who went into labour at 23 weeks and lost her son 6 days later.
You can contact Tia at firstname.lastname@example.org.