Mom to Jackson Davis
Born and Died February 25, 2015
When you’re younger, you think about your life and whether or not you want to have children. You might already know you want them so you imagine being pregnant with your cute little bump, a lovely baby shower with your closest friends and family, and then you daydream about what your little one will be like and whether they will look like Mommy or Daddy, who they will grow up to be and so on. Never does it cross anyone’s mind that the child you have longed for, planned for, waited to welcome into this world, would be gone so quickly and there would be nothing you could do.
My story begins in September 2014 when my husband and I found out we were expecting after only 2 months of really trying. I was happy, excited, scared, and just amazed at how quickly it happened! I immediately scheduled my first appointment for October. Everything was fine because they didn’t really do much, just kinda confirm your pregnancy, get your history, and send you on your way until your ultrasound.
It was at my first ultrasound that my happiness declined. My husband and I sat as the technician did her scan and took all her measurements. She was really short with us and wouldn’t answer my husband’s questions. She then told us she had to see if the doctor wanted to talk to us. Being my first pregnancy, I assumed this was perfectly normal until the doctor came in. He asked if this was my first and I said yes and then he asked if I knew what the ultrasound screening was for. I knew it was for genetic issues, as my OB had told me. He then proceeded to brashly tell me that they found a pocket of fluid behind my baby’s neck, which signaled something wrong. They called it a Cystic Hygroma. Naturally I was devastated, especially since the doctor was not very friendly and seemed to care less that this was my first baby. They then sent in a genetics counselor and we were taken into a separate room to talk about options; I could either have my blood drawn to test for genetic issues, or do a CVS test and get results in two days. Despite the risk of miscarriage, I opted for the CVS test to get my results faster.
Fast forward two days (after constant worrying and hardly any sleep), we received the call that everything was okay! Yay! No genetic problems! I asked what else the fluid could mean and she said the next thing they would look for is a heart defect. When baby got a little bigger, I would be monitored via ultrasound to check baby’s heart. I was also told that sometimes these Hygromas resolve themselves, and we find no explanation why. I was a tad bit relieved after that. Little did I know how naive I actually was.
During the waiting period for my next ultrasound, we had our gender reveal party, as the CVS test let us know what the sex was, a boy! We were beyond excited. Later that month, Christmas Eve to be exact, we were scheduled for another ultrasound. The doctor did the best he could checking our boy’s heart at just 18 weeks and didn’t find anything except that he now had a little fluid around his heart and a tiny bit in his lungs. We asked so many times what this meant and they just kept telling us they had to keep looking at his heart, so we were scheduled for a fetal echocardiogram. Long story short, that doctor found nothing wrong with his heart, but they did schedule me for a followup ultrasound a month later just to be sure.
Before fast forwarding for the final time, let me just say that after each ultrasound, I found myself bursting into tears because this is not how I expected my first pregnancy to go. You expect to go in, get your cute little picture, and share the good news! While we still did this, we had to be on the side of caution because we didn’t have a normal pregnancy. Something was wrong with our little one and no one knew what. We held on to the fact that sometimes these issues just resolve and tried to be as optimistic as possible because my baby deserved it. He gave me the strength with every powerful kick and somersault he did in my tummy. Those are the moments I will never forget.
On to my final echo. It went by much faster than the first, but the doctor seemed much quieter than the first time. She didn’t find any heart problems, so I asked about the fluid and if it had decreased. She told me it was still in the heart and lungs, and now in the belly. She wouldn’t really answer my questions and told me I would need to discuss with my doctor. I had an appointment on Tuesday, so I ran through a list of questions I would be asking.
When Tuesday came, I received a call from my doctor at 9 a.m. asking if I could come in earlier than my 2 p.m. appointment because her superior wanted to look at my ultrasounds as well. My heart sank and I just felt something was wrong. My husband and I arrived there at around 11 a.m. The ultrasound technician did his normal thing and then sent my doctor in. She told me about the fluid in his belly, and that the Cystic Hygroma had turned into Hydrops. I had remembered reading about Hydrops when I consulted ‘Dr. Google’ about the CH and I knew that having both was not good. She started saying a bunch of other stuff, but I was pretty much out of it crying in my husband’s arms because of what I had read, all I heard from her was babies with this don’t have a good outcome and he could be stillborn.
I don’t think she knew how to handle me because she went and got her superior, who was also the doctor who did my CVS test. When she left the room and before the other one came in, I just remember crying, almost throwing up, and then feeling my baby boy kick me. Feeling him kick in that moment was just so beautiful, yet heartbreaking because it was like he had heard and was trying to get me to stop. So many thoughts ran through my head, My baby is going to die”, “Why did I get so attached?”, “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!” I hated my doctor for giving me this news. I hated her for telling me my son could die, INSIDE of me. I was able to compose myself by the time the other doctor came in, and he did give a little ray of hope to the situation. He told me I had to come in for weekly ultrasounds and they would try to prevent anything from happening to him in there.They would also monitor me, because I had too much amniotic fluid, known as polyhydramnios. I gained about 15 pounds in a month. I looked 9 months pregnant when I was only almost 7 months.
After I left the doctor that day, we tried coping with the news. We took a few days off work and just tried to be optimistic. Our doctors were doing everything they could. I continued to feel Jackson move. We had finally decided on a name not too long before this day. He had the habit of literally kicking me every time I was down. I felt like he was always telling me that it will be okay. I consulted the internet, joined support groups for moms with Hydrops babies, read survival stories and avoided the negative ones.
I don’t know for sure what day it started, but at some point during that week, I started to have horrible lower back pain. It got so bad that I ended up having to sleep sitting up on the couch. I had never been pregnant before, so I thought this was normal and because of the extra fluid I was carrying around. I waited until my appointment the following Tuesday to let my doctor know of my concerns. In the meantime before that, we had a NICU consult in case Jackson had to be taken early and were given really good statistics for our hospital’s NICU, in the case of babies with no other problems, the chances were good. We knew Jackson had other problems, but we still held on to the fact that the NICU was wonderful.
Back to my appointment, I expressed my concerns about the pain and my doctor agreed that it was because of the fluid. She did an amnioreduction. Somewhat of a funny sidenote- the doctor who we thought was a jerk at our first ultrasound ended up being the one assisting with the amnioreduction. We were not happy, but we let it go! They drained 3 liters of fluid that day and one thing I will not forget is watching Jackson trying to grab the needle on the ultrasound! He was such a little troublemaker already, I thought. I will always cherish memories like those.
After the amnioreduction, they monitored me to make sure I did not go into labor. I did have come cramping, but they said that was normal. I was sent home two hours later and told to come back if I experienced intense cramping or contractions that were really close together. I went home, took a nap since I had been sleep deprived the previous week because of the back pain! When I woke up, I felt “cramping” worse than anything I had felt before. I went to the bathroom and there was blood and a little bit of mucus when I peed. I told my husband something wasn’t right and we had to go back. We rushed our way back to L&D where I was admitted and hooked up to a monitor right away. The doctor who did the amnioreduction, the one we didn’t like, was on-call and came in to tell me they were going to check my cervix and as long as I was not dilating, I could go home.
His resident checked, and told me I was already 7-8 cm! I panicked because it was too early. I was only 28 weeks and they had told me he needed to be at least 35 to have the BEST chance! I was given a Magnesium drip to try to slow labor, and steroid shots to help his lungs. I had felt the contractions start to slow for a little while, and then they picked right back up. It was a very weird thing, and it felt as though Jackson just didn’t want to wait. When the contractions were slowing, I had sent Eric home to get my glasses and a bag because I didn’t know how long I would be there. Maybe about 20 minutes after that is when my contractions got worse and they checked me to tell me I was the full 10 cm!
There was no time for an epidural or pain medications. Eric wasn’t back yet and I needed him there, so I asked how long we could wait and they told me until I absolutely felt I needed to push. I called Eric to let him now to hurry. I maybe waited 5 minutes before I couldn’t wait anymore. They brought in the NICU team and about 3 doctors and a nurse for me. I started to push and my water gushed everywhere. The nurse I had was amazing and helped me through since Eric hadn’t made it back yet. With each push, I kept glancing at the door waiting for Eric and he finally made it! A few minutes later at 12:50 a.m. on February 25th, 2015, my baby boy made his arrival! He was 2 pounds, 6.8 ounces. Eric was able to cut the cord and I got a glance at him before falling back on the bed from exhaustion. He was whisked off to the NICU and we were left in our room just waiting, doing all the post delivery things. My nurse was able to give us updates, like when they put him on the breathing machine. After an hour, I was able to get up, wash up and change.
As I was in the bathroom, I remember the nurse coming into the room and I heard him tell Eric, “I’ll help her, you get to the NICU.” I washed off as best I could, put my new gown on and came out to the nurse with a wheelchair telling me we had to get to the NICU because “Baby’s not doin’ too good.” My heart sank and I just remember being pushed in the wheelchair like I was being pushed to my death. They wheeled me into the room and I just remember a team of nurses standing around my baby and one of them had a manual respirator. I know they told me what happened but all I remember is, “We were only using the respirator until you got here.” I didn’t cry. I don’t even think I blinked. They asked me if I wanted them to wrap him up for me and I said yes. Eric hadn’t made it yet, because I guess he got stopped by Jackson’s doctor who told him what happened. His heart stopped responding to the meds they were giving him.
They handed Jackson to me and that’s when I started crying. I think the nurses were trying to comfort me, but I don’t remember. I remember just looking at this beautiful boy even with the tubes sticking out of his nose and mouth. Eric finally made it and we just stared at our beautiful little boy. We were given a private room to be with him. We just held him and stared at him. He looked just like his daddy and had a full head of beautiful dark brown hair. I called my mom right away and one of my best friends, who had been there for me through every up and down of my pregnancy. They both came and shared him with us. We stayed just one extra day at the hospital and welcomed a few more close friends. I held him as much as I could, I sang to him when no one else was in the room, I apologized, and I thanked him for being such a fighter for me. I cherish that time the hospital gave me with him. They did not rush us, but we had to choose when to leave or else we would have stayed forever and it wouldn’t have been fair to him. He needed to rest peacefully. I could go on and on about that day, but my story has already been long enough.
Leaving the hospital the next day without him was so hard. It was almost like a walk of shame. You’re all red, puffy-eyed and carrying a box of your baby’s only belongings. People stare and are probably wondering why you’re there, but no one could possibly understand or know unless you had been there, which I would not wish upon anyone.
Later on at my follow-up appointments, we found that the “back pain” I had the week before was actual labor, because of the amniotic fluid pushing down on my uterus. We also found that they couldn’t find a reason for why Jackson had developed the Hydrops. There were no infections and there was nothing wrong with any part of development. It was just a “fluke” thing. Not only are we left with no baby, we’re left with no answers and are supposed to move forward with that.