Sunday, June 6, 2010

Life is Fragile

I've been absent moreso because I've been busy than anything else. But this past week, my cousin gave birth to her firstborn son, Owen. And everything since then has been a blur.

Last summer, we decided together that it would be fun to have children close together in age. As in, as close to the same birthday as possible. I got pregnant first, and then I shared my "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" book and sperm-friendly lubricant with her, and the next! It has been so much fun to go through this whole thing together. We were 5 weeks apart, but it was so exciting to think that our kids were going to be playmates and friends for life.

She had an uneventful pregnancy until the very end, when she found out her baby was breech. All along, they'd been having midwife care and were planning a home birth. Obviously, the midwife couldn't deliver a breech baby at home, so they sought out one of the only doctors in the state who would permit a breech vaginal birth. He did an ultrasound and attempted a version...then told her that she should show up at the hospital at 8cm and that they would allow her to attempt a vaginal birth at that time.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning. She waits too long in the birthing tub and they speed through a 39 minute drive to the hospital. She shows up fully dilated, and as she is wheeled into the OR, two feet emerge first. Bad. At that point, the clock starts. Owen's vitals degrade and it quickly becomes clear that the cord is wrapped around his neck twice and his head is far too big to make it through the birth canal. The Dr. had to reach in and physically pull him out, breaking his shoulder in the process. My poor cousin did this all med-free, so apparently it was excruciatingly painful.

We don't know what happened after he was born, aside from the fact that his brain had gone 9 minutes without oxygen. They rushed him to the NICU, and his brain began to swell so they put him on hypothermic treatments. They lower his body temperature and cool his brain for 72 hours in hopes of helping stop the brain injury and give it time to recover. He had to be on a respirator. He never cried. :(

It's now been 4 days. The first and 2nd day of the treatment, Drs told my cousin and her husband that Owen was brain dead. Yesterday, at the 72-hour mark, they removed the body cooler and brought his body back to body temperature. They switched ventilators, and he took a few breathes on his own. All his vitals have stabilized, he is pinking up, gaining weight, and having plenty of wet diapers. But they don't know if his brain has any activity. :(

They were able to hold him for the first time yesterday, and I guess when they started talking to him, he opened his eyes and followed their voices? So part of us hopes and prays for a miracle and that his cognitive functions have returned.... Miracles do happen, right?? It's just been so hard, because he was a perfectly healthy and perfect baby boy. He has loving parents. But the birth trauma just seems so unfair. I guess this is something I will never understand.

So if you can spare a few thoughts and prayers for a miracle, we could use them. I've been totally disraught and suffering from survivors' guilt. Why do I have the perfect, healthy baby boy when hers is suffering so much? How can we get together for holidays when Derek will constantly remind them of their lost son? I know I am jumping the gun, but I am being realistic so I don't get too heartbroken. I'm assuming tomorrow, after their neurologist meeting, they will decide if they should take him off the ventilator or not. Tomorrow may be a very bad day. :(

My boy is doing really well. We've had our second night of a 6 1/2 stretch of sleep, which is phenomenal. He doesn't sleep during the day, but it's okay because the nighttimes are looking great. He is smiling a lot now, and he loves to coo. I am enchanted. It took a while, but at 6 weeks, I cannot imagine life without him.

I'm signed up for a mock triathlon on June 27th....I am not cleared to exercise yet, but I have done some run/walking. Not so fabulous! Still waiting to swim -- not sure he will let me yet because the episiotomy still stings. I'm afraid to think of the bike.
Here are a few pics of the past month.


Amanda said...

Oh sweetie...I am so, so, so sorry. I am sorry you have to go through this and suffer the survivor's guilt. I hate this for you and your cousin. I will say all the prayers I can. It's not fair at all. Life isn't supposed to start out like that at all. I'm so sorry!!! HUGS to you, Derek, and your whole family!

BTW, he is adorable!!! Love his facial expression in the first one!!!

I can't believe you are already trying out for mock tri's. You are awesome. Hang in there, the exercise will come back to just takes time!

Leah said...

I am sending prayers. Life is so not fair sometimes.