I wrote the birth story below at a time when I was very angry. It was all still so fresh, and I didn’t understand how this was happening to me. I wrote it even before I started this blog. I wrote this approximately two weeks after he died at the suggestion of a friend.
I have decided Xavier needs another birth story. A gentler one. One that tells of his short life in words of love and remembrance, not anger. I am keeping the original here though, as a reminder of my grief, sadness and trauma. I thought I would start with the week leading up to his birth.
Sunday October 3, 2010
My family threw me a baby shower. I was 36 weeks pregnant. To date, I have never looked at the pictures.
I had some swelling that day, and I was exhausted, tired and hot. My back hurt, my wrist hurt, I had terrible heartburn, I was a pregnant mess, but I was so so close to the end.
Wednesday October 6, 2010
9:00am appointment with Dr. P. I peed in a cup, G the receptionist noted that I had elevated protein in my urine. When Dr. P came in, she checked my BP 132/79 and the baby’s heart rate was great at 144.
I expressed my discomfort with her. I told her my head hurt, and that it felt like gingerale on my brain.
She told me not to worry, that it was just the late stages of pregnancy. She told me to watch for headaches, reduced fetal movement, a really bad pain a the top of my fundus and a general feeling of yuckiness.
I retorted kind of tartly “Like I am feeling right now?”
I left the office. It was the last time I would ever step foot there.
I went to Toys R’ Us to pick up the stroller D and I had picked out. We had received generous contributions for a stroller from our families.
Friday October 8, 2010
I was having a Sweedish meatball craving so we went to Ikea for dinner. While we were sitting in the parking lot. I googled pre-eclampsia on my Blackberry. I began reading the symptoms to my beloved. I looked over at him in the drivers seat, pointed to my phone and said “I think I have this…seriously!”
He asked me “What did your doctor tell you?”
“She said I was fine.” I looked him in the eyes, concern written all over my face.
“Then you are fine!” My beloved told me.
I waddled up to the restaurant and had my meatballs.
Saturday October 9, 2010
Baby was bumping around. He was tossing and turning and kicking up a storm. D.Jr. watched the show from the outside and he was so AMAZED! He asked me what it felt like from the inside, I remember I couldn’t answer him.
We went to my MIL’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. On our way home we witnessed a near accident. The driver in front of us went to change lanes and almost hit a car, in an attempt to go back into his lane, he over steered and ran across 3 lanes of traffic, hit the guard rail, came back into our lane and spun in the opposite direction. All this at 120 km/h
My adrenaline was pumping and baby started kicking me extra hard. When we got home, I didn’t really feel him move, but I figured that he was coming down off of the shared adrenaline rush.
I woke up in the middle of the night for my obligatory pee break, and noticed he was quiet.
Sunday October 10, 2010
When I woke up I knew there was something wrong. He wasn’t giving me my normal morning kick.
I had a Graco Prenatal Listener but I had NEVER found his heart beat with it. I asked D that morning to try and find his heart beat because I was becoming concerned.
We were supposed to go to my Dad’s house for twelve, but we were behind schedule because I was lying down trying to coax the baby to move.
We were finally out the door, ignoring the fact that he still wasn’t moving. I thought I felt him give me a couple of nudges, but nothing solid.
Going through the Tim Horton’s drive thru, I said to my beloved, I am worried. He asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, I said yes. Here is one of the biggest “what if’s” I have every day. He asked if we could pick up my sister, go to my Dad’s house in Ajax, and if there was an emergency, my Dad lived next to the hospital, we could just go there.
When we got to my Dad’s house, he asked D to take him on an errand as he doesn’t drive and needed a lift.
While they were gone, I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, there was an imperceptible (unless you were looking as I was) smear of blood on the tp.
I came out of the bathroom, looked at my sister and told her I was going to the hospital ASAP.
When D came through the door, I was standing in the hall wall, looked at him and said don’t take off your shoes, I want to go to the hospital. Now.
I started cramping on the two minute drive there. D got me a wheel chair and pushed me into L&D through emergency.
I began feeling scared. D looked pissed off at me…I am ever the hypochondriac, and I am sure he felt I was ruining Thanksgiving.
I told the nurses this mas not “my” hospital, and that I wasn’t sure what was wrong.
I can’t remember if I told them about the decreased fetal movement, but I began contracting as we entered the delivery room. The nurse grabbed my belly and said “yup” that’s a contraction. I looked at my beloved and and he just looked confused.
They asked me to take of my pants and underpants and put on a stocking to hold the fetal monitor on my belly.
As I was taking off my pants and underpants, D was holding me by the hand and steadying me. He was trying to help me get the compression stocking on, I looked over my shoulder at the nurse and told her I was feeling dizzy.
They immediately moved me to the bed. D said he’d be back, he had parked in the emergency loop and needed to move our mini van.
My nurse got out the doppler to listen to the baby’s heart. As she put it on my belly I squeezed my eyes tight and waited. There was nothing. She moved it, I looked up at her and begged her to find it. I just kept saying please please please please please. Part prayer, part plea. She finally told me she found it! I leaned back in the bed.
The next I remember is trying to take an oxygen mask off my face.
The nurse was shouting at me that I had had a seizure, and that I was going to have an emergency c-section. I couldn’t speak. I was scared and I was confused. I looked up at D, he had just come back in from moving the car. The nurses reiterated to him what the just told me. D looked terrified.
They wheeled me down a hallway. They were telling me that I had pre-eclampsia. They told me they would try and save my baby. I can honestly tell you at this point I felt nothing. I went into an emotional lock down. No tears, no words, no nothing.
I was asked to sit up so they could administer the spinal. The anesthesiologist did it quickly and without any problem. There was some conversation about where the OB was, and what street she was on and how many minutes away she was.
I was laid down and a flurry of activity began. Some one grabbed my hand and squeezed ultrasound goo on my hand and took off my wedding ring. I remember she laughed and said “oops, we almost forgot this!” I didn’t even ask where it was going to go.
I looked up at the anesthesiologist and asked him to be careful if he had to intubate, that I had a porcelain tooth and it would be expensive to replace. He looked and me with a puzzled look on his face and said “hmmm??” Either I garbled my words or he’s never watched House.
Looking back, at this point I mentally checked out. I don’t know if I thought everything would be OK, but I had so far removed myself from the situation that I wasn’t even involved. He was either alive or dead and I would find out soon enough.
The OB arrived and introduced herself to me. She then introduced me to the pediatrician that would look after my baby after he was born.
The blue screen went up, and I looked up at the operating room lights. I then felt her tear into my belly with the scalpel. Trying to explain this feeling is impossible. Words like hot, searing, ripping pain is as good as I can describe. The spinal hadn’t taken effect yet and I felt her cut me open. I screamed. I screamed. I screamed. Dr. E.T. poked her face over the curtain and told me “You aren’t frozen yet, may I continue?” I said yes. I looked up at the anesthesiologist and said “I am going to pass out again.” And I did.
I remember coming around 2 or3 times and each time asking him “Is he breathing?” He was very evasive, and even in my near death state I could tell he was lying.
When I finally woke up, D was standing in such a way that I could see him with my head laying down on the gurney. He stood there in the yellow operating robe. I will never forget thinking that he looked pissed off. I will also never forget what he asked me. “Do you know what happened?”
I had no answer for that, so I just asked him “Is he breathing?” He explained that it took them eight minutes to start his heart. That he was on a ventilator and he would most likely need to be transferred to another hospital. D also told me that the doctor had ordered an immediate cooling of his body. I closed my eyes and told D that was good.
That was all the time we had to talk, I was being transferred to the ICU. I never saw Xavier, until much later in the night, right before he was transferred to Sick Kids.
There was another flurry of activity. My dad, sister and the boys had arrived in a cab. D was asking me where he should go. I told him to stay with the baby.
I was still so out of it. Everything that was happening couldn’t be real. My belly hurt, my baby was no longer with me and at that point we had no idea what the impact of the abruption and eclampsia would be on our baby.
I arrived at the hospital 3:15pm, Xavier was born at 4:08pm and we were both so very sick.
I begged my sister to go down stairs and take pictures with he phone and send them to me. I wanted to see him so badly!
An hour later I got an email from her:
I received this picture. I clung to it for dear life. He was beautiful, handsome, amazing. How could anything be wrong with him? Look how pink he is in the picture. I told myself he was just having problems breathing, and when he got better, he’d be fine.
I showed the image off to all the ICU nurses that came into give me care.
D took the boys home, and waited for the call that Xavier would be transferred to Sick Kids. He would meet them there. I on the other hand was sweaty and itching like nothing I had ever experienced before.
My mom finally arrived at the hospital. She assured me Xavier looked amazing and she was sure he would pull through.
The Sick Kids team arrived and assessed Xavier. They brought him up to me in this GIANT isolet. He was hooked up to a bunch of things. They brought him around my hospital bed and opened a little hole. I stuck my hand in and rubbed his little thigh (It was so sweet and so soft). His leg began to shake. The Sick Kids Doctor explained that this was one of the things they were worried about. That Xavier had “unnatural movements”.
I listened, but I guess I wasn’t fully understanding what was being said. I assumed modern medicine could fix anything. I saw him, he was alive. All he needed was a little tinkering at Sick Kids and he be right as rain. My son was strong, and God wouldn’t allow us to suffer that kind of loss.
They took him away. I stared at that picture most of the night. Praying to God that he would be okay, that HE would see him to safety. I would text D for any updates (I got none, there was none to give), pray, scratch my legs, nod off and look at that picture.
A nurse came in and I stupidly told her I wanted to breast feed, so could they send up a pump.
Somewhere close to midnight, my cousin and aunt showed up. My cousin asked if I wanted her to go and sit with D at Sick Kids. I told her yes, that D shouldn’t be alone.
The rest would be his life story, and I am not quite ready to write that down.
It hasn’t been long since we began this journey, but I feel it necessary to fill in some of the holes left in the big picture. Xavier passed away, and I’d like to share how.
Throughout my pregnancy, I had stellar blood pressure. Coming into my third trimester, my blood pressure began to rise. I was concerned, and expressed it to my OB. She said it was fine. Nothing to worry about.
Those who don’t know a typical OB appointment, it goes like this- pee on a stick to check for proteins in your urine. Have the baby’s heart rate checked with a doppler. Measure your belly. Check your blood pressure. Discuss any thing thats bothering you. Book your next appointment.
Fast forward to the beginning of October. Everything seemed to be wrong. Higher than normal blood pressure, swollen face, hands and feet, protein in my urine during my now weekly OB appointment. I felt uncomfortable and yucky. Up until October 6th I had gained 26 lbs. On my Oct 6th appointment, the secretary informed me that I gained 4 lbs in one week. A RED FLAG! But my Doctor told me everything was fine. Baby’s heart rate was fine.
So to recap on the 6th of October:
- I was retaining enough water to have put on 4lbs in 7 days
- Protein in my urine.
- Swollen hands, feet and face
- Pregnancy induced carpal tunnel
- General feeling of yuckiness
- High blood pressure
I was worried about pre-eclampsia.Dr. KP was NOT.
So I went home. I performed kick counts every day. Everything was OK, until Sunday morning 10.10.10.
I woke up feeling like something was wrong. There was no fetal movement. And then I felt a wee kick. We left for my dads house in Ajax to celebrate Thanksgiving. On the ride there I felt 2 more kicks, but I was also feeling cramping. Could it be today was the day? Maybe, but I wasn’t feeling excited like when my other two came. I was scared. Something was wrong.
We arrived at my dads, and I said I wanted to go to the hospital.
What happened next is part my own memory and part what the nurses and David have told me.
David got a wheel chair and rolled me into L&D. They brought me into a room. I hopped up onto the bed where they tried to find the baby’s heart beat on the monitor. David went to get the car and move it out of the Emergency loop.The nurse tried for 2-3 minutes with no luck. I have little recollection after this. From what I have been told I had a seizure, and the nurses immediately called for an emergency c-section.
Within 20 minutes I was prepped and waiting for the OB to arrive. When Dr. ET arrived there was still no fetal heart beat.
She immediately began the c-section. I wasn’t frozen yet. I am sure my screams could be heard in the next town.
She stopped and asked me if she could continue, that the baby was in distress and that she had to get him out. I agreed, and had another two seizures.
Xavier was born not breathing and it took the pediatric team 8 minutes to get his heart going. I was told this wasn’t so unusual, that 10 minutes is still in the normal range.
I was rushed to the ICU. I was suffering from the effects of pre-eclampsia. I would require a blood transfusion and many other medications to regulate my blood pressure.
Xavier was taken to Sick Kids and admitted to the NICU. He was assessed there over night by a team of doctors. David stayed with Xavier, watching him through the night. He suffered several seizures throughout the night, even on anti-seizure medication. In the morning David waited patiently for “rounds”. He was brought into a room with the Neonatal Doctor that had been assessing Xavier. The news was not good. I received a conference call at the Ajax hospital from David and this Doctor (I can’t remember her name) at Sick Kids.
Xavier had gone without oxygen for too long. He had no brain function. They offered him a life of mental retardation and wheel chairs. Our sweet, sweet baby would never learn and grow. Our decision was immediate. My heart aches as I write this. Not because I think we choose wrong, but because, for us, there was no other choice.
They told us Xavier would be low functioning. I couldn’t allow that life for him. We had to let him go. So David signed the papers. They told him Xavier would probably pass within the hour after the ventilator was removed.
His body was strong. They transported him back to Ajax and I finally had my baby in my arms. Xavier stayed with us for 13 1/2 hours after his ventilation was removed. He received last rites at Sick Kids, but I insisted he be baptized while he was with us all in the hospital. The priest also confirmed him.
We held him. We kissed him. We cuddled him. We listened to his heart slowly wind down. He never moved. His hands never clasped for my finger. His toes never wiggled when I rubbed his soles. I held him while he died.
There were 14 of us in my hospital room at 12:45 am on October 12. Surrounding him with all of our love. DJ, Max, David and I held him, and each one of our family kissed him good bye.
Sadness is not a fierce enough emotion to convey how I feel. How I felt. It feels like nothing I can explain. Guilt, anger & sadness balled into a lump in my heart. Even that sounds tame compared to how I feel.
Xavier died of a preventable disease called pre-eclampsia. There was a full placenal abruption, and he had no oxygen. My doctor did not listen to me when I said there was something wrong with my blood pressure during the last three weeks of my pregnancy.
Dr. KP almost killed 2 people that day. Our little Xavier has suffered the full extent of medical incompetentcy, and David, DJ, Max and I (and everyone that loved him and was waiting for his arrival) will be left with a pain and a hole in our hearts forever.
We will fight for him and for what is right.