Friday, September 08, 2006

Christopher's Story ~ Part One

It was a trouble free pregnancy. I continued my regular regime of jogging, walking and even took a water aerobics class. After it was all said and done, I got my fair share of "I told you so's" and "you should've taken it easy's" ... but I never thought my baby would die.

It was August 24, 2002 when I rushed to labor and delivery. I had been experiencing contractions and saw a bit of blood in my underwear. I felt panicked and my heart beat outside my chest. What is happening? I wondered to myself. Finally, I headed to a quiet, uncomfortable room to undress and wait. and wait. and wait. During the exam the intern abruptly stands and rushes into the hall. I hear her whisper that she felt the baby's head!

I was flipping out at that point. I interrupted their hallway conference to demand information. I was 23 weeks pregnant and didn't have a clue as to what would happen, why it was happening or anything. I didn't even know what to expect from labor because I hadn't taken my birthing classes yet. The doctor came in, examined me herself then presented a plan.

I was 3 cm dilated and the amniotic sac was bulging through my cervix. They would immediately put me in the Trendelenberg position (the head-down position), start an IV full of magnesium sulfate. Hopefully this combination would halt labor.

Once the drugs kicked in, I ventured into a world were my vision was blurred, speech slurred and my thoughts were in a fog. I could barely lift my arms or head, gravity was doing its job of keeping the baby's weight off of my cervix, but that meant my organs were weighing on my throat making it impossible to swallow or breathe. The drugs burned like a shot of hard liquor but I was determined to deal with it all if it would save my son.

A pediatrician told me Christopher would have only a 30 percent chance of survival if he were born at 23 weeks. Five days later his chances increased to 50 percent. Doctors would examine his little head for internal bleeding and his tummy and lungs for development problems. I held on to the belief that he would be okay. I couldn't imagine a life without him.

I loved Christopher more than I loved breathing. That's a lot of love. Love couldn't stop me from wanting ~ from needing ~ this agonizing season of torment to end. Lying with my head pointing towards the floor, struggling for breath, 5 days of pain-killer free labor, worrying about Christopher, my husband and my own health ... I couldn't take it anymore. God heard my cry, because Christopher was born soon after.

Christopher was born with a silent cry. He flailed his little pink arms and wrinkled his tiny face. He only weighed one pound, but my heart swelled with joy. I was a mother!
The neonatal intensive care unit staff rushed to put in a breathing tube before whisking my little man off to the NICU. That was his home for the next 10 days.

During this time he endured multiple blood transfusions, pokes, prods and other life-saving measures. One day he would be pink and vibrant, the next day his heart rate would drop into the danger zone. One moment he'd be ready to move from under the warming lamp, the next the medical staff was enclosing him in a protective tent. Ups followed by downs. The tension was unreal.

The pediatrician visited us with the latest news: Christopher had a grade 4 brain bleed which was the worst you could have. He'd be a quadriplegic, have cerebral palsy, breathing problems, severe learning disabilities, retardation and the list went on and on. He asked what we wanted to do.

The prognosis seemed grim, but I wanted to do all I could for my baby. I couldn't just "terminate"! I begged God for a miracle.

As I watched Christopher slowly decline, my mind learned what my heart could never accept: my son would die. Would it be prolonged by medicine or would I allow him to escape the pain of this world?

My husband and I went to the Lord in prayer. We begged for Christopher to just open his eyes and see his mommy and daddy. We needed to know that Christopher knew we loved him and most of all, we needed to know that God heard our prayers.

That day, Christopher opened his eyes and grabbed my finger ... he had grown so weak, he was agitated and my tender touch no longer comforted him. As my husband and I took turns holding him and parenting him, we knew it was time to say goodbye.

The skin on Christopher's tiny body had begun to break down, his breathing had slowed and tiny seizures wracked his little frame. His digestive system was failing and as he looked at me, I knew that prolonging this struggle with death was about us ~ not him. We didn't know how to let him go! We couldn't do it and didn't want to feel like we gave up on our son ... but love gave us the strength to hand him over to the Lord. That was the most agonizingly miserable choice I've ever made.

I helped the doctor disconnect the breathing tube and cut the life lines taped to his body. I snuggled Christopher in warm blankets and my husband and I carried him to an empty room.

Two rattled breaths later, Christopher was gone. He left this world listening to the very sounds that welcomed him 6 months earlier ~ my heartbeat.

This is when true agony began …

(Stay tuned for part 2 of this journey)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When are you posting part 2 of this story? Just curious