Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Miscarriage October 8th, 2009
Cole Joseph June 11th, 2010-June 20th, 2010
Phoenix, AZ

I was never the type of woman that yearned to have children. I always thought that if I went through life not having a child that would be fine. I completely changed my mind when I met Chris. I don’t want to speak for him, but for me it was love at first sight. I knew after just a few dates that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. After dating for about a year and half, Chris proposed. About a year after that, we got married and bought a house together. I knew that I wanted to experience everything that life had to offer with this amazing man… especially having a child with him.

My husband and I are both very much planners. We decided that I would stop taking birth control in November of 2008 (I had been on the pill for 17 years), we would work really hard to pay off a few bills, and by June of 2009 we would start trying to get pregnant. Some of my friends told me that if I wanted to get pregnant quickly to try fertility monitoring sticks. I used them in June and July with no success. I was very disappointed because that method seemed to work so well for my friends. I think the whole process stressed me out by trying to decipher if the pink lines were the same to determine if I was ovulating or not. I decided to stop using the fertility monitoring sticks and to just stop thinking about getting pregnant. On October 3, 2009 (2 days after my 33rd birthday) I took a pregnancy test and it came up positive. I was crying tears of joy to the point that I couldn’t even speak. Chris had to go into work that day. As soon as he got to work, he called me and said that his head just wasn’t into work that day and he was leaving to come home to spend the day with me to celebrate our wonderful news. Unfortunately, our happiness didn’t last long. The very next day I started to bleed… a lot. I had a very bad feeling about it. I went to my OB the next day and she told me that I had miscarried. I was devastated, but at the same time I was so happy and felt so grateful to know that at least I could get pregnant.

My OB told me I had to wait to have one normal period before trying to get pregnant again. It didn’t take Chris and I very long this time either. We think that I got pregnant again on New Year’s Eve. Chris made chicken parmesan for me that night and we joke that eating his chicken parm will get you pregnant! We both were very apprehensive this time after finding out we were pregnant because of the previous miscarriage. I had my first ultrasound and was able to see my baby and hear the heartbeat at 3 weeks. During my last pregnancy, I didn’t experience any of that so already I was feeling more confident.

Aside from having minor nausea and feeling tired, I can honestly say that my pregnancy was flawless. All of my lab work came back normal, my ultrasounds and genetic testing results came back looking great. At our 18 week ultrasound, we found out we were having a boy. While pregnant, I really felt like it would be a girl but my husband was the one who knew all along. We already had a name picked out… Cole Joseph. We picked Cole just because we both really love that name and Joseph is my grandfather’s first name. My grandpa was so honored by this that he wrote us a poem. I had planned to have it framed so I could hang it in Cole’s nursery. That very next weekend, Chris and I did our baby registry. It took us about 2 ½ hours to complete and afterwards, we were both starved and decided to get some lunch. We pulled out of the parking lot and stopped behind a car at the next stoplight. About 5 seconds later we were rear ended by an SUV going about 35 mph which pushed us into the car in front of us. I didn’t have any cramping or bleeding at the time, but I was so scared that something happened to the baby. Since it was a Sunday, I went to a quick care to get checked, but they told me they couldn’t help me because they didn’t have a fetal monitor. I called my OB after that and talked to the doctor on call. I was told that if I wasn’t bleeding or cramping that they would see me the following day in the office. I went into their office on Monday to have lab work and to be placed on the fetal monitor. There were no signs that I was having a contraction and all of my labs came back normal. I was so relieved to hear that my baby was ok.

I had felt so unprepared to bring a baby home so on Memorial Day weekend, Chris and I painted Cole’s nursery and put all of his furniture together. I thought it was the most beautiful room ever. I would often go into the room and just sit in the rocking chair dreaming of the day that I would be nursing baby Cole in the very seat I was in.

June 11, 2010
I woke up that morning feeling like it was going to be just an ordinary Friday. I would work all day and then we would go to dinner with friends we had made plans with. I started to get ready for work. When I went to the restroom, I noticed a mucous discharge. I had always heard about a “mucous plug”, but I thought that was something that happened right before women had their babies. I didn’t understand why I had something like this, but I was only 24 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I called my doctor’s office and the doctor on call told me to go to the hospital to get looked at. My husband and I got in the car and went to the hospital thinking that we would be there for a few hours and then we would be on our way home. I so wish that is how our story went.

It was so early in my pregnancy that we hadn’t taken the tour of the hospital like most couples get to. We finally found L&D and I was immediately put into a triage room. One of the nurses examined me and said that she wasn’t quite sure what she was feeling, so she was going to send in another nurse. This went on and on and on. Over the next hour, I had about 8 people examine me to give their opinions. Apparently I was dilated to 5 cm and didn’t even know it. I really didn’t even start feeling contractions until I was at the hospital. I was then moved to a regular room and as soon as the door shut, the nurse proceeded to tell me that this room was going to be my home until I had my baby. I immediately burst into tears. As I said earlier, I am a planner. I had planned to use every minute of my maternity leave to care for baby Cole- not to be on bed rest in a hospital room. I was also sad thinking about going weeks without seeing my dogs, but my nurse said that my dogs could actually come and sleep with me which made me feel a little better. An IV was then started, a Foley catheter inserted, and Magnesium Sulfate was given to attempt to stop my contractions. My doctor gave me a dose of steroids to help the babies lungs develop. My bed was also positioned with my feet higher than my head in an attempt to push baby Cole back up. A Neonatologist came in to talk to me and my husband about the risks of delivering a 24 week old baby. I pretty much tuned out a lot of this conversation to be honest. I really felt like all of the risks he told us about would never happen to our baby. I really thought he would be fine. In fact, just 2 days earlier I had read in my Pregnancy Journal that my baby was finally viable. The doctor explained that at 25 weeks they are required to resuscitate a baby, but any earlier than that is when it becomes the parent’s decision. Without any hesitation, Chris and I both chose to resuscitate Cole. My OB had talked about keeping me pregnant as long as possible and she was hoping for a few weeks. The Neonatologist said that from what he has seen in the past, he thought I would deliver in the next 24 hours. My husband went down to the hospital cafeteria to grab something to eat while his mom sat with me. About 5 minutes after he left, I had a contraction and felt fluid come out of me. I asked my mother in law to call a nurse. The nurse and my OB came in and I heard the nurse say, “there’s a lot of blood”. They did another ultrasound, but this time it showed Cole was breech. They immediately started prepping me for surgery. Apparently my placenta had ruptured. My nurses, doctor, and Chris were running with me in my stretcher towards the OR- it was just like in the movies. Chris had to change into scrubs in the stairwell. When I was first wheeled into the OR, I saw about 30 people in the room frantically getting ready for the surgery. I work in surgery, so this typically wouldn’t phase me at all, but it is a lot different being on the other side. It took the anesthesiologist less than one minute to do my spinal and minutes later I was having surgery. Cole Joseph came into the world at 12:04pm on June 11, 2010 weighing 1 pound 9 oz. and he was 12 ½ inches long. My husband was able to see our baby when my OB pulled him out, but all I ever saw was the top of his tiny head as the doctors worked to keep him alive.

I was then taken to my room where I would stay until I was discharged from the hospital 4 days later. That was such a depressing room. Normal pregnant women give birth to their full term babies in these rooms and when the babies are delivered they are put into the hospital bassinets that are in the rooms. I remember before I went into surgery that the bassinet was in my room and when I came back from the OR, the bassinet was gone. I guess they figured I wouldn’t need it.

We had many visitors that day- my mother and father in law, my manager and another co-worker, and many of our friends stopped by. Chris took some of the visitors to see Cole in the NICU. I just remember their expressions when coming back to my room. They all asked if I had seen Cole yet, and when I said no I could see the worry on their faces. I couldn’t go to the NICU to see Cole that first day because my legs were still numb from the spinal and when the numbness wore off, I was vomiting from the Morphine they gave me.

June 12, 2010
I woke up early with so much excitement about seeing my son for the first time. When Chris wheeled me over to the side of Cole’s isolette, I just sobbed. He was truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He had my nose and eyes, and he had his Daddy’s mouth and feet. I was able to touch his hand and my Cole just wrapped his hand around my finger. It was the best feeling in the world.

June 13, 2010
Today was Cole’s second day on Earth and the Neonatologist gave us some very devastating news. We were told that Cole had a grade 3 brain bleed, but that it was just on one side.

June 16, 2010
Cole would be having his first surgery today to fix a duct on the outside of his heart that didn’t close called a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus). He did very well during the surgery and the doctors assured us that this is very routine. They felt this surgery would help immensely with Cole’s blood pressure issues.

June 17, 2010
We learned that his brain bleed had progressed to a grade 4, but that it was still unilateral. They also told us that he was developing Hydrocephalus. Because of the bleed in the right ventricle in his brain, the cerebral spinal fluid was not draining like it should and this caused “water on the brain”. The doctor said that they could implant a reservoir in his scalp that would help drain the CSF.

June 18, 2010
Cole had his second surgery on his 7th day of life. He did really well during this surgery too- his dad and I were both so proud of our little guy.

June 19, 2010
Day 8 went very well. They were able to wean him from 1 of the 2 blood pressure medications he was on. A head ultrasound was also done and showed that some of the clot in the right ventricle had cleared and the left ventricle was smaller due to the reservoir.

June 20, 2010
Today was my husband’s first official Father’s Day. The NICU staff had taken prints of Cole’s feet for me. I got a card for Chris from his sweet son and put the prints in the card.

When I arrived at the NICU, I saw that he was back on both blood pressure medications again. The nurse also said that he wasn’t peeing as much as he should be. I was able to read Cole his first book today called “The Very Quiet Cricket”. I cried the whole time because I just knew that this would be the first and last book that I ever read to him.

The Neonatologist scheduled a meeting with my husband and I that day at 2pm. He told us that Cole’s kidneys were not working and his blood pressure was still too low. They said with his grade 4 brain bleed, hydrocephalus which required a reservoir, blood pressure issues, and kidney failure that his prognosis looked very grim. They had told us before, but emphasized this time that with just a level 4 brain bleed he had a 95% chance of having some form of CP. That percentage increases and the severity of CP increases with hydrocephaly. Then the percentage increases again when you have to place a reservoir. Then it increases again with his blood pressure problems, and again with his kidney failure. This was the most devastating news for Chris and me.

During Cole’s life, my husband and I both prayed like we have never prayed before. We both fell in love with little Cole the second we laid eyes on him and just couldn’t imagine our lives without him. We also couldn’t imagine having our son possibly in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, possibly not being able to feed himself, go to the restroom, or live independently knowing that we made that choice for him. We were facing the most difficult decision of our lives. We met with the Chaplain in the hospital because we both had so many questions. Our biggest question was if God would be mad at us if we chose to discontinue support. The Chaplain explained it to us this way: If it was completely up to God to save Cole and we took him off the ventilator, or even if we had never put him on the ventilator, would Cole live? The answer is no. With medicine today, doctors can keep babies alive through pretty much anything if you want them to. It is up to the parents to make that decision to decide what they can handle. Cole taught Chris and I so much in his 9 days of life. He taught us that we both need to have a closer relationship to God, we need to appreciate every day that we have on this Earth, to never take people for granted… and so much more. I could go on and on. Another thing that I either learned from him, or maybe I just changed my mind on the subject going through what I had with Cole is that I am no longer afraid to die. I had always been so terrified at the thought of dying, but as soon as I saw my beautiful baby on June 11, 2010 I would have given my life in a second to save him. The thought of being with him in Heaven also calms my fears. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t want to die right now, but I will be ready to see my baby when the time comes. Cole is truly in a more peaceful place than any of us are today.

The staff in the NICU were all so amazing. They wrapped Cole in a beautiful blue and white blanket and let us hold him until we were ready to end his suffering. As my wonderful husband wrote on our blog:

Cole was born on June 11, 2010 at 12:04pm. We are very sorry to say that our baby Cole returned to Heaven on June 20, 2010 at 10:30pm. He was not alone. Cole was warm and comfortable in his mother’s arms when he passed, with his dad at their side. He was here physically for only 9 days, but he will live in our hearts forever. Although, these last 9 days have been tough we are forever blessed to have known Cole. Our beautiful, brave, miracle of a son will always be our hero. Heaven is truly a better place now with him there.

We are still battling many emotions. One of the things that I am angry about is that most women have live babies in their cribs, while my son’s urn is sitting in my crib. While sitting here writing Cole’s story, I don’t have a crying baby to tend to… part of my baby’s remains are in a charm hanging from the necklace that I am wearing. If I want to kiss my baby goodnight, I have to go and kiss a metal urn.

It also hurts immensely to see pregnant women knowing that I am supposed to be pregnant right now. It also hurts to see a child being mistreated or ignored- I know I would have never treated my Cole that way. Two weeks after we lost Cole, a couple that we are friends with invited us to a pool party. Not really feeling up to going to a pool party just yet, my husband had to work that day so I used that as an excuse not to go. They called us the next day and asked that Chris put me on speakerphone because they had news for us. We looked at each other in complete horror because we both knew what they were about to say… they were pregnant. We are very happy that our friends are expecting- they are going to be wonderful parents. I just think it was a little too soon to announce this to us. I am so thankful that we didn’t go to their pool party where they announced their news to everyone because I can just imagine falling apart in front of everyone. I really think that an email would have been the way to go in this situation to tell us their news. These are just some of the feelings that we have had lately. We are not completely negative people, but we are human and we are angry sometimes about what happened.

I am not mad at God for what has happened. I do not feel like he did this to me. Some people would say that it was in His plan, but I just think it was something that happened. My doctor said that maybe it was that car accident I had 5 weeks prior, maybe I was dehydrated, maybe I have an Incompetent Cervix, or maybe even a blood clotting disorder. So I don’t think that God planned this, but I think that once baby Cole was born into this world, he knew that Cole was too young and too sick to survive so God took Cole back as an angel in Heaven. God did make sure that while Cole was on Earth, he did have a purpose and that was to teach us all what we have learned. I am forever grateful that I was chosen to be Cole’s mom and am so proud to call him my son.
You can contact Brandy at brandyleethorp@hotmail.com


Anonymous said...

Brandy, your story really touched me. I am so so sorry for your loss.
I wish you and your husband peace.

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