Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mother to Mackenzie
July 8th, 2010 - August 3rd, 2010
San Antonio, Texas
I grieve daily not only for the loss of my child but also for the loss of my pregnancy. I’m getting ahead of myself. I should really start at the beginning but I’m not exactly sure where that is. I met my husband in September 2006. We both figured it wouldn’t last long; maybe a couple of dates. After two years of being together, sometimes on and off, we decided to get married. November 1, 2008 was all I had ever dreamed of. I moved in with him shortly after. Everything was perfect.

We had discussed children before but it really wasn’t the first thing on our minds. I was still in school and we moved to Texas a few months later. We were going to wait a few years. We thought we had time. When the months had turned to years, the thought of infertility began to cross our minds. We had dated for two years and now had been married for several months. I had never gotten pregnant. I often found myself in tears terrified I would never have a child of my own.

All that changed on February 6, 2010. I had been very sick for the previous two months. I attributed it all to the flu as I tend to get sick easily. I even wrote off skipping two months to stress and my highly irregular cycle. I was still convinced I couldn’t get pregnant. However, when I was late for the third month in a row, I knew something wasn’t right. So I woke up early that February morning and finally took a pregnancy test. There it was; clear as day. I was pregnant.
I could barely contain myself. At 5:30, I couldn’t wait any longer. I told my poor sleepy husband just as he was waking up for work. I was thrilled that he was just as excited. He had just started a new job. I was worried about the stress a pregnancy would add. He took me to the clinic at school to confirm as I didn’t have a doctor. We spent the next few days setting up an appointment with an OBGYN and calling all of our family to let them know the good news. My first appointment was scheduled for February 18th.
I’ll never forget that first appointment and the first time I saw my baby on the ultrasound machine. There she was; nice strong heartbeat and all. They said I was already thirteen weeks and would meet her the second week of August. A few months passed and it was time for the twenty week anatomy scan. Everything looked good. She was measuring right on track. My husband wanted our first to be a boy but I knew all along I was carrying a little princess. I would later learn that things aren’t always as rosy as they seem. The weeks continued on uneventfully. I continued to see the doctor. We had not one, but two, baby showers. We had started our childbirth classes. We were patiently waiting for her August 9th due date.
Mackenzie just wasn’t as patient. At 4:30 AM on July 8th my contractions began. I never had much for Braxton-Hicks so I figured that was all they were. I tried everything but they wouldn’t go away. When my water broke an hour later, I woke up my husband and told him to get me to the hospital right away. On the way, the contractions only got stronger and closer together. I couldn’t walk once we reached the hospital. I was checked in and told to go the bathroom to change. It took me an eternity because the contractions were so strong I had to get on all fours to brace myself. I crawled back on the bed to be checked. At this point, my husband was in denial thinking they’d send me home soon. I was already dilated to a 5. He finally realized I was giving birth that day.
I was moved into a labor and delivery room and my husband called his sister. My mom was supposed to be there but Mackenzie couldn’t wait. His sister came right over just after 7. She had just finished the night shift at a hospital down the street. As my labor progressed, I was put on oxygen. They said I asked for medication. I was so out of it that I swear I blacked out for a minute. Shortly after 8:30, I was checked a final time. I was fully dilated and ready to push. At 9:32 AM, Mackenzie Rose O’Malley graced us with her presence. She was beautiful and looked just like her daddy. At only 5 pounds 5 ounces and 18 ¾ inches long, she was tiny but perfect.
However, something wasn’t right. They took her to the side to check her out but she wasn’t placed back on my chest. I still didn’t fully understand what was happening. I felt myself start to panic. They my tiny baby’s heart had a murmur. She was taken for more testing. We all held our breath in fear and shock. My husband and I wondered how this could be. My pregnancy had gone so well. Her heartbeat was always strong. A little while later, she was admitted to the NICU and I was taken to a recovery room.
I couldn’t believe my baby was sick. It couldn’t happen to me. Only moms of multiples and women who had severe preterm labor had to sit with their babies in the NICU; not me. Later on the next day, they had her diagnosis. She was born with pulmonary atresia. Her heart had not formed properly. The right side was too small and blood could not get to her lungs. The pulmonary artery was too narrow and sealed shut. She needed medication to keep an alternate path for blood flow open. My little girl would need open heart surgery.
We visited her often especially the first few days until I was discharged. Her first week was definitely her best. Despite the machines and her pain, she was bright and bubbly; just full of life. She had a whole lot of personality for a newborn. There wasn’t any other baby quite like her.
On July 20th, Mackenzie had open heart surgery at only 12 days old. It was extremely scary. Family gathered with us at the hospital. Surgery went well but my husband and I stayed the first night at the hospital along with my mom. She was transferred to the PICU after her surgery. We had a private room there with a monkey and a princess painted on the glass door.
The next two weeks we took one day at a time. She showed signs of improvement and there was even talk of her returning to the NICU. It was the first step to braining her home. My husband even returned to work she was doing so well. I continued to spend my days at the hospital with her.
On Monday August 2nd, she took a turn for the worse. She had gas building up in her system. It was caused by an intestine infection. The doctors told us it could be fatal. They operated and removed a little over two inches of dead tissue. She was getting better overnight. We had hope.
For some unknown reason, my mom had been convinced that she and her best friend needed to fly back to Texas after the surgery. Little did she know that Mackenzie was slipping away on that day; my mother’s birthday. That afternoon, Mackenzie’s stats started slowly going down. It would just be another dip in the roller coaster of her life. I left around 6 to pick up my mom and her friend at the airport. Their bags were late to arrive; lost yet again. We debated waiting since it would be only fifteen minutes. My mom said no and we headed to the hospital. Fifteen minutes longer would have been too late.

My husband called on our way back. He said we needed to hurry. She really was n0t doing well.
When I got to her room, they were already bagging her. Her heart rate was all over the place. I looked at the clock. 7:15 PM. I ran out of the room only to come back and run out again. It hurt too much to watch my daughter suffer. I saw the pain in my husband’s eyes and wished for a way to end it. They say she died at 7:21. My husband watched her flat line. I just sat in the hallway sobbing.
Those first few days afterwards were the hardest of my life. Like I said before, I mourn not only my daughter but also my pregnancy. She was born five weeks early and died many years too soon. In fact, she passed six days before her due date. I lost her before she was even supposed to be born.
My sister-in-law was there for Mackenzie’s entrance and my mom was there for her departure. I will be entirely thankful to both for the rest of my life. At Mackenzie’s funeral, I made sure to let them know. Losing her has renewed my faith in something greater than myself. I’m ready for more children; her younger siblings. For now, I know it will be OK. We have our very own guardian angel watching over us.
Megan can be contacted at prolific_destruction@yahoo.com


Megan Ward (Oklahoma Wifey) said...

Okay darling. That made me cry. :(
I love you
& I'm so sorry that this has happened to you & your family. I can not even begin to know of your pain & loss :(


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