Monday, October 11, 2010

Mom to Michael Christian Church
June 25th, 2009 
12:28 p.m. - 1:09 p.m.
Lake Whitney, Texas

Michael Christian's story began long before he was ever born. His daddy, Michael Chad, and I married in February 2005 after knowing each other for about 6 years. After almost 4 years of marriage we found out we were going to have a baby. We actually conceived on my birthday, November 8, 2008. Michael was the best birthday present I've ever received. Chad and I were both so excited! When we found out we were having a baby, we both knew we wanted to have everything as natural as possible and that included doing a water birth. I did my research and found an AMAZING birthing center in Cleburne, TX called Edenway Birthing Center. Our midwives, Venessa Giron and Melody Morrow, were more than we could have ever asked for. They gave Michael and I the best care possible. (Thank you, ladies. I will love you forever for what you have done for my family!) Chad LOVED me being pregnant. I would catch him staring at me all the time. He was always telling people how beautiful his wife was carrying his child even if I felt like a cow! I gained a total of 45 pounds while pregnant. (we found out later that most of it was excess fluids)

Everything was always perfect with our check-ups. I felt really good through the entire pregnancy. I never had any swelling. (I attributed that to me drinking about 80 ounces of water a day) All my blood work was great. I ate all natural, organic food and took organic prenatals. I walked almost everyday. I honestly enjoyed being pregnant. I looked so forward to going through the natural birthing process, meeting my baby, and giving him the best nutrition possible through breast feeding. Chad had told me when we first got married that if we ever had a baby he wanted to keep the gender a surprise until it was born. Even though it was tough for me not to find out, I respected his wish and that's what we did. (looking back, that was just another one of God's blessings; I'll explain how later)

At our 32 week check up my midwifes were baffled by my rapid weight gain. It seemed like all I ate was salads, natural this and organic that but I still would gain twice what I was suppose to. So, they broke out 2 doppler monitors. They got 2 strong heartbeats in 2 different spots, but none of us were positive that it wasn't an echo of the same heartbeat or if it was twins. Chad told me when they brought up the idea of twins that he felt like he put on 10 years in 10 seconds. I have to admit that I was freaked out myself. When we left that day all of us were pretty sure there was just one baby in there. My midwives wanted me to come back a week later because the baby had flipped and had become breech. They wanted me to come back to check on his position. They said the sooner he went head down, the better. When we went back the next week, I had gained even more weight despite my rabbit food diet. They suggested I go in for a sonogram just to be sure. Chad was very reluctant to do that, but he knew I wanted it for my own peace of mind. Melody called the diagnostic center and to all of our surprise, they told us to come on over. (She said that never happens. Usually it takes a day or two for them to fit you in)

We arrive at the diagnostic center, filled out paper work, and waited. The girl called me over to the window and (since we were paying cash for EVERYTHING associated with our pregnancy) she told me it would be $200 for the sonogram. My midwives had just told us it would only be $150, so I got them on the phone with the girl behind the desk. As they haggled over the price, Chad sat in a chair and prayed that if we are suppose to get this sonogram (which he did not want to get) and if it's God's will, the price would be cheaper. The girl called me over and said $150 and we can get you back there for your sonogram in a few minutes. We paid them and waited some more. While we were waiting we were pretty much forced to watch the lobby's tv. The program that was on was that show called "Little People, Big World." They were visiting kiddos with forms of skeletal dysplasia. (dwarfism) I sat there watching thinking how sad it was for those kids and my heart hurt for them. Looking back, they are blessed to even be alive. When the lady started the sonogram, she was very friendly and was showing us what was what. As the sonogram went on, her demeanor changed. She wouldn't answer any of my questions telling me I had to wait on the radiologist's report and she quit showing us body parts. I took that at face value. No big deal. She gave us 3 pictures to take home, but they didn't look like my other friend's sonogram pictures. They weren't very good quality and we chalked that up to out dated machines or her not being very good at her job. We were only there to make sure there was just one baby in there. It NEVER crossed our minds that something could be wrong with our baby.

Two days later (at 33 weeks 6 days) we had a midwife appointment to check the baby's position and to get another prenatal chiropractic treatment. We waited for a while and then the chiropractor came downstairs. She gave me a very sorrowful smile and walked into the back room. I told Chad that it was weird and wondered why she didn't call me up for my treatment. Venessa and Melody called me upstairs and said they wanted to discuss the sonogram with me. I was still totally oblivious to my world getting ready to crash. As I walked up those stairs, it was the last time I felt 'normal.' Chad and I sat down and Venessa began to tell us that I had polyhydramnios which is too much amniotic fluid. I was sitting there listening to her and was thinking, 'too much fluid. That's no big deal. I'd rather have too much than not enough. Right?' Then, she dropped the bomb. She told me the sonogram found that the baby's torso measures normal at about 33 weeks, his head measured 39 weeks, and his legs measured 17 weeks. She said it looks like your baby has a form of dwarfism. The radiologist had on his report that it was most likely a form of dwarfism called 'Achondroplasia.' My midwives had printed out sheets of information on achondroplasia for me. Because I was just thrown into the 'high risk' category, they could no longer see me as a patient. I felt like all our plans, dreams, and hopes were just tossed away. I felt like I was being robbed. My midwives made it very clear that they were not just sending us on our way alone. They wanted to stick with us through the extremely tough times we were about to face. (they did stick with us through everything and I'm forever grateful to them for that) They had made me an appointment with a high risk OB, Dr. Brad Thigpen, in Fort Worth for the following Tuesday to have a level II sonogram to confirm the previous findings.

I could not comprehend that this was happening to us. I immediately called our good friend, Bridgette, for her to get the church praying for us. After letting our families know what was going on and crushing their hopes and dreams, I went to my computer and put google to the test. I stayed up for hours researching achondroplasia. (which is the most common form of dwarfism. They look different, but most of them live a long, relatively healthy life) I didn't want my baby to be a dwarf, but I knew I would love them just as much or maybe even more even if he was different. Chad and I kept the faith that maybe, just maybe, the sonogram machine was messed up. Or maybe the sonographer was new on the job and didn't know what she was doing. Or maybe the readings were off because we had our cell phones on during the sonogram. (I know it sounds silly, but we were still hoping.)

(34 weeks 3 days)Tuesday June 23, rolls around and it was time to see go see Dr. Thigpen. We had been given so much hope over the weekend from our brethren at church. We heard numerous stories of misdiagnoses and weird readings on sonograms that ended up not being right. We walked into his office with SO much faith it was bursting out of us. Chad actually told Dr. Thigpen that we were just there for him to confirm that nothing was wrong with the baby so we could continue treatment with our midwives and hopefully we'd never have to see him again after this visit. He started the sonogram and immediately told me the baby's arms were very short and his head was very large. He explained to me that their machine reads babies' heads up to 44 weeks and that my baby's head was measuring beyond the machine's capabilities. Then, he showed us a still picture of the chest. He showed us the baby's large (normal size) belly and then it took a sharp dive toward his chest. He outlined the heart with little dots to show us that there was absolutely no room in the chest cavity for the baby's lungs to function properly after they were born. The baby was alive because I was breathing for him. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, Dr. Thigpen explained to me that my baby had Thanatophoric Dysplasia and pretty much had a 0% chance of survival after birth. (TD is genetic not hereditary. It is caused by what is called a 'new mutation.' In other words, it just happens. There's no way to prevent it from happening.) Dr. Thigpen explained that the baby's head was so large and that I needed to deliver as soon as possible. My midwives had come with me for support and they discussed with him the option of still having a vaginal birth. He was very honest in telling me that he would prefer I deliver that way because he would hate for me to have to go through the trials of surgery and not have anything to show for it. He knew this was our first baby and that we would want to have another someday naturally the way we intended this time. After a long discussion we made a game plan. He scheduled me to come to the hospital at 7am Thursday June 25, 2009 for a version. (the baby was still breech) He explained that they would give me some medicine that would cause my uterus to relax, he would pour mineral oil on my belly, and we would literally have a wrestling match to try and turn the baby. I feel like I'm pretty tough, so this didn't scare me near as much as being split in half and having my baby pulled from me. If the version worked and the baby went head down, they would put something on my cervix to soften it and then hook me up to a pitocin drip to induce labor. If I hadn't delivered by Saturday, he wanted to do a c-section. If the version wasn't successful, I would have to have a c-section immediately because we couldn't risk the baby's head getting any larger. If it was to grow any more, I would have to have a classical c-section. (where they cut you vertically top to bottom instead of transverse side to side) One heck of a game plan, huh?

So, Chad and I went home and yet again had to call everyone and tell them the even worse news. We were thinking our baby was going to be born different. We NEVER in a million years thought that he would die. We both prayed throughout our entire pregnancy that we would give our child to God. We would raise him to know the The Lord's laws and statues and he would hopefully live them with every fiber of his being. That's exactly what happened. God has His own time line. He wanted Michael now instead of later. After the 7th trumpet sounds, Michael will be raise from the dead to have a perfect, incorruptible body. (1 Corinth. 15:52; Rev 20:4-6 - 4) We know that we will be his mommy and daddy one day and will be able to teach him everything about God's law without the evil influences of this world. Michael will never have to experience pain like we're experiencing now.

We got up very early on Thursday, June 25, 2009 to start our journey that seemed to wind up at a dead end street. I felt like this was all a bad dream and I wanted to wake up so badly. I knew that once I walked into that hospital, I would never get to walk out with my child. I knew that once he was born, he would die. No mother should ever have to feel that feeling. After filing for emergency assistance (remember, we were paying cash for everything and this was going to blow those plans out of the water too) they admitted me and set me up in a room. My nurses Beth and Kim were absolutely amazing and again my midwives were by my side through everything. Beth asked if I had any preferences before we started doing anything. Jokingly, I told her I preferred NOT to be there. After she wrote in my chart that I preferred as few synthetic chemical drugs as possible and for them not to serve me anything unclean (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) they got started.

First, they gave me that drug that relaxes my uterus so he could try the version. They told me it would make my heart race and that I would start to feel weird. They said that was a good thing because that means the meds are working the way they should. That stuff MESSED ME UP! I hadn't done any drugs since 2002. We don't even have aspirin in our house. We treat everything homeopathically. I'm guessing that's why their drug had such an effect on me. I felt like I was passing out and they said I turned as white as the sheets. They had to break one of those smelly things to bring me back to reality. The next thing I remember is nurse Kim up in my face saying with her southern accent, "Welcome baaaaack!" They lubed my belly up with mineral oil and told me it would be very uncomfortable, but it would only last about 5 minutes. Dr. Thigpen told me to let him know if it was too bad and he would stop. I so desperately did not want to have a c-section so I made up my mind to endure the pain no matter what. That man did everything but stand on me to try to get the baby to turn. After about 20 minutes of the extremely painful inversion, he gave up from exhaustion. (we found out later that the baby wouldn't turn because his little butt was engaged into my pelvis.) He said he needed to rest for a while and then he would have to perform a cesarean that day for risk of the baby's head getting any bigger than it already was. If he didn't rest, my incision would look like a lightning bolt. I was terrified. I have never been in the hospital before and now I'm having major surgery to deliver my baby that wasn't going to survive. Thank God my husband was with me constantly reassuring me that everything was going to be ok. My midwives were a huge help for me also. During the 2 hours the doctor needed for rest and deal with his other patients, they sat there talking with me trying to keep my mind off of what was about to happen.

Crunch time came. The anesthesiologist, Mark, came in and explained everything to me. He is an amazingly compassionate man. He made me feel very safe. (well, as safe as I could feel being pretty much forced into this situation) They wheeled me towards the O.R. and I thought I could feel my heart breaking more and more the closer we got. I felt the baby move for the last time inside me. It is so hard knowing that once he came out, he would die. I told the assisting doctor, Henry, that my heart was broken and I broke down bawling. He was very sweet and hugged me really tight. After they administered my spinal, they let Chad come in. (we were apart for maybe 5 minutes) He sat there talking to me the whole time telling me how good I'm doing and that everything will be ok. I trust and love him more than anyone on this planet, so I had no reason not to believe him. I asked him if he has any last guesses as to what the gender was. He said he was going to stick with a girl and I agreed with him. We both thought throughout the entire pregnancy that we were having a girl. The very next thing I heard was tiny cries! (from what I've read about TD, babies born with it usually don't cry when they're born) He let out about 4 cries to announce his arrival. That was the best sound in the world! Then I heard someone say, "He's wee-weeing all over the place!" I looked at Chad and said, "They just said 'HE.' It's a boy!" Then they told Chad to come over and get his son. I heard Chad say, "He looks just like me!" He was right; Michael looked just like his daddy. He was 4 pounds 11 ounces at 34 weeks 5 days gestation. (they were anticipating him to be only 2 pounds) He was 14 inches long. Chad brought him over for me to meet my boy. He was absolutely amazing! He didn't look like anything was wrong with him, even though I knew different. He looked perfect and to his mom and dad, he was perfect. Actually, he looked so good that I thought our prayers had been answered and he was perfectly healthy. The nurse told me his chest was very small and he wouldn't live very long. Chad held him while they stitched and stapled me up. We sat there enjoying the few precious moments we had with our son. When I started talking to him and saying his name, Michael opened his eyes! The nurse came over and shielded the light from his eyes so he could see his mom & dad. That was a blessing in itself. By him crying and opening his eyes, it proved how strong our little man really was. Taking good care of yourself while your pregnant really does make a difference and his actions proved that. After I was put back together again, they wheeled Michael and me back to the room for the rest of his family and friends to meet him. I really wanted to share him with everyone before he left us. Thankfully, I got to do just that. His two grandmas, maternal grandpa, his aunt, his midwives, and a few very close friends got to hold him and have their picture taken with him before he passed away. It is amazing how much of an impact such a tiny little person can make on a room full of very strong people. My midwives had contacted this organization called 'Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep' to come and take pictures of the baby when he was born. The photographer was so very professional, we barely even knew she was there. (btw... if you are capable, please make a donation to NILMDTS. They are a blessing)

Michael passed away at 1:09pm, 41 minutes after he was born. Those were the best 41 minutes of my life. I was a mommy. Even if it was for such a short time, I was still a mommy. It was very difficult leaving the hospital without my baby. I had just gone through so much and I had nothing to show for it. My arms were empty. When I was leaving the hospital I had to sit in the lobby next to another new mommy, but she was getting to leave with her baby. Again, I had that feeling that I had been robbed. My heart continually aches. Our tiny little man made such a lasting impression on us and everyone else who got to meet him. It is a blessing for us that we didn't know at the beginning of the pregnancy that he wouldn't survive. If we would have known from the beginning, I don't know if I would have enjoyed my pregnancy as much as I did. {I would have NEVER terminated the pregnancy. Yes, it was extremely hard to carry him for only two days knowing he would die as soon as he was born, but a joy all the same knowing that he was STILL ALIVE inside me! If anyone reading is considering terminating their baby because they have received a lethal diagnoses, please, please weigh the options.} It is a blessing for us that he was born alive and we got to spend time with him before he left us. From my research, a lot of TD babies are born still. It is a blessing that we knew about his fatal diagnoses a few days before he was born. That way we knew better than to hook him up to a bunch of machines that we would inevitably have to take him off of. We know he didn't suffer and that he passed away peacefully in the presence of those who loved him very very much. My heart now has an empty spot that won't ever be filled until the resurrection. Since my baptism (and before then even) I have been striving to follow all of God's ways to show myself worthy to be in His Kingdom. Now, I know that Chad and I MUST endure to be there because our baby boy will need us to be his mom and dad then since we didn't get much of an opportunity now.

...THY KINGDOM COME!!! (Luke 11:2)


Anonymous said...

Rebecca, we carried our son to term after learning he had a fatal diagnosis. He was just perfect, I never truly appreciated being pregnant until our sweet Jody. Life is such a gift in any form even if you know your child will pass. Jody has blessed us in so many ways, we had him for exactly 60 seconds. Michael was so beautiful.

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