Mom to Simon Maurice
August 16, 2010
My husband Shane and I decided to start trying for our first baby January 1, 2010. I found out I was pregnant at the end of February, much to our surprise and excitement. Everything was going great, and I was due on Halloween 2010 with a baby boy.
At the end of June, I was hospitalized overnight with what they concluded at the time was C Diff (a nasty intestinal infection.) I was sick with that and unable to eat anything for 12 days and was given 14 days of antibiotics. But towards the end of my course of antibiotics, it came back for about 4 days and the doctors couldn't explain why.
By the end of July I was fine, feeling great actually, and felt fine until Saturday August 14th. Saturday morning I felt fine. I volunteered at an event for 4 hours, and got home around noon. I was really tired, but figured it was because I was 29 weeks pregnant and had been on my feet all morning. So I took a nap, and woke up around 2pm feeling feverish.
I took my temp. and it was 99.6. A little high, but not terrible. An hour later, it was 100.8, so I took 2 Tylenol. And hour later it was 101.6, and I realized that I had not felt the baby move in a while. So I called the on-call doctor from my OB's office, and she told me to drink a glass of ice water, eat something sweet, lay on my left and do kick counts for an hour. If I didn't feel 10 kicks in that time, come to L&D. I gave it about 35 minutes, and didn't feel him move at all, so we went to the hospital.
In triage, my resting heart rate was 124, my BP was 148/114 and the baby's heart rate was over 200. At that point, they knew something was seriously wrong. They took blood for a CBC and a blood culture. My CBC came back with a high white count, so they put me on broad spectrum antibiotics. They did a vaginal exam, and everything seemed normal. By the middle of the night, I started having contractions, and in the morning they did another vaginal exam and I was 1 cm dilated and 80% effaced. They gave me drugs to stop the contractions, but they kept coming.
I was in labor for about 24 hrs, at one point having contractions every 2 minutes lasting 1 min. Sometime Sunday afternoon, they put me on magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions. It did not stop them, but it stopped my dilation. My fever also kept going up, no matter what they gave me. At it's highest, it was 104. Sometime Sunday they got results that I had a septic infection (meaning it was in my blood) but they still were not sure what it was (blood cultures can take up to 5 days.) They decided Sunday that they would schedule an Amnio for Monday, and told us they may have to do a c-section and talked to us about what having a baby at 29 weeks might mean. So we went to sleep Sunday with that in our minds.
The nurse came in to change my IV at 4:15am Monday, and told me she needed to shift the fetal monitor because it was picking up my heart rate instead of his. But after a minute, she realized that it was his heart rate, and it had dropped as low as mine. Within seconds, there were a dozen people in the room, and the on call OB said "Karen, your son is in distress, we have to do a c-section now." I had about 3 seconds to tell Shane I love him and tell him to call my mom, and they rushed me to the OR.
Simon was born 6 minutes later, at 4:36 am. Later, they were able to get more info. My placenta was horribly infected. And the blood culture came back: septic listeria. Looking back, my doctors now believe it's possible that back in June, I didn't have C Diff at all, but listeria, and my body did it's best to fight it off for as long as it could. But with listeria, you very well may show no symptoms for up to 3 weeks. So I could have caught this as early as the beginning of June. They had Simon stabilized and pumped full of antibiotics as soon as he was out. Shane was able to come in to the OR to be with him while they finished closing me up. He got to hear Simon cry before they intubated him, something I never got to hear. Then they brought Simon to the NICU to get him ready for transport to St. Louis Children's Hospital. As soon as I came to, they wheeled Simon in so I could see him, and then they transported him to Children's. Shane left to go be with him as soon as he could, and our doula Michelle came to sit with me.
My wonderful OB bent major rules to allow me to be transported from Missouri Baptist Medical Center to Barnes-Jewish Hospital so I could be close to Simon (BJH and Children's are in connected buildings.) By this time, the doctors at Children's knew there was nothing else they could do for Simon. His little body just could not handle the horrible infection that was raging through both of us. They told Shane, but didn't want to tell me until I got there.
I will never forget that conversation. No parent should ever hear that their child is going to die. They kept him comfortable for as long as they could to give us as much time with him as they could.
We were able to touch him, and he held our fingers, and we told him how much we love him and how proud we are of him and how strong he was. He looked just like Shane, with curly black hair, a button nose and a giant head. But he had my long fingers and my weird feet. He was 3 lbs. 3 oz. and 15.5 inches long. He was perfect. He lived for 15 hours. It was time I will cherish forever, and will forever wish was longer. We were able to have our pastor baptize him before he passed away, and the NICU staff even had a gown for him.
After he passed away, we were given as much time as we wanted with him. He got a bath and was dressed in a little outfit and swaddled. We held him and took pictures. My parents, who had driven 17 hours from Virginia, sadly did not make it in time to see their first grandchild alive. But they did make it while we were still with him, and they got to see him and hold him.
We will probably never know how I caught listeria. It is something that only 2500 people in the U.S. a year will get, but it will kill 40% of those people. It is a food-born illness, and after meticulously going over everything I've eaten for months, the doctors say I'll probably never know how I caught it. I followed the food list from the OB to a T, but cross-contamination can happen anywhere. I was in the hospital for 6 days. I had a PICC line in my arm giving me constant IV antibiotics for 21 days.
They say I am lucky to be alive, but I don't feel all that lucky. Physically, I am healed, but my heart has broken in an irreparable way. We will move forward and continue our lives, but nothing will ever be the same. I have faith that God will help us heal and I hope that one day I will understand why this happened, but for now we are just trying our best to get though each day as it comes.
I have found such amazing support through the online baby loss community and through the support group Shane and I attend. I want to be able to give that same support to others going through this same thing. I am so honored to be able to lead the Metro East Face2Face group. I wish none of us were here, but I'm so thankful that we have each other to lean on. I would give anything to have Simon back, but I thank him every day for guiding me to meet the people I have met. I will never forget the time I was gifted with him, and I love him and miss him every second of every day. Simon is my angel, and he changed my life forever.
Karn blogs at: http://dearsimonlovemommy.blogspot.com/
and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org