Friday, 10 May 2013

Lukas's Story

Our baby boy was born full-term at 39 weeks and 5 days. The following story is what I remember of those 26 hours that Lukas was alive. Since writing this story in May 2013 we have been given a diagnosis of Lukas's cause of death. Lukas suffered from prolonged birth asphyxia due to a diagnosis of a "spontaneous"and critical condition of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (pphn), regarding I did not fall into any of the risk factors the true cause is "unknown"  we will never know exactly what happened or why . He weighed 4.270 kgs and measured 53.4 cm.

The beginning: 9 months of beauty

The moment I found out I was pregnant again (after a early miscarriage) I was in so much joy. I knew this pregnancy was going to be special. I couldn't wait to start showing my bump because it was something I was so proud of. I felt so comfortable being pregnant and during those 9 months of beauty I took as many photos of my growing belly as I could. I loved the sensation of my baby kicking and tumbling around inside me , I loved how my hubby, daughter and I were creating a bond with this little boy straight from the start. They would place their hands on my belly as we watched TV. Justin would always be surprised with every kick and say "that's my boy". My hubby couldn't wait to have a son, my daughter couldn't wait to finally be a sister, I couldn't wait to be a mum to a boy.
I had a completely healthy pregnancy with no complications, concerns or complaints! I never had morning sickness, my pregnancy was amazingly perfect.  Lukas was a healthy strong little boy for 9 months which is why the outcome minutes after his birth were so tragic, devastating, confusing and just cruel.

The labor and birth : A perfect moment

I started having contractions the night before Lukas was born. I remember sitting on the couch watching TV at about 10 pm when I started to feel very minor cramps. I went to bed and had a rather restless night as little contractions kept waking me up. At about 5 am I noticed that I had a show, I eagerly told Justin that I was pretty sure our baby was coming by tonight. We were so excited. My daughter got up as usual to get ready for school and we shared the news with her, her face just shone with happiness, she wanted to stay home but we sent her to school like any other day as I knew we were still a long way to go.  I made a phone call to my mother to tell her that baby was on the way, and as we had arranged months prior she took the first plane from Auckland and arrived by lunchtime. The waiting game started, by 10 pm that night contractions were getting stronger and so it was time to drive up to the hospital. We all hopped in the car, Anjelina and mum were coming too as I wanted them present at the birth as well. My midwife didn't quite believe me that I was in labor at first because of the irregularity of my contractions, she said it was possibly just a urine infection but who's better to know when your in labor then yourself, to her surprise I was already 6 cm dilated.  She broke my waters to get things rolling and after another 2 hours of a very smooth and controlled labor with nothing but gas, Lukas had finally arrived at 1:05 am, 13th April on a Saturday morning.
I heard his feisty cry and the moment I saw him and lifted him up to my chest I fell in love in an instant. He grizzled and talked, he was very vocal, his eyes were wide open, he was perfect and beautiful. I was completely over the moon that he had finally arrived. Justin and Anjelina were admiring him by my bedside, Anjelina was overwhelmed in tears of joy and love. I rocked him in my arms against my chest and told him he was alright and that mummy's here, I looked into his big brown eyes and I kissed his forehead. As I held him in my arms the umbilical cord was cut. Little did I know this perfect moment was soon to end, it would be the first and last time I see his beautiful eyes open, the first and last time I hear him, the first and last time I touch his warm skin against mine.

The Shock : "We have a flat baby"

The midwife was rubbing him with heated towels. She kept rubbing and rubbing  Suddenly she took him off my arms and placed him on the baby table , she gave him gas, she pushed the emergency button. A herd of docters and nurses came rushing in, I laid there all exposed, legs open, bleeding, exhausted, in shock and confused as to what was happening. It felt like complete chaos.  I look over to my left and all I see is a blue baby. My mum and daughter are told to leave the room.The nurses kept reassuring me that "he was going to be OK , I didn't respond.  A docter yells out "we have a flat baby" he grabs him and runs out. I'm left lying there, wondering what in earth is happening. I don't remember much from here as its a blur, I think I was in denial as to what was happening or maybe it was just complete shock. The midwife comes back to check me, she's worried about some fluid I'm leaking, the docter checks it, stitches me up and it turns out nothing to be worried about, I get up, I don't know where Justin is at this point, I have a shower, I feel dizzy and sick. I get changed, the midwife tells me Lukas needs to be transferred to Hamilton where they have a more equipped neonatal intensive care unit. Mum and Anjelina have to go home so Justin drops them off. I tell my daughter that everything was alright and that we will see her soon.  I'm left alone in the room for what felt like hours. I get up and walk over to the other unit where Lukas was. He doesn't look well, his skin is a blue tint and hes hooked up to wires and tubes and a ventilator, hes so cold. The pediatrician gives me what sounds like a speech, I don't understand any of it. I start feeling like I'm drifting away, her voice sounds like its miles away, I feel ill. I start swaying and tell her I think I'm going to pass out. She gets me a chair and a drink. I come back, she tells me a special team from Waikato are travelling here by helicopter to transfer him, I ask if I can be with him, she says no because there would be too much weight on-board. The team arrives, they seem too patient and oblivious to how I was feeling inside, I wanted them to fix him right there and now, they talk among themselves, all I could do was watch. Justin comes back, the nurses tell us it would be a good idea to start making our way to Waikato, I kissed my little baby, and touched his hand, he grasps my finger which would be the first and last time I feel his grip, I took some photos and told him I'll see him soon. Justin packed my bags and only 2 hours after giving birth to Lukas, I walked to the car park and we made our 2 hour drive to the hospital . It was a foggy and gloomy night, I fall asleep....

The next 24 hours: Joy, Hope and Loss

We arrive at the hospital. We make out way to the NICU ward. They had just arrived a couple of minutes before us. We see Lukas and he's looking much better already. The docter gives us an update, he's unsure to what might be causing him not to circulate enough oxygen around his tiny body, it could be his lungs, it could be his heart. We don't know. I want to touch him, but we cant stimulate him too much as hes so sensitive, I touch his hand and there's no grip this time. They have had to paralyze him so he doesn't fight against the ventilator. I remember the docter telling me that I needed as much rest as possible because in a couple of days my milk would come through and he would need feeding, that never happened. I feel sick again, I need to sit down. Everything is such a blur again. We leave the room and spend the next couple of hours just pacing around the corridors  We start making a few phone calls to family and friends. It all seems like a nightmare, and I desperately want to wake up. The team keep updating us about his progress but I don't understand anything. All I see is them poking him with needles and giving him drug after drug. By this time I don't know how we were even standing, I was past the point of exhaustion that I was just running on adrenalin, fear and hope. Sometime in the afternoon, one of the nurses tell me that he isn't doing too good. We rush into see him, it looked like he was having a seizure or was it just the ventilator at full blast? The docter says, "I'm afraid we might loose him" and asks us if we want a Chaplin to come in. I don't hesitate , I was willing to hold onto any hope. Lukas's heart stops, the team are working on him doing CPR,  I break down in tears and shock. I stand behind Justin's shoulder and I silently start praying. I tell God please to not take my baby away and that I would do anything to keep him alive. The Chaplin arrives, he starts talking to us amongst everything that is happening, it was strange but a rather comforting distraction. he asks us if we would like Lukas to be baptized, I say yes. The docters have managed to bring Lukas back. We are relieved, the chaplain then baptizes him with sterilized water and says a short prayer, he tells us we did a good thing. He then wishes us the best and leaves. Me and Justin stand over Lukas, hes so beautiful. The next couple of hours his sats are up and down, for awhile they are steady and even reach 100. We get a few visitors that day. Mum and Anjelina travel up with family friends. They don't stay for long, I ask mum if she would like to see Lukas but they were working on him and putting even more intravenous's. She could only see him from the door. I don't want Anjelina to see him.  After an hour or so they leave. The evening arrives and he seems reasonably stable according to the sats, but then there is another problem. Hes bleeding too much from the intravenous needles and his blood isn't clotting, they tell us he needs plasma which then means more pricking and poking his fragile body. We retire to our room for an early night. We go to bed hopeful that in the morning everything will be ok. We fall asleep, I get up at about 2 am, I'm so achy and I need a shower. I then tell Justin I'm just going down to see how Lukas is doing. The docter says "good timing" as soon as I walked into the door. She was just about to get us...Lukas is not well. I walk back to our room, it seems miles away. My heart is shaking, I'm shaking. I tell Justin what the nurse just told me. My voice is filled with fear. He gets up, he curses, we walk down to his room together holding hands.

An Angle is Born

Over night Lukas deteriorated a lot. His sats were so low. The nurse tells me it would be a good time to start spending the last couple of minutes with him in my arms. She says his organs are shutting down and his brain activity is nil. It was only the machines keeping him alive. I'm devastated but I'm ready to hold my baby, Justin hesitates and gives Lukas another a minute or 2 while standing over him. I can see his eyes holding onto every last hope. The nurse says in a quiet voice "hes dying". Shes asks me if I want to hold him, I don't hesitate and say yes. She gets a heated blanket to place him on my lap, her and another nurse start pulling out all the tubes, they leave the morphine till last. I look at him with my heart open and take in every second into my soul with nothing but pure love. I cant believe how perfect he is, his hands, fingers and toes are perfection. He's long, a perfect sized baby. I start crying a never ending river of tears, my tears roll down and land on his beautiful face. I tell Justin to take a photo because I want a picture of this moment. All the tubes and drugs were off his body by this point. I tell Lukas that "mummy loves him" and I kiss his little forehead. The docter puts her stethoscope to his chest, and says "There is no heart beat". Justin starts crying and tells me he's gone, he repeatedly says hes sorry, my voice is frozen. The nurses leave to give us a moment with Lukas. I hold Lukas in my arms, I rock him. I say nothing, I only look at him. The nurse comes back and talks to us about a postmortem. We agree to it, they clean him up and place him in a baby bed, I wrap him up nicely in a blanket, we then walk back to the room with Lukas. The nurse gives us a hug and lets out a sob, she tells us shes so sorry. We are informed that the police will be visiting us as its the process in cases of unknown cause of death. We make phone calls to let everyone know. We wait hours for the police to arrive. I'm nervous. During the time we are waiting, I went through what seemed endless emotions. I went silent, I went into denial, I was sad, I wanted to run away, at one point I couldn't even look at him. Justin was going through similar moments. We embraced each other and we told each other to be strong and that no matter what, we were going to get through this together. Two policemen and a policewoman arrive in uniform, it seems so unnecessary but its protocol. A nurse is present the whole time to answer any questions, they ask to look at his body for any trauma, he has a few bruises and stitches from attempted intravenous's but that's it, hes perfect. They are as confused as us as to why this happened to "our good looking man" as the Sergeant called him. We walk to the morgue, even the word sends shivers down my spine. It seemed so far away, we get there, I cant believe any of this is happening. I'm meant to be taking my baby home, not dropping him off at the morgue. We get there, we stop at the entrance and I sob again, they roll him in....
We are then told to give a statement of the events that happened, Justin does most of the talking as I am unable to think,the police tell us they are sorry and leave. We go back to the room, pack our things and head off home without Lukas.

Click here for Part 2 : Saying Goodbye