My husband Brian and I got pregnant on our second try. We probably would have gotten pregnant with Wyatt the first time if I didn’t get my dates mixed up. Brian and I waited 8 years before we got married and decided to have children. We waited until I was done with my MBA and had a stable job before starting a family. We like stability and we like to plan. When we found out we were pregnant with Wyatt we were overjoyed, but I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and I had a hard time with the pregnancy. The smell of garlic, which while pregnant was seemingly in EVERYTHING, made me want to throw up. Every doctor’s appointment, however, soothed some of the nervousness by reassuring me that everything was going as planned, and he was okay. Everything was progressing normally, like millions of other pregnancies each year, Wyatt was growing and healthy. It felt weird, but I was also reassured by his hiccups, kicks, and tumbling around my belly. I loved those movements and missed them this past year.
On Nov. 2, 2017, at 37 weeks, I didn’t feel Wyatt move very much. I was nervous and talked about it with several coworkers and friends. They all said that toward the end the baby doesn’t move as much because there’s less room. They confirmed what my OB had told me the day before. When I got home from work, I was still worried, so Brian told me I should call the doctor just in case. The after-hours nurse said I should go into the office and do a stress test to check. Brian and I drove to the hospital in separate cars because we thought everything was fine, and Brian would just drive to the gym afterward. They did a stress test for what seemed like an hour. I was sort of freaking out because we were there for so long, but the sound of his heartbeat made me think everything was okay. My OB happened to be the on call doctor that night. She said that the baby’s heart beat was very low and that it would be better to do a c-section rather than wait until I go into labor. (I later found out his heart beat was practically flat lining.) I agreed to the c-section because my sole focus was a healthy Wyatt. During the surgery, I was so scared that I had a death grip on Brian’s hand the entire time. It was funny because the only other time I hold a death grip is when I need to go to the bathroom but had to hold it.
When Wyatt was born I heard a little bit of sound, and then they had to move him to one room and move me to another. When I was in the recovery room Brian came in over joyed and told me he was born around 7pm at 5lbs and 20oz. I thought everything was fine, and he was safe once he was out. They moved me to another room. I was still heavily drugged so I didn’t know what was going on. I remember the nurses and doctors saying that Wyatt wasn’t doing well and the oxygen wasn’t helping. He needed to be intubated, so we signed off on the documents. They said we wouldn’t be able to see him until he was stable. Seven hours later, at 2am, the doctors and nurses said we could see him and hold him just one time before they put him on a cooling pad. Once he was on the pad, we would not be allowed to touch him again until his final days.
For 5 days, we spoke to multiple neurologists and neonatologists. They said Wyatt started having seizures once he was born. He had seizures for 5 straight days, and went through 4 different types of seizure medications. Every organ in his body had failed at one point during those days. The cooling pad was supposed to slow down the brain damage, but they believed that the damage had been done already. When the seizures subsided, the doctors were able to do a MRI. We had what they call a “family meeting” with all the doctors and a social worker. They said the brain damage on a scale of 1-5 was at a level 5. It was severe. He had bleeding in the brain from the top all the way down to the brain stem. The doctors said something in the womb had caused his oxygen to be cut off, which in turn caused the blood vessels to burst. (We never found out what caused the oxygen to be cut off. We later spoke to the head of the obstetrics department. He said it was an acute insult, which can be caused by a blood clot, small tear in the placenta, or fetal maternal bleeding. They don’t know which, but what happened was sudden and not something that got worse over time.)
Wyatt’s brain damage meant he would never be able to make a movement that required thought, such as eating and drinking. He would be confined to his bed for the rest of his life. Based on his condition, I didn’t think he would be able to ever breathe on his own. Brian and I were prepared for the worst. We had the neurologist tell us for several days that the damage was bad, and we would have to decide on what the next steps would be. Brian and I had decided to withhold further treatment and testing. We didn’t want him to suffer and to be trapped in his own body. It would have been selfish of us to keep him here when he was suffering.
After we made our decision, Wyatt was taken off the cooling pad, and we had 2 days with him before he passed. The NICU nurses were so kind and understanding. They helped us take clay and ink prints of his hands and feet, give him a bath, and do skin to skin. The doctors made an exception for us and gave us our own room, away from the other babies in the NICU, and baptized Wyatt. A volunteer group took professional pictures of him and our family. After everyone left, it was just Brian, Wyatt, and I. We held him for the entire night. We took turns sleeping, holding him, and telling him stories about our family, our lives, and what our hopes and wishes were for him. The entire time we were in the hospital we had always been separated. Wyatt was in the NICU, Brian had been sleeping on the couch, and me on the hospital bed. That night, we were finally able to all be together. I fell asleep on the couch laying next to Brian, and Wyatt fell asleep in Brian’s arms. We all fell asleep at the same time. We were finally comfortable and together as a family.