August 23, 2010

Our little son, 4 lbs 10 oz

In memory of Sebastien Lafrance
August 14, 2010

I just wanted to update you about what happened with our baby. Last Tuesday I went to Rush in Chicago because I started having mild contractions. I stayed overnight, ending at 4 cm. They said I could be induced or go home and wait to see what happens and I decided to go home.
On Saturday, August 14, I woke up at 1 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. At 3 A.M. my contractions started to get worse. I tried to wait until Olivia woke up and by 8 A.M. we were on the road. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I was 8 cm and yelling for an epidural. Sebastien (Stéphane wanted to name him the French spelling) was coming out just as they had put the epidural in, hands first.

I heard the doctor mention that he may need to do a C-section. We knew the baby was breech but we didn’t know the hands would be out first. He did an ultra sound to see where the baby was positioned and actually took the hands out, then he went inside and grabbed the feet and then I pushed the head out. The baby was 4 lbs 10 ounces and had soft bones because of the lack of amniotic fluid so the doctor was able to get him out without any tearing which was a miracle in itself.
The baby looked a lot like Olivia with her lips, chin and chubby cheeks. He had light brown hair. He had some deformities because he didn’t have any amniotic fluid to shelter him but he still looked like a little cute baby. He didn’t wake up but he was alive (with a heartbeat) for 3 ½ hours so he was pink and rosy and we got to hold him which was a blessing. He passed away at 3 P.M.

We believe he made a frown when Stéphane touched his stomach (Stéphane is very ticklish also) but we aren’t sure if it really happened or it was that his head may have been moved to where he appeared to made a frown. At one point while he was laying down, his hand was up by his mouth like he was trying to suck his thumb and the nurse said she hadn't positioned it that way. So again, we weren't sure if he did that or not. It would have been nice if he had been alert or awake so we could see his character but on the other side, he may have been in a lot of pain if he was awake because of his physical issues. We aren’t sure. Olivia was there and she was a great big sister, stroking his arm and kissing his head, telling him how cute he was.

So those are the facts but of course, it was very heartbreaking. Despite the outcome, we couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better except for him to be alive. The nurses were amazing, it was pretty much a miracle how the delivery went and that I arrived on time (Can you imagine Stéphane having to deliver a breech baby in the car?), Olivia was able to get to see him, we were able to hold him, we don’t think he was in pain and based on his physical problems which were evident when he was born there wasn’t any doubt that he couldn’t have lived with them so there wasn’t any second guessing or should we have done something differently. It was a nice day outside and it seemed very peaceful.

The hardest part was leaving the hospital without him. We went outside with fast traffic in Chicago, the day bright and sunny, people going about their daily lives and he was never even able to leave the hospital. There is something very wrong when a baby is left behind and never gets to go out into the sunlight.
Hopefully, he will get a shot at life some other time.
For the first night I kept dreaming I was giving birth over and over and the babies were passing away. It was pretty horrible. However, in the dream one baby came out talking which was strange and one baby was delivered by Dr. Oz from television. Even in the worst of circumstances it seems I still have a crazy imagination.
I thought it would be easier after the hard part of the birth was over. But the hardest part started after he was born. During the eight months, I always had that 1% hope that a miracle would happen. After your child passes away, all hope is gone. He is gone and nothing is going to bring him back. We see what might have been with his little chubby hands, his tiny fingers and his body which even though it's frail is still the baby we wanted. We can have other children but they will never be the one that we lost.

We will be okay. We dont' have any other choice. It’s hard but there is nothing we can do but get through it. Our story is one that many parents have gone through and yet it's very individual because the child you cry for the most is always your own. As you know, our cat Ghost died a month ago. I told Sebastien while he was still alive that a fluffy gray cat was waiting for him in heaven so he won't be alone. It’s sort of nice to think they will have each other until we can see them again.
I hope God exists or else we are all in this cruel joke called life together.

August 4, 2010

A Disconcerting Year

In January, I found out I was pregnant.

In April, I left my job because I wanted to be there for our two young children.
In my office at home, I wrote down, "2010 The Best Year Yet."
I was going to start writing more, I was going to take care of the baby and be there for our daughter, I finally had enough courage to leave my job without feeling guilty. I was ready and excited for a change.

In May, we found out the baby's bladder was blocked. The urine somehow helps produce the amniotic fluid so with his bladder blocked, I didn't have any amniotic fluid for the baby's lungs to develop. I remember the last words the doctor said that day as we were leaving, "I wouldn't have much hope."

We started having a bunch of tests and we were sent to a specialist in Chicago. We were ushered to a room with a conference table as a team of people filed in: a social worker, a doctor, a nurse and a chaplain. We were told there wasn't any chance. Our baby was going to die. I was 5 months so we could either have a late stage abortion in another state or the baby would end up stillborn or die after a day. Those were the choices. There wasn't a reason why, just a fluke of nature.

Ghost, his last month
Around that same time, another one of our cats started losing weight, Ghost. This time it wasn't as simple as a thyroid problem like with our other cat. For several months we did every test the vet could think of. After about six vet visits, $1000 dollars and many months of worrying, Ghost died on July 8th. He waited until I came home from a trip, I brushed him for a hour (his favorite thing) and I held him as the light went out of his eyes. We were never able to find out what was wrong with him which was the hardest part. A cat that sat on my computer desk for 10 years while I did my writing, a cat that looked at me like I was everything was suddenly gone without any explanation.

In June, a stray cat came up to our front porch when my daughter was watering the plants and he stayed on our porch for three weeks. He wouldn't leave and if he walked off the porch he would run back as soon as he could as if he found his home and that was it, he wasn't budging.

My daughter named him Cutie Pie. We didn't want more pets, we had enough. But by the third week of him trying to get in the front door and his health going downhill from being outside, I finally gave in. When nobody will do anything it is when somebody has to step up and do the right thing. We took him to the vet and they told us he has FIV, Feline Aids. People and other animals can't catch this, it's a species specific disease. Other than that, he was quite healthy. Cats can get this who roam outside. It's from a cat biting another cat, usually males protecting their territory. Cats with FIV shouldn't really be with other cats which meant I wouldn't be able to keep him. More bad news because now I was attached.

The vet told us we should probably put him down given the circumstance. It's hard to adopt out an FIV positive cat. For a moment I thought about putting him down. I was tired of everything bad happening and I couldn't take anymore. How would we find a home for this cat and I didn't know much about FIV. But clarity came back and I told him no, my baby was dying, my cat died and this cat deserves to be saved because he can be.

So my 2010 Best Year Yet on my dry erase board is still there in my office. But I can tell you, this will not be the best year yet, this will be the worst year. Life has a way of showing you that you are not in charge of it, it is in charge of you. The only thing you can control is your response to the events that happen. So I am waiting. Waiting for the last bad thing to happen in September, when the baby dies and hopefully, we can hold him for a few hours and tell him goodbye. That we held out and let God take him rather than deciding his fate early on. I wasn't going to be the one to end my child's life.

We all have bad years. Someone said we see people everyday, pushing carts in grocery stores, walking past us at work, but we never know the tragedies they've had to deal with in life or the ones they are dealing with at the moment. The best thing and the only thing to do is to wait it out and put one foot forward because the one thing that gets you through it all is time.

Cutie Pie, the saved cat