We were naïve. We were blessed with two beautiful, healthy girls following what would best be described as textbook pregnancies. They are thriving through their childhood years and we couldn’t be more proud of the people they are becoming.
The third pregnancy was different. The initial ultrasound revealed one viable embryo and a chemical loss. It stung, a lot more than I ever let on, but we were focused on the one that remained. We felt optimistic sharing our exciting news with family and friends, especially our girls, as we prepared for our new baby.
After the anatomy scan, we were referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a more involved scan because of scarring on the placenta. I went to MFM on my own on December 23, 2019 because it was practically Christmas break and we were assured it was only precautionary.
I did not need the technician to get the specialist because I knew the moment she realized something was wrong. I felt it. The specialist confirmed there was some scarring on the placenta, likely from the chemical loss experienced earlier on in the pregnancy, and referred me to a Pediatric Cardiologist for what he suspected was Transposition of the Great Arteries. His suspicion was confirmed by the Pediatric Cardiologist two weeks later.
Over the next 3 months we would be seen at least once a week for monitoring in various forms. We were constantly reminded of survival rates, success rates, and the resiliency of infants. We were terrified, but we were ready for our son to complete our family.
Ronin was born March 30, 2020 at a hospital an hour away from our home. Ronin was placed on my chest long enough for his Dad to cut the umbilical cord and then they took him to be intubated. He was going to receive the best care from the best team.
Ronin fought for his life for 42 days. He underwent a variety of operations, blood transfusions and medication swaps. His team was not sure why his case was so bizarre, but they were always ready for the next step. Every day felt like a small victory; one day closer to coming home.
April 24, 2020 Ronin experienced a cardiac arrest. The damage was extensive, but it would take some time to learn just how extensive it was. He had a hypoxic brain injury. He remained on life support to give his heart time to recover and to evaluate the damage. His heart recovered and was able to come off of life support and his lung function continued to improve, but that was the extent of the good news. Ronin had less than 25% healthy brain tissue left. Brain tissue damage is irreversible – once it’s dead, it’s dead.
We were able to have Ronin baptized. We were granted special permission, despite COVID-19 restrictions, to bring his grandparents in to meet him before taking him off the ventilator. Unfortunately, his sisters only ever spoke to him on the phone. By the time the hospital granted us permission to bring our daughters in to meet him, he was a shell of an infant, stitched and bandaged, and primarily unresponsive.
That day we held him and made hand and foot prints with him. We took pictures and videos. We changed his diaper and we tucked him in. Just after sunrise on Sunday May 10, 2020, Mother’s Day, his doctor called to let us know he had taken his last breath.
We never thought we would leave the hospital with a box. The autopsy revealed pulmonary hypertension, which was undetectable until viewed under a microscope. There were no genetic indicators found. It is unlikely that we will ever know why any of this happened to our son.
We aren’t naïve anymore. This pregnancy is going well and there are no indications of anything other than a healthy baby girl. We are cautiously hopeful that this baby gets to stay.
Photos taken by HFitch Photography.
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