We had a very healthy, normal pregnancy. Aside from the few weeks that he was breech, Malcolm did not give us any trouble at all. My body, thankfully, returned the favor. Toward the end of my pregnancy, my doctor was concerned that my blood pressure was too high, so we were scheduled for an induction.
The day of the induction (Monday, 12/16), everything went very smoothly. I labored for 12 hours and progressed normally, Malcolm’s heartbeat strong and constant the entire time. Sometime that evening, I was ready to push, but with every contraction and every push, Malcolm’s heartbeat seemed to dip lower than it should. Needless to say, they wanted him out of there. I pushed for maybe a minute or two, but they decided he was in too much danger and rushed me to the operating room for an emergency C-Section. As it turns out, his umbilical cord became pinched between his body and my pelvis as he made his way down, cutting off his blood supply.
The rest is a blur, but from what I’m told, Malcolm was born at 7:02 pm (7 lbs even, 21″ long) with a heartbeat, but not breathing. The doctors and nurses worked on him for what seemed like an eternity but was probably something like ten minutes. At some point during this time, his heart stopped for a number of minutes and he lost a lot of oxygen to his brain. Though they were able to get his heart beating again with compressions, he was never able to breathe on his own and was hooked up to a ventilator.
The neonatologists feared the worst: that the loss of oxygen to his brain in those minutes caused a devastating injury that he would never recover from. Their fears were confirmed over the next 24 hours as brain waves picked up by an EEG test showed little to no activity. Malcolm’s future, were he to have one, would be one in a vegetative state. He would never speak, never open his eyes, never eat, never communicate in any way. He would likely never breathe without a ventilator. The neurologist, the neonatologist, Adam and myself all agreed that this was not the life (or lack of a life) we wanted for our son.
We spent the next day visiting and holding our sweet little boy and comforting each other. Late on Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning we said our goodbyes. With the help of the NICU nurses, we changed Malcolm’s diaper and gave him a bath (this picture was taken right after his bath). We held and rocked him, hugged and kissed him, told him how much we loved him and how much we would miss him. We stayed with him and held him as all of his wires and leads and tubes were removed and for a couple minutes, I saw my little boy’s face. Just his face – no tubes or wires or gauze. At 2:40am on December 19th, our Malcolm was gone, though we realized over the course of that night and the following days that his spirit had likely moved on only minutes after he was born, and has been watching over us ever since.
It’s been two months and two days since that horrifying night in the NICU and all I can think about is how much I want a baby. Of course a lot of it is how much I want him. How much I want that baby that was stolen from me in the space of a few minutes. But I am determined to be a mother, determined that this next pregnancy will happen. I am determined that I will get pregnant when I want to, that it will go smoothly, and that I will give birth to a child who will come home with us and live and grow and thrive with us. It just will happen.