Saturday, September 22, 2012

Heart wrenching

My Australian friend Cath's friend is 21 weeks pregnant and was told her beautiful girl had passed away. This morning via ultrasound they have seen a squirmy very much alive baby!! They are not out of the woods yet as there are still some issues so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Keep fighting  we are all behind you and your beautiful mum xx

My Andrew was declared dead one mid day. We had the doctor come take his pulse and he told me that he had died. The lead nurse led us to a special parents room to be with him. How I survived those few hours, I couldn't explain to you. About 5 hours later, he returned from the dead.

I won't want this to happen to anyone.

excerpt from my book. Dairy of a bereaved mother, Goodbye my baby.

Chapter  8 -    7 November 1989

More astounding than fiction.
More incredible than Hollywood.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away.

Job says, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away”

Today, an earthquake of the highest magnitude struck. The carnage was so great. Andrew was pronounced dead. Even though we were expecting him to die a month ago, when it actually happened, it still hit me like a ton of bricks.  What was the worst was when we were told that he had died,  after an afternoon, he slowly bounced back and he was alive again. How cruel could that be? Someone was playing a sick joke on me.

At about 11 in the morning, we had an agency nurse. She comes to work when nurses are off. She was a black woman, and she asked what I was doing every day sitting by Andrew. I told her I held his test tube as we fed him. She said surely I could do better than that. She suggested that I could give him a bath. I told her I was uncomfortable. I couldn’t even bring myself to change his nappies. I reluctantly agreed without arguing with her that I was afraid to see his body. First she said we would do it together and we ran the bath. Then she said she would watch over me. I stripped Andrew and proceeded to bath him. I cleaned his face with a face cloth. I started to cry.
 My eyes fixated on his small genitals.
 I subsequently learnt that this was one of the most horrifying aspects of Campomelic Syndrome babies. There is something wrong with their Sox-9 gene and that leads to sex reversal. Some babies initially scanned to be a boy turned out to be a girl.
 At that time, the homosexuals were claiming equal rights, and some farmers had come out in support of this bill as they had seen their homosexual animals. In fact, when I was a teenager, I helped Mum and Dad feed the ducks and chickens. I have seen ducks mounting each other. I didn’t dare to tell Mum and Dad but I told my eldest sister Rose. It was the first time I was exposed to homosexuality and my sister Rose gave me a discussion about the lesbians in the royal court of the Chinese emperors.
If the nurse hasn’t been around, I could easily have dunked him in the water and drowned him. Andrew wasn’t very happy in the bath and was in distress. Then he turned blue. Olwyn Dickson came and I was so happy to see her. She had not come to visit since 21st October. I washed his hair and put him back in to his cot.  I just wrapped him in a blanket without dressing him as he was too distressed for further disturbance. I gave him some oxygen. He appeared more relaxed and started to pink up.  I dressed him and cleaned the bath. I asked Olwyn if she would like to cuddle him while I returned the bath to the storeroom.
As I came back, I couldn’t remember if Andrew was making distressing sounds, but he looked very blue. I took him from Olwyn and gave him more oxygen.  This time, he wasn’t just blue. He had turned completely black and he wasn’t uttering any sound. He had stopped breathing and had no movement. I didn’t give him oxygen and clutched him very close to my heart. I thought to myself, the moment has come. The agency nurse went to get two nurses, Anna Saunders and Nurse Mary from the next room.
Mary, a more experienced nurse, told me to hold Andrew up.
I kept murmuring, “Do not resuscitate.”
I just held him to my bosom, and my head bent over him as though I were a mother hen protecting her brood. My tears flowed quietly as there were two other mothers in the room and there were five babies. To protect them and not upset them, I didn’t cry aloud. Then another staff nurse came. They got the charge nurse June Humphries to come.  Then a young doctor came.
It was about 12.10 pm. The young doctor looked at Andrew, and opened his eyes. There was no flicker of eye movement. He listened to Andrew’s heart through the stethoscope. 
He said, “60” and then, “He is not breathing.”
He was implying that Andrew was really dying now.
The charge nurse told me she would inform Dr Andrew James. Then she asked if we wanted to go up to the parents’ room where we could have privacy. What was happening to Andrew and me frightened the mothers as it could be inevitable for them too.
 The parents’ room was a nice room where family, whanau and parents can be together for their babies last living moments and after they have died. Sometimes, breast-feeding mothers slept in it while their babies were in intensive care. Parents slept there the night before they went home with their premature babies. It gave them some sort of an orientation, that while they had their babies, they had the assurance that Ward 11A where all the doctors and nurses were just downstairs.
I was in a daze. I had no idea where we walked to get to the parents’ room and where it was. I just held Andrew and walked with the charge nurse holding my shoulder and leading me. Olwyn said she would ring Chen Onn, and I gave her the number to his office. She walked downstairs to the ward office to ring. That was in the days before mobile phones were around. She went and she came back again. I told her if she couldn’t remember to check the telephone directory under Bruce Wallace.  It was strange; despite all this, I was quite calm and I even remembered to take my handbag.
On the way to the parents’ room, I thought I heard Andrew making “Hic Hic” sound. When we got to the parents’ room, it seemed that he was breathing albeit very weakly. The nurse said it is like that, that he was slowly dying. She apologized about the unmade bed. She started making the bed, explaining that a breastfeeding mum had slept there. That was the last thing on my mind. I sat on the La-Z-Boy chair holding Andrew. He was still black.
As I sat alone in the room, I was thinking,” Did they think I tried to drown him when I was bathing him?  I had not tried to bath him, and the first time I did it, this happened.” I was angry with this relief nurse. She had bullied me into giving Andrew his bath when I told her I didn’t want to. I told her I didn’t want to bath him and she said she would do it together with me. Yet, she left me alone. I even started to ask myself, did I try to drown him?
Olwyn came in and said she could not contact Chen Onn’s office and she rang her husband Don to contact him.  Most of those in Ward 11A would have seen us walking past the entire length of the ward and knew that Andrew was dying, as Andrew’s room was the last nursery at the back of the ward.
June Humphries, the charge nurse, came with a special quilted blue duvet for Andrew. I was wondering, why is she giving him a blanket? He is already dead. Why does he need a blanket?  It belonged to the hospital.
She said, “Here’s Andrew’s cuddly.”
I said, “It doesn’t belong to us.”
She gave the duvet for me to wrap Andrew in. She felt his pulse at the ears and said there was no pulse.
I queried, “What about his slow breathing?”
She replied, “That is to be expected. When people die, they do not stop breathing immediately.”
Nurse Lynn Jefferies came with a tray of tea and coffee.  Mr. Dickson came and we told him that Andrew was still around. He discussed something with Olwyn. Olwyn said the doctor had pronounced it and it was a clinical decision. He told Olwyn to ring Iris Cook, our church office secretary to tell her that Andrew has started to breathe again. He asked Iris to contact Elaine Clarke, the assistant pastor and Linton Conway, the church secretary to tell them the same message. The time was 12.30pm.
Dr James came and asked me what had happened and I told him. Just three days ago, on a Sunday, I had asked him why Andrew was getting bluer and bluer and if Andrew was getting weaker and weaker. The nurses had observed that he was getting more distressed and unsettled. Dr James said, perhaps, but we don’t know. As babies grow, they get more distressed. His blackness was probably due to the carbon dioxide which he wasn’t breathing out as efficiently as before.
Normally with babies, they would do a blood test to see the carbon dioxide content, but with Andrew, we would not be doing these tests as there was no need for them. Looking at him breathing weakly, Dr James said he didn’t think Andrew would die just yet. He would probably have more of these attacks before he finally succumbed to the last one.
Since he hadn’t died yet, we should give him some oxygen to make him less miserable. Dr James suggested I bring Andrew back to Ward 11A for some oxygen, or he could arrange for some oxygen to be brought up. I was indecisive. Chen Onn wasn’t around yet, and I couldn’t make this monumental decision by myself. Would he die if we did not give him oxygen? I was sure he was dead when he was completely black. I felt very relieved then thinking he had died. I told Dr James, I would wait for a while and see what would happen. 
Chen Onn rang up. He was on his lunch hour and had gone for a walk. His boss, Roger Chalmers, went to look for him in Newmarket and found him in a shoe shop.
Roger told him the minister had rung.
Chen Onn knew that it was serious when his boss went to look for him, and he rang to see what the situation was.
I told him, “The doctor had pronounced him dead, but he started breathing again.” Then I couldn’t talk any more.
I asked him to talk to Olwyn. They talked and Olwyn said she would go and pick him up and at the same time buy some lunch for the girls. I had forgotten about Deborah and Gabrielle altogether. I told Olwyn that Deborah should be at the crèche now. Olwyn asked if I wanted Deborah to come up to see us.
I said, “No, not yet.” I didn’t want to scare her seeing him looking black.
Olwyn replied, “Good, you will need time to come to terms with it.”
After Olwyn had gone, Mr. Dickson sat by me. He said a prayer for us. Andrew started to make some distressing cries again.
Mr. Dickson said something like, “Andrew, it is peaceful up there.”
A few times, Andrew started gasping for air. He was holding me very tightly and drawing his legs up to his chest. He was making distressing sound again as he could not cry. I don’t know how long it was. It was heart-wrenching to see him in such pain and struggling
I prayed, “Andrew, go to Jesus, do not fight anymore. God, please take him. He is in such pain and I am in agony.”
It seemed like eternity.  How long he struggled, I had no idea. Then he must have been so exhausted -- so was I.  He stopped struggling just as Chen Onn and Olwyn came in. Chen Onn was crying. Andrew was pitch black and lifeless like a corpse.
Chen Onn said, “He won’t last today.”
Chen Onn went outside, Olwyn told Don to go to him. He was crying outside. When Chen Onn came back, I asked him if he wanted to hold Andrew. Much as I wanted to hold Andrew during his last moments, I felt it was important for Chen Onn to hold his son as well. Chen Onn sat on the bed crying and cuddled his lifeless son
Andrew began breathing but it was very slow, it wasn’t even laboured. He looked as if he didn’t have any energy to breathe. It was just a few weak breaths, then a long pause, then breaths, pause. The pattern went non-stop. Chen Onn felt his pulse, it was nonexistent. I thought it would be like dying scenes in the movies. He would slowly and eventually breathe his last.
However, at 3.30pm, he started pinking up as he took more breaths.  Olwyn left us to take Deborah and Gabrielle to Dawn DeStigter’s house.  She brought Deborah to see Andrew and say her goodbyes before he died. By now, the blackness had turned gray.
I said, “Thank you God for sparing Deborah from seeing Andrew when he was black.”
Chen Onn put Andrew on the bed. At 4pm, I went to the Nurses’ Home to have a shower. I had stopped bleeding two weeks before, but the stress must have produced the hormones and I bled badly and stained my pants.
At 4.30pm, I came back to the parents’ room. Jenny Ferguson, the charge nurse was feeding Andrew. She had a towel round him because he was very, very wet all over. She said during the struggling, he must have sweated a lot. She asked if we wanted to take him back to Ward 11A. She didn’t think he was going to die now.
Chen Onn said Andrew woke up at 4.15pm making his hungry sound. Chen Onn went to Ward 11A, and the nurse came and said he was hungry. This sound was a peaceful sound, not like the highly distressing sound he made in the afternoon. Andrew had not been fed since 9 am in the morning. June Humphries had said that Andrew didn’t need his feed at 1pm as he had been sedated with chloral hydrate. If he needed it, he would ask for it. In his semi-comatose state, he did not make his sound for it.
When June Humphries had changed shift and handed over to Jenny Ferguson, she told Jenny that we all thought he was dying. Jenny was the charge nurse when we first came to Ward 11A. Seeing Jenny, I thought was it an omen: that Jenny was there at the beginning of this tragic saga, and she was there to complete the end of the cycle.
Andrew came back from his death bed to Ward 11A to claim back his title as the oldest swinger in town. They had stripped his cot. Fortunately, they hadn’t filled his cot. We waited for the nurse to make his bed while I held him. I reorganised his toys and books and photos with a heavy heart.
I decided to stay with Andrew. I told Chen Onn I had waited so long I didn’t want to go home and to have missed saying that last goodbye. 

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