Thursday, September 9, 2010

I have joined the "Fight for Preemies"

My son was born on June 1, 2010. Exactly 12 weeks before his August 24 due date.

Because of his prematurity, my beautiful Sawyer was unable to even have a chance to fight the congenital heart defect that was diagnosed shortly after his birth.

Did you know that congenital heart defect research is one of the most underfunded? Did you know that more infants and children die each year from a congenital heart defect than from all forms of childhood cancer combined?

It is amazing to me and a testament to his will that Sawyer survived long enough for his father and me to hold him and say goodbye. He fought harder than any of us could have imagined, especially given his diagnosis of a severe form of Tetralogy of Fallot.

At my 20-week ultrasound, Sawyer was positioned in such a way that the ultrasound technician was unable to get any scans of his heart, abdomen, kidneys and bladder. We were scheduled to come back at 24 weeks to complete these scans. Nothing was out of the ordinary and we were thrilled to be welcoming our first son.

During the ultrasound scan at 24-weeks, the technician simply said "Oh, are you here because of the low fluid?"

I shot straight up and asked what she was talking about, and she ignored my questions as she went on to complete the ultrasound. We then had to wait nearly an hour to see the doctor. That was one of the longest hours of my life, as I was so worried and concerned about our little Sawyer. Would he be okay? What does low fluid mean for all of us?

My doctor, an excellent MFM out of the University of Chicago, immediately informed me that I would need to go on bedrest and I received steroid injections to mature Sawyer's underdeveloped lungs in case I went into labor too soon.

Four weeks after that, on June 1, my water broke early in the morning at 4 a.m. By 4 p.m. that same afternoon, I started to bleed heavily as my placenta started to detach.

I had an emergency c-section that I was not awake for. I thank God for that turn in events every day, because when Sawyer was born he was limp, gray. He had no heartbeat. His premature body had no idea that labor was in progress and his body failed to complete many important tasks that babies do naturally before being born.

Not even two days later, on a beautiful, late-spring morning - Sawyer died in my arms. His heart slowed over the course of an hour and he continued to fight. He struggled to breathe and even let out a tiny coo for me to hear.

Before his death, the NICU counselor presented us with important information from the March of Dimes. I wish I was able to put that NICU information to better use, but unfortunately, our time with Sawyer was brief. In the weeks following his death the March of Dimes sent us a bereavement packet - and I want to take the time right now to thank them.

Sawyer's story is just one of thousands that prove how important it is to continue to support this organization. The March of Dimes currently funds research for congenital heart defects and premature birth. Sawyer died because of a broken heart, and every single day I wish that my own broken heart would take me home to my baby. Some day, all babies will be born healthy - but it is up to us to make that happen.


MoDBev said...

Oh, I am weeping at my desk. Thank you so much for such a beautiful post. I want to hug you! We are fighting every day for babies just like your handsome man. Thank you joining the Fight for Preemies and helping raise awareness. Last year we had over 500 bloggers. I want to beat that this year.

brigette said...

What a great thing to join. You are a strong person!

rebecca said...

Thank you for posting...I'll look into this and try to join the fight for preemies as well. Your story brought tears to my eyes, it's just so unfair that this happens. Sawyer was such a strong, brave soul. I understand what you mean about wishing you could be with him...I think that about my Lily almost every day too. Beautiful post Michelle.

Michelle said...

Thank you all so much.

AnnaMarie said...

Good for you! This April I'll do the March for Babies for the 3rd time. It's a good way to channel grief into a positive cause.

Your story of Sawyer's birth is beautifully written. I'm so sorry that he is not healthy and in your arms right now.