Monday, December 29, 2008

Asa's Greatest Hits: Early Days: Vol. 1

Day In, Day Out

We only had Asa home with us for about 3 and 1/2 weeks, but after the first few days of having him home, we had found a rhythm. I am just writing this so that I don't forget our routine. We came home from the hospital with what seemed like gallons of breast milk in storage, so Andrew would take the first morning feeding and put Asa back down before he left for work. Asa and I would officially get up sometime after 9 or 10 when he'd wake up and I'd pull him into bed to eat.


I started this post 12/29, and am really kicking myself for not finishing it... there is that hindsight again.

On losing Asa

This is from my post on

This Christmas, I lost my 5 week old son, Asa. I miss him so much and there is just a hole. My arms ache for him and my body knows its missing an infant. I just can't believe he was really taken from me so quickly.

He had a congenital heart condition, but had already had his first round of surgery at one week. All of the feedback we'd gotten from doctors was that his condition was highly treatable, babies with this condition have good outcomes and most specifically, he was doing really well. He was seen by a cardiologist of Christmas eve and was told he looked good.

On Christmas eve morning, we called his cardiologist because he said one of his meds might need to be adjusted and one of the ways we would know is if he was struggling at all to eat. He seemed to me to be getting a little more winded when he ate, so we called the doctor and the on-call doctor called back. The office wasn't having hours till Monday and honestly if they were having hours on Friday, we probably wouldn't have even paged them, we would have just waited until Friday. The doctor on call was not familiar with my son, so he had us bring him in to get checked out in the ER. This entire time I was dragging my feet, thinking, "He doesn't need to go the the ER, he just needs his meds adjusted. This isn't a good use of the ER, maybe we should call him back and tell him we'll watch him." My husband insisted he go, saying I would be neurotic over Christmas if we waited, lets just go, get a clean bill of health and enjoy Christmas.

We had an appointment to talk to a mortgage broker, so my husband took him and I was going to follow after the appointment. I called after the appointment to see where they were at with everything and my husband told me not to come because they were just waiting on something small and he should be leaving. Fast forward 3 hours, DH is on his way home with Asa and DH is a mess. He is crying, upset. I guess it had taken several sticks to get blood in the ER, and Asa was so upset. DH was having to hold him down and Asa was looking right at him while all this was going on. He didn't eat well and threw up some of his food.

The important part about the ER visit is that we were told everything looked good, he had been on the monitor, done a chest xray and was seen by a cardiologist.

He was fussy and wanted to be held overnight. He fed alot, every hour and a half to two hours. He slept little and all day the Christmas Day just wanted to be held. What a blessing, he spent his last 18 hours in the arms of his mother and father.

We were at my inlaws and around dinner time, he was still fussy, so DH was in the living room with the baby. We'd just gotten DH a plate so that he could sit with the baby and eat, but Asa was finally asleep so DH snuck upstairs and put him down in my inlaws nursery. We had a baby monitor in the kitchen. DH sat down and ate maybe a couple bites of food, when his brother who was next to the monitor said, "DH, the baby is fussing." DH sat his fork down and went up to get the baby. He didn't finish eating, didn't stall. In the 90 seconds that it took him to get downstairs, the baby turned blue. DH was yelling for me. I went into the kitchen and we immediatly started CPR. Someone else called 911, the medics were there in maybe 3 minutes. It was so fast. So while DH and I were doing CPR, Asa was taking his last breaths, right there with mommy and daddy. Daddy's face to his face and mommy standing over. He is so loved.

The medics whisked him off to the ER. They never got a pulse. We were taken into one of those rooms once we got there and the chaplain kept coming and saying they are still going compressions, lots of people in the room, thats a good sign. But I know that people with pulses don't get chest compressions. So after about half an hour a doctor came down to talk to us.

We were allowed to hold our baby. He was just so beautiful and so soft. He never really liked to be held across your chest, so it was kind of weird to be holding him in a position he never really liked. I got to rock him. I just miss him so much. I wanted him so bad. I just ache for him from my soul and I ache that my DH has to hurt so much. He was just a lover. And I know he had a heart condition, but if never occurred to me that I could lose him. We're just in shock.

Services are going to be New Years Eve, and I expect that will be the second hardest day of my life. I don't want to say good bye to my little guy. I just miss him so much.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Asa James, born 11/17/08

On arriving up to the L&D floor, we were settled in by our very nice nurse, Mary. Andrew was busy calling his folks, my Mom and Betsy, and one of our friends who had planned on being present at our previously thought to be uncomplicated birth. After a few minutes a resident came in to talk to us and let us know that the plan was a C section as the perinatologists felt it was most beneficial to get the baby out, rather than in. A neonatologist came and talked to us. Nobody was really able to tell us what was going on with the babys heart, just that there was a significant abnormality. Anesthesia came by and placed the epidural. I am pretty sure he gave me some morphine, and thank God, because by that point it I actually had to think about not screaming to make sure that I did not. Our physician arrived, and I was taken back.

I think that it was 19:52 when Asa was born, weighing 6lbs 9ozs, 18 inches long. The neonatologist, NPs and RT went to work on him. He was given some supplemental oxygen, but was not intubated. His apgars were 8/8. Shortly there after, Andrew and I were able to give him a kiss on his way to the NICU. I think that he was all swaddled, and maybe had a hat.

Eventually, I was taken to recovery. Andrew was with me at this point. Andrew kept going back and forth between me and Asa. His parents had arrived, they came back to meet Asa and stopped to say hi to me.

The pediatric cardiologist came in and did an echo. He came back to talk to me and told be about Asa's heart defect. Asa had tetralogy of fallot with pulmonary artresia and an AV canal. He asked if we had a preference in children's hospitals, we said no, so a recommendation was made. The following morning, Asa was to be moved.

On my way upstairs, they rolled my gurney into the NICU and I was able to give Asa some sugar and take some pictures.

I ended up on the Women's Health floor, as moms with babies in the NICU don't go to the other floors. Andrew stayed with me that night and I kept sending him downstairs to check on Asa.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

39 week appointment

On Monday, November 19th, Andrew and I got up early to go see Betsy, Jason and the kids. We met up at the Kolache Factory, lamented the absence of our baby, gave hugs and kisses and sent them on their way. On arriving home, I laid down to nap before our 2:30 doctors appointment, and after a few requests for Andrew to come snuggle, he finally laid down and we rested until our appointment.

We got up and went to our appointment. Certain that nothing was happening, I prepared for a possible conversation about inductions if I went late, and other possible interventions. On arrival, my blood pressure was slightly elevated, and I was asked if I wanted to listen to the baby with a Doppler or see the baby with an ultrasound. We were in a different room than we were usually in and the ultrasound looked a little more modern, so I said look. He took a look at the baby and said some variation on this, "Head is down, here is the heart, about 140 BPM, here is the stomach, hands, feet etc... it looks to me that your amniotic fluid is low, I know you were planning natural childbirth and are trying to avoid an induction, lets get a second opinion, I am going to send you to the perinatal center at St Johns, they are expecting you."

So when we got to the car, I told Andrew to stop at Bread Company because they were going to end up inducing me and were not going to let me eat. Fast forward a bagel and fruit cup, we arrive at the perinatal center, fill out the paper work, wait our turn and get escorted back for a non-stress test. After a few minutes on the monitor, a nurse came back and started holding the monitor in place. She asked if anyone had told us if that the baby had an arrhythmia? " No, we're here for suspected low amniotic fluid." So she said a few times that today was a good day to have a baby. All along in my head I am thinking up ways to get out of being induced.

We then wait about an hour for an ultrasound tech to become available, and have a second ultrasound performed with a more sophisticated machine. The tech left and the doctor came back in, after a few minutes of looking, he made a few statements. This is all I really remember: "hypertrophy, communication between right and left side of the heart, possible chromosomal anomalies. We're going to send you upstairs and monitor you overnight and probably induce you in the morning. The pediatric cardiologist will either be by tonight or tomorrow morning first thing." Needless to say, there was lots of crying, and a wheel chair ride upstairs. I guess this is where we will end our 39 week check up and start our birth story.