Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby Lucas

This past week has been one marked with such joy and tragedy.  My dearest friend Katie gave birth to her beautiful boy Lucas last Friday.
I was honored that she let me be with her and her family during that special moment, and what an amazing moment it was! Katie had a long and difficult labor, not to mention that she went 8 days past her due date.  But she endured the pain and was so strong as she brought her son into this world.  He arrived with a beautiful cry and a head full of dark hair.
He looked just like his proud Daddy, true to his Hawaiian roots!  He seemed to be the picture of health, to our eyes at least.

Although there were some minor health issues at first, (a fever that they thought might signal an infection) nothing could alert us to the tragedy that would unfold.

During the next day, the hospital kept Lucas in the nursery for observation and to administer IV antibiotics in case he did have an infection.  Katie and Jeremy were worried about their baby, but mainly we were sad that he was not able to stay in their hospital room with them.  They didn't let it stop them from enjoying their precious baby, though! Katie spent the majority of the night and day in the nursery with him, where she rocked, cuddled, nursed and loved him.

On Saturday evening, I got a call from Jeremy saying that the doctors were worried about a possible heart problem with Lucas.  They had heard a murmur and were concerned his heart might be enlarged.  They did not have the facilities to perform the needed testing, so they were going to transport him by helicopter to a nearby children's hospital.  Katie and Jeremy were discharged from their hospital and drove to the nearby NICU, and I drove to be there for my friend, for what I thought was a serious but not urgent set of tests.  When they arrived, the staff immediately pulled them into the double doors of the NICU and they arrived to their sweet baby taking his last breaths.  He had coded during the Air Evac, and despite the team of 15 or more Neonatologists and specialists, they were unable to stabilize him.

It was with shock that I saw my sweet Katie being wheeled out of the NICU holding the body of her baby boy.  Nothing could have prepared me for this, and I will never forget the vision and sound of that moment. There are no words to describe the pain that I felt.  It is every parent's worst fear, the very thing that nightmares are made of, to see a child taken from us.

We came to find out that Lucas was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  I have started a Memorial Blog that explains his condition in more detail; click here if you would like to read his story.

I am utterly heartbroken for Katie and Jeremy.  And I am heartbroken for myself, which feels terribly selfish, but I also loved Lucas already.  I had visions of our children growing up together, of Alex having little Lucas as a 'cousin' and having my next baby just 4 months after Lucas, to be his friend and playmate.  I know time heals all wounds, but I don't know how we recover from this.

Despite this terrible loss, I do cling to the knowledge that Lucas brought Katie and Jeremy 31 hours of bliss.  They didn't know that the future held tragedy for them, and they spent their time with him enjoying him, loving him, not grieving him.  I am so thankful for this small thing, and can only hope it brings my friends happiness as they try to move past this pain.