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.


Happynews said...

A beautiful tribute from one friend to another. Baby Lucas would have loved his "auntie". Mommy

Lea said...

I agree - a truly beautiful, well-written tribute. What a terrible tragedy they have endured.

The Maples said...

Beautiful, Jen. Katie is so blessed to have such a wonderful sister in you. My heart has been breaking for her since I heard the news yesterday and she has been on my mind non-stop. I still just can't believe it.

Sarah LeSueur said...

I have come back and read this twice now and I am so sad for everyone that loved that little boy. I will pray for you all Jen. What a blessing though, that the time they had with him was not clouded with what was to come.

Anonymous said...

My dear sweet Jen, as Katie's Mother I can't begin to express what a blessing it was for you to be there with us in our joy and in our deep sorrow. The way to a Mother's heart is to love her child. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving my daughter and being such a dear sweet friend. I will always remember your love and your tears that were mixed with ours.

Katie Tan said...

Wow, you summed it up so beautifully. Lucas would have loved his Aunt Jen as much as I do. I am so glad that you were able to be there for me during the greatest and worst moments of my whole life. I couldn't have gotten through any of this without you. I could never begin to thank you for everything you have done for me! You are truly the greatest friend I could ever have! I love you from the bottom of my heart! <3

Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful tribute to an adorable baby boy.

My cousin also delivered a seemingly healhy baby boy. Took him home and the next day took him to the pediatrician for a routine visit. While examining him the doctor noticed the baby's lips were turning blue and he started showing other signs of disress. They rushed him to he ER but despite being in the clinic when it happened, they could not save him. He was three days old and that is when his PDA duct closed, right there in he pediatricians office. He also had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. This was three years ago, I couldn't believe that they hadn't spotted it on an ultrasound or newborn screening in the hospital. I was so saddened to read your post and hear that it continues to happen.

I hope your friend finds peace. I believe my cousin did in time. She now has a second son who is a few months old. It has been a journey.

I just sumbled across your blog, clicking 'next blog' on the top of the page.