Submitted by Kevin
On December 16th 2021, my wife Dana told me she was pregnant. This was the best day ever.
In the beginning, appointments went smoothly. She started experiencing heavy swelling/puffiness and acne from February to March, which was shrugged aside by her family doctor, saying this was normal. We weren’t going to be getting an OB referral for a while. Around 18 weeks, her blood pressure was rising steadily and she found herself very short of breath and heart constantly racing even when sitting.
We went to emergency in early April 2022 after being on the phone with health link, saying her blood pressure was reaching dangerous levels. When we arrived, the OB making rounds said something isn’t right and Dana needs to submit blood/urine samples. The OB took her on as she noticed how irregular this was.
The were traces of protein in Dana’s urine, which pointed to signs of preeclampsia. Her family doctor was informed at this point that we had lined up Dana’s own OB. After more tests and a few overnight trips to emergency from peaking high blood pressure, the OB urged Dana to stop working immediately and potentially be submitted to another hospital in the city with better technology, doctors and specialists.
Dana was submitted to the Royal Alex Hospital May 2nd 2022 to have better care under the watch of an entire phenomenal OB team. She was almost fully expected to remain there until delivery. Jude’s due date was August 19th. We met with many specialists including doctors from the NICU, who discussed trying to make it to 25 weeks for the best chance of Jude’s survival and overall health.
Due to COVID protocols, I couldn’t spend nights at the hospital with Dana. I would go everyday after work to be with her until around 9:00PM and be in constant communication on the day-to-day tests they were doing. I held on to every bit of hope hearing his heartbeat and seeing movement in the ultrasounds. It was later mentioned that the placenta wasn’t functioning 100% and that Jude was having some difficulty receiving from it, almost as if his lifeline was a straw getting pinched.
May 7th, I went home after seeing Dana until around 9:00PM and watched some hockey with family. The next morning, I woke up to a missed text from Dana around 3:00AM asking If I could call her. I woke up to it around 7:00AM thinking if she hadn’t called, it must not be urgent. When I texted her what’s going on, she replied saying they were busy doing the morning tests and she’d call me afterwards. I planned on seeing her later that morning, so I finished up some laundry.
Mother’s Day, May 8th 2022 at 9:00am, I received a phone call from the Royal Alex Hospital saying I needed to come right now. My heart began racing as Dana had not called me back. My mind immediately jumped to either:
A) She’s delivering Jude.
B) Something horrible had happened.
I got to the hospital and was placed in a room by myself. I waited several minutes until I saw Dana walk through the door. We locked eyes and at that instant, I knew what had happened. Jude’s gone. We broke down.
My world crumbled, and we held each other crying. They couldn’t find Jude’s heartbeat that morning. I could barely mutter the words “What happened” through the shock and tears. This continued for 20 minutes as her mother joined us in the room to console us while they brought up the ultrasound to do a final check for a heartbeat. I’ve never wanted to see something more in my life, watching the screen we had previously seen in past months with joy in our eyes as Jude would move around; only this time there was nothing.
Things moved quickly afterwards, as Dana’s nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. She wasn’t properly clotting internally as her blood platelet count was rapidly dropping. The team said we had to get Jude out of Dana by means of emergency C-section immediately, or we could lose her.
Before she went off for surgery, we had to sign a waiver in case she needed a hysterectomy. Panic had set in as she was wheeled away. I lost my son Jude and could potentially be losing Dana. I was about to lose everything. I was frozen, panicking inside, and falling fast. I waited for over an hour with Dana’s mom, until they came out to say the C-section was successful.
After being that low, I gave them the biggest hug. I needed that win, because it felt like everything was gone and I couldn’t go any lower. They suited me up in the gown and told me how beautiful my baby boy is. He was on the other side of the curtain when they brought Dana in to place all of the IV’s. I told her I was there and went into survival mode. I contained any emotions I had to be there for her. To do anything and everything they needed of me.
After being transported to our room for the evening, we were asked if we wanted to see Jude. Our heads went to dark, graphic places. We didn’t know if we could stomach it, but knew we had to. While Dana recovered and became more conscious, we talked and procrastinated meeting him. Finally, hours later we asked them to bring Jude in. I had so much fear, but the minute I saw him, I fell in love. He was the most beautiful angel I’d ever seen. We held our son, not knowing how long we would get with him, savouring every moment as mother and father.
As a loss-dad husband, you witness your partner go through the most horrible physical and mental pain possible, especially in the first few days afterwards. We spent that night with Jude in his cuddle cot bassinet. The next day, we were transferred to a sponsored room for grieving parents following their loss, similar to a nice hotel room. Dana had more recovery and tests to do, but we had Jude until we told them to take him away.
We spent a week with Jude in that room. Holding him, listening to music, having meals, watching our NHL team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (I’ve always wanted to watch games with my son), having close relatives up to meet him. Every moment we held him, it felt like he was asleep, and we were just waiting for him to wake up. Tears came often as reality would creep in, but that was the best week of my life in that room with Dana and our son Jude.
Closer to the end of our stay, the team came to the conclusion that there was placental abruption from a blood clot. We were so close. We made 25 weeks. But all signs pointed to Jude staying with Dana longer for a healthier baby.
Leaving Jude killed us inside. Trying to find the nerve to tell the nurse she could wheel him away with all the other loss babies, all while never wanting to leave without our son, the way it should’ve been.
Dana was finally cleared for release, and we left with boxes of clothing, photos, flowers, moulds of his hands, feet and our hearts broken. The drive home was complete silence. I can’t honestly remember the first while at home as I was in a state of numb depression, other than giving Dana blood thinner injections once a day for a month.
It was later concluded that Dana was diagnosed with an extremely rare condition (1 in 200 cases worldwide) of pregnancy induced cushings syndrome. This explained the swelling, high blood pressure and excessive stretch marks. Cushings was diagnosed on the basis of abnormal cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) levels, as well as radiographic findings. We just hit the 6-month milestone of losing Jude, and have been supporting each other as best we can, but also facing extreme mental strain. To top it off, Dana is still sick. We are hoping in 2023 that Dana can get one of the abnormal adrenal glands directly above her kidney removed to level out her cortisol levels. This would give us a chance at trying again one day.
I often get asked by people who notice my wedding ring if I have any kids.
I always respond yes, his name is Jude.