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Vasa Previa Part 2

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by C. B. Paris

In September 1996 we lost a perfectly healthy full term baby boy to vasa previa. Quite unexpectedly, as is most common.

It wasn’t diagnosed till he was delivered by emergency c-section after a sudden but brief bleeding episode at home. [WIDGET1]He only lived about 38 hours – the most precious hours of our lives.

Nathan was a complete surprise for our family. We were DONE having children. Having another one never dawned on us. It took months to get used to the idea of expanding the family again. By the time he arrived we were really looking forward to it again. I had redecorated the nursery and made baby clothes and a new blanket. My oldest son learned to drive so he could help transport the others to ballet lessons and soccer practices.

Then I arrived at full term! My pregnancy had been completely uneventful. One morning I awoke very early. The baby was awake too. I relished in the thought of his upcoming arrival, shared a moment with him and we both fell back to sleep. An hour later I awoke and knew something was wrong. I reached down. My hand was covered with blood! I got up and ran to the bathroom. Sitting in the bathroom I felt the baby turn and thought, “this may well be the last time I ever feel him move again”.

My family called the doctor and I was taken to the hospital emergency room right away. The bleeding had stopped almost as soon as it started. But there was alot of it. I was put on the fetal monitor which showed our child’s heartbeat at 130 and “dipping”. They got ready to do an ultrasound, but then his heart stopped altogether and we were rushed into surgery.

The next thing I remember was being told the baby was a boy, and was his name “Nathan”? I said “yes”. I was still coming out of the anesthesia and thought, “It’s a boy. A sweet boy. It’s over. Thank God, it’s over!” I wasn’t even able to open my eyes yet. Next, the surgeon came in with the placenta and explained what had happened and what vasa previa was. I still couldn’t open my eyes or concentrate for much more than a moment at a time. It turned out that Nathan had had to be aggressively revived and was extremely ill. He was going to be transferred to intensive care at a local children’s hospital. But he was here. He was alive. They got him out. I was scared, but sure he would be alright.

They brought him to me just before he was transferred. He was in an incubator type box, on a respirator and had tubes and wires all over. He reminded me of ET in that scene near the end of the movie. We had considered giving him the middle name of “Elliot”. Now I was sure it should be “Elliot”. I was sooo happy to see him, but the hospital personnel were somber and serious. They handed me some Polaroids they’d taken before he left the operating room. He’d already had two units of blood.

After that visit with my new son, I was moved to a room in the maternity wing. Phone calls started coming in. My sister-in-law delivered her baby girl THE VERY SAME MORNING! It was excruciating receiving phone calls from excited family members who were initially unaware of Nathan’s demise. It was a long day and news from Cardinal Glennon wasn’t good. Two EEGs showed no brain wave patterns. My baby couldn’t maintain a proper pH, blood pressure, or body temperature.

Against medical advise, I got out of bed the very next morning so I could be with my son. Suddenly I felt extremely guilty about abandoning him during his first 24 hours. If he was going to do well he needed his mother, now more than ever. I asked to be transferred to his hospital. They would not allow it. I told them I was going anyway. They gave me a “pass” and I left. My poor child! The drugs were not helping much to stabilize him and they could not give him much more because his kidneys were not functioning. Specialists determined that his kidney problems would probably improve on their own if his overall condition improved. I left with a heavy heart.

By the time I was settled back at my own hospital, Nathan’s doctors were calling. He was getting worse and they needed to discuss things like “heroic measures”. Oh, God! I was back at Cardinal Glennon Childrens’ Hospital within 30 minutes. My other children had just been there to see their brother. Word was sent to intercept them and send them back up to the ICU. Nathan’s condition was desperate. His kidneys were now bleeding which meant he would never regain use of them. Every organ in his body was shutting down. We simply could not let him die alone in that crib. His father held him for a few minutes then Nathan was placed in my arms and removed from life support. He squeezed my finger when they pulled the breathing tube out of his throat. We were moved to a private sitting room in the ICU where Nathan’s brothers and sister took turns holding him. He met his grandparents and some of his aunts. We loved him. And let him go. At 10:50pm he stopped breathing and was placed back into my arms where he took one last breath and passed quietly from this world.

If Tears Could Build A Stairway,

And Memories A Lane,

I’d Walk Right Up To Heaven

And Bring You Home Again!

~ We Love You Nathan! ~

This article is reprinted with permission.

Visit Nathan’s website for more information on Vasa Previa.

This information is the result of one family’s experience with vasa previa. Please consult your own health care provider for medical advise of any kind.

This article is reprinted with permission. Visit Nathan’s website for more information on Vasa Previa.


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