Thursday, February 7, 2008

I was waiting for my baby to stop breathing, but.. he refused to die

God's mercy on this baby and showing once again that the doctors aren't always right.

It's sickening how the doctors encouraged the mother to abort her baby!!

I was waiting for my baby to stop breathing, but.. he refused to die

'Watching my newborn son's tiny chest rise and fall, I found myself breathing in sync as I waited for him to stop.

I couldn't stop crying because I had been told my time with him was limited. The moment I had dreaded was about to arrive.

My baby had a serious heart defect and doctors had warned that he would only live a short while after birth - just enough time for our family to hold him and say goodbye.

As the minutes passed, any joy at spending more time with Asher was tinged with agony. I froze at every movement from him, wondering if this was when he'd die. There was no point even hoping doctors had got it wrong.

I asked for a moment alone with him after dressing him in the blue sleep-suit I'd bought. "You don't have to keep fighting love," I whispered. I hated thinking of him in pain. But still, it felt wrong asking my baby to give up.

A scan at 34 weeks had shown the problem with Asher's heart. The doctor asked my ex-partner Rob Foley, 31, to be with me as they explained it may be Down's Syndrome.

An appointment was made for me go down to London and see a specialist the next day. That night I felt sick with panic. Rob and I had split a few weeks into my pregnancy and I'd lived alone with our daughter Jada, now five.

If my baby had Down's Syndrome, I worried how I'd cope.

Rob joined me the next day as doctors said my unborn baby had congenital heart problems.

"There's nothing we can do," the doctor explained. "We believe your baby will die shortly after birth."

Devastated, I couldn't speak. I was offered an injection to end his life but shook my head.

"I want to meet him," I said. "Even if it's only for a few minutes."

An amniocentesis later revealed my son didn't have Down's Syndrome. Having no obvious reason for his heart condition made it harder to come to terms with.

When I went into labour it was dread, not excitement, I felt. I knew I'd lose him when he was born but while he was in my womb I could keep him safe.

Before leaving for hospital, I tucked the sleep-suit in my bag. Along with some teddy bears, it was the only thing I'd bought for him.

However much it hurt, I had to be realistic. My baby didn't need a wardrobe of clothes or toys. He just needed something to be buried in.

Rob, Jada, Mum, my sister Samantha and some of Rob's family came with me to hospital.

The doctors wanted to break my waters. But my dad wasn't there as he'd been working nights. I begged them to hold off until he arrived. I couldn't bear the thought of him missing his grandson's precious few minutes. Before long Dad was by my bedside, clutching my hand. We knew then it was time.

Asher was born weighing 7lb 7oz. As the nurse placed him in my arms, I wept at the sight of his blue-tinged face. We'd been warned about that but to my surprise, after a few minutes, his cheeks turned pink.

My heart raced watching him taking one breath after another, dreading the one which would be his last. The room was frozen in silence.

I passed him over to Rob. I watched him hold the son he knew couldn't live.

As minutes ticked by, everyone took their turn to hold Asher - even Jada.

Everyone wanted to hold him but no one wanted to be cradling him when he finally stopped breathing.

While Dad was cuddling him, he started to panic. "He's stopped breathing," he gasped, thrusting him back at me. This was it. Those few precious minutes were all we'd have.

Suddenly, Asher took another breath and the relief knocked me for six. He'd started breathing again.

As minutes passed, Asher kept taking breath after miraculous breath. I was so wrapped up in him, I had no idea how much time had passed. Then Samantha said: "It's been six hours and he's still alive. Speak to the doctors."

I felt a wave of hope. Maybe they had got it wrong? After examining Asher, the doctor arranged for him to be seen by specialists that night.

But after more tests there, we were dealt another blow. He was only alive because his heart duct was abnormally large.

It would eventually close over and he would die. There was still nothing they could do for him. "But he's made it this far," I pleaded.

"He looks well, but it's only a matter of time," the doctor explained.

Devastated, we began the wait for Asher's heart to give up, too terrified to leave his side.

But after five days, he was still thriving and we were moved to a local children's hospice.

We'd been told Asher would survive minutes, maybe hours - not days.

If our baby was fighting, I had to fight too, so I grilled the doctors.

After two weeks, I demanded a second opinion. Finally, a consultant at Birmingham Children's Hospital agreed to see whether Asher was eligible for the Norwood Procedure - open-heart surgery to improve the defect.

Dad drove us but just 30 minutes into the three-hour journey from our home in Norfolk Asher started turning blue. Pulling over, I was faced with an awful decision. Turn back and risk having no one to help him or try making it to Birmingham to give him a chance.

"He's fought this far," I said. "We can't give up on him now." So Dad sped us to Birmingham as we prayed Asher would hold on.

Doctors hurried through tests then explained if Asher responded to medicine to open his heart duct then they'd operate. It was the first time since Asher was born that anyone had been positive and two days later came the news I'd prayed for.

Asher had responded well to the drugs and was ready for surgery. He was barely a month old when doctors fitted a shunt in his heart and opened up the valve on the right side. For six days we had an agonising wait as Asher lay in intensive care.

When he was moved to a normal ward, I could hardly believe it. Asher had to stay in hospital for more surgery four months later and we went through more ups and downs.

Then when Asher was seven months old, Dad drove us home.

He's not out of the woods yet. He'll need more surgery and one day will require a heart transplant.

He has now celebrated his first birthday and, looking at him, it's hard to believe he was given only hours to live.

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