Last goodbyes… Then he opened his eyes
Meagan Wight, 32, was just waiting for her baby to die. But it seems a certain someone had other ideas...
I told little Zoe that her brother had a booboo in his brain
The news I’d had was amazing – and there was one little lady that I couldn’t wait to share it with…
‘Guess what?’ I said to my 2-year-old daughter Zoe. ‘You’re going to have a baby brother!’
‘When can I meet him!?’ she asked, excitedly.
‘Well, not for a few months yet,’ my hubby Jarrod, 32, told her, laughing.
It was last November and I’d just had my 12-week scan.
‘These are for the baby!’ Zoe beamed a few days later, holding an armful of dolls.
She’d talk to my bump, too, even tried to brush the baby’s teeth through my bellybutton!
But excitement turned to concern when I went into early labour in February this year, at 32 weeks pregnant.
An ultrasound showed our baby had an enlarged heart and a bright spot on his liver.
‘We need to deliver him as soon as possible,’ I was told.
‘I’ll be right there,’ Jarrod said when I called him at work, where he’s a technician.
When little Dominic arrived by emergency Caesarean, I took one look at him and was horrified.
He was covered in purple spots and his skin was blue.
‘What’s wrong with my baby?’ I panicked.
Doctors couldn’t explain the spots and raced our boy straight to Intensive Care, where he was ventilated and put on life support.
Seeing him three hours later, I choked back tears.
I could barely see my son through all the wires that were covering his little body.
The spots, all over him now, had turned an angry red.
‘They’re just birthmarks,’ a doctor explained.
Called hemangiomas, they were non-cancerous growths of blood vessels – and harmless.
It was such a relief, but we weren’t out of the woods yet…
Dominic could still die from being so premature.
He was on life support, his poor lungs not fully formed, and he was unresponsive.
The next day, our baby was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation (AVM) of his liver and brain.
AVM meant that Dominic had a tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connections between his arteries and veins.
The AVM in our baby’s liver was causing his heart to fail, while his right temporal lobe had haemorrhaged, causing our poor boy to suffer a stroke.
‘I didn’t know babies could have strokes,’ Jarrod gasped.
‘It’s likely his brain won’t function 100 per cent normally and he might not be able to breathe independently,’ a doctor said.
I could barely take in the fact that our boy’s life was hanging by a thread.
‘I don’t want to bury our son,’ I sobbed to Jarrod.
The thought of telling Zoe – who was staying with my mum Debbie, 64 – that she might lose the little brother she was so excited to meet broke our hearts.
‘Dommy has a boo-boo in his brain,’ I told her gently.
‘Does he need a plaster?’ Zoe replied sweetly as I fought back tears.
Being so young, Zoe didn’t really understand, but she knew that Jarrod and I were sad, so she’d bring us tissues when she saw us crying.
Dominic was still in a critical condition – and, although he was conscious, our poor baby was still completely unresponsive.
The AVM in Dominic’s liver was forcing his little heart to work overtime. Doctors couldn’t be sure how much longer he’d last, as he couldn’t breathe or regulate his body temperature on his own.
If our boy ever did wake up properly, it was likely that he’d have cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness and mental deficits.
‘We may have to consider turning off his life support,’ a consultant told us.
So horrifying to hear, we couldn’t contain our tears. Despite our total despair,
we had to accept that,
He was fighting for his life and wasn’t giving up easily!
however harrowing, it was really the right thing to do.
‘If he won’t recover and he really has got severe brain damage, we’re just prolonging his suffering,’ I told Jarrod.
‘It’s not fair to let him linger on in pain,’ he agreed.
We didn’t know how much longer we’d get with our beautiful baby boy, so we decided to make the most of it before we agreed to let him go.
The hospital social worker team arranged for a photographer to come into the ward and take some family pictures of all of us.
They should have been the first of many. But these photos would be the only ones we’d ever have.
Hospital staff also arranged for Dominic to be baptised.
Then, at 9am on 19 February this year, Jarrod and I looked on as each of the wires was unplugged from Dominic’s little body.
Although I didn’t want to look, I forced myself not to take my eyes off of him.
‘Goodbye,’ I wept as the last wire was removed.
We never left his side as we waited for him to pass away...
But as the hours passed, Dominic was still with us.
And when the doctor came to check on him at 4pm that day, we were given some very unexpected news.
‘It’s unusual, but it seems that Dominic’s condition is actually improving,’ he said.
‘We need to support him, because it seems your little boy isn’t going anywhere!’ the doctor said.
Me and Jarrod stared at each other in disbelief.
‘He’s going to be OK?!’ I gasped.
Though the swelling on his brain caused by the stroke was coming down, it meant Dominic would still be left with some brain damage.
But our baby boy was still fighting for his life, and it didn’t look like he was going to give up easily.
A few weeks later, Dominic underwent surgery on his liver to remove the bad veins.
The surgeon said the op had never been performed on a baby so young, but tough Dominic pulled through.
And at 3 weeks old, he opened his eyes properly.
‘They’re so blue!’ I cooed as he gazed up at me.
Gradually, Dominic became able to breathe on his own and can now regulate his body’s temperature.
On 2 April, we finally brought him back to our home, here in Alberta, Canada.
‘He’s so little and pretty!’ Zoe gushed, thrilled.
We still have to wait and see what problems will arise as a result of Dominic’s difficult start in life, but physiotherapy sessions are helping give him the best chance possible.
Around 300 birthmarks still cover his body. Luckily, they’re not connected to his AVM or stroke and doctors hope they’ll disappear in time.
Most people are respectful and just ask us questions – and we’re happy to explain.
However, some people haven’t reacted so well.
‘You shouldn’t bring him out if he’s ill,’ a passerby said.
But cruel jibes will not hold our little boy back.
We put a sticker on his pram saying, I’ve got birthmarks.
Zoe has even started to draw some little red spots on her dolls!
Like us, she’s really proud of little Dominic.
With everything he’s survived so far, a few red marks won’t set him back.
My tiny tough cookie
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