"My Son Lived for 20 Days and Then Died from Necrotizing Enterocolitis."
Mother of Jasper:
I found out I was pregnant in September 2019. My first ultrasound was the 17th.
Everything was pretty normal at that point. It wasn’t until we got around to gender testing and my subchorionic hemorrhage was discovered. It appeared as "common" to my providers at the time.
Throughout my pregnancy, my providers never showed genuine concern as my subchorionic hemorrhage increased in size instead of dissipating. I had started spotting just before finding out the gender.
There were several times I went to the ER assuming I was having a miscarriage.
My third ultrasound I went in and was given news that it had actually doubled in size and at that point had to assertively push to be referred out to a specialist. My midwives had tried bedrest and the specialist even did too. The thing is, the midwives said I would be seen at least every two weeks by the specialist; Yet, he wanted me back not two weeks later but four.
I was referred to this specialist for having so much coagulated blood around my placenta that they couldn’t see the damage, but he wanted me back in a month after bed rest.
It’s always so interesting being reminded that I gave birth the day of that second appointment - after being hospitalized for three days trying to slow my labor. I wish I could tell you the amount of magnesium they gave me.
What I can tell you is that they had to keep an antidote next to my bedside so that I wouldn’t go into toxic shock from a risk of fluid on my brain.
My contractions were obviously not going to stop, but they were so certain they’d be sending me home.
They were wrong.
By the end of the 4th magnesium bag I was still experiencing labor progression and had been moved into 4 or 5 different rooms. I had to fight the OB's on call and argue my way out of having an epidural called to my room.
I had to beg nurses for something besides ice chips and water. I got chicken noodle broth.
And, I was given Stadol three times during active labor. Each time being told it wouldn’t hit me like the last.
They were wrong.
I was very in and out of it. Thankfully one of my nurses there before my last room transition advised me not to accept the last dose until I really couldn’t make conversation anymore with contractions. When they moved me again the contractions were so overwhelming. There was a moment where everyone in the room was in conversation and my midwife was apparently waiting for me to push; And I believe I actually asked, "what do I do?" I don’t remembering having the urge to push so I had to scream and yell to get my body to really start pushing.
It could’ve been the Stadol and anxiety stalling everything. My water wouldn’t break because Jasper was too small and when they ruptured it there was an odor and discoloration. Probably because of the damage to my placenta as it was very deteriorated. My midwife was actually shocked at what my placenta looked like.
When Jasper was born, he weighed less than a pound and not even a foot long. He was overall as healthy as a 26 week old baby. Scans were consistent and he was doing great.
Ultimately, Jasper passed away just 20 days later on February 3, 2020 from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Jasper was getting my breast milk through his umbilical line. They had initially been increasing by increments of two on his calories of “human milk fortifier”, which was being added to my milk to help him develop.
I was never advised of any risk or informed of what could go wrong.
I was only informed of the benefits and how this could help him. Due to how well Jasper was accepting the small adjustments, they told us they had decided to double his calorie intake.
We essentially came in and it had already been done. We thought that was a good thing.
The last time I was with my son, Jasper, was at a 2:00pm Sunday visit.
This came after not visiting for almost a week because a head cold I had gotten at the start of Covid. When they checked the nutrition line that evening at 8:00pm during touch time I, nor his father, had gone and every part of me wants to hold on to that and feel that guilt.
At that time Jasper had not digested the milk but it was not discolored so the nurse on duty decided to give the milk back to him. They are trained to look at the discoloration to make the decision on whether it’s being digested and whether it needs to be pulled from the line.
At the time it appeared all right to the nurse and so upon giving it back they hoped that he would just finished digesting.
Instead gas set up and by 7:00am we had received the call to inform us our son was in a medically induced coma enduring transfusions while becoming septic.
His iron was awful and the tissue in his intestines was killing him.
There was no way for a surgeon to come down because the hospital in Athens didn’t have the equipment or the anesthesia available for babies his size. They also did not give him a survival rate high enough to survive transport and said it wouldn’t be viable.
Knowing stories of similar instances including one most recently at the same NICU makes me wish I would’ve followed through with having the autopsy done to verify whether or not they had caused damage when running lines to his bowl and how this progressed so aggressively.
They called once around 1:00am and we had just gone to bed. They said they hadn’t called back because they didn’t believe Jasper's life was in danger.
Jasper passed away at 6:10pm Monday, just over 24 hours after being seemingly healthy.
Everything following this was a blur. I remember waking up every morning right around 4:00am so restless because my body hadn’t adjusted to not having a baby at home to care for. My maternal clock had been kick started and didn’t know how to stop.
The first year was basically retraining my body and my thoughts around this trauma. I really didn’t think I’d come out of it. Somehow Jasper lead me right to God and his death has become something so much bigger than I could’ve planned for.
Recently, there was a mom who found evidence of malpractice by the same NICU Jasper was in. By taking my suggestion and transferring her 25 week old son, just 3 days after birth, the children's hospital was able to find and diagnose why his belly was distended in less than a day. Had he stayed there he wouldn’t have survived a week.
It’s so important families know what questions to ask their NICU team and to understand the benefits and risk to anything going into their baby. Most families also don’t realize a level 4 NICU doesn’t necessarily mean they’re capable of extensive surgery on preemies, which would require transfer.
This blog was written by Brittany Morgan in Madison, Georgia. Mom to Jasper, Brittany has been working over the last year to build Jasper’s legacy through offering doula birth services, postpartum NICU care, and bereavement care. She thanks her church for planting the seeds and allowing her to feel acceptance.