Dr. K. and her team continue to come in often with their forecast of doom.The baby drops from a 20-30% chance of survival, to eventually, after a half dozen or more such visits, a 1-5% chance. The head doctor at the hospital even pays us a visit with the gloomy prognosis. They tell us that for some reason, Caucasian male infants have the lowest survival rate of all micro-preemies. Faced with such overwhelming odds, the doctors seem stunned when we do not agree to terminate the pregnancy.
Every day our baby stays in the womb is hugely important. The longer I stay pregnant the better off our baby will be. With no fluid in which to practice breathing, our baby will not develop good lungs. With such underdeveloped lungs, our baby will surely die. If he does live, he’ll be severely handicapped. If we are going to save this baby, then first we will have to make it to 24 weeks gestation. If he is born before that, the doctors will not try to save him, but if he makes it to 24 weeks, they will give me two steroid shots to help his lungs develop and do everything possible to save him.
Now we have a goal: make it to 24 weeks. I don’t even allow myself to think he will come early. I am thinking I am here for the long haul. It is a very long wait indeed.
When we were trying to conceive, I had suggested to Joe that I wanted to name a girl Jolene, and if it was a boy, he could choose his name. Joe and I both want a strong name, for this little fighter, whose heart is beating so powerfully and whose kicks are very rambunctious already. We decide on Jacob Richard Comerford. Richard is for Joe’s dad and Jacob just seems to fit.
I begin to receive visits from the grief counselor. She comes in and tries to prepare me for the loss of my baby. She wants me to plan for my baby’s death and talks about his funeral. She recommends having someone take pictures of him.
On her third visit, I cannot take it anymore.
“Please do not come to see me again. I do not want to think about him dying when we are praying so hard for him to live and be okay. We’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.”
She leaves and does not return.
I feel fine physically, so it is hard to stay in bed so much. Emotionally though, I feel like I’m in prison, bound by invisible bands of restraint. I’m lucky to have Joe’s support. He is my lifeline. He and Luke come most weekends, but it is a four-hour drive, and it is not easy.
Joe won’t be able to bring him to the hospital when Jacob is born. We can’t bear worrying that he is on the highway with someone besides us behind the wheel, or anywhere else for that matter, other than safely at home. Joe and I seem to be the only ones who understand this. Our sisters have tried to help, and have suggested that Luke come and stay with them for a while, but they do not want to disrupt their own lives by staying in our home with our Luke.
I love it when Joe and Luke come and stay the night with me. Luke is so excited to be with both of his parents. He plays on my bed, covering me with markers and jumping around like a little wild man. He wants to know what the doctors and nurses have in their pockets and helps himself to find out. Yes, he does seem to be handling this pretty well. Surprisingly, he is allowed to sleep with me if I keep the bed rails up and promise not to let him fall off onto the floor. I can’t get enough of his sweet little self. I wish Joe could fit in with us, but have to settle for him being on a recliner next to us. It is utter bliss to be together, even here, under the circumstances, and it is heart wrenching when they have to leave.
Time crawls slowly by. Joe calls me at least twice a day. I feel like I’m turning into a marshmallow in this bed. I pass the time by praying, worrying, reading and watching TV, in that order. Up to this point, I have only gotten up to use the bathroom.
At about 23 weeks, five days’ gestation, I begin to have a slight showing of blood.
Oh no, here we go! I inwardly moan.
(Excerpted from God’s Choice: A Journey Through High-risk Pregnancy, Premature Birth, and One Child’s Fight to Live by Joseph and Katherine Comerford, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.)
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Joseph and Katherine chose faith over the prescribed judgment of the medical profession when it came to their high-risk pregnancy, but that faith was still tested. Have you faced a similar challenge, not just with a pregnancy but another type of medical crisis? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Joseph and Katherine Comerford
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Joseph and Katherine Comerford
I am a self-described child of nature. As a child, I traveled with my parents and three siblings throughout the forests of Colorado, where my father worked as a logger. Before my marriage to Joe, I trained and showed horses. Joe and I are avid outdoor lovers. I’d rather chase Joe and the boys with our hounds through the woods than anything else. I never thought I wanted children, until I met the man of my dreams. With him, I could imagine it and after seven years together we started our family. Our first child, a son, made me realize just how crazy in love with your child you can be. It is an all-consuming fierce kind of love. I think all mommies, and probably daddies, can relate to that. Our second child, also a son, born very early and weighing only 1 pound, 9 ounces, is teaching me just how far you will go for your children, how all-consuming the fire of unconditional love can be. Joseph fought the frustrating battle of working to keep our family together emotionally through this crisis while also working full time. He divided his time between our home in the Wet Mountain Valley near Westcliffe, Colorado and the medical centers of Denver, 200 miles away. He is a 1981 McQuaid Jesuit High School alumnus, and also earned an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences from the State University of New York, Delhi College of Agriculture and Technology. Since age 19, he has been a builder in “the Valley.”