JEFFERSON CITY -- Reporters note: This is the first in a two part feature regarding former Thayer resident Trent Roger's experience with the birth of his son.
The Rogers found out Michelle was pregnant in the spring of last year with a due date of Dec. 31, 2002. Both Trent and Michelle were thrilled and things were going well. "Michelle was nauseous a lot and the old wives tale and even the obstetrician's assessment was that was a sign of a healthy baby. She had had a similar experience with her first pregnancy, so we thought things were going as expected," Trent said.
The couple's first plan was to get 2-year old Emma moved out of the "nursery" in preparation for the new baby. They began the not-so-tiny chore of stripping wall paper in one of their bedrooms to transform it into Emma's new room. "The top layer was overwhelmingly floral and beneath was a circa-1970s orange and green floral print that was intimately attached to the plaster of the wall. Scoring, steam, and a lot of jugs of DIF, elbow grease and teamwork finally got us to the less-than smooth original plaster walls. My Bob Villa-esque friend gave me a crash course in applying a joint compound and I went to work. I was not doing a good job and I wanted and excuse to quit. I got one, but it wasn't an excuse I was wanting," Trent said.
Michelle called for Trent from downstairs because she was having some cramping. At that point she was 11 weeks along and I knew this could be a problem. "The cramping continued and then she had some bleeding. At that point we hadn't even heard the heart beat, so we were assuming it was probably over. But the bleeding and cramping stopped and the following Monday we got to hear the heart beat and see that everything looked ok on the ultrasound," Trent said.
He said friends and family thought the episode was a passing thing, and while we were still anxious about it, the couple started feeling more at ease.
The cramping and bleeding came back several more times and each time was worse than the last. Because of this Trent and Michelle was referred to a obstetrician who specialized in high risk pregnancies in Columbia. What the couple found out is that the placenta had become partially separated from the uterus, something called a placenta abruption. Trent said none of the potential outcome of this diagnosis at this stage were very positive. "We left there feeling like we had been kicked in the stomach," he said.
Michelle was ultimately placed on bed rest with the hope that no further placenta separation would occur and that the remaining good placenta would do its best to keep the badly nourished and growing. "When we went to our next visit in Columbia, it, (the bed rest) didn't seem like it was helping. The placenta was about the same, but the baby wasn't growing well," he said This pattern continued with subsequent visits, but the doctor was encouraged by the fact that there was still a good amount of amniotic fluid which meant that is spite of all that had happened, the lungs could continue to mature.
Trent said the glimmer of optimism faded one Saturday afternoon when it began to look like membranes in the baby had ruptured. It took a few days for the doctors to make that determination but it soon became clear that most of the fluid was gone. At this point Michelle was 23 weeks gestation, which is about the time the lungs of a baby began to develop. The baby at that time was also at a size to small for survival if it were delivered. The obstetrician felt this would likely occur within 24 to 48 hours and she admitted Michelle to the hospital for observation during this period. "We just assumed nature would takes its course," Trent said.
Then 24 hours passed. Then 48 hours passed. Then it became a guessing game as to when the inevitable would occur. There was little hope of much more growth of the baby or lung development without fluid, and with membranes ruptured the risk of infection to the baby and Michelle was significant, so the couple came home to wait for the event to happen.
"We then sort of withdrew from the world, family, friends and neighbors. we cancelled our appointments in Columbia. Michelle went periodically for blood tests to screen for infection. we went through all the "what if's" we could come up with," Trent said.
A week went by and nothing happened. Then another week passed. with each passing day, the decisions became harder and harder. Trent and Michelle thought there was no clear choice about what could be done, should be done, or would be done.
Finally, when Michelle was approaching 28 weeks the couple made the decision to have the baby delivered c-section. What would happen after delivery was still an unknown, but most everyone involved assumed the outcome would not be good.
What the couple learned and what everyone involved learned that day was that medicine is not always an exact science. "We went into surgery prepared and expecting the worst. Our only hope was that the decisions that would need to be made be clear-cut." Trent said.Reporters note: See the Jan. 23 issue of the SMN for the remainder of the Trent and Michelle Rogers story.