Posted by: Jim Black | April 28, 2008

Dakota’s story…

Here’s a bit more of the story that I shared with our church on Sunday.  April is my amazing cousin and Gene is her wonderful husband.  The story of their experience is heart-wrenching, but uplifting.

 

Gene’s Story: I want to thank the MOD for everything that they are doing! I have a story that I feel compelled to share although it is not a happy one. You never know how perspective can change and how much the MOD means! After a couple of years of trying to conceive on our own, my wife and I went to a fertility specialist and went through in-vitro fertilization. My wife carried the first 2 embryos for about 8 weeks, at which time she miscarried. We waited a few months and tried again. My wife was implanted with 2 more embryos, and our son was conceived in December of 2006. All of the ultrasounds were amazing. Since he was an in-vitro baby, we got to see him every week via ultrasound, watching him grow every step of the way. Everything was running smoothly until April, 2007, when her OB/GYN noticed a little funneling in her cervix. She was referred to a high risk OB to check her out. Once the OB saw her, he immediately admitted her to the high risk pregnancy unit in the hospital. She was at 22 weeks. Her cervix was totally effaced and they tried an emergency circlage, which failed. She was put on strict bed rest while in the hospital. The doctors were not hopeful that her cervix would hold our little boy in until it was a viable pregnancy. We were devastated, but as each day passed, we gained hope little by little. We knew that 24 weeks was the first benchmark, viability. We knew that the chances were slim, but we still had hope. As 24 weeks passed, we counted each and every day to 25 weeks. At 26 weeks, they injected surfactin, a steroid, to help his little lungs develop. We were amazed that he had held on inside for as long as he had. We knew that he was now viable, and with each passing day it increased his chance at survival. We had become accustomed to the routine at the hospital, and were treated amazingly by every staff member there! Then, on the day he turned 27 weeks, my wife’s water broke. He was breach and she was on blood thinners. She would have to have our child naturally. She was rushed to the delivery room, and at 4:50 AM on May 18, 2007, our son, Dakota Shea Taylor, was born. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He weighed 1 lb. and 15 oz. We knew that he had an uphill struggle since he was born so early, but we held out hope that everything would be ok. The initial reports were that they had injected some additional surfactin to help his lungs develop, and he was responding nicely. I visited Dakota about 10 times that day. Both of our families came to see our new bundle of joy. My wife, still reeling from the pregnancy, and all of the complications that occurred, was unable to really see him. Each time I went to see him though, things were not improving. His lungs were not responding. They constantly had to increase his oxygen level, which is not good in the early stages of a young child’s life. At 6PM, the neonatologist came into my wife’s room and informed us that there wasn’t anything else that they could do and wanted to know if we would agree to a do not resuscitate order. We didn’t want our son to suffer, so we reluctantly agreed. At 6:30 PM, they told us they were taking him off life support and wanted to know if we wanted to hold him. We wanted to, but we couldn’t!! We couldn’t watch our son die in our arms, so we declined. At 7:10 PM on May 18, 2007, our son, Dakota Shea Taylor, went to his Father! After he passed, I did get to finally hold him in my arms. I told him how proud I was of him, and how proud I was that he fought for every minute of his life. His poor little lungs just weren’t developed enough to handle it, but I know that he fought with every ounce of energy he had! It was the happiest and saddest day of my life. At the funeral, we asked that everyone either donate to the March of Dimes, or the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital where Dakota spent his life. Never being a parent before, I didn’t understand how much you could love someone as much as you love your kids until now! I will always cherish the short time I had with my son! On his birthday this year, and every year after, we will send out invitations inviting everyone to send a donation to the March of Dimes. We want to win this fight with prematurity! All battles won’t be won, but if the war can be won, it makes Dakota’s story an exception, rather than the rule. I want to personally thank the MOD for everything that they do with premature babies and birth defects.—Gene Taylor April’s Story: Well, I don’t know how to describe 2007, but it was the worst year of our life. We owe so much thanks to EVERYONE including Erlanger NICU and high risk nurses, fertility center of chattanooga, family, friends, and even strangers from churches and other organizations. As my husband described, our first attempt at IVF was unsuccessful. But the 2nd attempt was a great success. We were so excited after my husband who is scared of needles injected me daily with multiple shots and stood by me through mood swings due to all the hormones injected into my body. Anyways, the 2nd attempt was 2 embryos and we were disappointed that we lost 1; however, the 2nd stayed. We went multiple times per week for ultrasounds and checkups. It was amazing to watch a heartbeat turn into fingers, toes, arms, legs, face, etc. Since I was a little girl I had always said I was going to name my baby Cody. Since we didn’t know the sex yet, we both agreed easily on Dakota for either sex. So, Dakota was named at the embryo stage. We were so excited! Started buying maternity clothes, baby clothes, etc. My mom was so excited that she volunteered to babysit throughout the week despite the fact that she lived 1 hour away. She had already planned on staying at my house throughout the week or taking Dakota to her house for a few nights so we didn’t have to pay for childcare. Then it all hit! I received a call from my mom who was so strong that she called me from the hospital to tell me she was in liver failure. We had seen different signs, but she would say that it was upset belly and she was coughing off and on but she would say it was allergies. Turns out her lungs and body were filled with blood clots due to hereditary blood disorder. I called my aunt Jackie immediately who lives in Michigan (she is more like my sister) and she packed her bags and drove all night to be with us. I remember telling her "I am pregnant and can’t handle this". When she arrived we spent every waking moment at the hospital with my mom. Jackie brought along my 2 cousins also and they were such great support. We have always been very close despite the seperation in distance. Of course they were all excited to see my pooching belly and such! While my mom was in the hospital, I had an appointment for an ultrasound. My husband and cousin went with me and at that time we discovered that Dakota was a "boy". I will never forget the look on their faces. I thought my husband was going to jump with excitement out of the room. You could tell that he had deeply always wanted a boy. We all rushed to the hospital to tell my mom the great news. She would lay in the hospital bed and rub my belly and talk to Dakota. Then things got even worse. My mom who was perfectly healthy to in hospital was diagnosed w/cancer and told that chemo/radiation wouldn’t cure. She was told she had only a few weeks to live. That’s when my entire life crumbled literally beneath my feet. I got so weak I didn’t know what to do. I sat on my mom’s bedside and she said "I am going to get them to keep me alive until August so I can see Dakota" (that was his estimated due date). I told her that I didn’t want her to suffer and that I wanted her to be healthy in order for Dakota to see her. We just cried and cried. Then she looked at me and said "I don’t want to live without you" and I told her "you will always live inside of my heart". Which to this day is true. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. That afternoon, my mom passed away. My grandmother who is healthy and in her 80’s offered to stay and help me with the baby and we graciously took her into our home. She would go to appointments with me, but one appointment turned into another beginning of a nightmare. I was seen by high risk doctor and they immediately admitted me to the hospital. They wouldn’t even let me go to the car to get my belongings because they said I had to get straight to bed. They could already see the top of Dakota’s head. My husband and dad came immediately to the hospital (and my husband never left me for more than a few minutes the entire time from admission to discharge). Anyways, they attempted several things to try and help with preventing Dakota from coming early. We prayed each day that he would grow in my belly more and more. It was an amazing experience to feel him moving and kicking around. They drained amniotic fluid out through my belly to relieve some pressure which helped prolong him somewhat. Unfortunately, I developed a blood clot myself and discovered I had inherited the same blood disorder that my mother had and they placed me on blood thinners. Then it happened. I went into labor. They took me to delivery and my sister in law, grandmother, dad, and husband were present. They had all rushed to be there! The doctor felt that since Dakota was early that he would easily be delivered despite the fact that be was breeched. I was so much more relaxed when I saw that my nurse was a girl that I had gone to nursing school (ande). She made me feel more confident despite my hesitations about delivering naturally and breeched. They couldn’t give me any epidurals due to being on blood thinners. The delivery turned into a huge complication. Dakota got stuck and they had to work hard on getting him out because my hips and pelvis hadn’t expanded for him. Since I was on blood thinners both me and Dakota were bruised quite badly. I will never forget them holding him up for me to see and all I thought was "look at that head full of black hair!". My husband is red headed and I am blonde. Everybody was so positive and saying he was doing well. As the story continues to get worse, I began to hemorrage and had to have blood transfusions due to being on the blood thinners. I practically went into shock and was heavily medicated so I really didn’t know all that was going on throughout the day. I knew it wasn’t good due to he fact I would see my entire family in the room crying off and on. My husband would come and tell me that Dakota wasn’t doing well, but I encouraged him to care for Dakota and not me. I won’t ever forget looking to my bedside and my dad sitting there and me asking what was going on and his response was "I just want my baby girl to live right now". That’s definitely what a daddy would say to his girl!! That evening, the doctor came to talk to us and Gene and I decided that we didn’t want Dakota to suffer through anymore medical trauma. It was all in God’s hands. So, we took him off his ventilators which was pretty much recommended by the physician. Dakota continued to fight off the equipment, but finally passed away. I was so shocked and stunned that I couldn’t even cry. I was offered to hold him, but so weak and stunned that I was unable. I am glad that Dakota got to be in his daddy’s arms though. I wish I could have held him, but just couldn’t. I let everyone in my family hold him that wanted to. His Aunt Angela would go and talk to him and touch him which was such a relief for me that she stepped in and did the "motherly" thing for me. I like to tell everyone that my mom wanted to have her grandson so badly that she had him brought to Heaven to be with her and that she is rocking him each day in Heaven for me. There is not a day that goes by or that will ever go by in my life that I don’t think about my baby Dakota. He will always be my son and my 1st born. I just want to express Thanks and Love to everyone that visited, called, helped, etc. Don’t know what we would have done without you all! It proved to us who our "true friends" are. This story is not intended to make you sad, but to share our story and let you know that other people suffer and go through experiences like this daily. We ask that you make a donation to the March of Dimes, Erlanger NICU, or Hospice of Chattanooga in memory of Dakota. His birthday is May 18th! Love to all!!

 

God isn’t finished with this story yet, by the way…

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