Michelle felt something was wrong at the baby shower held for her and Leanne at the Rovers. Oh, a lot was wrong with that shower, but that’s a different topic.
Leanne took Michelle to the hospital to get checked out. On Thursday, it seemed she’d be ok. But the doctors decided to keep her in just to be sure. She and Steve, both worried, tried to talk themselves calm. Steve called his unborn son Rory, the name Michelle wanted and Steve hadn’t. It had grown on him, he said.
Then she went into labour. Hospital policy defines the point of viability of life at 24 weeks gestation. If Rory didn’t take a breath, doctors would not intervene. If he did, they’d work to save him.
After he was delivered, the medical staff held the infant and studied him. Michelle and Steve held their breath as they waited to find out his – and their – fate. Had he taken a breath? A sad, small shake of a head. No.
What a gut-wrenching moment. The nurse handed the tiny infant, wearing a tiny blue knitted cap, to Michelle. She held him, willing life into him. But no, baby Rory will not live.
I had thought that a still-born birth must be the hardest thing in the world. Now I wonder if it is this: having a baby who might or might not live, depending on a single breath. Maybe they can’t be compared, they’re equally horrible.
Rory was what is called a micro-preemie, according to a piece on CBC Radio’s The Current (Dec. 29, 2016). I listened to the story of baby Juniper and was moved by her parents’ description of watching her body actually develop. But I could still think dispassionately about the pros and cons of superhuman efforts to save such early babies.
But watching Rory? I desperately wanted to hear a breath and, failing that, I wanted to see those nurses whisk him off to an incubator and hook him up to all the machines they had.