“He was blue, his skin was covered with deep purple spots and he wasn’t crying.”
Between HG (severe nausea), gestational diabetes, sciatica and a host of other issues, Meagan Wright’s pregnancy with Dominic had problems from the start. But in spite of these, every scan of Dominic showed a strong, healthy little boy.
Until she went into labour at 33 weeks. She spent the night in hospital under observation and in the morning she went for an ultrasound to check the baby.
“I didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary … but then two separate radiologists came to review my ultrasound and I knew something was going on,” she told Love What Matters.
The ultrasound had picked up some alarming details. “They had seen a bright spot on my son’s liver and his heart was enlarged.
“Next thing I knew, two surgical nurses were rushing me to pre-op and telling me to get my husband there now.”
“He let out the weakest cry”
Things went from bad to worse. Dominic was delivered by emergency c-section.
“The first glimpse of him, I saw he was blue, and his skin was covered in deep purple spots,” she said. “He wasn’t crying.
“The whole room was especially quiet. I thought the worst … but then he let out the weakest cry. Thank god he was breathing.”
Dominic was breathing, but “they had no clue what was going on so every possible machine was hooked up” to his tiny body. “I could hardly see him under all the wires and tapes,” Meagan said.
“The brain damage was significant”
Tests and scans revealed that Dominic had an issue with his liver, which caused his heart to be enlarged. And a two hour MRI showed something doctors feared the most: an arteriovenous malformation on his brain.
An AVM is “an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins which disrupts normal blood flow and oxygen circulation,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Dominic’s AVM had caused the newborn to have a stroke.
“The neurologist told us he may never wake up and if he did we could be dealing with cerebral palsy, mental deficits, blindness, deafness,” she said. “We didn’t know if he would survive or if he would have any quality of life.”
That night Meagan and her husband made the heartbreaking decision to remove Dominic from support and start palliative care. They were getting ready to say goodbye to their little boy.
Dominic was hooked to so many machines it was often hard to see his face. Photo: Love What Matters
“He kept fighting”
The family took photos with the little boy, had him baptised and then slowly removed support. “We were expecting him to slowly fade away, but he didn’t – he kept fighting!”
For three nights his parents kept vigil by his bed and the little boy survived. It was evident they needed a plan for the future because Dominic wasn’t going to let go.
“He was out of acute danger but he needed time to heal his body. We had biopsies on his skin and found that his spots are just benign birthmarks, but so many more than doctors had seen before.”
Although they’re benign, the birthmarks caused trouble because they bled often, meaning the baby needed transfusions.
Over time Dominic stabilised. “His EKG didn’t show seizure activity … his chest ultrasound showed his heart function was table … his liver ultrasound showed the surgery was stable.”
After a course of strong antibiotics to tackle an infection that could have turned into meningitis, Dominic was like a new child.
“By the next day the change in him was drastic. He became a new baby. Almost two months later I could finally kiss my baby’s face. We were one step closer to coming home.”
A sweet moment shared with his big sister. Photo: Love What Matters
“This is terrifying for us”
As predicted, Dominic does have cerebral palsy, vision loss and some other physical issues. The baby will have brain surgery this year which could help some issues or make them worse. “This is terrifying for us,” Meagan said.
“This last year has been so very hard, I can’t even describe it,” Meagan said. “Many days I wanted to run away, I often felt like I am not adult enough to deal with this, but we muddled through.”
The family is finding a new normal and Dominic is doing well. Photo: Love What Matters