Fang arrived on Wednesday evening, 24 Feb 2010 at 9:05pm on his own steam and without the much-insisted upon epidural. As par for the course with my overall pregnancy, the delivery was a little less than straightforward and there noticeable absence of an epidural. A true highlight for both Tim and I was Fang’s arrival was the arch of pee aimed straight for the delivering doctor that accompanied him. What can I say? He has always had a great sense of humour.
We named him James Robert Radcliffe Binnington, although I think Fang probably would have stuck with him. He was James to his papa and James Robert to me (along with a whole host of other endearments he probably would have grown up to roll his eyes about). He weighed 5lbs and 9 0z and fought a good hard fight against hydrops fetalis. His organs just couldn’t hold water properly and everything flowed out into his skin and his lungs were very underdeveloped from the weight of all the water around him during pregnancy, which was – ironically – caused by his own kidneys thinking they weren’t working well enough. He spent most of his time on a morphine drip, reclined back like a WC Handy lookalike crossed with the Big Lebowski (he had a very fetching pair of foam sandals that he wore most of the time and would have looked smashing in a bathrobe). He died on 27 Feb 2010 at 2:45 pm in the afternoon.
Both my husband and I are eternally grateful to the fabulous staff at the University College London Hospital Neo-Natal Unit, the staff at the Feto-Medical Unit, as well as all the other medical staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital and North Middlesex Hospital (for the most part) that we have encountered through this arduous journey. For every whine and whinge I've uttered and written about during this pregnancy, I am so very, very aware that I have an amazing world class healthcare system at my disposal and within my grasp. We would not have been able to have James for the short time that we did without their amazing work.
The next few months will be incredibly hard. There are so many things that have to happen before my physical self can revert to a semblance of 'normal' and they are things I hadn't thought I would have to have happen. There are a lot of questions that need to be investigated and -- we hope -- answered. We have opted for a post mortem largely because it is suspected that the underlying cause of this particular case might be genetic and before we even think of attempting another pregnancy, we both have to know those odds (seriously: how many pregnancies can 1 girl attempt?) because neither of us could bear to go through this again. Also, if the questions we get answers to can be of use to any other pregnant penguins who find themselves faced with the possibility of polyhydraminos or hydrops, and to the medical staff who treat hydrops, then the least I can do is help make that happen.
In my mind, as much as it hurt to let him go on his first sleepover, Fang has just gone on a very extended play date that involves a sleepover. With his great-grandfather Jinx, maybe. I envision fishing. And maybe a few chapters of Treasure Island which is what Jinx read to me one spring holiday a long time ago, just before he taught me to play backgammon.
Thank you to all of you for your ongoing thoughts and support. We are more grateful than we can ever express.