Sometimes we have all these grand plans for our life, and then something completely unexpected happens. A greater power than we can contradict thwarts our intent and profoundly alters the entire course of our life. Read this mum’s heart-wrenching story of losing her son at just 33 days of age.
Jasmine was expecting her third child when her husband’s company required him to move to Singapore. It was a tough choice for the family of four – comprising Jasmine, her husband and their two lovely daughters. After much deliberation, they arrived at the decision that the family should stay together. They made the big move, as a family.
They moved to Singapore in November 2015 and the baby was due the following February.
Life seemed to be full of surprises and new beginnings. A new job posting, a new city, a new school for the girls and most importantly – a new addition to the family. And here’s the icing on the cake. Jasmine was expecting a boy. Their family was all but complete. Little did they know the biggest surprise of their lives was awaiting them.
Jasmine planned to deliver her baby in Johor Bahru (JB) and went across the causeway for her routine check-ups and scans. In February, she had her final check-up. She was dilated and her doctor had her admitted to deliver the baby that very day.
Jasmine’s delivery went fine. She had a smooth-sailing pregnancy followed by a fuss-free labour. Her little prince, Jeev was born and everything was in order. At least, that’s how it seemed. The nurses took him to the nursery and Jasmine decided to get some shut-eye after the day’s exhaustion.
But alas, just when everything seemed perfect, things took a dramatic turn. A cruel twist of fate was in store and the nightmare began the very next morning.
The paediatrician informed Jasmine and her husband that Jeev wasn’t looking too well. His oxygen saturation levels indicated a problem that was likely to be either an infection of some sort or an issue with his lungs, or heart. They immediately started Jeev on a dose of antibiotics in case of an infection.
The medical team decided to transfer Jeev to a government hospital in JB, where there were more neonatal specialists. Upon performing an echocardiogram, the specialist diagnosed Jeev with complex Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). Although the news had cast a cloud of gloom over the new mother and her husband, they remained optimistic. The extent of the complication still remained at large.
Jasmine had to play the waiting game, as the paediatric cardiologist wasn’t around at that point in time. It felt like a ticking time bomb. Jasmine had her heart in her mouth. The cardiologist returned after two days and did a more thorough scan on Jeev.
The atmosphere was dismal. There was no silver lining. Jeev’s situation was extremely complex. Among other complications, he only had 2 instead of the usual 4, chambers in his heart. To put it at its worst, he had half a heart and the two chambers had to work overtime to compensate.
The prognosis was fatal. Even with intervention, his chances of surviving were less than 20%.
It was the worst thing Jasmine could have expected to hear. She had a tough time accepting the news and keeping a clear mind to discuss the available options. After endless calls between the doctors, a surgeon finally stepped forward to say he was willing to perform the surgery. That very moment, Jasmine and her husband gave the green light.
Jeev was transferred to KL and had his first open-heart surgery at just 8 days of being in this world. His initial prognosis was only 7 days to live, and at the time of surgery he was already a day past his ‘given time’. All the doctors had advised Jasmine and her husband that it was fine not to seek further treatment and to let nature take its course as even with surgery, the chances of Jeev recovering were less than 20%.
But tell me, which mother would allow her child to die? Which mother would give up her child’s life without a fight?
Less than 20% is better than zero.
The surgery was performed and it was a success but it was not the end. He would have needed more operations. And with any surgery, the risks and complications are aplenty. Babies have close to no antibodies at that stage, and the risk of infection is high.
Jeev was in the ICU and throughout the time, he had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of alarms.
His chest was left open for a week to allow it to recover from the trauma of the surgery. Seeing a tiny baby strapped up to a multitude of machines and tubes was the most painful sight a mother could ever imagine having to see. We almost lost him many, many times.
Towards the third week, Jeev’s heart was getting slightly better. But unfortunately, when he was 33 days old, Jeev eventually lost his life to an infection. He had fought the good fight but a greater power decided that it was enough.
The days that followed left Jasmine in a concoction of anger, grief and bewilderment. Nothing seemed to make sense. It had been a normal and healthy pregnancy, the scans had not picked up a thing, then how and why had this happened? Her mind was riddled with questions.
During that difficult period, there were family members and friends who were truly supportive. But there were others who added insult to the injury with their insouciance or insensitivity. Just when she thought she had heard the worst, someone else would say something worse.
It happened for a reason. At least be thankful for your two daughters. You should seek professional help.
Jasmine felt angry with so many people and it seemed as if nothing that anyone said or did could ever make her feel right. She was maddened, infuriated, bitter and heartbroken all at once. Those were some of the darkest hours of her life. It was akin to falling into a deep, dark, abyss.
At some point, after performing all the last rights for Jeev, Jasmine felt that she had enough. She wanted to run away and hide from everyone and everything. They decided that it was time to go back to Singapore and start afresh. They didn’t want anyone to come back with them. Jasmine wanted time for herself and her family, just the four of them.
It was indeed a rough time. The loss of Jeev, coupled with shuffling back and forth JB, KL and Singapore and getting the children adjusted and then readjusted to school, it was incredibly draining and difficult. But somehow, the adrenaline kept Jasmine and husband going, through it all.
Read on to find out how Jasmine picked herself up and worked towards moving on.