Well, despite the fact that I did not sleep a wink last night and I’ve had a million possibilities running through my head for five months, Cora’s Autopsy results were not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting to hear something along the lines of a genetic problem caused by the combination of our genes.
The good news – genetically, she was perfect. No chromosomal abnormalities. No strange syndromes or unexplained results. Perfect little girl, but premature.
The bad news – the news that had me sitting in completely stunned silence, listening to our doctor explain what had happened to our daugther with growing disbelief – in a nutshell, she died from pneumonia. When I was giving birth, she swallowed some amniotic fluid (they found it in her lungs) and her autopsy showed the presence of hyaline membranes (membranes that form when foreign matter (such as amniotic fluid) irritates and inflames the lung tissue, making gas exchange difficult or impossible). The fluid she aspirated gave her pneumonia, which is fairly common among premies and is usually fairly treatable, but the pneumonia, along with the irritation caused by hyaline membranes, didn’t allow her body to circulate oxygen adequately. As a result (and despite the copious amounts of antibiotics they pumped her full of as soon as she was born), the lack of adequate oxygen caused her heart to pump irregularly, which further decreased blood circulation, turning her blood acidic and killing off her organs until we had to take her off of life support because her brain was dead.
Statistically, 90% of babies born at 30+ weeks survive, most without lasting complications, even if they get pneumonia. Our baby was in the 10% who don’t make it. And for something as “simple” as pneumonia.