Hailey was born November 14, 2012 at 5:55am, beautiful 7 pounds 9 ounces, 21¼ inches long. After I had Hailey I just couldn’t get over how much love I had for her. Carrying her for 9 months, I felt like I’d known her for a lifetime.
It started with a cough
After a few weeks home, I noticed Hailey starting to cough. It was just a small dry cough, but I made sure to mention it to her pediatrician right away. The doctor said to watch it. It was winter in Wisconsin so I was hoping it was just a cold. Days passed, but the cough got worse and she could barely sleep.
It gets worse
As more days passed, Hailey ran a high fever. She also started having coughing fits, so she often couldn’t keep down milk. At 4 weeks, her pediatrician told us that test results confirmed Hailey had whooping cough (also called pertussis). As young parents we didn’t know about the disease. When the doctor left the room, Nick asked what that was. All I knew was that it was deadly.
One day, Hailey was running another high fever and still couldn’t keep down any milk. The doctors were worried enough to send us to the Children’s Hospital. There, they monitored her and sent us home the next day. A week later I saw Hailey cough until she started to turn blue; we rushed to the pediatrician’s office where again they sent us to Children’s Hospital. They kept us for three days, monitoring her oxygen levels and her milk intake and then sent us home.
One afternoon, Hailey’s fever shot up. I called Nick. He came home from work and suggested giving Hailey a bath to cool her down. I had the feeling something was wrong. She wasn’t fussing and she hated baths. Afterwards, I took her temperature and it was normal. Fantastic!
I picked Hailey up to get her dressed. That’s when my heart sank. My mind went blank. Hailey wasn’t breathing. I yelled to Nick. I started crying. We started yelling Hailey’s name, blowing at her face. I’m licensed for CPR. I should have called 911. But honestly if someone would have asked my name I doubt I would have known what to say. I ran upstairs to get Nick’s mom. She came to help. Then, finally Hailey woke up and started breathing.
I told Nick “Don’t let her close her eyes or fall asleep.” We raced to the ER. I dropped Nick and our baby off at the doors. The rest is a blur. I remember running into a hospital room where Hailey was already coming back out on a stretcher. Then, I am holding my baby while getting put in the back of an ambulance going to Children’s Hospital.
Our hospital days
Hailey’s room was in quarantine, so visitors needed to wear a mask, gloves, and special covering. During the night, I usually woke to her coughs and the nurse would come in too because Hailey would stop breathing.
One night our nurse woke me up and I realized there were 10 doctors and nurses in the room. I saw Hailey had a breathing device over her face. The nurse explained to me and Nick that Hailey had stopped breathing. The next thing I remember is doctors telling me that Hailey had to be put on life support—something you’re never prepared to hear.
The doctors explained that her tiny body needed rest. Hailey also had to have surgery that day to relieve fluid build-up. Fluids that were supposed to go to her organs were filling her tissues instead. Her tiny body swelled up so much. Over days, her kidneys also started shutting down. One morning the kidneys started to work a little. But as quick as hope came, it went.
The worst news
day, doctors told us that Hailey’s eyes weren’t dilating when shown light. They said she needed a CT scan. I got this horrible feeling, like a boulder sat on my heart.
Nick and I and all of our parents were taken to a side room, just like in the movies. We were shown scans of a healthy baby and Hailey’s. Right away I could see they didn’t look the same. The doctor told us that Hailey had bleeding in her brain and there was nothing they could do. She told us we would get a second opinion from another doctor. I left the room, speechless. I just wanted to be with Hailey. The second doctor came in. He said, “We can keep her on life support as long as you want. But there is no way she can come back from this. Even if there was a miracle and she woke-up, she would be brain dead for the rest of her life.”
So Nick and I decided we wanted our baby to be at peace and not in any pain. January 3, 2013 at 9:00pm my daughter was taken to Heaven. She was just 7 weeks old.
Hailey’s family’s message
When Nick and I lost Hailey, we made a pledge to be her voice. We are sharing Hailey’s story to spread the word on how important it is to prevent whooping cough (pertussis). This disease can kill tiny babies. Moms can give good immune protection against whooping cough to newborns for up to about 2 months, if they get vaccinated with Tdap vaccine while pregnant. Many pregnant women don’t know about this. I so wish I had. Then babies can start their DTaP vaccination series at 2 months. Please help spread Hailey’s word and tell people how important it is to get vaccinated. On behalf of our family, we are Hailey’s voice.
Kaitlyn, Hailey’s mom.
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