Sunday, June 1st, we celebrated what would have been Landen's 5th birthday. Marryn helped me make some cupcakes and we all sang "Happy Birthday" and blew out 5 candles. The girls both got a small present as well, just as if Landen were here with us. This is the first year we haven't been able to put out flowers and balloons on his grave, since we recently moved, but the first year that we had a "party" for him. We've decided to make this our little tradition, especially as Marryn and Reganne, are getting older, understanding more who Landen is. This was not a sad day. Just a special day.
I know that we haven't talked alot or told many people about our first child. It's not that we don't like to bring it up or talk about Landen, it's more that we don't like to make other people uncomfortable. We have found great peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ in the short life of our son. We know that this was the plan of our great Heavenly Father.
Landen Joseph was born full term, 8 lb 4 oz, after a seemingly uncomplicated pregnancy. I say seemingly because at about 35 weeks, I thought that my water had broke. I went in for an exam, and was reassured that I was fine. About 6 weeks later when I went in labor, my midwife tried to break my water to speed things up, only to find no water sac. In fact, she could feel the baby's head, full of hair. He was later born with very little water, and a head full of curly blond hair. Delivery was rough. I opted for the epidural only to find the hour of pushing horrific. His shoulders got stuck, which only made the pain worse, but he finally came out. I wasn't able to hold him at first, but he was kept in the room with us while he was cleaned up and given oxygen. Then before they took him to the NICU, I was able to hold him briefly. Never at this moment did we or any of the nurses and doctors expect anything more than just a rough delivery.
Within hours, the oxygen hood he was under was failing to provide him with adequate oxygen and he was incubated. Within hours of that, it was clear that it wasn't working as well. Soon a call was put out to The Children's Hospital in Denver and by that night, he was on his way there. Joey and I left the next morning and met with a specialist there. It was determined that he had Pulmonary Hypertension and would need to be on ECMO, a lung and heart bypass machine. In addition, his lungs were very small, a byproduct of low amniotic fluid. Landen was on ECMO for about a week, before taken off. He did well for a couple days, then started to deteriorate again. By this time the doctors knew it was probably something else that was causing the Pulmonary Hypertension. First test, a lung biopsy determined what they feared. He had Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia, a very rare and fatal newborn disorder. The air sacs and capillaries in his lungs did not line up and therefore could not exchange oxygen. There was nothing we could do for him and within a few days, we took him off life support at just 20 days old.
Losing Landen had proven to be the most difficult thing we have had to go through. But the worst may not be over. The cause of his condition is not fully understood or known, but it is thought to be a genetic condition, in which every child we have has a 25% chance of having ACD. Although new findings are questioning that, but not necessarily in a positive way.