The father remembers the impossible choice he was asked to make: to choose between his wife and his premature baby.
Michael Jerry Fringham McConnell, 33, of Scotland, had to take the unimaginable stand last year when his fiancée Stephanie Brown, 29, started leaking amniotic fluid at 18 weeks pregnant and was taken to emergency surgery.
After the initial health scare and further testing, doctors thought the baby’s heart was “too big” – and then referred the mother to a cardiologist.
The examination tragically revealed that the child’s lungs were too small in relation to his body and out of proportion with the rest of his organs.
Excited parents, who tragically suffered a miscarriage a few years ago, received the heartbreaking news that their child would not reach full term.
Brown was asked to carry her pregnancy for another six weeks to give their son – who they later called Mickey – the best chance of survival, before being taken to Wishaw General Hospital to give birth.
However, the difficult situation worsened when McConnell received a call from the hospital informing him of serious complications when the umbilical cord had collapsed.
Then McConnell was asked about the impossible.
“The doctor who would drive me to one side took me and asked, ‘If push comes to shove, who will survive? My mother or the child?’”
McConnell said he was “horrified” when “he saw all these people and their faces,” which told him everything he needed to know about the “seriousness” of his partner’s condition.
“When I learned that my fiancée’s life was in danger, my heart froze – all I cared about at that moment was that she was okay,” he said.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, complications should be dealt with immediately so the fetus does not compress the cord, cutting off oxygen.
Despite this, they wanted to give birth to their child, but many advised that he may not succeed.
“Everyone was skeptical about his survival, especially since the weeks leading up to his birth were a real stress on Stephanie’s body,” he explained.
“I’ve been by her side at the worst and scariest time of my life and with her fluid loss, having to carry my son in her body for six weeks – it was exhausting, both physically and mentally,” McConnell said.
The placenta was stuck in Brown’s stomach and bladder, meaning a cesarean delivery was the best way to deliver their son, who was born at just 1 pound and 3 ounces, in November 2021.
“There were a lot of people in the theater and my heart was in my mouth the whole time,” McConnell recalls.
“They took my son away from the operating table and everything was quiet – all I remember being the first time he used his voice. We were in awe, it was clear and loud. In that moment, the relief was enormous,” McConnell said.
Mickey spent three months in the neonatal intensive care unit before being transferred to a hospital closer to home. However, as doctors prepared to transfer him, his condition began to deteriorate.
The collapsing father explained, “The doctors at the hospital were calling it ‘blue turns’ and saying it might not work ‘time.”
“To this day, we still don’t know why his condition has deteriorated,” he added.
Doctors have declared Mickey in end-of-life care after his body became too large for his lungs.
The baby boy died on July 24 in his mother’s arms.
The GoFundMe page has since been created to help support the family during this difficult time.
“He was the brightest star I’ve ever known, and I will never forget the impact my son had on this earth,” McConnell said in honor of his young son, “he was truly a warrior.” “He was suffering, and now he is at peace, shine my first warrior.
“Rest in peace our beautiful son.”