Kasey Lee Thomas was born on July 2, 2004 at 4:31 p.m. after only six hours of induced labor and three pushes. He was absolutely beautiful! He had a ton of black hair and was just perfect. He weighted 6 lbs. 8 oz. and was 21 inches long. My doctor put him on my belly and I watched him move and cry. My husband and I were overwhelmed with joy – he was finally here! His apgar scores were normal – an 8 at one minute and a 9 at five minutes.

One thing we thought was odd was that the doctor did not offer for my husband to cut the umbilical cord like he did for our other son five years earlier. Then the doctor mentioned that he had a “cone head”, which did not “match” the quick delivery. A few minutes later our world fell apart.

The nurses had Kasey in the warmer and were doing all the routine checks on him. Then all of a sudden Kasey became unstable, blood pressure dropping and the nurses having to bag him. He was rushed out of the room. We never heard him cry again.

It was an hour and a half before a doctor came to talk to my husband and me. I look back now and do not know how we waited and did not track someone down. The only thing that can explain it is shock.

The doctor told us that Kasey had a subgaleal hemorrhage and was in critical condition. He explained that a subgaleal hemorrhage is a bleed in the head between the scalp and skull. That part of the head can hold a vast amount of blood. It was explained to us that this type of hemorrhage is extremely rare and usually occurs when suctioning or forceps are used – which was not the case. It was also explained that usually a baby will clot and the bleed will stop at some point, but for some reason Kasey was not clotting. Our family does not have any history of any bleeding disorders, so we could not understand what was happening.

The doctor said they needed to start a blood transfusion immediately and that Kasey would have to be transported to Children’s Hospital. Our relatives later told us that as soon as we signed the forms for the transfusion that the medical staff sprinted down the hallway to Kasey.

About an hour and a half later they brought Kasey to our room so our family and my husband and I could see him before he was transported to the other hospital. They let my husband and I each hold him for a split second and then he was gone. Kasey was not moving and there was no reaction from him. What was happening? We had just given birth and our son was supposed to be healthy!

My husband was torn – he wanted to be with me, but also knew Kasey needed him more. So, the family was split – some went with my husband and some stayed with me. We communicated as much as we could that night with no good news – it was awful – the longest night of our lives!

The doctors were not able to get the bleeding to stop until morning. I was released that morning and went straight to Children’s Hospital. To this day I do not remember much of that day – I know my body was in shock and trying to protect me. I do remember seeing Kasey when I got there and just about fell to the floor. His poor little head was so big. His head was so big that the top of his ears were folded forward. His forehead and sides of his face were purple from all the bruising. My husband described it well – Kasey’s head and face looked like one of those sports ball Halloween masks where a little face is painted on. Kasey was just a little baby, why was this happening to him?

Kasey was a little fighter and went through so much. It was endless the amount of tests, procedures and surgeries he went through. He surprised the doctors in how he fought and hung on. My husband and I – as well as our families – lived at the hospital. We prayed for a miracle. Kasey had brain damage, as well as damage to the kidneys and liver due to the loss of blood. In the end, Kasey had 45 blood transfusions on top of everything else.

On Sunday, July 25, 2004 we arrived at the NICU early, like we did every morning. For some reason my husband told me on the way in that he did not have a good feeling about the day. He was right. Upon arriving in the NICU the doctors were there to tell us they thought Kasey was in DIC – which meant he was clotting where he should not, but not clotting where he should. They were waiting on test results. We were told if they came back positive, there was nothing more they could do. They could continue to give him transfusions, but it would ultimately prolong his death where he would bleed to death internally. Those were the longest minutes of our lives – just waiting. The test came back that he was in DIC. We were devastated – the word is so inadequate to describe our feelings. How could this happen to our perfect baby boy? He struggled for so long – just fighting to be given a chance and everything was against him. It was not fair! He never got to come home, wear clothes, have a birthday, play with his big brother – we never got to change his diaper!

We had to make a decision on what to do. We could let them continue blood transfusions, which would ultimately mean more suffering for Kasey or make the unselfish decision to let him go. As heart-wrenching as it was, we had to let him go. We spent the next several hours just talking to him and touching him. We tried to soak up everything about him – every toe, finger, his smell …

When we were ready and with him at his bedside he was taken off his life support. I was holding him when they took him off the machines and unhooked all of the tubes. I was finally holding my baby without all of those things. (My husband and I had held him in the NICU only twice each because it was too difficult and dangerous with everything he needed.) It just was not right that finally holding him this way meant the end. My husband carried Kasey out of the NICU and to a room where our family was waiting. Everyone was able to say good bye to our beautiful baby. After only 23 days, our perfect baby boy went to be with the angels. To this day – it all seems so unbelievable. How could this have happened? Kasey did not deserve this.

The weeks and months that followed are all a blur. If it would not have been for the overwhelming support of family, friends and co-workers, we would not have made it. I still do not know how we have and continue to struggle on a daily basis.

We had to find a way to function – after all we had a 5 year old boy at home who was heartbroken and needed us. My husband and I both eventually went back to work. It was so hard, we were suppose to go back to work with wonderful pictures and cute baby stories and stories of night-time feedings. Instead we were in a daze – going back to work as if our lives were the same as before Kasey was born. I will never forget the looks on peoples’ faces – they did not have to say a word – their faces were full of pity. It was awful – those looks and the silence – no one knew what to say. You could tell people were afraid to say Kasey’s name. So, still having to be strong, I would break the silence and say his name. I wanted to talk about every minute of his precious life – I wanted people to hear about my son – even though he was so tiny and fragile – I wanted them to know how brave and strong he was. My husband and I are proud to be his parents!

Somehow we managed to make it through fall. I think we gained strength along the way listening to stories from our family and friends of how Kasey had changed their lives forever. When Kasey passed away we could not make any sense of it. I had always believed in the saying “that everything happens for a reason” – but I just could not ever believe in that again. What reason could anyone ever give us to justify Kasey’s death? We still struggle with it.

In hearing everyone’s thoughts and feelings we slowly began to see why Kasey was put on this earth – even for a short time. He impacted more people in his 23 days of life than most people will in a lifetime.

My husband and I said leaving the hospital after Kasey’s death that we would not have any more kids. We always said we would have two and we did. We just could not imagine having another baby after losing Kasey.

Over time we changed our minds. We knew in our hearts that Kasey would want us to be happy and would look over another pregnancy and protect us and another baby. After all, we had our own angel watching over us.

In December we decided to try again. What a scary decision! Would we get pregnant again? Would everything be okay? Could we emotionally handle it?

By the end of the month, I decided to take a pregnancy test – it was early, but my mind was driving me crazy! We did not think it was possible to be pregnant yet, because I was having problems with my cycle. (That and I had only been off birth control for a month.) I had skipped in October and in a panic called my doctor. I did not want to be pregnant then – I could not handle it. He rushed a blood test and to my relief it was negative. In November I skipped again and the doctor met with me and thought it was due to stress. I skipped in December too. Everyone said it was due to stress. I even went to the family doctor over some stomach issues and was told it was stress-related.

The test I took at the end of December was positive! We were shocked! Another blood test was rushed and it was confirmed – we were pregnant! My doctor wanted to see me right away to do an ultrasound. It turned out I was 14 weeks pregnant! We got pregnant on the pill! The lab test in October was wrong. We could not believe that after all the doctors appointments I had been pregnant the whole time! I felt like “stupid” was written on my forehead! This was my third pregnancy, not my first.

Then panic set in. How could the baby be healthy? I had not lived a healthy life style those 14 weeks. We were on pins and needles until the first appointment with the high risk doctor and a level 2 ultrasound. To our relief, the baby was healthy and fine.

It took awhile for everything to set in – it was all happening so fast. My high risk doctor was absolutely wonderful through the whole pregnancy. He did everything he could to calm our fears and reassure us every step of the way.

To make the whole thing even more mind-blowing was that my due date was only one day different from Kasey’s! A c-section was scheduled ten days early. My doctor did not want to take any chances with any pressure on the baby’s head.

Our beautiful – and healthy – baby boy – Corey Lee Thomas was born June 27, 2005. We were amazed how perfect and healthy he was. The pregnancy was an emotional roller coaster and we felt like we would fall off every second of the way, but in the end it was worth it.

Corey will never take Kasey’s place, but he sure has helped us tremendously. When he gets older he will hear how he helped save our lives – in more ways than one.

We know our beautiful Angel Kasey gave us Corey – he was making sure of it before we even knew we were ready. We know our angel is watching over us and with us every day.

Our precious Kasey … once again changing our lives and impacting so many people. What an awesome and inspiring soul to everyone. One can only hope to inspire and be the person he was – even if it was for only 23 days.

Written in loving memory of Kasey Lee Thomas by mommy, daddy, big brother Riley and little brother Corey. We love you Kasey and can’t wait to hold you in heaven.
-Kelly Thomas