Jared Wilson and his pregnant wife Caitlyn went to the hospital to welcome their baby boy Gabriel into the world. Little did they know that only one of them would be returning home.
Wilson left his 27-year-old wife at the Buffalo hospital on December 12 for her scheduled induction. He then went home to take care of their one-year-old son named Lincoln.
Wilson, a resident anesthesiologist, joined Caitlyn later that night when everything seemed to be progressing smoothly. Caitlyn received her epidural at around 1 a.m. the following morning and an OB resident arrived shortly after to break her water.
Wilson remembers that, in terms of positioning, there were no warning signs. The baby seemed to be in the right position. However, when the resident attempted to assist with the delivery by breaking the mother’s water and positioning the baby, they discovered that the baby’s arm was raised above its face, and directly behind it was the umbilical cord.
During delivery, if the baby is not positioned properly, there is a possibility of the cord getting pinched between the neck and the head, leading to a condition called uterine cord prolapse. This condition is extremely dangerous for the baby as it can result in suffocation. In a particular case, the doctor had to make a swift decision and chose to swoop the baby in a certain direction, which resulted in his arm coming out into the birth canal. Although this action resulted in the cord getting pinched, the doctor’s quick thinking saved the baby’s life.
According to Wilson, the medical staff immediately summoned the nurses and chiefs for assistance. The chief resident then proceeded to perform an emergency procedure, where she gently lifted Gabriel inside the birth canal off of his own cord and activated a c-section. It was a critical moment that required quick and decisive action to ensure the safety of both mother and child.
The events of that night unfolded at a breakneck pace. He remembers sending a text to both sets of parents at 2:02 a.m., asking for prayers for Caitlyn as she was about to be taken to the operating room. Just 15 minutes later, the surgeons returned with pictures dated 2:12, showing that Gabriel had been safely delivered and was already crying. It was an astonishingly quick process – in just 10 minutes, Caitlyn had been taken to the OR, the surgery had been performed, and a healthy baby had been brought into the world.
According to Wilson, Caitlyn experienced some complications during her emergency c-section when doctors had to switch her over to general anesthesia and intubate her in the operating room. This was due to the fact that Caitlyn was still able to feel sensations in her stomach, as the epidural had only been administered about 20 minutes prior to the procedure.
According to the expert, a significant risk associated with general anesthesia is the possibility of stomach fluids and contents aspirating back into the lungs. This risk is further increased during emergency situations, especially when dealing with a pregnant woman who has been drinking water all day and has a large baby putting pressure on her stomach and lungs. During Caitlyn’s intubation, she had to deal with the challenge of cups and cups of fluid, including water and stomach acid, coming up into her mouth. Thankfully, the medical team was able to suction it out and insert the tube, but there was still concern about how much of the fluid had already entered her lungs.
After a couple of hours, she was brought back into the room on a wheelchair with a small oxygen tank. The surgery and the c-section went smoothly, but the suturing was done quite tightly without separating layers or adjusting anything else. The doctors simply cut down to the baby and delivered it without any complications.
According to Wilson, Cait’s recovery time has been extended due to the severity of her condition. The experience has been excruciating, especially when one feels as though they have swallowed a swimming pool. Caitlyn had been coughing very hard, which made the situation more challenging and painful. Wilson mentions that Cait had a mild case of bronchitis before this incident, and her airways were still inflamed and reactive.
Caitlyn was struggling to cough with enough force as she felt like her stomach was about to tear open.
As Wilson watched, she felt relieved as the medical team successfully delivered Gabriel, who was in good health and safe, along with Caitlyn, who also appeared to be healthy and safe. Despite looking like she might face some challenges, Caitlyn was put on antibiotics to prevent any potential pneumonia from the fluid.
The initial strategy was based on the fact that the individual in question was a 27-year-old with a clean bill of health. It’s common for people to inhale food into their lungs when they’re intoxicated and fall down or become unconscious after vomiting. However, given her good health, it was anticipated that she would recover swiftly from this incident.
During the following ten days, Wilson explained that a few complications arose that were cleverly concealed by a convergence of factors such as aspiration, emergency surgery, and pregnancy. Meanwhile, Caitlyn, who was still being monitored in the labor and delivery unit for her oxygen levels, was eager to return home to her little ones.
The new mother was clearly experiencing a considerable amount of discomfort, as evidenced by her elevated heart rate and the swelling in her lower legs. The hormonal changes that come with a c-section and milk letdown, combined with the added stress of being in a hospital and hooked up to monitors, only compounded her physical discomfort. All she wanted was to be able to leave the hospital and go home with her newborn baby.
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Shortly after, Caitlyn’s condition worsened, and she required increased levels of oxygen. She was then transferred to the ICU for more specialized care. Meanwhile, Wilson made the difficult decision to bring Gabriel back home, leaving Caitlyn in the hospital. The medical team provided Caitlyn with the highest level of non-invasive oxygen support available.
Wilson shares that every day was quite similar for their patient. She would require a slightly increased amount of oxygen, but she remained awake and conversational. The medications were effective in controlling her pain, and she seemed to be coping well.
Caitlyn was intubated on December 21, which also happened to be Wilson’s 30th birthday. The inflammation in her lungs had gotten worse, and she needed some rest. Wilson recalls that Caitlyn wanted to take a break and let the machine do the breathing for her. She was exhausted from the long and tiring battle, and Wilson could see it in her eyes.
Wilson remembers the moment things took a turn for the worse. “It happened suddenly,” he says. “Prior to this, Caitlyn was only taking mild pain medication and medication for acid reflux and constipation. She was actually the healthiest person in the ICU.”
According to Wilson, as soon as they intubated Caitlyn and she began to desaturate, they were unable to keep her stable. Despite the machine being designed to mimic human respiratory function, it simply couldn’t keep up. Additionally, lab results that had previously been normal for the past nine days suddenly showed an abnormal double white count. In less than eight hours, her count went from 10 to 40, which is a massive increase.
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As soon as she made the decision to rely on others and take a break, her blood pressure suddenly dropped and we struggled to bring it back up. Complicating matters further, she was pregnant and susceptible to swelling due to her condition. Despite all the fluids administered to her, her body couldn’t contain it all within her blood vessels. As a result, the fluids began to spread to the surrounding tissues and muscles.
According to the expert, adding more fluid to her body can lead to leakage into the lungs, which is the last thing they want to happen. However, since the patient is dehydrated, they have no choice but to administer fluids. Due to the significant loss of blood and low blood pressure, the medical team must provide both fluids and blood to stabilize her condition.
During our examination, we made a startling discovery that the patient had a minimum of two blood clots in her legs, and there was a possibility of a larger clot that had already traveled to her heart. Our ultrasounds indicated that she was experiencing obstructive shock, which requires the withholding of fluids. However, due to her high white cell count, she was also in septic shock, which demands the administration of copious amounts of fluids. Furthermore, the risk of blood clots posed a significant danger, and so we had to put her on blood thinners. It’s worth noting that she had undergone an emergency c-section just a week ago, during which she had already lost a considerable amount of blood. This made her situation even more precarious. As Wilson puts it, “That’s dangerous.”
According to Wilson, Caitlyn had been a strong and remarkable woman who was healthy, talkative, and only slightly fatigued until the 21st of the month. However, like anyone fighting a difficult illness, she began to tire. Eventually, she allowed others to help her and rest, but unfortunately, this led to her first code just 12 hours after being intubated. Despite this setback, the medical team was able to revive her. However, during the early morning hours, from midnight to 2:00 or 3:00, they noticed warning signs of organ damage that they were unable to control, such as a decrease in oxygen levels, blood pressure, and sepsis.
The medical team went to great lengths to save the 27-year-old patient, but unfortunately, their efforts were in vain. Despite trying every possible treatment, the patient’s condition did not improve. As a last resort, they decided to administer dialysis to rid her body of acid and white blood cells that were hindering her organs’ functionality. However, dialysis also removes fluid from the body, which is detrimental in cases of septic shock where the patient requires fluid to stabilize their condition.
At 6:56 a.m. on December 22, Caitlyn experienced her second code, and Wilson rushed to her room just three minutes after doctors had already begun attending to her.
According to Wilson, the situation was intense. The medical team was preparing to administer more epinephrine and switch individuals performing compressions. As an anesthesiologist at the hospital, Wilson noted that this particular experience was unlike his usual duties. He made the difficult decision to call the code, realizing the severity of the patient’s condition.
As a result of his occupation and other circumstances, he was permitted to remain overnight as a courtesy. He recalls entering the room during a critical moment, dressed in the same attire as the other medical professionals administering compressions to Caitlyn. He became emotional as he recounted his plea for them to stop, and his decision to call the code. After the machines were turned off, the medical staff departed, leaving him alone to hold Caitlyn in his arms. And that was the end of it.
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Following the tragic passing of Caitlyn, Wilson and his sons traveled to Utah to stay with Caitlyn’s parents until her funeral on January 15th. Wilson expresses deep gratitude towards his own parents, who selflessly sold three houses and two vehicles and liquidated all their assets to move from Utah to Buffalo to live with him and his sons after Caitlyn’s death. It’s clear that Wilson and his family have been surrounded by love and support during this difficult time.
According to him, the process began on the day he mentioned to them that Caitlyn’s chances of survival were slim. He was overwhelmed by the thought of how he could manage to work a 75-hour week, earn the meager salary of a resident, and take care of his two boys.
Reflecting on the early days of bonding with his newborn son Gabriel, Wilson acknowledges that the experience was quite distinct from his firstborn.
As he reminisces about the birth of his son Lincoln, the pain of losing his first-born Gabriel is evident. He describes the profound experience of witnessing his wife hold Lincoln for the first time and the special bond that formed between them. In contrast, he painfully recalls the delivery of Gabriel, where he was handed a bundle of what felt like any other baby. It’s clear that the absence of those precious moments with his first child still weighs heavily on his heart.
During their time at the hospital, there wasn’t much opportunity for the family to bond with their new baby. The ideal first ten days with their little one had been disrupted. The father recalls feeling emotional while bringing the baby home, crying throughout the journey.
According to Wilson, as he looks back on Caitlyn’s experience, he can’t help but think of the nursing staff, physicians, and everyone at the hospital as “angels and heroes in my eyes”. Despite the unfortunate outcome, he is grateful for their dedication and hard work.
According to the speaker, Cait received the highest quality of testing and care possible. Even though she only needed oxygen for a few days, her condition deteriorated rapidly. As an anesthesiologist, the speaker reflects on how these complications are constantly on their mind when treating patients undergoing similar procedures.
He mentions that she was given exceptional care, and if he didn’t have that knowledge, he would be more upset not knowing how the situation occurred.
According to Wilson, even though he is still grieving the passing of his wife, he takes solace in the fact that he was lucky enough to spend three and a half years with such an incredible woman.
As a single father and doctor, raising these boys will be a challenging and lifelong responsibility. It’s heartbreaking to think that they won’t have the opportunity to know their mother as they should, or understand the depth of her love for them. However, I am determined to figure out how to navigate this role and provide the best possible life for my children.
Love is a powerful emotion that can transcend all boundaries of life and death, distance, and even time. Although it may seem like a sappy and cheesy fairytale, true love is real and can endure anything. The memories of three short years together are enough to last a lifetime and will ensure that the children will always know and feel the love of their mother.
According to Wilson, his family still deeply loves and misses her every day. They make sure to honor her memory in various ways and are continuously finding new ways to remember her and teach their sons about their mother so that they can truly know her.
If you would like to donate to Wilson and his family, you can visit their GoFundMe page here. Your help and support would be greatly appreciated.