A father has recalled the impossible choice he was asked to make: to choose between his wife and premature baby.
Michael Gerry Fotheringham McConnell, 33, of Scotland, was forced into an unimaginable position last year when his fiancée Stephanie Brown, 29, started leaking amniotic fluid at 18 weeks pregnant and was rushed into emergency surgery.
After the initial health scare and further testing, doctors thought the baby’s heart was “too big” — and then referred the mom-to-be to a heart specialist.
The scan tragically revealed that the baby’s lungs were too small for his body and not in proportion with the rest of his organs.
The excited parents, who tragically suffered a miscarriage a few years prior, were given the heartbreaking news that their baby wouldn’t make it to full term.
Brown was asked to carry her pregnancy for a further six weeks to give their son — who they later named Mickey — the best chance of survival, before being transferred to Wishaw General Hospital to give birth.
However, the difficult situation got even worse when McConnell got a call from the hospital, informing him there was a serious complication when the umbilical cord had collapsed.
That’s when McConnell was asked the impossible.
“The doctor that would deliver took me to one side and asked, ‘If push comes to shove, who survives? Mom or the baby?’” McConnell told Jam Press.
McConnell said he was “terrified” when he “saw all these people and their faces,” which told him all he needed to know about “the severity” of his partner’s condition.
“When I learned my fiancée’s life was in danger, my heart froze — all I cared about in that moment was her being OK,” he said.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the complication must be dealt with immediately so the fetus doesn’t put pressure on the cord, cutting off oxygen.
Despite this, they wanted to deliver their baby boy, but many advised he might not make it.
“Everyone was skeptical about his survival, especially as the weeks before his birth were a real strain on Stephanie’s body,” he explained.
“I’ve been by her side through the worst and scariest times in my life and with her losing fluid, having to hold my boy in her body for six weeks — it was exhausting, physically and mentally,” McConnell said.
The placenta was stuck on Brown’s stomach and bladder, meaning a caesarian delivery was the best way to deliver their son, who was born only weighing 1 pound and 3 ounces, in November 2021.
“There were so many people in the theater and my heart was in my mouth the whole time,” McConnell recalled.
“They took my boy away from the operating table and everything was quiet — all I remember is the first time he used his voice. We were in awe, it was so clear and loud. In that moment, the relief was massive,” McConnell said.
Mickey spent three months in the neonatal intensive care unit before being moved to a hospital closer to home. However, as doctors prepared to move him, his condition started deteriorating.
“The doctors in the hospital were calling it ‘blue turns’ and were saying that he might not make it,” the devastated dad explained, saying there was a “lack of communication and we felt severely let down by the care he received at this time.”
“To this day, we still don’t know the reason for his deterioration,” he added.
Doctors declared Mickey to be on end-of-life care after his body became too big for his lungs.
The baby boy passed away on July 24 in his mother’s arms.
A GoFundMe page has since been set up to help support the family during this tough time.
“He was the brightest star I’ve ever known, I’ll never forget the impact my boy made on this earth, he truly was a warrior,” McConnell said in a tribute to his young son. “He was suffering, now he’s at peace, shine bright my wee warrior.
“Rest in peace our beautiful son.”