Hello again, dear reader. This particular article could prove to be one of the most difficult I've written. Oh, it's not from a lack of things to say, or the creativity to say it in an appealing manner. No, that is not my problem. Rather, it is the content of this article that is somewhat difficult. You see, this article is about my son. Most of you are thinking about David, as he is the one that most of you have heard of. However, dear reader, this article is not about David. Today I am going to introduce you to Michael, who 11 years ago on October 14, was born to Dianne and I. I am going to give you a glimpse into his life, and what he was all about. If this article could show tear stains, I'm sure you'd see a couple. But the tears would not be tears of pain, or sadness....they would be tears of joy. Read on, my dear readers. I present to you Michael Jeffrey Kok.
When we found out we were going to have a baby, we were over the moon. I mean, what an intense feeling of joy, suprise, elation, nervousness and w00t w00t....all in one big package. We assumed, as is pretty much normal, that all would be well and in 9 months (give or take a week or so), we would have a healthy baby something. Dianne had found an OB she was very comfortable with (he was shocked the first time he met me....he was expecting a small little asian man, not a big pasty white guy). She went to visit him regularly, and everything was progressing nicely. We picked out names, we heard the baby's heartbeat, we acted and reacted exactly like we should have. Life was beautiful.
19 weeks into the pregnancy, things started to go awry. Dianne's water broke, leaving just a wee little pool of amniotic fluid for the baby to use for development. We saw several specialists in light of these developments, including Dianne's OB/GYN. The prognosis from them all was not great, but what struck us the most was the different opinions on how to deal with it. One Dr. suggested an abortion. Dianne's Dr. and ourselves were completely against that option, and ruled it out immediately. He, as well as ourselves, wanted to give the baby every chance of survival. So, that's what we planned. Dianne stayed on intensive bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. Many ultrasounds took place, and much hard work happened before the baby was born.
27 weeks into the pregnancy, our son was born. He was 2 lbs 1 oz at birth. The NICU staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton was absolutely amazing. They worked their tails off for that little boy. They too wanted to give him every chance of survival. There are many details that I just don't remember anymore, and I suspect that it's because those details aren't too important in the big scheme of things. I have my memories of Michael, and that's the important stuff. And it's some of those memories that I'd like to share.
Michael was a tiny little boy, but he had huge attitude. If any of you were ever in the old NICU at the Royal Alex, you will remember that it was not great on privacy for the kids. Michael's home was right at the entrance for the staff...thus at shift changes or staff eating times, it was quite noisy in his corner. He hated noise. You could see him reacting to the noise...his oxygen levels would go down, his heart rate up and he'd start pulling at his breathing tube. Yup, my boy loved his peace and quiet and in his own way, he'd give the noisy people a piece of his mind. It didn't take long before there were signs up at the staff entrance reminding the staff to be quiet. Michael won that battle.
I'll never forget the first time we got to hold him. The nurses took him out of his incubator, and we got to 'kangaroo cuddle'. That means that he was up against our bare skin....he loved the warmth, he loved the cuddles and we were thrilled to bits with this contact. Rarely have I been so proud as after one of our cuddle sessions (kept my shirt on for this one). When it was time for Michael to go back to bed, the nurse moved him away from me and there, like a tattoo in the middle of shirt, was a big wet stain. My boy peed on me!!! Through all the swaddling cloths, he managed to get me. I beamed. Peeing seemed to be something Michael enjoyed...one day he and the little boy across the way both set off their alarms. When the nurses came a runnin', Michael shot a stream out through the arm holes of the incubator!!
One of the fondest memories I have of him was when a new nurse (new to him) was going to be his nurse for the night. She had heard about the little baby with the big attitude over in the corner, and she was a bit nervous. Dianne and I could tell that she was on edge, and I warned her that if she didn't settle down, Michael would extubate himself (extubate means to pull his breathing tube out). Well, this made her even more jittery. So, I mentioned to the RT (Respiratory Therapist) before I left that Michael was going to extubate within the hour. Sure enough, the little gaffer yanked his tubes out before we were even home. That nurse didn't look after him again.
Dear reader, it may seem odd, but the time we spent in the NICU with Michael was a very good time. We developed some great relationships, we grew in faith, we grew closer together and to our families. 11 years ago, Michael Jeffrey was born. After battles with meningitis and e-coli, amongst all his other health issues, Michael lost the battle to live. Along with his doctors, we made the decision to remove MIchael from life support 8 weeks after his birth. His chances of survival on his own were nil. And so, surrounded by Diannes parents, my parents, my brother Lyndon and our Pastor Rev. Aasman, Michael Jeffrey Kok died in my arms very peacefully. The doctor came in every 5 minutes or so and checked his vitals. I don't remember the exact time, but I do remember the doctor looking at us and saying that he was gone. We said our goodbyes, and the nurse took his body away.
Michaels gravesite is just east of Barrhead, Alberta. We go once a year, just to make sure everything is nice and neat. We take great comfort knowing that Michael is in Heaven, and he is perfect. He has no illnesses, no weakness and no threat of disease. Yes dear reader, we still cry sometimes when we think of him, or when we look at pictures. But, we don't grieve anymore. The memories are not as painful as they once were. No, rather, the memories have turned from pain to joy. We were blessed with Michael for 8 weeks. How can a person be anything but joyful at that rich blessing?
In memory of: Michael Jeffrey Kok
October 14, 1999 - December 7, 1999