In the Words of Landon Carter Dube’s Mother
Landon Carter Dube was born December 8, 2009 at 5:08 P.M. by cesarean section. Carter, or “Carterbug,” was born breach and had a head full of red hair; he was the spitting image of his daddy.
On Tuesday, January 19, 2010, I took Carter to the doctor’s office. Carter was not himself; he had a fever of 100.1 and was cranky and nothing seemed to help. Daryl (my husband) and I were joking about how over-protective we were acting and how it was probably just a little cold.
The nurse we saw was immediately concerned with Carter’s breathing rate. The next thing I knew, we were in an ambulance, heading to Levine’s Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We were admitted for observation. Doctors came in and asked a lot of questions over and over again. Everyone had to wear a mask and a gown because they were unsure as to what was wrong with Carter. Carter was finally diagnosed with pertussis.
Over the next two days, Carter had to be put on nasal oxygen, was taken for chest x-rays and had his nose and lungs suctioned; they even beat his back to loosen up his lungs. At first he seemed to be stabilizing and the doctors even thought if his progress continued he would be able to go home as early as Saturday morning.
But, that Friday Carter started coughing again, lost his breath, and turned blue. I totally panicked; if my husband would not have been there, I don’t know what would have happened. I just froze in my steps.
The doctors sent Carter to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Daryl and I would take shifts staying up with Carter; we never wanted him to be alone and not see one of us there with him. By early the next morning Carter was put on a respiratory machine. He had become fussy and inconsolable, which caused him to struggle even more when he breathed. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was the last time we saw our Carterbug awake.
Later on Sunday, Carter was put on an Oscillator because his fragile body wasn’t strong enough to handle the respiratory machine. And, on Tuesday evening, surgeons implanted an ECMO (heart and lung bypass machine) in Carter, as a last resort. We made arrangements for Zach, Carter’s 10 year old brother, to come and see Carter before the procedure was done.
After the procedure, I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked back to his room. My sweet baby boy had huge tubes in the sides of his neck and technicians monitoring the blood pumping in and out of them. His urinary system had shut down forcing his tiny body to swell to nearly twice its size. It was like a bad dream where we just couldn’t wake up.
On Thursday, January 28, after 9 days in the hospital, the doctors offered the last available medicine they hoped would treat Carter’s infection. They gave him the medicine around 3:30 in the afternoon. A half an hour later, the doctor called us in to say good bye. Carter had no more blood pressure reading. His kidneys had completely shut down. His poor little body just couldn’t fight off the pertussis.
I held his hand, the only thing I could touch that wasn’t wired to a machine, and told him that I loved him very much. I told him how brave he was and how he had fought a great fight, but if he was tired and wanted to go to heaven, he should go. I told him that momma and daddy would miss him, but we would see him again one day. Carter showed us that he was ready to go to heaven and not hurt anymore. At 5:06 that evening, Carter passed away.
After losing our baby, my husband and I became so consumed with the grief that is was hard to function—let alone take care of our then 10-yr old who still needed a set of parents.
We miss Carter every day and my heart will always have a little hole that can never be filled. We decided that one way to honor his short time on the earth was to share his story around the world. And it does truly amaze me the lives his story has touched. Most of all, we hope this helps other parents avoid the awful grief and loss we had to endure.
Since losing Carter we have been blessed with another child, a precious baby girl named Brennan Claire, now 10 months old. We made sure that everyone who wanted to have any contact with Brennan got a Tdap booster. That’s all we want for any baby, a fair chance at a healthy start in life.