Please be aware that the following is graphic. If you are trying to gestate in peace, please do not read this story.
First, thank you for all of the wonderful support you have shown me and thank you to Amber for updating for me to let you know what has been going on with me. Your support, thoughts, and prayers mean more to me than you know.
I want to share with you the story of our baby boy but first I want you to know that we are doing ok here. God is being faithful to us and we feel ourselves being cradled in God's hands and surrounded by God's love as we grieve the loss of our baby boy. We know that we will come out on the other side of this. We are blessed to have one another, our little family, and to be able to lean on each other. By having each other, we already have *so* much and for that I am thankful.
I want to share with you our little boy's story. But, his story does not start with his death so I am not going to start there either. His little life, no matter how short, was so filled with joy and touched so many people.
This fall, I was so surprised and overjoyed to find out that I was expecting again. I remember taking that pregnancy test after feeling nauseated (but thinking I was crazy and couldn't be pregnant. lol.) and being elated as that second line appeared. I was sitting on the pot and Will was bouncing around on the floor giggling and goofing off. I called Allen and said, "Honey, guess what? I'm pregnant!!!!" He said, "Oh COOOL!" . Therein started this journey (well actually, the night of passion about two weeks earlier did, but some things are better left private ).
Anyway, after I found out I was pregnant, the dreaming and preparation began. It was very healing for me to be able to do some things differently in this pregnancy that I hadn't done with Will, things I regretted. I found myself an excellent homebirth midwife, and then a back-up OB and nurse-midwife practice that was supportive of our plans for homebirth. I started following the Brewer diet. I was exercising.
All the same, I was nervous. With my history of ectopic pregnancy, I needed to know that the baby was not in my tubes. I started spotting a little bit and got so scared that I was losing the baby and scared that the baby might be ectopic. I went to my back-up doc for blood work and an u/s. On the u/s, immediately that little heart popped up beating away in my uterus. That little flicker is the most beautiful sight in the world and I started crying when I saw it and thanked God. My bloodwork showed that my hcg was excellent but that my progesterone was a bit low. So, they started me on progesterone supplements and all seemed to be well.
At my 11 week homebirth midwife appointment, they could not find the baby's heartbeat but heard the placenta healthy and working away. The baby was just too small. I found out I was slightly anemic and boosted my iron intake.
At my 15 week appointment, we heard the beautiful sound of our baby's heartbeat at 144 bpm. What a glorious sound! I laughed and cried. Will seemed very interested in listening to the sound of the baby's heart beating.
Through all this time we were getting so excited and planning away. We thought about the birthing tub, where we'd like to set it. We hired a doula, told friends, and talked with others who'd had homebirths.
My belly was growing. I stopped fitting in my clothes and had a beautiful round bump. I loved looking down and seeing it instead of my feet.
I started feeling some gentle movement and loved the feeling of having my baby close to me.
Will continued to nurse and I was getting so excited for him to have a little sibling to play with because he loves to be around other children so much.
I had friends due around the same time as me and I loved hearing about their pregnancies and dreaming about how our children would play together.
Much of the hurt and trauma I felt surrounding the medical treatment I received while pregnant with Will seemed to lessen as I began asserting my own power of choice in this pregnancy. My body, my baby, my choices...and the power that I had chosen to hand others instead of God floated back to God and I felt such PEACE.
I went off the progesterone supplements around 14 weeks and all seemed to be fine. No bleeding and at 15 weeks there was a heartbeat at my midwife appointment and I felt good, thinking that we were out of the woods. It was a huge weight off of my shoulders.
The women in my ICAN group were so wonderful, supportive, and excited for us as we planned for the upcoming birth.
I prepared for Christmas, my Mom coming, and started thinking about how much fun next Christmas would be with a 6 month old and a toddler.
My Mom came and we were busy with Christmas preparations and running around. On my husband's birthday (December 23rd), I sort of overdid things and that evening I had some very slightly tinted CM (pale, pale pink) and figured I'd overdone things. I rested on Christmas Eve and my Mom decided to order pizza so I wouldn't have to cook. We opened presents and I was thrilled to receive many beautiful maternity clothes that looked so good on my pregnant body. That night I had a bit more tinted CM but it was brown tinted, so I figured that was good, that I'd overdone things and that I was now fine.
Christmas Day we drove the 4 hours to Allen's family's hometown and got a hotel room there. We spent a wonderful Christmas dinner there and I felt so proud of my pregnant belly. We went back to the motel room. I had some leftover food and then went to bed. Sometime before bed, I noticed a glob of brown discharge, which I thought was the last from the other day when I overdid it. In hindsight, I think it was the mucous plug.
The morning of the 26th, I woke around 5 to the feeling of my water breaking. I stood up and went to the bathroom and started gushing water all over the floor. I SCREAMED for Allen saying that my water had broken, screamed like I've never screamed before. About 30 seconds later I felt something and then saw my baby drop out of me and onto the floor and I completely lost it. Allen held me while I screamed and screamed and asked God why. I thought it was my fault and I kept apologizing to the baby, stroked his beautiful little head. He was perfect. Will had woken up as I had gotten up to go to the bathroom and he saw the whole thing. We sat there and stroked our baby and then looked between his legs and saw that he was a boy, our son, who had been born very early to Jesus. Right then and there, it felt as if everything in the world came crashing down around us. I called our back-up doctor who told us what would happen bleeding wise. The placenta was delivered about 20 minutes after the baby. Will nursed to help my uterus contract. The bleeding slowed down as the doctor had said it would. And, it was just over. It was all over. And, I felt so empty.
But, there in that hotel room, we had time alone as a family, with our precious son's body. We had the privacy we needed to confront what had happened. Nobody poking and prodding me. Nobody trying to take my baby's body away. Nobody asking a million questions. Just as birth can be a normal process, loss can too. And, we'd sort of had our homebirth, except the baby was born to Jesus instead of to us. We were able to hold each other as we felt God holding us, and to come to some sort of realization of what had happened in peace.
After we took the time we needed, Allen took Will down to my Mom's hotel room so that he could help me get cleaned up. We were able to put our son's body in a box to take home. Allen ran a bath and helped me get clean and into new clothes. My maternity clothes were already too big and that made me sad. While I rested and tried to drink alot and have some food to help compensate for the blood loss, Allen loaded the car. We kept our son's body in the front seat with us (while Mom and Will were in the back seat), and we drove home.
When we got home, Allen and I talked and cried a bit more and then I called our homebirth midwife. She said that for a horrible thing it sounded as if everything went as it was supposed to go and that I should be okay to stay home. She is going to come over on Sunday to see how we are doing but said to call her in the meantime if we need anything at all.
The processing of everything that's happened is going to take us some time, to say the least. However, we've also done a good bit of processing even this early. I am a typical Mommy and blamed myself first. I wondered if I should have gone to the ER with the light spotting instead of assuming it was from doing so much. I wondered if my baby would still be here if I had. I wondered if I had stopped the progesterone too soon. I tried to come up with everything I could think of that I could have done differently. But, then I looked down at my son's body and I realized that he was nowhere near the size a 18 week baby should be. I pulled out my book that show's what size babies should be and he was the size of a 12 or 13 week baby, about half the size of an 18 week baby. As a Mommy, I wanted to blame myself. But, there was something wrong with our son, something we had no control over, and it is just one of those great tragedies that happens in life. I also realized that I had ALOT of water come out, just as much as when my water broke at full-term with Will. I was measuring a few weeks ahead, yet my baby was a few weeks behind. Something was just very wrong and we didn't know and it was something out of our control. Coming to this realization yesterday afternoon has helped me to find a point to move forward from.
Also, I find myself feeling that God was looking out for us. Our son was born after Christmas, when Allen was home from work, my Mom was visiting, and we were at a hotel (and not at home where it would be hard to confront the spot where it happened each day). Will was still nursing which helped my uterus contract and the bleeding slow. My body did what it needed to do. I didn't need to go to the emergency room. We were able to walk through everything with some semblance of peace, if that makes any sense.
I've been through loss before. We went through our ectopic pregnancy a few years ago and it was different. We had immense fear for my life and safety. We had no children and came home to an empty home and it felt as if we'd sunk into a deep abyss, with no idea whether we would ever have the family we'd been dreaming about. It felt hopeless. We didn't get to *see* the baby, to know if it was a boy or a girl, to have any closure. I'd had to take methotrexate, which we knew was going to be a slow and painful death for the baby and we had to wait. It was torture. I had to go to hospitals and deal with big ordeals because it was a medical emergency.
All of these factors are things that we did not have to deal with this time and I thank God for that. It doesn't make the loss of our son any less but without having to also deal with all of those complicating factors, we have more energy to just focus on dealing with our loss.
Will is a big help, a blessing, and our little miracle. It's impossible to be depressed with him in the house scooting around on his butt smiling and playing with toys. He talks up a storm and really is the light of the day. I don't know that he'll ever understand how much he's helped and continues to help us with this.
We are grieving parents, there is no mistaking that. There have been many ups and downs and there will continue to be ups and downs for a while now. We're going to be coming up with a name for a son and will bury him in the yard where we can create a garden surrounding him. We'll be taking pictures ahead of time so that we can always remember what he looked like.
This morning I woke up feeling just plain empty, my body just hollow. I missed our son and I cried...and Allen held me. But, then Will woke up saying, "NUM NUM NUM NUM NUM!!!!" and I had to crack a smile and the day moved on. I think things will sort of be like this for a while. Lots of ups and downs and through it all the faith that God is holding us and showing us the way.
Our son is in heaven now and his struggles, that we didn't even know, are over. He had to go through way too much for souch a young little baby, more than I can ever imagine. It gives me peace to know that he is no longer suffering, though I miss him more than words can ever express. I know that one day, when our (hopefully long) days on this earth are over, I will see him again in heaven. This world is not the final step, does not hold the final word on things.
I should mention, that through this all we have prayed. I prayed and called out to God as I was screaming. We prayed before we left that hotel room. We prayed last night before bed. And, we have continued to pray silently on our own.
Allen and I have hope for future pregnancies and living brothers and sisters for Will. God is with us and will let us know when the time is right. Having hope for the future keeps us going and keeps us from getting stuck in the gutter.
We are not all doom and gloom around here. Our son would not want us to be unable to move forward, so we are not. We are remembering his life with us, mourning his death, and thanking God for being with us through it all. We will be okay. We'll get through it, and we'll always love our baby boy and thank God for the time that he was allowed to be with us.