The amount of time that has passed since my last post seems eternal. So much has happened in these last five months. Five months. I was nearly five months pregnant on July 7th 2014 when I delivered my son Gabriel who weighed 10 precious ounces. My husband and I found out I was pregnant a few weeks into March. I remember sitting alone in the bathroom, waiting for the watermark to move through the result window revealing a positive pregnancy test. My husband and I were going to have our third child and the only thing I could do was laugh. I covered my mouth and laughed, perhaps it was nerves, perhaps it was shock, I am not too sure. Aaron was waiting patiently outside the door.
“what does it say?” he asked.
I laughed so hard and so breathlessly that I couldn’t speak. So I opened the door and managed to say “I’m pregnant.” And so began our journey.
On May 23rd, I noticed a small brown spot on my underwear in the morning. I was about 13 weeks pregnant and I made it into the “safe zone.” I knew spotting was normal in early pregnancy but it concerned me enough to call the nurse. She told me its most likely nothing to worry about but to follow up with my doctor on Monday. So I did. After about a week of continuous spotting I began to have what seemed like a full on period. Eventually I was diagnosed with have a Subchorionic Hematoma. 20% of women who have this go into preterm labour. Well that was that. I remained positive as I had an 80% chance of having a healthy pregnancy and making it to term. I felt him move, his heart beat was strong and by all accounts he was a healthy baby boy so there was no need to worry.
After many scary experiences which put me in the emergency room 3 times, my doctor thought it best for me to see a High Risk Specialist. On July 2nd the specialist told me that I had a membrane rupture and had no amniotic fluid left. I was 19 weeks. Of course since I had been bleeding nonstop for over a month I never noticed leaking fluid. He went over my options and I remained calm, but then he said “or, we can schedule you a time next week to terminate the pregnancy if you don’t go into labor on your own.” What?! I fell to pieces right there in his office. I told the doctor that I didn’t want to schedule and induction and that I would come back again to see if the situation had change. He was incredibly comforting and kind and understanding, handing me tissue after tissue, as he told me over and over it was not my fault, there was nothing I could have done differently.
I called Aaron, sobbing and told him what the Doctor had said. He took the rest of the day off work to be by my side. I needed him and he was there and as always he was strong for me. Each in our own way we mourned our Son. We mourned the baby that was still growing side me, that still had a strong heartbeat, that still depended on me yet we mourned him. With every bit of me I pray and I prayed and I pray, God please don’t take my baby! God please don’t make me have to induce! Please God!
That Saturday, July 5th we decided to get away and go to a cottage that Aaron’s parents were renting, just for the weekend as we needed to relax and enjoy some time with the boys. We would come back on Monday to go to my follow up appointment. Somewhere around 2am on July 7th, I woke up to what felt like Braxton hicks so I got up, used the bathroom, drank some water and went back to bed. Then around 3am I woke up again to more painful contractions, however they weren’t that painful certainly not what I remember labor contractions to feel like. I decided to time them anyways and noticed they were about 40 seconds in length and came every 5 minutes for the first 3, then suddenly they were every 2 minutes! How could that happen so fast? Aaron and I jumped out of bed as I rushed to get ready to head for the hospital!
“Wait!” I told him right before we were to head out the door. “I have to pee.”
I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet, when I looked down I saw the umbilical cord hanging out! I yelled for Aaron. This part is a blur but I remaining absolutely still, trying not to move so that nothing more came out. Somehow I ended up with a towel in my hand, Aaron doesn’t remember if I asked for it but I think I did. I looked down again and I could see his tiny feet slowly sliding out. I calmly and robotically quickly dropped the towel on the floor, I sort of cupped myself down there and slowly moved got up from the toilet. As soon as my bottom hit the towel, Gabriel came out. He never moved, he never took a breath he just laid there limp in my hands. I screamed and I cried this guttural cry that echoed throughout the bathroom. I kept saying “No, no, no, no!!!” over and over. I slightly covered him with the towel whenever Aaron came by. I don’t know why but I kept saying “Don’t look at him! Please don’t look!” I suppose I knew that Aaron needed to remain strong as he called 911 and he did.
It took the EMT 8 minute to find the cottage, and for those 8 minutes I held him. I studied him; looking at his feet, his toes, his fingernails. The shape of his face, his nose, his ears. His little hands, one resting on the side of his face. Gabriel was fully formed just very tiny, roughly the size of a sweet potato from head to bum. He did feel “heavier” than I thought he would. He had his oldest brother’s nose, his father’s feet and face shape, my pudgy fingers. Then the EMT arrived. They were so nice to me as they tried to talk me down. One of guys told me his name. At this point I still had Gabriel blocked off from view. He told me that he needed to cut the cord, so I lowered the towel.
“Wow,” he said taking in a deep breathe followed by a large exhale. “Okay.”
I could tell by his reaction and the look on his face that he had never seen an 19 week old baby before.
I went to the hospital, where I stayed in my room and was cared for like any other postpartum woman. I was given my three meals, I had the nurses come in to check my bleeding to massage my uterus. I had a visit from the Chaplin, he prayed with Aaron and I and spoke to our boys about what happened. They took it well. I asked over and over for a death certificate even though they don’t issue them for “miscarriages,” meaning not for less than 20 weeks however since I was so close, only 2 days away, they said they would. When it was time to check out, I left the hospital with an empty uterus, empty hands and an empty heart.
The day I left the hospital, Aaron and I went to the funeral home to make arrangements for his cremation. I picked out his urn, and we went over the paper work. They owner told us that everything would be taken care of and we only had to pay for part of the urn and some government fee or something. They also said they would take a cast of his footprint and in 1 month we could expect to get a pendant with his footprint on it. We then asked to see him one last time. They prepared him on a white pillow with a white blanket wrapped around it and had it tucked under his arm making it look like he was asleep. The put him in a special room and told us to take all the time we needed. This was a special time for us. The first week was of course the most difficult, but I will discuss my grief further in another post, just know that the grief we had for our son was strong.
There is so much more I could say, and in time I will find a way to say it but for now I will end with this. There are so many families out there that are going through or have gone through a loss of a child. When we lost Gabriel the one thing that provided me comfort during those dark hours was to be a part of miscarriage and child loss support group. I wanted to hear their stories, I wanted someone to relate to, I wanted to offer support to other people going through similar situations as well. The reason why I wrote this, wasn’t just to tell my story but to offer the same comfort and warmth that I received and continue to receive from those who have also dealt with a loss. My heart goes out to you, you are not alone.
From talking with parents, the one thing that I think all of us want people to acknowledge or to understand is that our children existed, our children were loved and our children will never be forgotten.