October 15th is here, baby loss and miscarriage awareness day. The day that I wonder if this is the October that I will share my story. The 6th October since losing our sweet first baby. So here it is, the story and the feelings that have been lingering in my thoughts and my soul, that I have long anticipated writing for myself, and for you.
We became pregnant quite quickly and waited the obligatory twelve weeks before announcing our expected bundle. It was an uneventful pregnancy that consisted of routine doctor appointments and ultrasounds, We were always relieved to hear the word “normal” at every visit, the word all parents hope and pray to hear throughout pregnancy and continue to hope for as their children grow.
Each week as my pregnancy progressed I checked the baby loss statistics, comparing the percentage of survival to the week before it. I felt secure in the numbers as they surpassed the 99th percentile. We did some light research, followed by some shopping and we prepared a nursery.
At week 35, in the very early morning of my husband’s birthday, my water broke, while lying in bed. We were anxious as we headed to the hospital, unsure of what to expect in labour and delivery and only slightly concerned about our baby coming a little early. Upon arrival we were shown through the NICU, just in case our little one would need a week or two of breathing help and monitoring. Walking through the NICU I saw tiny babies who presented quite well and I knew we were in the right place. If these little little ones were doing alright, a 35 week baby would be just fine.
Labour did not progress, and I was induced. With each contraction our little one’s heart would slow down, but would pick up again after the contraction had subsided. After awhile it was decided that a caesarean would be a wise choice for our circumstances.
In surgery my uterus was very contracted, our little one’s head was stuck in my pelvis and the cord, up by his ear, had a great deal of pressure on it. They couldn’t get him out. Panic filled the room as all of the medical professionals available tried everything they could think of. Amidst all of the panic, I was calm because I knew, I just knew, that they could figure it out. My husband was removed from the room and right before I went under general anesthesia I heard from a doctor, “I don’t know what to do.”
I woke to very somber medical staff, their faces displaying the gravity of the situation, and still I was completely ignorant of just how wrong things had gone. Staff broke protocol and wheeled me into the NICU to see my little one. There he was; I got to lay eyes on the one that I had dreamed about, the one that had kept me up at night, the one that had made me so uncomfortable, the one I loved so fiercely from the moment I first felt him, and I was proud. There is nothing quite like meeting your first baby, the one that makes you a parent, the incredibleness of it all as you study their tiny body and marvel at the mystery that is life. Aside from all of the wires and tubes, he was breath-taking and incredible, he was perfect.
A medical transfer via helicopter should have been my first clue that things were not going well, but it wasn’t until we arrived at the children’s hospital a few hours later and saw my sweet baby, looking very unhealthy that I realized that this story wasn’t going to end the way I had dreamed that it would. This day wouldn’t be just a story we told him each year on his birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
His head was so swollen. There was a bleed in his brain, caused by the pressure from the vacuum the medical staff needed to use to get him out. Medical staff was busy, wracking their minds and trying everything they could think of to save his life. Unfortunately the trauma his tiny five pound, five ounce body had received was too great, and he passed away after eleven hours of life, surrounded by love and in our arms.
Confused, exhausted and broken we left our little guy in the hospital and returned to the quietest house in the world. Empty body, empty arms, empty nursery. I was so lucky to have a husband that I was able to cling to through all of it. Thankfully our home was soon filled with family and friends and flowers and food, everyone took such great care of us, we will be eternally grateful for the kindnesses we were shown after losing our son.
If you are brave enough, determined enough and fortunate enough to get to do it all over again, the stats are refreshed and your chances at heart break are just as likely as they were the last time around, except they feel overwhelmingly like 100% because I lost 100% of the babies I carried. It feels like life should owe you a pass, because when you’ve been one in one thousand, that feels like enough.
And you’re aware. So. Much. More. Aware. Of every single thing that can go wrong. In order to feel normal you seek out people that are like you, that understand you, that get you completely and you surround yourself with them. I was so fortunate to connect with a supportive community of women online, who had all lost their babies within a few months of us losing our sweet son. We helped each other through the hurts and the healing and we have remained friends over the years.
It goes excruciatingly slow. Agonizingly slow. Painstakingly slow. Each hour is torturous and there were countless times I wanted to ask my obstetrician for a medically induced coma, or a crystal ball. I could endure the 40 long weeks of pregnancy if I KNEW it would end in crying that would interrupt our sleep for years to come. She could provide nothing, besides a somewhat unsure assurance that what had happened would not repeat itself. But it should never have happened in the first place. They say lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice but whoever said that doesn’t understand my luck, and just uttering those words felt like challenging destiny.
So when we lost our second baby, another boy, at 15 weeks pregnant, after having a healthy ultrasound the day before, I wasn’t surprised. Because life. Because stats. Because history. Simply, because.
Determined to have a family, we gave it another shot. And the stats began again, we were at the mercy of the numbers. It’s a weird place to be, hopeful but detached, wanting to give this baby all the positivity in the world, yet preparing to announce another baby’s passing. There is a weird peace that comes from admitting powerlessness in circumstances where you would very much like to control the outcome.
But this time we were able to bring our baby home. Our little ball of sunshine, bright and beautiful, our daughter.