(Written on 10.02.2017)
It’s been one month….
…Since I held you in my arms for the first time.
…Since I felt that feeling of joy that is delivering a baby.
…Since I felt like a superhero again.
…Since our confusion that you were a boy and not the girl we had been told we were expecting.
…Since my heart stopped beating a little.
…Since I held you for the last time.
Since I kissed you for the last time.
I really don’t know where to start this. I have had all these ideas floating around in my head the past few weeks since I decided that I would write our story for anyone to see. I have read a few other blogs about infant loss. I have read many blogs over the last few years. I have always been jealous about how organized they were, consistent they were, and how wittily they were written. I am none of those things and for the first time I am NOT trying.
As you can tell, (even by looking at the date of my last post) it’s been well over 2 years since I have posted anything on my blog. Life has just gotten crazy! March of 2015, I embarked on a journey that has added much busyness to my life, I became a Tupperware consultant. More about that later. Then at the end of May 2015, we sort of suddenly had to put our precious dog, Gabi, down. #CancerSucks. She was 7 years old and we had her since she was 6 weeks, that was VERY hard. Then life just continued to be and stay busy…between working part time at Publix, running my Tupperware business from home, and taking care of the home and my son…life. Busy. No blogging. I kept thinking I could go back to it and add the Tupperware stuff and that would be cool.
But I didn’t because life…was too busy.
Then it got even busier as we decided at the end of October 2016 (actually on our 9th wedding anniversary) that we were going to try to have another baby. Joys upon joys! I was extatic. We ended up finding out (via pee stick) that we were pregnant on Christmas Day 2016. (Yup…that was quick). It was so perfect. Found out on Christmas Day, Berkley and I had this secret all to ourselves as we were surrounded by family on one of my favorite holidays. We were able to tell my parents in PERSON (as opposed to last time over FaceTime) before they left to go back to their home in Maryland a couple days later. It was also perfect because the baby was due 08/31/2017, 3 days before my 35th birthday. I dodged all those “old lady” pregnant tests!!! So many jokes and speculation that the baby would be born on my sister and my birthday of 09/03. I joked that I didn’t want to go “late” since it’s as summer and no pregnant mother wants to go past her due date no matter what time of the year it is.
In April, we found out we were having a little girl. EVEN MORE PERFECT, we already had a boy, now we’re adding a girl. What are the chances? I felt the baby was a girl from very early on, and the night we found out my husband said he kinda thought it was a girl too. So we planned…for a girl…
August 31 comes and goes and no baby born yet. I was then getting a little excited that my baby girl would share a birthday with my sister and me. How awesome! So then I wanted “her” to wait 3 more days. Sept 1, my mother (my parents had come in on 08/27 to be here for the birth and help afterwards) decided that we should celebrate my sister and my birthdays that night just in case I was in the hospital on our birthdays (which we ALL were hoping I would be). It’s a good thing we did it that way. Late that evening (around 10:50pm) started the 24 hours that would change our lives forever…
It was then that I started leaking amniotic fluid. I did not experience any of that with my first child (they broke my water when I got to the hospital after 2 days of contractions at home) so I phoned a friend and she confirmed. I woke my husband (who had been in bed for about an hour and was scheduled to work early the next morning) and told him what was happening. A few minutes later we were heading for the hospital. Here we go!!! It’s almost midnight for 09/02 and there’s still a chance (however getting smaller) that our baby would be born on my birthday…bets are still on!
After getting to the hospital and getting checked in, to my room, and tested to see if it was in fact amniotic fluid, I was hooked up to IV and getting ready to start pitocin shortly because they want babies born within 24 hours of water leaking/breaking…it was only about 12:30am at this time and I remember my husband saying “I guess she won’t be born on your birthday”. I was holding out hope a little but I figured the same.
I labored through the night, got my empirical sometime in the wee hours, but still felt a bit of pain in my left hip flexor area. I’m not sure what time it was but I coudln’t take the pain anymore and was feeling like I needed to start pushing. They called my midwife and got everything prepped for me to deliver the baby. I was excited and scared too. Ya know, the normal feelings of delivering a baby.
After about an hour of pushing (maybe slightly less), at 10:54am our beautiful baby was born. I remember they set the baby on my chest/belly and I said “she’s real!!!”
Then they took my baby, and I just figured it’s was to suck out the gunk, measure, weigh, and clean “her” up before handing her back to me. I was very sure I wanted only a diapered baby on my bare skin just as soon as they could give “her” back to me. I made the mistake of having my son clothed and I wanted skin to skin. I knew what i wanted and how to speak up for myself since my first experience with labor.
One of the student nurses was watching from the other side of the curtain and says “it’s not a girl”. What do you mean it’s not a girl??? Berkley and I both thought she was joking with us cuz that would be a funny trick to play for a second and then a “JK!”and we would all laugh. But no…she says “it’s not a girl”. I looked back at Berk (who was by my head) in confusion, and he looked back with the same expression. “Well good thing I got gender neutral stroller/car seat and pack and play.” Because that was the biggest “issue” I thought there was. What are we going to do with all the girl clothes we received???
How could this have happened?
But they weren’t giving me my baby. My baby wasn’t crying. My baby wasn’t making any noise. I watched through the hold in the bed rail as they were trying to get my baby to start breathing. Rubbing, moving, pushing air into…then I heard a nurse yell “RT STAT!!!” I knew that was for the respirtory team to come in. There was a blur or people, I wouldn’t take my eyes off of my poor little baby and begging, pleading, crying for them to fix him. I needed to hear him cry.
“He has a heartbeat of 122, but he’s not breathing. They can help him breathe but they can’t make his heart beat.” My OB told me. She wasn’t there for MY delivery. She happened to be at the hospital the same time and had come into my room right after I delivered.
“But he’s still not breathing!!! It’s been too long, why isn’t he breathing!!!” I worried myself with thoughts of brain damage since time was going by and he wasn’t breathing. Now thinking that brain damage was the worst case scenario…
“We need to get him to the NICU.” I heard the neonatologist say. My heart broke even more. NO!!!! I need my baby, I need him on my skin, he needs ME!!! NICU babies don’t get that skin to skin like they need in the first few minutes. Don’t take my baby away from my room!!! But they did, they needed to, to continue to try to save his life.
The numbness started. My OB came back in and said that he still has a heart beat but they still coudn’t get him breathing.
She came in again…heart beat is going down, we need a heart beat and air to live. It’s not looking good.
I have no words to describe how I felt in that moment. Knife to the heart doesn’t even come close.
I need to see him, I kept telling them I needed to see him. I’ve read those stories where the baby is not breathing/heart not beating and they put the baby on it’s momma and a miracle happened. I believe in miracles! I need to get to him! He needs me, and I can save him!
One of my friends that I have known since childhood, who is also a nurse in the Labor & Delivery unit at the hospital came in. I looked over to her, standing next to the wheel chair she brought in with her. I felt horrible because the though of “this is getting serious” entered my mind. All business, she said “we’re taking you to see him” and got me off the bed (just over an hour after I delivered him) and into the wheel chair and rolled me down to the NICU. I’m not sure I was breathing. I was scared and didn’t want to go, but knew I needed to and still held a hope that if you just put my freaking baby on me, I can fix this!!! I am his mother!!!
She rolled me through the NICU and passed all the closed curtains to the end where there was a door into a room. Inside that room was hospital personnel that had been trying very hard to save my son’s life.
“I need to have him, naked on my chest”. The nurses were unhooking him from the tubes and whatnot that they had been using to try and get oxygen into him. I unsnapped my hospital gown so I was ready. They tried putting a diaper on him and wrapping him in a blanket before handing him to me. “Why does he need a diaper?” “Just give him to me.” (I feel a little bad about being so short with them, it wasn’t their fault, they were helping my family)
He was still warm from the lights over the little NICU bed. He was perfect. He looked perfect. He felt perfect. It just seemed like he was sleeping. It’s still hard for me to think that he wasn’t “just sleeping”. I still felt like a miracle could happen and that he would wake up and start crying. And that we would be known as the couple with the miracle baby instead of the couple that loss their newborn baby less than 3 hours after he was born.
A nurse told me there was a photographer there that could take pictures for us and asked me if I wanted that. Even though I felt it a little morbid, I very much wanted them. I din’t have to do anything with them, but better to have them and not need/want them later than to not have them at all and wish I had. And boy and I glad I did!!! Also glad that I had asked one of my nurses to go back to our room and get my phone for pictures. She took pictures on my phone and they are so comforting to me.
I held him for over an hour. He moved a couple last times. I’m not sure exactly when his heart stopped beating, but I’m positive it was while I was holding him. They told me that we could stay as long as we wanted/needed. I never wanted to leave. But I knew at some point, I was going to have to hand him back over and never hold him again.
It came time for me to need to give him back because if I didn’t do it soon, I would never do it. I soaked up as much as I could to muster up the willpower to give him up. I kissed his little forehead, his perfect little forehead. Stroked his cheek and put my finger inside his little hand. And then I just let go of him and put my hands down and turned my head. I couldn’t pick him off of me, it was just too painful. The nurse had to take him off of me. She wrapped him up and covered him with a blue blanket with a little rainbow in the corner. I got out of my wheelchair for one last kiss.
HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?
HOW IS REAL LIFE?
WHAT AM I GOING TO TELL MY 5 YEAR-OLD SON?????
We are good people. I don’t do drugs. I didn’t drink. I don’t smoke cigarettes. Why is this happening??? These were just some of the thoughts that spewed out of my mouth. Not that I would wish this on anyone, even mothers who don’t take the best are of themselves or their babies while pregnant, just don’t know if it had to happen, why to someone who didn’t do these things.
We said our last good-byes and then wheeled the long silent journey back to our hospital room.
Numb. Confused. Angry.
One month ago, we said hello and good-bye to you in what feels like the same breath…
If love could have saved you, sweet boy, you would have lived forever!
Aaron Lucas Sturtevant born 09.02.2017