I was due to be induced on Monday, 38 weeks pregnant. I suffered from pre-eclampsia diagnosed at 32 weeks. I had been on bed rest for 5 weeks and my blood pressure was medically under control. There was no reason for concern at this time. I had great OB care and this was my fourth pregnancy, although we lost one at 16 weeks with the prior pregnancy. I felt like an old pro.
Thursday night I started having contractions... They were sparatic and irregular that Thursday night. I had no reason to believe they were more than Braxton Hicks. Throughout the night I contracted, but they were so irregular, timing them seemed pointless... I was able to sleep between the pain. I woke up early with my husband while he was getting ready for work. I decided to walk a bit and see if the pain may become more regular. They were between 8 and 10 minutes apart. I told my husband to wake the kids and get my bag... Today was the day.
After encouraging my husband to go to work for the morning due to my prior experience and knowledge that we probably had quite a few more hours. Less than 15 minutes later the contractions went from 8 + minutes apart to ONE HUGE contraction. There was no relief and I began feeling nauseas. I could hardly stand and slowly sunk to the floor. I called for my kids to bring me the phone and maybe a yogurt for some energy. So weak I could barely talk not understanding this new development.
I called my husband and he advised me to call my parents who live 1 mile away, they could be there faster to take me to the hospital. I still had no clue something was wrong, still thinking I would see my baby today. My daughter called and said "Emergency, Emergency, mommy needs to get to the hospital, come get her quick!" They arrived around 15 minutes later. I was persistent I needed my camera and hospital bag although my father just wanted me in the car and on my way. We arrived at the hospital around 7:40. The valet parking crew opened the door for me with a wheelchair waiting and as I stood, there was a gush of fluids.
For some reason I didn't assume my water broke. I asked my mother to look and see if it was blood or water. She saw nothing to either effect, but I know I felt tons of fluid similar to the water breaking. As I was wheeled upstairs to OB, the dizziness and nausea overtook the pain and I felt like dying. I slunk into my wheelchair and moaned... This was not labor, was it? I always heard that true labor (I was induced the other times) comes with nausea and vomiting. Maybe this was it, my water broke and I was just experiencing real labor. I climbed out of the wheelchair to change into my gown in the hospital room and as I took off my clothing I looked down into my pants and saw my pants and underwear were drenched with blood.
I quickly alerted the nurse, sure this would require the doctor's attention. I still never thought it was more than just ME bleeding, I never considered it was my baby's blood. The nurse hooked me up to the fetal monitor, internally on the baby's head. There was a steady heartbeat... I don't know what his heart rate was. As the nurse was inserting the IV my OB walked in, he said he had just delivered a stillborn baby and happened to be just down the hall. I told him I was bleeding and the nurse was struggling to find an IV. My arms were bruised from the needle being dug in every possible artery. Still no avail. He looked at the amount of blood I was continuing to soak all over the bed, told me we were doing an emergency c-section as it looked like my placenta abrupted and took off wheeling my bed out of the room. The nurse yelled, "but I haven't gotten the IV in yet!" My doctor replied "there is no time for an IV she's lost too much blood!" I screamed as I was rushed down the hall, the pain was intensifying and I was scared, clueless as to what was happening. I held the doctor's hand and watched his horrified expression. The second they stopped, my mouth was covered with a mask as the doctor yelled at me to breathe deeply... I coughed repeatedly, but felt the urgency to follow instructions. I took a deep breath...
As I eyes fluttered open, hardly conscious, I knew exactly where I was and that I should be recovering while my family lingers nearby, excited as they pass around a newborn baby. Instead I saw the doctor and my husband holding the baby over me, giving the baby a blessing. This seemed odd. The doctor looked at me and said
"I'm sorry, but the baby didn't make it"
At first I thought I was dreaming, but as I came to, I looked around the room at the red eyes and tears streaming down my family's faces. No. That's not possible. There was a heartbeat minutes before and he was kicking this morning and modern medicine can save anybody! I burst into tears as I looked at my kids faces, they looked so sad, like they had been crying... It was true, my baby was dead.
The doctor handed me my son's body and asked for a name. I was speechless. I stared at this beautiful baby, naked in my arms. There was no movement, no breath, no crying. He just laid still in my arms. I had been to funerals, I had touched a dead body before, my grandmother during her viewing. This was different, he was warm and soft. I was in denial, sure there was a mistake, this made no sense. I was bleeding... ME, not him... How could he die? I asked my daughter if she would bathe him for some pictures, he was covered in blood and goop. As I waited the doctor explained that when the placenta abrupts, it tears from the uterine wall causing the baby to be cut off from the blood and oxygen supply. I had a huge blood clot inside me from where my baby slowly bled to death inside me and finally when it tore completely, I began to lose all that blood. We were both bleeding to death. My uterus was hemorrhaging so badly, he was moments from performing a hysterectomy to save my life. But miraculously the blood began to clot and I still have my ovaries. The doctors worked on my baby for 20 minutes, they were never able to recover his heartbeat. He had literally bled to death, no matter how much the doctors tried, there was no blood left to restart his heart.
But how could this happen? Preclampsia causes placental abruption. When I went into labor, my blood pressure spiked causing the fluid to rush so rapidly through the cord and increasing the fluid level too quickly that the placenta tore causing a complete abruption. Even had they recovered a heartbeat on my baby he would have lived on life support for a day or so being brain dead. OR he would have suffered from sever brain damage. I was reassured that no positive outcome is from placental abruption...
But what if I went to the hospital sooner or what if they did the c-section sooner or what if the day before when I was at the doctor- what if I asked to be induced that day? What if? Could I have prevented this? What did I do wrong? What if?
My daughter dressed her baby brother and brought him over to me dressed in a precious outfit covered in footballs "daddy is my hero" was written over the left breast, footballs on the bottom of the feet. I held him, he looked like a doll, perfect but lifeless.
I was asked his name again. My first thought was to ignore the names we had previously chosen, none of them were right. Then I remembered. When I was a child I awoke to see two little angel boys in my bedroom. One on the bottom of my bed, leaning on his side, smiling at me. He had brown spiked hair and appeared to be 5 yrs old. The second boy was across the room sucking his left thumb and clutching a blankie near his face. He appeared to be 3 or 4 years old. Both boys looked at me peacefully communicating nothing but their names. The eldest was named David Michael. The youngest was Christopher. I immediately bought a blankie, one with a picture of a baby sitting on the moon holding a blankie. I kept it for this child, I kept it for 20 years, waiting. This vision had no additional meaning, I remembered their names and I knew they were my children. Until now. When I lost my baby as a miscarriage the year before I felt strongly that was David Michael, I finally understood the vision. These spirit children of God were my boys and they communicated their names to me so that when I lost them, I would know it was meant to be and they loved me enough to show me in a vision who they were. I would know their names. This baby in my arms, this was Christopher, the boy holding the blankie across the room. This baby that was not breathing, not moving, laying in my arms like a doll. Christopher Logan, my perfect angel.
I had grown up as a Mormon and I believe that we are an eternal family. This baby was not lost, I would be with him again. For now he would be living in Heaven, he just needed to fulfill God's plan and gain a body. I participated in creating this perfect angel. I understood this, believed this. But my heart was broken in half and bleeding tears of sorrow. I wanted this baby so bad. We tried for this baby for so long and struggled to get to this point and now, we had nothing but sorrow. I still fell in love with him the moment I saw his face. I loved him the moment I learned of the pregnancy. I had been so excited to bring this baby home to our family. I felt devastated and lost. We took many pictures and I studied his face and body. He began to stiffen as he got colder. The closer I held him, the softer he stayed, if only I could keep him from getting cold. If only my love could make him cry or breathe or his heart to beat.
We welcomed visitors. Family, church friends, work friends, neighbors. We kept the baby in the room, I kept him under a blanket on my chest, cherishing every moment of bonding left. Some visitors were very disturbed by my decision to keep him in the room with me. Some were curious and chose to hold him. Some family even chose to bond with him as I chose to do. My husband struggled to show his emotions, first wanting him to go to the funeral home right away... I refused and explained my need to bond for the precious moments we had. He agreed after a bit of time and was able to feel the pain and hold his son.
Christopher kept his color everywhere but in his lips, they turned blue within the first few hours. The first night my bishop and stake president and a few members of the elders quorum came by to give my husband and I; blessings. The moment was so spiritual and intense. My friends commented on the power and love our church friends so willingly gave. Then it was time to give him up for the evening to stay in the freezer to keep his body "fresh". I was exhausted, but I didn't want to waste a second eating or sleeping when I could be holding my baby boy, today would be the only day he was truly unchanged by death. Giving him up was a matter of forcing myself to rest and for the hopes tomorrow he would look & feel the same, knowing he may be hard and blue the next day.
When I awoke I was swollen, one of my eyes wouldn't open and I was pasty white. I couldn't sit up and I felt so sick. The Doctor came in and alerted me my blood count was significantly low and my body had not recovered a healthy amount of blood on my own. I needed a transfusion, my blood count was at a level 5 when it should be between 11-15. Throughout the day I received 6 transfusions. With each one, I could feel my body gaining strength, no longer feeling so sick. I was able to stand and even walk after the transfusions, something I was incapable of doing for almost 3 days.
I looked through the door and saw my Godmother, my aunt Jane. She had flown in from Arizona to be with me. (I was also raised catholic) Being a nurse she was able to help me understand all the medical chaos. She also fell in love with Christopher. The second morning when they brought his body back in the room, he was not hard, he was softer actually. His color was more ashen and he looked dehydrated. But that didn't stop me from holding my baby for as long as I was allowed.
There was a special nurse named Barbara, she was by my side everyday. She helped us contact a special company who would come to the hospital to mold his hands and feet for a bronze plaque. She is the compassionate services nurse trained to help mothers who've lost their babies. I was never alone nor were our desires ever ignored including professional pictures taken by a company called 'Now I lay me Down to Sleep' They are volunteers who photograph babies who have passed on, for their families.
My children were cared for by my cousin, bishop, and friends so we could concentrate on our grief. My cousin, Dee, who is also a nurse, offered to set up the funeral arrangements. Church members handled the talks and family assisted in the payment of the casket and funeral details. My husband's work friends even chipped in $1,000 to help pay for medical or funeral or whatever else we were in need of. We were blessed by the loved ones that surrounded us.
I stayed in the hospital 4 days... All 4 days we kept Christopher with us. The last day was obvious, he was no longer able to stay with us. His skull was wiggly every time I moved him, I felt a pop. His chin was sagging into his neck. His body was so dehydrated and lifeless, that he was beginning to cross the line towards decomposing.
Giving him up to the funeral home almost unbearable, knowing we would never hold him again. When they arrived a friend came to pray with us. The funeral home carried a moses basket filled with blankets so they could completely cover his body (for respect of others in the hospital), escorted by 2 police officers. Tears flowed so heavily I could hardly see. We said our goodbye's and held our perfect baby one last time. Putting him in the basket was like being stabbed in the heart. I begged the funeral to keep him the same... No make-up for the viewing and as little of embalming as possible. I could hardly stand to see his body in the basket, then they covered him with blankets and left the room. I fell into my husband's arms so weak and heartbroken.
We left the hospital; passing the nursery with living babies, passing mothers taking home their recent additions and passing pregnant mothers in labor. I felt my eyes well up, I hung my head in despair and sorrow while passing all the happiness. At home we planned a birthday party for my husband... for the following day. Hoping to bring some happiness to this week, being the following day was the funeral.
We drew on balloons, everyone who was close to us and Christopher was there with us. We wrote messages on the balloons to release into the air... My children were able to express their pain in a safe place. I was able to say everything I was feeling that I wanted nobody else to see...yet...Not until I was able to handle the pain myself. We all walked out in the front yard and released our balloons into the evening sky, knowing Christopher was already very aware of our grief, it helped us. We tried to make a cake and invite his family over to be with us, we tried to make it as special as possible under the circumstances. My husband was going to get a baby for his birthday...On his birthday... Instead we spent the day planning the funeral for his son.
The next morning we tried to get ready as fast as possible and rush to the funeral home before they transported him to the church for the viewing and service. As I walked in the lady behind the desk, jumped up to hug me and cry, she had cared for my sweet baby and felt a mother's pain in my loss. But we were too late, he was already at the church. My father took a rocking chair to the viewing for me and my neighbor brought a wheelchair so I could keep up with the day's events. The ladies at church made a beautiful arrangement in our Relief Society room for the viewing. I never want to see a baby in a casket again, but he looked so perfect, angelic.
I wanted to hold him. I wanted him to still be fragile, but he was pumped full of the embalming fluid and was stiff. So I held his hand for 2 hours. I hardly talked to anyone and I was a bit goofy, I was well medicated for the pain. I kept cracking jokes. Nobody understood why I wasn't bawling. I had been crying for almost a week. I needed some relief, a break from the pain, this would be the hardest day of all. Then they said a prayer and gave me 5 minutes to say goodbye before they would seal the casket and begin the service. I wasn't ready. NO. Please, give me more time! I quickly grabbed the blanket I bought that little boy from my vision many years ago and placed it upon Christopher's body. Along with 2 teddy bears from the children. I kissed his hand and reluctantly stepped back. They put the lid on his casket, sealed...forever...
The service was beautiful full of support and love... The church was filled (even the overflow), the love of our friends and family was overwhelming. We know our family is forever and we know we would be with Christopher again. Our bishop made sure to include this beautiful knowledge during his talk, helping us through our grief. The spirit was strong although my body was weak and could hardly handle sitting much longer. We sang "Families Can Be Together Forever" and "I am a Child of God".
While leaving for the graveyard, I spotted my doctor's wife and mother, even my special nurse. We were truly surrounded, if only I didn't have to leave for the burial. We had a speaker at the graveside and a prayer. We bent over to toss flowers on the casket and stayed while they piled the dirt on top of his casket. I struggled to stand, once sitting I was not able to get back up without a great deal of assistance. Many of our friends had left, back to their lives, back to work. I wanted to stay, with a pillow and sleeping bag; next to my baby. But the day was not over we still had a luncheon back at the church, a place to be surrounded for just a bit longer. I slept after that, my wheelchair provided enough comfort that I passed out in a deep sleep for the next 2 hours. I only vaguely remember the multiple hugs and tears expressed for our loss, of course hitting close to home for all the mothers.
From then on, I was able to rest and heal. I no longer forced myself to make it just a bit longer- to be able to survive the special time with my son or the funeral. The next few weeks we had meals brought to us and I tried not to slip into depression. I began medication, aware it was not a sign of weakness to accept medication to help me through the next few months.
My husband had difficulty returning to the grave although I wanted to go back daily, feeling mildly closer to Christopher during those moments. But I couldn't drive yet and my husband was unwilling so exactly 2 weeks later I returned, by myself. Friends offered to go with me or drive me, I refused knowing I couldn't cry the way I needed to when there is an audience. I stayed for about an hour also needing to pick a stone to order for my son. None of the other stones seemed good enough, but I was anxious to mark his grave so I finally picked one with a little angel baby praying and teddy bear with the words 'Families are Forever" across the bottom and his name on the top. Just a simple flat stone. I had to visit the mortuary to place my order, I hated walking in that place. But I knew the sooner I placed the order, the sooner his grave would no longer be unmarked.
The first time it rained, it rained heavily for a couple days. I couldn't sleep, all I could think about was water leaking into the casket onto my perfect little boy drenching his clean clothing and his warm blanket. And bugs, I kept thinking bugs would crawl in also to stay dry, crawling all over my baby's fresh body. The though still eats away at my heart. I want him back so badly, I want him alive, why does he have to be buried in a cold casket all ALONE, rotting away that perfect baby I buried. Why can't technology keep his body fresh and above ground in a glass casket where I can see that perfect baby again? So many women don't want their babies, so many abort or give up for adoption... Why not them? Why me? When I had great medical care, I took care of myself on bed rest for a month before and I had so much love for my baby; so why did my baby have to die? It's not the sorrow for the lost hopes and dreams I had for him, I loved him just as much as my other children, I miss my son, Christopher. That perfect angel baby boy that never got to take a breath in this world, only living inside me for those months... I want him back. Going to the graveyard brings some comfort knowing I am only a few feet away from his body, but it's not the same.
I decided to make a temporary gravestone out of a wood platform and paints and a picture of Christopher. I decorated it for Christmas complete with a small snowman, garland, and 3 little angels. Covered it in modge-pauge to withstand the weather. Now the fresh grave had a name, it had meaning to everyone else, not just me. The stone was delivered just before Christmas. Making his death feel permanent somehow. We also had so much snow I could not visit him on Christmas, we had plans to open a gift with him in the graveyard, the snow was so deep we got stuck many times just trying to leave the neighborhood.
Our marriage got very rocky after Christopher's death. Me- depressed and Jon concealing his pain by hanging out with his friends daily, I needed him at home with me and the kids and he needed to get away and pretend none of it ever happened. We began to see a therapist with out church, that way he could share our beliefs about death and help us through our grief. This helped greatly and we were able to finally pull through. My husband wanted another baby right away, I needed to wait and heal, terrified it may happen again if we pushed the process too soon. Somehow even with my efforts to wait, we became pregnant 4 months after we lost Christopher. I felt a great deal of sorrow, like I was reliving the worst moments of my life over again. I feared the same outcome, I still fear the same outcome. I have 2 weeks left to this pregnancy and I am unable to sleep most nights. Too many similarities. Another baby boy. I cannot lose another baby. I struggled the day we found out we were having a boy. And on top of that the baby is due less than 1 week after the one year anniversary of Christopher's death. Delivering 1 month early to accommodate my uterus's delicate needs. I can hardly sleep most nights and I want to visit my son's grave more often, due to the time of year. He'd be turning 1 year old. I should be planning a party, I should be decorating and dealing with petty details. Instead I'm planning a memorium with my kids.
I am plagued most nights with bad dreams, dreams about death and my children. Dreams about waking up and finding my baby dead or my older children dead; in great detail. I wake up in a panic, shaking and energized with adrenaline. Maybe it is due to the one year mark or because I'm pregnant again and having a baby the same time as last year so it's deja vu. I miss Christopher so much my heart aches for him almost all the time and it's almost been a whole year. I think the pain has changed from denial to a gaping hole in my heart. I cannot imagine how our ancestors lost so many babies and children, I cannot imagine how they could deal with the heartache repeatedly. I understand how someone can die of a broken heart, if I didn't have living children, I am not sure if I could have survived losing Christopher. Even with an amazing support system, I still don't think I could have pulled through the rough days. You think that the pain will be easier to handle over time, but it still feels just as raw and fresh as the day I lost him.
Today marks the day 2 years ago that I lost my Christopher. We visited his grave and brought gifts and flowers. Time doesn't heal all wounds, all it does is add experiences and memories to the past. My last pregnancy was a success and little Alexander is healthy and turning One in 3 days. I invite all 3 kids to the graveyard weekly on fridays...the day of the week we lost Christopher. For his 2nd birthday we all wrote messages on mylar balloons and set them free to the heaven's.