It has been the longest month of my life. It was a month ago that we found out my AFP tests came back abnormal. In that time, I’ve had multiple ultrasounds, two amniocentesis tests, my baby’s diagnosis of Spina Bifida, a skeptical doctor who didn’t believe the first Triploidy results, a lot of false hope, disappointing news after disappointing news, a final diagnosis of Triploidy, preeclampsia with high blood pressure and a lot of swelling, and the heavy decision to deliver our baby early. This month has been heartbreaking, unfair, and wonderful at the same time. I was able to be pregnant for the last time ever, and feel my little baby move and kick around. I got to meet my angel baby, become closer to my husband, and feel loved and supported by so many people – even strangers. This past month has me feeling so confused and empty, yet full.
Last Thursday (July 28th, 2016), we made our way to the hospital and checked in just a little before 8:00 p.m. for me to be induced. Upon checking in, the nurse at the desk didn’t realize what was going on, so she jokingly said something along the lines of “You’re not big enough to be induced! Turn and let me see your profile!” Fighting back tears, I told her that I was not full term. She apologized several times, and offered her condolences, but this set off a wave of emotions in both of us. The nurse walked us to the room where I would deliver my baby, handed me a gown, and left. I immediately started crying. I’ve been in these rooms before – twice, with each of my living children. This room was meant for happiness and joy, and all I felt was sadness and guilt. Up until this point, I could still feel little Oliver kicking and doing somersaults in my belly. I got dressed in the awful gown they gave me, and waited for my nurse to arrive. The first nurse assigned to me was wonderful, and she was accompanied by a friend of a friend who vowed to take great care of me. She spent several minutes trying to find a vein in my arm so that I didn’t have to have the IV in my hand (bad past experiences with this). Shortly after this (about 9:00 p.m.), the midwife came in to talk to us and administer the first dose of Cytotec to induce labor. Thus began a very long 14 hours.
About 20 minutes after administering the Cytotec, I began to shake uncontrollably. This was one of the most miserable experiences. I spent about 45 minutes with horrible chills until John finally couldn’t take seeing me like that anymore and called the nurse. Chills is a usual side effect of Cytotec, but not a fever – which I had developed and kept until after Oliver was born. Between 9:30 p.m. until about 8:00 a.m. I received many different medications for my fever and the pain of the contractions that seemed to never stop. Overnight, I got minutes of sleep at a time, while my husband snored away…Lol. My goal was to make it to 7:00 a.m. (breakfast time), so that I could eat before getting an epidural. Breakfast took forever to get to my room. After eating, my contractions became worse, breaking through the heavy pain meds that had been administered. I finally gave in around 10:00 a.m. and said that I wanted an epidural.
It took the anesthesiologist about 30 minutes to make it to my room. When he finally arrived, he said “Congratulations!” The nurse gave him a look, and quietly said that we were losing our baby. He offered condolences, and then got to work. At this point, my fever had spiked to 103.2, and I was again shaking uncontrollably. Talk about nervous! This guy was going to try to stick a needle in my back while I was shaking like crazy! He insisted he could work around my shaking. After THREE tries, he claimed that he got the epidural in, and it should be working. Before lying down, I felt a big pop, almost like Oliver just jumped up and down in my stomach. My water had broken. The anesthesiologist finished taping things, and I stopped feeling my contractions. However, I could feel everything else…I knew immediately that my epidural hadn’t really taken, which scared me to death because I had always had strong epidurals with my other kids. The kind that make you COMPLETELY numb from the stomach down. But, I went to lie down anyway because I started feeling pressure and knew that I would have my sweet baby soon.
My midwife immediately checked on the baby, and started prepping to deliver – it was time. I was still shaking uncontrollably, and now I started feeling all of the emotions that had been numbed by pain meds over the last 12 hours or so. It took about one push and little Oliver was introduced to the world. The midwife didn’t place him on my stomach right away. She checked for a heartbeat – he didn’t have one. She offered to perform palpitations, but we refused, knowing that if his heart miraculously started beating, it wouldn’t last for long. He was already in the arms of Heaven, and we wanted to keep it that way.
She placed him on my stomach and we both started crying, telling his lifeless body just how perfect he was and how we were sorry he couldn’t stay here on Earth with us. He was so tiny, but looked so much more like a human than an alien (something I had been very anxious about). His head had turned reddish-purple, his body was very red, and his legs were of normal color. Due to this coloration, I think he passed soon after meds were administered the night before. I hadn’t felt him move since about midnight. He had Makenna’s nose, John’s ears and hands, my and Bryson’s chin, and his small amount of hair looked strawberry-blonde in color. His body came into this world at 11:07 a.m. on July 29th, 2016. He weighed 15.2 ounces and was 8.5 inches long (although I don’t think that the nurse stretched his legs out all the way when measuring).
We spent hours with his lifeless body, inspecting every inch of him. We saw the Spina Bifida “bubble” on his back, his little clubbed feet (a common trait of SB babies), and some other, very small, abnormalities that indicated his Triploidy (head size and shape, one of his ears was slightly under-formed, and his boy parts were not developed all the way). But, he was absolutely perfect to us. After a couple hours of holding him, John’s parents and my mom came to visit, and the hospital’s photographer came in to take photos. Around 3:00, Oliver’s body began to stiffen, feel very cold, and his skin started to deteriorate, so we called the funeral home to come pick him up so that he could be cremated. Handing his body to the nurse was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.
After about two hours of resting in the hospital room, waiting for my fever to subside, the midwife came in to discharge me. I was glad to be going home to sleep in my own bed, but so sad that it was all over. My baby was no longer inside of my stomach, and I didn’t get to bring him home with me. We had the blanket that we snuggled him in cremated with him, but I now wish we hadn’t because that could have been the only thing I kept that his body touched. I’m sure that sounds silly, but I want nothing more than to hold him again, even with his still heart. We ordered a sweet urn that’s shaped as an angel comforting a baby. Today we go to have it filled with his ashes. Today we will bring home what is left of our sweet Oliver Scott.
Physically, a week later, I am feeling much better. I still get tired quickly, but the pains I was feeling a few days after birth have subsided. Emotionally, the pain comes in waves. Usually something will remind me of him or my pregnancy, and the tears start flowing. I know it’ll take some time to feel “normal” again – or at least get a sense of what the new “normal” feels like. I wanted so badly to have a third child – and now I can say that I do. Some of you may not know this, but Oliver was my fifth pregnancy. I had an early miscarriage just months after Makenna (our oldest at 6 years old) was born, and another early miscarriage this past November. Through Oliver, John and I now agree that our family is complete. As much as I still long to cradle, take care of, and raise a new baby, those days are officially over for us. We can now put our time and energy into the two lively children we have to enjoy on Earth.
I am truly so very thankful for all of the support, prayers, donations, meals, and friends that have come from Oliver’s sweet story. Although we have lost a child on Earth, Heaven gained a sweet baby boy. It has made my marriage stronger, made me appreciate the little things that Makenna and Bryson do every day, made me realize that I have so many more friends than I ever imagined, reassured me that God has us at the perfect church for our family, and that I am not alone in this. I am not the only one who has suffered the loss of a child. Many stories similar to mine have been shared with me over the last few weeks, and they have brought comfort to my soul. I hope that one day I can do the same for someone else.