My submission from Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope
Our world was turned upside down in 25 minutes. It was actually happening for 5 days we just didn’t know it.
I was pregnant with our second child and what a different pregnancy this was. My first was perfect. No morning sickness just some fatigue. I loved being pregnant. I was so proud to have that belly. I loved feeling that little life kick inside of me. I had never felt better about myself.
Almost from the moment we found out we were pregnant I was sick. I was not quite 6 weeks when the first bout of illness hit. We all thought it was the stomach virus. I couldn’t keep anything down. I went to my OB out of concern of being dehydrated. They did the usual urine test and it came back fine. Not dehydrated. I was relieved. They gave me some Zofran for the nausea and told me to rest and drink as much as possible. I felt better about 2 days later.
We had our first “official” OB visit at 8 weeks. They did the usual exams and we got a sonogram to check for dating. The sonogram tech moved the wand and there was our little one. I could have stared at the screen all day. Our 13 month old was going to be a big brother! We couldn’t have been more excited. Everything measured great and was right on time. It was Valentine’s Day – I couldn’t think of a better way to spend that day.
At around 9 weeks my husband came down with Strep Throat that I of course also caught. It took 2 rounds of antibiotics for it to go away. Then about a week later there was another bout with the stomach virus. “Seriously?! Again” I thought. This time it lasted around 4 days.
The doctors started thinking this probably isn’t the stomach virus so many times in a row. “No kidding!” I thought. Maybe it’s the gallbladder they said. Eat bland and keep away from fatty foods. Whatever I needed to do to keep this from happening again. It was so hard being so sick and having to try to take care of my 13 month old. My husband had just started a new job when we found out we were pregnant and he had already had to miss some work to help me out. (I’m a stay at home mom and all of our family, with the exception of my sister, lives 6 hours away)
I stuck to carbs for weeks. Eat bagels and pasta – not a problem for this preggo! Too bad it didn’t work. I got sick again. They sent me for a sonogram to check my gallbladder and did blood work. The tests came back fine. The sonogram didn’t show anything wrong with my gallbladder.
The next time I got sick I ended up in Labor & Delivery (L&D) for dehydration. Even the small sips of water I was taking wouldn’t stay down. I was weak and this had gone on for 2 days already. They gave me fluids and I felt better after the first half a bag. I was given another medication for nausea.
All the while in between these bouts of whatever this was I was ok. Once it went away it was as if nothing was wrong. The baby always sounded great on the Doppler. We had another sonogram somewhere in between all of this and there was our little one bouncing around happy as could be.
The next time I got sick I ended up in L&D again. In the midst of throwing my guts up yet again I pulled a muscle in my abdomen. The pain from this was worse than my c-section recovery. I couldn’t get off the couch or out of bed. I couldn’t walk upright. The docs weren’t sure if it was a muscle at first so they sent me for all kinds of tests. I had more sonograms of my abdomen (while the tech was scanning where the pain was she started to laugh – there were baby’s feet on the edge of the picture), I also went for an MRI and met with a surgeon. My white blood count was elevated a bit and they were concerned it was appendicitis. After a week of terrible pain it was determined that is was just a badly pulled muscle. I was given some pain meds, a walker to help get around and was told to rest. My mother in law flew up to help us out. I could barely take care of myself no less my now 15 month old son. She stayed a week.
I was good for a few weeks after that. On May 11 we had our 20 week anatomy scan. There was baby looking great. Moving around and trying to suck a thumb. The profile looked just like big brother’s. Everything measured perfectly. Everything looked great. We left with pictures in hand on top of the world. I was so happy that even with all this illness our little one was doing just fine.
I had a trip planned with my sister to go see our mom with our boys. We were going to leave on Thursday and do the 6 hour drive. On Sunday night I started not feeling well again. I took some nausea meds and went to bed.
Throughout that night I couldn’t sleep and spent a good chunk of it in the bathroom. This time was different than the others…I wasn’t vomiting. I was thankful for that. The stomach issues continued for the next few days. I wasn’t hungry and was fighting to eat even crackers. I was having cramps but I thought it was because of the stomach upset.
I didn’t go to the doctor because this was the 5th time this had happened and there was nothing they could do. I stuck it out. My son and I spent the next 3 days in front of the television. I went from the couch to my bed. Whenever my son went for a nap I would do the same.
On Tuesday I told my sister I wasn’t going to make the trip with her. I still wasn’t feeling any better and knowing how this was in the past I knew I wasn’t going to wake up overnight and just feel better.
By Wednesday the cramps were a little worse. I was taking Tylenol but it wasn’t doing much. I also wasn’t sleeping. I was getting exhausted.
On Thursday morning I was sitting at the computer when all of a sudden I felt a gush. I didn’t know what it was. I ran to the bathroom. I looked and still wasn’t sure what it was. I called my husband to come home and then called the doctors office. They told me to come in. My husband walked in and we turned right around and went to the doctor’s office. I was still leaking whatever this was.
They called me in and had me do a urine sample. The nurse said she saw blood in my urine. She asked if I thought my water had broken. I told her I didn’t think so. The color of whatever this was didn’t look like amniotic fluid to me.
She brought me into a room to wait for the doctor. He asked what was going on. He did an exam and said he thought it was bacterial vaginosis. The discharge was probably from that and some antibiotics should clear it up. He measured my belly and put the Doppler on me. “Baby sounds pretty happy to me” he said. He also checked my cervix to be sure. “Long and closed”. I could have cried in relief. I told him I was still cramping and he said it was probably from the stomach issues.
Later that afternoon I noticed a little spotting. I called the doctors office and he said it was probably from “poking around in there” during the exam.
The bleeding got a little worse as the night progressed but I was also still having gushes of “discharge”. I figured how can the bleeding stop if I have all of this stuff coming out?
Friday it was still going on. I called the office again. At that point I had a few doses of the antibiotic in me and thought it would have started to help. I spoke to my OB on the phone. He told me “we need to wean you from worrying. You can’t worry like this for the next 20 weeks”. I felt a little more reassured but I was still cramping and still having the stomach issues.
As Friday went on the cramps got worse. I even described them to someone as contractions. I was only 21 weeks 4 days. I couldn’t be having contractions. I was just at the doctor and they said everything was ok. I need to stop worrying. Try and relax and you’ll feel better.
By Friday night I was in so much pain and it had been so many days already. I was at my wits end. I was in bed with my husband trying to figure out what we should do. I was trying so hard to avoid going back to the hospital. I got up to use the bathroom and I passed a big clot. My stomach sank. I came out and told my husband I needed to call the Doc on call. She called back right away and told me to come in.
We called some friends to stay with our sleeping 16 month old. It was 11pm when we called them. Something felt different to me. I didn’t know what it was but I started to panic. I was trying not to scare my husband so I didn’t say anything.
We got to the hospital around 11:40. I was wheeled right up to OB triage. A nurse came right over and helped me change. I was almost in hysterics at that point because as I was getting out of the car I passed something else. I didn’t know what it was. It turns out it was another clot.
She brought me over to a bed and got a Doppler. She scanned my belly for what felt like an eternity. She couldn’t find a heartbeat. I grabbed my husbands hand and started squeezing. She went to get the sonogram machine. She came back a few minutes later with the sonogram and a doctor. As soon as the doctor put the wand on my belly she couldn’t see the baby. She had to move it lower. The baby wasn’t where it should have been. I took a peek at the screen and I could see there was no fluid around the baby. She confirmed that. “I’m so sorry sweetheart”. She checked me and the baby was right there. “You’re in labor and you’re going to deliver”. I broke down. I cried like I had never cried before. The sounds coming out of me as I sobbed were so primal. I cried with all of my being. I remember looking over at my husband and apologizing. I felt like this was my fault.
They wheeled me into a room and my body started taking over. I had to push. With 1 push the baby’s head was out. The doctor did the rest. I wasn’t even on the bed yet. I was still on the gurney from triage.
They took the baby to the warmer. It was 12:05am when our second child was born. We got to the hospital at 11:40. In 25 minutes I felt like my world ended. I kept shaking my head trying to clear the fog. What just happened? How could this be?
A nurse told us the baby was alive but we knew it wouldn’t be long. My husband went to the warmer and came back to my side. He told me we had our second son. We held each other for a minute and cried. I was still bleeding and the placenta hadn’t delivered yet. They finally got it to deliver and I was ok.
I wanted to hold my son. My husband went and got him. He was wrapped in a blanket. He was so tiny but so perfect. 10 fingers and 10 toes. A perfect little nose just like his brother. His eyebrows were just blonde shadows.
Ryan Matthew was only 15 ounces. He was born at 21 weeks and 5 days. I’m pretty sure I was holding him as he passed.
We took turns holding him and talking to him. We cried. We prayed. About 2 hours later I asked Nick to have the nurse come and take him. I was afraid if I held him too long I wasn’t going to be able to let him go. I had a minute alone with Ryan. I told him I was sorry for not being able to protect him and I asked him to watch over us and his brother. Again I cried like I hadn’t cried before.
Leaving the hospital was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I wasn’t leaving with my son. I wasn’t leaving still pregnant. I was leaving with a memory box of things of my son. His tiny little footprints on a card, what should have been his hospital tag, a beautiful note from our nurse and a tiny hat that was still way too big to fit.
We buried our son that Tuesday. The days leading up we were just trying to prepare for a final goodbye. Every time I left him it hurt. It hurt so badly. I’m thankful for the time we got to spend with him (we were able to hold him at the funeral home Monday and Tuesday) but that time will never be enough. I should have had a lifetime with my son. We weren’t supposed to meet until September. How do you say goodbye when you’ve barely had a chance to say hello?
We learned once the pathology results came back that is was a terrible infection. It was in the placenta, sac, cord and fluid. The doctors don’t know how it got there or what caused it. They also told me there was nothing that could have been done.
In the days after Ryan’s birth I needed to do something to ease the pain. The worst pain I’ve felt in my life – something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. We did a little research and decided to set up a page for donations in Ryan’s name for the March of Dimes. In the first 24 hours we had more than $1000. We were shocked and amazed. We both thought “wouldn’t $500 be nice”. To date our family, friends and even strangers have donated more than $4000. all in the name of our son. I can’t think of a better way to honor him and make him proud.
It’s been 27 days and it’s been hard. I miss him every second of the day and will for the rest of my life. I know we’ve got a special angel watching over us.
I love you my sweet boy and I always will.
After writing this my health issues continued. I had 2 surgeries in a 6 week span. It was determined that the cyst they thought I developed after Ryan's birth was not a cyst at all. Turns out I had what they're calling "Chronic Appendicitis". My appendix ruptured and kept rupturing. That's why I kept getting sick. The infection that was caused got to the placenta and amniotic sac and caused the pre-term labor. On September 16th I had surgery to remove my appendix, right ovary and fallopian tube and a grapefruit size abscess.