The Significant Loss of a Child
So last night I was reading about a family that lost two five-month-old twins because the dad had left them in the car all day after dropping his wife off at work. He discovered them when he went to get back in the car to pick her up. Whoa. Can you imagine? To be the mom that had to be told that she would never hold her babies again. This weekend just happened to be the anniversary of losing our sweet Oliver 2 years ago, so this story really hit close to home.
No matter what anyone says, there's nothing on earth that rivals losing a child, at any stage. When I think back on our experience, I see it like the beginning of a dramatic episode of ER where you are jumping in and out of someone's reality as they are being wheeled through the hospital right in the middle of an emergency situation. You know things aren't going to turn out well, but the story doesn't settle down and start flowing smoothly until the emergency is done and over and the damage is done.
That's a great way to start a TV drama, but you never want to be the main character of your own. Let me rewind and give you a little background. At that time it was May of 2016. I was 5 months pregnant and had a precious 2-year-old in tow.
Our First Loss
The previous year had already been a hard one for us. We had gotten pregnant when my toddler was only 10 months old. It was a little earlier than originally anticipated, but we were excited. We had a little girl on the way.
However just as we were getting used to the idea of having two little ones under the age of two, while my husband was at work one day, I had sudden cramping followed by our baby, placenta and all, falling out right into my hands. It destroyed us. But we were pregnant again three months later.
Here We Go Again
This time I was terrified every day that it would happen again. I was scared to enjoy it and embrace another child that we might lose. We made it past the first trimester, but still waited until four months before making an announcement.
Now we were 5 months along thinking that we were pretty safe. We starting celebrating the pregnancy, I started a journal for the baby, and we even picked out a name, Oliver Chance. My husband and I talked about how our two boys would get along, what Oliver would look like, what he would be like, and even started planning his birth. He was due the same day our first child was due to arrive. It was fate. Wasn't it?
Then I got really sick. We're talking major body aches, fatigue, nausea, and headaches. After talking to our midwife, the conclusion was either a virus that we couldn't treat with meds in my condition or it was just pregnancy. Either way, it would pass.
It was then that the bleeding started. At first, it wasn't alarming until it lasted through the weekend. Once again my husband was at work and the midwife insisted on coming to get me and taking me to the emergency room.
At the hospital, they wanted to fly me to Phoenix for emergency surgery but my husband and my toddler couldn't come with me, so we refused. The diagnosis was that I was dilating and was going to lose the baby if something was not done. So instead I was given heavy hormones and told that I would be on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy. I wasn't to let my head go higher than my hips or the baby would be lost.
I can't explain the heavy feelings of guilt and frustration that washed over me as I lay there flat on the couch. There was a precious toddler in my care that needed me and I couldn't be there for him.
Our Last Night
Around 11pm that night, my contractions began. I knew what they felt like this time and they were quickly getting harder and faster. Our toddler had finally gone to sleep after the excitement of the day and our midwife insisted that we go back so something even more serious didn't happen at home. So everyone had to get up and we were off to the hospital again. We knew it was bad and started believing that we were going to lose this one...just as we had started hoping again.
But this time, they freaked out. It turns out all of my organs were shutting down and I was septic. My water broke as they were trying to shove needles in my arms and put patches on my chest. It was nuts. Suffice to say, they gave me medication to stop my contractions and sent me up to Labor and Delivery to wait out the medication so I could deliver in the morning.
They almost put me on life support and did an emergency c-section to save my life (which they wouldn't have had to do had they not stopped my contractions the night before). Thankfully, I was able to deliver naturally, and along with tons of antibiotics, my family and I could go home the next morning. We buried our tiny son under a brand new maple tree in our front yard.
The Following Months
Don't think that we were then able to just pick ourselves up and move forward with our lives without any complications. We had to drive home that next morning without our little boy. (Tears coming now.) Of course, we had our precious little 1.5-year-old Elliot, to whom we credit any amount of sanity in the coming months, but we just felt like someone was missing.
I couldn't look at anyone or hardly talk to anyone for almost 8 months after that. It was difficult to go to church and see all of the pathetic looks on everyone's faces. I most certainly couldn't talk to anyone but the closest of friends about what had happened, and we cried in front of that maple tree for nights on end. Two years later, and one more baby later and I'm crying now.
It did get easier though. In fact, when we were pregnant again in January, some of our hope returned. For some reason, we believed that this one would stick. It didn't, but we were stronger this time. I truly believe that the pain and the memories will never go away, but it will get easier over time. Grief is a fickle friend.
This is not the direction I had planned for this post, but I've been trying to write this down for a couple of years now. Apparently, that's what this post needed to be about. We definitely understand miscarriage, because we had four more after that, three through the summer and one more in February. And we understand losing a baby. They had told us at the hospital that had he been 24 weeks along, they would have tried to save him. However, neither of us want to contemplate what that would have been like or if he would have even made it after all of that.
I promise that the guilt and sadness, the loss and the heartache never fully go away, but you're heart don't hurt quite so bad forever. My husband and I both replay the whole scenario over and over in our heads often. It's not as tender a subject as is has been in the past, and we can finally talk about him without tons of tears, but it still hurts when people ask us if we only have two boys. No, of course we don't, but what good would it do to tell everyone that.
If it's possible for this story to have a happy ending, this would be it. Though they have no idea what happened with Oliver's pregnancy, the doctors decided that I was miscarrying because my progesterone levels were too low. So, our last miscarriage was on February 13th, 2017 and I was sent in for an ultrasound a month and a half later because it was believed that I had an incomplete miscarriage and would need a D&C. But instead, they told me that I was 5 weeks and 4 days pregnant.
Because my sweet Sawyer piggybacked off of our last miscarriage, he got everything he needed to survive, and now we have another adorable little boy to hold in our arms. Not that he will ever replace Oliver, or that we will ever forget our second son, but simply that our hope for the future was restored.
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© 2018 Victoria Van Ness