Monday, May 4, 2015

Waiting for our rainbow. Part 2. Charlotte Celeste

After having McKay our hearts were broken.  We were carried through the hard times by a LOT of love and support and by our faith in our Savior and the knowledge we have that families can be together for eternity. 

3 months after Mckay was born, our Doctor told us we could once again try to get pregnant.  J and I talked and prayed about this and we decided that we weren’t giving up.  We would try to conceive another baby.  The doctors thought what happened was just bad luck and it wouldn’t happen again.  We didn’t have any reason not to believe them.  We talked very seriously with our doctor about future pregnancies.  I told him that with my next pregnancy, I didn’t want to see other doctors in the practice.  I wanted to see MY doctor and ONLY my doctor.  I didn’t want 4 different doctors to have small pieces of my story.  I wanted one doctor to have the entire picture.  He assured us he would be the one to see us, and in case of an emergency we would have one back up.  I also explained that I would be neurotic and a pain in their sides because I would call if I hiccupped funny.  He also agreed and understood. 

Another miracle happened and we got pregnant quickly after. I still can’t believe our luck.  We were due to have another baby May 4, 2015.  I thought this was a very tender mercy from God; I would have a sweet baby to hold in my arms on McKay’s first birthday/angelversary, May 31.  I also felt that McKay was happy for us.  He didn’t want me to be sad and not try to have a brother or sister for Lincoln.  I imagined he was with his sister up in heaven telling her that she was coming to a special family.  A family that wanted her more than anything else and he told her how we would take such good care of her and smother her with hugs and kisses and more love than she could imagine. 




The Pregnancy:

I was SICK.  I’ve been sick with every pregnancy but this was the worst. Being so sick made it difficult to picture the end result, a beautiful baby.  I didn’t get a baby after being sick with McKay.  I got through it a day at a time, but it was a challenge.   I did go see the perinatologist or high risk pregnancy doctors when I was 10 weeks and they did an ultrasound and then told me that they thought very highly of my doctor and that I could continue to see him.  If there were any complications he would send me back to them.  I now had a second opinion and they thought everything would be fine too so we blindly believed them.  They also guessed with an 80% surety that I was going to have a girl!  Later, at 13 weeks and 5 days my doctor texted me and confirmed we were having a girl and told us everything was normal chromosomally.  I could breathe a little easier knowing my baby was healthy.  You don’t take ANYTHING for granted after losing a baby! 

I made it through the first trimester and during the second trimester at 16 weeks, I began going in weekly or bi weekly for ultrasounds to measure my cervix to make sure it wasn’t shortening.  My doctor was concerned that with Lincoln’s birth, when my cervical septum tore it may have damaged my cervix making it weak. When a women’s cervix isn’t strong enough to hold a baby in, it dilates and shortens early, this is known as incompetent cervix aka IC.  My Dr. told me that the most dangerous time for a woman with IC is between 18-22 weeks so they would monitor me closely.  He also advised me not to do anything strenuous and to be very careful.  I was told if you have IC you don’t feel pain as your cervix dilates and often women go to the doctor and it is too late at that point, they are dilating and their bag of amniotic fluid is coming out or “bulging”.  He didn’t have to tell me to take it easy!  I was going to do everything I could to keep my baby safe, I also didn’t feel well enough to do much haha. 

My doctor and I had some long conversations.  He talked about giving me a vaginal cerclage, which is a purse string like stitch in your cervix that keeps it closed, if he saw my cervix beginning to shorten.  He was concerned about giving me a cerclage because putting something into my cervix could introduce bacteria which is how infections begin, and also how I lost McKay.  I couldn’t stop worrying.  There were so many things that could go wrong. 

As a side note I feel that I have learned more medical terms than I ever knew I would.  Have you ever heard of: IC/incompetent cervix, PPROM, chorioamnionitis , subchorionic hemorrhage, bicornuate uterus, septate uterus, uterine didelphys, endometriosis, placental abruption, funneling, hourglassing, TVC, TVCIC, TAC,  cerclage, p 17 injections, placenta previa, perinatologist, bulging bag of water, inclusion stitch, the list goes on and on.  Well now I can explain what each of these terms mean.  I know that a baby is considered viable at 24 weeks but there have been some babies that have survived a few days before that.  Now NICU’s can do a great deal for micro-preemies and their lungs but that their biggest concern is actually the brain.  I’ve learned so much on this journey, more than I ever thought I’d know or need to know. 

Through it all I was enjoying my precious time with my daughter and I tried not to take one second for granted.  We had a really fun gender reveal party!
Here is the video of it: https://youtu.be/Zg0cqgdMjI8
Each day with her was a victory and I wanted to celebrate each milestone and week that passed.  I wrote in my journal each week about the changes, challenges, and joys of the pregnancy. 

Complications:

At 15w and 6days I started feeling some cramping but it wasn’t frequent, and by 17w 6d, I was having all of the same symptoms I was having before I lost McKay.  On Dec 1st, I was 18 weeks, I called my doctor and they wanted me to come in to check my cervix.  It had shortened from 3.8cm to 3.2 (the caution zone is under 3, the DANGER zone is under 2.5cm, so I was close but ok) in two weeks and because of the pain/contractions I was feeling they sent me to triage.  They monitored my contractions which were pretty uncomfortable and after a few hours they sent me for another ultrasound to measure my cervix.  The tech wouldn’t tell J and I the length so we started worrying that it was bad news.  We immediately became emotional, I can’t even describe the fear and feelings we had.  It was all happening again! 

J and I hadn’t been to triage since my horrible experience losing McKay.  It took me over 30 minutes just to get up the courage to walk through the front doors again.  It was post-traumatic stress for sure! And now I was 18 weeks with my baby girl and I had been 18 weeks and 2 days when I lost McKay.  The timing couldn’t have been worse!  Thankfully my best friend Angie came to visit and she helped distract me while I waited for the u/s results.  The nurse eventually came and said that now my cervix was measuring at 5.2 which would be fantastic but how did that happen in a matter of hours??  How was there such a huge discrepancy?  Was my doctor’s office wrong or was the hospital incorrect?  I was anxious to say the least but I felt like this was the beginning of a long and scary road.  I was RIGHT.

At my next doctor’s appointment my doctor explained to me that during the ultrasound at the hospital I was contracting which changes the length of your cervix, so the ultrasound tech actually got measurements ranging from 2.7 to 5.2cm.  He told me to begin taking ibuprofen if I felt anything and if that didn’t help they’d prescribe me something else.  Ibuprofen however, can and will damage the babies kidneys which can reduce the amniotic fluid, so I would continue to be monitored closely to make sure fluid levels stayed at a normal level.

He also explained that I was no longer a candidate for a cerclage because cerclages are for women having painless dilation.  If We couldn’t stop the contracting with the meds, they’d have to admit me to the hospital and put me on magnesium aka mag.  I was really discouraged, because I know mag is a MISERABLE drug and now I wasn’t a candidate for the cerclage either. 

Bedrest:

I started bedrest and ibuprofen.  I was still feeling crampy but not horrible.  I never knew if I should continue to bother the doctors with every detail.  I did text my doctor pretty regularly though. At 20 weeks I had been to triage twice and I was taking  P17 or progesterone injections and ibuprofen around the clock, along with the Rx drug nefedipine which made me hot and gave me headaches and just made me miserable.  But the good news was my cervix hadn’t changed.  I got so hung up on the length of my cervix, I thought that was the only indication that something bad would happen.  I was so ignorant!


Exciting news was that I was feeling my daughter move.  It is the best feeling in the WORLD!!!  Justin even felt her move on December 17.  On Friday Dec 20th, I had an u/s and tey told me my fluid was low/normal so they told me to come back Tuesday and if the fluid level drops again I’d have to go off the ibuprofen which was the only medication that really seemed to stop the contractions.  However if Charlotte, my daughter, wasn’t producing enough urine because her kidneys were damaged then the fluid level would be low and babies have to have amniotic fluid for a variety of reasons.

The Bomb dropped:
December 23, my birthday, is when everything turned upside down.  Justin had taken the week off of work and he went in with me to my doctor’s appointment.  I was just grateful to be out of the house since I was on bedrest and since it was my bday.  Justin and I both felt confident that everything would be fine.  I had tried hard to space out the ibuprofen and to not take it unless I really needed it.  That morning I hadn’t even needed any meds, I was feeling good!  They had also put me on a antibiotic and J thought maybe that had cleared up any bacteria that could cause contractions.  The weekend had gone fairly smoothly, except I had felt one small gush of fluid and I had immediately texted my doctor.  He told me if I was concerned at all to go in.  Well I was STUPID and didn’t go in.  I had so much fluid when my membranes ruptured with McKay that I was sure it couldn’t have been my water.  I thought if it continued to happen I would go in, but it didn’t happen again so I waited for my doctors’ appt. 

The BIG problem was the besides contractions my biggest symptom with Charlotte and McKay was that I had a lot of discharge/wetness constantly.  I later learned that this was my cervical mucous that every women has to protect the uterus.  Without the cervical mucous bacteria ascends and causes infection.  It was hard to tell if I was leaking any fluid because I was always wet down there anyway! (I know this is TMI and I debated leaving it out, but I thought if I could help anyone in a similar situation to understand this ISN'T normal, than it would be worth it!)

They began my ultrasound and the tech called in a doctor which they normally don’t do.  They told us that we needed to go to triage immediately, there was very little fluid.  In my mind this just meant that now I’d have to go off of the ibuprofen completely and probably eventually end up on Magnesium.  I was scared but was willing to do anything.  The doctor told me that it was possible for the amniotic fluid level to rise if they gave me IV fluids.  I asked if I could run home and grab some things and kiss my son and they advised us to go straight to the hospital.  I knew this was serious but I thought my fluid could just replenish once I stopped the motrin.

At the hospital I had to walk through those horrible doors of the maternity entrance again.  I once thought that going to triage was always a FUN and exciting event.  I wish that were the case, I dreaded being there!  The nurse asked J and I if anyone told us what the fluid level was.  No one had, she informed us it was a 1, and she wasn’t sure if they used zero.  There was NO fluid at all.  Even when my membranes ruptured with McKay I had 2.5, now I had 1 or none.  What was going on? 
They ran another test where they test the fluid to see if it is amniotic fluid.  Sure enough, the test came back positive, my bag of water had ruptured.  We were beyond devastated.  They admitted me but it didn’t look good.  Babies need amniotic fluid to develop their lungs and for the muscles and bones to grow correctly.  There was a small chance I could remain pregnant and carry Charlotte, and if I could they would deliver her at 34 weeks at the very latest because without the bag of water the question isn’t if I would get another infection it is WHEN will I get the infection.  And remember, the infection can get bad FAST and cause sepsis, organ failure and death within hours. 

Antepartum:

I was admitted to antepartum where they try to keep women pregnant.  My sister and amazing friend Danet came and decorated my room so beautifully with the most beautiful, white Christmas tree.  They brought 2 special ornaments for my angel McKay and we called it my angel tree.  (My friend Tory Bolander lent the tree to them, but months later she allowed me to keep this special tree.  I believe the white is symbolic of my 2 angel babies.  I will put up this tree every year.  I love it!)  The nurses all loved it and commented on it every time they came in the room.  They knew I was very loved! 


On Christmas eve I got up to go to the bathroom, which was the only time I was allowed up, and there was a puddle of blood underneath me.  My wonderful OB had come to the hospital to check on me and he came in and told me that it seemed like my body was starting the process of labor and that it probably would happen that day.  He talked to us about inducing or waiting.  Waiting could be risky due to the infection, but we decided to wait.  Our baby girl was still alive and I didn’t have a fever yet, I couldn’t induce.  She wouldn’t survive. 
This is when Justin and I thought it was over.  We decided to name her Charlotte Celeste, Celeste meaning heavenly. 

Christmas day came and I was still pregnant.  It was a Christmas miracle in our eyes!  The bleeding slowed and I was one happy girl!  They started talking to me about sending me home at some point until I reached 24 weeks, since there was nothing they could do for me in the hospital that I couldn’t do at home.  They had finished my rounds of antibiotics and I wasn’t on the miserable IV anymore.  After a lot of prayer J and I decided I would go home for a week or 2 and spend some time with Lincoln, and then I would return and hopefully be in the hospital for 10 weeks, until I reached 34 weeks. 

Being home was wonderful.  We celebrated Christmas a little late with our son and family and they even made me my favorite dinner to celebrate my birthday.  I had a wonderful girls night with amazing friends from my ward, and I was feeling hopeful and optimistic.  There was a group on fb called PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) and it gave me SO MUCH HOPE, which is all I had at that point.  Some women did stay pregnant until 34 weeks, some had babies born at 23w5d that lived, I HAD HOPE.  I was already beating the odds and I had faith.  I believe in miracles and I had already seen some.  I was getting closer and closer and each day our Charlotte was getting stronger.  


On Saturday, January 3, my sweet friend Corissa came by and we visited for a while.  When she left I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I felt Charlotte move, which wasn’t at all uncommon because with no fluid the babies are very cramped and they don’t move much.  After Corissa left, I used my sisters Doppler and I searched for the heartbeat, but that is also hard to find with no fluid. 

Not again:

This picture was taken as we left for the hospital, Jan 3.  My last pregnancy picture with my Charlotte.  23 weeks
After trying for 30 min I called Merri who came by even though she had plans.  She searched for an hour with no luck.  She looked sick.  She told Justin and I that we needed to go to triage and that we should take my bags.  I said that it was fine, we could go but I wasn’t taking any bags because we wouldn’t be staying.  Everything was FINE, my Charlotte was FINE and I wasn’t happy they were talking this way.  Justin agreed with Merri however and gently told me we needed to take my things.  I was angry and in denial.  I knew what Merri and Justin thought and I didn’t agree. 

Back to those horrible doors again.  First a nurse came in and couldn’t find a heart beat with their Doppler, but this again wasn’t unusual and she didn’t try for very long.  The doctor came in next, who I had seen in triage once before during this pregnancy and we hadn’t had the most positive interaction, and she brought the u/s machine.  I wish it was any other doctor.  She hadn’t taken me seriously the last time I had come in nor had the nurses.  They chalked me up to being nervous because of my prior loss.  HECK YES I was nervous, but I had every right to be.  SOMETHING WAS WRONG but no one took me seriously!

My heart sank, as soon as she put the wand on my belly I saw my daughters heart, it was still.  There was no flutter like there should’ve been.  She had died and I don’t even know when it happened.  I bit my lip with all my might.  I wanted to SCREAM as loud as I could to let the WORLD know I was suffering.  I wanted to YELL at that doctor, I wanted to BLAME someone and she was an easy target!  I clenched my entire body to try to control myself so that I wouldn’t scream and let it all out.  Now I wish I had, there would’ve been NOTHING wrong with that!!  How could this happen?  We had JUST been here a short 7 months before! 

The doctor tried to talk to me, to tell me what we would do next but I couldn’t hear a word she said.  I was trying not to lose control.  They sent in a second ultrasound tech to confirm, and seeing it again and hearing that she was dead for a second time was just … cruel. 

J and I sat in silence as the tears flowed.  I couldn’t contact our families - I couldn’t do anything but let it sink in.  I was prepared to go into labor, I was prepared for infection to set in, but no one had prepared me that her heart could just STOP.  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  Why didn’t I know this was a possibility?  I had hoped that even if I did go into labor I would give birth to a living baby girl.  I wanted to have some time with her before she died.  My opinion had completely changed since having McKay.  I can’t put into words why I felt this way.  I just wanted time with my daughter, my little girl.  I wanted to explain to her that I had given it my all.  I was sorry my body failed her.  I loved her more than life itself. 

At 7:27pm on Jan 3, we texted our family, and said: “Hello dear family, Thank you so much for your prayers and love throughout this pregnancy.  We just found out moments ago that our sweet daughter Charlotte has also returned to her father in heaven to be with her brother McKay and other family members on the other side of the veil.  Please continue to pray for us to have the strength to endure this.  We love you all.  Justin and Natalie”
I remember trembling the entire time I typed this text.  My heart honestly felt completely shattered.


THE DELIVERY

There were many tender mercies along the way, and one was that our dear sweet friend Dara was working that night in L&D.  They asked if I’d like her to be my nurse.  There was no doubt I wanted her by my side.  She actually adopted 2 babies from my younger sister.  We were connected in a unique way. 

Merri also came as soon as we wanted her too.  She brought music and lots of love.  We all talked about what J and I wanted and how we wanted to do this.  They gave us the option of waiting and coming back at a later time, but we were ready to meet our baby girl and hold her sweet 23 week old body.  I knew that the longer she spent inside me, the more her body could deteriorate.  Looking back I wish I had kept her with me longer, but I also realize that I would probably never have truly been ready to let her go or to give birth to her if I had waited. 

Another crazy coincidence was as they guided us back to our room in L&D, Justin began to get uneasy.  As we approached room 15 he told me this was the same room McKay was born in which I didn’t know because I was to out of it when they transferred me there with McKay.  Dara asked us if we wanted another room.  J probably did but I said no.  It seemed fitting to me to have both of my angel babies in the same room.

I didn’t want any pain meds.  I wanted to be awake for EVERTHING and I wanted to feel it all.  No epidural.  It seemed fitting for the physical pain to match my emotional pain.  I texted my doctor who I greatly care for, and told him that I hate to ask or take advantage but if there was any way he could deliver my baby I wanted him to, especially because I didn’t like the doctor that was on call.  He told me he would be there and that was another tender mercy to me.

I remember a few moments sitting there waiting for the nightmare to continue, for my lifeless little girl to be born, and I thought, maybe sleeping through this agony wouldn’t be so bad.  Looking over and seeing the love of my life in such pain and so worried about me wasn’t something I wanted to be awake for.  I can’t describe it now, but I remember thinking I would be ok missing this.  This is HARD and painful, very painful.  I was so angry for sleeping through McKays delivery, and once or twice I thought maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. 

They gave me the cytotec and if my memory serves me correctly it began working right away.  The contractions started and I wasn’t comfortable.  My dear in-laws came that night and sat with us and tried to distract me and they comforted Justin which he needed.  I could see the pain in their eyes and I was grateful to feel their love for us and for their granddaughter.  My sweet little sister Katie, who had also had a baby girl 2 or 3 weeks before also came and sat with us. 
When the pain began to intensify. Katie and my in laws left. 

The following is taken from my journal.  I apologize for all the detail, but this is my story and I didn't want to leave anything out. 

The pain was indescribable (any of you who have been in labor may relate).  It was manageable as I had a few minutes of a break in between each one but that break quickly got shorter and shorter. 

I think around 9:30 they started the meds to induce me and then at 1:30am, 4 hrs later Dara checked me and said I was at a 3.  I was having very painful contractions at this point but was having 3 or 4 minute breaks so I was hanging in there.  They texted my doctor and told him I was at a 3 and having good contractions and he responded and said, “Good, keep to the plan.” 

Merri reminded me that sometimes after delivery the placenta doesn’t want to come out so they have to push hard on your stomach, and she asked if I wanted an epidural and I still said no.  I was surviving because of the breaks in-between, but wow those contractions were so painful I couldn’t believe it.  Thankfully the horrible pain would pause, so I would just tell myself to wait for the relief. 

I recall that having a healthy baby makes this process much easier as you are eagerly awaiting a healthy bundle straight from heaven and so you can look forward to and focus on that during the pain.  I had an epidural with Lincoln since I didn’t know what would happen with his delivery, and now that I experienced natural childbirth (even if it was with a 12 oz baby) I wish I could do it again but with a healthy baby.  I know I can do it now, but I want a HAPPY experience.  I want the rush of happy emotions.  Not the emotions I felt rush over me, not the fear of a retained placenta, not the pain of seeing and holding my lifeless daughter’s body. 

The break between contractions eventually disappeared and I laid on my side facing Justin.  I gripped Justin’s hand as hard as I possibly could through each contraction (it was my nonverbal way of telling him I was having a contraction) with one hand and the other hand had a hold of his shirt and I would just grip it as tight as I could through each contraction.  J was close and would rub my jaw to help me relax it and he was all I needed.  If someone touched me anywhere else or if J tried to move I couldn’t take it.  The pain was too much and this was the only position that I could tolerate. 


I constantly moaning or saying owww because that helped me keep my jaw open.  The pain got to a 10 and then when my contractions weren’t at their peak the pain would be a 7 or 8.  Without that break I wasn’t sure I could do it.  I thought to myself that I must be in transition when labor is the hardest but no one was telling me I was so I didn’t know.  

I figured I couldn’t do this for hours longer, so I eventually asked for an epidural.  No one said anything, they just ignored me, except I think J may have said it’s probably too late.  So after a few minutes and really thinking about it after trying so hard to tough it out, I asked again and Merri and Dara said I was almost done, she was close to coming.  That helped me a little but I also knew they didn’t really know that since they hadn’t checked me.  I was lying on my side covered with blankets, no one was monitoring my contractions or checking me, they were just reading my body language.  It is a completely different experience than having a living baby.  They didn’t need to monitor the babies heartbeat because there was none. 

Dara did check me a second time, I think I had told them I felt a little pressure and it was just a few minutes later and I was at a 5 and she could feel Charlotte’s foot and other parts presenting.  That’s when she texted my dr and he headed in.  They knew she was coming and it could happen fast.  My doctor told them not to have me push and that it was better for my body to do all the work.  Especially since Charlotte was breech like McKay, we didn’t want her head getting stuck so he told them to let my body do as much as it could on its own.

I remember laying there on my side in indescribable pain.  It was constant and as soon as the most severe pain would end and I’d have a few seconds before it was bad again I would cry out tears of emotional pain rather than physical pain.  It was re-living a nightmare. 

I was so afraid of Charlotte falling out onto the bed.  I started feeling pressure and I told Merri and Dara and no one did anything.  I was shocked again.  Why weren’t they getting me ready to deliver her, she was obviously coming.  I think I even recall telling them that I didn’t care if my doctor was there or not, we could just do it without him, I didn’t think I could wait for him (and I know he doesn’t live close to the hospital).  

I told them a second time that I felt pressure and that is when Dara told me that my Dr. was in the hallway and she could hear his voice. I kept my eyes shut tight. J held my hand and we were forehead to forehead.  His poor back must’ve ached as he leaned forward to comfort me. 

When my doctor entered the room he came in and touched my knee and said something, that I don’t remember.  Then he immediately got gowned. Merri told me they didn’t want to roll me on my back or have me ready because they knew Charlotte would just come out.  I don’t remember anything except being in tremendous pain and holding Justin and crying out, and being relieved Wilson was there FINALLY.  As soon as Dr.W  was gowned, Merri and Dara rolled me onto my back.

I don’t remember the details that well or the order of things but I do remember pushing.  They had me hold my knees (which I didn’t feel I had the energy to even get into the right position, my entire body hurt and I couldn’t control my body enough to move it) but they helped me and I held my knees and chin to chest and I pushed. 

Justin told everyone while I was pushing, with a firm and protective voice, “NO BASIN!” He knew the pain it caused us both when the doctor presented McKay to us in a plastic tub.  J is my protector and I felt very safe and loved when he said this.  They assured us there would be NO BASIN! 

Merri told me that my Little Charlotte was born feet first.  I remember being in the MOST HORRIBLE pain I’d ever experienced and I didn’t know how a body could endure this for long, and then they rolled me onto my back, I pushed, and then I told everyone that the pain was gone.  I wasn’t feeling it anymore.  It was a miracle, I know it was!

She was BORN, but I didn’t hear a cry.  They didn’t place her plump and wet little body on my tummy like they had done with Lincoln.  I had my eyes opened at this point and I was looking down trying to get a glimpse of her and I couldn’t see her.  It felt like an eternity before they presented her to me.  She wasn’t living, why did they have to do ANYTHING to her?  Why couldn’t I have her NOW?  I felt VERY impatient and just wanted her in my arms. 

The doctor asked if J would like to cut the cord, but he couldn’t bare it.  I completely understood. Merri did it for us.  It seemed fitting.  She had been there for Charlotte and McKay and had helped us through our darkest hours. I was grateful she could do that.

She was still warm.  I tried to enjoy holding her body while it was warm, I knew it would never be warm again.  I let myself imagine that she was living for those moments while her body was still warm from being inside me.  


Time seemed to race by.  I held her and looked at my baby girl.  MY DAUGHTER.  My ONLY DAUGHTER.  Oh the pain in my heart.  Then the pain started picking back up in my abdomen and the contractions were back.  HOW CRUEL.  How could I have to deliver the placenta and be in more pain while I held my dead daughter?  It was beyond unfair.  I had ALREADY lost my baby and NOW MORE PAIN. 

Through the contractions they had me push and the Dr.  was pushing very hard on my stomach while reaching up inside to get the placenta out.  The pain was tremendous yet I knew I could’ve endured it if I had just been holding my living girl. 

I cried out in pain hoping it would end.  But it didn’t.  Dr. W sat at my feet for about an hour trying to help it come out but it wasn’t coming.  He had the nurses’ call in the ultrasound tech that was at home and on call.  He also had the anesthesiologist come in to talk to him about what we should do.
As this all started I told Merri and J to take Charlotte from me.  I was in so much physical pain I couldn’t focus enough on holding my baby girl and keeping her safe.  They had to take her from me which wasn’t fair either.  I needed her and each second with her was precious.  I didn’t get to enjoy her warm body long enough.  

I felt 2 gushes of blood, they felt BIG to me and I was scared.  The bleeding wasn’t stopping and so Dr. W wanted to do a D&C to get the placenta out so the bleeding would stop. That meant going to the OR.

When Dr. W told us we needed to go have a D&C I asked him what the risks were.  He explained that there is a risk of perforating the uterus but that since it’s a muscle it usually is very easy to stitch up and fix and it heals well but occasionally the bleeding won’t stop and they have to perform a hysterectomy.  Dr. W reassured us that he fully expected us to leave the hospital with my uterus. 

J had to wait outside the OR while I got my spinal, don’t ask me why.  The room was VERY bright and harsh. There were many people in the room and everyone was covered up with masks and hats etc.   It was scary.  As soon as they wheeled me into the OR I didn’t just feel a gush of blood I felt blood squirting on my legs and knees.  My stomach immediately got sick and I was PETRIFIED for my own life.  I asked if Dara and Dr. W were in the room and they both responded that they were. I told everyone what I felt, they looked and things started moving at a feverish pace. 

It was time for the spinal.  They sat me up and I was contracting and I couldn’t move or breathe.  They wanted me to put my shoulders down, and my chin down and to curl my back which seemed impossible with how much I was hurting.  I asked Dara, “Am I going to be OK??” 
In that moment I was SO SICK and SO miserable and the pain was more than I ever thought a human could bare that I thought it might be ok if I died so that I could escape the pain, I just hoped it would happen soon and that I wouldn’t have to keep suffering.  Dara was perfect and quickly responded, with fervor, “Of course you are!”

Dara held me as I curled up for the spinal and I told her I was sick and that I thought I was going to pass out because I couldn’t hear anymore.  I didn’t know if I couldn’t see because my eyes were tightly shut.  I remember going limp in her arms because I couldn’t hold myself up anymore.  I had tried not to put all my weight on her but eventually I had to.  When I finally started coming back I had been laid on the table with my head in a special pillow to mobilize my neck and I started throwing up.  It was miserable because I couldn’t turn my head and my stomach still hurt and I was in GREAT PAIN.  EVERYTHING hurt.  Thankfully it didn’t take long for my legs to lose all feeling.

In the end they didn’t even have to do a D&C my doctor was able to get it out on his own once I relaxed. I did lose a lot of blood and they talked about doing a transfusion but the doctor decided in the end it would be best not to. 

I was taken back to my room and I slept while they took Charlotte for pictures and to make molds of her hands and feet. 



I still couldn’t believe this had happened.  I felt confused, lost, broken, and I didn’t know how to survive this.  Would I ever be happy again?  Could I ever feel whole again?  I didn’t know how to feel I was just existing. 


I can say that I have felt happiness and joy since this experience but I don’t know if I will ever be complete until my whole family is together again after this life.  I am very blessed.  I have an amazing, kind, loving, protective, and very attractive husband who is brave and strong.  I want to be just like him.  I have 3 beautiful children, 2 are already perfect and waiting for us in Heaven watching over their energetic older brother.  My Lincoln brings me PURE JOY every single day.  He is my ray of sunshine and I thank God for him with every beat of my heart. 

We have had some very tender moments where I believe Lincoln has been close to his brother and sister.  I’m grateful for the miracles I’ve seen.  I know my Savior loves me and because of him our family will be together forever.  I look forward to that day.  



Here is a link to Charlotte's memorial video:
https://youtu.be/V-ufHt1cUE0 



Saturday, May 2, 2015

Waiting for our rainbow. Part One. McKay James birth.

After you have a still born child, your next living child is called your rainbow baby.  They say, after the storm comes the rainbow.  We are waiting for our rainbow!  Here is part one of our journey.  I'm not a great writer and I'm sure there are plenty of typos and run on's etc.  Please excuse any mistakes.  My hope is that I can share my journey and maybe help some others along the way.  I am so grateful to my friends Katie Dial, Maureen Merrill, Stephanie Westwood, and others who have so bravely shared their story of losing their baby with me and the world.  It brings comfort and validation to know I am not alone and that others have felt similar feelings.  I hope I can give that to someone too, and even if I don't, I know it helps me to write this. (I also pulled some paragraphs straight from my journal so there may be more detail than you'd care to read.  So here is a disclaimer to only proceed if you are ok with some details. Also it is really long...really long. This is my story and it all was important to me.  I didn't know how to leave out anything.)

I guess I should start by explaining my anatomy.  I found out as a young girl that my anatomy was unique.  I had a septum or wall that ran from the top of my uterus down through the center, through the cervix, and through my vagina.  It is like looking down a double barrel shotgun, one doctor explained. I had 2 sides in my uterus and vagina and 2 cervixes. 
Just imagine trying to use a tampon as a young girl and it never worked because it was only on ONE side.  It was frustrating to say the least! 

Getting Pregnant

We didn’t know if I’d be able to have children, and after trying with my husband for 6 months we talked with my OB and decided to have surgery to remove my uterine and vaginal septum, leaving the cervix alone because we didn’t want to damage it or cause IC or an incompetent cervix (a cervix that is weak, not strong enough to hold the weight of a baby). 

I had the surgery done and my husband and I continued to try to get pregnant with no luck.  Over a year had passed and I was struggling to be patient.  We began seeing a fertility doctor and during that time we were blessed to conceive naturally.  

follow the link to see images and read  about my surgery: 
http://justinnnatalie.blogspot.com/2012/05/our-pregnancy-journey-part-1.html 



My First Baby

My pregnancy with Lincoln was pretty uneventful.  I did have some bleeding in the beginning but the fertility doctor was giving me ultrasounds and they squeezed me in at closing time on a Friday.  I was 8 weeks and thankfully we saw that perfect little flutter of a heartbeat.

My OB/GYN and I had many concerns for this pregnancy and there were many unknowns, would my cervix be strong enough to hold this baby?  Would I go into preterm labor because of my uterine abnormalities?  Would I need a c-section to deliver, would one side of my cervix dilate or both sides dilate?  Would my baby be born on one side or rip right through the middle?  We just had no idea how it would work out, but I was grateful my doctor would let me try to have my child vaginally, the way my body was meant to.  I wanted to experience EVERY part of pregnancy including the delivery.  (This may be difficult for some people to understand but for me personally it was important to try.) 

Justin did have to take me into triage around 33 weeks for preterm labor which they stopped with tributelene. He took me in again around 35 or 36 weeks because I thought I might be leaking amniotic fluid and I was still having contractions but they gave me the shot again and sent me home, it wasn’t amniotic fluid.  Other than that it was uneventful and wonderful.  We had a fun gender reveal party, we were having A BOY and I felt like my dreams were coming true.

My son, however, seemed content where he was and I had to be induced.  We were still unsure if I would need a c-section or not.  The delivery went smoothly.  My cervical septum tore right through the middle and our son Lincoln was born.  My doctor removed the torn cervical septum and we went on with our new perfect life and perfect 7lbs 2 ounce bundle of boy/JOY!  





Pregnancy #2 and our first loss

It didn’t take long before we were ready to try again. This time we got pregnant within 3 or 4 months and I was due July 12, 2014.  We were over the moon excited.   I experienced all the typical morning sickness symptoms and we saw the heartbeat at our doctor’s office.  The following week after seeing the heartbeat, was the week of Thanksgiving, I was 8 weeks, and I started bleeding.  I hoped it was a similar situation to my previous pregnancy and it would turn out to be nothing, but I was still very concerned and went in to the doctors.  The cramping and bleeding was continuing to get worse and the doctor confirmed that there was no longer a heartbeat and I was having a miscarriage. 

They gave J and I, the option of a D&C or letting nature take its course, and Justin and I decided that since the process had already started we would try letting it happen naturally.  Sure enough, that very evening I went into labor.  I didn’t know that you could go into labor at 8 weeks, but I did.  It was gruesome, painful, and traumatic in many ways, but I’ll spare you the other details.  We were unprepared for the pain and the large amount of blood.  Thankfully, my sister is a labor and delivery nurse and she rushed over and arrived right as I delivered and she took care of me in every way possible.  We would've called an ambulance if it wasn't for her.

We grieved and our hearts were broken.  We didn’t announce this pregnancy to the world yet, so only a few close friends and our families knew.  It was a hard time but we felt very loved and supported through it.  I wish the world better understood the pain that comes with losing a baby, even if it is "only" at 8 weeks.  I had already fallen in love with this baby and started dreaming and planning.  It is devastating to have those dreams come crashing down.

Pregnancy #3


After a few months the doctor said it would be ok to try again so we did and we got pregnant right away.  We found out our sweet baby was due October 30, 2014.  We felt so blessed to have gotten pregnant so quickly and then we discovered it was another boy.   Our first son was born in October too so his clothes would be perfect for our next boy.  I also had really hoped we would have 2 boys in a row.  I wanted them to be best buddies and I knew they would be.  They would only be 24 months apart, it really was perfect!  


I started my daily regimen of progesterone to support the pregnancy, which I had also taken with my previous pregnancies, but I started bleeding AGAIN and of course panicked.   The doctors told me it was a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is basically unexplained bleeding in the uterus or by the placenta, and often it resolves itself.  I also started having intense cramping which I know now were contractions.  This all began around 15 weeks (aprox).

I couldn’t seem to catch a break!  I knew that the chances for losing a baby went down significantly after the first trimester.  I had already passed that, and the 8 week mark I had lost my previous pregnancy at,  so I thought I was in the clear.  The majority of women get pregnant and have healthy babies, why would I be any exception to that? I was naive.  I also had a great deal of faith in doctors and medical staff, I thought they could do anything.  Sadly, they will be the first to admit that they are human and that they can't fix everything. 

I should’ve listened to my body, not the doctors.  I shouldn’t have been so na├»ve and unrealistic, maybe it was even denial.  Either way I could go on forever about the should and should nots, that may have changed something, but that’s pointless.  
I was in constant communication with my doctor.  I was going into the office weekly so they could monitor the length of my cervix to be sure it wasn’t dilating or shortening, but things in that department appeared fine.  On May 19th, I was 16.5 weeks and I had a doctor’s appointment and the doctor diagnosed me with placenta previa, which is when the placenta is lying on top of the cervix.  This can be dangerous and needs to be monitored closely.  I also informed the doctor that I was cramping often and he said that is normal during pregnancy so I tried not to worry.   Looking back, it bothers me that the doctor didn’t take me more seriously (This was not my personal OB).

Eventually, as the cramping (contractions) worsened, my doctor started me on ibuprofen to calm my uterus.  It worked really well.  As long as I was taking 600mg every 6 hours, my contractions were minimal, for a while anyway.  After a few days my doctor put me on modified bedrest and after 4 or 5 hours the ibuprofen would ware off and for an hour or 2 I’d be extremely uncomfortable before I could take my next dose.  I was terrified that the contractions were going to shorten and dilate my cervix so I took bedrest seriously.  On May 28 I started bleeding again and I panicked. May 29, my contractions kept getting stronger and by May 30 I was really afraid.  I was texting my doctor and talking to the office’s triage nurse.  The nurse assumed I wasn’t drinking enough and told me to try to relax (needless to say, this nurse is not my favorite person).  They told me to continue bedrest and ibuprofen and to come in the next week. I was so confused, why weren’t they doing anything more aggressive to stop these contractions?  At this point I was 18 weeks. 

McKay's birth

The following day, Saturday, May 31, 2014, I woke up in severe pain at 5am and I told Justin we would need to go to the ER because it was that bad.  It wasn’t time for my next dose of ibuprofen but I took it anyway and soon I was able to get back to sleep.

At 8:26 Sat, I sat up and felt a large gush and I immediately assumed it was blood.  I screamed for Justin who was just coming back into the room and he helped me hobble to the bathroom.  I remember crying out, “Help me God!” over and over, I was frantic and terrified.

When I got to the bathroom I quickly realized it wasn’t blood but clear fluid and there had been to much for it to have been a bladder accident.  I called my sister immediately and she said it sounded like amniotic fluid and I needed to be seen immediately.  It couldn’t be, I didn’t believe her.  I kept asking her what else it could be other than amniotic fluid, but she said it didn’t sound good.

We frantically woke up our son and J tried to gather up some belongings but there was no time.  I was in pain and bleeding and we needed to get to the hospital.  We called the doctor’s office and begged them to get me into triage because triage normally won’t take you if you are under 20 weeks and I was only 18 weeks.  They said they’d call ahead which they did, and to go to triage where they are better equipped to handle anything pregnancy related.  (Later I was able to recognize that this was a miracle that I went to triage and not the ER.  The staff is also wonderful at Banner Desert, they are a high risk hospital and the nurses are trained to help parents with experiences like this.)

On the way to the hospital I felt more gushes, and I assumed it was more amniotic fluid, I was in AGONY.  I begged him to go as fast as he could.  We pulled up to the bay entrance and J ran inside.  While he was in there I looked down and saw that I was sitting in a pool of blood.  I honked the horn and became hysterical.

J ran back out without a wheelchair because there were none by the entrance (what hospital doesn’t have wheelchairs by the doors!?).  He carried me into the hospital, cradled in his strong and loving arms, as I cried out in fear and left behind a trial of blood.  (I can’t explain the comfort and protection I felt having my husband by my side, this is true love people! He is my hero!)  As if things weren't bad enough, the fire alarm was going off and no one was at the security desk and the doors into triage were locked.  What a sight we must’ve been.  I was still wailing, so it didn’t take long for a few nurses to come to the door and usher us into the closest room.  My doctor had called ahead and they knew right away who we were.

They needed to hook me up to an IV right away.  The nurse stuck me 2 or 3 times and it hurt like no one’s business.  the pokes both left big bruises.  Finally, she decided she needed to ask someone else to do it.  I was not happy.  Because of my loss of blood I was a hard stick.  They worked quickly and calmly which helped me breathe easier.  

It took a bit to get the u/s machine, but it felt like an eternity! When they did the u/s they weren't telling us what they were seeing, like I was accustomed to. I finally just asked if there was a heartbeat (They weren't looking at the baby, they were measuring my fluid levels, so I couldn't tell).  I had just assumed that McKay had died, but he hadn't. His heart was still beating and he was moving slightly.  I felt a flood of relief and excitement!!  Then I asked if my cervix was long, they said it WAS…how could that be?  What was all of the cramping?   I assumed that the contractions had been dilating my cervix.  At this point I was feeling slightly more calm and hoping desperately that they could find a way to keep me pregnant.  I think the nurse even mentioned that a neonatologist might come and speak to me about where we need to get the baby to in terms of weeks of development for survival.  I had HOPE. I finally got the guts up to ask the nurse what the 2.4 meant for my fluid levels and she said it was very low.  This was not good. (It should be around 10)

My hope, of course, only lasted a few minutes before they began discussing inducing me and the risks to me and the baby.  I couldn’t induce. My son was alive and if he was born now he certainly wouldn’t live.  I couldn’t kill him.  One of my greatest fears at that time was the fear of my son being born alive and watching him suffer.  Now, I realize it would’ve been a gift to hold him as his heart stopped beating, to bless him, to tell him I loved him and I’d be with him again someday,  but at the time I didn’t know if I could endure watching my child die. 

 I quickly developed a fever which means infection, and the pain sky rocketed.  I couldn’t even breathe without intense pain in my entire core area.  The infection was spreading quickly and infection turns into sepsis which leads to death. They did give me Demerol and Zofran and of course an antibiotic.  Right after they gave it to me I threw up.  It was horrible.  It seemed so unfair to be going through all of this and then add pain from getting stuck with the IV’s 3 times and throwing up and it was just cruel and seemed like more than I could endure!  The meds kicked in fast though and they KNOCKED ME OUT!   

I felt another gush at some point so the nurse checked me.  When she checked she sat at my feet and scooped up something and she just sat there and held it…it was a clot.  A LARGE clot.  She called in the Dr and nurses and a scale. They began weighing the clots and blood I was losing.  They would weigh the pads that they started replacing regularly because I was bleeding so much.
They were also taking my blood pressure constantly. I remember the pain from the cuff on my arm because the infection made everything hurt SO much. 

Many people were coming into the room.  They were calling the doctor and other nurses with their radios.  I was weak and groggy but also scared again.  Now I wasn’t only terrified for my baby’s life I was afraid for my own.  I thought of leaving Lincoln and Justin and missing Lincoln grow up and I couldn’t bear it.  I remember looking up at the nurse and asking her, “Am I going to be ok??”  I was sincere and afraid.  Her answer didn’t bring me much comfort.  She told me I was in the best place and they were doing everything they could to take care of me.   I could hear the urgency in the nurses’ voices; they were throwing around words like transfusion, abruption, and get the doctor in here.  The nurses no longer talked to Justin to explain things, they were busy talking to each other and the doctor.  Things got more hectic and Merri had gone to the cafeteria to get J food and I needed her, I knew she would make sure I was getting the best care and no one was missing anything. 

With all of the bleeding they wanted me to be ready for a blood transfusion so they wanted to get another IV port in me.  I was NOT happy about this because the last one hurt so much, I was already suffering, and I hate the darn things!  They had a nurse who is supposed to be good at sticking only once, come in and try to find a vein.  She put on a turn-a-kit at least 3 different times and she closely examined my arm for at least 20 minutes.  Again, the pain was intense, it was so tight and my arm was so sensitive because of the infection.  She stuck me once on my forearm and it hurt, they literally dug the needle around my arm and I started bawling.  I cried out, “I don’t want to do this!” The IV hurt so much and mix that with the pain of losing my baby and that did me in.  This was all too much.  People tried to comfort me, Merri told me, “You are SO strong!” but I felt anything but strong.  I could hear Justin crying. This was worse than a nightmare. 

(To be 100% honest I don’t know how Merri and Justin did it.  I could NOT watch one of them suffer.  I love them so much and I would much rather go through the pain than watch them hurt.  I am SO grateful for their strength, comfort, and spirit they had with them!)

Just my luck, the IV didn’t take AGAIN!  But I was bleeding from the site and I remember Justin pointing out to them, “hey she is bleeding!!”  Next, the CRNA or nurse anesthetist took a stab at it.  He searched my left arm carefully, but he couldn’t find a vein.  He eventually had to do it in the same arm as the other IV because my veins were flat (even though I’d been on IVs all morning).  It hurt more than I can describe, but he got it the first try.  I was so grateful!   At this point however I didn’t even know or care why they were putting this IV line in. I was to out of it.

I couldn’t keep my eyes open to try to understand why they were giving me medication to induce me.  I wanted to resist but was hardly alert enough to speak or even understand what was going on.  The doctor came in twice to try to explain to me why we needed to induce.  I don’t remember much about that.  Justin later explained that when you get an infection there is no other option except to deliver the baby.  The only way to get rid of the infection is to empty the uterus.  They had to deliver my son to save my life, and my body had started the process but they needed to speed it up.  


Justin’s parents came and all I remember is that Dave gave me a beautiful and very special blessing.  I can remember a few important phrases from that blessing that I knew I would never forget (another miracle that I be alert enough to hear and remember these words).  

They kept offering me pain relief options like an epidural or more IV pain meds.  I didn’t want either.  The Demerol had already drugged me and I wasn’t happy that I was sleeping through all of this.  Every time I opened my eyes Justin was right there beside me crying.  I HATED that I couldn’t cry with him, I couldn’t comfort him, I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I didn’t want an epidural either.  I can’t explain why not.  I wanted to feel everything.  I remembered my miscarriage from November and knew that the pain was awful and terrifying but it was also quick.  I wanted to remember this birth and didn’t want to sleep through it or not feel it.

One of the first things I told Justin once we arrived at the hospital was my worst fear was our son being born alive and having to suffer.  I couldn’t handle it.  I couldn’t bear it.  He had a heartbeat.  He was ALIVE inside of me.  When would he die?  Would he feel pain? Would he suffocate?  These are the worst fears I’ve ever felt.  I remember Merri telling me about babies that wore stillborn or born before their lungs were developed and I always asked if they gave them pain medicine or something so they wouldn’t suffer.  I have NEVER been able to imagine suffering through something like this.  My heart broke for any mother that ever had to endure this hell.  It just seemed like the worst thing in the world.  Now I was the one dealing with this!  How could this be? Why us? I had done everything in my power to protect this sweet boy.  I wouldn’t take any medication and I took my prenatal vitamin every day.  I was careful with the deodorant I wore, I wouldn’t color my hair, I ate organic, and I followed the doctors’ orders to a T.  The guilt I felt now was for not fighting with the doctor’s office while I was cramping.  They didn’t take me seriously.  Would they have been able to stop the preterm labor if I had stood up for my baby and myself?  I blamed myself.  I had so many questions! I didn’t know what else I could’ve done but my body had failed my son.

They started me on a high dose of Pitocin to stop the bleeding.  The doctor also encouraged me to get an epidural.  He said often times when a baby is born prematurely, the placenta doesn’t come out and they have to take the patient to the OR for a D&C in which case I would need an epidural anyway.  I was also in a great deal of pain from the infection, contractions, and Pitocin.   I hesitantly agreed, but knew it was better to have it in case I needed that procedure. I was also DYING of pain in my abdomen.  No one could touch me without me crying out.  I couldn’t move or even lift my head without crying in pain.  It was HORRIBLE and unlike anything I’d ever experience.

The epidural was scary for me.  I had to sit up and it was just excruciating to move even an inch.  Everyone helped.  But basically my eyes were shut for everything.  They had me curl into a ball and the anesthesiologist told me what was going to happen.  After being poked and prodded all day I was scared for additional pain.  After the pain from the IV’s I didn’t know if I could handle more.  I was contracting and after a contraction they had me sit up.  After a minute or two another came and it was awful.  The pain from my abdomen mixed with the contractions was just unbearable.  Justin was standing to the side of me on my left and holding my hand.  My nurse Christine, was hugging me, her face right next to mine and she whispered in my ear, “You can do this!” 

They pulled up a chair and had me sit with my feet together curled up in a ball. (These are some of the first details I actually remember, aside from some of the words from Dave’s beautiful blessing)  Merri was right next to Christine comforting me with her words continually. I thought the epidural would be worse than the IV’s so I was scared.  But it was NOTHING in comparison.  I told the anesthesiologist and the others that it was a piece of cake and we were all able to smile and lighten up a tad for that moment.  Eventually it started working and I was very grateful I chose to get it.  There was a little relief.

Often after getting an epidural mother’s blood pressures can drop.  Well my blood pressure was already low but it dropped to a scary low of something like 70/30 or something crazy.  I was losing blood and with the epidural it just wasn’t a good combination.

After the epidural I was exhausted and I continued sleeping.  They had me on Pitocin and they were slowly cranking it up.  They were continually checking my bleeding when they eventually checked and realized my sons’ foot was presenting.

Once they saw McKay (he was breech) they called the doctor in to deliver him.  The nurse told me that often times the uterus pushes the baby out so quickly that nurses are the only ones there to catch them.  I assumed (especially after my last miscarriage where everything happened so quickly) that this would be the case for me.  I thought McKay (my baby) would slip out in seconds and I had tried to prepare myself however, that wasn’t the case.  Since our boy was breech it took probably around 20 to 30 minutes to deliver him.  The doctor came in, reached up and helped gently bring out his legs and eventually his arms and hands.  After that his head was stuck and we just had to wait for it to come out.  The doctor had me push at least 2 separate times that I can remember.  I buried my face in Justin’s chest and did my best.   It was hard to catch my breath.  I couldn’t breathe.  A few times I remember people telling me I was almost done, and that he was almost here.  It felt like it took forever.  I think in-between pushes I even fell asleep.  I hate myself for that, I don’t know how to explain why.  I wanted to be present for the short time I had to be with my son and to bring his body into this world.

Justin and I don’t remember anyone speaking, no words of encouragement like when I had Lincoln.  It was a the opposite of what you would be feeling at a typical birth.  No joy and anticipation, just deep sadness, loss, and pain.  I had ahold of Justin and he had a hold of me.  We weren’t letting go!  No words were needed. 

At some point they had asked me what I wanted to have happen after he was born.  Did I want him weighed and measured or did I want to hold him?  I knew I wanted him given RIGHT to me even though I didn’t know what to expect when I saw him and it frightened me.   What if my little boy’s heart was still beating.  I could NOT abandon him.  He needs ME, his mommy!  I would be with him until the last beat of his heart.  (no mother should have to think about these things!)

Our angel baby was born at 7:31pm.  I was very nauseous and still quite groggy.  I remember being very nervous to look at him.  I didn’t know what he would look like and I felt so sick and I don’t do well with blood.  I kept my eyes shut tight and I held on to Justin with all my might.  The doctor told me his ears were still a little low and he also informed me that he checked his umbilical cord and his heart had stopped beating.  (A phrase you should never hear when delivering your baby).  I appreciated him talking about him with me.  When I opened my eyes to see my son I was HORRIFIED to see that the doctor had placed MY SON into a blue basin.  I wanted to yell at him.  How dare he treat my son differently than any other baby he delivers.  My baby is not broken or diseased, in fact quite the opposite.  He was perfect in every single tiny way.  I had to scoop my miniature baby out of the cold plastic tub myself and hold him close.  He was small, red, and lifeless but perfect in every way.  He looked just like Justin and Lincoln to me.  

I remember starting to violently shake after that.  I couldn’t hold still or stop my teeth from chattering.  It was miserable and I felt awful but I savored every second of holding my son.
The doctor told me after everything was done that my delivery went as smoothly as it could’ve gone.  Often times, in these cases, the placenta is retained and won’t deliver so they have to rush the mother back to the OR leaving the father ALONE with a dead baby.  It sounds like another knife in my heart even thinking about it!  I am very grateful the placenta delivered on its own and that it went as smoothly as it could’ve from pushing on.

On our way to the hospital that morning I told Justin we needed to pick a name.  I needed to talk to our boy.  Justin told me he couldn’t, it was too much, so I left it alone.  The next morning, I told him he needed a name.  We had some quiet time alone and he wrote 2 names on the board.  Calvin McKay and McKay James, both included names of family members we love and admire.  We sat holding our son, staring at the names and we picked, McKay James after Justin’s father. 

Leaving the hospital with empty arms was gut wrenching.  They wheeled me to a special exit so I wouldn’t have to go past many people.  The only time I opened my eyes I looked up to see a large picture of a mother holding a new, healthy, chubby, baby.  I quickly glued my eyes shut again until we were outside.  I’ll never forget that dumb picture.  Thankfully I was surrounded by love and support.  My friends and family helped me through.  They surrounded my wheel chair and we were all together.  All I focused on was getting to my Lincoln and never letting him go.  

I had never been through anything as difficult or painful as this.  I didn't know how to survive it.  But the first week I truly believe I was carried through by the angels around me.  I can't list everything that was done for me because the list would be a mile long but I will list a few particular things that I never want to forget and that I hope I never need to do for anyone else traveling a similar road. 

My sister immediately drove down from Colorado to be with us, it was very special to have her meet my son and to have her near to lean on.  I needed my family during this time.  There’s nothing like sisters.  They were grieving too.  We all would cry together. 
My best friends came as soon as I asked them too and were there every step of the way.  They also cleaned my home from top to bottom while I was in the hospital, coming home it was so nice to get into a clean bed and not have to worry about anything as trivial as cleaning.  They also stocked my freezer with freezer meals, which saved us from starving or eating out because I wouldn’t be able to think about cooking for some time!

 Meals were brought, cards and letters sent, and I loved it all.  It helped to feel so loved.  I even got letters from all of the YW I grew up with with heart attacks.  It was so special getting all these hearts in the mail from old friends all over the country.  Truthfully I had no idea how it happened, but an old YW leader orchestrated it on FB.  I kept every single letter and card and heart.  

I also got a special bracelet from my friend Katie who lost her son JJ.  I had become a member of this club that no one  wants to be part of.  But this bracelet connected me to her and I just felt like someone understood!  It’s powerful to have that support and understanding. 

Another friend gave me a beautiful necklace with birthstones for each of my babies and this was very heartwarming to see something to represent each of my children.  It is precious to me.  

My best friend also made me 2 special quilts.  One for me to keep and one for me to bury with my son.  I had racked my brain trying to think of what I could bury with him, and she solved the problem for me.  I slept with the blanket I'd bury with him, every night until it was resting with him.  I also wrapped him in the quilt that I would keep during his funeral so that I would always have that reminder that it had been with him.

My family and best friend also helped me plan his memorial service in one short week.  I couldn't have done it without them.  My bf also made the most beautiful memorial video with all of the pictures set to beautiful music.  This will be treasured by us forever. 

Another thing I wanted to note was how grateful I was for my nurses, especially Merri.  They helped me so much in making memories in the short time I had with my McKay.  The things I was given in the hospital, blankets, hats, music, his cloth diapers, etc are all I have left of him now and they are very important to me.  I slept with his blanket and kept his hat in my bra, close to my heart for months following his death.  The nurses/Merri had been trained to help mothers experiencing a loss and they assured me it was healthy and important to spend time with my son, to hold him, talk to him, and take pictures.  It helped knowing it was “ok” and even healthy. 

My bf also thought about taking care of my husband.  So many people forget that the husband grieves too and he feels the need to stay strong and stoic to support his wife.  He was worn out in every possible way.  They brought him a HUGE case of his favorite soda and muffins because J loves muffins.  It was SO thoughtful and something most people wouldn't think of. (I know I'm spoiled to have such amazing people in my life)


Below are some pictures of our time with McKay in no particular order.  They are very precious to me.  Please only look if you are able to feel loving and supportive.