October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month. Many stories are unshared but many of us share this common loss. I share my story to bring awareness that it happens and that moms who experience loss through miscarriages, stillbirths, and infant loss are not alone. I sought out for help online, within family and friends, in silence, with my husband, my kids, in faith, and with my therapist. I was and continue to be very thankful for the overwhelming support to help understand, cope with, and realize this loss.
Photo From: nationalshare.org
Our son, Owen, is still someone we consider and talk about in our family. Sharing our story helped us cope as a family. We continue to talk about him and accept what had happen. Our daughters still include them when they create a family drawing. Everyone copes differently and everyone has their own timeline in mourning. If you know someone who has experienced pregnancy and/or infancy loss, I think the best thing to do is to just be there. Little messages that say, "I am thinking of you" helps. It's definitely okay not to know what to say to someone who experiences this type of loss. Heck, I wouldn't know what to say either. Just showing them you are there for hugs and when they are ready means a lot. It definitely did to me. I could cry remembering all the messages, hugs, and gifts we received from family and friends who let us know they were there when we were ready to talk.
I wrote our stillbirth story a few weeks after our loss:
On May 2015, my husband and I decided to try to have another child in hopes that we would finally have a baby boy. Of course, even if we had a girl again, we'd still be happy. We wanted to have a third child, a mediator I'd joke. After three months, I finally saw a positive test. That positive test was the best thing I saw that month.
Pregnancy was going well, even if I had the worst experience with nausea. I was just happy we had a child baking. We were scheduled for an ultrasound with a specialist on November 30, 2015 with our fingers crossed that we would find out the gender.. We did. (Drum roll please) It's a baby boy!! We were so excited, blessed, and thankful at the same time because baby boy was big and healthy.
Some complications arose after that but it was nothing to be too concerned about. Of course I was active just like I was with my two girls but I knew when to take it slow. Another ultrasound was done on February 2, 2016 to see how baby was doing. I was coughing for a month before that so I was also scheduled to get a antibiotics injected as well. Baby was still as perfect as can be.
March came rolling and the realization that baby Owen was coming so soon felt so surreal. I was so excited to get to hold him in my arms. And finally have a mommy's boy since my two girls are so attached to their father. Of course, because it was the home stretch it was much harder to complete tasks and pain was more frequent. On March 16 I went to see my Dr. because of unbearable pain I felt on my chest towards my back. Although it might have just been bad heartburn, it was the worst I've ever felt. Thankfully, it went away that night. I came in the next morning for a follow-up appointment and a 3rd ultrasound to see how baby is doing. He was just as perfect and beautiful as he was the last time we saw him. The following week, my friends threw me the best baby shower ever. I cried of course because it was unexpected. Yes, even if I did had a hunch something was going on. I had the best time and cried some more when I was opening the gifts. They were so cute!! And definitely something different from the usual pinks I'm used to.
34 Weeks Ultrasound: "At least we know that he got his flexibility from mom and feet from dad."
April came, I started my leave from work. DD was sooner now. My nerves were hitting me because I was so scared of labor again. The thought of having him in my arms helped a lot. Plus, I've done it twice. A third time would be nothing right? Lol.
It was a normal day on Monday April 4th. I woke up early to run errands, baby boy wasn't too active that morning. I figured he was just having a lazy day or that space was so cramped he found a comfortable spot. I went to work to get my students' stuff prepared for the week, I went to the mayors office, and saw a chiropractor. Before going home, I went to get some delicious Taco Bell (constant cravin).. I still didn't feel any movement like I usually would when I'd hit the bumps on the road or even move a certain position. I thought, "boy is he really lazy." I went home to eat and went to lie down on my side hoping that would make him move around. I laughed at the fact that Owen was being as lazy as mommy was (for a few days). I fell asleep, woke up and still didn't feel any movement. I felt worried so I notified my doctor about it. He's so good at responding quickly. It was 5:49 pm that evening when he called me to go to the hospital right away. I cried after that phone call. I had a strange feeling something was wrong. I drove myself up to meet my husband at the hospital since I wasn't feeling any pain or my water bag didn't break. We finally arrived in the exam room and was processed by 3 nurses. My cervix was still very thick. They prepared the Doppler to hear baby Owen's heart beat. I closed my eyes for a moment and prayed. The first nurse searched.. Nothing. The second nurse searched.. Still nothing. Tears started to roll down as I realized that baby Owen might have been gone. The third nurse tried too... no heartbeat. All I remember them saying was that they were going to call my doctor to come in. The nurses couldn't look me in the eye but I guess they wanted to be sure with the Doctor. I was moved into a room where I patiently awaited for the doctor and was strapped onto a monitor to see if I was having any contractions. I was having contractions at 4 mins apart. They weren't painful at all. My doctor came in and did an ultrasound. We saw him, baby Owen. Lifeless. Not moving like he usually does. The doctor then pointed out that his heart was right where the arrow was. Motionless. The emotions started to come in all at the same time. My husband and I cried together. I felt denial, I felt like I did something wrong, I was angry, sad, and more all at the same time. I couldn't even look at my husband because I felt that I failed him, too. The doctor walked us through how this could have probably happened and choices we'd have to make. Two choices we had to make was either to be induced and have a vaginal delivery one or two days later or to have a c-section that night. I chose to have a c-section because I couldn't bare the thought of having our lifeless baby inside my womb. We got another ultrasound to confirm and I hoped and prayed that baby Owen was "April foolsing" us or there was something wrong with the the first system that was used for the ultrasound. I was wrong.. And hopeless.
The time came to be prepped for the c-section. My heart was so empty and my mind and body felt so numb as I had to try to mentally, emotionally, and physically accept what was about to happen. I hoped and prayed another time that maybe a miracle would happen and baby Owen would come out crying.. Like his sisters did. As the procedure started, I didn't feel anything but pressure. I cried and cried with the thought of baby Owen the entire time. He was here. I didn't hear a thing. I was focused on my husband who was right beside me this whole time. Feeling the same pain I was.. emotionally. My husband held him. He was 7 pounds 8 ounces and 19 inches. A big baby boy at only 36.6 weeks. Our kind nurse who was with us since we came asked if I wanted to hold him. She brought baby Owen to me I held him as tight as I could with my free arm and closed my eyes.. All I said to him that time was, "I'm so sorry my baby. I love you." My heart never felt so broken.
I went to the recovery room for less than an hour and finally was in a room with my husband. He explained that baby Owen had his umbilical chord tightly wrapped around his right ankle three times and that his left ear wasn't completely formed and was low. I frowned upon the thought of my poor baby having to struggle with his chord. Owen came shortly after. I was so happy to be able to hold him again. Our handsome little angel. He smelled so good and his cheeks were as soft as I had imagined. I was as gentle as I would have been if he was alive and well. My husband and I had a beautiful time bonding with our son. Even though it wasn't as long as we had hoped for.
This is the worst experience of my husband's and my life. But together we keep each other strong.
Top Photo: Upper Left was at his funeral and the last 3 were our moments with him at the hospital
Bottom Photo: Beautiful family photo captured by Anchored Owl Photography
Thank you for reading my stillbirth story. Please share this story to spread awareness. <3
December 2016 Candle Lighting Ceremony hosted by The Compassionate Friends Guam Chapter
Ednalyna N. Martin, Mother of an angel baby