Sunday, August 31, 2008

Our Story, Part 3

4 hours with our son

As I lay touching his nose so carefully, I could barely think. What do I do with his still pink body, his little nose, but his sleeping eyes? He was absolutely perfect. There was nothing wrong with him, no deformity the ultrasound had missed. The only thing they had mentioned was the cord. I asked if that was it, had the nuchal cord killed my son? The nurse nodded, but the doctor said no. It wasn't a question we would have answered that day. And it wasn't a question that would ever be answered "for sure."

Kim asked if she should take him away, clean him up, and bring him back. I said yes. The doctor was still working on me. I needed stitches. I had progressed fast. I looked to my left and saw the nurse put a little diaper on him. She was wiping off all of the blood and whatever else was on him so carefully.

At one point she picked up his leg and when she let go, it just fell back on the table. I looked away. That fall to the table was what truly drove home that fact that our son was dead. A living baby would have left that leg suspended in the air. Or kicked it around. But our was limp. It just fell.

I asked how long he had been gone for, probably just a day or two. He was in great condition, I was told.

The doctor tells us we did an amazing job, that I showed grace and we were an amazing couple. He said to make a follow up appointment, shook my hand, and was gone.

The nurse brought me Curtis wrapped in a dark blue blanket with yarn knotted in various locations. I am sure it was made by some sweet volunteer for the dead baby program at the hospital. But, truth be told, it was an ugly blanket. All of my pictures of Curtis have this ugly blanket in it. I was too scared to ask him to be wrapped in the fuzzy blue blanket in the diaper bag. The blanket we had anticipated him using right after his birth. The blanket my mother in law had given us. So the ugly, non fuzzy, blanket it was. When Kim placed Curtis next to me, she stayed, with her arm still near him and tears ran down her face. I can still see her face, her wet eyes, looking at my baby boy. It meant a lot to me that she felt real emotion for our son.

After Kim handed us Curtis, I sat up, and took a long look at my baby boy. I felt....nothing. That breaks my heart to write. I didn't know what to feel. Do I feel sad? Do I feel angry? Do I feel relieved delivery is finally over? Do I feel happy that I finally get to see his face? So I just felt...nothing.

Craig sat next to me on the bed just look at this face. He looked like he felt so much more. He looked like he felt love. He looked at me and said "I wanted to learn how to change his diaper."

My heart opened up and I felt it all. I felt the overwhelming love that mother's feel for their babies. I felt proud. I felt excited. But, it was so much to process when it surrounded a baby who was dead. That was an issue I faced, and continue to face, in the wake of his death. Being proud of my stillborn son. Something most people don't understand. I was a new mom! I wanted the world to marvel over the perfection that is my baby. But no one saw that. But me. I saw that.

I saw that on May 31st, 2006 and I see it to this day.

We sat looking at Curtis. Holding him. Spending a short amount of time the 3 of us. "Should we have our families come in?" I asked Craig.

"No. Not yet," He looked at me confused. I admit, I was anxious. I wanted them to come in and meet him. Even though he was gone, I wanted to show him off.

Eventually we invite our families to come in. I remember them pouring through the delivery room door, me holding my son. Each and everyone looked terrified. Wondering about what the next step would be.

At some point while I was in labor, we had asked my brother in laws to go to our car and bring in the diaper bag. We had also asked them to go to our house and let out our dog and bring that outfit from my mother in law that was on the counter.

We gave my dad the camera and he started taking dozens of pictures. The pictures tell the story of our 4 hours with our son. Each person, with the exception of my grandfather, holding our son. Each person with tears in their eyes. Makeup less faces. Each picture with each person looking distraught. My memories of this time are because of those pictures.

There is a picture of me and Craig holding our son. Our faces our flat, our eyes puffy. Staring at the camera. And then, there is a picture taken right after where I realize that I should try to smile. That I am holding my son, damn it. I am holding my son that I waited 9 months for! So I force a smile, it isn't my true smile, but it does reflect some of what I was feeling that day. I know most people don't understand that, however spending 4 hours with my baby boy was a reason to smile.

We have dozens and dozens of pictures. Kim has been taking some, my dad has made sure to take plenty. I am so scared of holding my son, that I never unwrap him. I never look at his feet myself. I never touch his hands myself. When they laid Curtis on me, I never took my eyes off of his face, so I never even verified for myself he is a boy. A fact that escapes me until months later. And when that fact smacks me upside the head, I cannot shake it. I cannot shake the fact that I am a mother of a little boy and I have never seen that boy naked.

We had a video camera with us that day. It was packed in the diaper bag. After all, I was 40 weeks pregnant going into my doctor's appointment. We opted not to take it out, something I regret. It is one of many regrets I have over that day. We did dress Curtis in the outfit my mother in law had bought a few days before his birth. A blue onesie and matching pants. The onesie stating "Thank Heaven for Little Boys."

The nurses get footprints and handprints. They clip some of his barely there hair. I get a copy, our moms get a copy. They do as many things possible that day. Normal things, normal moms get. But I have to cram it all in just 4 short hours.

We had numerous phone calls that days and a few flower deliveries. We were told that the Catholic priest in town would not do a baptism since the baby was dead. My Catholic in laws were horrified. The hospital offered their chaplin to do a blessing, which we agreed to. Two of my sister in laws hurried to the hospital and made it in time to be a part of the blessing. I remember the kind chaplin using a sea shell to hold the tiniest amount of water and pouring it on Curtis' head. I know he said some kind things. Said some kind prayers. But I wasn't paying attention. He told us how sorry he was and left.

It was now after 8pm and our families started to say our goodbyes. My grandparents had left before the blessing, my grandfather struggling with his emotions. My parents hugged us and gave Curtis one final kiss on the head. My in laws tell me how wonderful I am, how amazing I have been that day.

Kim was getting ready to leave, she had stayed late to be a part of the blessing with us. The next nurse, Mary Beth, was also part of the fetal demise program and said she would help us do things like get foot print molds.

They take Curtis away on occasion. Testing various things, taking blood, a sample of his skin. Trying to figure out what happened. We opted against the autopsy. I don't want to put his little body through that. I can't have them open him up. I just can't. I don't want to imagine that. The cord killed him, I am convinced at that point.

We have to decide on a funeral home. We have to decide what to do with his body. Whenever we are ready, they will call the funeral home and they will come get him from the morgue.

The nurses offers a free service from the company that takes photos of newborns. We can get some other pictures of Curtis, they will take them for free and send them in the mail. I say yes, I knew I wanted as many pictures as possible. I ask them to take off his hat because we don't have any pictures with is hat off. They take him away for these photos.

They bring him back and it is just the three of us. Craig sits on the chair with him, just holding him, looking at his little face. Tears. So many tears. Eventually he is placed in my arms again. His little face is starting to change so much. His mouth is starting to fall open. Blood is starting to come out of his nose.

The time is coming.

"He is starting to change. I want to remember him like this. A perfect baby."

Craig nods. He agrees. We sit on the bed together, the three of us. We tell Curtis we love him. We tell Curtis of all the plans we had. We tell Curtis about the dog. How they were going to be partners in crime.

Then we call the nurse, put our baby boy in her arms, and allow her to take him away forever.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our Story, Part 2

The delivery.

May 31, 2006 late morning.

We walk into the hospital, walk past the conference room we had our childbirth class. The class we skipped the second day of because it was that boring. I had read everything I wanted to about childbirth and the class wasn't teaching me anything I didn't already know. Craig and I had giggled through the first day when they were having us pretend to have a contraction and doing visual imagery of rowing in a 'golden' boat through a wave, a wave that symbolized a contraction. I also remembered laying on the floor with him, in the back of the room, giggling with the maturity of two 12 year olds. We were suppose to be doing some type of massage, him rubbing my back through a fake contraction, but we were too busy laughing at the camera that was planted in the ceiling. Wondering if some security guard was keeping watch on the class.

We got into the elevator and pressed two. Followed the signs to the maternity floor, went through the security doors, to the nurses desk. A nurse looked up at me, irritated. "Can I help you?" she snapped.

I stated my name. Her eyes shifted away from my face, she looked down. She never looked at me. "Oh, um, yeah. We are getting your room ready. We have a nurse coming in special for you."

Great, I get a special nurse.

They lead me to a room. A white rose with a purple flower was taped to the door. I knew immediately what that meant.

I was lead into the room, the nurse not looking at me. She pointed out the gown, telling me to undress. "Can I leave my bra on?" I asked. "No." I did anyway.

The nurse walked out. Laying the bed was an array of loss materials. A folder "The Fetal Demise" program. A green and white box, tied with a green ribbon. A brown, small, teddy bear tied with a blue bow. A book, something with a broken cradle and empty arms.

I looked at the materials with disgust. I said something to Craig about the stupid things laying on my bed. I was 40 weeks pregnant! I had a diaper bag packed with nuks and diapers and a video camera. I didn't want a stupid book telling me how to grieve my unborn, but dead child.

I don't remember meeting her. I do remember the way she came into the room, sat on my bed, and held my hand. She had a kind face. She told me her name was Kim, she would be my nurse and be with me through this. She said she is one of 2 nurses who are "okay" with dealing with pregnancy loss. The other nurses do not handle it as well. But she is okay. She tells me what they will do to induce me. She checks and thinks I am dilated to a two. They will insert some gel. I can have an epidural immediately. She tells me, depending on what happened, he will look like any other baby. His coloring may be off. But, when he is born, they will place him on my chest so I can see him right away. I can hold him and take pictures and do whatever I want. She is talking and talking, holding my hand and all I can do is stare at her bracelet. It is turtles. A turtle bracelet.

Curtis' nursery was turtle themed.

"She has a turtle bracelet." I tell Craig after she leaves the room.

Maybe not significant to many people, but it is to me. Months later, Kim and I discover we both have collected turtles and both have a turtle tattoo. Significant.

We sit, and wait. Some gel had been inserted and I feel fine.

My parents are the first to arrive. Red eyes, looking shell shocked. My dad has tears in his eyes. They sit and wait with us. A nurse comes in and says "Grandparents are here. Can I send them in?" I say yes, expecting Craig's parents. But my grandparents walk in. I remember saying "Oh, MY grandparents." My grandpa won't look at me. In fact, I don't think he looked at me that entire day. My grandma has tears in her eyes.

Craig goes out to meet his parents. He tells me later his dad about collapsed in the hallway he was so distraught.

Craig's 2 older brothers arrive. Maybe it is a mistake, one had said when he found out. It isn't a mistake. "You can have another, you guys are young," one says to Craig. Another insensitive comment. His wife is in labor with his dead child. My husband is thinking about the son he never got to hold while his heart beat. It isn't a comment meant to be hurtful, but it is. Like many other comments we will have to endure.

Contractions start. A nice doctor comes in and tells me in situations like this, they can give me as much epidural as I want. They aren't worried about the baby. They just want me to be comfortable.

I tell him I want to feel as little pain as possible. Wishing for an epidural for my heart.

"How do people get through this?" I wonder out loud as he is inserting the long needle in my back. "Drugs and booze." I joke to Craig. I then quickly say "I am joking," so they don't send in the psychologist to talk to me.

I remember telling Craig I am glad we have a dog. She will be a good distraction. I ask Craig if we can take a vacation soon. Somewhere together. I ask him if we can do therapy. He nods and holds my hand. Still dressed in his work clothes. His favorite blue polo shirt that brings out the blue in his eyes.

We wait.

I learn later my father in law went up to my doctor and asks "What the hell happened?" the doctor, having no clue who this man is, is short with him and rude. But to tell the truth, he was always short and rude with me when I was pregnant. But I had an easy pregnancy. The world's best. Felt great for 9 months straight. So I never worried about my doctor who was lacking in his bed side manner. I do pregnancy well. Getting the living baby here, not so much.

My mother in law tells me I am right, my doctor is a jerk. Something I had mentioned to her in the past. I tell her I can't worry about that now. I know she feels bad that she even brought it up right now.

We wait. I am progressing well. The doctor comes in and breaks my water. It is filled with merconium. "That means he was in distress." I say out loud. A fact I had known for some reason. No one answers me.

My brother comes in, and I break down. "Oh..." he says and puts his arm around me. We are not close, my brother and I. But I can see pain all over his face.

We wait, my in laws bring Craig some food. I hear him mention something about wanting to lose some weight. Idle chit chat. Someone asks my brother about his job lay off and a potential interview. He says that isn't a big deal. He doesn't want to talk about losing his job when his sister just lost her baby. I tell him to please talk about, tell us about the interview. It helps me to hear the idle chit chat. Sometime during the day we tell the name we picked out. It is Curtis. We had kept it a secret. No one really says anything. It is a somber moment.

My epidural is being adjusted as my contractions as getting stronger. Kim turns one of the other delivery rooms into a waiting room for our family. So they don't have to be in the public waiting area. You know, with all the families, Waiting for the living babies to be born. The cafeteria sends up food. We do appreciate the nice gestures.

My two brother in laws decide to leave. They have families and really, we have no idea how long this will take or what will happen when he is born. It is just a waiting game now. I joke and say they are leaving right at rush hour. It is getting close to 5. Craig walks them out.

I am starting to feel pressure, they turn up my epidural but it is really hurting on my right side. The nurse asks everyone to leave so she can check me.

I am dilated to a 10. I am ready to push. Kim arranges everything in the room, but I am struck by how calm it all is. I expected a ton of people. Then it dawns on me, the baby is dead. There is no reason to have a ton of people.

Kim gets my legs in position and Craig says to me "Can I tell you something? I am terrified of this part."

"Me giving birth?"


"I never was. I was okay with this part." But I was talking about before, when he was alive. Not when he was dead.

Craig is instructed to hold one of my legs back. I am told hold the other. I start pushing, it is now 5pm.

It is all happening so fast. It has only been 8 hours since we found out he was gone. I push a few times and Kim tells me to stop. She calls to one of the other nurses that she needs help. The nurse comes in, but won't look at me. Kim calls the doctor and tells him she has a full crown. I am suppose to wait for him to come in. I don't. I keep pushing on my own when her back is turned. I don't care about the doctor. I am not waiting any longer. The doctor comes in, sits down, I give the final two pushes and at 5:31pm on 5/31/06, our son is born.

I hear something about the cord wrapped around his neck. I keep saying I am sorry. I am so sorry. I am apologizing to him, I am am apologizing to Craig, I am apologizing to myself. Everyone tells me it isn't my fault. It is just one of those things.

They lay him on my chest and I am terrified. He is still so pink. I can't look at him, I am struggling, so I focus on his nose. So much like Craig's nose. I reach up and touch his nose. I can't look at Craig, I can't see his heartbreak. Not anymore, it has been broken too much. So I just look at the baby's nose.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Our story.

Part 1: Finding Out.

May 31, 2006

It was a Wednesday morning. I was 39weeks and 6 days pregnant.

"I don't want to go to this appointment. We were just there on Friday. I know the baby isn't ready to come, I should just cancel and reschedule."

"You never know! Maybe the doctor will induce today!"

"No! He isn't ready to come yet. I don't want to have another internal, that one really really hurt last time."

We hugged. He was excited, I was scared.

Because I knew.

On May 30th, 2006 my husband, Craig and I, took a walk around a local park reserve. I hadn't felt the baby move much, if at all that day. I poked at my stomach on the walk "are you alive in there?" I said, jokingly.

"That isn't funny," Craig said.

I knew it wasn't, but deep down, I knew.

That night he sat by me on the couch. "I want to get the show on the road! I am SO ready to meet this little dude."

That night, as I lay in bed, I pushed and pushed on my stomach. Longing for a kick. Please kick me, Curtis. Kick me. "He has never been a big mover," I reasoned with myself. I pushed, hard. I felt something, but it felt more like me pushing him, as opposed to him moving on his own.

Come on, baby.


I took a deep breath, rolled, and allowed myself to say "it is okay" and fell asleep.

May 31, 2006.


"Wow, you have lost 5 pounds in 5 days. You were just here on Friday. " The nurse chattered. 5 pounds? That seemed like a lot to lose at 40 weeks pregnant.

The doctor comes in.

"He hasn't been moving much."

"Well, as you get to the end, they don't. Let's do the internal first....Well, you are dialated to a one, no change from Friday."

My heart is racing. The doppler was coming out. I knew, I knew, I knew. Now Craig was going to know. He was going to know, he was going to be welcomed into what had already become my secret hell.

The doctor put the doppler on and absolute silence. No placenta sounds, no blood flow sounds, and worse of all, no heartbeat. He moved it all over. He picked up a faint heart beat and felt my wrist. "My heartbeat. The only one. There should be two." I thought.

I knew.

"I will go get the ultrasound machine."

"I heard the heartbeat," Craig said.

"It was mine." I replied. I couldn't look at him. God, he is so good to me. Why is he going to have to go through this?

"No, it is fine."

The doctor brings back the ultrasound machine. He knows, I know, Craig doesn't know.

He gets everything turned on and the gel on me. I glance quickly to the screen, but don't even look long. There is a still body.

The doctor says nothing. No words. Just silence. Like Curtis' heart. But my heart is screaming. "There is no heartbeat." I am the one to say it outloud. The doctor nods.

I remember a slew of profanity escape from Craig's mouth. I just look up to the ceiling. I can handle this. I can, but I don't want Craig to go through this. Not him. He doesn't deserve this.

I don't remember getting off of the table, but I do. I don't remember putting back on my pants. My huge, stretched out maternity jeans. The ones I lived in the last weeks of my pregnancy. My huge stomach making it hard to bend down to pull them up.

The doctor stares at us.

"I know this won't be of comfort, but we do see this a few times each year. It won't happen again. You can have another"

I don't reply. I have 100 sarcastic replies for his insensitive comment now, but didn't then.

"So, I have to deliver today."


"Can we go over now?"

"Yes, after we do some blood work. I will call over the hospital. You need to go to the lab and get some blood drawn. Are you sure you don't want to go home first?"

For what? To walk into our living room, with the baby swing I set up in the middle? The outfit my mother in law bought still on our kitchen counter?


He leaves, a nurse comes in and says how sorry she is. We have to go to the lab.

We walk out of the exam room, down the hall. It is all a blur. The lab room is packed. Craig goes up the window, we are told to take a seat. Craig shows the only anger I saw of him all day.

"No. We are not sitting there. You cannot make her sit here. Get her in, right now!"

These people have no idea. I just look like another pregnant woman. Except tears are running down my face. His voice gets louder.

Another nurse comes running down the hall, apologizing, telling us we can come back to the exam room, they will take my blood there. Everyone is staring.

We can make phone calls, she says. Just dial 9.

I look at Craig. "We are going to need a lot of therapy. And booze." He smiles. God, I love his smile. He has this dimple that is to die for. I am sure the girls in junior high swooned over that dimple. I know I did at 27. I wonder if Curtis would have had his dimple?

I pick up the phone. I needed people to know. Now. I think Craig prefered not to share the news quite yet. I wanted the world to know the hell we were going through. I wanted the support. When I had thought about the delivery, I had always thought we would call people after it was all over "Suprise! He is here!" I wanted privacy.

Now, I wanted support.

I called my parent's house. It rang and rang. No one picked up. I called my dad's cell phone. He answered cheerfully. I am sure, expecting some type of good phone call from his 40 week pregnant daughter.

"We lost the baby."


"Daddy, we lost the baby."

"I ... what?"

"We need you to come. I have to go to the hospital to deliver him. He is gone."

"We will be there."


Now, he is welcomed into the hell.

"We have to call your parents. I can do it. You don't have to." I don't want Craig to tell them. I want to protect Craig, I don't want him to go through this. I want to take it all on myself. He shakes his head no.

He calls his mom on her cell phone.

One hand on the phone, another one cradling his head in his hand.

"Mom," his voice breaks. "We lost the baby."

I tune out the rest. I don't remember. I can't listen. I can't listen to Craig's heartbreak. I cannot believe I have broke his heart. I cannot believe his son is dead inside of me.

He hangs up with his mom. "Well, she almost drove off of the road."

My dad raced home from work and woke my mom up from her sleep with the news her grandson died and her daughter was being sent to deliver. My sweet mother in law had to tell our son's Pop Pop that his second grandson had died.

I remember walking out of the clinic to the car. We had brought two cars that day. It was the first day of my maternity leave, but I was going to my good bye lunch at work. We opted to both get into Craig's car.

Where the carseat was installed. We both stared at it for a moment. Got in, and drove the block to the hospital.

We stood outside, a bright, sunny day, and made more phone calls. I left messages for my friends Annie and Christy. Only my co-worker Paige picked up the phone.

Craig called his co-worker.

"So, are you a father yet?" he was asked.

"That isn't going to be happening."

That wasn't entirely true.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A few years ago, I mentioned the 5K walk/run benfitting a local foundation. In 2006, the year we lost our son, it was the first year of the event.

I worked days on making team tshirts for everyone. I poured a lot into those tshirts. With each one completed, it made me feel good. Like I was doing something for him. That year, we were the only group to have team tshirts. Honestly, I felt a little silly with it at first, since no one did it. I thought at things like this people made tshirts. Whenever I have done Race for the Cure, people have team shirts. So, I thought people would have these at this event too. But no one did. Except us. The directors of the 5K loved it and a picture of my hub and dad in their shirts even made their website and information card for the 2007 5k. I didn't feel so silly then.

At our support group we attended that summer, I was talking to a new couple and I mentioned Curtis' name and the woman's eyes lit up and she said "Hey! Are you guys Team Curtis? We saw the shirts you made, we are going to make some for our daughter...." It was kind of like being famous. Not so silly anymore.

At the 2007 walk? It was CRAZY to go there and see team after team with their shirts. My dad looked around and said "look at what you started."

It was pretty cool. So, I take a pretty big pleasure in knowing that we were the first ones to honor our child that way. Each year the 5K has grown with more and more people. We are never going to be the top fund raisers, or have the fanciest shirts. (I choose to make them myself as opposed to ordering them. It makes me feel good knowing I did them. But, since I have the creativity and crafty-ness of a rock, iron transfers will have to do!) But....we were the first to honor our son this way and lead the way for others to do that same.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

So, I went back to work for the first time in a year.

I was put on bed rest when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my daughter. My bed rest wasn't strict, it was more modified due to low fluid. I just needed not to be driving around 200+ miles a day like I was for my job. After our daughter was born, we tried to make it work for me to be a stay at home mom. The numbers seemed like they could work. The money seemed like it was there, but despite 2 raises my husband got....we just haven't been able to cut it.

It broke my heart. I loved staying at home with her. I said over and over it wasn't about HER, it was about me. I felt I deserved it. Damn it! I lost my son. At 40 weeks! I deserve to stay at home with her and spend every single moment soaking in her cuteness and happiness.

But, we decided to try me going back part time at a less stressful position than I had been in. We found a lovely home daycare for her and are on our 3rd week of our new routine. I work about 4 hours a day and the rest I get with her.

It isn't the same, but I am thrilled I got to have 9 months straight with her. Just her and I. She is doing just fine in daycare, has adjusted well.

Me? I am still struggling. I seem to be turning to food to comfort myself (a bad habit I have had my whole life). I don't necessarily love my new position. I regret taking a less stressful position because I miss having more responsibility. I wanted the 'easy' way out at work. (I was lucky enough that my old company welcomed me back with open arms). I miss being with her all the time. I look with longing at the baby and me classes offered we can't take because I am working. I look with longing at the supervisors at my work doing the job I used to do. And do well.

I guess I don't know where I fit anymore.

I haven't known where I fit ever since we lost him. I was a mom, without a baby for so long. Then with my pregnancy with her, I was just focused on that straight for 8 months until she arrived screaming. Now I am a mom with a baby, but still missing my son so much. I don't feel like I have a career like I did.

I just don't know who I am ....and when I feel like that, the instant gratification of food is the only thing that fills me up.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

For a limited time, I put a link to our fundraising page up! It is for the 5K we pariticpate in to raise money in our son's name. I like this blog to remain pretty anonymous, and on the link to his page are pictures of us, of him and so forth. This 5K means a lot to us. The funds go directly to an organization dedicated to helping families dealing with stillbirth and infant loss. They are the organization we worked with to get our daughter here safely. I honestly believe without them, we would not have her. She had a cord issue as well and the MissingGRACE orgainzation had given me all of the tools to get her here. I had the best of the best doctors working with me thanks to them and particpated in stillbirth prevention research, thanks to them. Please, if you can, donate to us. Read the page we created for will see how much it means to us.