Saturday, September 29, 2007


JD and I stayed by the grave long after everyone had left. The gravedigger came to bury Owen. He was a huge man. I could tell he was a little uncomfortable with us there. I imagined that he did not bury many babies. He drove forward slowly in a backhoe, the bucket filled with dirt. And then I did something unexpected, even by me. I asked him if we could do it. He was surprised but willing. He and JD gently lowered Owen into the ground by hand. Then he got us a shovel and together JD and I buried our son. When we had finished, the gravedigger got on his hands and knees and gently patted the earth smooth. I thanked him for taking such good care of my son. Then I went home and threw out my shoes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

August 2, 2007

We buried Owen with my Mom. When I say this I mean that because he was so small we were actually able to dig down and place him right on top of her. On good days, I actually get some peace from knowing that they have each other now. There was no one who loved infants more than my Mom.

I don’t remember much of the service. In the great kindness of the universe, my milk came in that day. I was in so much pain. It was hot and I was still bleeding heavily. I remember my brother hugging me like he would never let me go. I remember JD beside me holding my hand. I remember my father rubbing my back while I stared at the tiny coffin. Mostly, I remember the heat.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Story- Part V

Owen was beautiful. He was big for his gestation. 3 pounds 3 ounces and 15 inches long at just barely 27 weeks. He had long thin feet like K. He had my father’s nose and my husband’s eyebrows. He had a tiny bit of the dark wavy hair J had been born with. I unwrapped him and examined every part of his tiny body; his long fingers and tiny penis, his perfect ears and miniscule toenails. I noted the places on his feet and legs where his skin had already begun peeling. I was in love with all of these things. He looked peaceful.
As the hours passed, JD and I took turns holding him and kissing him, whispering to him, and trying to memorize his tiny body. We had a lifetime of parenting to squeeze into those hours. We cried a lot but also laughed some. He had hairy shoulders just like his dad.
Soon, some of the physical changes that accompany death began to take place. I took a blanket and wiped away the fluid that began to leak from his nose. I remember the nurse was distressed by this and offered to take him then. But I wanted to care for him. I knew it was my only chance.

The Story- Part IV

It was a long night, but once the induction began we didn’t cry. In fact, we joked a bit and reminisced about the labors of our other children. JD slept some and I watched him. I couldn’t pray that night. I thought a lot about my mom who had died 17 months previously. I asked her to take care of my baby, to hold him tight and sing to him so he would always know how very much I loved him.
Early the next morning, I woke JD. “It hurts- I’m so uncomfortable now.” He called the nurse. She and the midwife checked me – 9.5 centimeters.
“Almost time.” They left to call the chaplain.
Almost immediately I felt the overwhelming urge to push. I moaned to JD to get the nurse. She came quickly.
“Please. Can I push now? I need….”
“Oh – let me get Janet quick.”
JD took my hand. “I don’t want to do this. I’m scared.” I said.
“I know. Me too.” He kissed me on the forehead.
Janet and the nurse arrived and I started pushing. It didn’t take long.
“There’s his head” I heard “You need to push hard for the shoulders.”
I felt his body slide out of mine and began to sob. It was the only sound in the room.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Story- Part III

“Oh my son. My baby boy. I’m so sorry” I whispered over and over. I covered face with my hands and cried in a way that I have never cried before. I thought I might be sick. I thought I might die from the hurt of it. But after a few minutes, it was like a switch went off inside me and I remembered I wasn’t finished. This wasn’t over. I still had a job to do. I took a deep breath and dried my eyes.”Ok, what do I do now?” I asked.
The doctor cleared his throat and wiped his eyes. “I know this is difficult but you need to make some decisions. When you are this far along you need to deliver the baby.” I nodded. I knew this and even wanted to deliver my son. “We can admit you and induce labor now or-“
“Yes. That’s what I want. Let’s do this now.’
“Ok. We will make you as comfortable as possible. We will give you whatever you want pain relief wise. We can even give you medication to make this seem like a dream. Whatever you need.”
It hit me in waves; this was really happening, this was my life now. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to live this life and be this baby’s mother. “I need to call my husband. Please I need my husband.”
“Of course,” said the nurse “I’ll get you a phone.”
“No, my cell phone is my purse. Please get it.”
“We’ll give you a few minutes of privacy.” the doctor said “We’ll get things organized for the induction and call Janet the midwife on call.” They stepped out.
I struggled to get the number right. My hands were shaking.
JD answered on the first ring
“I need you to come here. I need you to come here right now,” was all I could get out.
“What?” he said sounding panicky. ”What’s happening? Is it the baby?”
All I could do was cry. How could I break his heart like this?
“He’s gone. He’s just gone.”
“Oh no...oh... no...” he breathed.
“Call daddy. See if he can come and stay with the kids. I need to deliver the baby.” I was in business mode now telling him what he needed to do to prepare the kids for me being gone overnight, reminding him to bring some things for himself.
An hour or so later he arrived at the hospital. He entered to the room and took me in his arms and we cried together.
“He’s a boy, JD. I asked and they told me. He’s a boy.”

It was not how I had planned to introduce my husband to his newest son.

The Story- Part II

When I got the hospital, I couldn’t find away in other than the Maternity Discharge exit. It was Sunday afternoon and the entrance I usually used was closed. I knocked on the door at Maternity and told the security guard I didn’t know how to get to L&D.
He asked "Is it for you? " I nodded and he escorted me to the desk.
The nurse was expecting me and took me a labor room. She had me get changed and get on the bed. She was so certain everything was ok.
“Let’s just see what’s going on with this baby” she said.
“Besides giving me gray hair?” I tried to joke.
She put the monitor on me. We could hear what sounded like a heartbeat thumping along.
“That’s me, isn’t it?” I said.
She nodded and moved the monitor around some. The same rhythm maybe slightly faster could be heard again. “It’s still just me. Isn’t it?”
The nurse looked more serious and then said "Sometimes when you are early these monitors don’t work so well. Let me get the ultrasound."
She left. I was 26 weeks and 6 days pregnant. The heartbeat had never been difficult to hear. She came back with the ultrasound and the attending physician.
He introduced himself and said "Let’s see what we can see. Do you know what you’re having?"
"No," I said "and I don’t want to… unless it’s very bad."
“No, no” he said. “Don’t think like that.”
As the image pulled up on the screen, all I saw was stillness. The doctor looked around and around, stopping here and there for a moment, not saying anything yet. But I had seen. I had seen the heart; I had seen that it was not beating. He turned off the screen and looked at me. I could see the sadness in his eyes.
“I do see something that concerns me.” He began softly.
“I know, it’s not good, is it?” I asked as tears began to come.
"No" he said gently. "It’s not. The baby’s heart is not beating. I’m so sorry."
I began to sob.
“Oh honey” The nurse said as she handed me tissues and rubbed my back.
“Do you you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” I asked.
“It’s a boy. He’s a boy. I’m so very sorry.” The doctor sounded choked up.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How are you doing?

I'm asked this question all the time now. Friends and family are full of concern for my well-being. Over and over again, I hear myself answer the same way, "Oh, I'm okay."

I say this because I'm touched by their concern. I appreciate them asking. I want to say the right thing. I want to protect the people I love from this. I want it to be true.

The real truth of the matter is I'm not okay. I'm not sure I'll ever be okay again.

I think that's a big reason I started this blog, to have a place where I feel safe saying that I am not okay.

The Story- Part I

I awoke that morning with a start. Sweating, my heart racing, like I had just had a bad dream but, there wasn’t one I could recall. I couldn’t shake this unsettled feeling. I went to check on the kids. I’m not sure why. They were both sleeping peacefully. I know I went to sigh thinking “Everything must be ok” when it hit me. There was silence inside me. The baby who had been poking and thumping me nearly continuously for the past 12 weeks was still. I sat on my bed, hands on my belly and gave a little jiggle. I felt a slow wave of movement. All I could think was how sluggish that felt. I thought maybe breakfast would help. I felt nauseous but forced down an English muffin with jelly. I waited and nothing happened.
We got in the car for the ride home from my in-laws where we had been staying for the weekend and JD asked me what was wrong. He said I been acting weird since we got up. I didn’t want to say it aloud.
“I don’t feel the baby moving.”
He grabbed my hand and looked at me carefully. "Maybe it’s sleeping."
“Maybe,” I agreed, wanting him to be right and somehow knowing he wasn’t.
“We’ll call the midwife when we get home.”
I called her and she was more blasé than I wanted her to be. “Drink some coke and lay down. Call in me in an hour if nothing changes."
I drank the soda and lay in my bed listening to the kids play in the next room. JD peered in periodically “Anything yet?”
“No,” I forced out and began to cry. JD wanted me to call the midwife right away.
"It’s only been 30 minutes," I said. "We should give it more time." I prayed ferociously hands on my belly; begging God to change what I knew in my heart was true.
I called the midwife and she was still blasé. “As babies get bigger they move less-"
“No,” I said “this is different. I have two children already. I have been pregnant before. I know something is going on.”
“Well, why don’t we have you go to L&D and checked out just in case.”
I told JD I was going in and the midwife thought everything was probably fine. He hugged me. I went to say goodbye to the kids. I didn’t want to go. I knew once I walked out the door nothing would ever be the same. I know it sounds so melodramatic but that’s how I felt. I hugged J & K so tightly. I was so afraid for what I knew might happen while I was gone. I threw my cell phone and charger in my purse and walked out the door. I saw the kids waving from the window and couldn’t stop crying as I waved back.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We named him Owen

8 weeks ago today my life changed forever. My third child was stillborn at 27 weeks gestation. And now my entire life is divided into before and after. It's still so overwhelming it takes my breath away when I allow myself to think about how permanent this change is.