I have begun a journey that I never wanted to go on. One that, quite frankly, I never thought would happen to me. I have begun a journey that will never end and that will make me feel, some days, like I am dying. That journey is surviving the loss and stillbirth of my son.
Let me start at the beginning.
The morning of August 25th, 2016 I woke up and used the restroom to find my urine was brown. Dark brown-like the toilet was filled with Coca-Cola instead of urine. I called my doctor and was told to monitor my symptoms through the next few hours and call back if it continued. I had been told another time that any movement at all from Adam was counted in the “kick counts” so I tried not to overreact at the little amount of movement I felt that morning. Nevertheless, the urine remained brown so I went in for a culture. The doctor I saw found Adam’s heartbeat easily, a strong 140 something. I was told to go home and drink water because it was probably a kidney stone but we would know more in 3 days when the results came back.
The next day I hadn’t felt Adam move like he usually does during the night and in the morning and while at work.I called a girlfriend of mine to get her advice on whether or not I should call the doctor because I tend to be a “worry-wort”. Without hesitation she said I needed to call. And so I did and I came in for an appointment right away. I never will forget the emotions leading up to those 5 words that tore my heart into shreds and suffocated all hopes and dreams I had for my son.
After the first try to hear his heartbeat with the doppler was unsuccessful I panicked. Just a little. My husband reassured me everything would be fine, though I could see the tears and fears building in his eyes too. I told myself, my baby is okay. God will protect him and he will be okay. He is probably in a funny position so they can’t find the heartbeat as easily as before. I asked God for peace because I knew Adam would be okay.
The second try at the doppler came and failed. The doctor left the room to ask the ultrasound tech to make room for us immediately in her schedule. He came back. Another failed attempt to find Adam’s heartbeat. The peace I had prayed for stayed with me like a comfort blanket through what seemed like an eternity of waiting for the ultrasound. When we got into the room I sat down and they began a very short ultrasound. The room was silent. The ultrasound looked very different to me even then. Still. The tech did something that made some colors pop up on the screen and then gave a small, quick shake of her head without looking away from the screen. The panic ran through me like road-runner running from Wile E. Coyote: quick and unseen. My head snapped to the doctor.
“So, there is no heartbeat.”
I waited for a split second for the doctor to tell me what we were going to do next to make sure Adam was healthy and okay. Now I know it was denial. It registered to me in that split second that my husband had doubled over above my head and began sobbing and that the doctor did not have anything else to add. In that moment the finality hit me. There was no next step to save my baby.
I think the sound that came out of me was close to a wail. I covered my face with my free hand and sobbed with my husband. What was said after that, while sitting in the ultrasound chair is fuzzy. I know the doctor said there was no evidence to show that it had happened a while ago, that, “this just happened”. Thinking back on this moment I have a lot of anger for how the doctor handled the whole situation. Because I knew it had just happened. 24 hours before I had been in his office listening to a strong rhythm. Regardless, he said we would go back to the exam room and talk. When he asked if we needed a moment, “yes” escaped my lips in a yell.
I would need much more than a moment to deal with the reality that my son who was 17 inches long and 3.15 lbs had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck tight enough to kill him inside of me. I would need a lifetime.
So this is the beginning of a journey that is devastatingly The End. Not every day is hard but not every day is good. So far the battle through my emotional war-fare gives me (and especially my husband) severe whiplash. But one thing that I know from the experience we went through with Adam is that I wanted to know other women’s stories and to know that there was someone else who knows what I am going through. Through that I realized I want to honor his life by helping other mother’s deal with their loss’ as well. So here is the beginning of our story and the roller coaster of hell that we ride daily. Hopefully through shared experiences Adam’s story can help a mother feel that she isn’t alone and we can all honor the memory of our babies while trying step by step to tape up our broken hearts.