I am not good at making decisions, I never have been. To top that off, I need to make sure that I am always properly prepared. This is not a good combination. Kevin has experienced this every time he loads our car for a trip. If you met me wouldn't think I am an anxious person, but I internalize those feelings. When I am super prepared it helps me relax.
I was not properly prepared to make decisions on May 27, 2013. Here it was, this combination that does not suit me, combined with my worst nightmare.
A few days before Koen was born, I had felt off and was having a few things going on with me that I was unsure of, but nothing alarming. I called the doctor that was on-call for the weekend. She told me to drink water, rest, and if contractions started go to labor and delivery. I felt that the last recommendation from her was standard protocol, no way would contractions start. I decided to take her advice. I would later kick myself and wish I had headed to the hospital that day. I shared with my doctor my feelings of regret, only to be assured that even if I had and if Koen was still alive at that time and if that had made the decision to take him - he would have been a very sick baby. That combined with his preemie status would have led us ultimately to the same result. I would like to say that I am okay with this decision, but it will be one that continues to haunt me. We will never know.
Go to the hospital. This became clear shortly after I woke up on May 27, 2013. Those "cramps" I was having were now clearly contractions.
What to do with Hackett? With all of our family away that day, we had no place for Hackett. We had to take him with us. It was Memorial Day and I didn't want to bother friends if it was something simple. God stepped in and while I rode the elevator up to the maternity wing at 9 in the morning I got a text from a friend asking if Hackett wanted to play. Minutes later we would learn that Hackett was only allowed in the waiting room. As the day progressed my dad would make the decision to turn around, he was en route to the Tigers game, to go get him. My mom also made the decision to come from Chicago so she could stay the night at our house. I am thankful that my Hackett was cared for that day - by God and so many others.
When I arrived at the hospital and they first hooked up the fetal monitor it was picking up a heartbeat. I asked, "Do you have his heartbeat?". The nurse told me yes, and left me for minute. When I was alone, I thanked God for Koen's heartbeat and prayed that he keep that heart going strong. I laid there and smiled listening to the sound on the monitor, thinking with relief, we are okay. The same nurse returned and started to move the monitor around, she told me that Koen was being a stinker. Kevin was with me now and we were waiting for results from a bladder test, anticipating a UTI. A different nurse came in and without explaining much she had me role to one side, then the other, all the while messing with the monitor. I had heard Koen's heartbeat, so I was not concerned. Kevin left briefly to update our family and my original nurse returned. What she told me, literally took my breath away. My doctor was on his way, they were having trouble picking up Koen's heartbeat, because it was so close to my own. When my doctor arrived they would do an ultrasound to see if Koen's heart was beating. Dr. T arrived quickly and he was in his shorts - I knew I was in trouble. When he pulled up the image on the ultrasound machine and it was evident to me right away. Even as a little peanut in January I could see that white flash, but there was nothing blinking. That heart beat I thanked God for, was my own. Another doctor was called in to verify Dr. T's findings. When the second ultrasound was being done, I couldn't look, I had to look away. I remember looking away so hard that the side of my face was buried into my pillow. It was confirmed that Koen was no longer with us. A decision had to be made - would Koen be born naturally or via C-section (like Hackett)? My narrow pelvis was a concern for my full term Hackett, but would hopefully not be an issue for my Little Muffin. Dr. T gave us more information about our choices, but his recommendation was natural. He left us so we could discuss and decide. I looked at Kevin and said "I don't know how I can possibly do this." My contractions were coming with much greater frequency at this point, I was dilated to a 3, and it was clear now that I was in labor. I decided to go with safest option. I would deliver Koen naturally, I was taken into a labor and delivery room ...
The day after Koen's funeral I felt the intense need to somehow keep him close. Even if I couldn't have him in the bedroom across from mine, or in a bouncy seat in my living room, I still needed him here. I knew he wouldn't leave our thoughts, and I didn't want him to just disappear from our lives. I decided I wanted both my boys in our bedroom so I could look at them every night and every morning when I woke up. By the grace of God, Hackett had captured my pregnant belly, and we had a few other pictures of Koen's memories snapped with our cell phones and a few pictures the nurses had taken at the hospital. With the help of my dear friend, Bridget, who edited my photos, we brought beauty to the few memories and things we had from Koen. I found a new Willow Tree figure for Koen. It is of a mother holding her tiny baby so close and it depicts the moments I had with him. It's called "Guardian: Love and protect thee, forever". I will love my Little Muffin forever, I only wish I could have been able to protect him. Today we were able to hang these up in our room, and I just have to write some scriptures on the blue and green plaques. Having these up has made me feel so happy, and also brought me to tears.
I wanted to wear something that kept Koen close to my heart. This precious little pendant came in earlier this week. The woman who helped me at the jewelry store thought it was an anniversary present, when I told her that I had lost a baby her eyes welled up with tears and she told me she had lost two of her own. So many have faced this same heartache, there is comfort in that, but really even more sorrow. I pray that maybe I can help the broken hearts of others down the road. Maybe in doing that work it will be another way to help me feel close to my Koen.
One of the many reasons I decided to start blogging was to answer questions. Sometimes, some days, and with some people, I want to talk, share, pour my soul out - but other times I just don't. Talking about the day of Koen's death is difficult, but it is also the day of Koen's birth. It was the only day we ever saw, touched, snuggled, kissed, hugged, talked, and Kev even danced with our Koen. I replay the day over and over in my head. They are the only memories I have and will ever have of Koen. I don't want to forget a minute. There will be no "firsts" that I get to celebrate and note, no late night feedings where I can rock and sing to him, no tears to wipe away, no bedtime snuggles with sweet conversations ... no more memories. I feel like I have told the story of that day so often now, that I have found a rhythm and can make it through without tears. That bothers me. It bothers me, because I want to feel the pain, sorrow, and even joy of that day ... we met our son, even though we were never able to watch him take a breath. Please ask me questions, because the truth is even if I don't want to talk about it at that moment, I do want to share - the joy and the sorrow. This blog will also give me a place to share and to fill in the blanks of the story.
We still have questions ourselves about how this happened. We have some answers, but with those answers there comes more questions. I feel like even when we learn why Koen died we will never truly know "why". I am trying to come to terms with that "why" and hope to share it in a later post. We are also seeking out help to answer the medical questions as to why, and when I feel ready I will share some about that as well.
Another question of many of yours is what do we need? We need your continued love and support. We need you to be there for us. We need you to check in - even if you feel like you are bugging us, because reaching out is hard right now. We need your prayers. We need your patience. I feel like I am existing quite well to provide normalcy for my Hackett, but I am not the same Jackie I was just over a month ago. There are just so many feelings to sort through and something small can trigger my grief. I thank you, our family and friends, for showering us with love, and walking alongside us.
We moved back to Michigan in February of 2012. We took a few months to get settled and then decided it was time to start growing our family, even though my fears of starting all over again made me apprehensive at first. This time it didn't come quite as quickly as it did with Hackett. With each month that passed with no baby, my apprehension decreased and my desire to have a baby increased. By fall my arms were aching for a baby and so was my heart. In November I had an issue arise and needed to find an OB/GYN. I did a google search, found an office, and was assigned to Dr. T. When he learned that we had been trying for months unsuccessfully, he wanted to schedule an appointment for me to come into to see him in January.
In December, about a week and a half before Christmas, we learned I was pregnant! In the months prior I had taken many pregnancy tests, only to see the negative results. This time it took multiple tests and even two days to give me the proof I needed to confirm that I finally had a precious little baby beginning to grow inside me. Kev and I were overjoyed! We decided to share the news with Hackett, he beamed and said (regarding a sibling) "I didn't think I was going to get one of those". He started to make plans for bunk beds and think of names for his new little brother or sister. I quickly ordered a big brother shirt for Hackett so we could have him reveal our big news to our families at the upcoming Christmas gatherings. I started talking to my belly early in my pregnancy and the words "Mommy loves you my Little Muffin" came out of my mouth. The name Little Muffin stuck and that is what we continued to call Koen.
In January I went in for an ultrasound and we got to see our Little Muffin and his beating heart. It was magical and we were in love. In January I met Dr. T, and instantly trusted him. Such a kind and genuine man, I felt that God had steered me to the right doctor and I was so thankful. In the first few months I had periodic spotting and I was so scared. I curled up in a ball in bed crying while I waited for the return call from my doctor on the weekend when it first occurred. I remember thinking, I can't lose my Little Muffin, I have wanted him for so long and already felt so attached. My ultrasound in January verified that it was a Subchorionic Hematoma, which is when some blood gathers between your uterus and placenta. It was normal, occurs often to preganant women, and is okay; just something to watch. With time the spotting went away and so did my fears of losing my precious Little Muffin. I thought we had made it to a point of safety ...
Kevin and I had wanted to be married for a little bit before we started our family. When we decided to take the leap, we were quickly blessed with my pregnancy with Hackett. We were one of the first couples in our social circle and we were clueless to so much. One of my dear friends at work was just a few weeks behind me with her pregnancy. It was fun to go through those first few months together, and then tragedy struck her. Around 20 weeks she lost her precious baby boy. I was utterly heartbroken for her. It shook me, made me realize even more what a treasure the sweet baby growing inside of me was, and opened my eyes to the many risks – both physically and emotionally – of pregnancy. I can remember where Kevin and I were standing when I tearfully told him the news of my sweet friend. We grieved for them and I recall asking God “why?”. I remember Kevin saying at the time, “If that were me, I don’t think I could endure the risk of facing it again.”
My pregnancy continued on with ease, the only issue was that I had a narrow pelvis and would not be able to deliver naturally. Hackett arrived in the middle of the night; he was healthy, but angry! Our poor little guy was plagued with colic. We were so hopelessly in love that it hurt our hearts to see him cry. When he finally turned a corner we were living in California. We began to have to freedom to go and do with Hackett. We loved our little family of three, and none of us were ready to expand (we didn’t feel Hackett was ready yet either). With peace, although I would often question and discuss with Kevin, we made the decision to wait until we returned to Michigan. We trusted God with this prayed over decision, even when the timing of our move was unknown. This was not how we would have thought our family structure would have looked like, but I enjoyed and loved every minute of my one-on-one time with Hackett. Simple things, like running errands and having his hand in mine has always brought me so much joy. I am so thankful for my Hackett and the blessing of time I have with him. This is the family structure that God had planned for me, still has planned for me, and I need to remind myself of that. Instead of focusing on the emptiness and what is missing, but rather on what remains … my sweet, thoughtful, funny, full of life Hackett. I thank God every day for my Hackett, he is my treasure.
Start at my first blog post below this one. I am still learning and I think I maxed out the number of videos I can share in one blog post! Here are a few more videos that are helping me through my healing process. Feel free to reccomend more ...
The week after Koen's death I needed to feel, hurt, cry, and be filled up. Music has always been a pathway to my heart. I went in search of songs that would minister to my heart and spirit, these are now on my "Koen" playlist. I play these when I pray, during my quiet time, and at Koen's gravesite - they are dear to me.
I have so much I want to write, share, and work through, but I feel stuck as to where to start. I realized tonight these songs were the first part of my healing process, so it is only natural to start this blog the same way by healing began.
There are two more I want to share, but had to put them into a seperate blog entry ... I guess I maxed out my space here.
I am Jackie.