At the time of Koen's birth we had no idea what caused his heart to stop beating or when it had occurred. We had the option to see him right after the birth or wait and have the nurses clean him up in the nursery first. We were fearful of our memories being clouded with a potentially disturbing image I have mixed feelings about that decision, when I stop and think about just sending him away it hurts my heart. Now we know he was cute as a button and it would have been okay, but we were unprepared for that day and didn't have the luxury of thinking through all the details and didn't have the information we have now.
Physically I was not ready to meet him right away, my doctor wasn't done with me yet. The delivery of my placenta didn't go smoothly. My bleeding was more severe than they would have liked. I stared at a table behind my doctor that was full of bowls and it looked like a horror movie. As my doctor was trying to clean out my uterus and stop my bleeding, I laid there in shock wondering how I had gotten here in just 12 hours. They were trying to talk calmly, but I sensed their concern. I kept asking, "what if you can't get the bleeding to slow down?". My doctor told me he was hoping we wouldn't end up in the OR. I didn't know what that would mean and immediately went to the worst case. I thought am I going to lose my uterus tonight too? I didn't even want to ask for fear of the answer. They worked on me for quite some time, and praise God, my bleeding slowed to an acceptable rate. I was able to begin to collect myself and prepare to meet my second son.
My contractions continued with great frequency. I had been given Pitocin to assist in speeding up the delivery process. I was given some sort of pain medication through my IV, but it was no longer cutting it. I felt clueless in the whole labor and delivery process. I made that clear to my nurse and doctor. I never took any sort of birthing class when I was pregnant with Hackett, we knew he would be a C-section so we never bothered. Koen was planned to arrive on August 22 via C-section. The word epidural I was familiar with. When I was done feeling the pain I asked for one of those.
The epidural gave me relief from my physical pain. My emotional pain also seemed to take a rest during this time. I think the physcial demands being put on my body, combined with the drugs in my system, trumped my emotions. It was necessary to put them on hold. Time passed. I was fully dilated, but had no urgency to push. I couldn't feel anything, so they decided to dial back my epidural. I started to shiver and my whole chest was shuddering, but I was still not feeling my contractions so my epidural was turned off. The pain of my contractions returned. My doctor asked me if I was ready to begin pushing. How do I answer that question? I didn't feel the need physically to push. If I began pushing that would mean I would lose Koen. I believe part of the peace I experienced that day was because I still had Koen. Even though he was no longer there, he was still inside of me. Making the decision to push, was making the decision to say goodbye. I pushed for an hour and a half before my sweet little boy was born. It was the most surreal experience. Beautiful and heart wrenching.
I have been avoiding sharing the rest of the story of Koen's delivery. Initially I thought telling the story via decisions would help me to organize my thoughts, but the truth is nothing was organized that day.
Right after the ultrasound my doctor told us that we may never know why. They were going to try to get us answers and blood work was ordered right away. They took every color vile of blood on their cart. I sat there in shock during this process. I couldn't believe how quickly we had gotten to this point. Even in my worst case scenario that day I never envisioned this.
Now my labor was in full swing. The same thing had happened with Hackett. Once my contractions started, they came quick. I was asking for meds to help with the pain. I didn't want to feel what was happening to me. I was already feeling so much pain emotionally that I was unsure how much physical pain I could handle. In order to start pain medication I needed my IV in. My veins can be a challenge. My nurse tried twice and was unsuccessful. She went to get another nurse and after the third try I just stared at the wall and cried. Nothing was going to be easy that day - not even the IV that I so desperately needed. I can look back now and see that the staff was feeling the emotion of the situation and only had a small window of time between my contractions, but at the time I laid there and felt like screaming in pure frustration. In the end the anesthesiologist was called in and on the sixth attempt my IV was finally in. Both my hands were bruised for weeks, a physical reminder of all the pain I had felt that day.
Kevin had called our family at this point and was texting others. Prayers were beginning to go up on our behalf. I didn't want to watch TV or talk much. I did a lot of staring out the window. I had to hold myself together if I was going to get through the day. I was not strong enough to pray, but could feel HIs presence. Even in the horrible sadness and heartbreak I had a certain amount of unexplainable peace that made it possible to endure the delivery room.
I relive the day of Koen's birth on a daily basis. As I have been getting ready to share the rest of the story I am struggling. It's hard, it's so hard. Hard to share, hard to put into words, hard to face the reality. I am not ready to face the delivery room quite yet, but I am getting closer. One specific memory of my delivery I play over and over again. It is a memory that I will forever cherish. I am ready to share that.
On a day when our world was crashing in, we still were able to see God's hand. Many things went right on a day that was so wrong. Dr T, the doctor I had come to love and trust, was on call. Once he arrived at the hospital, he never left, he was going to see us through from beginning to end. Torrey, the nurse assigned to me when I arrived that morning, was such a blessing. She stood by my side with her tear stained cheeks and walked me through many of the hard decisions that day. The shift change was at 7 and Koen had not yet arrived. I kept asking her, "when do you leave?". She assured me she would make sure I had the best. A little after 7 that night Torrey walked in with my new nurse, Cindy. It was apparent that both had been crying. They were grieving for Koen and I was so thankful. They cared, they acknowledged Koen, they felt for my loss. I am eternally grateful for my doctor and those two nurses. Quitely I pray that I will have that same group of people by my side in the future and instead tears of sorrow, it will be tears of joy.
Cindy held my hand during delivery. Another nurse was brought in to assist my doctor during that time. Cindy was simply there for me. In a conversation prior to pushing we told her about Hackett and his curly hair. During my pregnancy Kevin and I would dream about what Koen would look like. One of our biggest wonders was would he have curly hair? We shared this with Cindy and she was unsure if we would get our answer to that question. My narrow pelvis made delivery a challenge, even though Koen was a little guy. I had to push for a while. At the beginning I felt strong, and I wanted to be done with this nightmare. As time progressed it became more difficult, both physically and emotionally. My strong pushes were turning into tearful ones. When Koen was crowning and I was nearing so close to the end, my sweet nurse Cindy gave me the memory that I will cherish. In part because it felt like something that would be said during a delivery where the outcome would have been different. Through the hair over the side of my face, she got right up to my ear, and whispered "he does have hair and he's beautiful". I don't know if I actually smiled, but I felt happy - even if was for a fleeting instant. It was enough for me to continue on with horror and pain.
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 ...
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 ...
I am Jackie.