Mom to Drew
May 6th, 2010
On May 5th, 2010, I was at work early trying to finish up several projects so that I could leave for my 16 week appointment that afternoon. I remember feeling happy that morning. I had the tape recorder ready to record the baby’s heartbeat. My husband was going to be able to take off early to meet me there. I still remember having the strangest feeling that morning. I bent down to pick something up and felt a little butterfly. At the time, I wondered if I had felt the baby kick. Even now, I wonder if that feeling was little Drew. When I sat up, I just “knew” that the baby was a boy. I wrote a little note in my day planner, “I think the baby is a boy.” I wrote my husband an email at 9:19 that morning and told him about the “weird feeling” that I had had. He wrote back one of his loving one-sentence responses, and we both went about our day. Little did we know how awful that day would turn out.
At 4:00pm, we saw our doctor. She answered our questions and then prepared the doppler. My husband had the tape recorder playing as the doctor struggled to find the heartbeat. I wasn’t nervous quite yet…My husband stopped the recorder while the doctor prepared to try again. Still no heartbeat. We had two ultrasounds that day. I will never get over the pain and shock of watching the doctor searching the ultrasound, sighing, and saying, “Well, it looks as if the baby’s heart has stopped beating. Your baby has died…” We didn’t believe what we heard. But, both of us saw the ultrasound…no heartbeat, no oxygenated blood, no movement. Our baby really had passed away.
Reports later confirmed that Drew was just over 16 weeks when he passed away, which makes me wonder if I had indeed felt him that morning. I like to believe that I did…that he made sure I felt him before he was gone.
We were stuck making the decision no couple should ever have to make…take a drug to induce labor or have a D&C. I chose the drug because I wanted to have the possibility of holding my baby once I delivered him. I took the first pill at 9:00pm. I still remember sitting there with the water and pill in front of me, staring at the clock, and holding my husband’s hand. How could this be? Just 12 hours ago, I was emailing my husband about the baby being a boy and now I was taking a pill to deliver my dead child?
The cramping started almost immediately. I didn’t sleep much between the three hour intervals of pill taking and the constant crying. We met with the doctor the next morning to make sure that the pills were working. They were…I was starting the labor process. She said that since I was still early on I could go home or stay at the hospital. I chose to go home so that I could rest “comfortably” with my kitties and doggie by my side. My husband prepared a nice spot on our couch since at that point I could really only half-lay on one side. Hour after hour passed as the physical and emotional pain intensified. About 3:00pm, the pain became so strong that I knew it was time.
We checked into the hospital, and I was placed in a private room far from all of the happy mothers taking care of their live babies. My nurse shared with me that she had also experienced a miscarriage and that we were going to get through this together. I burst into tears and she hugged and comforted me. I was in labor for another 3 and ½ hours. At about 6:20, my water broke. The nurse started searching for the doctor who was nowhere to be found. I ended up delivering Drew by myself, without any medical staff present.
Drew’s official birth time was at 6:38pm on May 6th, 2010. My husband called the nurse back in, and she came immediately. She checked on both me and the baby and then cut the umbilical cord. She carefully placed the baby on a blanket and gently covered him. She told us that the baby looked perfect as she let us hold him. I had no idea what to expect, but here I was holding my baby who was a perfectly formed little boy. We shared so many tears as we talked to him. He was our son. He was everything to us. His beautiful blue eyes were wide open. Although they looked like a colored pencil drawing, the pictures captured the depth that was behind his developing sight.
One of the first comments we, his grandparents, and his aunt and uncle made was that he was definitely his father’s son… His arms and legs looked so strong. We all thought that his little legs looked like bicyclist’s legs, just like daddy’s! My dad even bought a bicycle charm for his memory box. Soon after he arrived, we knew that he was our Drew. That wasn’t our original name for our son, but it just seemed so right. He was named after both of his parents. My husband’s mom was planning to name him Drew until a week before he was born. She never could explain why she decided to change it. My parents weren’t sure if I was going to be a boy or a girl, but my name would have been Andrew had I been a boy. I like to think that Drew had always been with us, at least in name.
I had 15 vials of blood drawn the day that we found out that Drew had passed away. Since we had made it past the second trimester, my doctor suspected blood clots. When Drew’s tests came back showing his chromosomes were perfect, she was even more confident. Sure enough, I came back heterozygous (one abnormal gene) for both Prothrombin G20210A and MTHFR A1298C. I was terrified when I found this out and immediately started reading every journal article I could find. I was so confused, because I had never had any issues at all. This disorder had been dormant for 29 years and attacked when I was at my happiest yet most vulnerable. I am constantly wishing I had had SOME sign when I was younger. The more I have read, the more I have learned about the other ways in which this disorder can affect the pregnant body. The MTHFR mutation can disturb the normal absorption of Folic Acid which is of course important for neural tube development and apparently thymic development. This seems to explain why Drew’s thymus was underdelveloped.
I have struggled with blaming my body for what happened. Rationally, I know that I shouldn’t. I just so badly wish I could go back to February 14th and tell the doctors “I have thrombophilia, put me on Lovenox now before it is too late.” I wish that I could have saved my son, but all we can do now is memorialize Drew and try to make sure that his brothers and sisters aren’t hurt by my disorder.
We have found many ways to keep our son’s memory alive. Shortly after he passed away, I bought an emerald necklace so that I could have his birthstone near my heart. I have pictures of him at our bedside. I light candles in his memory. I plan to donate to the National Alliance for Thrombosis and Thrombophilia on his angelversary date. I started a blog to record our grieving process as we learn how to say goodbye. I know that Drew is in my heart and always will be. I will carry him with me for the rest of my life. I will protect him and love him there as I would if he were in my arms.
Allison blogs at http://babyrigglecombs.