I found out I was pregnant on October 27, 2009. It’s amazing how two little lines can change your life. We told only our Family our big news as we wanted to wait and tell friends once I was further along and everything seemed to be going well. On December 10, 2009 I heard Cale’s heartbeat for the first time. Unfortunately my husband was away at training (he is in the military) and couldn’t make it to the appointment, but we were able to come back a few days later so that he could hear it too. He said it sounded like a helicopter. Because I was near the end of my first trimester we decided it was safe to share our news with friends and did so by announcing it in the Christmas cards that were sent out that same weekend. The first trimester was very easy and I was fortunate never to have morning sickness.
In January we found out we were having a boy. My husband always said he didn’t have a preference and would be happy either way, but I wanted a boy first and was so thrilled when we found out. About a month later we had another ultrasound in which we saw that everything was progressing as it should and Cale was healthy and developing into a perfect baby boy. All my appointments went well ; I never had high blood pressure, all tests done came back negative, he always had a good strong heartbeat and his growth was always right on track. As soon as I hit the halfway point my belly just started growing at a rapid pace! This was around the time Cale was moving more and his daddy and I could feel his kicks and movements much more than before. We ordered all the nursery furniture and started getting his room, and our lives, ready for the new addition.
My husband deployed when I was about 25 weeks, but fortunately his unit’s deployments are relatively short. However we knew he’d be sent home a little early from the deployment to make sure he was there in time for the birth. While he was gone I had maternity pictures taken that I sent him for Father’s Day and I also got a 3D ultrasound done. I’m so glad I did both of these things as they are now part of the memories of our sweet little boy. Cale continued to do well at all appointments and proved to be a very active growing baby. I would send my husband videos that I would take of my stomach when Cale was moving as I wanted him to get to experience as much of the pregnancy as he could. I sent him pictures once the nursery was complete and would always stand to the side during our webcam chats so he could see the growing belly.
On Thursday June 24, 2010 I had a routine check-up and everything was just fine. I was just over 38 weeks and was even starting to show signs that my body was preparing for labor which had me worried that I would progress quickly and my husband wouldn’t be back in time for the birth. But he came home that weekend. I picked him up in the early morning hours on Sunday June 27th and we finally got home a little after 3am. On the way home I was having very slight discomforts and light contractions and we joked that we’d have to go straight to the hospital before my husband even got to go home, but none of the pains were very strong or consistent. We both got to see and feel Cale move a lot that next morning and I’m so thankful that he was so active for his daddy. When we went on a walk that night I commented that I hadn’t felt Cale move as much, but I was starting to have a little more regular contractions although they still weren’t very painful.
The next morning I went in to work, but because I still hadn’t felt much movement and my contractions were starting to present themselves a little more often I decided I’d go to the hospital and get checked out. I sent my husband a text and let him know and told him it was probably nothing and not to worry. Fortunately for me he is a wonderful man and he met me at the hospital anyway. I was being hooked up to the monitors as he walked into the room and the nurse was having a hard time finding Cale’s heartbeat. It never took long to find so I was worried and knew something must be wrong. For a brief second she thought she found it and I immediately started crying, but then she couldn’t find it again. Another nurse and a midwife came in and they too couldn’t find it. They then sent for a doctor and an ultrasound machine. When the doctor came in I couldn’t even look at the ultrasound. Not only were there too many tears in my eyes, but I think I knew what he was going to say and I was too scared to see it for myself. He turned to me and said, “I’m so sorry Caroline, but the baby has passed.”
I’ll never forget those words. I’ll never forget how my husband wrapped me in his arms as I cried harder than I ever have before. I was only nine days from my due date.
We decided to induce labor right away and later that night on June 28, 2010, I gave birth to our beautiful son. He was 7 pounds even, 20 inches long and looked just like his daddy. He had dark brown wavy hair and the cutest little nose. It wasn’t until he was born that we learned that the umbilical cord, which was around his neck, had gotten too tight (or compressed) that it cut off his blood flow. My guess is this happened after my contractions began once I went into early labor. We had some time with Cale and both held him, kissed him, and told him we loved him. I wish I held him longer, but forever wouldn’t have been long enough. He was a beautiful baby. I wish I could have shared him with the world.
We will love and miss Cale for the rest of our lives, but we are thankful for the time we did have with him. We are thankful that he made us parents and thankful that we are able to better understand and appreciate love, friendship, family, and all the things that truly are important in life. We now know the pain that is associated with losing a child, stillbirth in particular, and can better reach out to others who will unfortunately go through the same journey. Cale’s life, as short as it was, has made us better people and he will never be forgotten and we look forward to the day when we get to hold our baby again.
If you are going through this just know you are not alone. While stillbirth is rare, it’s not as uncommon as people think. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others and just know that any emotion you are feeling, be it anger, sadness, fear, or even joy, are totally normal and there’s no need to rush through your grief. Also know that it will come in stages and it will sneak up on you. But you are stronger than you think.
If you know someone who is going through this my biggest advice is to not be afraid to reach out. Don’t let the fear of saying the wrong thing prevent you from saying anything. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’m sorry,” or “I’m thinking of you” as its words of encouragement and love that will help bring comfort to someone during their darkest days. Don’t pretend that nothing happened and don’t avoid talking about it. Our babies may have been stillborn, but they were still born.