Cathy

Mom to Griffin

Died June 12, 1993

Born June 13, 1993

And

Snowflake

January 1994

Greensboro , NC

I cannot believe it has been 18 years since my son, Griffin, was stillborn. I guess when it all happened, I was pretty sure that I would not be thinking about it nearly every day for the rest of my life, but I do. His 18th birthday is just ahead and it stirs up all the feelings from that weekend.

Griffn was my second child. We conceived him easily and were thrilled to be having a new baby in August. There were a few scary points in the pregnancy. One of the ultrasounds showed many choroid plexus cysts in the brain. An amniocentesis was recommended, so we did this. The results were normal. But, there were a few times when he would kick and move furiously for about a minute. It was weird but I forgot to mention it to the OB. Now I wonder if he was having seizures, something I hadn’t realized could happen to fetuses. What did I miss?

Come June, I was 31 weeks and ready to prepare for the new baby. My 2 year old daughter was starting a summer program and I would have mornings to myself. At my routine OB appointment, they noticed that my urine sample was a weird tea color. They collected a urine culture and told me to call for the results. I left the office with an ominous feeling. The next day I called the office to report that my urine was still dark.  They ordered antibiotics and told me to come in the next day for a BP check. They also instructed me to watch for contractions.

I took it easy that day. We went to the pool, and I napped. I watched for contractions but did not think about doing kick counts. I wish I had. I thought I was being very aware of my body that evening, but  I took was I know now were contractions for baby movement. When I went to bed, I was reassured by his hiccoughs, not realizing that this can be a symptom just before death. When I woke up at night to use the bathroom, my light-sleeper baby did not kick me. I told myself to not be paranoid. You see, I am a neonatal nurse practitioner and work in a NICU. We tend to go overboard, so I deliberately told myself not to panic. That was a mistake.  When I woke up in the morning, I did not feel him. I did the usual things and ate pancakes with syrup and drank juice. I laid down on my side on the sofa and waited.  That’s when my world changed.

I arrived at the hospital and was taken to the admissions area. They tried to find the heartbeat with 2 machines, then said they were going to do an ultrasound. Naïve me thought this was a good time to call my workplace, 2 floors up, and tell them that I would not be in to work that night.  In truth, I didn’t go to work for 3 months. When the ultrasound showed the open cloverleaf of his heart, I knew it had stopped beating. I had to ask the technician and when she replied, I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest.

I was induced and delivered him in the wee hours of the night. He was so beautiful, 3 lbs, 10 ounces, 16 inches long. I examined him thoroughly, like I do my patients, and found that he was absolutely perfect. My husband was not comfortable holding him but we had him to love on for hours. We did not know the sex, nor had decided on a name, but we finally chose Griffin. I refused an autopsy, content to live with the unknown. We had a memorial service 3 days later and laid him to rest.

For me, I felt recovery had 2 parts. One, of course, was the loss of my little baby boy. My arms were so empty. It was so hard to go back to the nursery where I work and see the little boys just about his size. The second part was recovering from the shock of losing the baby. Why didn’t I protect him  better? Why did I sit there and let him die? I was really hard on myself. After all, I was a professional in this field.  My husband wanted another child and I refused. Once I experienced that time was not going to change my love for him, I was ready to accept another child even with the possibility that I may have to love from afar. Also, I chose to admit I was at fault and forgive myself rather that talk myself into saying there was nothing I could have done. It was a lot easier for me. The following January I found myself pregnant again. I had odd dreams and was not surprised to find that the pregnancy was a blighted ovum. I really did not grieve very much over this baby. I don’t know why.

6 months later, just around Griffin’s first birthday, I was shocked to be pregnant again. I was watched like a hawk by my doctor. At 36 weeks, I was found to have low amniotic fluid. Labor was again induced, and we welcomed our second daughter. She was tiny, but completely healthy. When the nurse announced her time of birth, my heart stopped. It was 6:13, her brother’s birth date. A message from God and Griffin, telling me it was okay to love this baby with all my heart.

And I have. Tomorrow, I will go to his grave and have our usual chat. I’ll wonder he will be a baby or a grown man when I get to heaven. Will I be so blessed as to have a newborn baby in my arms or will it be my grown son waiting to hear my stories of home. I know I would not have my younger daughter if Griffin had not died and I had not miscarried. I just accept that this was God’s plan all along and that my answers will come later.

I love all my children, both here and in heaven. I guess I  am just lucky.

You can contact Cathy at cathryn.pepin@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. so thankful for you and your story!! I am praying and hoping that my husband and I get pregnant again. I go month to month hoping pregnant. I kind of gets chaotic but I just cant help it. I want another baby sooo bad. Blessing to you!!

  2. I wonder the same. Will my son be a baby or grow to be a man? Much of me wants to know he is growing, but part of me selfishly wouldn’t want to miss a moment of that.

  3. My son, Jacob, was born still on Oct 23, 1992 & I too am an ICU nurse (though with grown ups not infants). I recently went & quietly sat at the high school graduation that would have been his class. The wrenching pain is no longer the same but my son is still missing from my life every day for almost 20 years. Oh my, how could it already be TWENTY years. I still remember all of the details & the feelings (as I sit here wiping the tears from my cheeks!) We will always be their mothers and whether we hold our babies in our arms again in heaven OR our ‘grown’ sons hugs us in their’s…. it will be such a sweet reunion.

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