Mom to Nathan Allen
July 21, 2011 @ 2:32am
16 weeks, 5 days gestation
My name is Crystal. My husband, Allen and I were married on September 16, 2000… six years and one day after our first date. I was 20 and he was 25. (We met on a blind date the beginning of my freshman year of high school.) I was finishing college and wanted to wait on starting a family. We figured we were young and had the rest of our lives. What was the rush, right? We decided during our 3rd year of marriage we were ready to begin our family. I went off the pill and we anxiously awaited the day when we would be able to buy the pregnancy test and see those 2 lines.
After almost 3 years, we had given up hope of having more children. Because of my family history and my endometriosis, we were told our chances for more children were slim and that a “natural” pregnancy was nearly impossible. We decided against returning to the RE and had finally resigned ourselves to being okay with our one blessing. At my next OB appointment, I was going to schedule another surgery to help relieve my endo symptoms and discuss a possible hysterectomy. The next month, on Easter Sunday, we were shocked to learn that I was pregnant. We had beat the odds and gotten pregnant on our own! They gave us an estimated due date of December 30, 2011. It took a couple weeks for the shock to wear off but when it did… we were so excited! We got our son a shirt with an owl on it that said, “Guess whooo’s going to be a big brother? Cameron… that’s whooo!” It was so special to let him be the one to tell everyone our exciting news. He gladly gave up his playroom for the nursery and was so excited about becoming a big brother. He loved pulling up my shirt and talking to the baby and kissing my tummy. I started spotting at 7 weeks and was put on Progesterone. I was nervous until we hit the 12 week mark. I took Cameron with me to the 12 week ultrasound and will never forget the look on his face when he saw the baby moving and heard it’s heartbeat. It was SO active, it kept flipping all over the place. At one point, it was moving and it looked like it was waving at us… which Cameron was overjoyed about. After that appointment, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. We had made it out of the danger zone… or so I thought.
On July 18th, I felt the baby moving right before my first break while at work (I work 2nd shift.) Little did I know, that would be the last time I felt my baby move. On July 19th, my son and I went to the 4 month appointment, anticipating being able to schedule “THE” ultrasound so we could find out the sex of the baby. Our appointment was at 10am and the waiting room was packed. I remember thinking, “Wow, there are a bunch of us pregnant woman here today.” Luckily, I’d brought Cameron a bag of Mr. Potato Heads which he shared with two little boys who were waiting with their mom. (As stupid as it sounds, I can’t even look at Mr. Potato Head anymore.) Finally, after almost 30 minutes of waiting… it was our turn. I did the urine test, got my blood pressure checked and stepped on the scale – all of which was right on target. I mentioned that I was still having nausea and still had a lack of appetite, even when not nauseous. She said that wasn’t uncommon and to just hang in there. We chatted for a few minutes, talking about how different this one was compared to my first pregnancy. She led us to the room and I chatted with Cameron while we waited. The doctor came in and asked how everything was going and asked if we wanted to have the 2nd round of prenatal testing. Since everything had come back fine during the 12 week ultrasound and blood testing… I declined. She placed the doppler on but couldn’t find the heartbeat. I was trying to get Cameron to calm down so we could all hear. (She kept picking up my heartbeat and he kept getting excited because he thought it was the baby.) She mentioned that the baby was probably laying in a position that made it hard to pick up the heartbeat. I remember having a weird uncomfortable feeling but let it pass, trying to reassure myself I was overreacting. She took me back to the ultrasound room and did an external and vaginal ultrasound and then had the ultrasound technician come in and do a bunch of measurements. She didn’t even have to tell me… I could see there was no heartbeat and the baby wasn’t moving. Even still, somehow I managed to ask, “You can’t find the heartbeat, can you?” They wouldn’t look at me but I heard them say no. My entire world came to a screeching halt at that exact moment. The receptionist came in and took Cameron while the doctor talked to me. She just kept telling me how sorry she was, then told me what would have to be done and to call when we had decided to schedule the induction. I remember putting Cameron in the car, starting an Elmo DVD, calling Allen in the parking lot and crying the whole way home. The details of the rest of that day are a blur. I never went to sleep that night. They admitted me to the hospital the next day.
I was terrified of seeing him… not knowing what he was going to look like, since he was so small. The nurse who delivered him tried her best to make the experience easier. He was still in the amniotic sac when I delivered, so she took him and cleaned him up and then talked to me before bringing him over. (I delivered him and the placenta at the same time.) She tried to warn me of how small he was and I tried to prepare myself… but nothing could have prepared me for the tiny angel she laid in my arms. I think he would have been another mini-Allen. (Cameron is an miniature version of Allen.) I measured him with my hand and he went from the tip of my middle finger to a little past my palm. His feet were a little longer than my thumb nail. He had Allen’s forehead and long legs, my nose and my brother’s square-shaped chin. I don’t know his exact measurements or weight because they didn’t do any of that. I wish that I had taken a picture of him. I’m so scared I’m going to forget what he looked like. They had a camera at the hospital and I had even brought mine but in the shock and emotion of the moment, I said no. I only held him about 30 minutes and now, I wish so badly I had held him longer. I just can’t get over the guilt of letting him go so quickly. What mother does that? I don’t think I fully understood that that was the last time I would ever see my son. I would gladly endure the pain and heartache again to have that night to do over. My emotions at the time had the better of me and now I have to live with those choices for the rest of my life.
We got an answer as to how he died… so I guess I’m lucky, if one can be in this situation. They determined it was a cord accident. The cord was wrapped twice around his neck. Other than that, he was perfect. It breaks my heart to think of something so simple… the one thing that kept him alive… is the one thing that took him from me. They told me that because he was so tiny, they tried but were unable to get his footprints. There was no outfit to dress him in, no baby blanket to wrap him in or anything. I wasn’t told much about the procedure and didn’t even realize I’d be there overnight. I didn’t bring anything with me… not even a change of clothing or a toothbrush for myself. I was discharged from the hospital on the same day he was born. It was a warm, sunny day… which was like a slap in the face. People were smiling and enjoying their day while my world was dark and depressing. I was wheeled off the maternity floor with nothing but an empty memory box and card signed by the nurse that delivered him. I put my hospital bracelets, and his ultrasound pictures in the box. I also included the only piece of clothing we had for him: a onesie that said “I love my big brother”. It came with the owl shirt Cameron wore to tell everyone our pregnancy news.
The guilt, “what if’s” and “why’s” are hard to get over. I keep re-living in my mind the days before… trying to think of everything I did. I didn’t sleep good with this pregnancy. I tossed and turned a lot… did I cause him to move more? Was it the bounce house I sat in with Cameron at a birthday party the Saturday before? I made sure it was just me and him in there… but was it a mistake to get in at all? Was it the massage or pedicure I had a couple weeks earlier? Was it the Sour Patch Kids candy I ate the night before he died… did they make him hyper enough to get caught in the cord? Everyone keeps telling me that there was nothing I could have done and that it wasn’t my fault… but still. My one job, as a mother, was to keep him safe while inside of me and I failed. It took me three years to be at peace with not having more children. Why would God give me this child, just to take him from me? What lesson am I supposed to learning from this? All questions that I will never get an answer to… which makes it all that much harder.