Mom to Cash James Brown
November 7, 2010
Cash’s story begins July 2010. My husband and I had been talking about adding to the family for about a year prior to then. We already had a six year old daughter (my step-daughter whom I consider my own) and figured it was about time to add to the family. Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge planner, and the thought of having another child and changing what had been routine for so long terrified me. We decided instead of actually trying to have a baby we would just “not try not to.” Somehow that seemed to calm my fears a little bit and made things less stressful. My husband and I both figured it would take a few months to get pregnant since I had been on birth control for so long. I guessed it would be Christmas before I actually got pregnant, so that would give me plenty of time to start saving money for our baby’s arrival. I knew in the back of my mind it would be possible to get pregnant right away after being on the pill, but I had convinced myself that wouldn’t be me.
We had only been “not trying not to have a baby,” for about a month when I started what I thought was my menstrual cycle. It came right on time, but it seemed different than usual. After a few days the bleeding stopped so I chalked the unusualness of my cycle up to having just gone off birth control and things just being a bit out of whack. A few days later the bleeding started again, so I thought it best to check in with the doctor just to make sure there was nothing to worry about. The doctor told me it could be totally normal, but it could also be signs of pregnancy and I should come in for a pregnancy test just in case. I had already planned to leave work early that day, so I drove straight to the doctor’s office to get the test out of the way. I was so sure I wasn’t going to be pregnant that I called my husband on the way and told him how ridiculous the doctors were being. There was no way I could be pregnant already, especially since I had just had my cycle.
It took me about five minutes total to walk in to the doctor’s office, pee in the cup, and leave. I was home soon after that and thought I’d check to see if the results were back even though I figured they wouldn’t be. I was surprised to open my e-mail and have a new message in the inbox saying I new test result from the doctor’s office. I took a deep breath, opened the results and almost fell out of my chair when I read the results. It was positive! There was no way that was possible! I double checked I was reading the results accurately as well as triple and even quadruple checked. Shortly after, my husband walked in the door. I showed him the results, and he was equally as shocked. Neither of us could believe I was pregnant so fast! I laugh now because I sat there for a minute then looked at my husband, and asked “what do I do now?” He was the one who had to tell me to call the doctor and make an appointment. Duh Mary…..
With my first appointment set we decided we would keep the information to ourselves until after our first appointment, so we went about the next few days like normal. The bleeding continued, and I didn’t want to wait the whole two weeks before my first appointment to make sure things were ok, so I made a phone call. The doctor said I come that day to make sure everything was ok, and I jumped at the chance. I suspected they wouldn’t be able to tell me much of anything because I wasn’t that far along. Turns out an ultrasounds confirmed I was already eight weeks pregnant! However, things weren’t exactly as they should be. The egg sac was there, I could see my baby! But there was also a large dark spot around my uterus that wasn’t supposed to be there. The doctor diagnosed me with having a sub chorionic bleed, explained what that meant, and ended the appointment saying there was a 50/50 chance the pregnancy would continue. We learned if the pregnancy continued I would deliver around April 14, 2011. My husband and I left the appointment and went home only allowing ourselves to be cautiously excited about the pregnancy, because really 50/50 chances aren’t that great.
The bleeding continued, but we carried on as best we could. At our next appointment I was ten weeks. Everything looked to be progressing ok, but we still weren’t out of the 50/50 range yet. Up until this point, we had family and friends about being pregnant, but we hadn’t told our daughter. We weren’t sure with the odds we were given that it would be the best idea. We talked about it for quite awhile and eventually came to the conclusion we would tell her and just let her know we had to keep praying the baby would grow strong and healthy. She was absolutely ecstatic at the thought of being a big sister and immediately started talking about what we should name the baby. We laughed a lot as we joked around about the silly names she kept coming up with. She decided if the baby was a boy he was going to be named Charcoal. I have no idea where she even came up with that!
I could never tell from day to day how bad the bleeding would be, so I made sure to always have a change of clothes with me everywhere I went and plenty of pads with me just in case. There were nights I would wake up in the middle of the night having to run to the bathroom as fast as I could to change my pad. Sometimes I didn’t make it, and my husband and I found ourselves scrubbing our carpet at one in the morning. I love my husband so much for not saying a word as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and scrubbed the carpet while I was crying in the bathroom having cleaning myself off. One night at thirteen weeks, I woke up and ran to the bathroom. I made it in time this time, but the bleeding wasn’t like normal. Needless to say I was up every thirty minutes for the next four hours running to the bathroom. Right has my husband woke up to go to work I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Multiple ultrasounds showed everything seemed to be fine. Our baby had a good heart beat, was moving A LOT, and was growing at a normal rate. At one point our baby held up his arm up like he was reaching up for something, and I immediately got the sense he was somehow communicating with me. I could never have known that would be the last time I would ever see my baby alive.
While we were at the hospital one of the OBs treating me said he was getting ready to deliver a baby whose mother had the same diagnosis as mine and the baby was totally healthy. It made me think “If she can do this so can we.” We’re going to make it just like that woman did.” I was discharged and told because I had lost so much blood I needed to go home and rest for a few days. In those few days, my husband and I let what the OB said to us about the other woman sink in and began to allow ourselves to start getting a bit more excited. I finally convinced myself it would be ok to read pregnancy books, but I purposely skipped over the sections referring to any kind of complications. I wouldn’t allow myself to believe things could get any worse, so there was no reason to read through any of those sections.
Since the first appointment we were being seen at the doctor’s office almost weekly. We were happy that our two appointments following the hospital visit were positive. Cash had a strong heart beat each time! By this time I was pretty tired of giving blood samples, but we were almost at 16 weeks and it was time for the four panel blood screen. I begrudgingly went to get my blood drawn and was told me someone would call with the results in the next week or so. I will never forget later that evening my husband and I were talking as we ran errands and we mutually decided the last two visits were so good that we were ready to let go of the worry and be fully excited about our baby coming. Six days later I got the results…
The genetics counselor apologized for calling me so early in the morning, but I was already awake and it didn’t bother me any. What she was telling me seemed pretty normal. I screened low for Down syndrome and Trisomy 18. She went on to say the test isn’t a diagnostic test so screening low or high doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Then she gave me the news I had screened at one in four for neural tube defects and spina bifida. The counselor knew I already had a high risk ultrasound scheduled for later in the month, but she said they had an opening that day and wanted me to come in so we didn’t have to worry all the way until the end of the month. My husband and I were both scared, but we decided right away we could deal with developmental issues and we do whatever we needed to take care of our baby. The genetics counselor explained to us the test can come back the way it did for a number of reasons to include an issue with the placenta. We both figured that had to be the cause for the abnormal test result, so neither of us was expecting what happened next.
I could tell immediately after the ultrasound started there was something wrong. Our baby didn’t look like it had just a month before when it was practically doing the backstroke in my belly. The doctors were very quiet at first, but they explained everything as soon as they could confirm it. At some point in the last week my water had broke. There was no more amniotic fluid left. We were told there was only one ventricle of the heart forming and the lungs would never be able to develop without amniotic fluid. I didn’t understand how our baby could have gone from having such a strong heartbeat just six days earlier to this. I didn’t understand how I could feel him kicking just a few days prior and now not knowing if I would ever feel him kick again. I’m sure it’s never easy to deliver bad news, but doctors were very empathetic and tactful in the way they spoke with us. We were told there was no way our baby would survive on his own in the outside world and we were sent home with our options on where to go from there.
We went home in shock and tortured with the decision of what to do. I had no idea. I prayed to God for help over and over while going back and forth with in my mind with what to do. I frantically called around to therapists trying to find who could get us in fastest. Looking back, I think I was just looking for someone who could give us the answer we were so desperately looking for. Neither of us wanted to make the wrong decision. We hated having to but we explained to our daughter that the baby was no longer growing strong and healthy and had to go live in Heaven. We explained to her the baby was just so special that Heaven needed him sooner than we wanted. She was sad, but she understood and knew Heaven would be a safe place. The few days that followed were amazing. There was unusually beautiful weather and we were able to spend time together as a family talking about how sad we were but happy to know our baby would be living in Heaven.
On Sunday November 7, 2010 around midnight I went into what I later found out was labor. I had never given birth before so I had no idea what I was feeling was contractions. I woke up around 1:30 a.m. feeling like I had to go to the bathroom. I got up, went to the bathroom, laid back down, but the feeling didn’t stop. I got up a few hours later and went to the bathroom again and figured that would be the end of it. I fell back asleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake my husband up in case I had to get up again. I slept the rest of the night, but I continued to have what I now know where contractions. I woke up the next morning and got ready to go to church. We were going for the first time in a few weeks and the sermon was going to be on why bad things happen to good people. It was pretty fitting considering the recent events, and I was really looking forward to it. As we were getting ready I found myself doubled over in pain for a few seconds. I thought it was just a really bad cramp as it wasn’t unusual for me to have cramps bad cramps here and there. My husband was concerned, but I argued my case well enough and we set out on our way to church. I remember leaving the house right after my husband did, grabbing my belling and saying “Come on baby, let’s just get through church.” Needless to say, we didn’t make it. We didn’t get but a mile down the road when another bad cramp set it. I knew my efforts at continued arguing to go to church were useless, so we turned around and changed course to the hospital.
My parents met us at the hospital where we proceeded to wait in the waiting room for longer than I would have like. They took us back to a room where we again waited. Like usual, it took forever for them to get an IV in me. I explained our over and over and then over again to the constant barrage of people coming in and out of our room. Finally after a few hours someone came and got me for an ultrasound. It confirmed what I had suspected. Our baby’s heart had stopped beating. I was full of indescribable grief but also relieved knowing our baby no longer had to suffer. Back in our room the doctors were unsure what to do with me and decided they would just send me home with some pain medication until I could call my OB the next day. At that point (still not knowing I was in labor) the contractions had become more intense and closer together. When the nurse came in and said they were sending us home, my husband almost lost it. He stood up and as nicely as possible told them we wouldn’t be going anywhere.
The emergency room doctor finally called the on call OB to come meet with me. Turns out she had wanted to come down earlier, but the emergency room doctor told her it wasn’t necessary. The OB was very kind and agreed to deliver our baby. I was admitted to labor and delivery around 5:00pm after having been in the emergency room all day. I had been given morphine in the emergency room, but it did nothing to take the pain away. Up on the labor and delivery floor I was given stronger pain medication and right as the anesthesiologist came in to put in an epidural, fifty eight minutes after being admitted, at 5:58 p.m. I delivered our beautiful baby boy Cash James. I was immediately rushed to the OR afterward for a D&C because I was losing too much blood and my placenta was not delivering. Thankfully, I don’t remember much about being whisked away other than having a second to say “I love you to my husband,” and asking my nurse if I was going to be ok. Later on I found out my placenta was three times the size it should have been and in hundreds of little pieces.
Through the night and the next day the labor and delivery staff was amazing and helped my husband and me through as much as they could. We were able to see Cash, hold him, and have him baptized. They put together the most amazing package of keepsakes, and I will forever be thankful for the amazing staff who grieved with us as we said hello and goodbye to our son all at once.
Eight months later I still have a hard time everyday not knowing why Cash had to be taken from us so soon, but I know he is in Heaven as perfect as can be. It’s hard for me to know I will have to wait the rest of my life to see our beautiful boy again, but in everything there is healing and we will make it through. As the world moves on and I sit here some days feeling like I’m stuck in grief and pain I try to remember God doesn’t let anything happen to us that we can’t handle, and everything happens for a reason. I find comfort in those thoughts and can’t wait until the day we can be with our baby boy again.
You can contact Mary at email@example.com