Mother of Gavin Michael
August 16th, 2011 – August 18th, 2011
Kernersville, North Carolina
His name is Gavin Michael and he was beautiful. He had his mom’s hands, skin tone and hair color and his dad’s everything else. He came into this world weighing 1 pound 7.34 ounces, without a doubt, the tiniest baby we had ever seen, but also the most perfect. He had a iron will and the heart of lion. He was pure and gentle. As we joyfully welcomed our tiny miracle, we soon also welcomed the most unwanted visitor, death. We would never be able to hold our son, not until he was taking his last breaths. We would never be able to dress him, not until he was being dressed for his funeral. We couldn’t cradle him, or kiss his beautifully crafted face until he was in the quiet throws of death. Never would be able to comfort his cries, hear his laughter, feed him or even change a dirty diaper. He would never come home, not until he was brought inside a tiny, palm sized urn and placed ever so delicately into a music box, instead of his crib.
Our tiny miracle left this earth almost as soon as he got here, 60 and a half hours to be exact. 60 and a half hours of hope and love. You see, our sweet boy was not ever even supposed to survive for a minute in this world, but he defied all odds and made it 60 and a half. The most beautiful, inspiring, love filled time we have ever and will ever spend in our life, to be sure.
On April 5, we found out news that we had waited over a year for: we were finally pregnant! We were finally going to have the baby we longed for. We immediately got to work thinking of names, planning a baby shower, drawing up ideas for the nursery and planning every detail of our would be future with the new baby. The exciting glow that pregnancy brings quickly turned to a cloud of worry and doubt a few weeks later when I began to bleed heavily. I was home alone and terrified. My father-in-law whisked me away to the emergency room and my husband left work in a hurry to meet me at the hospital. After several intrusive exams by a bunch of doctors I didn’t even know, we found out that I had a sub chorionic hemorrhage (a small tear in the placenta). After 2 weeks on strict bed rest and a follow up appointment with my regular OBGYN, we got awesome news: the hemorrhage was no longer there. It had disappeared just as mysteriously as it appeared. Of course, I still restricted my activity, even though the doctor said everything was fine, we wanted to be extra careful! So, for several weeks we continued along the journey of my pregnancy, satisfying every food craving & desire to buy lots of little baby items along the way.
On June 28th, we were scheduled for a second trimester anatomy scan. We were both excited at possibly being able to find out the gender of the baby and of course seeing how big the baby has gotten since the last time. The scan went well, we found out the baby was a boy (though he spent the first 20 minutes of the scan trying to hide that fact from us)! Soon after the tech left the room, a bunch of doctors came in and explained to me that my cervix was dilating and that the baby was sagging into the top of it. We immediately rushed to the hospital and before we knew it, I was prepped for surgery to have a cerclage placed. The surgery went well, but it had been considerably more difficult than they originally planned for. A routine cerclage turned into a rescue cerclage when they realized that my cervix had dilated substantially and the baby had descended below my cervix. Essentially, I was in the process of miscarrying my son. They had to invert me during surgery to force him back up where he belongs. To make things more complicated, not only did they find I had a weak cervix, but also a short one. They stitched together what they could, but held out no promise that the surgery would work long term.
After several more days in the hospital, I went home feeling scared and terrified but still full of hope and love. I was convinced my son was going to beat the odds and that my son was going to prove everyone wrong. Each week I went to the doctor, fearful that my cervix was failing, but each week Gavin was still strong and my cervix was still mysteriously holding together.
On August 4th (6 weeks after my initial surgery), we got the news we had been dreading. Despite the stitch, my cervix had begun to dilate. Again, we rushed to the hospital hoping we weren’t too late. Mercifully, again, I wasn’t too late. Gavin was still holding strong and despite the dilation there seemed to be no tension on the stitch.
For 12 days I battled fervently against contractions and dilation. I was filled up with anti-contraction drugs, given steroids to hasten my son’s lung growth, inverted to keep pressure off my cervix, given magnesium, and a whole battery of other drugs, tests and procedures. Despite my best efforts and that of my well qualified medical staff, my son was born to a room packed full of doctors and nurses on the morning of August 16, 2011.
In spite of being born at 23 weeks, 6 days gestation, our sweet little boy managed to fill his lungs enough to cry on his own. He also opened one of his eyes long enough for his daddy to get a peak. For the next sixty and a half hours, our son battled against many medical issues, most significantly multiple pneumothoraces. Despite the medical circumstances, we felt nothing but love, hope and inspiration. He was defying all the odds against him. He fought long and hard but in the end, Gavin succumbed to the multiple pneumothoraces that plagued him since his birth. The lungs that were strong enough to let out a cry were the same lungs that took him away. As he slowly slipped away, we held him, talked, sang, kissed, hugged, sat, stood and walked around with him. We told him how much we loved him and how very much we were going to miss him.
In the days and weeks since Gavin died, we have spent a lot of time trying to make sense out of what happened and why. You see, we know medically why he died, but the spiritual reasons of why (why did this happen to us, why our son) have yet to be reconciled. I’m not convinced it ever will be. I’m not sure why I’m joining bereaved parent support groups instead of the PTA or why I’m talking to the stars instead of my son. But it did happen, my son is gone and now I have the enormous task of picking up the pieces and moving forward. Moving forward without ever being able to fulfill my hopes and dreams for Gavin and for myself. Moving forward and letting go of the hope that the past could have been different. I must always remember that even though Gavin has left this earthly world, that I am and will forever be his mommy and he will forever be my son.
I will spend the rest of my life being grateful for the time my son gave me, grateful that on the morning of his last day, he showed me both of his eyes, that he held onto my fingers, and wiggled with joy when his feet were tickled. My son, my miracle, my Gavin Michael will forever be a part of me, my husband and our family. “You are the sun that gives me light and the moon that guides me at night.” We will forever feel your warmth and be guided by your love. We love you yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, sweet Gavin Michael!
Ashley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org