Mom to Conner
Born still February 22, 2011
My son Conner was stillborn on February 22, 2011. It was the worst day of my life, an experience that has changed me forever. I went into labor around midnight and he was delivered naturally just after 1:00 pm. I was only 21 weeks pregnant, and Conner was too young to survive outside the womb. I pleaded with my doctor, “Can’t you do something? Please, do something, anything, to stop my labor and keep him alive!” She just held my hand, crying with me, and said, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. Conner is not going to survive.” The placenta was heavily damaged and there was no more amniotic fluid.
The final ultrasound showed his heart beating strong, and his foot flexing and pointing as if he were tapping his foot to music. “But he looks fine,” I remember saying. “It can’t be possible that he is about to die…”
I went through nearly 6 hours of heavy labor without any pain medication because I wanted to feel everything and see everything. During the last moments and the last excruciating push, I felt his tiny body slip out of me. He weighed 1 ½ pounds and was 11 inches long, but he looked perfect to me. He had the same ears and same hair color as his big sister (traits they both got from their daddy). Physically, he was fully formed, but I knew that inside his little organs were just too fragile. I held him in my arms, told him how sorry I was, and that I loved him so much. I kissed his little forehead and cheek; they were so soft.
The reason I went into premature labor was because of Placenta Previa. At 14 weeks pregnant I started bleeding, and an ultrasound revealed that the placenta was covering the entire cervix. The doctor told me everything should be fine; we’ll just have to deliver him C-section in June, before I went into labor naturally. That was fine with me; I simply switched my plans to expecting a June baby instead of a July baby. My husband and I were so excited to be having a boy. I got married at age 35, and due to my age and both of us feeling more than ready to start a family, we got pregnant right after our wedding, delivering a healthy little girl named Shelby. Having just turned 37 when I got pregnant with Conner, we knew we were so blessed to round out our family with one boy and one girl. Our perfect family would finally be complete.
When the bleeding didn’t subside for about 5 weeks, then got worse, I was ordered to bed rest; preparing to spend the next four months in bed. Then that fateful night came when my body decided it couldn’t hold Conner in anymore, and he was forced out too soon.
It’s been a year now since Conner died. Sometimes it feels like it all happened just yesterday, then other times it feels like it was a dream that never really happened. The “ghost kicks”, the sensation of him still moving inside my womb, lasted several months. But I still spend many sleepless nights with my pillow drenched in tears. Throughout my daily activities I sometimes feel like an outsider; like no one around me understands the sorrow I’m feeling. People ask me how I am, and I usually reply with the common “fine” or “good”, but inside I’m screaming, “I’m not fine! My baby is dead and you couldn’t possibly understand how I feel!” People have said very hurtful things such as “he wasn’t meant to be” or “at least you still have your daughter”. As much as I adore my daughter and am grateful she was born healthy, nothing takes away the pain of losing Conner. He was very meant to be and it is tragic that he didn’t survive. I know that most people are uncomfortable talking about the death of a baby, and so in their discomfort say things that they don’t realize are hurtful. I wish instead of trying to find the right thing to say they would just say, “I know it must be so difficult to cope with Conner’s death; it’s OK to be sad.” Being sad and being able to grieve openly is what I need as part of the healing process. Thank God for my loving husband and the wonderful people in my Share group.
I see pregnant women or newborn babies and my heart aches with sadness and envy. I’m told those are normal feelings that bereaved parents often feel and that they will eventually diminish. The holidays were extremely hard, as was my birthday and Mother’s Day. Those were days when our perfect, complete, family was to be celebrating together.
Less than 30 minutes after Conner was born, the damaged placenta hemorrhaged and wouldn’t detach from my uterus, so I was rushed to surgery. My doctor, the same one who cried with me earlier in the day as she told me she couldn’t do anything to save Conner’s life, was now rushing to save my uterus and stop the bleeding. She succeeded, and to this day is still a very special woman in my life and someone I will forever be grateful for. My body is healed, and I still have hopes to get pregnant again someday soon. But for now all I am left with are the shattered dreams of my perfect little family and Conner’s ashes by my bedside with the memory of his soft face as I kissed him and said goodbye.
You can contact Judi at firstname.lastname@example.org.