Mom to Rory Benjamin Halpern
August 19, 2011
David and I had our first date a little over three years ago. I began to fall madly in love with him each passing day and I knew in my heart this was the man I would spend the rest of my life with. I was overwhelmed with love for him and I had never been happier.
We did things our own way, on our own timetable. In less than a year we bought our first home and a little more than a year after that he asked me to marry him. There was so much love between us that we didn’t want to wait to get pregnant. We were ready to start a family before our second anniversary passed. Rory likely had other plans though as it wasn’t until a week after David put a ring on my finger that we found out we were pregnant with our sweet baby.
We were overjoyed. Life was blissful and beautiful. I sometimes would cry on my way into the office over how lucky I was to have so many blessings in my life. It felt like a perfect moment in time. I guess that’s because it was.
My pregnancy was pretty uneventful. We reached each milestone and thanked god for our healthy sweet baby. At about 17 weeks we learned we were having a boy! We went out for milkshakes to celebrate and bought our first little boy outfit. We were over the moon. David told me a day didn’t go by that he didn’t thank god for our little boy’s health and for our many blessings.
Our families were giddy with excitement. This would be my parents’ first grandchild. On David’s dad’s 70th birthday he wished for a grandson as he blew out his candles. My brother was silly excited over the things he would get to do with his first nephew and the Carolina gear he would dress him in. My sister-in-law hand-sewed sweet little treats for Rory on my first Mother’s Day with him growing in my tummy. We were surrounded by love.
Rory was with us on our wedding day, July 3rd. There has not existed a more perfect day in my life. Marrying my husband with my son just months away from joining us in the world. We all rejoiced together in such joy and blessings and hope.
I remember the morning of August 18th, at 28 weeks pregnant, telling David I hadn’t really felt Rory kicking but trying to chalk it up to my nerves getting the best of me. I had an OB appointment that morning for my diabetes screening and I assured myself that she would let me know everything was ok and I could put my worrying aside again.
Instead, as Dr.B performed the usual ultrasound her face changed and I could hear sorrow and panic in her voice as she said my name followed by the words, “Oh no.”
I cried as I walked back to her office frantically trying to email my husband from my cell phone since he worked in a secure facility and didn’t have access to his cell. I sat in the chair across from her trying to listen to what she was saying but mainly just reeling from complete and utter shock.
I had to go for a second ultrasound to confirm that my baby had died. David called as I was taking the elevator down to my car. I sobbed and wailed, falling to my knees sharing with my husband that our baby was gone.
David worked a good 40 minutes away. Somehow in the midst of my driving and screaming and wailing on the way to the second doctor’s office, I was able to get in touch with my brother and two of my best friends. Lauren and my brother hit the road immediately so that they could be with me while I waited for David to arrive. To Nicole I just screamed and cried on the phone that I had lost my baby, that he had died. My brother moved to action and called my office and my parents.
The second ultrasound confirmed what my heart already knew at that point. I waited on a bench outside the parking lot for David’s red car to drive up. As soon as I saw him open his door I ran to his arms and just wept. The only words that could come from my mouth were, “I am sorry.”
David in that instant made me promise never to utter those words again, told me that our baby was with god and that we would make is through this together. Lauren drove us home to prepare for heading to the hospital, and David and I cried and wept in each other’s arms the whole drive home. Still to this day when I think of my husband losing his son I am always brought to tears in seconds. He loved this baby so much and was soaking up all the love and excitement at the thought of us bringing a child into this world.
When we got to the hospital they started the induction; they said it could be days for my body to be ready, but it was the next day, on August 19th, 2011 that I delivered our sweet baby boy. David held my hand, cried with me and told me he had never loved me more. My nurse cried and squeezed my hand, helping me to breathe through the pushing.
I wasn’t sure how to get through labor, knowing I would be saying goodbye to our baby. My dear husband painted me pictures with his words of what our life would be like one day, the holidays we would celebrate surrounded by our children, and that Rory’s presence would always be there with us.
We held Rory in our arms, and I kissed his sweet soft head and held and smelled his body next to mine. I told him over and over how much we loved him and even after we had to say goodbye our nurse went to him and told him again for us. She came to me with eyes full of tears telling me how handsome and sweet he was.
I still have many moments when I ache to hold him, just for even one moment more; it is hard to grasp that it cannot be.
I remember the first night in the hospital before Rory was born, I told David I was afraid to fall asleep because I couldn’t imagine waking up and having to know again this was all true.
Rory had been perfectly healthy until he wasn’t. Every test that was run came back over the next several weeks with no more a clue as to why we lost him. Eventually my heart was able to accept that Rory Benjamin was only meant to be on this earth for a short while and that David and I had been chosen to carry this sweet soul for the time he needed to be here.
The medical story is an even longer one… I had not delivered the placenta and had to go in to the OR later that evening due to significant hemorrhaging. Two weeks later, with a fever of 105 degrees, I was admitted again and had to be rushed in for a second emergency D&C after learning I had retained placenta due to a placenta accreta (my placenta had attached and grown through my uterine wall). I aspirated during surgery and came down with severe pneumonia in addition to almost losing my life to blood loss.
For those first few weeks I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep breathing, my heart hurt so much. I had never known such pain and darkness and misery and yet at the same time my heart was filled with such love in knowing and meeting our son. I took one moment at a time as David kept busy trying to clean or paint or reorganize the house. Every so often he would come and crawl into bed with me and let me rub his back while he fell apart and then we would stay up late watching cooking shows and house shows mingled with the salty taste of my tears and David’s kisses and soft words.
We took turns speaking to Rory on the day he was buried. David told him that his brothers and sisters would know of their older brother and his sweet soul and that a day would not pass that we did not think of him or miss him. I only needed to tell him over and over again how much we loved him.
I cried all morning the day David had to go back to work. Just resting my head against his chest and hearing his heartbeat had made me ok for the weeks we were home together. I wasn’t sure how to make it through a day without him present. It also meant that the rest of the world was going on, that life was not going to pause here in this moment of tragedy. I remember on the car ride home from the hospital, it was so eerie to see everyone walking around, going about their days; our baby dying had not stopped the world from turning. Just our world.
David and I were lucky in that we were loved so much and were held up and held together by the community of friends and family and colleagues, and even just acquaintances, who took turns taking care of us. This was a beautiful gift and one that has changed my heart in ways I am still learning.
And while the trauma to my uterus has made it unsafe for me to carry another baby for now, as we work with a beautiful woman who is to be our surrogate to help us bring our next child into the world, this child will feel the presence of their older brother and the love we have learned from him; we feel it in almost every moment.
We had only seven months with our son as he grew in my belly, but in that short time he taught us so much about love and life and blessings. I could never wish this all away because I would lose him. On his headstone it reads his name, his dates of birth and death, and the saying “Love is Never Lost,” as our love for our son is and always will be very much alive on our hearts. I miss him.
Nicole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.