Ali

Mom to Zachary Conner

Born still on November 10, 2011 at 5:53am at 20 weeks

Due March 22, 2012

Sammamish, Washington

I prepared for nearly a year, getting my body in what I thought would be perfect condition for carrying a baby.

We were more than ready to add to our family and were extremely excited when we got pregnant the first month of trying.

My pregnancy went very smoothly and at our 12 week ultrasound we saw a happy bouncing and perfect baby. Fast forward a few weeks. I started feeling the baby move slightly around 15-16 weeks. Then at week 18 it stopped. I was traveling and was very busy at work so I figured with the time zone changes and not really paying much attention like I had been that I was probably just missing it. The baby was clearly growing because at 18-19 weeks I popped! Even so, I couldn’t wait for my 20 week ultrasound to get that reassurance.

Finally, anxious and extremely excited we went in for our appointment on a Monday morning. We sat there with goofy smiles plastered on our faces looking at our baby – it had grown so much since our 12 week appointment.  The sonographer was taking a lot of measurements and this being our first full anatomy scan; we thought it was just a very thorough process. My husband noticed that when she got to the head measurements that the little date at the bottom said our baby was measuring having a head at 27 weeks. We joked around that if he kept growing that fast I’d have a hard delivery! We asked if it was normal for our baby to grow quickly and slow down near the end and she assured us that all babies grow differently.  Finally I was sick of all the measurements and couldn’t stand it any longer.  I asked if she knew what the sex was yet. “I think I do, but I want to have the doctor come in to talk to you about a few other things.”

My heart dropped. Literally, it clenched and probably stopped. The minute the door shut I burst into uncontrollable tears. WHAT THE HELL DID THAT MEAN?!?! THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! I didn’t even know what “this” meant, but I knew it wasn’t good.

The doctor came in and told us about so many things we didn’t understand. Our baby, our precious baby, had Fetal Hydrops and was given a very slim chance at survival. Finally after the doctor explained and showed us all the things wrong with our baby, I asked if it was a boy or a girl. I still wanted to know! Our baby was a boy, as I thought all along.

We were suggested to have an amniocentesis performed to see if there was infection – if so, it could potentially be treated. We went home and thought about that and later in the afternoon went back to have the amnio performed.

Calling our family and friends was horrible. It took us a few very long hours to have it sink in. We ignored calls, texts, emails and anxious facebook posts wanting to know if it was a boy or a girl. No one thought we would have this kind of news. We weren’t supposed to have this kind of news! We had plans to go celebrate our babies at dinner with two other couple friends who were expecting within a month of us.

Tuesday was miserable. We stayed home and cried. I didn’t want to lose hope but what we read online was not uplifting. We did so much research and had compiled so many questions for our doctor. Our family was helping us think of things to ask. The day blurred by and at night, right before bed, I felt a hardening and tightening in my stomach. I didn’t know it then, but it was a contraction. I did know that it probably wasn’t good and against Tyler’s suggestion of going to the hospital, we stayed home. We knew that there would be nothing to do until our scheduled appointment tomorrow with our own doctors.

Wednesday came and both our nerves were on end while we were on our way to our appointment. I kept thinking about the feeling from last night. I didn’t expect much. I think by that point I was already numb and expecting the worse. My heart was racing. Our doctor tried to find the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler with no luck. “Don’t worry yet; your heartbeat is so strong that it is probably just overshadowing the little one’s.” She got the ultrasound machine. Again, no luck. She knew just as well as we did that we lost our firstborn but she would not give up. “Let’s just take you over to the MFM specialists down the hall where they have the superior machines.”

Those machines just confirmed the worse. Our son had passed away.  His once steady 140 bpm heart flickering was completely still.  His hands were still up by his face sucking his thumb, so innocent and unknowing. How could such a safe little fetus get so deathly ill?

We talked to so many doctors within the few short hours and were moved around from room to room.  Everyone was extremely kind and compassionate though and made sure we were aware of everything that was going on behind the scenes. We were able to find out the first results of the amniocentesis – no infections or chromosomal abnormalities were found, later we would find out that the autopsy results were inconclusive as well.

I was taken to another room to have some Laminaria sticks inserted to assist with dilation so that we could go home and start the labor process then return to the hospital in the morning for induction. However, my cervix kept rejecting the sticks and finally my water ended up breaking.  By this time it was about noon. Since my water had broken, they could not send me home and we had to go directly to the hospital to start the induction process. We were completely unprepared for this. I hadn’t even gotten to the labor part in my books and didn’t know how I was going to cope with delivery. Not to mention the delivery of my dead baby.

Since our house was on the way, we stopped to grab a few random things that the internet said we might want and took care of Lu and Glory (our cat and dog). We ended up making it to the hospital around 2ish and we were very quickly whisked away to our room. Since everyone was probably holding out to deliver on 11/11/11, we were the only patients in Labor & Delivery for a major portion of the day and even when other patients arrived, our nurses were very attentive and kind and we were clearly a priority.

At about 2:30pm the induction process was started with medicine, Cytotec. I had what they called an “irritable uterus” which meant I was having lots of tiny contractions all at once, which were making me slightly crampy but not much help in the long run. Before this, I had no idea that was what a contraction felt like and it makes me wonder how many times the crampiness I felt were actually contractions (even though they are generally completely normal throughout all stages of pregnancy). At least I was able to learn how my body feels during labor, whether it will be similar or completely different in the future, I have no idea.

While we were waiting for everything to start progressing, my husband and I had a very important decision to make.  We had not even started considering names since we were waiting to find out the gender.  So we had an unknown, but bound to be too short, amount of time to find the most perfect and meaningful name for our son.  After coming up with a short list of names we liked, we decided that we wanted his name to have very special meaning.  When we found that Zachary meant “The Lord Remembers” it was a done deal. We were so glad we could come up with a name that was so well thought out so that we didn’t feel like we just rushed such an important detail of our son’s life and memory. We had pretty much made up our minds, but of course, wanted to wait until his moment of birth to make the final decision.

Anyway, I started getting a bit of a fever, either from the potential infection the baby had in my uterus now that my water was broken, or as a side effect of the Cytotec inducing me, so I was started on an antibiotic drip and given Tylenol to decrease my temperature. Luckily that worked and my fever reduced at the next check-up.

By 5:30pm I was only 1 cm dilated, and even jumping ahead to 2am, I still was only 1 cm. With 12 hours down, I started to worry about the possibility of a c-section.  I was told that generally there is a 24 hour guideline to ensure safety of mother and baby – or just me in this case. Thinking of future pregnancies, I really did not want a c-section. (My doctor told me later that she would have let me labor for days if necessary to avoid putting me through a c-section if that was what we wanted.)

Finally at 3am when I was given another dose of Cytotec my contractions started to become more regular and painful – even though they were not showing up that way on the monitor, which the nurse was extremely confused about but said to just let her know what I was feeling since that was the most accurate. Wanting to try and get some sleep after an excruciatingly long day, I was able to get a dose of Morphine. Instead of it helping, it made me sick and I could not sleep.

After about an hour and a half of more regular contractions I was given the go ahead to try and push if I felt like it. Push number one was all it took and with a bit of strength, out came our beautiful baby boy.  Tyler was able to cut his cord and he was placed on my chest.

Our little Zachary Conner was born at 5:53am on 11/10/11, was 10.75″ long and weighed 1 pound 7.5 ounces. He was beautiful.

After giving us a moment to welcome him into the world, I had to deliver the placenta which took more time.  My doctor was amazed because the placenta was actually the size for a full term pregnancy (clearly not a good thing).

Finally by 6:30am we were done with the delivery. Shortly after, we were able to get our Zachary baptized and then were able to spend lots of quality time with him.   We cuddled, kissed and hugged him so much and finally all got a little sleep with him in our arms. After eating some breakfast, a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came to take professional photos of Zachary. The photographer, Vicki, was amazing.  She took so many pictures that captured our little angel so perfectly.

My sister-in-law and mother-in-law came to the hospital to visit and meet Zachary. It meant a lot to us that they held and loved him. Later in the afternoon after much more snuggling with our son, some friends came to visit as well. They did not look at or hold Zachary though.

After 11 glorious hours with our son, we finally were ready to go home. We packed up our stuff and the things we had received for Zachary -including a bunny from the photographer and the most precious memory box from the hospital with his teeny tiny hand and footprints on the cover that included a beautiful blue knit blanket that he used all day (and I now sleep with every night), some gowns, a teddy bear and cap.

Once we had everything ready to go, we called the nurse and I was overcome with emotion as the most difficult part of the day came. It broke my heart to have to leave Zachary behind.  It was then that I realized I had been in pretty bad denial thinking I’d be bringing home our baby. Nonetheless, Tyler and I bundled Zachary up and put him in the crib (for the first time since he was in our arms the whole day), and wheeled him to the nurses’ station where he would be watched and cared for before his transport to Children’s Hospital for an autopsy by the best child/fetus pathologist around.

Upon leaving the hospital the parking garage attendant gave us a bit of a hassle.  We had managed to lose our validated parking ticket and he wanted proof that we were actually patients.  I asked him to call up for confirmation but instead he simply asked “Do you have your newborn in the car?” I lost it. There were profanities screamed while the attendant said not to let it happen again “next time” more profanities and screaming about never hoping for a “next time”.  My husband tried to drive away as fast as possible.

On our way home, to top the day off, we were severely rear-ended. We were fine (as well as the woman who hit us) but our car took quite a beating.  Thank goodness, we were able to drive home in our banged up car, but the frame was clearly very messed up and the insurance company considered it totaled.  The passenger side doors were hard to open and once opened, they did not close and the trunk (which was oh so convenient) would not open at all, so unpacking was a true chore. So, we had the additional task of dealing with the car and insurance stuff, but was a secondary priority after having to make all of Zachary’s arrangements.

That first night was so hard, but we had Zachary with us through memory and his blankets and bear that we could snuggle with. I fell asleep with his perfect face and button nose in my mind. I woke up only once and was worried I was squishing Zachary – a very strange thought as it was just his blanket in bed with us. I needed those things and memories. I remember being at the hospital right after delivering and repeating his name in my head afraid I would somehow forget. I now realize how ridiculous of a thought that is. I will never forget.

The days blurred by, besides the mental pain, I had physical pain to add to the agony – my milk came in and I was in excruciating pain.  My in-laws were in town and we had to set up the final arrangements for Zachary’s remains. My parents ended up flying in town as well and we had a memorial party.

As I write this now, it is nearly four months later and I still remember like it was yesterday. I hope I always will. I miss Zachary more than ever but have hope for the future. We hope to have another baby very soon.

Rest in peace baby boy. Your mommy and daddy love and miss you very, very much.

If you’d like to read more of my story visit Life Under the Stars. Zachary has influenced my life so greatly and I write about my new life after loss.

Ali blogs at http://www.lifeunderthestars.com.

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Comments

  1. Roxie says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. We just lost our son to Hydrops coming up on a month ago. He was born at 30 weeks and passed away 3 days later.

  2. Ali says:

    Roxie, I am so sorry for your loss and hope for healing. Hydrops sucks :( Ironically, as this story was posted yesterday, I lost my second child to an early miscarriage :(

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