Mom to Everett
Born sleeping February 10, 2012
Wakefield, Rhode Island
Before his delivery date, my son had everything he could possibly need. We made sure he was registered for the car seat with the highest safety ratings. We chose organic cotton onesies that were softest to the touch. We even had the warming machine for the wet wipes. Sisters were knitting hats, friends were making quilts, and grandmothers were already decorating the nursery in their mind’s eye. Finally, he had a name. Believe it or not, it came to me in a dream. Maybe he told me himself – his name was to be Everett.
The morning after my dream, I told my husband about Everett’s name. He loved it. We were so excited! We were ready to meet him. Little did we know we would meet him so soon. That day, the day after my dream, I went into preterm labor.
I was rushed to Women & Infants hospital. I was given medication to stop the labor and to increase Everett’s brain and lung function in case he was born early. The nurses were caring and attentive, and the doctors were some of the most respected in the country. Everett was getting the finest care possible.
Once my labor stopped, the doctors told me to just hold on for 48 hours. This would give the treatment time to take effect. After six and a half months of wishing time would hurry up, I was begging time to slow down. “Please stay in there!” I kept telling Everett, “we’re not ready to meet you just yet.”
Tuesday at 5 o’clock came, and he was fine! We had increased his chances of survival. He was so strong! Wednesday came and went and all was still ok. We had our family and friends sending word that they were thinking of us and praying for us. We were strong and we would make it. Thursday morning was great and our spirits were high. I was even enjoying the hospital food – the chocolate cookies were delicious.
Thursday afternoon was when we heard the devastating news. They could not find a heartbeat. Our son was gone. He would no longer need a car seat or a crib or a knit hat. He no longer needed the best medicine or the smartest doctors. He didn’t even need me to eat cookies for him anymore. When we met him later that night, he was beautiful. He had my husband’s nose and my big feet, and he was perfect.
In the weeks that followed, my grief was unimaginable. I found that I wanted to tell everyone about my son, but I held back, understanding that such a sad story is not always welcomed. I learned, however, that there are many people who have similar stories to mine. Whether the grieving parents called their babies they lost simply “baby,” or had a name picked out at conception, I believe that acknowledging them by name is appreciated. Although it is not a tangible object, Everett’s name is the most important part of his memory. It encompasses all that he was and all that he could have been. Everett is our son.
After writing the essay above, my husband and I learned what happened to Everett. His heart never formed correctly from the beginning.
He had multiple “major” congenital heart defects. The doctor’s theory was this: because the valves did not operate properly, the blood was getting backed up into the placenta. Due to this, the placenta got heavier and thicker than it was supposed to be, which led to it tearing away from the uterus, which caused the blood clot and then the preterm labor. Then, since he was not getting any blood at all after that, his heart gave out and he passed .
Here are the details :
1) HLHS – this is the major defect he had. It affects 3-4 in 10,000 “live births.” This basically means the left side of his heart did not develop at all.
2) Bicuspid Aortic Valve – His aortic valve only had 2 “leaflets” instead of 3
3) Aortic Stenosis – his valves did not open and shut all the way.
The good news – he didn’t have any other abnormalities at all – he was perfectly healthy, and my placenta was also perfectly healthy. Sometimes physical abnormalities can occur with HLHS, but he didn’t exhibit any of them.
Also – what causes these heart defects is unknown. It is probably a genetic mutation, but there is no test for it yet. We should be able to try again.
My husband and I have faith that we will have a healthy baby. We miss Everett every second of every day, but we are also so grateful for the strength he gave us, and we are so blessed to have had him in our lives!
Heather can be reached at Heatherbiben@hotmail.com.