Shannon

Mom to Alfonso (Alfy) Anthony

Born into Heaven April 6, 2012

Omaha, Nebraska

From Shannon’s blog post, Alfonso (Alfy):

It took me almost a full month to type Alfy’s story. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012, I had an appointment with my OB.  I was 28 weeks pregnant.  I remember going to work that day and being so excited for my afternoon appointment, for two reasons.  1) I couldn’t wait to hear Alfy’s (note that at this time we still referred to him as “the baby” because we did not know the sex) heartbeat again and to see how we were progressing.  2) We were doing staff interviews for our summer employees and the appointment meant we had to end interviews early that day.  I love my job and even doing the interviews, but interviewing approximately 70 college students in the matter of 5 days can be a bit overwhelming and tiresome at times, especially when you are 28 weeks pregnant.  I even missed an interview that afternoon due to a post office/lunch run with one of my hallway friends.  Either way, I was excited for my appointment, to learn a little bit more about my kiddo.

I left work at approximately 3:15pm which was cutting it close for my 4:15pm appointment. (I commute approximately 45 miles each way and my OB’s office is located 15 minutes past my house.)  My husband and I drove separately that day to ensure that he would be on time to the appointment as well.  I got to the office right at 4:15.  We went in and waited for a couple of minutes as always.  When called back, we went through the usual routine, put my purse in Room 8, step on the scale to see how the weight was coming (I hadn’t put on any weight since my last appointment), pee in the cup, take blood pressure and answer some questions from the nurse.

The nurse asked me if I had been feeling movement from the baby.  I told her I thought so but it was different than it was in the beginning.  I had actually called the OB’s office almost two weeks earlier (Monday, March 26) to inquire about the movement as it seemed to have changed.  The nurse I spoke with told me that the feeling of movements generally change between 26 and 28 weeks due to the size of the baby, which is right where I was.  I assumed the nurse had asked me about movement because there was a note in my chart reflecting this phone call. 

My OB came in a few minutes later.  I laid back on the table and she measured my stomach.  She took out the fetal heart rate monitor and started to look for the Alfy’s heartbeat, but she was having a hard time finding it.  At this point I can say that I was not concerned.  Alfy always had a way of moving during appointments that made him hard to see and/or hear.  She suggested we do a quick ultrasound to check on him.  We went to the ultrasound room just a few doors down.  Even at this point, I still was not concerned.  It had never crossed my mind that Alfy, my baby, my kiddo, might be gone.

The tech (a different one than we normally had) came in with my OB and they started the ultrasound.  The monitor was turned away from me, but I could still glimpse a part of the screen.  I only saw the blue color on the monitor, not the usual the red and blue that showed the pumping of blood.  I looked at my OB and the tech.  The tech was biting her lip and my OB told us that our baby no longer had a heartbeat.  She said that he had been gone for a little while as he had some fluid built up in his abdomen, but she didn’t know how long, just longer than 24 hours.  I can not begin to describe the feelings that passed through me at that moment.  I looked at my husband and started crying.  I started to recount the prior two weeks and asked her if I could have some how prevented it.  She told me no and that I had done nothing wrong.  They left us alone for a little while.  When they came back, my OB told me that due to Alfy’s size I had to deliver him.  She wanted to induce me that night and asked if we were comfortable going to a different hospital from the one we had planned on delivering at.  She was required to be at that different hospital the following night because of the Easter holiday. 

I’m not really sure how long that appointment took.  I do know that it was past 5pm when we left because the waiting room was empty as were the hallways.  Looking back I am thankful that I always made my appointments at the end of the day because I could not imagine running into another expecting mother during those moments.  I drove home after the appointment and Tony went to exchange his work truck for his personal one, the one appointment we drove to separately.  

When I got home I sat in my bathroom and cried.  I started packing my bag for the hospital.  We hadn’t taken any birthing classes yet (we were registered for one the next weekend) so I had no idea what to pack.  I decided that it didn’t really matter all that much.  I packed some comfy clothes and the essentials.  Tony got home about 30 minutes after me, I think.  (I don’t really remember at this point.)  We made the phone calls to our parents.  We talked about names.  We already knew the name if the baby was a boy and we picked out a girl name if the baby was a girl.  The boy name was harder to discuss…the first born son in Tony’s family is always named after his paternal grandfather, Alfonso Anthony.  It was a little after 7pm when we left the house.

Tony and I arrived at the hospital and were checked in by 7:45pm.  We got our very own nurse.  Her only responsibility was taking care of us for the night.  At 9pm I was given a medicine to induce labor and had to lay in bed for 2 hours to allow it to take effect.  I started cramping fairly soon after I received the medicine.  I knew I was going to get an epidural, but I wanted to try and wait until my parents arrived (they had a 6 hour drive).  I was hoping it would be close to midnight or 1am.  I got the epidural at approximately 1:30am, my parents arrived at almost the same time.  At 2:30am our parents came in and stayed until about 4:30am. 

I don’t really remember what was said during our parents’ first visit or what I did during the down time that followed.  I know there was lots of crying.  In the hospital it was easier to be strong for our family.  My water broke at about 10:30am. My parents were just getting to the hospital.  I asked to see them for a few moments.  Correction, I spoke with my mom and my water broke while my parents were in the room.  I remember my dad saying it was a good thing they didn’t take another 5 minutes, and it was.  I had a new nurse at this point.  She was so sweet, as was the OB resident.  They called my regular OB, but she didn’t make it to the hospital for the birth.

I was so scared of the delivery itself, but physically there was no pain, no pain at all.  It took about 5 or 6 strong pushes and I delivered my baby.  I looked at Tony and asked him if we had a boy.  He started crying and I could tell by the look in his eye that we were the sad but proud parents of a little baby boy.  Tony started shaking his head yes to confirm what I saw in his eyes.  He cut the cord and I asked the doctor to lay Alfy on my chest.  Earlier they had asked me if I wanted to hold him right away or if I wanted him to be wrapped up and have on his cap, I didn’t have an answer for them at that moment.  Once he was born, it was instinctual, I wanted to hold my son.  It was 11:05am on Good Friday.

That was 12 weeks ago, tomorrow, June 29.  Tomorrow was his due date.  Some of the details are becoming a little fuzzy for me, so bear with me.
Tony and I spent some time with our son right after he was born, I don’t remember how long.  After Dr. Pearsall arrived they took Alfy for a little while to do his measurements, take footprints and handprints, inspect his little body, take some pictures and wrap him up.  They brought him back and we spent at least a couple of hours with him.  But eventually the focus was back on me.
My placenta did not want to deliver.  We had been waiting patiently to see if it would come out on its own.  It wouldn’t.  My doctor gave me a medicine to help loosen it from my uterine wall.  It didn’t work.  She gave me another medicine, it didn’t work.  She gave me a third medicine, one with absolutely horrendous side effects.  She tried massaging and pushing on my stomach to loosen it and get it to come out.  It didn’t work.  She said there was the option of heading to an OR or waiting a little bit longer.  It had been several, miserable hours.  I opted for the OR.
I don’t know what time I went down there.  Tony might remember.  I hate that I had to leave him alone.  I was given medicine through my IV to “take the edge off.”  My doctor tried to force out my placenta.  Again, I don’t know how long she tried.  It didn’t work.  They put me under and surgically removed my placenta.  I don’t know how long this took.
I woke up in the recovery room receiving a blood transfusion.  Once I was awake and alert they wheeled me back to my room on the L&D floor.  I was so happy to see Tony again.  I believe it was close to 5pm now.  At this point we had not talked to our parents since we told them my water had broke.  We gave it a little bit of time.  We had the nurse bring Alfy back to us.  Tony went and got our parents.  We all held him and the nurse took pictures for us.  I was shaking so bad I was afraid to hold him, afraid I would hurt his little body.  Tony helped me.  We held him together.  The hospital chaplain came and did a blessing for us.
Eventually we had to give him back to the nurses and send him down to the morgue.  Room temperature air was hard on his little body and we wanted to baptize him the next day, after our siblings arrived.  The nurse told us that he wouldn’t be alone in the morgue, there were other babies and people down there to be his friends.  What a sad but somewhat comforting thought. 
For what seems like the millionth time I’ve said it, I don’t remember the rest of the evening all that well.  I took an Ambien around 11 and remember seeing the clock at 11:20pm.  The next thing I remember is waking up crying.  I had heard the word “Mommy” right before waking up.  Tony climbed in bed with me.  A little while later I was supposed to try to get out of bed (they had taken the epidural out after surgery some time).  I got my legs off the side of the bed and almost passed out.  I received another blood transfusion that morning.  It started at 8am and finished at noon shortly after our parents came in to sit with us.  It was now Saturday, April 7.
The baptism was scheduled for 2pm, which was a good thing as my brother, my sister, my soon-to-be brother-in-law and almost-3-month-old my nephew arrived around 1:30pm.  Tony’s sister had gotten there earlier that day.  They are all Alfy’s Godparents.  The hospital chaplain was late.  Alfy arrived in our room right around 2pm.  Our nurse that day had never had to work with a family that had a child that was born still.  She was a postpartum nurse and had been sent down to take care of me.  She was so genuine, not that the other nurses weren’t, but there was a sadness she shared with us.  I will never forget her or any of the other nurses.  She asked Tony to come see Alfy before she brought him in to make sure everything was right.
At about 2:30pm, the chaplain arrived and we did the baptism.  It was beautiful.  After the baptism, Tony and I had to say goodbye to our son, to our Alfy.  I believe that was the saddest moment in my life, knowing I would never see my son again.
I left the hospital at 7pm that evening, almost 48 hours after I had arrived.  Our nurse took us down through the back stairwell by our room.  Tony took the stairwell by himself first to get the truck and park it by the exit for me.  He had to walk back up through the L&D floor.  He rode an elevator with another new dad that told him “Congratulations.”  Tony told him our son was born still.  He told Tony he was sorry and gave him a hug in the elevator.  I wish Tony didn’t have to experience walking back through the L&D floor by himself.  We left the hospital, with no baby in tow.  We spent the rest of the evening with our family, our wonderful, loving, supportive family.
Sunday was Easter.  Our family came over in the afternoon to be with us.  Tony’s parents’ brought pasta so we didn’t have to cook.  Before everyone came, Tony and I went to Babies ‘R Us to buy Alfy clothing to be buried in.  We didn’t have any baby clothes yet.  We bought him a preemie onesie, but I’m certain it was still way too big for his little body.  It was white, with a baby blue color and cuffs on the arms.  It had zoo animals on it, giraffes, tigers, lions and elephants and it had feet in it.  I tried to find a cap that I thought would fit, but they didn’t have any that would.  Seriously?!  And it was the only place open on Easter other than Walmart to buy baby clothes. 

Monday we went to the funeral home at 9am.  We decided what time Alfy’s funeral would be and made all the arrangements.  We had to view the tiny caskets they make for babies.  Alfy’s casket was 19 inches long, that’s it, 19 inches.  It was white with some gray in it.  The funeral home called St. Cecilia’s for us to ask Father Gutsgell to come and pray for Alfy and help lay our son to rest.  He was the priest who married Tony and I.  Although I am not Catholic, Father Gutsgell has been there for me for spiritual guidance on two of the most important days of my life.  After the funeral home we had to go to the cemetery to pick out the location we would lie our child to rest, and will eventually lie in rest ourselves.  It’s a beautiful spot.  It’s just to the west of a giant tree (I don’t remember what kind right now) and almost to the bottom of a hill. 

On Tuesday, April 10, at 1:30pm, Tony and I buried our son, Alfy.

This is not the end of Alfy’s story, just the end of the beginning for him.  He will continue to move me in ways I never knew possible and that is how his story will go on.

Shannon blogs at http://thinkingofyoublog.blogspot.com.

You can contact her at svaccaro117@gmail.com.

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Comments

  1. laura louder leach says:

    Thank you so much for your story. My daughter was also born sleeping and i found out in my doctors office at a normal appt i was 35 weeks

  2. Shannon, I am so sorry for your loss. My son was born still on 9/12/00. I have said a prayer for you that God would bring you comfort and that you would hold your son again in heaven one day.

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