Mom to Byron Matthew
Born and died at 20 weeks on October 10, 2008,
Early miscarriage, June 5, 2009,
Stillborn at 16 weeks on December 6, 2009.
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Whenever I thought about having children, I never imagined anything bad, scary, traumatic. You see so many women have normal, healthy pregnancies where nothing ever goes wrong and it just never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be one of those “normal” women. Never in one million years would I have imagined that I would be where I am today.
I remember finding out I was pregnant for the first time like it was yesterday. I was 20 years old and had been married to my husband for almost one year. My hand was shaking so hard I could barely show him the test results. I was nervous, excited, scared…so many different emotions all at the same time. I had my first ultrasound when I was 9 weeks pregnant. I cried as soon as I saw my little baby and heard his heart beat. It was such an amazing thing to me to see this life that I had created. That moment was something I could never really find the words to explain.
The time crawled by; it felt like the weeks were just dragging. My belly was growing. I was throwing up more than I ever had in my entire life, but I was so incredibly happy. Finally getting to feel my son kick for the first time made it all that much more real. I felt like it was his way of saying, “Hi mommy, I’m still here.” One day I was in line at the bank, felt him kick me and I peed my pants. It’s moments like that, memories, I will never forget. I still laugh when I think about that. I was healthy, young, I took my vitamins, did everything I was supposed to.
October 8, 2008 I went into labor when I was almost 20 weeks pregnant. To this day, I have nightmares about my experience in the hospital. Sometimes I just lie awake at night with the memories repeating over and over in my head. A doctor came in the room to check on me and see what was going on. I was confused. I didn’t know much about pregnancy at the time, but I knew what was happening was not supposed to be happening when it was. The doctor did a pelvic exam and informed my husband and me that we were going to lose our baby. I can only imagine that everyone in the hospital heard me scream. At least that’s what it sounded like in my head. They did an ultrasound and my son was so perfect. His heartbeat was normal, he was healthy, but I was in labor and no one knew why. I was admitted to the hospital, started on medications and turned upside down in the bed. On the second day, my contractions stopped. I was able to get some sleep. I knew I wasn’t going home, but I had to be strong for my son for at least a couple more weeks so he could have a fighting chance.
On October 10, 2008 everything changed. I began having contractions and it seems like everything went at the speed of light from there. My doctor came in to do an ultrasound. It would be the last ultrasound I would ever have while I was pregnant with my son. My husband told me not to look at the screen and I knew it was over. The doctor informed me that there was nothing more they could do and very shortly, my son would be born. Within minutes, my water broke and my baby boy was born. The doctors handed him to me and I fell completely in love. He was so beautiful, completely perfect. He was born at 4:50pm. At 5:22pm he died in my arms. I held him for hours, I was afraid to let him go because I knew I could never have him back. I was just hoping that if I held him long enough he would wake up and everything would be fine. It’s the emptiest feeling in the world to leave a hospital after having a baby, without a baby. You go in pregnant, give birth and leave alone, with an empty stomach and an empty heart. I was so broken.
I tried to do things to keep my sons memory alive. We had him cremated and I kept all his things out in the house. His pictures, footprints, baby book. I didn’t want to forget him. On Christmas Day, I sent him balloons and wrote him a letter. Doing these things made it a little easier because I felt like he was there with me. About 8 months after our son passed away, I found out I was pregnant again. My husband was in California training to leave for Afghanistan. It was a week after my 21st birthday and a week before my husband’s 22nd birthday. I was feeling sick that day and decided to take a pregnancy test on a whim. It was positive. I had a doctor’s appointment where they did a blood test to confirm. I was four weeks pregnant when I got my positive test result. A week after finding out I was pregnant, I began spotting and cramping. I went to the emergency room, where I found out I’d had a very early miscarriage. I honestly wasn’t quite sure how to feel. I was sad and disappointed. But what I had been through with losing my son made it a lot easier for me to get through my miscarriage.
My husband came home almost 2 months later and within no time I was pregnant for the third time. My doctors assured me this time they would take no chances and I would be taken care of. Because I was now considered high risk, I was assigned a maternal fetal specialist as well an OB doctor. I had my first ultrasound when I was 7 weeks. I was so nervous that there would be no heartbeat, but to my surprise, everything was perfect. I had ultrasounds every week and a check up every two weeks. Each week my baby grew so fast. It was such a blessing getting to watch her grow. At 12 weeks, I got pictures of her sucking her thumb, which to this day is one of the most amazing memories of my life.
My pregnancy seemed to be going so smoothly. I was having no pain, no complications. My belly got huge so fast and I felt my daughter kick for the first time when I was only 14 weeks pregnant. It seemed like every time I tried to go to sleep she was wide awake! When I was 16 weeks I had a doctor’s appointment. They did an ultrasound and checked my cervix and everything looked perfect.
Shortly after my appointment on, December 5, 2009, I went into labor. Even though I was only 16 weeks, I knew I was in labor. I knew this feeling all too well. When I got to the hospital, the doctors rushed me back for an ultrasound. I was having contractions every two minutes or so and my labor was progressing extremely fast. The doctors told me they would be unable to stop my contractions. My baby’s leg was almost completely through my cervix. I was in labor for nine hours. The pain was horrible, I was sick and completely broken. I had the most wonderful nurse in labor and delivery; she made things a little easier for me. She went and got an ultrasound machine and let me look at my baby for as long as I wanted. The umbilical cord was stuck under her head. We were trying to get her to move. Around 2am in the morning the doctors had me start pushing. My water never broke and they would not break it. At 2:08 am I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. The room was completely silent. The doctor said, “No fetal movement.” No one else said a word. On this day, I lost all hope. My daughter’s brain had hemorrhaged while I was pushing and she died before she was born. She never got to hear my voice, hear me tell her I loved her. That killed me. Her life was cut so short and she did not deserve that. It was this day that my heart completely broke. Going through this once was hard enough…but now I had no idea what to do.
Since losing my children, I have seen numerous doctors and had countless tests done on my husband and myself and I still have no answers. No answers as to why my son and daughter did not survive and why I had one miscarriage. Perhaps I will never know and that is something I just can’t live with. I can’t stop reaching out, researching, asking questions until I know. The way your heart feels when you lose a child is the most painful feeling in the world. My biggest fear in life is that one day I will go to close my eyes and picture their faces and I won’t be able too. I try so hard to push myself forward every day and be happy and smile, for them. I want my son and daughter to know that I love them and that I am strong. I did not choose this life, it chose me and there’s nothing I can do to change it. All I can do is keep pushing…keep living, for me and for them.
Since losing my children, my husband and I have divorced. Losing children is stressful, probably the most stressful thing that can happen to a couple and unfortunately, we were unable to come out of it together. If I have learned anything out of all of this, it’s that my heart is capable of loving and I am so much stronger than I ever imagined. Not a day goes by when I don’t think about my son and daughter and about how much I love them and this is something I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life.