Mom to Baby Mimo
February 17, 2016
Los Angeles, California
July 28th, 2016 was the day my son Mimo was supposed to be born, but instead, he died on February 17th, 2016, following a rear-end car accident. I was 4 months and 6 days pregnant of him.
In my heart, I will always have 2 boys. Both of them were “Made in France,” and “Born in The USA.” Back in 2003, my husband and I were so blessed that our first IVF attempt with only 1 embryo was successful which resulted in our wonderful 12-year-old son. In October 2012, I returned to Paris for our 2nd and last IVF attempt (in France, the age limit for IVF treatment is set at 42 for the woman): This time, we produced 3 embryos and 2 were transferred back at that time, but our twins did not implant. Then finally, this past November 2015, I returned to Paris for my last frozen embryo transfer (I can write a whole chapter about this experience – but to make it short: It was quite wonderful and emotional). Upon my return to Los Angeles, I did at least 10 pregnancy tests (sometimes twice a day), before being confirmed by three hCG blood tests (done 2 weeks after my embryo transfer), that I was officially pregnant at age 45!!! This was an unbelievable miracle! Our family was in Heaven!!! Then, to my amazement, I managed to pass another huge milestone: The 12-week “Danger Zone.”
On January 26th, 2016, my son came with me to my 14-week follow-up ultrasound. After everything was normal, the ultrasound tech asked if I wanted my son, who was in the waiting room, to come in to see his baby brother or sister. My son was so touched when he saw his Baby Brother or Sister moving and waiving “Hello!” at him, and he started to cry tears of joy! The technician then gave him a big hug that brought tears of joy to my eyes. At that time, Baby Mimo’s heartbeat was 169! How perfect!!! During that visit, we were given a precious ultrasound picture of Baby Mimo’s face profile: He looked exactly like his Big Brother. Today, this picture is placed on our bookshelf in the hallway, to make us feel that Mimo is still here with us.
Due to my advanced maternal age, I subsequently had further genetic testing. The first Down Syndrome blood test came back positive which, according to the nurse, was something very common for my age. Then, good news! The ultimate nuchal ultrasound came back negative for Down Syndrome! What a deep relief! Additional testing including the NIPT which presumably has 99% accuracy also came back negative for any genetic problems. Our family was so relieved and happy and we really thought the world belonged to us! The NIPT also predicted that Baby was a boy! My eldest son was so happy because he had wished a baby brother for the past 2 years. That is a long time for a kid to wait.
Our family felt so blessed with this miraculous pregnancy, until that dark evening of February 17th, when, in a second, our lives were tragically changed forever and for the worst following the car accident. Because it was raining that evening, my poor son was sitting and thinking all alone by himself in our car while I was exchanging insurance information with the other driver. When I came back in the car, my son said nervously, “The Baby!” I asked him “Which baby?” I thought maybe there was a baby in the other car. But then he said “Your baby, Mama!” Somehow, those words crushed my heart even though I felt fine at that time. I told him the baby is fine because I didn’t feel any pain, and that I’m okay too. I told him not to worry. So, we drove home. However, about 30 or 45 minutes after arriving home, I started to feel sharp back pain, shoulder pain, upper abdominal pain, right neck pain and nausea. The pain increased enough to prompt me to go to the emergency room “to make sure that the baby is doing okay” as I told my son. That evening, my husband and his brother who was visiting from overseas, were on their way back from a 2-day trip from Tijuana. From the train station, they came directly to the emergency room. A couple of hours has passed waiting in the emergency room, and during that time, I passed gas and burped a lot. For some reason, this made me feel better. I even felt guilty to be at the emergency room with other people who are really sick.
Upon seeing the doctor, I told her I felt better. She said, it’s very unusual because usually, after a car accident, the pain starts, will escalate and will last at least 10 days or so before decreasing in intensity. She said this must be good news then! I was so relieved hearing those words. Also, the other good sign was that I was not spotting or bleeding after the accident. She asked me a bunch of questions, then, when it was time to check my baby on ultrasound, she unexpectedly and suddenly appeared concerned. She attempted many times to position herself as she was pressing the wand on my belly. Then, she nervously said, “I must not be at the right place…,” and called a resident doctor who apparently has extensive experience with ultrasounds to come in to check also.
At that time, I knew something was not normal, and I felt an anxiety attack. Both immediately agreed that I should be wheeled down for the “formal ultrasound because we cannot find the heartbeat or fetal movement. They are better equipped down there.” I held my head, I was shaking, I couldn’t breathe. I cried and cried. When they opened the curtain to let my son in, he was in despair and cried abundantly as we hugged each other. Poor son, he was standing all alone in the hallway crying silently by himself with just a simple curtain separating us; he could hear everything. He then screamed, “I don’t want to go to the ultrasound! I want to go home!” He understood that his baby brother had died. At that moment, a man came in to wheel me down to the ultrasound room. My son sadly, had no choice but to follow us in that dark and long hospital hallway to get to the ultrasound room. How traumatizing for him I thought, as tears kept falling on my face. In the ultrasound room, I looked at my son who was crying silently but profusely as the technician and doctor checked his brother Mimo. From their faces, I knew they could not find the heartbeat. My husband managed to arrive at that time. Thank God, my son did not to have to walk back alone in that dark hallway, next to me, as I was wheeled back to emergency room to get the dreaded ultrasound results. At that point, my son felt so exhausted and we decided that his dad would drive him home as it was already past midnight. About an hour later, the emergency room doctor came in and confirmed that our baby passed away. I burst into tears, cried even more uncontrollably and I couldn’t breathe.
The next day, I had a D&C to remove my baby boy. I will not go into details about this traumatizing and painful ordeal, as I have already written quite a bit. My ObGyn was in the Operating Room during the procedure and during a follow-up visit, she confirmed that our baby was a boy. I just wish I could see his face, hold him, tell him how much we love him, and say “Goodbye,” as many of you fortunately were able to do. I was not given this chance. With sadness, I went online to look for any 4 months and 6 days (or 17 week) unborn or miscarried babies to see how he or she would look like? There were not many pictures.
Otherwise, I sought weekly psychotherapy during my 3 months of disability. I was able to arrange for my son to be seen by a school therapist 1 hour weekly. Because he is doing better, we have stopped therapy during summer vacation. Life goes on….. But our lives will continue to be very empty, and sad some days more than others. People say that I should be grateful to have a living son, which I really am. How can I not when my precious son said “Mama, don’t worry. I’ve been alone for 12 years. I can manage….” or “But Mama, we don’t need to pray for baby brother because he’s in Heaven now, and nothing bad can happen to him…” Yes, I am so blessed that I have a son who has brought me a lot of comfort: He is my courage, he is my strength, he is my love, he is my everything. But I also have another son whom I cannot stop loving. Every day is a reminder of my Baby Mimo; when I see a pregnant woman, when I see a newborn, when I see a baby, when I see brothers and sisters together, when I look at my lonely living son…. and to add to our tragedy and sorrow, we cannot “try again in a few months,” as this was our last chance to have a second child, and we did, but only for 4 months and 6 days… I am grateful to my psychiatrist who told me, “I’m not sure how you’re gonna recover. You are actually experiencing 2 huge losses: the loss of your baby boy and you’ve lost your battle with infertility…” I appreciate those sincere comments because I now know what I am really faced with, and that it is going to be a hard road ahead.
This has been by far, the most painful, tragic and devastating ordeal in my life so far. For a moment, I had lost faith in God as I do not understand why our family has been punished so hard. Then, I read somewhere that God must love us very much because along with other babies born or unborn, our Baby Mimo “will intercede on their parent’s behalf. The child will be granted automatic entrance into heaven for having died in a state of innocence. However, they will refuse God’s permission to enter heaven without having their parents with them. Then, the children will take their parents by the hand and walk them into heaven without standing for judgment. This sentiment is often conveyed to grieving parents to ease their anguish.”
At first, I really felt that there were no words to comfort my pain. Then, I found this website with all of you sharing your tragedies, which many are very similar, and yet, so unique. Your words do bring me comfort, and for that, I thank you wholeheartedly, every one of you.
Finally, I do think about my Baby Mimo every day, and will continue to talk to him every night…. and for my precious living son, I pray day and night that God preserves him for us.
You can email Thithui at email@example.com.