Mommy to Robert Francis DeRose
Learned of his demise November 17th, 2010
D & E November 24th, 2010
Elmer, New Jersey
The Story of My Son

My husband and I really weren’t trying. But our vacation to Chincoteague Island was going to be the start of us not being as careful. We had no idea that 5 weeks after our vacation we would be pregnant.

I knew I was late, but didn’t think much of it. One of my friends put it into my head just to test. So, one morning, I got up, and took a home pregnancy kit. And within a couple of minutes, sure enough, it was positive. I was nervous, excited, and scared all at once. Were he and I ready to add to the family? How would my girls take the news? That we got pregnant so quickly amazed me. I was going to keep quiet until I went to the doctors to get the bloodwork, but my new ob/gyn didn’t want to see me until I was 8 weeks along—3 weeks from when I found out. Of course, I wanted to tell my husband in a special way, but we were going on a road trip that included going to an amusement park with roller coasters, and my doctor said no way. Since my husband would be suspicious of me not going on the roller coasters, I had to tell him. I took another test—just to make sure—and caught up with him in what was the office (now “the baby’s room”). I told him guess what, showed him the stick, and explained what he was seeing. He said “oh crap”. Yes, just the thoughtful, meaningful, thing you want to hear from your spouse when you are caught off guard by the news too. But I didn’t expect an over joyous reaction either—we knew that when I did become pregnant, he was going to be a nervous wreck the whole time.

So we went on our road trip—the morning sickness hadn’t kicked in quite yet. We went to Niagara Falls, and then to Hershey (after visiting friends in NJ and seeing a hot air balloon festival). While in Hershey we made a candy bar wrapper to show to our families when we announced the big news.

The next few weeks went by quickly—morning sickness quickly set in, and I constantly wore sea bands, and had to sit in the recliner and watch Keeping up with the Kardasians (my guilty pleasure). We had to hide from family because they would become suspicious. Finally, the big day arrived, and we were so relieved to see a flicker of a heartbeat, and our little baby. We took the pictures, along with the candy bar wrapper, and announced to our friends and families by the weekend.

Every 3-4 weeks we went back, heard a strong heartbeat, and were content to know that the baby was growing well. The morning sickness subsided just in time for school to start, but my belly expanded rapidly. Everyone thought there were twins, or that it was just how big I was going to get for my third child. But the doctor didn’t think anything of it. If there was a baby hiding, we would find him/her at the anatomy scan.

During these few months, we moved our office to the basement, and began painting the baby’s room.  My husband and sister in law painted a Calvin and Hobbes mural on one wall that went with the bedding my husband picked out. We were waiting for the ok from the anatomy scan to buy furniture—I don’t know why, but I wouldn’t pick anything out, look at baby things, until we knew what the baby was, and that everything was growing fine. I know my husband was going to be cautious—glass half empty—but I normally get very excited after the 12 weeks are over. Looking back, I think I knew something wasn’t right.

At my 16 week check up, everything was fine. We got the script to get the anatomy scan (normally 20 weeks). When I called to make the appointment, I was so anxious to find out the sex of the baby that when the receptionist asked if we wanted to come in 2 weeks (putting us at 18 weeks, not 20), I couldn’t resist. Besides—my daughters had their ultrasounds 1-2 weeks before the 20 week and we could see everything we needed.

So, on a Monday night my husband my mother in law and I went to the hospital to get the big ultrasound. The woman wasn’t pleasant, and complained the entire time about how she couldn’t see any of the organs clearly to measure them. We did however find out we were having a little boy. She told us we were going to have to come back to get re-measured. So, we left, knowing that we finally were having our little boy, and going to see the report in 3 weeks that wasn’t going to matter.

On November 17, I met my husband with my daughters at the ob office for our visit. We were going to let the girls hear the heartbeat for the first time, and possibly see the baby and tell them they were going to have a baby brother. What seemed like an unusually long wait, we were called back. They did the normal vitals, and then the doctor told me about watching my weight, and that the radiologist didn’t report anything unusual, so we were good to go. She got out the Doppler to hear the heartbeat, and she called my daughters back. After 5-6 times of trying to “catch” the baby (we thought he was hiding), she said that she guessed their little brother just wanted to be seen instead, and we moved to the ultrasound room. After 1 minute, the doctor asked my husband to take my girls to the waiting room. I took that moment to look at the screen and noticed my baby was still—not moving. He appeared to be sitting, with his little hands right in front of his chest. I panicked and asked why was he so still. Then it set in…there was no heartbeat, no movement. My baby was dead. I began to sob as my dr explained that she was sending me over to the hospital for a more detailed ultrasound, because maybe there was a heartbeat and her machine was too weak to detect it. My husband called my aunt and his mom to come get the girls. I called the girls in and explained that the baby was sick, and we had to go to the hospital to see what was going on, but we would be home later.

That began the darkest hours of my life. I remember bits and pieces—the woman doing the ultrasound-Natalie, and her soft voice and apologies. The people in the waiting room who helped get my husband from the hallway when we were called back. My doctor coming in to tell me that I had to be brave, and that I had to see a doctor the next day to take the next step and find out why the baby died. I remember walking into the house, with my aunt giving my daughters dinner, and the hugs. My mother in law meeting us at the hospital, and supporting me as we walked out. Me apologizing over and over, to no one in particular. My husband not showing many emotions-just trying to figure out what to do because he had parent teacher conferences that night, and he couldn’t reach anyone to see if he was excused. I remember calling my ex husband to tell him he was going to have to get the girls because we didn’t know what the procedure was, or what it was going to entail. We thought we would be in the hospital the next day. I remember my husband telling him to get the girls that night—which was the wisest choice made that day. I remember not sleeping at all because nighttime was when I had special time with my son. I would lay there and as I fell asleep, he would kick and move. I couldn’t go near the bed because any time I lied down, I broke down. He was still in me, and my heart broke because I couldn’t hold him.

The next morning, we had to go see Dr. Davis. My mom, my aunt, my in laws all called first thing to find out what was going on. My aunt explained that the office would be sympathetic to my story, and wouldn’t let me stay in the waiting room with all the other expectant and new mothers. I am so grateful, because it was 3 minutes I began to break down and sob because of all the women. I asked the nurse to please have us sit somewhere else, and within seconds we were removed from the mothers and their babies.

Dr Davis wanted us to get 1 more ultrasound—I knew I wasn’t emotionally prepared to see my dead son again…but they needed me in there. My mother in law, father in law and husband all came into the room. I covered my eyes and just cried as he put the jelly on my belly. He kept apologizing too. Soon, I heard my husband crack, and he was hugging me and crying. My mother in law was behind him. The technician was listening for the non-existent heartbeat—so all you heard was white noise. My husband told me later that it was also the tech typing no heartbeat that got to him.

We went back into the doctor’s office, where he explained that our baby died from fetal hydropsy. Meaning that our little boy was absorbing the amniotic fluid. And he pulled up the ultrasound from the 18 week one, and showed us how it was evident on that that our baby had it all along it seemed.  However, there were many causes and while he was going to try to find out, there was no guarantee. It could have been a virus I contracted, a heart defect, or a chromosomal abnormality. Because it was a Thursday, and I had never dilated, he wanted 2-3 days of prepping before the d & e. Because Thanksgiving was the following week, we scheduled 1-2 procedures for Monday, 1 more on Tuesday, and Wednesday the d & e. So I had to walk around for a week with a pregnant belly, knowing my baby was still in there. It was the cruelest thing to ever have a mother do. Friday we spent the day working on house projects that no longer seemed important—I was trying to have the house done before the baby was born. Saturday and Sunday my girls came to visit. We only had them for one night. My mom came up with her kids, and she and my mother in law took all the girls to see a Cinderella show Saturday afternoon, so I could rest. Sunday we went to my aunt’s house to visit with my mom. It had been decided that Allie would go back to Virginia with my mom and sisters until Thanksgiving because they had tickets for The Nutcracker Ballet at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. And besides-my mom home schools her children, so Allie would just sit with them, so she would still have school. Em would have to stay with us and we would take her to school Monday morning. Unfortunately, I started to have contractions Sunday night. I already had begun to notice my body going back to normal…my belly was not as firm, or large. My face and upper body was thinning out. The doctor wanted to meet us at Kennedy, and em went to spend the night with TT and PopPop. The good thing about Sunday night was that we started the procedures so I wouldn’t have to have two on Monday.

The next 3 days were nothing but filled with tears, pain, indescribable pain, uncomfortableness, and Harry Potter movies. When Dr. Davis said he had to induce—he wasn’t kidding. By Tuesday night, the Vicodin wasn’t even touching the pain. Each time we saw Dr. Davis (Sunday night, Monday morning and Tuesday morning) he had to put in luminaries to help me dilate. By Tuesday I was pushing them out unknowingly. My husband sat by me, holding my hand, because as I cried, and tried to breathe through the pain, there wasn’t anything more he could do. We even brought the iPod in Tuesday to try to distract me from the pain. It didn’t. Now, when I hear Alien Ant Farm’s “Movies” or Fall Out Boy, I can’t help but go back to that dark, dark, place in the chair.

Wednesday morning my d & e was scheduled. It was one week since we learned about Robert. My in laws met us at Kennedy, at 6:30 in the morning. My procedure was scheduled for 8:30 am, the day before Thanksgiving. We went to admissions, and then told where to go upstairs. I was ushered into a pre op room, where I was told to get into a gown, and slippers, and nothing else, and sat on a chair with a blanket covering me while nurses came in and out, asking questions and taking vitals. The uterus pain at this point was inexcrucible, and my heartburn, which I had since 12 weeks, was rising up in my throat. We were asked for the funeral home’s number (which my mother in law had). I was asked a dozen times about the last time I had eaten or drinken, and any allergies I had. Then a nurse asked if we wanted the baby baptized or blessed. My husband and I hadn’t even known or prepared for this, so we decided on the spot to have the baby blessed. We had to give his name, Robert Francis, and then asked if we wanted a copy of his footprints. We were under the impression that we weren’t going to be able to see or have any memento of our son, so we answered of course, but didn’t really think we’d get that lucky.

By 8:45 I was being wheeled into the OR. They had given me a shot of something to relax me—I’m not sure what it was. But I was out cold quickly and it seemed only moments later, I woke myself up sobbing “My baby, my baby, I just want my baby.” Yes, I remember that quite clearly, as the doctor was on one side and the nurse on the other, comforting me, knowing that even though I was asleep when they took my son out of me, my mind knew, my subconscious knew. I gave birth and would never hold him. The doctor then told another nurse to get my husband in with me (I know no one is allowed in the recovery room with you, so this was another act of kindness). And so we stayed, until I had eaten a cookie and had some ginger ale, and then they moved us to the post op room. And there we stayed until 7:30 that night. Apparently the 600mg of ibuprofen I was told to take every 4 hours, even when stopped at midnight, thinned my blood enough. By 1pm, my blood pressure was dropping, and my bleeding was out of control. I received a shot to help me contract more, and I was told there was a chance I would be wheeled back into the OR. I knew I didn’t feel right. The nurse on duty told me to rest, but I told her I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up. It was that truthfulness of the nurse that made me realize how bad it was—she didn’t tell me I was being silly, or emotional. She told me that she would find a way to wake me up—it was ok, they were watching me. I told my husband to call my aunt— something wasn’t right. Dr. Davis came in and out, and it was a waiting game to see when the bleeding would subside. We had told Mario’s parents to go home earlier, before the bleeding was out of control, thinking we would be home right after them. Boy were we wrong, and instead, we had phone calls from everyone, seeing why weren’t we home yet. One of the darkest days had just gotten darker. And, later, we learned that my mom received a phone call from my cell phone, with a voicemail from me…”Mom, you can come and get me now.” Click. My phone was in my husband’s back pocket, or on the table on the other side of the room. Never did I pick up the phone, or was I physically able to move at that point.

Once the bleeding had slowed down, everyone sighed. We were given a packet full of information, and our son’s footprints. So tiny…the length of my thumb. But it was something tangible besides the memories. This wasn’t just some awful nightmare—he did exist. He was a part of me for 5 ½ months. Those little feet moved to Katy Perry and Black Eyed Peas during the ride to school. They bumped me when the girls and Mario were loud. They kept me awake at night while I tried to sleep and he was wide awake.

My aunt came by and relieved Mario so he could go grab dinner, and she and I sat and “visited”. I remember her sharing with me about her breast cancer recovery—things I know she hasn’t told many people. It made me realize just what a strong family I am a part of. When Mario got back, we got the okay to get dressed and go home. It was probably 6 or 6:30pm. We had to go fill a prescription to keep me contracting to keep the bleeding under control. I was on bed rest for the weekend to make sure my bleeding was under control. I was weak, tired, emotional, and leaving the hospital with empty arms.

My baby bump was officially gone—which was a relief. But I felt much different than just that.

The last few weeks have gone by in a blur. While Mario went back to work on the Monday after Thanksgiving, I stayed home an additional week. My family checks on me everyday—through phone calls and texts.  My first week back wasn’t easy. My students only know part of what happened— they think the baby just disappeared. On Thursday a dear co-worker came up to me on hall duty and asked “remind me, when is your due date again?” Speechless isn’t even enough to describe her reaction..She was furious no one was told. Apparently, it was only by word of mouth. Then Friday, three students on three different occasions came up and asked me either how was the baby? When did I have the baby?, and what happened to my belly?. All former students from last year—my former freshmen. We forgot that they were involved too—they asked about the baby.

My 7th period has been the best—they had a nickname for our son—waubaba. It was stupid and silly— but in some of the darkest moments, I remembered how that class would talk to the baby as a whole, and try to get him to move, and they came up with that nickname.

Saturday December 18, 2010, we put Robert’s cremains to rest with my grandfather. We wanted to also put some with my husband’s grandparents, but the cemetery isn’t being reasonable. And Mario wants to keep some of the cremains in a little keepsake in a teddy bear in the house. So for now, we ordered three keepsakes, and 1 we will keep until we decide what to do with it later. While I know Robert is in heaven, with his great grandparents, enjoying this time with them, looking down at us, it still pains me that I have to bury my son. Life has to go on. I am being told to take my time, do what I need to survive right now, take what I need for my family. While in most aspects of my life I can do that, there are elements where life is a cruel reality, and there are those that aren’t sympathetic, who told me I have taken enough time. There is the fact that it is the holiday season, and my daughters still expect to decorate a tree, bake Christmas cookies, and put out the Christmas lights. Malls are filled with Christmas songs, sales and new mommies pushing their babies, eager to buy the presents for their first Christmas. There are reminders everywhere of how I should be enjoying this Christmas—the first Christmas we are married, me pregnant with our first child, our little boy, anticipating the year to come.

I should be glowing, and have a big belly, and my husband should just be able to feel him kick and move, if not actually see the little feet and fists move across my skin. But instead I am not eating—even if I was hungry, my belly doesn’t want any food, I am on the elliptical trying to lose these last 15 pounds. I am trying to explain that Christmas isn’t about me getting anything—the one thing I want seems incomparable to anything else. Nothing else matters above my own family’s health and happiness. Any item I receive will only serve to remind me of this season. I try to put on a smile, to get out of bed, and go shopping, and go through the motions. But inside of me is just gray—where I feel like I am in a fog, just putting one foot in front of the other. I do hope that this fog does lift…but until it does, I am barely making it by each day. There are days I am making it hour by hour—until the end of 3rd period, until lunchtime, until the end of the work day, until I get the girls from school, until dinner time, until bath/bed time. I hope the days get easier. Each morning I awaken to a new harsh reality—that I am not pregnant, there will be no baby in March, and my baby son is dead. It is almost like when I sleep, I forget the horrors of this pain. I sleep to escape. But each morning I have to restart/reset.

Having a stillborn isn’t talked about in society. It is almost a taboo subject. But for those that are brave enough to comfort, to share stories, to approach me, words can’t tell you how appreciative I am. Without hugs, or words of comfort, I would feel so alone.

All I wanted was to give my husband what he desired-whether he said it out loud or not. My husband wanted a son—I knew that. Robert was sick—we learned that he died from fetal hydropsy due to what seems to be congestive heart failure, due to a structural abnormality. I have been assured by everyone that there was nothing I could have done to change this. But, I still can only apologize to my husband.

I don’t know how to go on, except day by day. And hope that if God allows a next time, I am not so foolish as to complain about the morning sickness, or my expanding waistline, or selfish in how I won’t have quiet time to read a book.

And it may sound silly to those who haven’t experienced this, but I know at my roughest days, my sad moments, while life goes on, Robbie does send signs that he is still watching me. I mentioned that he would always move to the Black Eyed Peas song “It’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” Whenever I am in a rough slump, when I turn on the radio, the song comes on. And I take the moment and just “be” and realize this is my bonding time with my son. And one day I’ll be able to hold him and hug him and dance with him in Heaven! Mommy loves you Robert, and I am so sorry. I miss you so much!!!

Stacey blogs at
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  1. Stacey, when you said that you are just putting one foot in front of the other… I hear you! My preemie daughter was born two weeks ago today at 26 weeks. She lived for 5 amazing days. I am living minute by minute, one foot in front of the other. I'm also a teacher, but I have not gone back to school yet. I can not even think about that right now. I am told that I need to keep living 'one day at a time' or even 'one minute at a time' and that the pain will lessen eventually. I pray that they are right! I hear you and I'm sending you hugs!

  2. I'm so sorry that you lost your little Robert! I know words don't do much to ease your pain… We lost Kristen on November 19th 2010, and had a memorial service for her on November 24th, I was 22wks. It seemed so lonely in those hours when everyone was delivering healthy babies, and I was losing mine. I know now that isn't the case, and that you were in a world of despair as well… it's not a comfort, I wish that it didn't happen to anyone. But I know the pain you are feeling, and hope it helps for you to know that you also aren't alone. I'm sending big hugs, and wishes of healing. Feel free to visit my blog if you would like, or you can also email at if you need to vent or chat!

  3. firefly0306 says:

    thank you so much ladies! i just found my post on faces of loss today–hence why i didn't respond sooner! i am thinking of both of you too, and here's to healing!

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