Mom to Nathan Allen

July 21, 2011 @ 2:32am

16 weeks, 5 days gestation

Archdale, NC

Here’s the story of how I got to where I am now…

My name is Crystal. My husband, Allen and I were married on September 16, 2000… six years and one day after our first date. I was 20 and he was 25. (We met on a blind date the beginning of my freshman year of high school.) I was finishing college and wanted to wait on starting a family. We figured we were young and had the rest of our lives. What was the rush, right? We decided during our 3rd year of marriage we were ready to begin our family. I went off the pill and we anxiously awaited the day when we would be able to buy the pregnancy test and see those 2 lines.

After a year of trying, we talked to my doctor. During my yearly pap test, she though my uterus felt enlarged. They did an ultrasound and discovered that I had a cyst on my left ovary. I was put back on the pill to see if it was a functional cyst and would dissolve. After 4 months, it had grown from the size of a golf ball to a tennis ball. They scheduled my surgery for October 27, 2005. It was originally supposed to be a laparoscopy but was changed it to a laparotomy. On the off chance it was cancer, they didn’t want it to rupture during surgery. During the surgery, it was discovered that I had endometriosis. (Which explained a lot of problems I’d been having over the years, that doctor’s kept dismissing as no big deal.) Because of the damage done, they had to remove my left ovary and tube during the surgery. Eight weeks after surgery, we were given the okay to begin trying again and were told to call if we hadn’t gotten pregnant within six months. After six months, we went back and were told about an injection that I could take that would put my body into menopause and hopefully suppress my endo enough to help me get pregnant. After three months of fighting our insurance company for approval, I began a six-month round of Lupron. Eight weeks after my last injection, we were told to try again for six months. Finally, in May of 2007 we began seeing a RE. I had a couple procedures done, including an HSG. We found out about four weeks after the HSG (Father’s Day 2007), I was pregnant. I was blessed to have such an easy pregnancy. If I hadn’t missed a period and grown such a large belly, I would have never known I was pregnant. We found out at 18 weeks, our son had a 2-vessel cord which would required more ultrasounds to continually check his growth. Other than that, he was perfect. The delivery, however, was another story. We lost our son’s heartbeat and ended up with an emergency C-section. Luckily, everything ended well and finally after a long battle… we became parents to a 7lb. 13oz. baby boy that we named Cameron. (We found out after delivery that his cord was caught under his arm, which was why we lost his heartbeat.)

After almost 3 years, we had given up hope of having more children. Because of my family history and my endometriosis, we were told our chances for more children were slim and that a “natural” pregnancy was nearly impossible. We decided against returning to the RE and had finally resigned ourselves to being okay with our one blessing. At my next OB appointment, I was going to schedule another surgery to help relieve my endo symptoms and discuss a possible hysterectomy. The next month, on Easter Sunday, we were shocked to learn that I was pregnant. We had beat the odds and gotten pregnant on our own! They gave us an estimated due date of December 30, 2011. It took a couple weeks for the shock to wear off but when it did… we were so excited! We got our son a shirt with an owl on it that said, “Guess whooo’s going to be a big brother? Cameron… that’s whooo!” It was so special to let him be the one to tell everyone our exciting news. He gladly gave up his playroom for the nursery and was so excited about becoming a big brother.
He loved pulling up my shirt and talking to the baby and kissing my tummy. I started spotting at 7 weeks and was put on Progesterone. I was nervous until we hit the 12 week mark. I took Cameron with me to the 12 week ultrasound and will never forget the look on his face when he saw the baby moving and heard it’s heartbeat. It was SO active, it kept flipping all over the place. At one point, it was moving and it looked like it was waving at us… which Cameron was overjoyed about. After that appointment, I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief. We had made it out of the danger zone… or so I thought.

On July 18th, I felt the baby moving right before my first break while at work (I work 2nd shift.) Little did I know, that would be the last time I felt my baby move. On July 19th, my son and I went to the 4 month appointment, anticipating being able to schedule “THE” ultrasound so we could find out the sex of the baby. Our appointment was at 10am and the waiting room was packed. I remember thinking, “Wow, there are a bunch of us pregnant woman here today.” Luckily, I’d brought Cameron a bag of Mr. Potato Heads which he shared with two little boys who were waiting with their mom. (As stupid as it sounds, I can’t even look at Mr. Potato Head anymore.) Finally, after almost 30 minutes of waiting… it was our turn. I did the urine test, got my blood pressure checked and stepped on the scale – all of which was right on target. I mentioned that I was still having nausea and still had a lack of appetite, even when not nauseous. She said that wasn’t uncommon and to just hang in there. We chatted for a few minutes, talking about how different this one was compared to my first pregnancy. She led us to the room and I chatted with Cameron while we waited. The doctor came in and asked how everything was going and asked if we wanted to have the 2nd round of prenatal testing. Since everything had come back fine during the 12 week ultrasound and blood testing… I declined. She placed the doppler on but couldn’t find the heartbeat. I was trying to get Cameron to calm down so we could all hear. (She kept picking up my heartbeat and he kept getting excited because he thought it was the baby.) She mentioned that the baby was probably laying in a position that made it hard to pick up the heartbeat. I remember having a weird uncomfortable feeling but let it pass, trying to reassure myself I was overreacting. She took me back to the ultrasound room and did an external and vaginal ultrasound and then had the ultrasound technician come in and do a bunch of measurements. She didn’t even have to tell me… I could see there was no heartbeat and the baby wasn’t moving. Even still, somehow I managed to ask, “You can’t find the heartbeat, can you?” They wouldn’t look at me but I heard them say no. My entire world came to a screeching halt at that exact moment. The receptionist came in and took Cameron while the doctor talked to me. She just kept telling me how sorry she was, then told me what would have to be done and to call when we had decided to schedule the induction. I remember putting Cameron in the car, starting an Elmo DVD, calling Allen in the parking lot and crying the whole way home.
The details of the rest of that day are a blur. I never went to sleep that night. They admitted me to the hospital the next day.

Cameron has never been away from us overnight so we made the decision for Allen to stay with him that night and my mom to be with me at the hospital. Looking back, I’m so heartbroken that Allen wasn’t with me. He made the decision for himself that he didn’t want to see the baby, even if he was at the hospital when I delivered. It’s something I’m struggling with and trying so very hard not to be angry about. Unlike most of the stories I’ve read on here, I didn’t have my husband to go through all this with me. He has no idea of what I went through to bring our second child into this world. Other than the ultrasound pictures and pregnancy test, he never had any “proof” that our son ever existed. I think his way of grieving/coping is to pretend it never happened and that nothing has changed. He’s been very distant since I came home from the hospital. In the last couple days, he’s begun to hug me and tell me he loves me but he hasn’t once mentioned our son… which breaks my heart. Losing our son was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life and to make it worse, I feel as though I’ve lost my husband also. I feel so alone. I’m trying so hard to be strong but this weight is heavy. I try not to cry around them so I usually save up tears and cry after everyone has gone to bed or while I’m in the shower… which is why I think the nights are hardest for me. I get depressed just seeing the sun go down because I know what’s coming. I can’t sleep… my mind and thoughts take over. I never in a million years imagined that just trying to survive and get up everyday would be so exhausting. As I write this, we are less than 2 weeks into our loss, so I’m praying with everything in me that we can find a way of getting through this together.

I got to the hospital around noon and was given the first dose of cytotec to induce me at 2:30pm. By the time Allen left around 8pm, I was so tired but my mind wouldn’t let me sleep. I watched re-runs of Criminal Minds so that I could occupy my mind and try and forget why I was there. The contractions were awful but I wasn’t offered anything stronger than Tylenol 3. Even knowing the end result of all that pain and hard work, I didn’t want anything anyway. I figured the pain would be the only thing I’d get to experience… if that makes any sense. There were 4 births that night. (Our hospital has a button you push on your way out of labor and delivery that sounds a lullaby all over the hospital to announce the birth of a new baby.) After awhile, my body just couldn’t take it anymore and I dozed off around 2am. I remember waking quickly to this weird feeling that I had never felt in my life. I yelled for my mom and told her something was wrong. She buzzed the nurse, who came running in. She looked down under my gown and told me it was my baby coming out and if I gave a small push, he’d be out. After almost 12 hours of labor, our sweet angel was born at 16 weeks, 5 days gestation. Nathan Allen came into the world still at 2:32am on July 21, 2011. She took him and cleaned him up and quietly whispered, “It’s s a boy.” Between my tears, the first words out of my mouth were, “Cameron was right.” (He had been convinced from the beginning that he was having a brother.) Nathan was the first baby born that morning but sadly, there was no lullaby button for me to push. As I was coming out of the bathroom from getting cleaned up (after they had taken Nathan away), the lullaby bell rung. I stopped right then and there and cried.

I was terrified of seeing him… not knowing what he was going to look like, since he was so small. The nurse who delivered him tried her best to make the experience easier. He was still in the amniotic sac when I delivered, so she took him and cleaned him up and then talked to me before bringing him over. (I delivered him and the placenta at the same time.) She tried to warn me of how small he was and I tried to prepare myself… but nothing could have prepared me for the tiny angel she laid in my arms.
I think he would have been another mini-Allen. (Cameron is an miniature version of Allen.) I measured him with my hand and he went from the tip of my middle finger to a little past my palm. His feet were a little longer than my thumb nail. He had Allen’s forehead and long legs, my nose and my brother’s square-shaped chin. I don’t know his exact measurements or weight because they didn’t do any of that. I wish that I had taken a picture of him. I’m so scared I’m going to forget what he looked like. They had a camera at the hospital and I had even brought mine but in the shock and emotion of the moment, I said no. I only held him about 30 minutes and now, I wish so badly I had held him longer. I just can’t get over the guilt of letting him go so quickly. What mother does that? I don’t think I fully understood that that was the last time I would ever see my son. I would gladly endure the pain and heartache again to have that night to do over. My emotions at the time had the better of me and now I have to live with those choices for the rest of my life.

We got an answer as to how he died… so I guess I’m lucky, if one can be in this situation. They determined it was a cord accident. The cord was wrapped twice around his neck. Other than that, he was perfect. It breaks my heart to think of something so simple… the one thing that kept him alive… is the one thing that took him from me. They told me that because he was so tiny, they tried but were unable to get his footprints. There was no outfit to dress him in, no baby blanket to wrap him in or anything. I wasn’t told much about the procedure and didn’t even realize I’d be there overnight. I didn’t bring anything with me… not even a change of clothing or a toothbrush for myself. I was discharged from the hospital on the same day he was born. It was a warm, sunny day… which was like a slap in the face. People were smiling and enjoying their day while my world was dark and depressing. I was wheeled off the maternity floor with nothing but an empty memory box and card signed by the nurse that delivered him. I put my hospital bracelets, and his ultrasound pictures in the box. I also included the only piece of clothing we had for him: a onesie that said “I love my big brother”. It came with the owl shirt Cameron wore to tell everyone our pregnancy news.

Telling Cameron was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Allen just wanted to re-direct him when he asked about the baby. He said in time, he’d forget about it. I felt as though I were saying Nathan never existed. The Monday after Nathan’s death, he asked to kiss the baby (my tummy). I got him the book “We were supposed to have a baby but we had an angel instead” and read it to him. I explained that the baby had died and was in Heaven. I said that was why I had to go to the hospital, that they had taken the baby out of my tummy. He said he didn’t want the baby to die and I told him I didn’t either but it wasn’t something we could change. I told him that he was right and that he had a brother and that we had named him Nathan. He replied, “No, his name is Elmo.” (We were joking about it the weekend before Nathan died when we saw it listed in a baby name book.) I kinda smiled and told him that was fine if he wanted to call him that. I told him that was why mommy was sad and crying, that I missed Nathan. I told him that it had nothing to do with him and that mommy and daddy loved him so much. He gave me a hug and said I love you mama, it’ll be okay.

We went to the funeral home the day after he died to do the paperwork and pick out his urn. I started crying and told Allen it made me sad to realize that that is the only thing I can buy him. I’ll never buy him baby clothes or toys or anything… his final resting place is all I can get him. The past two weeks have been a blur of pain and emotion. My milk came in 2 days after delivery… something I was not prepared for. Nobody warned me that might happen. I had problems nursing Cameron because of a medical condition and lost the chance to nurse him after the first couple weeks. Here I am grieving and my body starts to supply milk for a baby I can no longer hold… let alone nurse. It was like a slap in the face. I continue to pass blood clots, which I’ve been told by my OB is normal considering my endometriosis. The large ones are terrifying because it feels so much like when Nathan was passing through my body. It’s like re-living that moment over and over again. I haven’t returned to work yet and I’m dreading it. There are two women who are pregnant – one due in October and the other in November. When Cameron returns to half-day preschool in the fall, a playmate of his… his mom is due 2 days after me. I think I dread seeing her most. Twice a week, I’ll have to endure watching her drop her son off and watch as her belly gets bigger and bigger. Then after Christmas break, watch as she carries in two children.

The guilt, “what if’s” and “why’s” are hard to get over. I keep re-living in my mind the days before… trying to think of everything I did. I didn’t sleep good with this pregnancy. I tossed and turned a lot… did I cause him to move more? Was it the bounce house I sat in with Cameron at a birthday party the Saturday before? I made sure it was just me and him in there… but was it a mistake to get in at all? Was it the massage or pedicure I had a couple weeks earlier? Was it the Sour Patch Kids candy I ate the night before he died… did they make him hyper enough to get caught in the cord? Everyone keeps telling me that there was nothing I could have done and that it wasn’t my fault… but still. My one job, as a mother, was to keep him safe while inside of me and I failed. It took me three years to be at peace with not having more children. Why would God give me this child, just to take him from me? What lesson am I supposed to learning from this? All questions that I will never get an answer to… which makes it all that much harder.

All the years I spent crying over periods and negative pregnancy tests, I never imagined my heart could hurt more. I was wrong, so wrong. This hurts more… so much more. This is something I never understood before I experienced it and it is something I would never wish on my worst enemy. I’ve been lucky to have a couple wonderful online friends who have been through this. They have been my saving grace so I know that support and friendship, with other women who have gone through this, makes all the difference in the world. I will never be the same person. The person sitting in the waiting room on that Tuesday morning at the doctor’s office is gone. I’m not sure where she went or exactly who took her place yet. I’m just trying to live on the good days and survive on the bad ones. I’m hanging on for the day when I can smile instead of cry when I mention my sweet Nathan’s name.

Crystal can be contacted at

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  1. As I sit here balling while reading your story. Nathan’s story, it brigns back a wave of emotion. It is all to familiar. The infertility. The loss of a second son at 16 weeks (March 21, 2011), getting answers but not fully being able to come to terms with it. And what you say at the end…loss is SO much harder than infertility ever was.

    This story is a beautiful memorial to Nathan and a tribute to you as his mother. I hope in the coming days, weeks, months you are able to find some peace. We will never be able to let go, but it will get easier.

    You have fellow mother loss friend in me if you need it.


  2. My heart is breaking for you, and i’m so sorry for what you have had to endure. I read your story and find many similarities to my own experience and feelings. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts. I’m certain you will hear this many times over, but the pain WILL ease, and the sun will shine again.

  3. Your story about little Nathan is similar to what I experienced with my son Dallas on July 7th of this year but with some differences. I am right along with you on the grieving process. It has been a little over a month and I am starting to see the sunshine again. Not going to lie though, I am still sad about losing Dallas. I think I always will be, but deep down I know that there is a brighter tomorrow. When I returned to work it was very hard because there are also 2 pregnant women there that I would have to face. The first one being due within days of my due date, and the 2nd one being 2 months behind me, but sitting right next to me.

    It has been a challenge dealing with them, but they understand that. I am happy for their success, but I am grieving for my loss. If that makes any sense. It was hard to go back for me, very hard. But I did it. I have a fantastic group of friends at work who try their best of what I am going through. When they see a melt down coming, they rush over with hugs (and scripture at times.) I hope you have a great group of friends at work. It will make the transition back to life that much more bearable.

    Also, when you do go back to work (I took about 3 1/2 weeks from the time I started having problems until after my son’s funeral. The entire time home I spent sulking in my pain) it will help keep your mind busy and hopefully not make the pain of thinking about losing your son so real.

    Good Luck! I am thinking and praying for your continued recovery.

  4. Crystal, thankyou for sharing you story. I am sending love and hugs to you from Australia. I have found so much comfort in the internet support for mothers who have lost their children. Three weeks ago we lost our first baby at 16 weeks also. It is such a hard time and I agree you live on the good days and survive the bad. I will pray for strength and recovery xox

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