Mom to Landon James

Born still September 4, 2006

Lebanon, Missouri

I was 25 weeks pregnant. I woke up on Thursday August 31st, 2006 with a sick feeling in my stomach. I had a sick feeling in my stomach every time I woke up, because I had non –stop morning sickness during my pregnancy, but this was different. My whole body was swollen. It felt as if my fingertips would bust open at any second. Something wasn’t right… but I blamed it on my ever changing body during this pregnancy. I thought this was just another side-effect that I would have to deal with. I got up as usual, went to class. I was taking a full load this semester so I wouldn’t get behind. I didn’t want to be one of those teen moms that didn’t amount to anything. I wanted to get my degree and be able to give my son everything that he deserved. I pushed on through the day, then after class went to work. I was a secretary at a law firm where my step mom worked. When I got there that afternoon, I showed her my ankles and my hands. She said that was just part of it. That evening when I got home I kept my feet propped up, trying to relieve some of the swelling. I fell asleep with several pillows under my legs that night. I remember laying there and putting my hands on my belly, feeling Landon kick. He was always very active when I lay down to go to sleep.

I woke up the following morning feeling worse than I had the day before. I knew for sure that something was wrong. My dad checked my blood pressure at home and it was sky high. We called the doctor that morning and they asked me to come in as soon as possible. I got ready as quickly as I could and went to the doctor’s office. They checked my blood pressure upon arriving –the nurse said, “This can’t be right.” She had me lay in one of the exam rooms for about 15 minutes so my blood pressure would have time to level off after my stressful morning.  She came in and checked it again. I had tears running down my face. My blood pressure was even higher than before. They immediately admitted me. I called my parents and told them I was in the hospital so they could monitor me and the baby, run some tests, and get my blood pressure down. I had several visitors that night at the hospital – good friends and family to keep me company while the doctors could make everything better and I could go home.

I was expecting to be released the next morning and get on with my life. That wasn’t the case at all. The doctor came in and informed me that my condition was way worse than they anticipated and he didn’t feel he was the right person to care for me. He recommended a specialist at Norton’s Hospital in Louisville, KY…and by recommended that meant flight nurses were outside my door to prepare to fly me to Louisville. I had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, which I knew nothing about.  Was I really that sick? They only fly people if it is life threatening…right?

I was loaded into the helicopter. I was scared and confused. No one could ride with me because the helicopter was full of nurses, so my parents had to drive to Louisville as quickly as possible. I had always wanted to ride in a helicopter…but not a medevac. The nurses were constantly checking my vitals and looking me over. Then I noticed the concerned looks on their faces…not because of me but because of the weather. It had just taken a turn for the worse. The pilot flew as far as he could and landed at a tiny airport in the middle of nowhere. I was transported from the helicopter to an ambulance that was waiting on us. The flight nurses demanded that they ride in the ambulance with me instead of the paramedics. I was happy with that… but also concerned. What was wrong with me?

The sirens were on and we were flying down the highway. I was trying to relax with all the commotion around me. All I wanted was for my baby boy to be okay, I didn’t care about me at that point. We arrived at the hospital and I was unloaded and rushed to a room they had waiting for me. Dr. P. was there to see what condition I was in. The flight nurses were giving him information he needed, and before they left, one of the nurses leaned over to me and assured me that everything was going to be okay, and that my son was going to be a little heart breaker one day so I needed to keep him away from the girls. Right then and there…I knew everything would be fine.

I was sent down the hall for an ultrasound. My little baby boy was perfect…whew, what a relief! I knew this was all some mistake. The tech printed off a few of the ultrasound pictures and gave them to me before I was wheeled back down to my room.  When I got to my room, my brother and aunt and uncle were there waiting on me. They lived close to Louisville, so my parents thought since they couldn’t get there quick enough that they could have them waiting on me. I immediately showed my pictures around the room. There Mr. Perfect was! Nothing was wrong with him…why was I here?

A few hours went by, and my parents finally arrived. During the time I was waiting I had been poked and prodded dozens of times. The nurses were very upbeat and nice. They said I would most likely have to stay in the hospital until it was time to deliver my baby boy, because of my elevated blood pressure. Bed rest…in the hospital…for 2 more months?! I was willing to do that though so that my son would be healthy and strong. I was willing to do whatever was necessary for him. I loved him already so very much.

As time passed Friday turned into Saturday, and I expected some sort of improvement. There was none. I was given more medications to see if they could help me…because my kidneys were shutting down. My condition worsened. My doctor came in that afternoon and gave me a choice, continue my pregnancy and risk complications, or be induced now. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around that question…of course I wanted to continue my pregnancy. I wanted to deliver a healthy baby. If I was induced now, that meant there was basically no chance that he would survive. I made my mind up, I was going to fight this and get my son here safely.

The next day, the doctor was doing his rounds, and when he came into my room, he had a somber look on his face. He asked that everyone leave the room except for my mom and dad. My dad held my hand; we all knew something was wrong. Dr. P. told me that I no longer had a choice in this matter. He had to induce me because I was his patient, and he couldn’t risk my life. He said that my condition had worsened even more since I had arrived there. The only choice that he had at this point was to save me.

That afternoon pitocin was started in my IV. I was scared and numb and praying for a miracle, praying that my son would be born healthy and alive. The contractions finally started and the pain set in. I could still feel him moving inside of me. He was still alive, there was still a chance. Late that night I was given my epidural. The doctor said it would be better for me the less I could feel.  I didn’t sleep much that night, just lay there thinking about what was going to happen in the next few hours. Would Landon come out screaming? I sure did hope so…

My entire family piled in the room the next morning. My contractions were getting stronger, and I was getting closer to delivering my sweet baby. Little did I know that my body was beginning to shut down. I was in danger of organ damage or even death. Instead, I was reassuring my family that I was okay and that everything would be fine. I even called Landon’s dad and gave him the news. He could have cared less, but I did my job by letting him know what was going on. He was his son, too…and I guess I thought if I called him, he would rush to my side to be with me when our son was brought into the world. Instead he said he was sorry and hung up.

Around 1:00 pm, on Monday, September 4th, 2006, Landon James Stephens was born and taken to Heaven. He got to spend a few hours with us in the hospital room. We held him and loved on him and were amazed at how tiny he was. His feet were no bigger than my thumb. He was perfect.

After they wheeled him out, I realized they would not be taking him to the nursery. They would be taking him to the morgue. He wouldn’t be taken to a room full of life, but a room full of death.

I was given a few different options of what to do with him. Have a funeral? Have him shipped back home and buried there? Cremated? My family and I decided to have him buried at the infant memorial garden in Louisville. I didn’t think I was strong enough to deal with a funeral on top of having to bury my son. Arrangements were made and he was taken to the beautiful garden where his body was laid to rest.

I had to stay in the hospital for several more days to make sure that I was getting healthier. When I finally got to go home, I was dreading seeing all of the baby stuff at our house, but I was ready to close that chapter of my life. My family had some of their friends come and remove all of the baby stuff from our house so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it when I got home. I was hurt and relieved all at the same time. I spent weeks lying in bed and dealing with my grief…and for the last 5 years I have still been dealing with that same grief, the loss of my perfect son. I continually blame myself for not being able to sustain a pregnancy. What did I do wrong? Why me?

I will never know the answers to those questions, but one thing I do know is that my son is an angel in Heaven watching over me every day. I can’t wait till we meet again.

Emily blogs at http://coolcartemilio.blogspot.com.

You can contact her at emi_stephens@hotmail.com.

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  1. Emily, I am so sorry for your loss. My son was stillborn on 9/12/00. I have said a prayer for you that God would comfort you and that you would hold your son in heaven one day.

  2. You are a strong woman to have dealt with what you went through at such a young age. There are no right words to say, but I just know that my last pregnancy ended with a similar situation when I was 25 years old and married. I admire your strength. May God bring blessings and peace to you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. I can tell you that at 19 I had no idea that losing my son would impact my life so much. I also didn’t know that my faith in God would grow so much either. He truly gets me through every day. God bless you and your husband, I am so sorry for your loss.

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