Mom to Ivan Joaquin

March 2, 2014 – March 10, 2014

Port Lavaca, Texas

It was a Tuesday morning. I felt sick and I felt exhausted. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I had a weird feeling in my stomach. While I was at work, I asked my mom if she could get me some medicine from the store. I explained my symptoms to her and chalked it off as just getting a cold or the flu. Her first question was, “Well have you started your period?” So….. I thought back, and No!

Actually I was 5 days late! But, I had been known to have irregular periods so I didn’t think too much about it. Plus I take the pill, so there is no way that could be an option. So when I got home on my lunch break, there was a bag from the drugstore with Dayquil, cough drops and a pregnancy test. I thought, “Yeah right, there is no way, but she bought it so I will take it.”Sure enough, POSITIVE! Being naïve, I went to the drug store and bought 3 more tests; more expensive tests to make sure it was correct, and all 3, POSITIVE! I was happy, nervous and scared all at the same time. My husband and I weren’t married yet but we were in a committed relationship. I don’t think we would have actually planned it yet but we knew that we did want children eventually. That evening I wrapped the tests in a pen box and told him that I had a surprise for him. He told me that he was going to work out but that he would open the surprise as soon as he got home. We would work out together normally but he knew I wasn’t feeling well so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary for me not to join him that night. Well that hour felt like the longest hour of my life! He finally got home and then took a shower. Finally it was time. He unwrapped the gift and I watch his eyes get big and I know he was shocked too. From that moment on, we were ecstatic! Our lives were about to change.

We were both older already and almost all of our friends already had children except for us. Every single day that we woke up we were so thankful and getting more and more excited. At 9 weeks pregnant, we had a big scare. I started bleeding profusely in the middle of the night. We rushed to the ER and while we were there, the bleeding just stopped. We live in a small town so there was nothing they could do at the time. They just said I was most likely having a miscarriage and at so early on in the pregnancy there was nothing they could do. I was hurt and couldn’t believe how cold the doctor was and just was ready to send me home. But still my husband and I gathered my stuff and were getting ready to leave when the RN told me that just because I was bleeding doesn’t always mean a miscarriage. He told me to go home, pray and rest and see my doctor first thing Monday morning.

We did exactly that. First thing Monday morning I was waiting at the doctor’s office before they even opened. I was able to be seen right away and was sent for an ultrasound. And then the most beautiful thing I had ever seen was there. A flicker and it kept flickering… The ultrasound tech said, “That is the heart beat, everything is fine!”

The next few months were pretty smooth. The doctor still had me come in every month and every month would let me have an ultrasound so that we could make sure everything was right on track. Finally, we find out we were having a boy! A boy!!!! Our families were ecstatic. There are nothing but girls on both sides of our families! There was no way we are having a boy! But, sure enough God was blessing us with a baby boy!

We bought everything we thought we needed. We picked out his name, set up his room and we were ready. I knew it was early as I was only 23 weeks pregnant but we wanted to be prepared. It took a little pressure off of me, knowing that the room was ready and we would just need essentials later on like diapers and of course more clothes.

Then Friday came. I was 23 weeks and 3 days when I woke up for work and had some mucus discharge. Which now I know, was my mucus plug. I called the doctor office and he told me to come to the ER. The ladies at the hospital in my small town never even checked me. They took a urine sample and told me I had an infection. They gave me a shot and sent me home!

Saturday, I started feeling a little pressure, but I thought maybe it was because of the infection. Early Sunday morning around 2 a.m., I started to feel pains in my stomach. It was like clockwork. It started out as every 15 minutes and would last about 30 seconds and then go away. I had no idea at the time, but I now know it was contractions. By the morning time they had moved to 8 minutes apart but would sometimes be tolerable. Finally, I started to bleed and thought, “Ok, I need to go to the ER. I got to the ER at 9 a.m.

They told me that it was still just the infection, again. They never checked me down there, just thought I was complaining too much and made me feel like I was complaining too much too. So they agree to admit me. They said they would call my doctor. They hooked me up to an IV and told me that I just need some fluids and I would be released the next day.

They give me something for the pain so I could go to sleep because I had been up all night with the pains. Finally at about 5 p.m. I told the nurse that the bleeding was getting worse. I still had not even seen the doctor. The nurse called in someone to do an ultrasound and the baby was in position to come. Finally at 8 p.m. that night, my doctor arrived and he checked me and all I heard was, “Oh Shit. The baby is coming”.

He told me that normally they would fly me to Houston to deliver because that would be the only chance of survival for my baby, but by now at 8 p.m. at night, a bad storm had blown in and the helicopter wouldn’t come. So then we waited. And we waited for an ambulance to come from Houston to take the baby as soon as I delivered. They kept my legs propped up until the ambulance arrived at 11 p,m. I was already warned that I would start pushing as soon as they arrived. So it was go time! I pushed 4 times and he was here. He let out a small cry that I will never forget. It gave us so much hope. He was 1 pound 7 ounces, 12 inches long and everything was going ok so far. They told me he looked really good for being so early. The people from Houston came in and told us where they would be taking the baby and explained everything that was about to happen. 

The very next day I was discharged from the hospital and we took off to Houston. I was anxious to see my son. But I was also so hurt and mad at myself. Why the hell didn’t I go to a better hospital when I had the discharge on Friday? Why did I not demand the nurses to check me on Friday or even when I arrived to the hospital Sunday morning? Why did it take the doctor 10 hours to even come check on me? Why wasn’t I more pushy? It was my fault.

My mom and her boyfriend had arrived at the hospital Monday morning and she had already warned me that the baby was small and not to panic too much. We saw our baby and my heart broke because of all the wires and tubes. But he was there and seeing him so strong made me want to be strong for him. He was the one in all the pain. Ivan Joaquin was in the hospital for a whole week and it was a busy week. He had many tests, many visitors, and was baptized. Finally Sunday came and Ivan’s dad had to go back home to go to work. I decided I would stay in Houston with the baby because I didn’t want him to be alone.

So it was Sunday night. I was alone at the hospital visiting with the baby. It was getting late so I decided to go back to the hotel room and would come back early Monday morning. At 11 p.m. that night I received a phone call that Ivan wasn’t doing too well and they asked if I could come back to the hospital. I got there as fast as I could and was met by a surgeon who told me that Ivan had what appeared to be a hole in his intestines. He assured me that this was normal for most extremely premature babies and that he performed this surgery many times before. I sat with Ivan as long as they would let me, right until they made me leave so they could start the surgery. Before I left, I pleaded with the surgeon to please take care of my son. He is my only son and his name is Ivan which means gift from God. He assured me that he would take care of him as his own.

I stayed in the waiting room until the RN came out and told me Ivan was out of surgery and everything went smooth. She said I could come in to see him. I walked in and Ivan did not look the same. He was pale and not moving at all. She told me it was the anesthesia and that he just needed rest and told me to go home and get rest too. I got back to the hotel room and dropped to my knees. I started praying like I’ve never prayed before, asking God to please heal Ivan but that if he was only going to suffer to take him. That was the first time I had said it, I didn’t even mean it, but I said it out loud. Not even an hour passed when I got another phone call.

The first thing the lady asked me was if I had someone that could drive me to the hospital, I told her no, I was alone, she said “Ok, well get here fast but please be careful.” My heart was breaking. I just …. I knew. The doors I normally went in were locked for the night so I had to go through another entrance with more than a half of a mile walk. I finally reached the NICU and the nurse that greeted me said “Hurry.”

When I got to Ivan’s station, there were 5 nurses and 2 doctors around him; his main nurse was performing CPR on him. I looked, and I heard the doctor saying we have been trying for 5 minutes and he isn’t coming back. So I say “JUST STOP.” They stopped and started immediately unplugging what they could so that I could hold him. I had not one time been able to hold him yet. One nurse pulled up a chair behind me and helped me sit down, the other nurse gave me my baby boy and put him against my chest. This was my first and last time to get to hold him, to rock him, to kiss him…

The doctor explained that I had maybe a few minutes before his heart would finally stop beating… and then the doctor listened and the heart beat was gone. He calls it “Time of death 5:01a.m.” The next few minutes were a blur. I called my husband and probably just told him that the baby had passed away and the nurse took the phone because I couldn’t even speak properly. The nurses all around me started to offer condolences but I couldn’t hear or say anything. I was just holding my baby. My baby that died in my arms. 

I was able to go to a room with my baby until my mom and husband arrived. I spent 2 hours alone with him. I told him about our family, about how much I loved him, about how I would see him again and to please wait for me. The room we were in had huge windows with a view of the Houston Medical Center. We were able to watch the sunrise together. The sun was huge and felt closer than it ever had before.

As you can imagine, life has never been the same since. Before Ivan, I had never known what it felt like to lose someone that you loved so much. I felt guilty. I felt sick. And I was mad as hell. Mad that I didn’t do things differently, mad at the doctor and nurses that didn’t know it was my mucus plug or that I was having contractions. Mad because my body had failed me and him. And mad that God made me be alone when Ivan passed away in my arms. I had always been kind, a good person and would give the shirt off my back to anyone who ever needed it… why me?

I needed some answers. I finally went to an OBGYN in a bigger town and had my medical records transferred. The new OBGYN took one look and said, “I believe you have an incompetent cervix.” There was my answer. She told me that when I was ready to try again, there were precautions we could take to make sure we’d have a [living] baby. Although it did not heal my loss, it did give some hope.

Exactly 1 year later from Ivan’s birthday, I went on a spiritual retreat. I had time to get closer to God and I believe I found the answers I needed. Instead of being so mad that I was alone while Ivan passed away, God showed me, that it was not me that needed someone, IT WAS IVAN. God put me there in that situation so that Ivan didn’t have to die alone. He died in his mother’s arms and now had no pain, no suffering, and no worries.

Ivan turns 2 years old on March 2, 2016. Since Ivan has passed, his father and I married through our church and in December 2015 welcomed a baby girl into our life. She has brought so much joy into our lives. I won’t tell you that everything is easy! Some days are bad. And some days are worse. Some people think that having another baby will fill the void. But, it doesn’t. If anything, it makes me miss Ivan more.

Learning to live without him is the hardest thing I have ever done, but we are surviving. And I can tell you that the pain doesn’t go away but it will slowly get easier. My husband and I have become a lot stronger and don’t take a single day for granted. Today is the first day I have ever been able to write all of this out so that shows me that I am getting stronger. I never felt like the time was right until now. I have found a new appreciation of life and because of losing Ivan, I hold my daughter a little tighter, and kiss her more often.

I appreciate life and the people in my life. My advice to anyone that is going through what I am going through or any part of what I’ve been through is to just pray. God has the final say but you are meant for a good life. It is your promise from God to have good days and you are meant to have fun, live, laugh, be loved and most importantly… LOVE.

You can email Amanda at a_man_duh04@yahoo.com.

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  1. I’m reading this and it so closely mirrors my own loss in January I just want to burst into tears and hug you. Very sorry for your loss, I never knew I could hurt like this…..or love like this. But why do we have to lose the most precious and loved people to us to know it?! It’s just so unfair on all of us who walk this path! I pray for peace for us both, and for all loss mamas……

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for sharing your story~ my heart breaks for you. I lost my sweet girl , Brielle Grave at 23 weeks & 2 days and my arms ache to hold her. Burying her was the second hardest day of my life besides the day I lost her. I think about her always and question why I don’t have her. It’s hard to keep faith- especially when you know God can do anything~ so why didn’t he save our babies?Your words of wisdom are encouraging and I am beyond happy for you that you have your rainbow baby. Hug her & kiss her always & know that Ivan watches over you all.

  3. It is very encouraging to read your story and how far you have come. I am fairly new to this life and just wish you the best. Prayers to your family.

  4. I am so very sorry for your loss of Ivan. Wishing you much future peace and happiness.

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