When I asked my friend, Naomi, to be my first guest blogger, and knowing what a devoted mother she is, I knew she would have stories to tell. I've read this one now a half-dozen times, and I still feel a little piece of me fall away each time the message hits me. This story poses those "why?" questions we so often never find answers to, and end up carrying with us throughout our lives, the possible answers (if there are answers) changing as we grow and become wiser.
Sit down with a box of tissues, and read about what this brave mommy had to endure.
As a child, I always envisioned myself as a mother. I would get married and have 2 or 3 kids. They would be little stair steps like my sisters and I. They would grow up fighting over crazy little things and be there to comfort each other when the little kid down the block was being mean. Never once in my childhood fantasy world did I see struggling with infertility. Growing up I never heard about anyone not being able to have a baby or having a baby that was stillborn. I never considered the possibility.
My husband and I got married in June of 1993. In October of that same year we bought our first house. In November I was pregnant with our first child. Everything was going according to plan. I worked full time during the pregnancy and never had an issue. Jordan was born August 12, 1994. He was 8 pounds 5 ounces and completely perfect. I was 23 when he was born. I enjoyed every stage and every accomplishment. Jordan started walking around 10 months old. He would hold onto furniture and eventually started racing around on his own little feet. When he was 17 months old he stopped being able to walk. His balance was gone. He would stand up and just fall over. We took him to our pediatrician and he thought it was something viral but wanted to do an MRI of Jordan's brain to make sure. We went to Children's hospital and had an MRI. Our worst fears came true as the doctor told us Jordan had a brain tumor. It was on his cerebellum and that was causing his balance issues. Jordan immediately had brain surgery and the tumor was completely removed with two surgeries. His recovery and stay in the hospital is enough for a whole different story that I will tell another day. He made an amazing recovery and we feel blessed every day for that!
Once Jordan was home and healthy John and I decided to have another baby. It truly was like that….hey let's have another baby. It came so easily the first time, we assumed it would be the same. Jordan was two years old when we started trying. Every month was another disappointment. When Jordan turned three we figured it was about time to see a specialist. I went and saw a fertility doctor the fall of 1997. He assured me that my body just needed a little push to get pregnant again. I went on Clomid for a few cycles, the pill for a few cycles after the Clomid to regulate my system. Next thing I knew, it is December of 1998 and still no pregnancy. That month John was transferred and we moved to Indiana. After unpacking the house and getting us settled, it was time to find a new fertility doctor. This doctor said I needed surgery. In the spring of 1999 I had scope surgery to determine if I had endometriosis. During the procedure it was determined that I did in fact have endometriosis and the doctor removed a bunch of "stuff.” I'm not sure what the official term is, but I knew this stuff was supposed to be keeping me from getting pregnant. After recovering from the surgery the doctor suggested we try insemination. This was the next step, the next push my body would need to get pregnant. We did two rounds of insemination….no luck. Now it is December of 1999 and guess what? John got transferred again. We packed up the house and moved again. We arrived in our new town, I unpacked the house, John went to work, and Jordan started preschool. Preschool? I couldn't believe my little boy was old enough for preschool and still had no siblings! Next on the to-do list was find another new fertility doctor.
In the spring of 2000 I found a wonderful fertility doctor. He patiently listened to all my stories, what we had already tried, what surgeries I had, what I felt. He suggested a dye test, injecting dye into my tubes to make sure all was open and well. Of course they were and he wanted to try in-vitro fertilization. John and I agreed and this started the year from hell! As anyone who goes through the in-vitro process knows, it is a mind twisting, body tangling, confusion inducing process. The first obstacle for me was giving myself shots. They were daily and required a self pep talk every time I looked at that needle. Then there were the egg retrievals where they use a drug called Versed which puts you in la -la land but you are still awake. I once woke up to a room of laughing nurses who told me I said I was "dreaming of the Backstreet Boys." Next up is putting the fertilized eggs back in. Once that happens, you stay in bed for a few days hoping they will implant. Then the real fun begins with every other day blood draws and ultrasounds. The doctor monitors all sorts of levels in your blood and changes on the ultrasound. After two weeks of this when you are very cranky and almost annoyed with the process, the doctor calls and says the words you have waited to hear forever…..YOU'RE PREGNANT!
I heard those wonderful words in December of 2000! John and I were so excited but with reservations. We knew it was so early and we could lose the pregnancy but I just felt like it was all going to be okay. In no time we made it through the first trimester. I was ecstatic! Now nothing could go wrong! That honestly was my thought! I am good as gold! In April we went to Disneyworld. John's parents came with us. It was our last big hurrah with Jordan as an only child and we wanted him to have a blast. Three days into the trip we were standing in line for a show. I felt like I was peeing my pants and realized I was leaking amniotic fluid. I ran to the bathroom and John's mom followed. We both knew this was not good and someone called an ambulance. I made John's parents take Jordan back to the hotel because I didn't want him to see me loaded into the ambulance. John and I went in the ambulance to the hospital. They did an ultrasound and put a heart rate monitor on me. The baby seemed fine. There was still enough fluid and they couldn't tell what was causing the leak. I stayed in the hospital for the next 4 days. The fluid stopped and they released me on the last day in a wheelchair to catch the flight home.
We arrived back in Ft. Wayne and my first trip was to the OBGYN. He for the first time used the word that I came to hate….fluke! He saw no signs or issues from the previous week. He put me on modified bed rest at this point. No lifting, no exercising, etc. I felt relieved and again felt like we had made it through what would be the worst and the baby would be here in a few months. May and June were uneventful in a good way. The baby continued to grow and all was well.
I woke up the morning of July 24, 2001. I was getting my haircut that day. I showered, got ready and Jordan and I went to the salon. John came and got Jordan and they went and had lunch while I got my hair cut. That afternoon Jordan and I went home. I felt something was off and I wasn't feeling the baby move. I took out my trusty What to Expect When Expecting book and read about less movement later in pregnancy. The book suggested drinking some fruit juice and see if the baby moved. I had some apple juice and nothing happened. I called my friend and asked if I could drop Jordan off. I called the doctor and he was out playing golf, but suggested I go to the hospital where they could monitor me since his office was closed. I arrived at the hospital feeling sort of silly. I thought the nurses would all think I was overreacting. I got checked in and the nurse tried to find a heartbeat. She couldn't. Then she brought in an ultrasound machine. I had so many ultrasounds during the pregnancy that I knew what to look for. The nurse also assumed everything was fine because the screen was facing me. As the ultrasound started, the screen became clear and the nurse quickly turned it away. She was not quick enough as I had already seen enough to know that baby was gone. The baby was lying across the top of my belly, arms hanging down. I was 35 weeks and 4 days.
At this point I was still at the hospital alone. I hadn't called John because I figured all would be okay. I had to call him and tell him over the phone that the baby was dead. I honestly don't remember making the call. I do remember him asking if I was sure. He came to the hospital and we just cried. Neither one of us could speak. Then the reality of it started to hit. I had to have a C-section. John had to go get Jordan. Someone had to tell our families. The next couple hours were truly a blur. I don't remember all the details. I remember being wheeled in for the C-section, the epidural, again being given Versed so I wouldn't remember. Soon I was in recovery and the nurses were bringing me my little baby boy, wrapped in a blanket, a little cap on his head. He was perfect. The chaplain came in and prayed with us, baptized him. We named him Austin John, as we had always planned to do. We both held him. We cried. We said goodbye.
The only explanation I have is that word…..fluke. There was no explanation. There was no separation of the placenta. The cord was not around his neck. Maybe the cord wasn't strong enough. Maybe the blood supply wasn't enough. Maybe if I had gone to the hospital earlier. All these maybe's that are still there as I type this 9 years later. I will never know why Austin was stillborn. I will never know why my body decided to betray me. All I know is that this long and winding road has made me appreciate my son Jordan all the more. If it weren't for Jordan, I don't know that most days I could've gotten out of bed. He was my light in a very, very dark tunnel. This road also led me to Jillian. Without Austin I wouldn't have Jillian. That is what I always tell myself. It is the only explanation that I have. He was my light that led me to her. I don't understand it! I don't think I ever will, but I have two amazing children that I get to look at every day and one that I talk to every night in my prayers and my dreams!