July 7, 2014

Your Story: Part 1

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Dear Jackson,

I'm not sure how much of the story I will be able to get through at this time.  But I want to try.  I'm afraid that as time passes, the memory of how you came into the world may fade.  Even though you were already gone.  I really want to tell your story.  As terrible as it was, I don't want to forget a single moment of it.  While it was terrible it was also beautiful.  That sounds so weird and morbid, but because my sharpest memories of you, and with you, were during that time, it was beautiful it a way.

Of course, our story together started way back in the winter.  I've written about those happy times, about the time I found out about how I was going to be a mom.  The time I shared that news with your father.  The time we learned that you were sharing your precious but eventually treacherous space with your twin sister.  The time we found out your sister was gone...those stories have all been shared.  But your story, maybe the most important one of my life, still sits inside my heart.  I want to protect it.  But I also need to get it out of me...

The story of your death and your birth starts on Tuesday June the 10th.  You were officially 21 weeks old as an inhabitant of my belly.  I felt fine all that day!  I went to work, I taught two different lessons to my graduating 5th graders about the transitions they would be facing in middle school.  I cleaned my office.  I hung out with my work friends.  We were all excited because it was the 3rd to last day of school.  There was a fun sort of buzz in the air all over school!  Summer was here!!

I picked up your Grandad after school, he needed a ride to pick up their car after it was finished with an oil change.  He always asked me how you were doing, how I was feeling.  He asked as soon as he got in the car...we were doing great!  After I dropped him off, I drove over to the hospital to drop off my Leave of Absence paperwork, in preparation for our time together after what was supposed to be your birth in October.  Isn't that ironic?  Little did I know I'd be back in a few short hours.  Little did I know I wouldn't need those papers filled out after all...

I came home and cooked dinner for your father, a new recipe from Pioneer Woman (my fave, you know!) something with chicken and pasta and spinach.  Your dad and I ate dinner casually, sitting on the couch, talking and laughing like usual.  Your big sister was at her moms for the week.  I was thinking about all the things I may be able to get done that night, since dad was going to work, and the house would be quiet.

A few times during the day that Tuesday, when I went to the bathroom (I had to pee a lot with you!!!  Probably 20 times every day!!) I had noticed some fluid there, but I didn't think anything of it.  You were a complicated little thing, and had been announcing your arrival for a month, although I'm sorry to say, no one really recognized it for what it was.  When I went to the bathroom after dinner, it was there again.  No worries, I told you.  We had been dealing with this "leak" of whatever it was since April.  The doctors told us not to worry, and they are usually right with that sort of thing.  Plenty of women bleed or leak something throughout pregnancy and it's usually nothing.  They had done all sorts of tests and exams on you and me, and nothing terrible had showed up yet!  I got used to telling myself, and you, that we were going to be fine.  I was just starting to believe it myself!

Your dad went upstairs to get ready for work, and I followed him.  I was just a little tired, and thought maybe I would sneak in a nap before getting started on whatever I was planning on doing that night.  I thought about cleaning, or clearing out some books in your nursery - we had a lot of work to do in there!  I was so excited to started working on your room, cleaning and painting and doing all those things that I love.  Maybe I would do that later.  But first, I wanted to rest.  As I got into bed, I felt a gush of something leave me.

Again, no worries, I thought to myself.  I've had these gushes before, it was just my body cleaning out the clot.  No worries, right?  I got up to go to the bathroom to check everything out, and as I walked, I felt it pop.  There was no mistaking this.  It was like a full water balloon has burst.  It wasn't blood.  Oh, how I wished it would have been blood!  That sounds gross, but at this point, a gush of blood was much less dangerous then this water that was coming out of me!

I screamed as I ran past your father into the bathroom.  "Something is WRONG, Dave!!!  Something is really really wrong!"

Your father, always calm and optimistic when it came to you and me, assured me it was ok.  We had been through this, right?  Wrong!   I told him.  This was different.  This was water.  Fluid.  I had read tons of things about giving birth to you, I read all about amniotic fluid and water breaking and I was sure this was it.  It was fluid.  And at this point in your life, fluid was not a good thing.  You were only 21 weeks.  You would not survive if I went into labor...

"Call the doctor and see what they say.  Don't freak out until we know for sure.  I'm sure he's ok!"  Dad called in to me.

God, I wish I could have been so sure.  Your father had so much faith in you, in us, and I really wanted to feel that way too.  But that wouldn't have helped anything.  We called the doctor, and when we finally got a hold of someone about an hour later, she told me to come right into the birth center.  As soon as possible.

I was a mess.  Why did this keep happening to us?  Why couldn't my body just hold on to you, and help you grow into a healthy baby boy?  I was terrified, and tired of being examined and poked and prodded.  I knew it was all for a good cause, and I would have kept on doing it for you, no problem.  But I wished it was easier, for your sake, and selfishly for mine.  I hate doctors, and hospitals, and so far this whole pregnancy had been terrible as far as that goes!  But believe me, you were totally worth it!

Dad called out of work, and drove me up to the hospital.  We got into triage and I started assuming the worse.  They questioned me about everything, and then did the exam.  I told them that I was sure my water broke, what else could it be?  Our doc decided she would to do a test that would show whether I was leaking fluid or not.  But first, we had to see how you were doing.  The triage nurse pulled out the Doppler, a machine I had grown to dread in that triage room, because I was afraid of what it would tell me.  She put the wand on my belly and fumbled around for a good minute.  It was always a little hard to find you.  I coached her and told her that usually, I could find you right underneath my belly button.  We rented a Doppler for the house and had been in the habit of listening in on you every other night or so.

I loved that part of being your mom, by the way.  I loved listening to that beautiful heart of yours!!!  It was so much less stressful listening to you at home, and so much sweeter.  Who knew that strong heart of yours had so few numbered beats.

The nurse took my advice and tried finding you right under my belly button.  Silence.  The doc left to get the ultrasound machine, which was not a good sign at all.  But, just as she was wheeling the big machine in...

whoosh, whoosh, whoosh!!!

There you were!!  Your heart was beating so strong and so fast, and I was crying all over again.  The doc decided to do the ultrasound anyways, and you came up on the screen.  We could see your heart flickering, and you were moving around, and you were ok!!!  Perfect!!!

That was the last time we saw you alive.

The doc did the fluid test.  It fooled us.  It came back negative.  It wasn't my water breaking, it said.  The doc told us that the ultrasound they have there wasn't all that clear.  She could tell that there was still fluid around you, but she couldn't tell how much.  She really wanted me to come back the next day, to the office, so they could do a proper one and see what was going on.  She thought maybe the fluid coming out of me was part of the hemorrhage - maybe it was trapped inside the dried up clot and as you grew, you were pushing it out.  That night, it seemed that you were healthy.  The fluid test was negative, and while that's not always 100% accurate, that was a good sign.  They hooked me up to the contraction machine and kept me for a few hours, and I didn't start contracting.  That was a good sign!

I wasn't sure about it all, because I was there.  That was a lot of fluid that came out of me.  But what do I know?  I've never been pregnant before.  Maybe it wasn't so much after all?

Why couldn't we have just known then?  Why did we have to be put through the agony of a whole extra night, thinking we had once again just had a hiccup and that's all?  If we would have stayed, could we have done something different?  Could the docs have saved you, if they knew?  Should I have insisted for something else to be done?  To be checked?  I didn't know anything.

I try not to focus on these questions, Jackson.  Because I know, nothing could have saved you for this Earth.  Jesus wanted you to come home.  For whatever reason, you had already, in your very short life, fulfilled your purpose.  What an honor that must be, because most of us have to go through a very long and hard life, full of trials and tribulations, to fulfill our purpose in Christ.  Not you, you were so little and perfect, and did whatever it was that you were meant to do.  Then, somewhere between that night and 11:15 the next morning, Jesus called you Home.

They let us leave the birth center that evening, with the expectation we would be back very early the next day for more tests.  We came home, your father called my mom, your grandmother, who you would have called "Janou" after the movie Affair to Remember.  Janou (a French word - pronounced jsha-new) also had a lot of faith in us, she called you her "peanut bean" and she loved you very much already!  Anyways, your dad and her talked about what happened, she kept saying that we would be ok.  That you would be ok!  I just cried and cried.  I got in the shower, and held you in my belly, and told you how much I loved you and how I was desperately hoping you would be ok.  I promised you that I wanted you, I wanted to be able to be your mom, and I wanted you to be healthy, and I would do anything for you, if you would just stay.  You were very loved, little boy.  You still are!

I got into bed.  I couldn't stop crying.  I swear my heart, and my body, and you...all knew what was happening.  Your father kept telling me to relax, that it wasn't good for you to be this stressed.  Everything would be fine.  I told him I was just so so scared.  He assured me that he believed in his heart that we didn't get this far, through all of this drama, just to lose you.  I remember very clearly telling him:

"I am scared that Jesus thinks that I can handle losing him...that I would be strong enough.  But I don't want to be strong enough for that.  I want our baby."  Your father just held me.

Somewhere in the night, I did rest.  I slept.  I held you the best I could, all night.  I hope that when you did leave me, leave us, you felt how much you were loved...and how much we really wanted you to stay.

That's about all I can say about your story right now.  I think it would be good to break your story down into the days - because I think I can handle it better that way...

I miss you.  I wish, so badly, that your story ended differently than what it did.  At least, for that night, I believe you were still there as I drifted to sleep.  Maybe you were waiting for me to be at peace so you could slip away.  I went to sleep knowing that your heart had been beating not so long ago...beautiful and strong.

Love you, Jackson.  Wish you were here...or wish I was there.  I wish we were together!