First Time for Everything, or Not…

Remember in the post “Delivery, I’m Not Talking Pizza” where I talked about being emotional when we wheeled AJ to our room while the hospital played the delivery lullaby? Here we dive deep into why… It’s a long one, so get cozy and maybe grab some tissue.

We just returned from our 10-day stint in Cancun. We were married there on May 16, 2014 at a beautiful resort with 40 family and friends. We came back just in time for Memorial Weekend and to attend our friend’s wedding in Napa. We were still on a high from celebrating with our family and friends in Mexico. It had not dawned on me that I could be pregnant. I just stopped taking birth control and I was under the impression it would take months to get pregnant. I just assumed that my body was getting back to “normal.”

It was June 2, 2014 when I found out I was pregnant. I remember telling my hubby and we both said, “oh shit.” We both laid in bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. I remember thinking there was no way it was possible. We told our parents almost immediately. It was important to me to wait to tell others. I wanted to wait until after the 3rd month. I often woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I remember calling my mom and telling her this and she would think I was silly. Finally, we let some of our family and friends know. My cousin also informed me she was expecting her second and we were due about a month apart from each other. We were so excited to be on this journey together, even though we were in different states. How fun was it going to be to touch bases on each other even more and talk about our experiences together.Nick and I bought a house in the suburbs, away from all of our friends to raise our baby in. We were well on our way to becoming real grown ups!

The hubby and I opted for the genetics testing and it was turning out just fine, until month five. I received a call after the second round of blood work letting me know my amino fetal protein (AFP) levels were higher than normal. They let me know it wasn’t so high off the chart, but that it was a little high and I needed to come in for a comprehensive ultrasound. Often, AFP results in spinabifida, a hole in the babies spine. The ultrasound found low fluid levels, but nothing else. The baby seemed to be progressing along just fine. Once that came back okay, we felt more comfortable and were so excited.

We were progressing just fine and my bump was growing. November 8, 2014 was my gender reveal baby shower. I was just 7 months into being pregnant. I was finally starting to feel excited about this new blessing we were going to bring into the world. I was excited to see my friends and family and to find out if the little nugget was a boy or girl. We cut the cake and the inside frosting was blue! We were having a boy. I remember feeling so emotional. I really wanted a boy, maybe more so than my hubby. It was a great day! After that my cousin and I had a 3D ultrasound’s. Our families and our grandma were present. It was so exciting to see our little ones on the monitor. I wanted to confirm that we were having a boy. I had heard so many horror stories about bakeries getting it wrong, this was a must to make sure it was correct. How funny would that have been though? The baby was so much more active and it was so fun to watch my belly move. It was Wednesday night, November 19, 2014. My hubby put the crib together. I just finished the Thank you cards for all the gifts from the shower. I just needed stamps before I could send them out.

We went to bed and the next day our world changed in a way we never saw coming. I was in a rush that morning and didn’t have time to do my normal kick counts before getting up, so I planned on doing them when I got to work. I got to work and around 9am I realized I hadn’t felt the baby move. I had this sick feeling in my stomach. I reached out to my hubby and a couple friends who assured me either his sleeping pattern changed or I needed to get in a different position to feel him move. I drank juice, I tried candy and eventually thought going for a walk around the store would definitely wake the baby. It was around 1pm when I decided it was time to walk over to Labor and Delivery and get checked. I was worried I was being super paranoid and going to waste everyone’s time. I left my belongings at my desk and made the short walk over to the next building (I worked at a hospital at the time) because I was convinced I would be right back. I was so nervous during that walk. I was asking the baby why he wasn’t moving and asking God to make him move so I could go back to work and stop being so paranoid.

I was admitted and the nurse came in to complete an ultrasound. She said she could see the baby. I remember hearing a very faint heart beat. The nurse said she wasn’t sure if that was my heart or the babies and that she would get a new machine because it was possible the machine was not working correctly. After the changing of the machines and a doctor coming in to complete the ultrasound, there was still no sound coming from the machine and with the deep sigh from the doctor I knew what they were about to tell me. I remember the sound of the sigh, and then she said, “I’m so sorry, there isn’t a heart beat.” She showed me the baby and where his heart was. They called in another doctor who confirmed, there was no heartbeat. There was an “I’m sorry and do you want to call someone” that followed.

My heart sank. We just had our official 7 month appointment two days before and there was a steady heartbeat. And, he had been moving around the day before. How did this happen? How was I going to tell my husband? I had informed him I was going to get checked and I never thought I would be calling him to tell him our baby’s heart stopped beating. I asked the nurse for the phone and began dialing. I couldn’t see the numbers on the phone through my tears. Once he answered I could only tell him there was no heart beat and that he needed to get to the hospital right away. During that time I also had to inform my co-worker of the outcome because I wouldn’t be returning for my belongings. She was kind enough to bring them to me and sit with me until my husband arrived. When my husband arrived I sobbed and told him how sorry I was. He didn’t understand how this happened either. I was so worried I did something to cause this to happen. I just kept apologizing over and over. I explained that I had to be admitted to deliver the baby because we were so far along. They told me I didn’t have to do it right away and that we could go home and come back. Together we decided there was no need to go home and that I would be admitted right then and there to get the process going.

There was no point delaying the inevitable. And, I didn’t want to spend any more time with a baby inside of me that would never move again. Of course it crossed my mind a million times that they were all wrong and that they made a mistake. After phone calls to our parents to let them know of the news, I was hooked up to machines and had so much blood drawn I wasn’t sure how I was still going to survive. I was filling out death certificates and filling out so much paperwork for the death of a child, my head was spinning. The doctors told me to be prepared to be in the hospital for at least 24-48 hours. Since my body had never been through labor, they told me it was going to be a long process. My parents rushed up from the Bay Area to be with us. My hubby’s parents were so torn whether they should fly in or not from Arizona. In the end, what was the point? It was best they stayed home. They induced my labor and then we began the waiting process for my body to react. Throughout the night we heard lullabies being played throughout the building for the parents who were bringing their babies home; it was heart wrenching. It wasn’t until the nurse had asked me to roll to my side to make sure I didn’t stay in one position too long, that my water broke and the contractions began. It began much quicker than anyone anticipated and my progress continued at a rapid pace as well. I suppose that was God’s way of helping us out of this agony as quick as possible.

The next morning, November 21, 2014 at 7:10am, I delivered our little boy. The room was silent and the tears flowed. The doctor hugged me and told me how brave I was. We never heard a cry, we never saw his eyes open, we never counted toes or fingers. There were going to be a lifetime of never’s for this little guy. Once they had him cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket, we were able to hold him. We took turns holding him. We cried together. My parents and a few close friends came by to check on us and say their good-byes as well. We were asked if we wanted to have photos of him. At first I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to have anything to remember such a painful time, we decided it would be a good idea. After the photos they took of him (which we have still not looked at) and all of the blood work they took from him it was 3pm. It was time to say our final good-bye to the little boy we never got to bring home. Everyone left the room and we picked him up told him how much we loved him, how much we were looking forward to meeting him, how sorry we were that this happened and then said a tearful good-bye to our first born (straight to heaven).

The nurses came in and said I had to be wheeled out in a wheelchair. I was furious. I was physically fine. There was no reason for me to be wheeled out. Mentally I was broken, but there was no physical reason for me to be wheeled out of that hospital. I was wheeled by women in labor, walking around the hospital floor, by family coming to see the newest addition to their families. I was so angry. I was ready to be home.

That first night home after we went to sleep was the hardest. I no longer had a belly to snuggle up to my hubby with. I no longer had any movement. Hearing my hubby break down was the hardest thing for me. He tried so hard to be strong for me, but he said he remembered my phone call and the events that followed so vividly. I couldn’t sleep. I now hated the sound of pure silence. I could only sleep with a TV playing in the background.

Every week for the next 6 weeks we were gathering more and more information about what happened. We also had to make it through Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had to make it through an abundance of pregnancy announcements and births. There was nothing more exciting than to have 2014 come to a close.

In the end, little man had a 1:1 Million genetic defect that was undetectable on any type of test. Our only sign was the AFP levels and the low levels of fluid surrounding the baby. All of our doctors and genetic counselors said it was the biggest fluke they have seen. They were shocked I made it as far as I did and called him a fighter.

My first experience of being pregnant and labor was ripped from me. I would no longer have a first pregnancy or delivery. How would I explain to people that I have had two deliveries, one baby? I felt guilty for saying AJ was my first. As you can imagine, I was not excited during my pregnancy with AJ. I was all nerves, all the time. I would wake up in the middle of the night to drink ice cold water for 7 months to make the baby move. I heard about two stories of late term pregnancy lost while I was six months pregnant and couldn’t contain myself. I wouldn’t let my husband tell most people because I couldn’t go through that again. I did my best to stay in hiding for my entire pregnancy. I didn’t have a baby shower, I didn’t want people talking about me being pregnant. I didn’t want anything to do with it. We left the crib set up and the door remained closed for the year. We didn’t put the finishing touches on the nursery until I was eight months pregnant with AJ. We didn’t buy any clothes until I was about eight months pregnant. This time, we didn’t find out the gender until AJ was born. We wanted to do everything the exact opposite this time. Even though we were told what happened the first time was a fluke, I was still doubtful the entire time. I spent three months being monitored twice a week to make sure things were still progressing just fine. We completed the same tests and when that five month blood work came back just fine, I was able to breathe a little better, but I still was not convinced we were out of the woods. I know if I am able to get pregnant again, I’ll have the same worry, doubt and fear as I did before and I’ll probably still want to keep it hidden. But, that’s our journey now. I still cringe when people are so excited about being pregnant, because you really never know what can happen.

I write this because in one week we celebrate the first birthday of AJ. Those two deliveries are one year and one week apart. We will never forget our first little man and we plan to tell his brother and future siblings, if we are blessed with another, all about him and how he changed the course of our lives.

Now you know why those lullabies really struck a cord with us. We finally got to take our baby home…

2 thoughts on “First Time for Everything, or Not…

  1. Beautiful, sorry for your loss, but glad you can share and talk about it. AJ is lucky to have you two as parents and yes never forget your first one. Deb Welch ( Sara’s aunt)


  2. This story brought me to tears. Shannon, you are a brave mother and I am in admiration of you. Thank you for sharing this very personal time with the world.

    -All my love and respect, Jasmine.


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