I told my husband and we both thought I was crazy as we were just at the doctors and everything looked great.
As the appointments came and went, my anxiety that something would happen lessened knowing we were getting closer to meeting you. We had our 34-week appointment the end of May. You looked great. You had good fetal movement and a heart rate of 156. I remember it like it was yesterday.
The next two days something happened, and I woke up Thursday afternoon from working night shift in an absolute panic. I couldn’t feel you move. I told my husband and we both thought I was crazy as we were just at the doctors and everything looked great. I went back to work and on my way thought I felt you move. I felt a sigh of relief.
Two weeks passed and a friend of mine at work wanted to practice doing a fetal echo. I laid on the table and had a gut feeling that she was going to find something.
On June 8th, we were told you no longer had a heartbeat. They confirmed your death with an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that you had passed the week or two prior. My heart broke into a million pieces.
The mother’s intuition I had during the 34th week was right. When I woke up that Thursday afternoon and panicked about not feeling you, I knew you were already gone.
I had dialed my doctor’s office but hung up knowing that if we went in, my worst nightmare would come true. I felt you move that Thursday night, but the movements were never the same.
I honestly just thought you were getting too big. Later we found out, your movements were not intentional but rather your body floating inside of me.
For some unknown reason, I wanted to hold on for those two weeks.
We had a friend baby shower, maternity photos, finished the nursery and had the car seat ready and in the car. I could have called anytime during those two weeks, but I thought I had felt you. For another unknown reason, we found out your fate at my work. I was surrounded by amazing individuals who supported me in a way I didn’t know I needed on the worst day of my life.
We were to be at the hospital the next morning by 7:30. I was already in labor by the time we arrived, 3cm 60% effaced. After doing some research, I found out that your body starts a natural labor to expel of the fetus within two weeks of them passing. This news just reaffirmed that you had passed in the 34th week. The team told us it could take 24-48 hours to deliver you, but you made your appearance within 10. We did not find out gender as we wanted it to be a secret. I knew from the beginning you were a boy, but may others were confident that you were a girl. We found out before we birthed you that you were a boy. At 5:26 pm on June 9th, our lives forever changed, and Grady John was born. You were the most beautiful baby. We held you for hours, examining your features, taking you in knowing this was the only time we would get with you.
The next morning, we said our final goodbye and left the hospital with nothing but our belongings and the items the hospital made in your memory. I have watched patient families leave the hospital after their child had passed but never did, I think I could ever relate to them in that way. On June 10th, we walked away knowing we needed to find the strength to continue.
When Lauren asked me if I wanted to talk about our journey, something inside me was dying to get his story out. Stillbirth is not a topic of conversation you have on a regular basis, but it is now a part of our story that I wanted to share. Never in my life did I think this unfortunate event still occurred as much as it does. The first question I asked my doctor when we arrived that morning was “do you see this often?” Her response “it occurs in about 1 in 200 births.” 1 in 200 is 0.005%. We became a statistic that is almost unmeasurable, but when you think about the whole numbers, 1 in 200 is common. Of the 200, a quarter of these cases will never have an answer. I then asked what causes this? She talked about it being a cord accident, placenta issue, infection, genetic or chromosomal abnormality. When we delivered Grady, I asked for her to look at the placenta and the cord. She said there was nothing unremarkable about them. We did all the tests we could to see if there was an answer to this tragedy. The autopsy was normal, the placenta had clots but they couldn’t tell if they formed after he had passed or if that is what caused his death, my genetic testing was normal, and finally the genetic tests we got on Grady also came back negative. This was a freak accident. How could something so horrible be a freak accident without an answer? That is something unfortunately we will have to live with.
I am at peace knowing that it wasn’t something that I as a mother could have done.
Along with asking how often my doctor had seen this, I asked all the questions any other mom would have asked. Did I lay on my back too long? Did I bend over the wrong way? If I would have called that Thursday would anything have changed? Did this happen because I sat in the sun at the pool? Did I not gain enough weight or eat the right foods? The answer to all these questions is No. There was not one thing that I as a mother did that could have caused this accident to happen. There was also not one thing that I as a mother could have done to prevent this accident from happening. I am a control freak and realizing that you have absolutely no control during pregnancy was a huge challenge for me. We have no control over the genes we pass along, what they will look like, if they will develop correctly, if they will make it to term, or even what happens during delivery.
Throughout this entire event and through the grief process after, my husband and I have learned a lot that we wanted to share.