My husband and I felt our family was complete with 2 children. We were blessed to have both a girl and a boy. We had everything we had ever asked for. But our world changed forever in July 2010.
I had a gut feeling that I was pregnant. My husband and I were not as careful as we should have been in June and I could just tell that something was going on. So on the night of July 7th, I went to the Dollar Tree and I bought 3 tests. I didn’t tell my husband what I was up to and I snuck into the bathroom with the tests in my purse to take them. Almost immediately 2 lines showed up. I totally freaked out. I was not expecting to be pregnant. I thought for sure my gut just had to be wrong.
I didn’t know what to think. A pregnancy meant a minimum of $5,000 in medical expenses plus whatever expenses the baby incurs when it was born. But I knew that I could not spend time stressing about it. The pregnancy existed and we were just going to have to deal with whatever it might bring.
I told my husband immediately. He was more excited then I was. He held me as I cried because I was so overwhelmed by what was going on. He assured me that we would make everything work. That the bills would get paid, the baby items would get bought, and that we would easily make room in our family for our new child.
I called the doctor the next day. Pre-natal care is so important to me and I wanted the pregnancy to feel real. I told my mom. She seemed genuinely happy. My mother in law felt that her prayers had been answered. For over a year she had prayed that God show her the path for her life and she felt that her path was to help us raise our growing family. She felt needed. I thanked her for basically praying for me to get pregnant. I smiled.
The first pre-natal appointment was at 5 weeks. Everything looked great and they set my due date at March 16th. The day after Jacob’s 4th’s birthday. I was upset that the baby might be born on his birthday and joked that I would keep my legs crossed that day. The pregnancy still didn’t feel real.
Between that visit and the next, morning sickness set in. I began to feel more connected to my pregnancy but I still complained about the nausea and tiredness. I went to bed early and woke up feeling so nauseated that I didn’t want to get out of bed. Saltines crackers helped just a bit.
We decided to tell people and our kids. I already had 2 healthy pregnancies. Miscarriage was not a concern for us. We were finally excited to be parents again and couldn’t wait to share that joy with the world. The kids were super excited. We told them that there was a baby growing in my belly. My son constantly asked to feel the baby and he would talk to my stomach and tell the baby that he loved it. My daughter begged for a sister that could sleep in her room. She was really thrilled at the thought of a baby being in the house.
The next pre-natal visit came. I asked for an ultrasound since I had a tilted uterus and there was no way they would be able to get the heart beat. I was 9 weeks. We were thrilled to see the baby. The heart rate was high and strong. The ultrasound technician commented that the baby looked great. The baby waved at us. We felt secure. I was unaware at the time that the baby actually measured a week ahead of schedule which was not at all consistent with my dates.
We started to get prepared for the baby. I bought a pack and play, carseat and started stockpiling diapers. We started making plans where the baby would sleep, we bought a new van, we started discussing baby names.
On August 27th my daughter got sick. We thought it was a stomach bug. It lasted for 4 days and then she started to complain it hurt her to tee-tee. I took her to the doctor twice for a UTI. They put her on antibiotics and she didn’t get better. Finally on September 5th we took her to Children’s Hospital. It turned out that her appendix had ruptured 10 days before and had formed a softball sized abscess in her abdomen. She was lucky to be alive.
They admitted her and drained the abscess. She stayed in Children’s for 8 nights and I never left her side. I was so worried about her that I couldn’t be away from her. I slept on that awful hospital chair bed every night. I watched her like a hawk. When she was released, she had a PICC line and I had to give her IV antibiotics 3 times a day for 10 days. I was so tired and I didn’t feel like I took as good a care of myself as I could have. I put her first, as any parent would.
At my next pre-natal appointment, I told the doctor that I was concerned about the baby after the ordeal with Emily. He laughed and said “What could you of possibly done to the baby?” He got the heart rate on the doppler and commented “Wow, that’s really fast.” (It was 180.) He told me to come back in 3 weeks for the big ultrasound. I would be 18 weeks.
When I got home that day I was finally able to find the baby’s heart beat on my at home doppler. I felt so connected to the baby. I was beaming. I was so excited to be a mother for the 3rd time. I remember telling my friends how weird it was to be at the stage when morning sickness had passed and I still couldn’t feel the baby move. I continued to use the doppler every couple of days. Finding the heart beat was such a joy.
A few days before the ultrasound I finally felt the baby kick for the first time. I cried tears of joy. I was so happy.
Then Monday, October 11th, came. My mother in law, husband and son came with us to the ultrasound. We were so excited to find out what the baby was. We had to wait an hour that day. Looking back it was the last hour I had before my life changed forever. The technician started the ultrasound and moved the wand quickly over my belly. She asked me if I was sure about my dates. The baby was only measuring 15 weeks, 1 day. I was suppose to be almost 18 weeks.
I waited by myself to see the doctor. I spent 10-15 minutes completely freaking out. What could that mean? How could this be happening? We were suppose to find out the sex, not find out something had been wrong with the baby. I had forgotten to pray for a healthy child.
The doctor came in and said she was seriously concerned. That the growth should not be behind. She said I might have an infection and ordered some blood tests. She said there could be something wrong with the baby or it could be human error. She said she would send me to UAB for a level 2 ultrasound. That would give us the answers. She did say the baby, heartbeat (it was 165) and placenta looked good. I held onto hope.
That was Monday. They called and said my ultrasound was set for Friday. I spent those 4 days worrying and freaking out. I researched all I could. I would pick up the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler and feel reassured that it must be human error. That they were wrong. When I picked up the baby’s heart beat Tuesday night it was 188 according to the doppler. That was fast. Obviously too fast. That was the last time I was able to find the heartbeat.
Wednesday I quit feeling pregnant.
Thursday my doctor called to see how I was holding up. It was weird having her call me personally. I should have known that something serious was going on. I spent the day on my knees praying. I asked God to take the worry away. I knew it was wrong to worry. I prayed that God would take the worry away and let His will be done. I prayed for my baby. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.
Friday came. My mother in law and husband came for the ultrasound. I sat in the waiting room and I prayed. I prayed for every mother in there. I hugged my stomach. I felt for sure everything was going to be okay. And I hoped we would find out the sex of the baby.
The ultrasound room was big. I thought it was neat that they had a large tv where you could watch the ultrasound. At my previous ultrasounds I always had to wait for them to turn the screen towards me. I always hated that my husband could see everything and I couldn’t.
I watched as she moved the wand around on my belly. I waited for the baby to move. It didn’t. I waited. I waited. And then I found the courage and I asked. She said “the baby’s not moving right now.” I knew in my gut. I just knew that the baby was not ‘sleeping’.
She went and got the doctor. The doctor looked at a couple things and then she said the worst words I had ever heard in my life. “Mrs. Cooper, I am so sorry but your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.” My husband and mother in law started to cry. I just looked at her like she couldn’t possibly be talking to me. I wasn’t Mrs. Cooper, was I?
They took us into a small room and told us that they were going to call my doctor’s office. I got out my phone and I called my mother. “I lost the baby Mom” is all I remember saying. I lost it after that. I started to cry and it was awful. She said she was coming to town. (She lives an hour away.)
I texted all my friends who were waiting to hear what the baby was. I hated having to tell people. But it was wonderful having their prayers and support. We left and drove to my doctor’s office. I drove because my mother in law didn’t know the way and I didn’t feel like telling her. My husband had to put on a brave face and head to the school to pick up our daughter. She was getting out early and since she was a cheerleader she got to ride in the homecoming parade. I didn’t want her to miss it. She was so excited.
My mother in law stayed with me and held my hand in the doctor’s office. I took the moment to update the blog so all my wonderful readers would know what was going on. The doctor came in and said she was sincerely sorry for my loss. She said I would have to deliver the baby. And she said I would have to wait until Sunday night. That I needed to be emotionally prepared for it. That mothers that waited did better than mothers that rushed to delivery. I didn’t want to wait. She didn’t give me a choice.
We left and I drove us home. Mother in law kept telling people that my baby was dead. That was hard. I wanted her to put the phone down. She has a big family. Each time she told someone it was like a knife through my heart.
We had to pretend like everything was fine to the kids. We didn’t want to ruin Emily’s big day. We went to lunch at Chickfila, watched her in the parade and then took the kids to the fair in town that night. I was numb. I couldn’t believe that my baby was dead and I still had to deliver the baby. I tried not to think about it.
I started hurting that night. I hurt and hurt and it didn’t stop. I called the doctor’s office and they told me to come to the hospital in the middle of the night. I had to go to the OB floor and walk past all the bows. They monitored me for an hour and gave me Lortab and Ambien and sent me home. That was cruel. I had hoped they would keep me. I wanted it over. The doctor made me feel stupid. (I see a group of 6 OBs and unfortunately I did not see my regular doctor through this.)
I went home and cried myself to sleep. That was an awful night. We took the kids to see Toy Story 3 at the dollar theater on Saturday and then it was time for Emily’s homecoming game. It was so hard facing everyone and telling them that I didn’t know what my baby was. That my baby was gone and I still had to deliver the baby. They were all very compassionate and kind. It didn’t help.
Sunday was the day I had dreaded the most. We were waiting to tell Emily until after I had the baby. But she knew something was wrong even though I had tried so hard to hide it. She climbed up in my bed that morning and asked me “Momma where is our baby?” I tried to change the subject. She asked me again. I told her that sometimes babies stop growing in mommy’s tummies and God takes them to Heaven to be angels. She cried. I cried. Then she said “Our baby must of stopped growing during Toy Story 3 because it was really scary.” I assured her that was not the case. She giggled and ran off and didn’t bring it up again. My husband held me while I cried.
I spent the morning alone. Everyone else went to church. I made a playlist of songs about miscarriage and loss. Then I took a shower and had a screaming fit at God. It was my baby and I was mad that He took it from me. It didn’t do me any good. I apologized for yelling at Him and prayed that He wrap His arms around me during this time. I was so scared. So, so, so scared.
My mother in law took the kids home with her so they could do Halloween crafts. She made the day as fun for them as she could. My husband took me on a ‘date’. We went out to lunch. I couldn’t taste the food. We went to Walmart and bought a picture frame and name plate. We picked the yellow Pooh set since we still didn’t know what the baby was. Then we went to a movie to pass the time. But the day went too fast. I wasn’t ready to face the reality of what I was about to have to do. I didn’t want to go to the Hospital. I cried all the way there.
I was in a different world as we entered the OB floor. I saw the blue bows on all the doors (never did see a pink). The nurses all looked at me like they were really sorry for me. I felt sorry for the nurse that was going to get stuck with the woman with the dead baby. This cute, young nurse took us to our room to get settled in. They had me as far away from the other rooms as they could. They pointed out that there was a family room right next to the birthing suite for my family to use.
The nurse was very sweet but it was obvious that she hadn’t done this much. She informed me that Barbie was going to be my night nurse and that she had specially requested me. That made me feel important. That this nurse would actually want to choose to be with me during the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. It wasn’t long after when Barbie came bouncing into the room. She was a true joy during this time.
Barbie informed me that she had had 5 miscarriages herself and that she knows exactly how I feel. She answered all my questions and talked with me about how the induction would work. I told her about Couponing to Disney and she told me she had worked at Disney World 22 years ago. She told me some stories about Disney and I appreciated being able to remove myself mentally from my current surroundings.
I asked for a them to give me a local anesthetic before they started the IV. I do not have good veins and I wanted to hurt as little physically as I could. They were happy to comply. Every 4 hours that night I was given a dose of Cytotec to soften my cervix and bring on labor. They also gave me some good IV pain medicines. I was able to sleep a little bit. I slept and I prayed and I cried.
Around 12:30 that night I got up and went for a walk. All the nurses at the nurses desk were looking at Couponing to Disney. That made me feel special. I tried to talk with them more about it and Disney but I kept tripping over my words. It was kind of funny actually. The nurses were all so kind to me. They actually made me feel important. It was good to feel like that during this difficult time.
I was able to sleep some more but the contractions were starting to hurt more. I was so scared of the pain that might come. I asked for the epidural. I hate getting an epidural but I hated the idea of pain more. It was so hard to sit on the side of the bed while the man dug around in my back to start the epidural. Then he covered my back in the tape from hell. I kid you not.
20 minutes later the epidural was not working. He came back and boosted it. It did not work. Well it worked in an 8 inch square on my right leg. If they had been cutting into that area of my leg, it would have been pain free. Darn thing. At some point in this process my mother arrived. All I can remember is telling the nurse I did not want to do the epidural again and to get it out of my back. I remember looking at my mother’s face and screaming as they pulled the tape off my back. That was the absolute worst pain of the whole ordeal. The tape from hell.
I elected to do IV pain medicines. God granted me sleep. I slept and then I woke up to the worst pain I had ever felt. The contractions were so strong and hard. My mother called the nurse (I had a new nurse by this point. Her name was Dani and she was so sweet). She came in and checked me and then my water broke on it’s on. I cried. I knew it was real. My baby was getting ready to leave me.
I fell back to sleep. I woke up and my dad was there. I said “I know you!” and then I went back to sleep. I woke up again and our pastor and his wife were there. I told her she was so beautiful and then I fell back to sleep. It was wonderful, peaceful sleep.
The nurse woke me up and said it was time to have the baby. I couldn’t believe that the moment I feared the most was finally here. What was my baby going to look like? Was it going to be a boy or a girl? How was I going to survive this?
One push and the baby entered this world sleeping. The nurse started telling me how beautiful the baby was. That my baby was absolutely perfect, just small. She couldn’t tell us for sure what the baby was (she guessed girl). The genitals weren’t full formed. I remember her placing the baby up on my stomach. My sweet, beautiful, sleeping baby. I was a proud mommy in that moment. I was just as proud of my baby as I was of my two children at home.
She took the baby from me and placed the baby in the warmer and called the doctor. It was only a few moments before he arrived. He looked at our precious baby and told us we had a little boy. My sweet little Andrew. He said the baby looked perfect. There was nothing physically wrong with him. He suggested a partial autopsy. We agreed.
The doctor delivered the placenta and thankfully it came out easily and I didn’t have to have a D&C as well. They sent the placenta off for testing. Overall the birth was uneventful (except for the epidural not working). The doctor offered his condolences and he and the nurse left us alone with our sleeping baby.
We looked at his peaceful, sleeping face. I held his little hands and touched his little feet. He was so beautiful. I held him and rocked him and told him how much I loved him and treasured the brief 19 weeks that he was part of my life. I told him how much I wanted him and how I would never forget him. I kissed him. He had my heart.
I decided that he needed a middle name that meant Gift from God. Because he was our gift. I did a brief search online and found Johnathan. It was perfect. My Andrew Johnathan. My strong gift from God.
The nurse came in and measured and weighed him and dressed him up for his pictures. Pictures that I hold so dear and close to my heart. They honored him and treated him just like a full term healthy baby. They took his little feet and hand prints. They were so small. So small and so perfect.
We asked for the pastor on staff to come up and pray over our baby before we said our final goodbyes. I hated to say goodbye but I knew Andrew deserved to rest. My husband held him and told him how much he loved him. My mother held him for a long time. I remember watching her sway back and forth with him. It was beautiful. My little brother arrived to see Andrew. My little brother cried. I cried. We all cried. We cried and told Andrew how much we loved him.
And then the nurse took him away and it was over. I was left with a broken heart and a box of mementos. The hospital staff had but together a memory box for us. It had a sweet little hat, bootie, gown and blanket someone had handmade and donated. They also gave me the gown and blanket he had used. It was soiled but I didn’t care. I wanted it. The box also had his measuring tape, hospital birth card with his little footprints on it, and a few other things. Most importantly it had “Little Lamb”. A sweet lamb that was used in his pictures. The lamb that has brought me the greatest comfort through all of this.
I sent my husband and my mother to get me dinner from my favorite Italian restaurant. I curled up into a ball with my little lamb, prayed to God and asked him to surround me with His love and I slept for a little while. I woke up to my husband kissing me goodbye. I sent him home because he needed to work the next day. The CEO of his company was coming on Wednesday and it was a once in a career visit. I didn’t want him to miss it.
My mother stayed with me that night. I called a few people and I have no memory of who I called or what I said. They gave me some good drugs and I slept all night.
The next morning my actual doctor came in to see me. I see a group of six doctors and I had not seen her in about 2 months. I love her so much. I wish she had been with me through it all. She just has the personality that makes you feel better as soon as she enters the room. She was so compassionate and caring. She reassured me that it was nothing that I did wrong. That my little Andrew was a fighter. That he felt no pain and he was now in the presence of our Lord. He was the lucky one. She gave me some Xanax to help me through the coming weeks.
My mother took me home. We stopped and got a white bow for the mailbox. My daughter had been so fascinated by blue and pink bows that I knew it would help her if Andrew had his own special bow. When we picked her up at school later that day she patted my tummy and said it was so big for our baby. That was hard. Then she started chattering about a few of the pregnant teachers in the school and how excited she was to find out what her teacher’s baby was the next day. I held my little lamb tighter and listened.
When we got home she saw the bow and was so fascinated by it. I think she looked at it 50 times that day. She started asking me a lot of questions. I wanted to wait until her daddy got home that night but she was asking so many hard questions. Finally I told her that I had gone to the hospital to have the baby. I told her that it was a boy baby. She started to cry. She wanted a little girl.
Once she got it under control, I told her that his name was Andrew Johnathan. Baby Andrew. She looked through his memory box 5 times. She was so fascinated. She was so proud of her little angel brother. Her smile healed my heart just a little bit.
My best friend of 20 years came to sit with me so my mother could leave. No one wanted me to be alone. It was wonderful to see her. Emily was so excited to tell her all about her angel brother. Emily tells everyone about him. She is a very proud sister.
My husband came home early from work. He helped get Emily to bed and I made a few phone calls. I made one phone call I wish I hadn’t made. It broke the string that I had tied around myself to keep myself together. I lost it and I lost it bad. I cried and cried and my husband just held me as tight as he could. It lasted for 3 hours. It was awful. It was needed, I suppose. But it was awful. I felt so bad that he had to put his grief aside to help me through mine. He is such a strong, strong man.
Wednesday he took me to my mother in laws and I spent the day in her bed. I slept and made a few phone calls. I read some wonderful emails and comments from my readers. She took me home and picked Emily up from extended day at school. She told me she had the best day and the mostest fun with her best friends. She said she told all her friends about her angel brother.
My mother in law carried the kids to church that night and then sat with me until my husband got home from work. He came home early so he could pick them up from church. I was so relieved that he was off the next 3 days. I was so happy to have him with me. My heart hurt so bad.
That night my milk came in. What a crappy thing to happen after everything I had been through. I was expecting it though. It’s just another thing to deal with. Another reminder of everything I had been through. I breastfed both my other children so this was a new experience for me. It’s awful.
Night time is the worst time for me. I just curl up into a ball with little lamb and cry until I can’t cry anymore.
I can make it through the day without crying too much. I have so many incredible, amazing, supportive people in my life and that helps. We have a great church family who is really taking good care of us. I am so thankful for them and for my faith in God. I don’t know how I would get through this without God. I honestly don’t.
We decided to have Andrew cremated. It just made the most sense. He was so little but he is my son. I want to honor his life even though he never drew a breath on this earth. We are having a memorial service at our church for him. Then we are burying him in my father in law’s plot in Georgia.
I am the mother of 3 kids. 2 on earth and one in heaven. I don’t understand why Andrew went to heaven, but I am so grateful for the brief 19 weeks I had with him. He will always be a part of me. He has helped mold me into a better mother.