Life seems to have gotten the better of me yet again.
This time though it was for reasons I really wish I didn't have to admit.
We lost a child.
We found out I was pregnant right before Thanksgiving. We had been trying for over 10 months since my previous miscarriage, and it was getting to be really tough for us. We kept getting negative after negative for months thanks to my body not ovulating (which we finally had to be put on clomid), and when those two pink lines finally appeared it seemed almost like a cruel prank! But being me and having one positive test wasn't enough. I proceeded to take 5 more tests just to make sure I was really seeing what the tests were saying, and I was. I was pregnant!
The next few weeks we sat on pins and needles as we waited to be "in the clear" at 12 weeks. We had an appointment and were told that baby looked good and heartbeat was healthy. We were relieved.
We proceeded to get ready for the baby by clearing out the guest room, putting up a wood wall, ordering a rocking chair, a rug, and a new light fixture. I couldn't wait to put it altogether. We had also scheduled an early gender reveal for a few reasons, even though Chris said he would never do that! Haha. Everything was playing out how it should. How I pictured.
It happened on a Tuesday.
I was 16 1/2 weeks along, and we went in to the OBGYN for a normal check-up. We waited for the doctor, as usual, for what seemed like an hour (this btw did not help that anxious feeling you have at this stage when you can't feel the baby move yet, and still have all the pregnancy feels). He came in and asked me the typical questions "how are you feeling?", "have any new symptoms"....then it was time to check for the heartbeat. I laid on the table, and he began his search. We found my heartbeat, but not baby's. He calmly stated that it was sometimes normal not to hear the heartbeat because they could be down low and hiding. So it was off to the ultrasound, which I was foolishly excited about.
I can still play the ultrasound image in my mind. The second he put that wand on my stomach and found our baby I knew. I knew there was no heartbeat. I knew we had lost yet another baby. I knew that we would be starting the whole process over again.
I remember the stillness in the room as we held our breaths while the OB searched and measured, and took pictures of our baby. I remember Chris squeezing my hand. And then I remember the OB saying the words any expectant mother doesn't want to hear..."I'm sorry, but there's no heartbeat"...
Everything after that was blur of emotions. I was told that our baby was too big to be surgically removed, and so I would have to be deliver our baby, and soon. That terrified me since I had never been in full labor before, and because I wouldn't have that exciting prize at the end to work for.
We decided to go into the hospital the next morning so we could take the night to get Parker figured out for the next day, and to process what had just happened to us. It was a tough night. It almost felt like I was asleep and going through this bad dream that I just couldn't wake up from. I remember saying to myself "how was this happening again? To me? I had already paid my "dues" and lost a baby. This one was supposed to stick." But then it hit me.
Complete and total peace.
Yes of course I still cried the rest of the night. I cried as I called my Mom to tell her the news. I cried on the phone with a dear friend and she gave me advice about the same situation she had found herself in a few years back. (P.S. bless this friend of mine!!! And you know who you are. You helped me more than you can know that night. Your words gave me the strength to do what I had to do. So thank you.) I found myself at a loss for words, and a loss for wanting any food.
We spent some time as a family along with my sister and her husband. I was able to receive a blessing -- this is where that peace hit me again.
Chris and I knew that our baby was needed for a great work. That all they needed was a body, and their mission in this life was done. We received that confirmation that our baby was ok, and that we were loved. We knew that were given an incredible addition to our family -- though we won't have the chance to raise him in this life, we know that he is ours forever.
We got up early the next morning, and headed to the hospital. As approached the check-in desk and the thought of "I had planned this so differently" ran across my mind. When we told the front desk girl that we were there to be induced, I remember her looking at my stomach with a face of "you don't look full term" on her face. That pained me.
I got checked into my room, and my nurse, Paula, came in to get me set-up. She was amazing. I was so grateful to have someone as great as her. She made this hard process just a little bit easier. Over the next few hours we were visited by a number of different people -- the chaplain, my OB (who was also amazing!!!). We tried to make ourselves the most comfortable and distracted as we could. Thankfully our room had access to lots of great movies so we were able to entertain ourselves that way. I feel kind of guilty admitting that I actually was enjoying myself in what seemed like a moment that wasn't meant for me.
My labor was slow with a good amount of pain (thank goodness for medicine!!). Around the 14 hour mark is when we started to see some action. I could feel pressure and I was so ready to be done. At about 12:45am (now Thursday morning), my OB was in the room checking my progress. My water had broken about almost an hour before that, and so we knew that we were getting close. Before we knew it, at 12:48 am our baby was born.
Our OB was amazing. He was so kind and gentle and was the perfect one to help me that day. After our baby came out, he had promised us that he would do his initial exam of our baby right there with us, so we could know what was going on. The previous day while we were in the office we were told that our baby probably passed due to a chromosomal defect (down syndrome, trisomy, etc.), so we went in knowing that there was a good chance that we might not know the cause of death.
During the exam we discovered that first our baby was a boy, and second, he was perfectly healthy and had developed exactly how he was supposed to. This was a blessing to hear among the circumstances of his passing. We then found out pretty quickly that our son had passed away due to Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS). This is where bands form in the sac that are extremely strong, and usually when it occurs it happens to a baby's toe, or finger, but with our son's case it was extremely severe. It was wrapped around his left leg making his leg and foot deformed, around his right leg, around a finger on his left hand, and ultimately around his umbilical cord that cut off blood supply. I felt at peace knowing that it wasn't my fault, and that I'm still able to carry a healthy baby.
Amongst this tragedy we were extremely grateful to know that our son was not going to have to suffer in this life. If he would've lived he would've had a very hard life, and no mother wants to see their child suffer. During our wait time of labor, we chose the name Aaron because we wanted something that would be gender neutral since we didn't know if we were going to be able to tell what we were having since he was only measuring at 13 weeks. As soon as we saw him we knew that we had picked a good name -- Aaron means "to be exalted", and we knew that our baby was a special spirit, and we wanted to honor that.
Chris and I were able to hold Aaron. Our sweet nurse, Mindy, took Chris's phone and graciously snapped some pictures of us. Those of which I will forever cherish. I remember the room being still. The spirit was extremely strong, and I know for a fact that there were angels right there with us holding us up. As I looked at my sweet boy all I could feel was incredible love and gratitude for being blessed with such a special spirit. I vowed at that moment to work harder than I had been to be worthy to be able to raise him. After a little while, we said our goodbyes to Aaron, and I started the recovery process. My heart felt heavy, but I also knew my Heavenly Father loved me, and would help me get through this trial and heartache.
We got discharged a few hours later, and returned home. When I walked in the door my eye caught this wood sign on our built-in's that says "come what may and love it." That really struck me hard. I had just been given this incredible difficulty, and I was being told to love it. I knew in that moment that there was so much truth in that, and even though it was hard to understand why I needed to love it, I knew that one day I would.
Flowers, gifts, and visits from friends and neighbors started to pour in over the following days. We were shown SO much love and support Chris and I were speechless. We had never been on the receiving end of things, and we were truly humbled by everyone love and support. And my island looked like a flower shop!
It has been 3 weeks since everything happened. We obviously have not moved on from what happened, but we definitely feel like we've come so much closer as husband and wife and as a family, and we have been able to feel our sweet boys spirit in our home daily. Each day has brought us a tender mercy of some sort, and that too has brought us great comfort. Don't get me wrong, I still have my moments where I break down and cry and wonder why I was given this specific trial to go through. Even though I don't know the reason just yet, I know that my Father in Heaven loves me, and the gospel brings us peace in knowing that families are forever.
Aaron McNulty -- February 23, 2017 -- We love you our sweet baby boy 💙