Timing. Within hours of going public with our happy baby news we experienced the loss every parent fears. Many may wonder why I would share this or write about it, especially so soon.
I write. I enjoy it and it helps—a form of therapy if you will. I also write to recall our experience, to memorialize our child, to help—mostly me but perhaps others as well. This blog is our story and this is a chapter in that story.
On Monday, my water broke around 8 pm and I knew we had trouble on our hands. My fear and sadness were immediate but I held on to some hope that something could be done. Approximately 10 minutes into the journey to the hospital contractions started—then I knew. I was in labor and we were losing our baby.
We arrived at the ER around 9 pm. I won’t share publicly the experience we had here, but I will say it was awful. And I will state to all the pregnant mamas and to-be-pregnant mamas, should you ever have the unfortunate experience of pre-term labor and/or child-loss, demand the best care and environment for you and your family. Demand it. Regardless of your gestation, regardless of hospital policies, regardless if you are naturally kind, quiet, or shy. You are carrying a human life, a life you planned and hoped for, a life that means everything to you. Demand to be treated as a woman about to deliver a full term baby would be. Go to the birth center. Registration can wait. Hospital policy can wait. You and your baby can not.
Nearly an hour after we arrived, on a cold, wet bed, without assistance or hospital support, our baby was delivered. Despite their small size and my assumption that s/he was already gone, my instinct was to reach for him/her, to hold our baby.
After transitioning to a new room, the doctor on call attempted to encourage the placenta to detach and deliver. The umbilical cord gave and our baby was brought to my chest. We were left alone to have time and grieve. I moved the cord aside to reveal we had a son. The emotions were raw and mixed. Had this child survived following a full term pregnancy, this fall we would have welcomed a lil man into the fold of our family. We would have had a girl and a boy to raise….what a blessing!
His name had been picked out during our first pregnancy; our boy would be named James Harold Pulvermacher. Sometime around 10 p.m. on Monday, May 23, our son entered this world too soon.
I was in awe at how well developed he was, how the tiniest features were shaped and prominent, how perfect his hands and feet and toenails were. Cody and I held our boy and talked about the plans we had for him. I apologized numerous times to him, though I wasn’t quite sure why.
Some have told me it’s OK to be angry, to question my faith… I am not. I don’t. God has blessed me beyond measure and I don’t have it in me to question this tragedy or be mad about things that are outside my control. I hurt. My heart breaks several times every day. I am sad. But I am not angry, nor do I blame God.
I have been far too blessed to question anything. Even during the raw pain of it all, I was grateful that I was able to deliver my son naturally, without intervention or mutilation. I was grateful for the opportunity to hold him and mourn with my husband. I was grateful for the nurse who returned to take his hand and foot prints so that we would have that, if nothing else. I was grateful that they called the funeral home and Mike came to us that very moment to give us peace of mind and take care of our lil boy, our James Harold.
Mostly, I feel selfish. I want to be able to fast-forward time, to hold a healthy baby boy who was meant to be the completion of our family. I want to nurse him. I want to kiss his soft cheeks and smell that sweet infant smell. I want to watch him play in the dirt, help his daddy on the farm, and charge a football field. I want him to be here, safe, healthy, and happy. I want to know who he would have become and I want to sit back and witness it all.
Dr. Koontz arrived and from there on out, we were in great hands. He discussed our options for removing the placenta. I hoped it would come on its own and we could avoid surgery. An overnight stay did not result in its delivery, so sometime after 10 am on Tuesday, I was prepped for surgery. My sadness changed to fear. This was a straightforward surgery for the most part but required me to be put under. And we all know there is that slight chance of not coming back out of anesthesia. Again, I was selfish. I HAD to wake up; I have a little girl depending on it. That slight chance, that sliver of a risk terrified me. Before going in I told Cody my wishes and rules for Connie if anything would happen. And I told my anesthesiologist that I wanted to wake up.
After returning to my room and seeing my dear husband, I looked at him and said, “I woke up.” With tears in his eyes, he said, “Because I need you.”
The surgery went well, but I did hemorrhage and lost quite a bit of blood. I was able to avoid a transfusion but it was a long day of monitoring and recovery—and a slight scare—before finally being released that night. I was anxious to get home to Connie, to hold her and relish in her health—her life.
Our dear, sweet nurse Pam came to us with a package. Contained within were photos she took of our baby boy. She went to the funeral home to take his pictures and provide us with a hospital photo collage, just as they did when they sent us home with Connie.
As headed home, I saw a couple of kids… A big sister and a little brother riding their bikes down the sidewalk, and once again, I couldn’t help think what could have been. My baby girl was awake and very happy to see us when we got home. She was the perfect medicine and knew exactly what I needed. She sat in my lap and showered me with kisses and love and again, I counted my blessings.
On Wednesday, we selected items for James’ cremation and memorial and placed the order with Mike at Faber Funeral Home. It was a day to recover and allow my blood to replenish. Cody was home with me and our nanny here to care for Connie. Cody was protective, bossy, and wise—I had to recover, to be able to stand without lightheadedness, to be able to hold and carry our daughter again, and to heal my body. That took time, rest, water, and his support. I cannot say enough about my husband. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. My constant rock, amazing partner, and my eternal love. Lord only knows where and who I’d be without him.
Maternity shirts I ordered a couple weeks ago arrived. That coupled with the enlargement of my breasts and appearance of colostrum makes for some emotional moments. I have food designed for a new life—but no baby to nourish. Despite the fact that he was not full term, my body still reacted in its miraculous way and created food for the life I was to bring forth. It is amazing while devastating.
Our healing will take time. Our grief will go on and on. In time, we’ll mend. Our dear Miss Connie certainly makes the heartache lighter and should we never be able to have another child, we have her and that is a tremendous blessing. And I have Cody, and this amazing life we are building. So truly, I have it all. We’ll try again. Perhaps in time we will welcome another child. It’s in God’s hands.
To the staff that supported us at RAMC, I cannot thank you enough for the compassion and over the top service you gave us. Your Birth Center and Surgical departments are top notch and I was in great care. I can’t recall all the names, but thank you. The comfort we experienced once we arrived in the Birth Center was a tremendous help to us during this truly difficult time. It felt so good to see familiar faces, faces that cared for us when we brought Connie into this world, faces that understood our hurt and who grieved with us. Thank you.
Nursing staff: Erin, Pam, Myra, and others
My OB: Dr. Koontz; My Midwife: Deb
Surgical team: Ken, Penny, Katie, and others
I write. To help me heal, to always remember my James, and to notify those that follow our story, those that know us and knew of our happy, baby news. Summer is here and I won’t be a hermit. I’ll be in social situations and will be forced to inform people more than once of our loss. Hopefully this entry will ease that burden.