My ex-husband had made me never want kids but oh how quickly that changed when I met Nick on that fateful weekend float trip. On the very first night that we met, he showed off pictures of his daughter and talked about her with total admiration; I could see his soul light up thinking of her and also could see how much he missed her since she was with her mother. I was so smitten with him, seeing his gentle heart so quickly. Once we got back into town from the trip, I got to meet his daughter, Jaelynn. Being like every little girl, she was as much in love with daddy as daddy was in love with her. Their interactions melted my heart. That’s when I knew that I did want children, and I wanted them with him. I never hid that fact from Nick and he admitted quite plainly that he also had desires to have more children. To have a family. So pretty quickly into having met, we began the fun process of trying to conceive a child. When I had my first period after we had began trying, I admit, I was disappointed. Life was good though. He supported me while I found work since I had just moved back to Kansas City and I supported him to get back into his career of choice – welding. Thanks to advice from a friend, he heard that a company was hiring, and quickly impressed them with his abilities and knowledge; just like that, he had a new job. The day that he started his new job, I realized that my period was 2 days late. That morning after he had set out for his new job, I decided to take a pregnancy test.
I honestly did’t think I was really pregnant, but I still held that small bit of hope. The waiting was the hard part. Sitting there, I watched as the test processed and noticed the faintest of lines. In my mind I kept saying “Am I really seeing this” over and over again. I wait the 3 minutes and the line is still there. I had that moment of “OMG I’m seeing things, it’s so faint, maybe it’s a mistake.” I take multiple pictures and in each one of them, the line is faint, but it is there. Finally I decide I need a second opinion. I send a picture to Nick saying “I’m not sure what to make of this.” Since it was his first day on the job, I didn’t hear anything back right away, so I get ready and head to my work.
When I talk to him, the excitement was amazing. To me though, I wasn’t going to fully believe it until the doctor confirmed it. I go into the doctor’s within a few days and ordered the bloodwork to be done. The waiting of the results drove me nuts but finally I receive the good news. We are expecting! Then there was the fun part of telling parents. At first my father was not too happy about the situation, he had just met Nick a few times before and didn’t know him the way I did. My mother was overjoyed though, she was ready to be grandma, and even though she had some slight reservations, they were very minor. His attitude changed very quickly within the coming weeks though, because he got to see what I did – Nick and Jaelynn together.
From the moment we confirmed that we were pregnant with the doctors, I had a feeling that we were having a boy. We started calling our “little Peanut” Liam, short for William. Nick always said that if he had a boy, his name would be William Eldon Hale after his father who had passed away when he was a teenager.
I was amazingly vigilant about going to the doctor. After the first few appointments we were referred to a perinatal specialist because of some anomalies on the initial sonograms. At the first specialist appointment we had an hour long appointment where we took a look at all aspects of the baby – heart, kidneys, diaphragm, and placenta. The baby was growing beautifully but there were a few concerns. The sonographer noticed a membrane veiling the baby. At that time they explained that there was a membrane that typically attached at 14 weeks and in our case, they believe that it hadn’t. This put us into a high risk category because IF it was that, the baby could possibly rupture the membrane. Also at this appointment we discovered that the umbilical cord was a two vessel cord instead of the standard three. Anxiety was through the roof but the specialist doctor assured us not to worry and that we would have continual sonograms to monitor growth and progress.
At 18 weeks, we had our sonogram to determine the baby’s sex. My parents, who were about to be first time grandparents, were invited to this appointment. We all crammed into this tiny room and watched the screen with anticipation. I think the sonographer has fun with these types of appointments because she went through everything else before trying to find out the gender, but at long last she said to us “Oh yeah, definitely a boy” and I cried. Oh how I wanted this little boy so much! We shared with everyone right away about the good news and so did grandparents, bragging to all of their friends, “we are having a grandson.”
We had been going through all of the holiday season and the excitement was amazing! We just kept thinking, “Next year, we will have a little baby with us.” My father, the couponer, had begun purchasing lots of diapers and we all started planning.
With having so many extra doctor appointments, it began to take a toll on my work. They wouldn’t approve the necessary time off so I would take the repercussions of having to leave. One day though, there was an emergency appointment that I had to go to, I was spotting. Everything ended up being all right for Baby Liam and myself but that was the end of my working. I went into work the next day and was let go due to attendance but everyone was so sad to see me go. Even though this was the first time I’d ever been fired, I knew it would be all right since Nick and I had already discussed me taking time off after having the baby.
Not long after being fired we had another perinatal specialist appointment. In this sonogram they noticed something completely different. Yes there was still the membrane cloaking him, but they noticed that there was a second placenta. Now we hear that they may have been wrong at the initial appointment, instead of being so high risk, they now believed that upon conception that there were TWINS! It was an odd occurrence though that had made it difficult to see. Of course, there was only one baby in there, but William’s placenta had grown inside the twin’s amniotic sac. In a way it was a bit sad that there had been a twin, but from what the doctors explained, the second never developed which is why it took so long to realize what had occurred. I felt some relief. To us, this made it less scary and that we may not have as many complications.
When I was still working, I had great insurance. With being fired I had been informed that my insurance coverage was only available for another month and we were worried about medical expenses. Now I do want to mention that prior to ever having got pregnant, Nick had proposed. Originally we were going to wait until May but with my insurance about to cancel we decided to move up the wedding date. We literally planned it within a week and half, it would take place on PI DAY – 3.14.15. We wanted to keep it simple. So that’s exactly what we did! Had a tiny get together with just immediate family out at Anna and Gary’s house, it was simple and beautiful; all of us on the deck with fresh flowers and perfect weather. Dusty (Nick’s sister) made an amazing strawberry cheesecake torte cake. Gary took photos. My own mother got ordained so that she could marry us. It was perfect in every way to me.
After the wedding, I went through all the steps to get my name changed. That process filled the next week or two to come.
Dates and timing have importance from here on out in the story since everything happened so quickly.
My next specialist appointment was creeping up on me though, it was scheduled for the 1st of April. My insurance through Weight Watchers was set to cancel on March 31st though. Logically since I wasn’t having to pay for that coverage, I hatched the brilliant plan to move the perinatal specialist appointment up so that way it got billed under that coverage. My next sonogram was moved up to the 26th of March.
At this next appointment, everything was normal. He was incredibly active that day and even the doctors had a little chuckle when they could see him kicking when they pressed the wand down. He was growing perfectly at that point and the only thing I noticed different was his heart rate. Up until;l this point, it had always been at 160 beats per minute. This time his heart rate was at 138 bpm. I brought this up but the doctors assured me again that this is normal as babies start to get bigger. As long as it was between 120-170, they didn’t worry. That’s all we needed to hear to comfort us.
After that appointment, his movements changed though. He wasn’t moving as much in the next day or two. Instead of freaking out though, I did a little research on the internet and found that it was normal for movements and behavior to change, or that sometimes the baby could spin around to face the back and wouldn’t feel any kicks. So I put the worries out of my mind temporarily but was still monitoring it.
That Tuesday I woke up with a horrible dream; and instantly broke down into tears. In the dream, I was shot in the stomach and had to wake up and feel my stomach to make sure it wasn’t real because I felt pain. Nick comforted me and reminded me that it was only a dream.
I prayed. I held my belly and prayed to God, “Please make him move, please give me a sign that everything is all right.”
By that Friday, I still hadn’t felt any movement and decided that I wasn’t going to wait all weekend to go to the doctor. That morning, I took Nick to work and then went over to Keith and Sarina’s house. She was off work for a long weekend since it was almost Easter. Going over there was to help with my anxiety while I waited to speak with doctors and get an appointment set. As soon as I spoke with the nurses at the office, they told me they wanted me to come in that day for a sonogram to do a test to check for 8 different things. I was warned that if I didn’t get all 8 of the things they were checking for, that I may be admitted into labor and delivery. The doctors sent the request over to the diagnostic center, so now it was a sit and wait moment for when the appointment was going to be scheduled for.
At that point it was time to call everyone. I called Nick and explained the situation. Since I had dropped him off at work he had no vehicle. Keith though instantly said to him “we are leaving, I’ll take you to my house.” I called my mom and told her what was going on and she headed home from work out of concern. Honestly, I didn’t even want her to. I figured that everything would be okay, and that it was just another little scare. Worst case scenario at this point was that I MAY have to be hospitalized for the remainder of the pregnancy.
Finally we get the call to set the appointment, and Nick and I head up to the diagnostic center for a sonogram. Planning to meet my parents there. When getting called back to the office, I ask my parents to just stay in the waiting room.
We go to the back and the sonographer starts the process. She doesn’t tell us what she is doing but we have had enough sonograms to kind of know what is going on at this point. Nick and I are staring at the screen so intently. She checks for the heartbeat and there is a flat line. Instantly Nick grabs my foot and says “JORDAN LOOK AT ME,” but I couldn’t look away. Tears spring to my eyes as disbelief enters my mind. NO. NO. NO. The sonographer says nothing to us other than that she needs to go get the doctor to go over a few things.
Tears start rolling down our faces as soon as she leaves the room. We hold each other and say “I didn’t see a heartbeat.” But we didn’t want to believe it, couldn’t believe it. I still held one tiny shred of hope. We held each other and wept. When the doctor comes back, she explains that our primary doctor’s office is expecting us. I begin to get a little angry. “Can you tell us anything?” There is a pause so long and she says “It’s not good, I’m so sorry.” The tears leading up were sad, but we did still have hope. Now there was none. I cried as I never have before.
The sonographer at this time had gone to get my parents. As soon as they got close to the door and heard us, they were filled with dread and knew.
We still had to go to our primary doctor’s office. This all becomes a bit of blur to me too. I knew that Nick and I had absolutely no business driving either, so we left the Jeep there, and rode back to Lee’s Summit with my parents. On our way there, Nick made the difficult calls to his family.
Silent tears fell all the way there.
Upon getting to the doctor’s office we were promptly ushered into a room with Dr. Amsterdam. She explained to us how sorry she was but that the next step would be delivery. “What, I have to go through full delivery process, there”s no other way?” But she did explain that with being as far along, the only thing we could safely do for my health was to induce and deliver.
Disbelief washed over me at that point. Even though we had been told and seen there was no heartbeat, I refused to fully believe it either. Maybe they were wrong. Maybe a miracle would happen.
All of us made our way down to the maternity part of the hospital where I was admitted and put into a delivery suite. A nurse came in and explained everything in more detail that was to come; about the pill they would need to put into my cervix to cause labor, the decisions that would need to be made while staying there related to naming him and funeral arrangements. I hated her for telling me all of this.
Once they began putting the pill in, it became what felt like an eternal waiting process. Family filtered in to be with us. Anna, my mother, and Nick stayed all through the night; Gary and my father went home for rest as there wasn’t much that could be done, granted I’m sure they got very little rest. Dusty reappeared late into the night and stayed till very early in the morning. Every four hours like clockwork though, a nurse would come in and put another pill in. Our nurse’s name that evening was Elise. She was wonderful because even though she was very empathetic about the pain we were feeling, she brought a bit of sunlight, a bit of laughter that was so needed to help my sanity.
My contractions started to get more intense but I had only dilated to a 1. This was going to be a long night. I needed to relax, try and get some rest, so I didn’t hesitate to ask for the epidural. Naturally, the moment he told me to sit still when inserting the needle, I jumped. But the relief was almost instant.
The next morning was going rather smoothly as well until I started having a lot more pain in my hip. The nurse ordered another dose of the epidural and was going to call the doctor in to break my water to help the process along. Even after having received that dose of epidural, I was still feeling extreme pain in my hip and I began to have intense head pain, a blinding throbbing. Then all of a sudden I felt something warm in between my legs. The nurse lifts up the blanket and says “Honey, you delivered.”
In my head I kept thinking over and over “Cry for me, just cry, make some sort of noise.” I was silent in hope that I would hear anything at all. Nick kept trying to get my attention, to have me look at him, to say something. I thought I was being responsive. I could hear everything going on around me – the nurse calling for assistance, but I guess I went white and became unresponsive. I was in total shock. They ordered an amphetamine shot to bring me back.
That’s when things became crisp again. All of a sudden I was super aware, yet not.
They handed me William. I lay there, holding him and crying hysterically as the nurses cleaned everything up, saying “I just hoped that they were wrong, that he was fine, that it would be an Easter miracle, why can’t I have my son?Why? Why did my body fail.” He wasn’t crying though. Even though I couldn’t see through the tears, I could hear it, everyone else in the room was weeping – both family and the nurses.
William Eldon Hale was (still)born on April 4, 2015 at 9:07 am.
I held him to my chest. I put my finger in his tiny hand. I tickled those little toes. I breathed deeply, smelling him.
Everyone took their turn holding him, all while shedding tears of sorrow.
After we all had our turn holding him, they took him to do some photos that were offered for free. That would be the only and last time we saw him.
That evening in the hospital, all of the family left in the afternoon to give Nick and I some alone time. We went and walked around the hospital grounds, getting some much needed fresh air. After that, we went back up to our room and took a bath together. He held me in the water as I rested my head on his chest, it brought much needed comfort when I felt numb and empty. Then we laid in the bed that night together, holding one another and got a little bit of sleep. My thoughts were overwhelming though and it proved difficult to sleep.
At one point when Elise came in to check on me, I got out of the bed and we sat and talked for hours. Crying mostly but talked about what is to come after that. The healing, the hurt, the support. She reminded me that Nick and I must be strong together, but that she didn’t have doubts that we could do it. I asked how she could be so sure. Taking my hand she said, “I saw the way he kissed your forehead when getting the epidural, it was the gentlest gesture of true love. These types of life situations can either bring a couple together or tear them apart, just keep in mind that you two alone will understand fully the emotions and loss.”
The next day, it was time to leave. The doctors came in and went through some discharge paperwork. Something I never expected to hear was that I would begin lactating within the week. It broke my heart to know that I would be going through that with no baby to feed, as if I needed another reminder. Other than that though I had kept my spirits pretty high up though until we actually left the hospital. As we walked out of the building, I had an overwhelming emptiness take hold; the silence was palpable. We were leaving the hospital without our baby. As we drove away, I had a panic attack as I’ve never experienced. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t focus, my hands and feet went numb. Again, Nick brought me back out of my emotions by holding me and reminding me that I had to breathe but oh how it hurt to breathe.
After a few errands we finally arrived back at our house. We hadn’t been there since Friday morning. It was surreal how much everything had changed. We distracted ourselves with mindless TV and just cuddled on the couch. That night as we went to bed, I cried and asked, “Is it weird that I want to sleep with his blanket?” I saw the tears well up in his eyes, “Not at all not at all.” I held William’s blanket and Nick held me as we drifted off to sleep.
The following week Nick stayed home from work. It was time to make decisions and take care of some things, things that no parent should ever have to deal with. We picked out an urn. Picked up the photos that were taken of William.
The biggest question I kept asking myself is “What happened? Will I ever know?” Doctors and nurses had warned us that they may never know but we did want them to do a physical exam of him and the placenta. The results: there was an umbilical cord stricture which had restricted blood flow and with having the two vessel cord he just wasn’t getting enough oxygen. Dr. Finkle assured me that there was no way to see this during a sonogram or detect it at all and unfortunately this seems to be a common cause of stillbirth BUT it is not very likely to occur again should we decide to have another child.
As the weeks have passed, I still feel hurt and pain over it but I do know that I am healing. Sometimes it’s hard for me to be around family because I feel like an outsider. I guess I feel like an outsider since no one knows exactly what to say to me or how to act around me or they have just avoided me all together. I know that I shouldn’t have these sort of thoughts, but it is the honest truth of my feelings. Plus it is really difficult for me to see their children, it’s not that I don’t love them because I do, it’s because all I can think of is William in those moments. I have jealousy. I don’t feel like a mother at all. How can you be a mother to a baby you can’t hold? It brings tears to my eyes just typing that, admitting those thoughts out loud. Everyone keeps telling me that I am a mom though, I’m still working on accepting that statement.
From the moment I found out that he was growing in my belly, I had so much love and I noticed the way that he changed me and helped me grow up even more. I’ll never be who I was before.
William Eldon Hale will always be my first son.
I know that the reason it hurts is because of the immense love in my heart for him – he was the product of Nick and I’s love and we wanted him more than most realize.
He will always be with me. I’ll never forget.
I can’t say that I have fully healed from this loss either at this point and I may never fully accept it either.
But the beauty of life is that there is so much more to come.
We are trying again.
Kansas City, MO