After struggling for many years with infertility, we finally were blessed with success in late 2013 and anxiously awaiting our son Jack to arrive in May 2014. My due date was May 11th, which ironically was Mother’s Day of 2014. “How perfect!”, I thought. To struggle for so long then have a baby for Mother’s Day seemed like the ultimate reward for my patience.
Through the infertility support groups I had become a part of over the years, I would occasionally hear horror stories of women losing their babies past the 12 week mark. It seemed like a story someone was making up to scare you but it never seemed like something that could actually happen to someone you knew….or to you.
The weeks slowly crept by until finally that magical 12 week mark arrived and my husband and I breathed a very loud sigh of relief. This is our baby and it is here to stay. My pregnancy was uneventful with minimal morning sickness and only some minor fatigue. I was so over the moon happy to be pregnant. Eventually, around 15 weeks, we found out that our baby was a boy.
As one last hurrah, we decided to go on a 7 day cruise for a “Babymoon” seeing as this would be the last time we would be able to travel for a long time….or so we thought. We packed up our bags early December 2013 , at 18 weeks pregnant, headed to Miami and boarded our ship.
It was on this very ship that we settled on a name for our son. It was very important to me that he be named after my father Patrick in some way. However, our last name starts with “P” and for our son to have the initials “PP” was just setting him up to be teased. Eventually, after slipping my husband a few extra glasses of whiskey, I got him to agree on John Patrick. Although I liked both names together, he didn’t, and since there were already a few Johns in the family we decided to call him Jack.
Towards the end of our vacation I started getting migraines and swelling pretty badly. I chalked it all up to being pregnant in a hot climate and on my feet a lot. Unbeknownst to me, these were the beginning signs of preeclampsia for me despite being fairly common issues for pregnant women.
The day after we arrived back home in Chicago we had an appointment for my anatomy scan. Since I have a clotting disorder it had to be done at the Maternal Fetal Medicine office, aka “MFM”. We already knew Jack was a boy so this was more of a precautionary measure to make sure the blood flow to him was still ok.
Our son was not ok as luck would have it. He had a brain malformation called Dandy Walker which in essence means that the “bridge” that connects the two hemispheres in the brain was not there. There was no way to tell what his prognosis would be if he even survived until May. In another twist of events, I was diagnosed with early and severe Preeclampsia and HELLP and exactly one week after that anatomy scan, Jack’s delivery had to be induced.
In the moment, I couldn’t cope with the severity of my condition and what was happening to me and my baby. My biggest regret is that we didn’t see him, hold him, take photos with NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) or have a memorial service for him. It sounds completely crazy but when I see others have lost a baby, I feel a sting of jealousy and regret that they have memories of their child. They have a blanket that held them, photos of them together, a grave site to visit….all we have are tiny footprints.
In honor of his memory, every year on his birthday, we donate toys to the Children’s Hospital where he was born. Since we’re unable to celebrate Christmas with him physically present with us , we figure this is the next best thing. This year will be the third year we’ve donated and each year the donation grows larger and larger! If you are interested in being a part of our family’s tradition you can check out the Comer Children’s Wish List and send a gift directly to the hospital!
**Its quite detailed and graphic but if you’d care to read Jack’s birth story, I blogged about it here just after his birth. **