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Sunday, December 14, 2014

8 years ago

God has recently put it on my hear that I need to document this, so hear goes.

Eight years ago this week, Matt and I received the news that no parent ever wants to hear...."Your baby's heart has stopped beating.  We are sorry there is nothing we can do."

Let me back up about 2 months.  At my 18ish week appointment, we had the BIG ultrasound.  Anatomy check, measurements, gender, etc.  We immediately knew that we were having a boy.  Like as soon as the technician put the US wand on my stomach, it was obvious that there was something between those legs that were spread wide!  Matt and I had agreed upon names for our firstborn before we were ever married so we were able to instantly say "Hello, Taylor Benjamin!"  Everything looked great anatomy wise, but Taylor was on the small side.  The tech spoke to the Dr. before we say the Dr and they both assured us that they thought everything was fine but that they wanted us to come back for another US in 2 weeks.  Besides, neither Matt nor I are large framed people so we really didn't expect Taylor to be in the 90% anyway!

We were fine with this and returned to find out that Taylor remained very small.  Like 10% small.  Up until this point in my pregnancy, I really hadn't gained any weight and really didn't need maternity clothes.  I had bought some jeans and a few tops, more to make myself feel better.  I really just looked like I was getting a little chunky in the middle.  However, I needed to feel more pregnant.  Maybe deep down, I knew something was wrong...I don't know.

Anyway, after the return US showed that Taylor was still small, we were referred to the Duke Perinatal Specialist for further monitoring and possibly some testing.

I don't remember all of the dates now, but somewhere along the way, my BP started going up which is somewhat normal in pregnancy.  Actually, my allergy PA first noticed it and suggested I get to the OB in the next few days.  Sometime in mid-November, after going to Duke, they sent me to the hospital one Saturday for BP monitoring over a few hours.  While I was in the hospital, my BP got to 200/ 160ish!  REALLY high!  They started me on some meds to get my BP down, but the either the meds or the really high BP made me very sick!  It was a rough few days.  Eventually, my BP came back to more reasonable levels, but still high.

After talking with the folks at Duke, there were several possible reasons for why Taylor was not growing the way he should.  The most likely, was something genetic.  We opted to have an amniocentesis done the day after Thanksgiving so see if there were any genetic abnormalities.  Not that we would have done anything with the information other than prepare ourselves for our future, but we needed to know why he wan't growing.   The amnio was scary but the Dr was amazing and made me feel like we were doing the right thing.

Skip ahead another week or so (Dec 8-10 weekend), we went to Albemarle for the weekend.  I was now 24ish weeks pregnant and still not really needing maternity clothes.  My mom and I took a trip to Concord to pick out fabric for the nursery!  I remember riding in the car talking with my mom and saying that my stomach itched in one small spot.  There was also one tiny little red spot right next to my belly button.  I didn't think anything more about it though.

I had Monday, December 11 off - I don't remember why I took the day off other than I had an OB appointment that afternoon, but I did.  I remember cleaning the house that morning and thinking to myself, "I haven't felt the baby move much today" but then again he was generally quite still during the day and was MUCH more active at night so I didn't think too much about it.   My appointment was at 2 or 2:30.  Because this was a regular appointment, Matt had not come with me to the appointment.  He didn't have that much extra time to take off and we wanted to save it for when Taylor arrived.

The Dr came in the room and did the little doppler heartbeat thingy.  She searched all around and couldn't find a heartbeat.  I immediately knew that something was wrong.  Taylor had been in the same position for a while and his heartbeat could be found in the same exact spot every time.  Dr. Beatty told me that she wanted to look on the US machine.  The sweet nurse went in the US room with us and held my hand while Dr. Beatty confirmed what I already knew.  My sweet baby had died.
Dr. Beatty took me to her office and I called Matt at work and told him.  He dropped everything at work and was at the office in 15 minutes probably.  Dr. Beatty came back in and explained what she did know and what our options were.  Induction, c-section (risky), wait for my body to go into labor naturally which could be weeks/months.

I knew that we had to go with the induction.  I couldn't imagine carrying a baby around knowing that he wasn't alive anymore.  We opted to wait until the next day to start the induction.  We needed to call our parents and let them know that their first grandchild had died.  We also needed them with us for support.  We left the Drs office with instructions that they would call us the next day and let us know what time to be at the hospital.

That night, one of my best friends, Beth, called to check on my because she knew I had had an appointment that day.  I told her the news and she cried with me.  Then she told me that she had had her baby, Luke, that day.  What amazes me still, is that Beth had just had a baby that very day and was calling me to see how I was.  Yes, she was also calling to tell me her wonderful new, but her first concern was about me and Taylor.  Sweet Luke had a problem with one of his kidneys at birth but thankfully never had any major issues with it.  When Luke was about 2yrs old, he was going to need surgery to repair it.  Miraculously, the kidney healed and Luke never needed surgery.  Beth and I like to think that Taylor is Luke's guardian angel.

We ended up starting the induction around 2 or 3pm on December 12.  Dr Beatty was the Dr on call at the time and she explained that thing should go pretty quickly since Taylor was so small.  Dr. Henderson came on call at 7pm that evening.  By that point, I was not making any progress and so he increased the medicine to try and get something going.

This went on all night and into late the next afternoon.  My body just wasn't responding to the pitocin.  Like none.... About 5pm Dr Henderson came in and gave me 3 options.  Go to Duke and have a c-section (still very risky), go to UNC and have basically a partial birth abortion (they cut the baby into pieces and take them out that way - NEVER), or again wait for my body to naturally go into labor.

I was about to choose wait for my body to naturally go into labor, when Dr H came back in with another option.  He had consulted with the other Drs in the practice and they wanted to try a mechanical type device to force me to dilate.  We opted for this low risk, minimally invasive option.  
I don't know what time they started this process, but I know that somewhere along the way we changed rooms (the room I was in was suddenly invaded by ants!).  The Drs changed shifts again around 7pm and Dr. Alvarez (still my fav) came on board.  I have now been through 3 Drs during this process that everyone thought would be very fast!

Taylor was suddenly born at 8:38pm on December 13.  His grandfather Enzor's (BB) birthday.   Dr. A didn't make it in the room for the actual delivery.  It was just VERY sudden and quick.  Taylor was absolutely PERFECT.  Very tiny, but perfect.

He weighed only 10oz and was only 9.25" long.

We were able to keep Taylor with us in the room as long as we wanted.  We took pictures with him, held him, kissed him, and cried together.  At some point, we decided to hand Taylor back over to the nurses.  We had both been up for more than 36hrs and had not slept much the 24hrs prior to that knowing that our baby had died.  We were both exhausted and very emotional.   Looking back now, I wish we had had more time with him but I can't change that and at the time, I was totally numb.  I couldn't think or make any decisions.  I just went along with whatever I was told to do or what sounded the easiest.

My parents had arranged for the Albemarle funeral home to come pick up his body so that he would have a proper burial (otherwise Taylor body would have either been given to us in a cardboard box or disposed of as "medical waste"! - this is just NOT right!!)

I was released from the hospital on December 14.  I remember going to Target and Walmart that afternoon looking for premie clothes to bury him in.  Everything we had was WAY too big and even premie clothes were WAY too big.  A friend of mine from high school had had a premie several years earlier and her aunt had made tiny little clothes for him.  This wonderful lady, who to this day I have not met, made Taylor an outfit to be buried in.

He was buried in a white casket at my grandmother's feet on December 16.  Matt's parents, my parents, John and Dana were the only ones there other than us.

The amnio results had come back about the time Taylor was born and the results showed that he was perfectly normal genetically.  We had chosen not to have an autopsy done on Taylor's body.  I couldn't imagine his tiny little body being sliced open...what would it have done anyway?  We did allow for an "autopsy" of the placenta to be done.  The results from this testing came back sometime just before Christmas.  Dr. B called me at home one day and said that the placenta was 90% clotted!

This possibly answered a lot of questions but then stirred up a lot more questions in my mind.  Did I (my body) starve Taylor?  Did I (my body) suffocate Taylor?  Logically speaking, I KNOW that he didn't starve or suffocate but in my time of grief, that is where my mind went.  I had done these things to him.  After Christmas we went back to Duke and had some blood work done.  Turns out, that I have a clotting disorder (explains the placenta!) that we didn't know about!  So does my mom we have more recently found out about!  During future pregnancies, I would just need to give myself 2 shots a day in the belly of blood thinner.  Easy peasy!  Thankfully, I have no fear of needles!

Fast forward to the end of March 2007 - basically my due date with Taylor.  Matt was invited to play with some guys (Caleb and Casey) in a soccer tournament in Hilton Head, SC.  I didn't want to stay home by myself so we took off to Hilton Head.  While sitting on the sidelines of the all day soccer tournament, I was talking with one of the other soccer wives, Adrienne (Caleb's wife).  I had met Adrienne a few times prior but only briefly.  She asked if we had a church family.  I answered, "No, but we have been going to different church trying to find one."  Adrienne invited us to their church, Grace Community, in N. Raleigh.  I didn't think much more about it.  Grace was a contemporary church and I was NOT into the contemporary thing at church.  I needed hymn and hymnals, etc.

Matt and I continued to check out different church, but never found one that felt right to us both.  A few weeks before Christmas 2007, we decided to go to Grace and check it out.  We both really liked it.  The people were warm and inviting, the worship was great, and for me it wasn't too contemporary.  Adrienne introduced us to a few couples after church and we went on our merry way.   Life was busy right after Christmas and we didn't go back to Grace for a while.

I got pregnant with Brayden in February 2008 so we didn't go to church for a while because I felt so bad in the mornings.  I certainly didn't want to be running out of a church I didn't know anyone at!  Somewhere along the way, we meet up Caleb and Adrienne again, probably on another soccer field.  They invited us to a marriage seminar that Grace was going to be doing over the course of about 4-6 weeks in the evenings.  We decided to go.  We loved the people and the message that we got from the marriage seminar.  After that, we started going regularly to Grace and we haven't looked back sense.

It took me a few years to realize the timeline of the soccer tournament/Taylor's due date and to realize that if Taylor had lived, we never would have gone to the soccer tournament.  I likely would not have sat and talked with Adrienne for any length of time about churches and she never would have invited us to come with them some time.  We likely would have never found Grace Community Church.  It was not in the area of town we were looking at for churches and being a contemporary style church, I likely would have refused to go without knowing someone there.

After the marriage seminar, we joined a small covenant group with 4 other couples, including Caleb and Adrienne.  The next year, we added 2 new couples.  These couples are our Raleigh family.  I know that I can call on them, day or night for anything!  The ladies are my sisters.  We live life together to the fullest.  We pray for each other, we help each other out with anything and everything, we love each other like sisters.  I wouldn't trade them for anything!

The year Brayden was born, our group of 5 couples had a total of 4 boys (Ben in December, John in January, Brayden in October, and then Brian in January).  Then in 2011, we all had girls (Maddie and Grace in May, Lilly in September, and Jocelyn and Mel in December).     Caleb and Adrienne have since moved away - first to Papua New Guinea and then to Colorado.  Chris and Kristen have just recently moved to Tennessee.  We all still keep up and try to get together when someone is in town visiting.  It is like nothing has changed when we are together.  Amazing.  

Looking back, I truly think that God had a plan for us to be at Grace Community Church.  Would he have orchestrated it for us to be there some other way without taking our first son...maybe.  I don't know.  But I like to think that us finding Grace is one of God's gifts to us during that dark time.

Our sermon last week was about finding JOY in adversity.  James 1:1-4 talks about adversity leads us to faith which leads to perseverance which leads to maturity and without maturity, we can't find JOY.  Looking back on the past 8 years, I can see how this is totally true.  I have found JOY in Taylor's death.

Yes, I miss him and think about him every. single. day.  More so, during this time of year.  I dream of him often.  In my dreams, he is almost always a 5ish year old little boy with blonde hair and blue eyes.  I don't know that he looks like Brayden or Lilly particularly but he always looks the same in my dreams.  


Adrienne said...

I am in tears over here. Thank you for sharing the story. I still have a picture from that soccer tournament. We love you guys and miss you so much! Heaven will be a sweet, sweet place with Taylor and all of us reunited! Hugs!!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing that story. How devastating for you and inspiring that you are able and choose to find joy these years later. And I'm very glad they figured out the cause!