One month ago, on May 21, 2012 I gave birth to our stillborn son at 35 weeks at 3:13 pm in Fredericksburg, Texas. We named him Owen Bruce Bell, his middle name is my dad's middle name. He was 5 lb 14 oz and 19 inches long. Everything had been going well throughout the pregnancy, strong heartbeat, ultrasounds all looked great, all my tests were normal the whole time, so we were all in shock when we found out. Here is the story. (I'm sorry, it's long, mainly for me to be able to remember...there are some pictures at the end)
On Sunday, May 20 after church we decided the head up to the hospital to check the baby because I hadn't felt him move all day and couldn't remember if I had felt him on Saturday or not. I knew I had felt him on Friday. I kept telling myself that he was alright and that he was just too cramped in there and taking a long nap, but in the very back of my mind I was still worried that things were not alright. We checked ourselves in and got situated in our room in the labor and delivery department and my nurse, Jaime (who was my nurse the whole time and simply amazing!), came in to listen to his heartbeat. She was having a really hard time trying to locate the heartbeat and kept picking up mine. As I was starting to get more and more worried as what seemed like minutes were passing and she still couldn't locate it, she told me several times that sometimes the baby is positioned just right with their hands or something in the way and it's really hard to find the heartbeat. Her telling me that sort of reassured me that he was okay. However, after a couple of minutes she decided to do an ultrasound to see what was going on. She called the ultrasound tech to come up but in the mean time brought in the ultrasound machine and tried to look for herself to see if she could see the heart beating. When she started looking she wasn't 100% sure if she had found the heart, but she thought that she had found it and that it wasn't beating. The actual ultrasound tech showed up a few minutes later and confirmed to us that in fact his heart was not beating anymore. Nothing could have prepared us for that type of news and it took us several days for the reality of him not being alive to really sink in. I mean, after all I had just had a doctor's appointment 5 days before and everything was great, I had just felt him moving a TON 2 days before and then in the blink of an eye he was gone.
We then had to decide when we wanted to deliver him, that night or wait until the morning so we could try to get some sleep. We had all these decisions to make all of a sudden, not just about delivery but about the funeral and how to get him back to Idaho to be buried, etc. that we weren't prepared for at all. We decided to wait until the morning so I could try to get some sleep. However, they started me on something to soften my cervix more that night to make it easier in the morning. After an hour - hour and a half my contractions started getting more regular and more painful so they decided to just stop it and let me sleep. It did do something though in that short time, I dilated from a 1 to a 2, but was grateful to get a little rest after my contractions slowed back down.
In the morning they started me on the Pitocin and things were going fairly slowly, which was fine because my doctor was at her other office about 20 minutes away until around 1 pm. By about 1 or so I was ready to have my epidural so that it would be working by the time my doctor got there to break my water. Jaime, my nurse, was raving to me about the anesthesiologist and how good he is, so that helped put me at ease. We sent Chris to go get lunch, since he passed out when I got my epidural with Tyler! Jaime was right, the anesthesiologist was fast and it wasn't as bad as I remember it being in the past, so I was pleased. However, it seemed like the medicine was stronger on my left side than my right, to the point where I couldn't even move my left leg so I could move to my side, but I could move my right leg just fine. I should have taken that as a sign, but didn't. My doctor broke my water around 2 pm and I was dilated to a 6. And about 2:45-2:50 I could feel both my legs again and I was also starting to feel my contractions, but only on my right side. Oh man were they painful and I have a whole new respect for those who choose to spend countless hours in labor without an epidural!! My nurse called the anesthesiologist again to come give me more medicine because the button they gave me to push for more wasn't working, however it took them like 15 minutes to get there and by that time it was too late because the baby was coming. I pushed 3 times and he was out. I had a whole flood of emotions going through me all at the same time, which was overwhelming and exhausting all at the same time. The most difficult part of the whole thing was delivering him and not hearing him cry or see him move. I chose not to see him until he was cleaned up, and until I had a little more time to process what just happened. This was by far the most difficult thing Chris and I have had to deal with and is one of those things you never think will happen to you. It all felt like one huge dream that I was sure I would wake up from.
Tears filled my eyes as I held his perfect little body in my arms and I couldn't help but wish I could bring him home with us. We started wondering what he would have looked like as he grew up and got older, how tall he would have been (his fingers were long and his feet were huge!), what his personality would have been like (he was the most active little guy in the womb, so I can only imagine that he would have been a handful like his brothers). Those few hours we were able to spend with him were the most precious moments and I wish time would have stopped for awhile so we could have spent even more time with him. Parker and Tyler also came to see their little brother. Parker didn't seem to really care what was going on, but Tyler seemed to know something was wrong. He would just sit and stare at him from a distance and didn't really want to get close to him at all. We don't know if he had a little jealousy or if he knew something wasn't right. The hardest time was when we had to turn him over to the funeral director because at that moment we knew we weren't going to be able to see him anymore and it made it even more real that he really wasn't coming home with us.
One of the other difficult things was not having an ounce of family close to us. However, even though we didn't have any family here our Branch has been amazing! We were definitely so blessed to be in the branch we are in. Our primary president willingly watched the boys the whole time we were in the hospital, a few people came to visit us. A couple members of the branch presidency came and helped give Chris and I blessings, which was really nice and comforting. And the whole branch was just aching to help in any way they could. We really couldn't have made it through without them. When we got back from Idaho they had meals all set up for the next several days and several people came to say hi and see how we were doing, brought us cookies, and offered to help however they could. It was simply amazing. The two other families that are here with us from Idaho have also been a huge help. We came home to a clean house, and dinner in the fridge, which they had done for us. Words could not express how that made us feel.
Even though this experience was so difficult to go through, and one that no one should ever have to go through, I feel I have been a lot stronger than I thought I would be. I feel my strength has come from the priesthood and father's blessings I received, and the knowledge of the plan of salvation and that I know I will be able to see him and hold him in my arms again. We are so blessed to know this and I know it has made this trial just a little bit easier. Owen was special enough to not have to go through the trials of mortality and the knowledge that our Heavenly Father has entrusted us with this special little person is such a blessing and a comfort. Not a day goes by though where I don't think about him and wish that he was here with us.
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came and took these amazing photos for us so we can always remember our little angel. I just love them and am so grateful for their wonderful organization and for these memories!
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Today was such a nice and relaxing day. And a day I needed after the horrible week I had prior to Mother's Day. The boys were both sick all week long and I had spent every day cleaning up throw-up (3 times happened to be in the car, in the car seat!) and changing nasty diapers...oh the joys of being a mother!! Needless to say, we decided to stay home from church so we didn't get any of the other kids sick in nursery and primary. So I was able to just relax, take a nap, do some scrapbooking, and not have to change ANY diapers or clean up ANY messes!!! That right there folks was the best present I could have ever gotten!!