October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This month recognizes and provides support for those families around the world who have suffered the loss of a baby to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirth, birth defects, SIDS, or other causes. People in all time zones all over the world are invited to light a candle at 7:00 p.m. on October 15th, in remembrance of these babies and in recognition of the families who have suffered their loss.
My journey to become pregnant started in 2009 when my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family. We had thought that becoming pregnant would be a pretty straightforward process, but after 4-5 months of trying with no results, we started researching ideas on what we might be doing wrong. We began determining when I was ovulating, checking my basal body temperature, and doing the ole raising-your-legs-in-the-air trick. And then, from October 2010- August 2012, we went through all the testing and fertility treatments we could afford, resulting in no pregnancy and no problems with either one of us.
This, I thought, would be the most emotional 2 years I would ever have to go through. I am a very impatient person on a good day, and to see the multiple births of friends and even of my sister just tore me apart.
My husband and I prayed and discussed our options: do we adopt, do we do in vitro, or do we just wait? Well, telling me to wait was not an option; I wanted a baby more and more. We decided after much prayer and conversation with family and friends that we would undergo in vitro fertilization. This process was just that. It required daily injections, weekly blood draws, and doctors’ appointments that we had to schedule without much notice. But in the end I was pregnant… with twins. We were so excited; we planned the room, the stroller, and the cars all to accommodate our new growing family.
Then, at 28 weeks, the unexpected happened. I woke up in the middle of the night and my water had broken. We rushed to the hospital and were told that I would be on bed rest until 34 weeks. But the babies had a different plan. Less than 24 hours after my water had broken, I started contracting and was scheduled for a C-section. Max, our little boy, was born at 2 lbs 2.2 oz; and 2 minutes later his sister Charlotte joined us, weighing in at 2 lbs 3 oz. We knew that there were going to be hurdles to overcome, but the realization that we would be spending the next 119 days in the NICU was not something we were prepared for.
After being released as a patient myself, it was very hard to leave the hospital. I spent every night there for the first 2 weeks. I struggled to leave, and the first night home was very difficult. We had a great nursing staff, however; and we were allowed to pick primary nurses who, whenever they were working, would take care of Max and Charlotte .
Charlotte was our little champ. She was breathing on her own with minimal assistance, and she had no other health problems. They just needed her to get big and strong.
Max, on the other hand, had a bad set of lungs and a valve in his heart that wasn’t closed; and he seemed to be very sensitive to movement and sound. At 4 weeks old, Max had to undergo a procedure to close the value in the heart. He didn’t recover well from this. The doctor called us at home that night to inform us of his worsening condition. I decided I needed to stay by his side that night.
In the meantime, Charlotte was starting to act a little different to us. She was crying inconsolably, and her heart rate and oxygen levels were fluctuating. They ran tests to figure out what was going on. They found that she had an infection and started antibiotics.
Her condition continued to decline, and the doctor was by her side all night watching her. At 5:00 a.m. she lost the fight, and our little girl was gone. I was lucky to be by her side and to know that everything possible was done to fight the infection. They told us that infections are not easily detected in premature babies and that it got into her blood too quickly to save her.
This came as a big surprise to me and my family. I felt so helpless as a mom. I was there to protect my babies, and yet I couldn’t do anything for either one of them.
We planned Charlotte’s funeral, and it all seemed so surreal. My husband and I wanted the funeral to be a celebration of sweet Charlotte’s life, as we were grateful to have had her for even the short time we did. We set up a memorial in her honor and have decided to use that money each year on their birthday to help encourage other NICU families.
Meet Guest Blogger Kelly Millard
Kelly is a 29-year-old mom to Kadance (her 8-year-old step-daughter) and to her little miracle baby, Max (7 months old). She and her husband, Kelly (yes, they have the same name, same spelling), are expecting a new little one in March of 2014. Husband Kelly works from home as a loan underwriter and compassionate dad.
Kelly is a busy new mom. She works in the emergency room of a Des Moines hospital and is attending nursing school. She will complete her degree next year. She spends her free time decorating her home and others’ and loves a good DIY project. She is also very active with her church family at Capitol City Church in Des Moines.