"Some people only dream of angels; we held one in our arms."

Below you will find Austin's story in multiple parts in order to tell the full story of my pregnancy, his birth, funeral and the months following.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowy Days...

So, an unexpected beautiful snow is falling here in Virginia, and I must admit it is wonderful, and I truly love watching it fall from the sky, but it also brings a mix of emotions. Maybe it is the fact that when it snows, you become trapped in your house and can't go anywhere, and I sometimes have a hard time with that. Maybe it is because the feelings of a snowstorm usually elicit excitement and happiness, yet it also just makes me feel sad and lonely. Maybe because here is another snow storm that has hit, and I feel guilty because Austin's grave will be covered, and I still haven't gotten the headstone.

There is something about the snow covering the ground without a marker there that just makes me sad. I know I need to order it; I don't know what I have been waiting for. Well, I do know, it is really expensive, but I think it is something else too. I think I know that once that is ordered, once it is placed, it will become more final to me. I think I need this to happen, so I hope that this snowy day will push me to make sure we don't have another snowy day without his grave being marked.

While I defintiely don't feel like I have to visit his grave in order to be with him or think about him, I do know I don't go nearly as often as I "should" or "want" to. Again, I think if we had a headstone, that might make it easier to go there. It is hard to go and just stare at an empty, small space. Hmm, so maybe that is why the snow falling is causing me to feel uneasiness today, as I know there are things that I still need to do, and there are reasons for me still feeling unsettled.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What a Day!

Today began as any other Saturday: lay in bed with the girls and Aaron, drag myself out of bed to go work out for an hour, and then meet at Starbucks for weekend drinks and breakfast. All was going well with each of these things, until I decided to run by the hair place to see if I could make an appointment. I should have just looked the number up because as I pulled up to the curb to quickly run in the store, I accidentally swiped the Mercedes behind me. Yes, of course, had to be a Mercedes. The funny thing is that I didn't even realize it until I hear a loud rapping on my door before I could even open it. I open the door, and the man is yelling furiously at me that I hit his car and I was trying to flee the scene. Ok, buddy, I am about fifteen feet still in front of your car, stopped, of course I wasn't going to get very far. We did the typical change information, and I just thought "oh well, bad luck..."

I go home, shower and get ready for my hair appointment. I come back to the same location where the previous incident occurred, and as I was parking the car this time, I completely misjudged and hit the car to the right of the me. "Are you freaking kidding me?" What the hell was wrong with me. The second time in one day, really, this is not really happening. I go inside the nail place (I frequent that location often too), and I ask if any of the women drive that particular car. Of course, one of them does, and yet again, it is the exchange of the insurance information. Thankfully, my attitude remains the same, "Oh well, bad luck."

When I went into the hair salon, the woman who cut my hair couldn't beleive what had happened, and she asked, "Do you have a lot on your mind or something?" Oh geez, did she really want to ask that question... I should just refer her to this site to understand what "a lot on my mind means." Anyway, I explained to her that my hair will not stop falling out, and she asked if I had a pregnancy, and I said yes. She said that it is normal, and I said still seven months out, and she said, yes, usually until about ten months. UGH! So then when she asks how is the baby, she inevitably knows that I have a lot on my mind.

You see, the little things that happened earlier (minor car accidents) are probably the result of just that: too much on my mind. Because you see, no matter what I am constantly reminded of Austin and the events that took place this year. Take my hair for instance, the constant falling out of my hair is an everyday occurance, which as a normal post-pregnancy event wouldn't usually bother me. Now, it annoys me even more because I am still losing the hair, and my body still goes on and my hormones are all still there post-baby, yet it is all magnifed that much more becuase there is no baby.

So... the constant clutter on my mind is always there; does it ease at times, of course, but lately the "clutter" or "Austin" has been on there non-stop! It isn't always a bad thing, but I can tell you it does add a lot of stress to my every day life.

So to avoid adding any more stress, I will make sure my husband drives tonight, and I will enjoy the date night that is defintiely needed after the craziness of today!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Introducing Julia

Just as Katy introduced me to all of you wonderful women, I also want to introduce Andrea, and her Christmas angel, Julia, at her new blog, http://juliachristmasangel.blogspot.com. I hope the link works, as I know Andrea could benefit from the support of all of us, who unfortunately are all enduring the grief and sorrow of losing our babies, yet becoming stronger as a result of the great support from one another.
Andrea~ I hope you will find this as therapeutic as I have found online journaling to be... xoxo!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Seven Months

Surprisingly, I didn't post the past couple of days, although it marked seven months on Sunday since I saw my little Austin. I didn't post because despite the anniversary, it was a good day, and I took the day for what it was and did just that; enjoyed it. Of course, we took time to remember him; we went to church, and someone had actually offered the Mass for him, so it felt nice to just hear his name mentioned in the intentions. We had planned to go to the cemetery, but it was pouring rain and with two kids, we figured it was probably not the best decision. Instead, we went for a family breakfast, just the four of us. We did the mundane grocery shopping, and then I came home and actually put the house back together. I can tell I had been in a fog for awhile because the house was looking rough. I re-arranged things, and placed out some Valentine and Love decorative pieces. I even put up a picture of Austin in the kitchen now, above the sink. There are new frames everywhere, and the house looks so much better.

Although Sunday was a restful day, and I was filled with peace, the inner turmoil and sadness returned yesterday and have continued throughout the day! I don't know what it is; I guess it is when I am alone and with my thoughts that I am just genuinely sad. It doesn't matter if I am exercising or sitting in my classroom after a long day, my mind immediately turns to him and sometimes it just still feels so overwhelming. Where I have come so far, at times I feel like it is all replaying over and over again, and it is never going to stop.

Last night, I asked my husband if he thought we were ready to have a baby; I know I am not yet, but I just wanted to see what he would say. He said probably not for another three-four years; not the response I was soliciting, and I guess that too made me sad. Sad because never before would getting preganant provide such fear, apprehension and uncertainity. Sad because it is so daunting to look at the "next one" and really believe that it is possible. Although it is sad, the glimmer is that I can actually think about having one, which I know I have a come a long way if I can find some hope in another child.

As I write this, I am also sad because I return to grad school tonight, and it is back to the building where I had a really bad bleed and an ambulance had to come.... it just brings back the flood of awful memories that were part of this whole long process. Of course, I am just re-living that day, where the bleeding became serious and I realized how long of a battle it was going to be; of course then, I still thought it was all going to be worth it.

Well, I wish I would have posted this on Sunday, on a much happier, lighter note, but we all know how quickly emotions change, so I am sure you will understand.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

complicated emotions

Here we go again... what seems like the never-ending rocky ride of this rollercoaster journey. This week has been difficult, I have had a lot on my mind and that achy "weight on my chest" feeling has returned. The week started with a guest speaker at church speaking about the sanctity of life and he told the story of a woman that had a baby at 23 weeks old, and the baby was fighting for its life right now. (This should probably be another post, but let's just say, the way the message was conveyed, it made me question and doubt the decisions we were forced to make in the hospital that day.) Needless to say, my mind and heart have been wrestling with the whole "what if" scenarios that I usually try so very hard to avoid.

Tonight, as I checked my email, I found out my sister is pregnant with her seventh child.... sadness, bitterness, anger, annoyed, envious are probably all the emotions I felt as soon as I read the email.... I knew this day would come when someone else in my family would have the "next baby," but I just didn't think I would feel this bad about it. That is all I can write for the moment; I am so sad and frustrated... I feel so tainted and jaded when it comes to pregnancy, especially when it seems so "natural and normal" for everyone else.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Meaning of Life

Never before have the topics and discussions we have had in class ever related more to my life. The past couple of class periods we have discussed the meaning of life, and how authors and those that wrote during the Romantic era, have a very profound and often very accurate depiction of the meaning of life. Today's poem in class couldn't be more poignant in my life right now, and I share with you the following verses.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead! (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

As I went over the verses with my class, I couldn't help relating this to my own life, and surprisingly, I had the courage to share with some of my students what exactly happened. (Of course, I spared them many details, but I did disclose how this has been a very "trying" time period in my life, and as Longfellow as suggested, instead of giving in to the sorrow, I have had to be courageous and brave to get through this difficult time. I have had to continue living in the moment, keep going to work, taking care of my kids, moving on with my life. Are there times when I don't want to do anything; of course, but as Longfellow suggests, time keeps going, and I have to make the most of this situation that I have been dealt.

As Longfellow states, we are born into this life not for pure enjoyment, but rather that both happiness and sorrow are two states that are inevitable in every human's lives. Of course, one of the most intense sorrows any person will ever feel is losing their child, but it is important to remember this outlook on life, in that tragedies happen on a daily basis, but what makes a person heroic is to live in the moment, and be courageous despite the strife and difficulties one is enduring.

Life is a beautiful thing that should be cherished and treasured. Does that mean that life is always going to be full of beautiful things; absolutely not! How do we get through these unpleasant times, I feel the last two lines are what I truly need to remember, although they are so difficult during my most painful moments. I know that I have to let go of the past, and letting go doesn't mean forgetting what happened to me. However, I have to let go and realize it is a part of life that has changed me, and go forth and live in the present. I need to continue to follow my heart, and probably the most important, Trust in God overhead. At times when the grief is so overwhelming, it is hard for me to let go and believe that God understands my sorrow, and that God is there for me. It is hard for me to become so wrapped up in MY pain and aches, and just yearn for it to be over, rather than turn it over to Him and allow Him to work it out for me. While I have gotten better, it is still a challenge for me on a daily basis.

As I am sitting here right now writing this, I am watching the coverage on the news regarding the Haiti earthquake. My heart aches for this country, that as a whole, has endured so much pain and suffering. Why? Why does this continue to happen to them, is what I immediately want to ask? Again, this poem resonates in that, tragedies are going to occur, and we must rely on the spirit within us, no matter how battered we are, as well as our Lord to help us overcome the tough times.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Haiti, as well as every individual that continues to endure the challenges and often painful times of Life. While there is deep sadness and tragedy, I still choose to realize the goodness of all tragedies, as often these unfortunate times truly test and show the beauty of the human spirit.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Light at the End of the Tunnel


I remember coming across this song as I was trying to get back in shape around month 3 of this grief journey of mine. I was on a run trying to just get through a mile without worrying about my cramps, or neverending aches and pains, and this song helped me endure. I realized that I was going through an enormous amount of pain and suffering, but I also knew that there was light, and while the tunnel may be long, I was going to get through it. About three months later, and still trying to get back in shape (ugh!), I listened to that song today and realized how long my tunnel must really be. (sigh!)

Anyway, after working out today and coming home, I couldn't help but have the achy feeling again. As I laid on my bed, I tried to get some energy to go to the mall to help my sister get her ring sized (she is newly engaged), I found myself laying there and tears just falling from my face. No explanation, but instead of questioning, I let them fall. Oh, how I miss my little one today. I took the ten minutes by myself, and instead of being afraid of feeling, I just felt. I read some other women's blogs, felt a little better, and went to the mall. I did a little retail therapy ($20 purple pumps), and came home to rest with the girls. I had a little talk with Hayley about Austin, as I feel like I never shared enough with her about him. We talked about him and she said if Mommy has a baby again, she wants it to be a girl. I get that sentiment, and sometimes when I can even get to that place of thinking about having another one, I almost think the same thing.

Perhaps my body feeling the empty feeling was preparing me for tonight, as we met our new niece tonight. (She was born six weeks early, and we hadn't met her yet because she couldn't be around little children, and I admit I was a little nervous to meet her.) We went to the high school basketball game because Aaron's brother is one of the coaches, and I held her.... all tiny in pink and reminded me of Hayley and Alyssa when they were oh so little. It was the first time I have held a baby since I held Austin. That is kind of hard to believe considering the size of my family; I hadn't held an infant since June 17th.

As I held her and touched her sweet, little nose; her long fingers; her tiny feet, I couldn't help but long for my angel. I couldn't help but think about how close they would have been (if he had been born on time), and I couldn't help but wish to have my own little baby. It didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would (I think anticipation always is worse), but I think it didn't hurt as bad because it is a girl. What hurt was watching the girls interact with her, and to watch Alyssa get jealous when I held her. What hurt was holding her and having the two girls beside me as I held a little baby, and for as much as I don't think about the "what ifs" too often, I couldn't help but think of what might have been.

So perhaps that is why I had an empty, achy feeling this morning and throughout the day. Perhaps it is because while I am now able to see light at the end of the tunnel, I still know I have a long way to go, but I know I have to just "keep holding on."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Romanticize Austin... I now can!

As an English teacher, we have come to the unit of Romanticism, and I couldn't help but validate my initial feelings I felt the first couple of months after Austin's death. How does the idea of romanticism and romanticize come into play when talking about Austin? Well, I would have never thought the ideas would have connected; however, after this whole experience, I feel like you can pretty much connect anything in life to your own situation, every song, every movie, every television show, but that could be a whole other post.

Anyway, when we really looked into what the word romanticize meant, we came to a very different meaning than what most would think. Initially when you hear the word romanticize, you think of happy things: flowers, romance, love, etc; however, to truly romanticize something is to glorify something, and almost make it better than it really is. For instance, we often romanticize the good parts of our lives when we look back in nostalgia on the "good, old days," and forget the hard parts of those days or any difficulties we may have encountered. Instead, we make those days sound a lot better than they were.

With that explanation in mind, I realize that is why I had such a difficult time dealing with my emotions in that the few months following Austin's death, I wasn't able to "romanticize" or "glorify" Austin's extremely short life because of all the horror and trauma I experienced. While everyone else close to me was able to look at the day as a blessing, or a miracle, or Austin as an angel, I couldn't get past the part that it was awful and I lost something so special to me that day because of all the blood and trauma that had occurred. While I was able to see some positives in that day right away, I still wasn't able to make it a beautiful moment or even think of Austin as a beautiful baby. As a result, I have felt such guilt for not having that initial "loving" feeling toward him. I wasn't able to look at his brief birth as my son; I was ashamed and just wanted to block this whole situation out of my mind.

As the months have gone on, I now feel like I have come to a new place in my journey. I miss Austin~ I sometimes just wish I could have held him longer, or wasn't so "weirded" out on the day he was born. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so numb in the hospital, and I wasn't so relieved for my life to be spared. I am thankful that now I can think about Austin and not have all the negative thoughts come into my mind. When I look at his picture now, I can see the beauty in his face.... and as I was driving home from work today, the words of Beyonce resonate in me, as this whole experience was by far a "sweet dream," but I feel like I can now look at it as more of a beautiful nightmare. While I will never be able to romanticize the experience, I do feel like I have moved to a place where I can glorify Austin and remember the peaceful image of him sleeping that will forever remain in my heart.

(I told you that almost any song or story can be related to this experience... )

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Healing Broken Heart

Thank you so much for allowing me to share Austin's story and for the sweet words of encouragement and compassion that many women have given me. I know it has been over six months since he passed, and I knew all along I probably should have written about the situation, but I am just grateful that I found this outlet to discuss my feelings and to relate to so many women who are along the same path as me.

I came across this in an email message this morning, as I was doing my morning devotionals and prayers. It said the following: "Broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect."

For awhile during the initial and very painful stages of my grief journey (months 2 and 3), my heart was literally hurting. I had so much pain in my chest and heart area, and I truly believe I had a broken heart. Of course, you often hear this term figuratively and I never really understood true heartache until I lost Austin. If you had told me that my broken heart was going to make me a stronger person, I wouldn't have beleived it. Now, looking back, I realize that this whole experience, my completely shattered and broken heart , has provided me so much strength and has allowed me a whole new perspective on life situations. While I have always been a very sympathetic person to many people, through my loss and my own heartache, I have now grown extremely empathetic to many individuals, not only those who have lost a child, but those who have lost anything in life.

All throughout this journey, I have wanted it to be over... I kept saying and pleading with God, "Please just let me be done with 'this,'" "Please just let me me put it behind me." I was so set on handling this "perfectly" and being so strong. After reading the above passage, I realize there is such joy in being imperfect and realizing that I have to relinquish the desire to be perfect and be in control, because that is just it. The only way for my broken heart to heal is to lean on God and the support of others, and until I started really doing that, I was only going to look at my broken heart in a negative light. Six months out, I can see that God's healing power is working through me right now, and I can also see that this broken heart of mine has taught me more about life and the human spirit than I ever thought I would learn.

So, here's to all of us with broken hearts; may we continue to learn and grow from our crushed dreams and hopes of our little ones, and continue to come out of our grief journeys as we become stronger, wiser and more compassionate individuals.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Austin's Story: The Journey of Mixed Emotions

Aaron went to work the next day, leaving me home with the girls for the first time in a long time. I was okay with it; I couldn’t wait to just be with them, and be normal. I knew I was too weak to go anywhere still, so we sat on the front porch and played. I had my coffee and I truly felt that coffee was one of life’s simple pleasures…. And this is what we did every day for the next week and a half. I had visitors almost every day; flowers were delivered often, and I received about ten cards a day. I was amazed by the thoughtfulness of so many people, and it helped ease the pain. Every night, I would cry, but not horribly. I felt good; I was relieved to be out of the hospital, and back in my home. I still wanted to be around people, but I was okay being by myself. When the girls went down for naps, I would just sit around; I tried to rest, but that never seemed to work. Every night, I went to bed around 10, and I slept the whole night; I was exhausted, and I needed the sleep. I thank God that I was at least able to sleep those first couple of weeks.

While it was hard to deal with everything, I thought I was fine. I truly felt that this happened for a reason, and that this was God’s plan. I knew I didn’t know the reason, but I was comforted knowing that I had my faith, and that everything would be okay eventually. Little did I know, I was in the first stage of the grieving process; which is denial and shock. I guess I just thought that I was okay because things started to hit physically in a weird way. I began to have some serious chest pains and I truly thought I was having a heart attack. I was at the fountains at Fairfax Corner, and I had to sit, that is how breathless I had become. I was scared to death. I called my doctor and when she told me I had to go to the hospital; I began to panic. I don’t want to go back there; I was so tired of feeling sick; I just wanted to feel normal. This was on July 7th, almost a full three weeks since everything had happened. For the first time since then, I began to panic about my health. Why couldn’t I just get over this?

On the way to the hospital, I was crying my eyes out… I had been so strong, why did this have to keep happening? I feared that something was seriously wrong with me. When we got to the hospital, they took me right away. They took an x-ray and then took blood…. I was so sick of getting blood drawn at this point. I was so nervous and couldn’t hold back my tears in front of the doctors…. What was wrong with me? When they came back to tell me one of my blood levels was high and that could be indicative of a blood clot in my lung, I thought I was going to die. Oh my gosh, would if I have a blood clot? Is that what caused everything? Am I going to die? I tried to stay calm, but I was so damn tired of being strong; I was so tired of hospitals and tests; I was so tired of being polite and not asking questions, I was just so tired. They wheeled me back to get an indepth chest x-ray, where you were injected with iodine and then sent through the machine. I was nervous as anything and was shaking. It was the weirdest sensation that went through my body; thankfully the technician warned me that it was a weird feeling. I anxiously awaited the results, and was relieved the doctor didn’t find anything. He said my chest was all clear and I was good to go. He said I had bronchitis (I now think that all of the stress was causing the chest pains). He prescribed me some medicine and I was on my way. Thus began the longest two weeks. I took the rest of the week off, I had started tutoring, and realized I needed the week to heal. All this week, I was anxious; would if something was wrong with me? What if they missed something? Would if they missed it like the bleed? Then the back of my head would start hurting… oh my gosh, would if I had a clot in my head or a tumor? I am not an anxious person usually, so this was killing me. Why was I having all of these thoughts; I truly thought I was going crazy!

That weekend came; I called my priest on Friday night, and told him I was just having a really difficult time…. I was so anxious and scared, and I was feeling guilty for even having these feelings. If I really trusted in God, why was I so scared? If I was reading the Bible, especially passages about fear and anxiety, then why wasn’t I able to put them to work? He helped me out a little, and we planned to meet the next day. At this point, I wasn’t sleeping well at all; it was terrible. The next day, Aaron and Hayley got sick with the flu; oh my gosh, how was I going to take care of them now? Aaron couldn’t even get out of bed and Hayley was laying around crying. My sister came over to take care of Alyssa, and I tried to help them throughout the day. Meanwhile, I was still struggling to keep it together. That night, I couldn’t sleep…. I was an insomniac… I couldn’t sleep. I called my sister, and she slept with me on the main level. Sure enough, the next morning I was sick as could be. I was so weak and I felt like my body was really rejecting everything. I called the doctor again; at this point, I was paranoid that something was wrong with me. I should have known that if Aaron and Hayley had the flu, then of course, I was bound to get it. My anxiety had gotten the best of me. The doctor said to go to the hospital, as I would need fluids just to be careful…. The people at the hospital thought I was crazy probably. Once again, I had to re-explain the story and why we were being cautious. Any other time I threw up, I wouldn’t have gone to the ER, but this time it was different. I was so scared of having health problems; I was so scared of being sick.

They gave me some fluids; I had only just been there five days earlier; there was no need to run any tests. Of course, I was thinking, what if something came up in those five days? I couldn’t sit still. They prescribed me pain medicine; I didn’t want to take it. Was this just the answer to everything? When I finally got home, I was still exhausted, and felt very weak. It took me a long time to fall asleep; usually when you have the flu, that is all you do is sleep; of course not me. The next day, I stayed home from tutoring again…. I started to feel better, and for the first time in awhile, I fell back to sleep; a miracle. That night I went to a student’s swim meet; I thought I was better. I still had a nagging feeling in my chest, and just didn’t feel right. I felt like I had acid reflux or a bruised muscle in my chest, so I just thought it was all physical. I went through the entire week like that, in pain and scared that something was wrong with me.

That Thursday night, 7/16, I stayed up the entire night. I was terrified something was wrong; I found comfort reading the Bible, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I don’t know what was on my mind; I was just thinking that something was wrong with me, and I would end up back in the hospital again. I should have known that it was my body trying to grieve, but I couldn’t think like that; I was fine after all. No one had prepared me for this process; I thought everything would be fine once I was out of the hospital. I was still awake at 5:45 that morning; I got up and went to work. I decided to go to church first. Instead, I sat in the parking lot and cried. I finally got out of the car and talked to the pastor for a little while. He assured me that I couldn’t be beating myself up about it, and that everything was going to take time. That is what everyone was saying; it will just take time.

I got to work (tutoring), and I was exhausted. I had been up for over 24 hours… I barely made it through the day. I was irritable and scared. My chest was killing me; I felt like I had severe acid reflux, and it wouldn’t go away. I tried to drink a ton of water; it wasn’t working at all. Finally, the day was over… I drove to my mom’s to pick up the girls. I felt so sick; I just wanted to curl up in a ball and fall asleep, but I was wired. I didn’t know what to do; I felt like I was going crazy. When I got to my mom’s, I tried to play it off like I was fine. I didn’t want to lose it in front of her… I sat at the kitchen table, and thought that I would be fine as the girls finished their lunch, but I just couldn’t. My chest was killing me & and I just wanted to lay down. I laid on the couch, and her friend, Sue, called. I told her that I needed to talk to Sue. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my mom… I knew she was worried, but I just didn’t want to open up to her. Sue came over and I started to cry; I didn’t know what was wrong; I didn’t know what to say to her, but it was comforting having her there. I just felt terrible and I was told that nothing was wrong with me physically. I didn’t know what to expect… the heaviness in my chest just wouldn’t go away. I left the girls at my moms and went home. On the way home, I called Aaron and my sister, Colleen. I asked Colleen to come over, as I knew it would take Aaron too long to get home from work. I remember crying on the phone to my friend, Bridget. I just wanted to talk to someone, and I just wanted someone to take this pain away. When Colleen came over, I tried to drink some water and calm down. I made some tea thinking this would help calm me (again, I wanted quick fixes). I had never felt this sensation before. When Aaron got home, I just lost it. I was crying my eyes out, I remember walking up to my bedroom and just collapsing on the stairs, literally sobbing my eyes out. I couldn’t explain it. Was it because it was the one month anniversary? Why would my body not just get over it and be done with all the pain? I didn’t want to hurt anymore. They got me into bed, and I just cried and cried and cried. I couldn’t stop crying. They finally convinced me to call my OB, in which she prescribed me an anti-depressant… It was good to hear her voice, and she reassured me that I would get through this difficult time. I was desperate; I emailed Julie from school, knowing that she was a grief counselor and could maybe help me. I thank God that I realized I needed help on that day; I needed someone to listen to me, and I needed to start talking to someone. I think I was too proud to admit that I needed help, I wanted to do this all on my own, and even though I know I needed God’s and other’s help, I was too stubborn to realize that this whole ordeal was too much to handle by myself. Julie called me back immediately and said she was willing to help me… I was relieved. She told me that it was going to be a long road, but that the medicine would help, and that I needed to start sleeping again. She explained to me that chemically, my body was way off, with all the hormones and all the trauma that had happened. She told me that I was probably suffering from post traumatic stress disorder because of all of the trauma I had dealt with in the hospital. I was so thankful that I would have someone that could look at this from another perspective. I instantly felt comfortable with her, and I knew this was going to be my start on the road to recovery.

What I didn’t realize was that it was going to take time. The medicine wasn’t going to work right away, the talking it out wasn’t going to help immediately. However, even though I have learned a lot through this whole trial; I have still had a hard time dealing with patience. I wanted a magical pill to take all the pain away, and the time I wanted to pass quickly. That weekend was a tough weekend; I felt like I was in a fog; I wanted to talk to anyone that would listen. I talked to people I knew had some postpartum with their own children; maybe they would understand. It helped to listen to other’s stories and to realize that I was still normal.

The next two weeks had been a battle; some days were worse than others. Thankfully, Melanie came into town again, and she helped me get through some of those long, sleepless days. She assured me the medicine I was taking was okay, and she just helped me with everything. One night at dinner, I just sobbed uncontrollably; it was during this time that I couldn’t go anywhere without crying; it was so unpredictable, and the emotions would just come without any notice. It was terrible, but I knew that I needed to feel all of these feelings. I relied so much on Melanie and Colleen to help me through this rough time. They had the perfect balance and always seemed to know the right things to say. There were times these weeks that I thought I would never get through; the days seemed so long. mc

Since that day, I have realized that this is going to be a process. Are there days that I am still incredibly impatient; absolutely! I want to be able to do everything I did before, but I also know that my body needs time to heal. I continue the need to talk about it; I continue the need to be by myself and to be able to share my story. This whole journaling has helped me realize the ordeal I have been through.

At this point, what am I still worried about… I worry that I am not okay physically, especially when I have chest pains or headaches. I worry that I will not be okay. I worry that I have strained relationships with certain members of my family, and I feel guilty for that. I sometimes worry and feel guilty that I didn’t have a connection with baby Austin. I am learning that it is okay. I worry that I won’t be able to be back to where I was physically before I got pregnant. I wonder when this will stop consuming me, and I wonder when I can have a conversation with someone without it coming back to what happened to me. However, I do know that right now, it does help me to talk about it.

It was an extremely emotional day, a day where I had to deliver a baby, say goodbye to him, share an intensely awful and horrific moment with not only my husband, but almost my entire family… all while trying to be strong and just worrying about if my girls were going to be okay. I was scared for my life because I knew what a dangerous situation I was in. Words can’t express the intense feelings of sadness and grief that occurred on that day, and continue to occur. When I think about it, I think all because of what sounded like a “normal” bleed, in which they couldn’t do anything for me. Again, I truly believe that God has a plan for me and my family, and I may not understand the reasons right now, but I know that my family has an angel watching over them now. I know that this happened for a reason, and I feel like I have already learned so many things as a result of it. I know I am going to be stronger, I also know that it is okay to feel a variety of emotions and that I need to allow myself to feel the hurt and grief that I have felt the past two months. Some days are better than others; I thank God that I have enough faith to realize that there was a purpose to this; I thank God for giving me the support system that I have, and for allowing myself to let my guard down to express my feelings. I know that I will continue to have “bad” days, but I also am learning to deal with it. I hope that someday I can help others that have or go through a similar situation. I know the last time I went to the cemetery, I immediately noticed how many new graves were there… it saddened me, but it made me realize I am not alone. Not that I would ever want anyone to go through what I have been through, but it helps me realize that there are others that have been through it. Sometimes I wish I could just reach out to those people, as I know I have been blessed to be able to deal with it the way I have. But as with everything, I know I need to be patient… I need to work through my own issues and grief, and realize that down the road, God will allow me the opportunity to work with others and to share my story in the hopes that it will help others.

While I will never forget this experience and I know I am a changed person as a result, I do look forward to the day where these emotions don’t consume me, and I am confident that day will come. I truly do miss my little baby, but I am also grateful that he didn’t suffer and that God blessed me with the courage, strength and wisdom to get through such a horrific and traumatic experience.

Austin's Story: The Funeral

The next morning was so surreal; I remember it being a beautiful day. I dressed the girls in their new pretty blue dresses (blue in honor of Austin). I got dressed and straightened my hair, put makeup on and tried to make myself look as I would normally look. I put heels on and got the cards ready to go. I packed some snacks and drinks for the girls. We stopped at Giant, and I picked a bouquet of flowers ( a cute white basket) and some balloons. I was going to have the girls release the blue and white balloons as a sign of remembrance. Hayley was so excited for this part; I don’t think she quite understood the day, nor do I know if she does still. In a way I thank God for the resilience of youth, because they help bring you back to reality and clear your mind for awhile. We arrived at the funeral home, and I got out of the car and paced a little bit. I made sure I kept my sunglasses on; I was trying not to cry. I think I was in a state of shock, and tears weren’t readily falling. As close family and friends arrived, I remember thinking how long of a time we were waiting in the parking lot. I tried to smile; I tried to make conversation with people, anything to keep my mind off of what was about to happen. As we drove to the graveyard site, it all started to hit. As we took our seats, I remember just trying to keep my eyes on the girls, and let them be my distractions. I prayed and tried to listen, but to be honest, I was too distracted. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I just tried to keep myself in control. In reality, I wasn’t having that hard of a time, as I was somewhat numb to everything. When Fr. Matt was finished, we let the girls release the balloons, and we watch them fly into the air. It was such a sweet, touching moment, that I will remember and cherish forever. We said goodbye to the people that had came, and I held on to some longer than others. I was so grateful to some of my friends for coming; while you love your family, sometimes being around your closest friends is a good distraction. After we left, I watched as the funeral director waited for us to leave so that they could put the casket into the ground. I don’t know if I wish I had been there for this part; I guess I am glad I didn’t see that.

We then went to Starbucks to grab a drink. I had a hard time focusing in there and trying to act like I was fine. I just didn’t feel like crying in front of my family, nor did I feel comfortable. I was having a hard time when people were taking pictures of all the nieces and nephews running around, and I was just sitting there having to be around everyone. Again, I wanted to be around people, but then had a hard time when I was around them.

When we went home, the girls went down for naps, and Aaron and I were just on the couch. I couldn’t take a nap; I didn’t want to fall asleep. You know that feeling you get when you just don’t want to miss anything, so you stay awake, that is what I was having. Little did I know that I was anxious to fall asleep; in reality, there was nothing to miss, but I didn’t want to have to fall asleep, forget about things and then have to wake up to the reality of what was going on. I guess in my mind falling asleep allowed me to forget about things, only to wake up and remember what a bad situation I was in.

Austin's Story: The Days before the funeral

The next morning came, and I remember emailing some people and just trying to find some distractions. It still didn’t seem real. I remember calling the girls and asking them how they were doing, and just so glad to hear their adorable voices. Around mid-morning, a friend was coming to visit, so I tried to take a shower. I remember thinking, wow, my first shower in a week and a half. I was pumped! Only two minutes into the shower, I was extremely weak. I couldn’t stand and had to get out of the shower. Aaron had to help me with the whole process. I was wondering what was still wrong with me. (Remember, I am somewhat naïve and didn’t realize the blood loss would affect meJ) After my failed shower, I still managed a hair wash, I was back in bed. I remember the doctor coming in saying I could leave later that day (what?) and then another coming back in saying no way, my blood count was back down to 6, and I would need to receive more transfusions. Ugh, not again, I just wanted this to be over, but I knew they would make me stronger, and if I couldn’t stand in the shower, I obviously needed the blood.

Once again, I was scared for the blood transfusions, and the nurse didn’t seem to get it to drip right. Ugh, what should have taken two hours took over four hours, and I still had to receive another unit. I was frustrated, but then tried to remain calm. Once again, I would be receiving transfusions late at night…. Only temporary, I would try to remind myself. My sister, Melanie, stayed with us all day. I remember not crying very much, and just trying to not think about it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thinking about it; I was just so relieved that I would actually be going home, and that I was getting out of the hospital. That day seemed like a really long day; I was excited to be going home. I remember playing Scrabble with Aaron that night… it was good to pass the time with no television and so that the blood transfusion wouldn’t be on my mind. We had a good night that night, and it was good to just be with him.

The next day I awoke early; I was anxious to leave. I knew I would have to get my blood drawn again, so I took a shower. The transfusion must have worked because I was able to stand by myself. Wahoo…. It was only 6:00 though, and I was all dressed and ready to go. I should have known how long hospitals take. Once again, a waiting game began. I talked on the phone, checked my email a million times and waited for the doctor to come check me. I was extremely tired of waiting and kept asking the nurse when she was coming. I mean, all they had to do was press on my stomach and I could leave. This was getting ridiculous; I just wanted to be out of there. Needless to say, the doctor never did come up, and we didn’t get out of there until 3. It was very weird walking down the hallway to our car; I hadn’t walked outside of the hospital room in over a week and a half, and it was very surreal, as I saw many dads carrying car seats, and we were walking out without a little one. Oh well, at least I was going home to see my girls.

We stopped at Starbucks on that very hot day; yumm, I needed a coffee. It was weird walking into a public place; I felt like I needed to tell everyone, yet I just wanted to be alone. Our car ride home was good; we listened to some good Christian music and just talked about our excitement to see the girls. When we walked in the door, I remember just hearing Alyssa chattering away with Melanie; when she came down to see me, she was sooo excited and gave me a big hug. I was relieved to see my little chatterbox, and she was so adorable. Hayley was at the park, but she soon came back, and was surprised to see me. She had been a little shy through this whole situation, but she quickly warmed up. She asked if I was home for good, and then it was back to reality. They wanted to go outside, so we walked Melanie to the car. Hayley immediately asked if I could walk okay, then is it okay if I wear heels. That’s my girl J We took them inside and told them we wanted to talk about something. Even though they were so young, we felt it was important to tell them what happened. As I told her what happened, we all started crying. Hayley seemed to grasp what was going on, and we gave them each a baby blanket so they would remember him. We showed her some pictures, and she cried really hard. Next thing we knew, she was out fast asleep on the couch. Aaron then took Alyssa upstairs and they slept in her room. I was by myself and in a daze. I didn’t know what to think, or what to do, I was soo sad. I just wanted to find someone to comfort me, while I was relieved to be home; I also didn’t know what to do or how to feel. I remember going outside with the girls later that night and sitting on the porch; they just wanted to be outside again, and I just didn’t want to face anyone. I kept my sunglasses on so as to not really meet eyes with anyone. Eric and Colin came over to help bring our car to the shop, and I was relieved to see familiar faces, and to laugh for a little bit. We then were by ourselves, as a family. We cried again at bedtime, and I explained to Hayley that crying is a normal reaction, and that sometimes Mommy and Daddy get sad. She then went to sleep, as Aaron and I went downstairs to relax in the family room. I remember not really wanting to go to sleep, but feeling so exhausted and glad I was in my bed that night.

The next day was Saturday and I had a good night sleep. I got up and dressed myself and the girls. We had to be out early, as Aaron and I had an appointment at the funeral home. I didn’t’ know what to expect, and looking back, I was in a fog that day. My body was so tired from crying and dealing with everything. We dropped the girls at Starbucks with my mom; I still needed my coffee, and headed over to the memorial home. The person we met with was very nice, and thankfully there aren’t many options for a baby’s service. We decided to have a graveside service, and thankfully Fr. Matt (our family priest friend) was going to be there for us. We filled out the paperwork and just sat in the big room at the very large table. I remember trying so hard to not lose it in there, and surprisingly, I didn’t have the urge to; I just was numb. I wanted this part to be over. Next we had to go to the plot of land to pick out where he would be. What an odd feeling; I don’t think I had been in a cemetery before. All of the plots were separated into Babylands, which I thought was adorable. We found the Garden of Angels to be the perfect match, and he was given his small plot of land. We purchased the land, and left the cemetery for that day. I knew we had picked the perfect place, as I love flowers and trees and this memorial park was beautiful. Aaron and I drove to Tony’s for lunch, and I forced myself to eat something… I was exhausted and my head was killing me. At least I had this part over with, and I could relax for the afternoon.

That night, some of my siblings came over for a cookout. It was good to be around people; I needed to be around people. However, I soon realized I needed to be around people that were not so emotional, and that would be there for me when I needed to talk about it, but not ask me too many questions. I needed space, but I also wanted people close by for that security. I remember at one point getting really sad, and going up to my bathroom and just crying my eyes out. At this point, I didn’t feel comfortable crying in front of everyone; I had already done that and didn’t want to do it again. I dried my eyes, and went downstairs; I felt a little better. I played with the kids, and then it was bedtime again. We put the girls down, and Aaron and I sat on the couch and watched some television. The first whole day I had been home; it felt good, but I was tired. It had already felt like a long time since everything happened.

The next day was Sunday, and we went to church. It was tough, and I don’t think I made it through the mass without crying. I just wanted for this pain to go away. Inside, I was dreading tomorrow, the funeral, but I also wanted it to be over. I went to Michaels to get some supplies to make some memorial cards for Austin. I was trying to think of what I would do in a “normal” situation, and I realized that I would have made announcements in the past. I looked through some grief books and found that many people still send out announcements, which helps commemorate the day. I found this to be therapeautic and I was so glad that I decided to make them. I then went to Kathryn’s dance show with all of my sisters. I thought I would be fine; I just wanted to pretend like everything was fine. It was hard to be there with all my sisters; they were laughing and having a good time, and I just couldn’t join in. I wanted so badly to be there for Kathryn, but I just was aching inside. I thought if I could keep myself busy it would all go away. I made sure I went to the bathroom when they were taking a picture; the last thing I wanted to do was pose and smile, especially being around all of them who were in shape and looked good. I drove home with Colleen, She told me she would come over later and help me, and I was so grateful for that. Jacqueline and Melanie helped us too, and it was good to be with them, and to keep myself busy. We finished up the last of the cards at 12:30; I was so tired, but relieved to have something to hand out to everyone at the funeral. I went to bed and remember falling asleep right away that night.

Austin's Story: June 17th: The Birth

I was expecting her to come back to send me back to my room…. I wasn’t expecting what happened next. Next thing, I know there were about ten people in the room, shouting orders, in which the loudest was “Get her on a stretcher; get her to the OR.” No one told me what was going on; I immediately started crying, but collected myself. I had to remain strong; I remember thinking that I wanted to tell the nurse that was shouting that she needed to calm down. I remember thinking that she shouldn’t be freaking out, and that she should be the professional. They got me on a stretcher and I felt like a scene out of ER or Grey’s Anatomy. I was being rushed through the hospital and they moved everyone out of the way so that I could get on the elevator. I still had no idea what was going on. I just kept repeating “Am I going to be okay, Am I going to be okay?” At points, I asked, “Am I going to die?” Again, I just thought, I have to hold on for this little one, and maybe if I was going to deliver, he would be okay. After all, this was Fairfax Hospital, with one of the best NICU’s.

With all the chaos, I was becoming more anxious…. What were they freaking out about? How could things have changed that quickly? Why was no one telling me what was happening? As I was being rushed through the hospital, I asked if one of the nurses knew if Carroll Reed was on call. She was a family friend and I knew she worked in Labor and Delivery. I truly believe God was watching out for me on that day because she was at work that morning. She had just gotten there, and I truly believe the day wouldn’t have been the same had it not been for her. As soon as she got down to the Labor and Delivery triage; things calmed down. She took charge, and I will forever be grateful for her leadership and help on that day. Anyway, I was being rushed through the hospital as they demanded an OR, and then I was taken to triage; once again, a waiting game. If it was that urgent, why was I going to triage.

I finally started to get some answers once Carroll calmed the situation. She told me a specialist would be in from the Perinatal unit, and they would explain what was going on. I was so scared, but again, just tried to remain calm. Finally, a doctor came to me and she told me about what was about to happen. She said that my life was in danger, and that the baby would be delivered today. While I had prepared for this moment for what seemed like an eternity, I was so scared and sad. Why couldn’t I just hold on a little longer? I still remained hopeful; maybe he would survive. Maybe he would be that miracle baby I had been longing for. The difference between specialists and my OB is that they tell it to you very bluntly. No longer did I have the sweet doctor that had helped me throughout the past couple of weeks, but I was faced with some brutal facts. She said I would need to deliver; she said that a C-section might be too risky; that I might not be able to bleed correctly, and could have more of a chance of bleeding out. This surprised me, as I thought it would be the opposite; I would bleed more with a vaginal delivery, but I figured I should trust what she said. She said that with a C-section, the baby might have more of a chance to survive, but it would put me at a greater risk. She said I would need to make a decision. I didn’t want to make a decision; I wanted the decision made for me. I didn’t want to have to choose; I grappled with this as Aaron and I took a moment to discuss. Was this abortion? Was I giving this baby every opportunity to live? I really struggled with this? Was my life more important? Of course, I knew my girls and Aaron needed me, but I admit, I felt a slight bit of selfishness for not thinking twice about wanting my own life. I remember asking Carroll, as I knew she was Catholic, and she told me that I couldn’t think like that, and that my life was important. She said that the church would agree with me on this. At this point, I just needed reassurance, and I was just terrified as to what would happen. When she came back, I told her that we would have the vaginal delivery; I don’t think she was going to let me choose a C-section regardless. Little did I know, I would have to make another decision. She informed me about the baby’s chances of survival. She said the future was very grim for this little one and gave me the blunt facts of what would happen to the baby if we chose to rescuitate him. I thank God that I looked at it from a clear perspective, and I looked at it as another “life” situation. I wouldn’t want the baby to be in pain, and I wouldn’t want the baby to live on life support for an indefinite amount of time, with no guarantee as to what the future will hold. The problem with making a decision was that it had to be made quickly and I would have to sign DNR papers; this is where things began to get blurry. I just didn’t want to make a decision; I didn’t want the responsibility. I wanted the doctors to make those decisions for me; I didn’t want to have to deal with it, and just wanted for it to all be over. Oh, if it were only that easy.

After consideration, we signed the DNR papers, but I didn’t realize how often in the next couple of hours, I would change my mind. At around 10:30, I was wheeled to the labor and delivery room, where I would deliver my little angel. I had mixed feelings, as to some extent, I just wanted it to be over. I wanted the unknown to be over. They informed me how it would work, and that they would start my contractions. At this point, I switched doctors, to a male doctor. Let’s just say he didn’t have the best bedside manner, but at this point I didn’t care. He told me that he was going to start inducing me, and I didn’t realize how this was going to work. I assumed he would use pitocin, but instead, he used another drug, in which he inserted rectally. Hmmm, I didn’t realize that he was going there, so that alone freaked me out. Once that was over, I just wanted the pain of the contractions to stop. He then explained that I would have an epidural; I was in all of this pain, and I was still freaking about the epidural. Would if they didn’t get the right spot? Can I do this without the epidural? I finally realized that I was going to be okay and knew the epidural would be fine. I never gripped the nurse harder as I remained as still as possible. This whole situation was just so surreal. I forgot to mention that at this point, I had a young nurse, but the doctor felt it was necessary to have an experienced nurse, thus I had Mary. While I was relieved that I had the experience of someone who had been in the profession for a long time, it also added to the seriousness of the situation.

So here we were again: Waiting. I just wanted it to be over at this point (have I said that enough?) But here I was just trying to relax and think about something else. I remember calling Hayley and just longing to be with the girls. They were happy as could be, and I was grateful for this. It was the last day of preschool for her, and she had her show. She was so pleased that her aunts were going to be there for her. I was so appreciative that they were safe and happy. I missed them so much, and just wanted to make it through this to see them. I also just talked with Aaron and my parents. I was relieved that my mom had come, as she had been there for Hayley and Alyssa’s birth, and she was always eerily calm as she paced the room. My dad was also there, and I was relieved to be with him. I am really close to him, and I knew he was nervous. Every half hour, he would leave the room, little did I know how scared he was. I must say I am grateful for how well everyone hid their fear that day.

Every so often, they would come and check me. I wasn’t dilating as quickly as I thought. I was used to having babies very quickly, so again my impatience was creeping in. I just wanted for this whole nightmare to be over. I had also talked to the neonatologist about my decision for the baby’s life. He answered all of my questions, and was so nice and professional. When I didn’t know what questions to ask or what to do, Carroll would help me and reexplain everything. However, the neonatologist reassured me that he would be present at the birth just to make sure that my decision was the correct one. (Usually if you sign the DNR, the neonatologist doesn’t come.) However, he could see that I was extremely unsure of what I was doing and he realized the impact of the situation, and what a difficult situation it was.

While I was waiting for the delivery, the doctor said that I needed more blood, and I received more blood transfusions in anticipation for the amount of blood I was about to lose as a result of the delivery. This time the blood was rushed to the room and arrived in the cooler. Wow… I definitely didn’t need to see that, and even though I should have been used to transfusions, I was still petrified receiving the transfusions. I received these ones at an extremely fast rate, and within three hours, I received three units. This time, they also hooked up blood warmer; I didn’t care, as the nurse was having a hard time hooking it up. I remember thinking, what is the difference, “cold blood/warm blood,” Just get it in me.

So while I was waiting, there was still a lot going on. At around 2:30, my friend, Marie, happened to come by. She had come to visit me not knowing what was taking place. She worked in the postpartum unit of the hospital, and immediately came to my delivery room. I could tell she was hurting that I was having to go through this, and she held my hand and comforted me. I asked her some questions about it, and she continued to be there for me, and talk to the other nurses. It was a relief to have someone there that I knew for over 15 years in my room. I knew that I was in good hands, having two nurses that had a personal relationship with me. Things moved quickly after Marie arrived and I felt such intense pressure. I had never felt that kind of pressure before, and it was terrible. I thought I was going to explode, and I told Marie that I needed to go. At this point, the doctor wasn’t in there, but she finally told him that he needed to come in. Later on, she told me, that I wasn’t screaming or acting like it was painful, so they didn’t think it was coming…I am just not very emotional when delivering a baby… I just kind of take the pain quietly. Anyway, I distinctly remember it being somewhat chaotic right before the birth. People rushed in, and I remember watching the doctor put on his mask and gown, and it seemed like an eternity… I just remember thinking, could you please hurry up? No sooner had he gotten it on, did everything just come out. I remember thinking that for such a little baby, this shouldn’t be so painful. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I pushed, everything came out, and as soon as his little head came out, I knew at first glance, that he was just too little. I feel like that was God’s way of telling me that I made the right decision, and that little Austin was destined to be our angel. As soon as he came out, they rushed him to the back room, and I was grateful knowing the neonatologist was there. Immediately after, the doctor pushed on my uterus, and I just remember blood gushing everywhere. It was all over his mask, all over the floor; everywhere. Apparently the bag that holds all of the afterbirth was not clamped down, and the blood was absolutely everywhere. As disgusting as it was; it was somewhat humorous amidst all of the sadness. I remember laughing a little, as it just really showed how crazy the day was…. I mean sorta fitting for the entire day. I remember just asking him, am I okay, is it all out? Did you get everything out? He said in a very confident way that he was sure that the bleed came out completely. I couldn’t believe it; a sense of relief washed over me as I realized that I was okay, I realized that I wasn’t going to die. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of yet another battle I would face.

After they got the vitals of little Austin; they wrapped him and handed him to me. Perfection is how I describe him. Honestly, he was so normal looking. His little face reminded me of Hayley’s, and he truly was an angel. He looked so peaceful and calm, and I just felt so weird the whole time. I was grateful that he looked so normal, but it also was a very surreal feeling, as if he was this perfect, why couldn’t he make it? How does such perfection not survive? Even though I knew deep down he was too little, it was still hard to see him like this. I don’t know what I was expecting; again, I don’t think you could ever prepare yourself for it. At this point, it was just my parents in the room. Aaron was extremely hesitant to hold him, and I was just sitting there sobbing. At one point, I just couldn’t hold him anymore. I remember giving him to my mom or someone else… it was just too hard. At this point, I let some family members know, and they were on their way to the hospital. We didn’t know how to handle it; but we knew that family members would come sometimes, so we felt that we would do that. I was relieved to have some comfort and some people in the room, but I wasn’t really prepared for how hard it would be to see the people that I love in such a horrific situation. How can one ever be prepared? I thank God that the nurses had the wisdom to handle such an awful situation; I mean they were affected too that day, as none of them had joy being in the room. Almost everyone had shed tears, and that made them seem more human and real to me. I thank God that they took pictures, as I didn’t think I wanted the pictures. I didn’t realize how important those would become.

So once family had been called, my siblings and Aaron’s parents arrived. Each and every time someone new came in, the wave of emotions hit, and I just sobbed and sobbed. Each person that came in was crying too, so that didn’t help. I have always been one of those people that cry when I see someone else, and this was definitely no exception. While it was comforting to see my siblings, it was so hard for us all to be gathered at such an intensely emotional time. They all held the baby, and passed him around. It was very weird watching them do this, as I tried to keep composure (which I didn’t.) I remember trying to take my mind off of things by making a joke here or there or trying to ask about something unrelated to the situation. It didn’t work very well. People came in and out, and people left. I was glad that so many people came, but it was also really hard, as I just didn’t know how to react, and I was just so exhausted in general. I was so tired of crying and I ached everywhere. My best friend, Didi, was the last to arrive. She had been there for the other two babies, and it was fitting that she was there for this one. I was so grateful that she came, and I needed to see her so bad. She held him in her arms, and was just so good comforting me. As I said goodbye to Didi, I realized it was already 7:00. I was exhausted, and as Austin was in my arms again, I realized how quickly he was changing. He had started to become bluer, and he seemed to be changing by the minute. I asked everyone to leave the room, so that Aaron and I could be with him. Again, a huge wave of emotion hit as I sobbed my eyes out knowing this would be the last time I would hold him; knowing that this really was the end. I knew that this was the moment that we needed together, and that it was also the time that we needed to let go. As the nurse took him away, I felt a little bit of relief, as I realized that this was such a difficult time, but that I was finally not wondering what was going to happen.

Slowly, some people came back in the room. I didn’t’ know what I wanted; I wanted some of my sisters there, so that when I was transferred to my room, they would be with me. I needed a distraction, and I needed to laugh… I needed something to ease my pain in that moment, and I wanted them there. Little did I know, that it would take two hours to get transferred to my room, and little did I know, that the hospital didn’t take Baby Austin away when I had asked. This was hard, as he was in the back room of the hospital room. I thought that was just temporary, but they didn’t take him out until I almost left the room. This was extremely painful for me, as I felt guilty that I wasn’t in there holding him. Sometimes I feel like I should have been the last to hold him, and yet, it was my mom and sister that saw him last. I try to tell myself that I want to remember him as he was, peaceful and perfect, and I wouldn’t have wanted to see him the way he was when he changed. I had a hard time knowing that he was in there for so long, while I was just feet away from him. I was so annoyed that I was still in the room, and I was so annoyed that they hadn’t taken him away, yet I didn’t say anything. Here I was patient and just waited, like I had gotten used to doing. (See, I never really let anyone know how impatient I was; I never complained or said how I was really feeling, maybe because I didn’t know what I was feeling.) By this point, I was so ready to be in my room that I couldn’t wait to get out of that horrible room. There were still blood stains all over the floor, and I just didn’t want to be in that room, with all those bad memories. Finally, they moved me to my room, and my sister, Melanie & Kim and Tony came to the room.
Here, I was given some Percocet, and I was more than relieved. I needed to not feel anything at this point, and it made me loopy, which I needed. I ate some food, the first of eating in two days, and I was able to get through the next couple of hours without crying. My visitors left and Aaron and I just held each other and talked. I finally got some sleep. I didn’t sleep too long that night; I woke up and was sad, but didn’t cry. I just was so glad to be in my own room, and to be feeling somewhat better from everything that happened.

Austin's Story: Part Three: The New Hospital

When I arrived at the new hospital, I was transferred to my room. For the first time, I would have a roommate, and I would share a room. Ugh, I was not looking forward to this, but tried to remember that this was only temporary, and I could get through a roommate. When I was situated, I remember eating lunch and re-telling my history of what was going on. I was getting sick of repeating this story. Then I met my roommate… one of her first questions was “Are you a light sleeper?” Oh boy, this was going to be a long couple of weeks was what I thought. She said that she snored pretty loudly, but that there were headphones if I needed them. Great, I already wasn’t sleeping well, now I would have to listen to this. She informed me that she was 32 weeks and had gestational diabetes. Wow, she was a good 9 weeks ahead of me, and if the baby was delivered, she would have a very good chance of being okay. I tried to think that I shouldn’t worry about other’s situations, but I had a hard time knowing that she was already far enough along, and that her baby was viable. I remember thinking it was odd that I was placed with her, and on the side without the bathroom. Here I was hanging on and in so much pain, and she was up walking around and only worried about her diet. I remember hearing her story five times, as she was on the phone literally the whole afternoon.

I was trying not to worry about the situation, and just went online and browsed the internet. After an hour, they told me they were going to take the catheter out of me, and that I would have to get up to use the bathroom. I hadn’t been out of bed for a week, and I was going to immediately have to get up and walk across the room. My first time out of bed was awful; I could barely feel my legs and had a difficult time walking. I had to rely on Aaron and the nurse to get me across the room. I was very weak, but most of it was due to the fact that I hadn’t walked in a week. My legs were being stimulated by the leg compression, so as to avoid blood clots. (I tried not to even think about that.) I seriously felt like an old woman, and truly appreciated how hard some people have it. I clung to the fact that this was temporary and that I was going to be okay, and in the end, I would have a little miracle to explain it. The first time in the bathroom was an extremely odd situation. I had gone from people changing me and taking care of that part for me (which was a relief in some sense) to being completely on my own. I was trying to drink so much water that I ended up having to get up almost hourly; it got easier as I got up, but I was still extremely weak.

About three hours after I arrived in the hospital, I was given a detailed sonogram. I saw the baby moving on the flat screen in the room; wow! The Chief of OB came in and said that my bleed was impressive. It had grown all along (I think it was 14 cm, at this point). I thought to myself, that is what we say about problem students, you are not fooling me. He said they would continue to monitor me, and I was in good care. I was very nervous, but trusted in the doctors to pull me through. As I had grown accustomed to doing, I didn’t ask any questions; I think for fear of knowing the answers. While I wanted to know the truth, I didn’t want to know; I wanted to remain hopeful. Thus, began the longest 36 hours of my life.

That night, I ate dinner… gross, the food was nasty. My sister, Melanie, came and brought me all these treats. She was so sweet and made sure I had a lot of food that would give me strength. She took such good care of me throughout this whole ordeal. She made me laugh, and helped me to the bathroom. Of course, we had to try not to laugh when my roommate was noisy and was snoring a little bit. We were like little kids trying not to laugh too hard. It provided some momentary relief as Aaron and I talked to her and just relaxed a little bit. Unfortunately, it was around 10:00, and both her and Aaron had to leave. I was devastated that I was going to be in the hospital by myself that night. This would be the first time I had stayed in the hospital alone, and since everything was changing so quickly, I feared that something would happen, and Aaron wouldn’t be there. I tried to be strong, but cried that night (one of the only times I did). I knew that the nurses would take care of me, but I was lonely and so scared. I tried to pray as much as I could. I took comfort with my prayer books and the rosary, and I kept the rosary close to me. It really did provide such comfort. Little did I know how bad the night would be. I texted Aaron several times to make sure he was okay and hope safely. At least, he would get a good night sleep, I thought.

I tried to go to sleep, but it just wasn’t happening. My roommate was so incredibly loud; making noises with food bags and with her television on. I got my ipod and tried to sleep. I took an Ambien; nothing was working. Then the snoring began, and it was awful. I have never heard a noise like this before. I began getting really anxious and knew that I was bleeding even more. I tried not to think about it; I rolled over and tried to switch positions. I texted Melanie and Aaron to just vent to someone. I finally called a nurse in, and told them that I couldn’t take it any more. I told them I was bleeding even more, and they tried to tell me to relax. I couldn’t relax, and my contractions were starting again. They felt bad, but said that all of the beds were full. One of the only rooms they had was with another snorer. At this point, it was 1:00. They said they would see what they could do, and I prayed that I would be transferred. They would come by and check on me, and I told them that the contractions weren’t going away. They finally turned the lights on, and put the contraction machine on me, and gave me some pain medicine. They then had to put yet another IV in me. There were about three nurses in the room, yet my roommate continued to sleep throughout all of this. By this point, it was close to 3:30, and I still had not closed my eyes. I tried to relax and they finally told me they were cleaning a room to transfer me. I just needed to get out of that room. By around 4:30, they finally came in and took me to my new room. I was relieved, but still in a lot of pain because I was having contractions. They weren’t terrible, but they were 2 minutes apart. I remember just watching the clock from 4:30-6:00, and just wishing for them to go away. I texted Aaron at 5:30 and told him he needed to come to the hospital. He said he would leave soon; so much for any sleep for him too.

At around 6:00, I texted Aaron again and told him I really needed him. He replied and said that his car had broken down on 66. Wow, just our luck…. L I told him to call my dad and that he would come and get him. In the meantime, I was anxious that the contractions would stop, but they were steady. I saw the resident at that point, and he felt terrible about my condition. He said they were going to take me for another sonogram, and that he would be back to check on me. I just hoped Aaron would get there before I had to go for a sonogram. I was exhausted at this point, and resigned myself to no sleep that night. Thankfully, Aaron got there within a half hour and he held my hand, as we waited for the sonogram. Yet again, I was taken in a wheelchair to the sonogram room. As I laid on the table, I was paralyzed with fear; I was really scared at this point. I was also so tired I just wanted to go to sleep. As she looked at the screen, I tried to see if there was any difference from the previous day, but I couldn’t tell. After about five minutes, she told me that she needed to go get the doctor, but she didn’t say if anything was wrong. I was scared and just didn’t feel like waiting on the table anymore. I was so sick of waiting: whether it was waiting in waiting rooms, waiting back in the doctor’s office, waiting on sonogram tables; waiting for results; waiting for answers. Remember, I am impatient, so all of this waiting was so difficult; yet, I had to remain calm. After all, what would panicking do for me?

Austin's Story: Part Two: The First Hospital Stay

I had to get rushed to the hospital via ambulance, and it was the weirdest feeling to be in an ambulance all by myself. I was pretty calm when I was in there; I was nervous because they couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat, but they tried to reassure me to say that 50% of the time, they couldn’t find it. Needless to say, that wasn’t very reassuring. We finally made it to the hospital, and I was taken to labor and delivery. For some reason, when you are at 20 weeks, you go there instead of the emergency room. Immediately, they found the heartbeat (a huge relief) and they hooked me up to the contraction monitor. It was shift change, and I don’t think they were paying very close attention to it. I think they figured that once they found the heartbeat, I would continue to bleed, and there was nothing they could do. I remember thinking as they checked me out within two hours that something was wrong. I felt like I was bleeding more, but who was I to question the doctor. As soon as I got home and was walking to the front door, I felt what would be the first of numerous clots that I would pass that night. I went to the bathroom where I found a clot the size of my palm, and I continued to bleed heavily. I was exhausted and very weak; I hadn’t eaten all day, but by this point I had no appetite. Aaron went out to get something to eat, and I continued to pass about ten clots that night. It was the scariest night up until this point, and I was really beginning to wonder what was wrong with me, and if I was ever going to be admitted to the hospital for good. (Here, I think I should have been admitted for good, but I don’t think they realized how much blood I was having). I was bleeding through the heaviest pads possible, and often more than one an hour. I was literally exhausted, but I think I had become immune to it, and was simply thinking, I have to get to 24 weeks.

At this point, I was on permanent bedrest. I stayed in bed all day, and got up several times to go to the bathroom. I was so bored and knew that this could possibly be the longest week of my life. I was trying to drink a lot of water, but that made me have to get up several times. I couldn’t do anything, and wasn’t even leaving my bedroom. I would maybe walk downstairs once a day, but that was a huge maybe. It was hard because the girls wanted to be with me when they got home, and I couldn’t even get out of bed. At week 21, I went to the doctor again because of the bleeding, but again, the baby was fine. At this point, I was feeling very weak; I think I was so used to feeling this way, that I probably didn’t speak up to my doctors as much as I should have. After all, they couldn’t tell that I was feeling as bad as I was. At this point, as long as they heard the heart beat, then they were satisfied and felt there was nothing that could be done.

With that being said, I bled that entire week, and finally that weekend, I was almost 22 weeks. It was a really bad weekend; I was so weak and had a hard time even making it to the bathroom. I remember that Sunday wanting to go to the hospital, but so weak that I didn’t even want to get there. I tried to shower and made it all of three minutes before I had to collapse on the bed. All night, I was having contractions, but I was so physically tired, I just didn’t want to go. Finally, that morning, I called my sister, Colleen, and told her I needed to go get checked out. I was so tired of going to the regular doctor’s office to get the same answer every time. I went to the hospital because I couldn’t stand long enough to shower. (One of the doctors said that should have been a huge indication that I was feeling really bad, but again, how was I to know?)

They checked me in, and found that my blood levels were extremely low. I checked in on a Monday morning (6/8). I was going into labor at this point too, but thankfully the contractions stopped later that night. Normal blood levels are between 12-16, and I was at a 7.5. They decided to admit me for what they hoped would be the remainder of the pregnancy. They wanted me to make it to 24 weeks, in which the baby would have a better chance of making it. When I was admitted that night, I had to receive two blood transfusions, which the doctors were baffled by. They said they had never had someone have to receive transfusions due to a SCH. Again, the baby was fine. However, this was the first night, I began to worry about my life. The doctor explained to me that there was a possibility of bleeding out, which could end up risking my life. This was the first night that I actually understood (or maybe even was told) that the only way for the bleed to stop was when the baby was delivered. For the first time, I considered delivering this little one. I was so scared; I wanted to be okay for Aaron; I wanted to be okay for my girls; I wanted to make sure I was okay for myself. I was so scared that something horrible was going to happen, and we seriously considered inducing the baby that night via c-section. I was a wreck; Aaron and I sobbed about the chance of possibly delivering and ending this nightmare.

Thankfully, our doctor thought about it a lot with her team of nurses and decided that we should wait it out and see what happens. At this point, she didn’t think that my life was in danger, and she knew that we would never wait until that point. I was on edge; she gave me something to sleep that night to ease my emotional and physical pain, and said that we needed to sleep on it, so that we weren’t as exhausted. I am so grateful that she was there that night, as she was the calming energy that we needed. She was so professional; yet so compassionate, as she knew we were facing some extremely difficult circumstances and decisions. I don’t regret not acting rash that night, and I am glad we put it in God’s hands to see what was going to happen. At this point in the game, we all were optimistic that this was going to be okay, and we were in it for the long haul.

The next day (Tuesday), I was moved to the ante-partum unit of the Women’s Health Center. They told me that I would be here for the remainder of the pregnancy, and to make my room like home. I immediately had pictures of the girls and Aaron in there, and it was like my little home. I began to know the nurses and I was as comfortable as I could be. Most of my day was spent getting my vital signs and the nurses checking to see how much blood I would have on a given day. If it was a significant amount of blood, I would be rushed to labor and delivery. Most days, it was average; I was bleeding less than I had been. I still wasn’t allowed to get out of bed; I had a catheter the first two days, which made life easy. Although, that was an issue in itself; at least I wasn’t having to move around too much. The next day, they took me off of that, and told me I would have to use a bed pan…. Hmmm… not the most favorable situation. I was exhausted, so even this was a lot of work for me. I quickly learned humility that day, as well as overcoming my fear of caring what people thought about me (looks wise, that is!) I will admit though, I never did get used to people having to help me do everything: go to the bathroom, clean up, help me bathe, make my bed, etc. It did give me a whole new perspective on the nursing profession, and patients that are in the hospital.

Throughout the week, I still bled the whole time. Some days were better than others. My days were spent visiting with the nurses, hanging out with Aaron, enjoying several phone calls and texts from family and friends, as well as visits. I also spent a lot of quiet time in prayer and reflection. We watched a lot of the NBA finals that week, and they actually were all pretty good games. I slept okay during that week, although I usually had to have them give me something to go to sleep. I also needed to overcome my fear of medicine, and realize that it was okay to take things to help you feel better. Most of the days, Aaron would leave for a little while and spend some time with the girls, or just have some time to himself. He never wanted to leave for too long, in case something would happen. Almost every night, the girls came to visit me, which was the highlight of my day. Alyssa loved going to the nursery to see the babies; at this time, she was in a major baby obsession. Hayley was much more reserved and quiet when she was in there; I think she missed me and was scared. I always managed to keep it together in front of them, although it was really hard. While it was good to have them come visit me, it was also extremely hard, as I couldn’t do anything, and I know they wondered what was going on.

That Friday night (6/12), I went into labor again. I started bleeding pretty heavy, and was starting to have contractions around 5:00. They decided to bring me back to labor and delivery, where I once again thought we were going to deliver. It was an agonizing ride back to the labor and delivery room, where again I met with the anestegiolist, as I thought we were going to be soon going into surgery. The same doctor was on call (thank God), and once again, it was a shift change, so nurses were in and out of the room. All of them were so wonderful and had tears in their eyes, as they explained the situation and saw me go through the intense emotions that came with the prospect of delivering so near. Again, they decided to hook me up to two IV’s in preparation for what was about to happen. By this point, my veins had been stuck several times, so they were having a hard time getting veins. They had to get a nurse from the ER, who was good at catching veins to put the other IV in. At this point, I was hooked up to two IV’s, as they wanted to make sure I was getting enough fluids. We were all ready to go, when the contractions somewhat slowed. Again, we waited the contractions out; I was dilated 1 cm, but again, the contractions stopped. Thus, began one of the longest nights. They decided to give me morphine to relieve some pain and the anxiety; I was to hit the button when I needed relief. Again, this scared me, as all I could think about was Ms. Dubose from To Kill a Mockingbird because she was a morphine addict. The thought of getting morphine seemed scary to me; needless to say, I only hit the button a few times. I didn’t sleep at all that night; I was scared. I prayed a lot, and was comforted knowing that my mom and Aaron were there. Aaron passed out for a little while, and I was definitely envious that he was able to sleep. I was just too scared to let my eyes shut.

Morning came, and I was feeling okay. I was finally able to eat something, and I ate a little bit of cereal. I knew I needed the energy, and forced myself to eat, even though I wasn’t hungry. Once again, I had to give blood to see where my levels were. They discovered that I was back down to 6. Ugh, I dreaded doing that procedure again. There was something about the blood dripping that just scared me so much. I just wanted it to be over. I said a prayer to myself right before they would start the transfusion and just prayed for the strength to get through it, and for the blood to be normal. I had to receive two more blood transfusions that night. That night, the girls came, and I knew I was about to get blood… the first round wasn’t even going to start until 9:00, and I was just in a bad mood. I cried when I saw Hayley; I just was so sick of dealing with this, and this was one of the first and only times I broke down in the hospital. I just missed them so much, and was so worried about what the future held. I had remained so positive this whole time, but I just needed to break that night. I was so overtired and so drained that I just needed to cry. I was able to pull myself together; after all, I had to. I needed to be strong for everything that was going to happen; I think in a way this was God’s way of preparing me for the long haul ahead.

I finally got some sleep, after the second transfusion finished around 1. I remember being woken up several times that night; I was so tired, but thankfully, I was able to go right back to sleep. The next day, Sunday, I felt better, and the hospital was working to get me into a higher level hospital, that would be better equipped to handle babies born at such a young age. I was hopeful, but also had gotten used to the excellent care and treatment I was receiving at this hospital. The nurses warned me what the chances looked like. My doctor came to visit me that day, and continued to hold out hope that our little Austin would make it through, and that we were all going to be okay. Sunday was an uneventful day; I rested a lot, and had a couple of visitors. I was exhausted from the previous day, and just tired to rest as much as I could.

Monday 6/15, I went into labor again in the morning. It was early morning, and I was having a lot of bleeding again… I was really sad that I was being wheeled down to labor and delivery again. I remember feeling so frustrated that this was happening again; couldn’t I make it one more week? Couldn’t I just hold out a little bit longer and at least make it to where the chances for survival were greater? Again, I was hooked to the contraction machine; I was so sick of this machine. Again, I was pricked with what little veins I had left, to yet another IV. Again, I had the awful pit in my stomach that this was it, and that I was going to deliver today. Again, the contractions stopped, and I received good news, I would get to go to the higher level hospital the next day. I was relieved, but also nervous for what the future held for me. After the contractions stopped that morning, I was moved back to my room… it felt good to be back. I loved the feel of my little room. I had a lot of visitors that day, and all of my sisters came that night, which was a relief. I needed to keep my mind off of everything, and it was a much needed distraction for the anticipation and angst I was feeling for the next day. Despite the anxiety, there was a feeling of excitement and hope, as I was really thinking the move to the next hospital was going to be a great help.

I remained hopeful that I could make it through another week to give this baby a chance. I was so sad to leave the hospital, yet I awoke with such hope. I put on makeup and straightened my hair (this is big considering that is something that means a lot to me… it felt good to actually look good, instead of the pale white that everyone had grown accustomed to seeing.) My nurse that morning was actually a graduate of Chantilly, and she recognized me as a Chapman. Of course, it was comforting to know someone by association. She took great care of me and made sure everything when smoothly to prepare for the arrival of the Physician’s Transport Ambulance. As I was wheeled onto the stretcher (such a weird feeling being transferred from a bed to another stretcher… they didn’t even get me out of bed; they transferred me over with the sheets), I said goodbye to many of the nurses. Some of the nurses wrote me cards of good luck and inspiration. They made a blanket and little booty socks for the baby, and they truly were so hopeful for my future. They all were in the hallway saying goodbye as I was wheeled out of the hospital. It was so sweet, and I truly felt so cared for while I was there. They were all so genuine and I was so appreciative of all they had done for me.

The ride over was much different than my last ambulance ride, which was filled with fear and sadness. This time, I was relieved and hopeful that I would be going to be okay. While I was scared and nervous about being in a new environment, I was so appreciative that Fairfax had taken me as a patient.

Austin's Story: The Beginning

I found out I was pregnant around 5 weeks. It was a complete surprise. I remember coming home one day from work just not feeling right. I kept telling myself I needed to keep track of my cycle; however, I never seemed to remember the exact day. Needless to say, I remember being in the basement and the girls were playing with their toys. I announced to my husband that I thought he should get a test… his shocked expression said it all. He complied and twenty minutes later was back with a First Response test. Nervously, I peed on the stick, and within what felt like seconds, two pink lines appeared. I couldn’t believe it…. We weren’t planning on having another one this soon. I immediately started crying; how could this happen?? (Well, I know how it happened, but I just didn’t think it was possible.) I had to get out of the basement and away from everyone… I took the keys and went out for a drive. I remember getting gas and just thinking about how our life was going to change again. Selfishly, I thought about how back in shape I was, and how I had finally been satisfied with the way I looked, and I was in such a good workout routine. Silly, I know, but when you work out every day, you know how hard it is to maintain. I made a vow that I would continue to workout, and that this would be my healthiest pregnancy yet. I could continue to lift weights and use the elliptical, after all most pregnant women are able to continue working out.

Once the initial shock wore off, as with the girls, I was extremely excited… we would have a full car now. Aaron even measured the Honda to make sure three car seats would fit across the back seat. (Figures that is the first thing he thought of!) I remember thinking that I was going to keep it a secret for awhile… I have always tried to wait until the 12 week mark (the supposed “safe” mark.) I failed the next day, as I sat in my classroom crying to Sean. I continued to run for the next two weeks, but every time I ran, it just didn’t feel right. I always had a bad pain in my stomach; I just wrote it off that I had a bad stomach normally, and that it was nothing. I continued to lift weights, but stopped doing any stomach exercises. The cramping feeling got really bad one day, and I had to go in for a six week ultra sound because of it. Everything checked out okay, I just was really tired (more so than the previous pregnancies). I remember going upstairs as soon as Aaron got home from work to rest before dinner. Sometimes I would end up staying there the entire night. I just didn’t feel right, but I still didn’t want people to know. It was hard to keep it a secret; especially at work, when I needed to get sick or just felt tired. I finally spilled the news to my mom and sister while sitting at Starbucks one Saturday morning. They were really surprised, but happy for me. I told my dad later in the garage and he thought I was kidding (Pretty typical response… I think he thought that for the other two as well.) I guess it was a good thing I told them because I was 10 weeks, and the next day (Sunday night) I started gushing blood, and went to the ER with Aaron and my mom. I thought I was miscarrying, even though I had never had that experience before. I never even spotted with my previous pregnancies. I was so scared, but remained calm… after all, there was no use to get too upset. I remember getting to the hospital to get a very non-reactive response… they simply asked how many pads I had bled through (little did I know how often I would be asked this question in the coming months). I was shocked by how blasé they were about it; of course I didn’t have a pad on, I don’t even wear pads, so I didn’t have any of that in the house. Of course, I had to wait forever, as they took me back to triage to go over my symptoms and continued to ask how long I had been bleeding, which was maybe an hour. After endless waiting, they finally hooked me up to the sonogram, where they found the baby’s heartbeat, which immediately put me at ease. Everything seemed fine, and they treated me for a threatened miscarriage. I was scared, but reassured that diagnosis was “normal.” I remember feeling exhausted as I left, but relieved to be going home with our little one inside of me. I took the next two days off of work, in which I had to tell my bosses what was going on. I still wanted to keep it fairly quiet, as I knew I was not “out of the woods”. I went home, took it easy and just hoped I wouldn’t continue to bleed. I was not put on bedrest, but was told not to exercise or lift anything heavy.

The bleeding continued from 10-14 weeks; some days heavier than others. I went in for several ultrasounds; all were checking out okay. I was getting so sick of calling the doctor and going in to be checked. I always felt like an inconvenience, even if they didn’t mean to make it feel that way. They just made it seem like it was “normal” and that there was nothing could do. There truly was nothing they could do, but I guess I just wished they would talk about it more and treat me as more of a high-risk patient. I still felt like I was being treated as if everything was regular and normal. Clearly, it wasn’t. I am a usually very laid-back person, and am very passive when it comes to dealing with doctors. I know they are busy individuals, and I always felt like it was better to just listen to them and let them offer advice/opinions, and not really ask questions. I always seemed to forget the questions until after the appointment, and I am not very good at calling the office to have them answered.

By week 16 (the dates blur together), I finally went to the perintologist. My bleed was very big, about 9 cm, but again, I was told there was nothing that they can do. The baby looked healthy and was totally fine. He did notice two cysts on the baby’s brain, but then he said that it could just be that it was early in the pregnancy, and that the brain just needed more time to develop. Of course, he asked if I wanted an aminio and if I had the testing done for Down’s. Immediately, I worried that something might be wrong, but I had declined the testing like I did with the other two babies… I figured I would keep the baby regardless, so what good would the testing do. I remember leaving the doctor that day feeling worried… worried that the bleed wasn’t going to go away, worried that my baby might have “problems,” worried that this was going to be a long six months.

I continued to bleed for the next several weeks. I would call when I thought it was a lot, but by that point, I didn’t know what was a lot. I was soaking through pads, but again, they kept saying there wasn’t much they could do until I reached 24 weeks.

At week 18, I had another “bad” bleed; I am not sure what always prompted me to call. This was a Friday night; my bad days always seemed to happen on the weekends. At this point, I still had to go to the Emergency room, as I was before twenty weeks. I went to the ER, in which they did the tests that they always did. I remember going into the cold, dark room, where the radiologist spent a good half hour taking pictures and trying to find measurements of the bleed. I remember her saying that she was having a hard time with it. Finally, when the doctor saw us, he gave us the same grim news… there was nothing that could be done. The baby looked fine, and they would continue to monitor the situation, just take it easy. I was put on bed rest for the week, as the doctor wanted me to really get some rest that week.

When I was on bed rest that week, I just watched television and read. I still got up and down to do things, and walked around a little bit. I usually would come downstairs and at least stay on the main level for the day, so I wasn’t always in my room. They had told me that stairs wasn’t an issue, and that I was okay to move around the house. I continued to bleed, and it didn’t seem to be making a difference, but I complied. I felt okay, and wasn’t overly tired… I never was able to take naps during the day. I became pretty sick of tv in a couple of days.

The next week, I was cleared to go back to work. It was a really light week at work, so I wasn’t going to have to do much. I was able to go in late and leave early on most days. At this point, I was supposed to begin another graduate level class; I thought I would be fine. That day on 5/22, Aaron and I’s five year anniversary, I went home early to rest and was going to go to my class at 4:30. It was a very hot day, and stupidly I wore jeans. I remember getting to the building, and felt a little light headed, but I assumed it was the heat. At one point, I became really dizzy and I knew that I started to bleed again. I rushed to the bathroom, where one of my colleagues helped me up. I remember thinking, this is it, this is really bad. I finally left the bathroom, and thought I would be able to wait it out until Aaron could come get me, but it got too bad. I was in so much pain and I was so hot and light headed. I finally went out to my car, where my colleague called 911. I remember thinking that this couldn’t be happening; we had plans for dinner, and we were actually going to go out, in spite of everything going on.