"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 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.


  1. I had extreme anxiety as well. I worried if I got a headache, could not catch my breath, and so on. I thought of everything that could be wrong with me, from a clot to cancer. As much as we have faith, we are still human and will experience human emotions. I am sorry we had to meet this way. Losing our children is something we do not think about when pregnant. Austin is a beautiful baby boy, and I pray with time that you find peace. Thinking of you.
    Marie from My Expected End.

  2. Read about you and Austin on In Hannah's Honour blog and wanted to extend my sympathy on the loss of your sweet boy. We lost our fifth child, a boy, during my labour on May 19, 2009. So this sad, bewildered mum trying to cope with loss sends you love and hope as you do the same. (((Hugs)))

  3. I believe we won't ever stop thinking about but i do believe the anxiety and worry does ease and eventually go away. Thought this is a tough experience i believe that we are forever changed for the better. We will never be the same people that we once were. You have my deepest sympathy in loosing your baby boy, but i also commend you on your strength, to have to make the decisions that you had to make i think is extrememly corageous. My heart aches with yours, but if only one thing we can take comfort in knowing that we are not alone. I am sending you prayers and love and most of all hope b/c without it we are lost.