There it was, two dark, pink lines confirming what we thought would determine the course of our whole lives, the first sign of our baby’s life. This was our first baby and the first grandbaby for both of our parents. To say we were overjoyed with our baby on the way is an understatement. I knew in my heart we were expecting a boy and our 21 week ultrasound confirmed it. We anticipated the day we’d get to meet him, hear him cry and hold him in our arms for the first time. We always wanted a boy and my husband was so ecstatic that he started to picture father and son time that would play out in the future, our future. Days and nights were filled with long talks about what our son would be like, who he’d look like, what kinds of baby essentials we need to buy and how we’re going to do it all. Although, all the excitement still couldn’t drown out all the first-time parent nervousness. Especially after going through a few “red-flag” worrisome check-ups and ultrasounds where our doctors said his heartbeat is irregular and there are a few things on his scans that could be a cause for concern, naturally, we were worried. After everything, they said not to worry. They said it may signal a problem but there may not be anything wrong at all.
I didn’t feel my son move anymore after the 25 week mark and I started to worry more as I expected the worse. One night, I started to have cramping which started off minor but gradually became worse. This was my first pregnancy and I naively suspected the contractions were Braxton Hicks. I’ve never been pregnant before and hadn’t experienced true contractions. I attempted to sleep through it, but by the next morning, the contractions were closer together and the pain was unbearable so my husband rushed me to the hospital. We rushed through triage as the nurses took my vitals and tried to find our son’s heartbeat.
I knew something was wrong when the nurse left to get the doctor.
The doctor came in, examined me and said I’m already 5 cm dilated and will be giving birth very soon. The floodgates opened and I couldn’t control my sobs. So many tears flooded my eyes I could hardly see. I knew it was too early, my son wasn’t ready to be born yet. I was scared for his life and I prayed everyday for his safety since we found out we were pregnant. Then, that’s when the doctor did the ultrasound. I already knew what he was going to tell me as he blankly stared at the screen and sighed. He turned slowly towards me, took a deep breath and took off his glasses.
As he took my hand and held it he gently said, “There’s no heartbeat.” My whole world fell to pieces as my heart sank to my stomach. I didn’t want to believe it, he must have been mistaken. I wanted him to tell me there’s still a chance they can save son. I turned to see my husband cry harder than he ever did before. He started pulling his hair out saying, “We did everything right!”. They wheeled me into the delivery room and everything seemed to fade into a haze as my husband stood right by my side the entire time, holding my hand firmly through labor and stroking my hair.
Our beautiful son Asael was born on March 25th, 2009 weighing 1 lb 6 oz and measured 13 inches long. He was perfect in every way.
No autopsy was done but they suspected heart block was the cause of death due to the signs of his irregular heartbeat and decreased movement. They knew his heartbeat was irregular and his heart rate had slowed down after the 23rd week, but they felt no need to monitor me anymore closely because he seemed “fine”. I was diagnosed with Lupus shortly after my son was born and suffered the worse flare of my life for the next few months. The flare came with a vengeance as I dropped from 130 lbs to 70 lbs in a matter of 3-4 months. I was in and out of the hospital during the course of a year, had surgery to remove my gallbladder and was started on a vigorous regimen of medication.
After recovering, I gained all of my weight back, and then some. We always talked about trying again. My disease had been stable for 2 years and I was eventually taken off all of my medication. Our doctors gave us the okay and after having my IUD removed, we got pregnant right away. We suffered a miscarriage at 9 weeks on November 18, 2011. The baby had stopped growing at 7 weeks. I miscarried without needing any meds or a D & C.
Almost 2 months later, I took another pregnancy test… I was alone in the bathroom as the word “pregnant” surfaced on the Clear Blue digital, as clear as day. My husband was at work and as soon as I thought about him, a thousand memories of what we’ve been through raced back into my mind like a flash flood with no cause for concern of everything it would ruin and turn over in its path of destruction. I bawled my eyes out expecting this to be the beginning of another loss and my heart ached for my babies.
Suddenly, my husband’s words, “Have faith, always have faith,” filled my mind and his hope, his perpetual hope dragged me out of my sorrow and I was overjoyed once again. Maybe this one would be different. We anxiously awaited every ultrasound that came and went, each one showing our healthy, growing baby. He was extremely active and always had a strong heartbeat, anatomy scan checked out with no abnormal labs or findings. We were expecting a boy. Asael will be watching over his baby brother. We named him Romeo, after my father. Whenever I was worried he wasn’t moving around as much, I’d tell him to move for mommy, then I’d rub my tummy and he’d always, always kick or roll more than enough to reassure me he’s okay. Romeo could feel me every time I touched my stomach, and I could feel him. His daddy would talk to him all the time and sing him to sleep every night. We cherished every single moment. We used to see Romeo’s strong kicks through my tummy and could see him moving. My skin moved each time he rolled and turned to find a comfortable position. It was so amazing to see how big and strong he became with each passing week.
I didn’t feel Romeo move all day on a Sunday, and I started to worry. This feeling was all too familiar. I convinced myself he would move late at night because he always does. Midnight came, I rubbed, poked and prodded my belly and begged him to move but he never did. We immediately drove to the ER. They did an ultrasound and found his strong little heart beating away and that was more than enough to put us at ease. The doctor said everything was okay and that he’s just sleeping. We had another non-stress test that Tuesday, our son passed it last week with a perfect score and we had no doubt he’d do the same again. I couldn’t wait to see how big he’s gotten this week at 28 weeks. During the scan, I sat in the chair with my shirt above my belly as they looked for his heartbeat. I could see my Romeo on the screen but he wasn’t moving like he always used to and I searched for his heartbeat which I could always pinpoint before. I couldn’t see my son’s heart beating, he was as still as a picture and at that moment I knew… he was already gone and I knew it… not again.
The sonographer hopelessly kept searching for any sign that my baby was still alive. She kept telling me to hold on as my tears poured down uncontrollably. She kept saying to hold on. We switched rooms and she used a different machine to find my son’s heartbeat, as if the other machine was somehow defective. The other nurse came in, they both kept searching the screen for a heartbeat that would never come, for a tiny movement, for a hiccup, for anything that would change the reality that my baby was gone. There was nothing but my motionless, lifeless baby on the screen. They looked at each other with tears in their eyes and they both held me saying, “There’s no heartbeat, I can’t find a heartbeat. I’m so sorry.” I knew you had gone to be with your big brother.
We went straight to the hospital and our whole family came to visit Romeo and say goodbye. They induced me that night and I endured the long 10 hour labor with no medication until they finally gave me an epidural when I was dilated to 10 cm. I was numb from the waist down but it couldn’t block the painful, gaping wound in my heart that would always stay there.
Romeo was born on August 1, 2012 @ 8:52a weighing 2 lbs measuring just over 13 inches long.
He looked exactly like his daddy with the same everything and huge feet. We all took turns holding him and taking pictures. They gave us a memory box, took imprints of our son’s precious hands and feet and even let me keep the blankets he was wrapped in. The next week was one of the hardest weeks we’ve had to live through. I always pictured us on our way home from the hospital, with our baby boy strapped up safely in his car seat, not on our way home from the mortuary with our precious baby decreased to ashes, placed in an urn. Still, I held my son to my chest and kissed his urn, praying he could somehow still feel my kisses and how much I’ll always love him even though he’s gone. He’ll always be my baby, we were so blessed to have him for as long as we did and for those 7 glorious months, he was all mine. It’s been 3 weeks since Romeo grew his wings. Pathology and autopsy results are still pending. I’ve somehow managed to muster up the strength to refold his baby clothes, gather all of his baby things and tuck them safely away under our bed. We didn’t have much saved up for him because his baby shower was only a month away. Sometimes, I’ll reach down and touch my stomach out of habit and then I realize he’s not there anymore. Reality sets in and I feel like I’m going crazy some days.
Now I’m 23 years old. After 3 years and 3 losses, my husband and I are still trying to pick up the pieces of our lives. With every stroller and pregnant belly that passes by we’re reminded of our son everyday. Every time we pass the baby section in a store we’re reminded of our babies that have gone too soon. People always tell us, “Oh, you’re still young, you have a lot of time to have another baby.” I know they’re just trying to say the right thing and be supportive, but they don’t understand that we can’t just “have another baby” to replace the babies we’ve lost. We would’ve died for our babies. It doesn’t get any easier after having multiple losses. It gets more difficult having to re-learn how to live with the pain from losing each baby. We long to have children of our own and maybe one day that happiness will be fulfilled. Though, sometimes I don’t know if there’s enough of my heart left to be ripped out of me again.