High Risk. Defect. Abnormality. Disability. Possible Fatality.
No parent wants to hear these words when talking about their child, no expectant parent wants to hear to words when talking about their unborn child. Unfortunately these were the words that my husband and I heard when I was 24 weeks pregnant.
The weeks leading up to this conversation were scary and stressful, numerous ultrasounds, blood tests and an amniocentesis. All resulted in our baby being diagnosed with two rare chromosome disorders. That is when we heard those words…..High Risk Pregnancy, Sever Heart Defect, Physical Abnormalities, Mental and Physical Disabilities and……….possible early fatality.
On Tuesday September 30, 2014 I went for my routine checkup at the doctors. My husband would miss this appointment because his car broke down on his way to work (It was the first appointment he would miss). I was 37 weeks pregnant and finally hopeful that my little man was defying the odds. Every ultrasound and heart rate monitor until this day showed him with a perfect heart rate despite his heart defect.
I was hooked up to the heart rate monitor and for the next 5 minutes watched the nurse wriggle me around to try and find a heartbeat. Moments later the doctor came in and suggested we do an ultrasound. When we were in the room she placed her hand on my shoulder and said “I think your husband needs to be here”. Suddenly the room became cold, I had a bad feeling.
I had felt the baby kicking just last night. Did I feel him this morning? Wait. Did I?
The doctor came in with the nurse, they began performing the ultrasound. No one was making eye contact with me, everyone was silent. I looked over at the screen and saw my baby. The doctor shook her head as if telling me no and I immediately realized what was happening…… MY BABY DIED!
My husband arrived minutes later and embraced me as hard as he could. It was his way of saying he was here and going to help me through the next day.
As the doctor yelled for me to push, my husband and I cried. I pushed and cried.
Wednesday October 1, 2014 at 5:47pm I delivered Marcus James Paschal, he was born silent and still.
I think about Marcus every day and each day brings a different emotion. Some days I love looking at his picture, other days it’s like a knife through my heart. I have listened to people tell me “things happen for a reason” (I really despise that line), “At least you have one other child and she is healthy”. Don’t get me wrong I love my daughter, in fact she is a big part of mine and my husband’s healing, however, that doesn’t mean that not having Marcus hurts any less.
I have learned to channel my emotions through practicing yoga. I had never walked into a yoga studio before, but something was telling me to try it out. 5 weeks after delivering Marcus I stepped into the room. I was scared, and frankly an emotional and physical mess. The teacher in the class told us all to sit down, close our eyes and breathe.
He said “Yoga is all about being in the present, it’s not about what happened yesterday or what you did yesterday, it’s about right now, so I just want you to breathe.” It got me thinking:
Right now I was hurting.
Right now I was without a son.
Right now I was here trying to make sense of this past year.
Right now I realized that my son’s 37 week life meant something. It meant a lot actually.
Right now I am a mother of TWO children and right now I am going to work on being the best damn parent these kids can have!
But most of all right now I am going to breathe…. Exhale the hurt, the pain, the loss and inhale the memory of my son, inhale in honor of my son.
The yoga studio where I practice is now my temple. I go on my bad days, and I’m not going to lie sometimes I am holding in the tears with each movement. Some classes I am smiling and I envision my family with every move I make, I think of Marcus. I think of Juliana and my heart is filled with love. After each class I head over to the cemetery where Marcus lay. I sit and talk with my son, sometimes its general chit chat, other times and I fulfilling my motherly duty and telling him to make sure he is behaving, and eating his vegetables. It sounds silly, but these moments I cherish. If yoga has taught me anything, it has been to face grief and life with grace and poise and just breathe.
As parents we want to blame ourselves, we want to know why, but maybe there is no one to blame and maybe we are never going to know why. All we have left is the memory, the love we feel, and the air we breathe. Inhale the love and exhale the hurt.
Photo credit: adapted from takebackyourhealthconference | Flickr