Stillbirth: I Gave Birth To A Child I Never Brought Home – A Story Of Infant Loss And Redemption
Laughs. I was in college. I was at IU Bloomington and I was with a friend of mine and she was like, ‘Erin, I haven’t gotten my period yet!’ And I was like ‘Ha ha! Let’s go get a test.’ Well then I realized, I hadn’t had mine either. I called another friend and she took me to Kroger’s and I got one of those 99 cent tests and sure enough, there it was plain as day. I took two of them and then I popped some pink Starbursts in my mouth, looked at my stomach and said ‘Welcome.’
Did you feel any anxiety about telling your family?
Oh my goodness, yes. I literally could not sleep. I was so nervous about telling my mom and dad. I had told my cousin Christine, who was down there with me at the same time. I told her and of course, I told my, now-husband. But telling my mom and dad was terrifying.
I called and told another cousin of mine and then when I told my mom that I had told my cousin, she was like ‘I got to hurry up and tell your dad, Erin, because if he finds out from your uncle, you may not be able to come home.
How did your parents react?
My mom said they were in Barnes and Noble. And when she found out, she said that she walked away from my dad because of course when I called her, I was crying. The minute I told her I was pregnant, she said she had to stop in her tracks and the whole world started spinning because she felt like she was in the “Twilight Zone.”
My mom told my dad and he called me a couple of days later and he was livid. He was like, ‘How could you do this? What are you going to do about school?’ ‘Where are you going to live?’ Like most dads, out of anger, he was like, ‘You can’t stay here. I don’t know where you’re going to go but you can’t come back.’ Then he said, ‘I don’t mean that. I’m just angry right now.’ He said, ‘Erin, this is a lot to take in. You had plans. We had plans for you.’ So, he was upset.
At what point do you think they started coming around?
I think they started coming around once they saw my stomach starting to grow. I found out in April and then I came home in May for summer break. July is when I found out I was having a boy and that’s when they really started coming around.
I was ecstatic. Most girls want a girl but I wanted a boy because I think I’m too rough and tough and I’m just…I don’t think I could do a girl. Sometimes girls can be too dramatic. And I just be looking at them like, ‘I need you to toughen up and grow some.’ So when I found out I was having a boy, I was excited because I was like, ‘I’m going to have the first boy in the family.’
After the summer, I stayed in Fort Wayne. I transferred from Bloomington to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) here in Fort Wayne and I took classes part-time. Because I knew that with the baby being born in December, I was going to either have to take the spring semester off or I would have to do all online classes. So what I opted to do was stay in school and do the online classes.
Healthwise, it was perfect. I didn’t have any morning sickness, thank goodness. The only thing I did have was gestational diabetes. And when I found out about that, it was hard. Because I had been–I wouldn’t say working out– but I would say I was trying to be more healthy than I usually am. I was drinking water, I was drinking milk. My mom was in a workout class at our church, so I would go with her. And even though I couldn’t do the workout, I would still kind of walk around the church. You know, just kind of keep my legs moving, trying to keep my heart rate up and burn some calories while I was pregnant.
It was a regular 28-week appointment where they do the sugar test. People say that the drink is disgusting, no it’s not. It tastes like the little barrel juices from back in the day.
One thing that they didn’t do at that appointment is when they checked my A1C after I had that drink, they didn’t tell me what my A1C was. That’s the testing where they gauge whether or not you’re going to be a diabetic. For us, it’s 5.7 to 6.1. With this pregnancy, the endocrinologist, who is a diabetes specialist, told me that my A1C was 7.6 but they didn’t tell me that. What they did was prescribe me a little pill that I had to take twice a day and that was it.
When they told you you had gestational diabetes, how did you feel?
I was angry and I was scared. I was angry because I was like, ‘I did all this walking at the beginning of this pregnancy, only for me to still have gestational diabetes.’
And sad because I had done research on gestational diabetes and one of the things that it said is that for one out of a million women, a stillbirth can happen. So when I read that, that just automatically scared me.
Any other complications before your delivery?
Nope, none. I was on target. They said the baby was growing just fine. They told me that even though the baby was gaining weight, I myself was losing weight. So I started the pregnancy at 240 something pounds. And when I delivered him, I was 241. So I gained a pound but he was huge! He was 10 pounds, 2 ounces.
December 2 was my last doctor’s appointment for him. It happened to be a Thursday. I went in to do a routine checkup and at that point, she was going to tell me that they were going to schedule me for a c-section or we’re going to go ahead and induce you. But what ended up happening was I had to be hooked up to this heart rate monitor. And it was always hard finding his heart rate because he was always so hyper and everything. They ended up hooking me up to do an ultrasound that day. And the minute she put him on the screen, I already saw it. I was like, ‘There’s no heartbeat.’ That’s the first thing that came to my mind.
Before, the ultrasound tech didn’t say anything, she just said, ‘I’ll be right back.’ She went and she got a doctor. And I immediately called my dad. I was like, ‘Dad, there’s no heartbeat.’ And my dad was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ I was like, ‘There’s no heartbeat on the monitor, I’m looking at it right now. There’s no heartbeat.’
The ultrasound tech came back in and the doctor said, ‘Ma’am there’s no heartbeat. Somehow your baby lost his heartbeat and we don’t know how right now. We won’t know until we get an autopsy.’
At that point, my entire world kind of stopped and I felt like I couldn’t talk. I felt like I couldn’t make any sounds. I just sat there, looking at the screen, at my son, like ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me!’
Were you there by yourself?
Yeah. Normally, Sean, he would have been there but since it was a later appointment, he wasn’t able to come, he had to go to work. So I told him, ‘It’s fine. I’ll call you after the doctor’s appointment to let you know when they’re going to induce me, what time and stuff.’ So, he just said, ‘Ok, let me know.’
Because I was still by myself when the doctor told me, I needed comfort somehow, so I just grabbed the doctor and pulled her into a hug. And I said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ Then I said, ‘I’m sorry I don’t usually do this. I just need comforting.’ She said, ‘You’re fine. You’re absolutely fine,’ She hugged me back.
Then once my mom and dad got there, my mom pulled me into her arms and my dad pulled me into his arms and they walked me to the bathroom because they said that they needed to get me out of earshot, away from everybody out there. Because I’m in an office full of pregnant women and if they hear about it, they’re going to go into distress and everything. So they moved me into the bathroom and from there, I just dropped to my knees and just started praying.
I asked the Lord to help me understand why this was happening to me. I said, ‘Lord, I know there’s a lesson. I just don’t know it right now but please reveal it to me eventually. And then I asked Him to take away my pain and to take care of my family and to take care of Sean at this time and his family and just be with me during this process because, at this point, I was terrified. I was like, ‘How are they going to get this baby out of me?’ Then I was afraid that something was going to happen and then I was going to die. It was a billion things were going through me. Then, after I stopped worrying and being a hypochondriac, I said, ‘You know what Lord, if it is your will, be done. Obviously, you needed my child for some reason. There was something that could have happened to him, something that could have happened to me, something that could have happened to Sean. So I know there’s a reason you took my son. You know I’m not happy about it but there’s nothing we can do about it. So I just ask you to please be with me and comfort me in my time of need. And I went down on my knees, in the bathroom. I put the toilet seat down and I just prayed.
They told me that I was to go directly to the hospital that I had chosen to do delivery at and that everything was ready for me and I was going to be induced that day and go from there.
They wanted me to try and do it vaginally because they said that in the future I could have as many babies as I wanted to. But because he was not alive, I wasn’t getting any help from him with trying to push him out. With him being so big, it was just impossible. First, we tried pushing. Then they tried the forceps, basically, it was like two big ole salad tongs. They tried the vacuum and that didn’t work. And when that didn’t work, the doctor said, ‘Ok, that’s it. We’re not putting her through anything else. We are going to put her to sleep and we’re going to do an emergency c-section.
They broke my water at about 6-6:30, the following day. Because what they found with the Pitocin, which is the drug that they give to induce labor, is that I wasn’t dilating any. And usually, by the end of your pregnancy, you will have dilated, I want to say at least 5 centimeters. I hadn’t dilated any, like nothing. It was as if I wasn’t toward the end of my pregnancy at all. So that’s why the doctor said (at the appointment before December 2) at your next appointment we’re going to decide if we were going to try to do natural, let the baby come on its own or induce.
I was having contractions but because the baby wasn’t moving or anything, they kind of drugged me up so that I was asleep for most of my labor. And then once I woke up towards the end when they were getting ready to break my water, that’s when I felt all of the contractions until they gave me the epidural.
Sean was there the entire time.
Then they did the forceps. I can’t remember the amount of time they tried with the forceps. I felt like it was forever.
Was it painful?
Not really because at that point, the epidural was in full effect so I couldn’t feel anything down there but the contractions in my back. I was so drugged up, I just don’t even know what was going on. One thing I do remember is that I pooted in the doctor’s face. And when I did it, I kind of looked up at Sean and Sean just kind of looked down at me and I was like, ‘I farted.’ I was so high on those drugs, I didn’t know what was going on. They had literally given me every kind of painkiller under the sun. In my mind, what they were thinking is, it can’t harm the baby because the baby’s not living anymore. So she doesn’t have to deal with the pain of losing a child as well as the physical pain. Let’s give her as many painkillers as we can that won’t overdose her. I was high as a kite throughout that entire process.
Were you awake for the c-section?
I was completely under.
When I woke up, the first thing I said was, ‘Where is he? Where is he? I want to see him.’ Because that’s the one thing I had been wondering about the entire time throughout my pregnancy. I was like ‘What does he look like? Does he look like me? Does he look like Sean?’
They wouldn’t give him to me right away. I said, ‘Where is he?’ They said, ‘Erin, we need to explain something to you. We’ve kept him warm but just know that when you get him, he might be a little cold by the time we give him to you.’ Because I asked them how long was I out and I was out for a good 2-3 hours after the c-section. I was like, ‘I understand but I want to see him. Give him to me now. I want to see him.’
It was love at first sight for me. Even though, he was dead, it was still love at first sight. I remember thinking, he’s so beautiful but the thing that I noticed was that his nose was crooked. His lips were black and his skin looked like it had been peeling.
How did your husband react?
From what my parents told me, they said when he first saw the baby, he ran out of the room. Because he was in the room with me when they did the c-section. They said he ran out of the room and he collapsed on the ground and he was crying. And then they also told me that he was not only crying because of the fact that our baby had died but he told them that it looked like I was dead on the table. So he was afraid that he had lost both of us at the same time.
So did you think your baby looked like either one of you?
I think he looked just like me and my dad.
Did you have a name picked out for him?
We had had a name picked out for him. His name was going to be Jordan Michael. And then when they asked us the name for the death certificate, we changed the middle name to Quentin, after Sean. Because Sean’s middle name is Quentin.
When I first woke up, I held him for about 30-45 minutes. And then I went to sleep because I was tired and my arms couldn’t hold him up anymore. At that point, it was probably about 10:30, going on 11.
So my mom said she let me sleep for a little bit. Then the nurses came in and said, ‘We’ve got to take the baby to the morgue so we can get it ready for the cemetery to come get him tomorrow.’
So my mom woke me up and she said it was one of the hardest things she had to do is to tell me ‘You got to wake up and get your last few moments with your baby.’ So she woke me up, and I literally only got to hold him for like another 15-20 minutes and that’s when they came and got him.
That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do so far. I hadn’t heard about it until later but you hear about some people whose babies pass away, stillbirth and they get to spend hours and hours with their babies. I literally felt like I didn’t get that. They even say that some mothers get to bathe their babies, they get to dress them, they get to take pictures with them and everything.
I did get to get pictures done but it was still hard because I didn’t want to give him away. I wanted to keep him forever. And then the fact that I was still kind of under the influence of all of the drugs they gave me, sometimes I feel like I’m missing something.
I stayed in the hospital for about four days after that. And that was hard because they moved me to a completely different part of the hospital because they said they didn’t want me to hear the newborn babies crying or hear anybody say, ‘Congratulations on the new baby!’ and stuff. So they moved me to a regular wing in the hospital, all the way down at the end of the hall, away from everybody because they knew that it was going to be hard, recovery-wise and emotionally.
Oh, it was horrible. It was really hard because even though I was never alone by myself in my room, because it would always be my mom, my dad, Sean, and other visitors but I felt alone. Even though people are here with me, nobody knows what I’m going through. So, it’s no one I can talk to. I did a lot of crying, a lot of praying. I would wake up in the middle of the night for no reason, just crying. I slept in the hospital but I didn’t get a good sleep. It was hard while I was in the hospital. It was horrible.
Did you get to have a funeral?
The funeral home, Lindenwood Cemetery, here in Fort Wayne, told me, “Unfortunately, we do these more than we really want to.’ So we didn’t have to pay for a casket or anything. They said, ‘We can either do something really small, where we just have the casket sitting out and you guys bring a picture in and you guys just sit for a couple of hours and then you bury him or you can have an actual little ceremony.
So what I did was, I asked my pastor and my godfather if he could do the ceremony and he willingly did it for me. And we just had my parents, Sean’s parents and the pastor there and the pastor’s wife, she came.
Did the ceremony help you with closure?
It gave me a little bit closure that day. Up until the funeral, I was doing a lot of praying, I did a lot of crying. And I just said, ‘If I gotta cry, I’ma cry.’ So that was the hard part. Having to do that…and I was only like 21, going on 22-years-old. That was a pretty hard experience for me at that time.
How long did you take a break from everything, after the funeral?
I actually didn’t take a break. After the funeral, I finished three of the four online classes that I had for the fall semester. Because at that point, they had just given me incompletes. My mom and dad went to IPFW and spoke with each one of my teachers and explained the situation. And they told them that I had already explained that the baby was due on December 5 and that she was working toward the incomplete, so that when I finished my maternity leave, I would finish my classes.
So, I kind of dove into that. And I agreed to move to Gary, Indiana to help my grandma and my aunt with their breast cancer because both of them were going through breast cancer at the same time. My aunt had stage 4 and my grandma had stage one. Then my aunt gave me a job at her daycare. That was probably going to the extreme but she gave me a job in the infant room. That just tells you, I just said, ‘I don’t need a break. I need to keep going. I need to get up.’ I hated to kind of have this mentality but it was the truth. Unfortunately, things like this happen and if you stay stuck in this, you’re never going to get up and move forward. So I told myself, ‘Erin, you’re going to transfer. You’re going to do your classes up here. You’re going to work and you’re going to work on getting yourself better so that you can go back to enjoying life. Even though it won’t be the same way you were enjoying it before, you still deserve to enjoy life. That’s why I moved to Gary and did the extreme by going to school, helping with two people who you’re really close to, with breast cancer, and working in the infant room.
So those days where I was mad, confused, and sad, that was why. I probably shouldn’t have been on Facebook. But really, just seeing that kind of just tipped me off. Because it’s like, ‘Lord, here’s somebody who doesn’t do anything that would let them deserve to have their healthy baby and I’m trying and I lose mine. I’m like it’s not fair.
Looking back do you feel like you should have given yourself more time?
For me, I felt like it was the right decision because of my mentality. I can’t. If I stay stuck on something, I’ll never move past it and move forward and try to do things better for myself. So, with that I still cried, I still grieved in my own way but what I told myself–I don’t know if any other woman does this but this is what I did– I said, ‘Erin, you have a year. You have a year to cry. You have a year to stay stuck in this. You have a year to get all of your anger and frustration out. But in that year’s time, while you’re getting all of this out, you need to grow in your faith. You need to ask the Lord why.
And I actually believe He did it so that when December 3, 2011, came around, that was the time I really felt closure. You’ve grown in your faith, you’ve grown as a woman, not only as a woman but also as a person. You see things from different perspectives. You see things from different sides now, more than you did before.
I just felt it. You ever have that feeling where something happened and you’re like, ‘You know what, ‘I accept it.’ and you kind of have this weight lifted off you? That’s what I felt on his birthday, one year later. I said, ‘You know what? I feel different. I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel mad. I don’t feel confused or anything. I felt the closure to the point where I could think about him and I thought about what happened back in the hospital that day, and how I felt when they finally took him away and I realized I was never ever going to see him again, in person. I would only have pictures. Once I realized that and thought about that a year later, I don’t feel the need to cry. I don’t feel the need to lash out at anybody. I don’t feel the need to be angry. I don’t feel the need to be confused. I’m finally ok. For so long I felt not ok and I finally was like, ‘Erin, you’re good. You’re ok now.’
During this time, what messages did you hear from God that helped you with your healing?
The thing that helped me the most was this book that we were using during our women’s meeting classes at church. In it was a section about infant loss, miscarriages anger and things like that. And I was studying that one day and I just looked at it and one of the scriptures was saying something to the effect of all babies, when they’re lost in the womb, the Lord just comes and reaches down and takes them to heaven. That was something that kind of helped me. Because I thought if something happened on earth that I wouldn’t have been able to protect him from…So I feel like the Lord grabbed him because he was saving me from that in some way. Even though he’s not physically here with you, he’s going to be with you to some degree because one, he’s a part of you and two, because of your faith, you know that. Lord willing. if you make it into heaven, you’ll get to see him again.
When women go through things like this, the people around them don’t know what to say or do. What were some of the things that people did that helped you during your healing process?
The one thing that people did that helped me with this process was they didn’t ask me how I was doing. That was the best thing they did for me. A lot of people don’t realize that when you ask that question to somebody who had a major loss, it hurts them worse because they have to relive it all over again in their lives. And even though they may say, ‘Oh I’m fine,’ they’re really not. So people not saying, ‘Oh my goodness Erin! How are you after your loss?’ or ‘How have you been? Is everything ok? Do you need anything?’ They just greeted me like, ‘Hey Erin, so what’s up? When are you going to go see this show or this movie?’ Instead of making me go back and think about what happened, they made me just live in the moment. Nobody said, ‘If you need me, call me.’ Because at the end of the day, you say that to people but they’re not going to call you. Because they’re like, ‘This is my loss. I’m not going to put this on anybody.’ Of course, people would call and check on me but they would just call my mom or my dad, they didn’t directly ask me.
I know you shared pictures of your son on Facebook, can you talk to me about your decision to do that?
I think it was kind of spur of the moment for me. I hadn’t really thought it through. I guess the reason why I did it was because it was like everybody was always posting pictures of their babies and I was like it wasn’t fair. I absolutely had a baby so therefore, I want to post his picture. I only kept it up for one day. I didn’t leave it up longer than that.
Did you read the comments people left? Did it help or did it take you back to feelings you didn’t necessarily want to deal with?
They helped. Everybody told me how beautiful he was. Everybody told me how wonderful of an angel that the Lord gained up there in heaven. A lot of people told me he looked like my dad. Even though a lot of people commented on the actual picture, I got a lot of private messages saying ‘Erin, he’s beautiful.’ ‘You had one beautiful baby Erin.’ ‘Despite your loss, we’re happy that you experienced true love.’ So those comments helped. Because you never understand how a mom says it was true love at first sight. When you look at his face or her face, that’s when you truly understand that saying.
How did your now-husband help you through this process? Because a lot of couples who lose babies, if their partner is not supportive, it can really threaten the relationship.
We talked a lot. He was there still. He comforted me as best he could, considering what had happened. It was hard for him in the beginning because, like most people, we blamed ourselves for what happened. He was like, ‘You know Erin, I should have done this. I should have stayed on you about this and then this wouldn’t have happened.’ And I was like, ‘I should have done this or I should have said this or opened up about this sooner.’ The one thing we did for each other is we never blamed each other for what happened. We became closer, we communicated better.
I was pregnant before I got married. He jumped the gun but that’s alright. The second time, Sean had just moved into our now apartment and I met him here for lunch and he was just joking around with me. ‘Erin, have you had your period?’ I was like, ‘Nah, it usually comes around the 18th or the 19th.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Erin, it’s the 22nd.’ I said ‘Are you sure?’ He said, ‘I think you should go get a test.’ So I went to Walgreen’s, that lovely store, bought a test and sure enough, it was positive.
I said, ‘You know prayer works.’ Sean said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said ‘I asked the Lord to make it so I wouldn’t be pregnant on my wedding day. I just didn’t realize he was going to answer my prayer this way.’ You gotta be more specific when you pray sometimes.
I found out in August I was pregnant and the wedding was in October.
So did you have any fears that crept in or did you have a sense of peace and calm?
I was scared. I felt anxiety I never thought I could feel before just because I was afraid of the same thing happening again. I just called the doctor, made an appointment, which was two weeks out. It seemed like everybody was getting pregnant at that time…again. Then a couple of days later, I called my mom and then she told my dad.
We were watching this movie called Philomena and over in Ireland there was a convent that housed unwed, teenage mothers. Their ultimate motive was to teach those girls a lesson. So after the babies became a certain age, they would sell them to Americans who couldn’t have babies and the young, unwed mothers didn’t know about it until after it happened. And the part where the main character Philomena’s baby was adopted out, I just started crying, I mean just bawling. And my mom looked at me like, ‘Erin, you never cry. I haven’t seen you cry in I don’t know how long. What is going on?’ And I was like, ‘I’m pregnant.’ And she was like, ‘Ok…ya couldn’t wait could ya?’ And we just fell out laughing. She was like, ‘Are you going to tell your dad?’ And I was like, ‘Can you tell him?’ She was like, ‘I’m not going to tell him today because I had a good day at work. I ain’t telling him today.’
I think she told him that next day. And at this time, I was still living with my parents, so you know that was awkward. Of course, he was mad because he said, ‘You and Sean promised me that you weren’t going to do this again. So I need some time.’ He didn’t talk to me for about a week. But after that, it was ok. My mom told him, ‘You know you did this the last time and you and Erin’s relationship really got strained at that time.’ She said, ‘I would hate for it to be strained and everything goes fine. I’m not saying that the last time you lucked out because Jordan ended up passing away so you didn’t have to worry about whether or not Erin was going to let you be in his life. But think about this, if you do this, if you treat her horribly like you did the last time and she has this healthy baby and everything is fine. You realize she and Sean have a say in who is going to be in his life. And I would hate for you to miss out on your grandchild all because of your pride.’ So that helped him to come around
How did you respond when they told you, you were having another boy?
I was ecstatic. I was so happy. I was happy that I was having a boy and that he was healthy and everything but I was also happy because I had kept all of the boy clothes I had from the first baby.
So when you lost your son, you knew that you were going to have another child or you just didn’t want to give the clothes away?
I didn’t want to give the clothes away. Because after it happened, I was like ‘I’m never having another baby.’ You literally go, almost an entire year with this baby inside of you, feeling its every movement, falling in love with it, only for it to be taken away from you, in an instant. I was like, ‘I’m never having children. Never. I don’t want kids. I’m not going through a pregnancy again. I’m not doing any of that.’ But as time goes on, and I started to grow and I continued to grow in my faith and then seeing all of my friends and loved ones having babies and seeing how happy they were and falling in love with their babies, I was like, ‘I want this for myself again.’
Not that we were trying. We were not trying on purpose. So when I found out I was pregnant with him, I was scared but I was thankful for a second chance. ‘I’m not going to mess this one up.’
Did you have any complications with this pregnancy?
I had gestational diabetes again. I was more proactive this time. I completely changed my diet, overnight. I switched to water. I literally drank nothing but water for about nine months. I would drink water and if I did have pop, it would be a diet Sprite or a diet 7 Up. I would drink a little bit of milk but milk has a lot of carbs in it. I began eating more fruits and vegetables. I started counting carbs and counting protein. Every time I felt something that didn’t feel right, I called the doctor, which is something I didn’t do at the last pregnancy because I didn’t want to mess with them. I said, ‘Erin, you’re going to have to disturb somebody’s sleep tonight because if something doesn’t feel right, you need to call the doctor.’ I was making appointments, talking to friends who had babies and asking them ‘Is this normal?’ I was a lot more in tune with this pregnancy than I was the last time.
They sent me to a diabetes class again. But this time I took it serious. I sat in the front row. I got my diabetes kit with the sugar reader and the strips. And I checked my sugar four times a day, once before breakfast, two hours after breakfast, two hours after lunch, and two hours after dinner.
When I hit that 28th week, the seventh month that’s when they decided to prescribe me insulin. After I started doing that I started going to monthly appointments with my endocrinologist. And then during my eighth month, they sent me to a different person in the office, which I think was the best because she was more aggressive with it. She told me, ‘Send me your sugars every week.’ I was taking the insulin twice a day. I was taking two pills in the morning, two pills at night. And then I was giving myself two shots of insulin. I would give myself 20 units in the morning and 40 units at night so I was getting 60 units of insulin a day.
Usually, you don’t start going twice a week until your seventh month. And then your eighth month is when you go weekly. Well, I had been going twice a week since my sixth month. And then I started going weekly at my seven-and-a-half-month mark. There were times when I had an appointment with the regular doctor three times and then one time with the endocrinologist. So I was almost at the doctor’s office every single day.
Yup. Full time. That was the other difference with this pregnancy. My first pregnancy I was just going to class full time. This time I was working at a high-stress-level job.
Did they have to do another c section?
We did a scheduled c-section. They said, ‘Erin, we’re not going to wait until you go into labor. We know you had gestational diabetes. We know that you had a stillbirth. So we’re going to make sure we monitor everything very closely.’ So I was doing the neo-natal stress test once a week and an ultrasound once a week. I had one appointment the day before he was actually born. His heart rate was fine but he wasn’t moving like he usually did. And they were like, ‘Did you eat breakfast? Did you drink something?’ I was like, ‘Yeah I ate breakfast. I wasn’t missing any meals. I ate everything I could that wouldn’t spike my sugars up.’ We couldn’t understand why he wasn’t moving and the doctors said, ‘He’s probably gotten as big as he can be in your stomach so he’s lost a lot of room so that’s probably why he’s not moving.’ So I just took it at that.
They delivered him at 39 weeks and 1 day.
Were you awake for the c section?
Yes. And even though they put that white sheet in front of you, so you can’t see what they’re doing, they didn’t take into account the reflection off of the light that was dangling over my head. So I literally saw the entire c section. I did see the sack he was in.
It was magical. they didn’t actually hand him to me in there because when you go in for a c section they strap both of your arms down as if you’re on a cross. So I didn’t actually get to hold him but my husband put his face up against mine. He was crying and I got to smell his little baby breath. I just cried. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. My son is here I can’t believe it.’ It was so surreal. Is this real or is this a dream, I can’t believe this is happening.
After he was born, after they cut his umbilical cord, they saw that he had a knot in his umbilical cord.
What does that mean?
He had twisted around so much in the womb that it made a knot. They didn’t say it and, once again, this is just me trying to diagnose myself, in my mind, I was like, if they hadn’t have gotten him out when they did, he probably would have suffocated. Because that’s how they breathe, that’s how they eat.
What did you guys name him?
Michael Quentin Woods. Sean had an uncle who recently passed away and his name was Michael and we gave him Sean’s middle name.
What would you say to encourage women who have lost a baby?
You grieve when you have to, you cry when you need to but you make yourself get up and move on. If you stay stuck, you’re never going to progress in life. Just because you have this loss, doesn’t mean you’re going to have it again. Some women do experience multiple miscarriage or multiple stillbirths. And if you do, you need to figure out what’s going on in your body and try–not fix–but figure out what’s going on so that you don’t have to experience this pain anymore.
And I would say look to God. God brought me through this entire ordeal. Without Him, I’m pretty sure that I would have finished college and everything but it would have been a longer process. On those days when I really felt like giving up, I was like, ‘Don’t give up Erin. You have a goal. So, give me the strength Lord, give me the perseverance to do what I got to do to make it through. I would tell women you gotta keep moving and look to God. I know that God isn’t for everybody but you oughta try it sometime. You would really see how well you would get through if you just look to God and if you accept what He did by faith and move on. We may not understand here on earth. But there is a plan. There is a reason why He did that.
I enjoy when he wakes up in the morning, I go in his room, I turn on the light and I just look at him. And he just gets this big smile on his face. I love it when he does that. Sometimes I go check on him in the middle of the night and I’ll just look at him and I just think ‘I can’t believe the Lord blessed me to be your mommy. I could be anybody else’s mommy. But He blessed me to be your mommy. I love getting to see his little personality come and listening to him making sounds and reaching milestones. I could have the worst headache on the planet like I did this morning, and he’ll do that– [Michael has been babbling and making baby sounds the entire time we’ve been on the phone.] and you would think it would make it worse but it just makes me laugh.
How old is he now?
He is 5 months. He’ll be six months on the 19th.
Oh, girl, he is chatty.
Yes. And he’s actually been kicking me the entire time. He has two little dimples. So I just love to kiss his dimples. And he’s starting to eat his baby food. It’s just…it’s one of the best things in the world. I thought that getting married was the best or finishing school was the best thing at the time. But the minute I heard him cry in the hospital, that was the best day of my life. I became a mommy. You know when you’re pregnant, you’re like, ‘I’m going to be a mommy.’ But it’s not until you actually hear that cry and you get to hold him and you physically feel his little heartbeat that is the best day of any woman’s life in my opinion.
What would you say to women who’ve experienced a loss like you have?
To any woman out there that may have suffered a loss like this, whether it was recently or 15 years ago or you’re going through a pregnancy now and you’re afraid because you have gestational diabetes, just stay positive, keep your head up and make sure that you’re doing all that you can to ensure that your little blessing gets here and learning acceptance of what happened because you can’t stay stuck you’ve got to keep going.
Veronica Wells-Puoane is the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. She is the author of “Bettah Days” and You’ll Be All Write, a question and answer journal for Black women. She is also the culture editor at MadameNoire.com.
Find more of her articles by Veronica on Curlynikki.com, HERE!