Monday, July 11, 2011

For my birthday, I had a son

(This will be long, and hard...feel free to skip it. I just want to log it while it's fresh in my memory, and this is pretty much the only place I write...)
Wednesday July 6th, I went in for my 19 week OB exam. I was vaguely worried, because I'd been feeling the baby move for a few weeks, and the last 4 days or so I hadn't. I'd also noticed that suddenly things were too spicy...and impossibility the week before. I pushed these things out of my head and walked through the office doors. A half hour later, the fear I'd refused to acknowledge was confirmed as my doctor fruitlessly searched for the baby's heartbeat. She wheeled in an ultrasound machine, keeping it turned away from me, then took me to a bigger ultrasound machine and showed me my little baby, and its missing heartbeat.
I was given a few minutes to collect myself and call Tim, then was given an insane amount of information about how to proceed, most of which bounced right off of my ringing ears. I came away with the understanding that one way or another, I was delivering our tiny beloved baby on Friday.
Thursday afternoon I was given laminaria, a seaweed based induction agent. I went home to let the process start overnight. Friday morning, Tim and I checked into the birth center, were put in a secluded room (they were sensitive to keep us apart from evidence of live births) and introduced us to our nurse, Evie. I began sobbing as soon as the nurse entered the room, so she gave us some time to come to terms with the reason we were there. Soon after that, my OB came in and removed the laminaria and started me on cytotec, which would continue my dilation and kick start labor. For the next several hours I experienced increasingly stronger contractions while Tim and I researched names with beautiful and hopeful meanings. We tucked prospective names in the back of our minds, and read Psalm 139 for comfort. We discussed God's grace upon unborn babies, and our faith that He was already holding this little one I was cherishing in my womb.
Tim's parents brought Charlie in to see us, since it had become clear that this wouldn't be a quick process, and we would be spending our first night away from her. Unfortunately, this time was when my contractions started getting more painful, and I had to stop everything when I had one - about every 4-5 minutes. I hung in for awhile, but could tell I was grouchy and impatient, so we called for an epidural and said goodbye to Charlie and Tim's parents. It was about 4:00. The epidural was given around 4:45, and it hurt. A lot. I said "Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow," which surprised Tim, because I tend to be silent in my pain, but as soon as the medicine started I completely forgot that there was ever pain. Pretty soon I felt no pain, just a lot of heaviness in my legs. I was completely paralyzed, and my feet were hanging heavily off the bed (this is one time that long legs was not a blessing). I continually made Tim shift my leg to a more comfortable position, and was amazed that he could lift those 1000 ton things.
At this point I was given another dose of cytotec, and told how I was progressing. My dad came to visit after this exam, and just sat with us for a few hours. We talked a little, watched some How I Met Your Mother, and just whiled away the time. He left around 7, and Tim and looked at names a little more. Our nurses switched. Maria tended to my every need, almost seemed to know them before I told her. My blood pressure had been low and inconsistent ever since the epidural, so she called the anaesthesiologist in the adjust my dosage, and she checked on me constantly. I was given meds to bring my blood pressure back up, and then I tried to sleep, and Tim fell asleep immediately. A few hours later I felt the pressure shift, and I new I was about to deliver. It was about 11:00, and I started saying, "Tim." Nothing. "Tim. Tim. TIM. TIM!" Finally, he woke, and called the nurse, trying to explain what I had told him, ending with "but you should probably come talk to her, cause I'm half asleep." Maria came in, and saw that the water bag was coming, called the doctor and told me just to breathe.
My doctor came in, explained what she was seeing, and then told me she had an emergency c-section to do, and asked me to fight against the urge to push, she'd be back in a half hour. Another doctor was made aware, and a few minutes later I woke Tim again (he was tired) and told him it was time, and get the nurse now.
Maria, a doctor and another nurse came in. Despite my not pushing, the intact water bag holding the baby had slipped out with the help of contractions. I pushed to get the placenta out, though I couldn't feel if I was pushing, so I was constantly apologizing and asking if I was doing it. Eventually the doctor opened the bag, and the baby was cleaned.
The nurse told us "It's a little boy," and Tim began sobbing. They brought him to us, and Tim held him first. He was the size of my hand, not fully formed, but his tiny face already had similarities to Charlie's face, his hands, smaller than dimes had all their fingers, and the smallest fingernails you can imagine. His feet were the same way, tiny and beautiful.
I held my son in my arms just after midnight, as the day became my 30th birthday. He looked so peaceful, like he was sleeping, cradled in my hands. I looked at Tim, and, in my post delivery haze, I said, "I know we haven't talked about this name, but what about Isaiah, since we've found such comfort in the Isaiah 139 passage?" Tim immediately agreed that it was perfect, and seconds later we realized that the passage was Psalm 139, but we didn't care. His name was Isaiah. It came out of nowhere, but fit better than any of the other names we'd discussed.
We passed him back and forth between us, took pictures, touched his tiny hands, and talked with him. I told him I loved him, that I was so sorry he couldn't stay with us, and that we would always miss him.
Eventually we gave him to the nurse, sobbing. She carefully took hand and footprints, made a mold of his footprints, and called the photography company to schedule an early morning session. They told her that they only do pictures for babies 20 weeks or older, so this amazing woman bought a disposable camera, dressed our baby and took pictures in the studio for us. She was amazing, going above and beyond in every way.
It was about 2 am, and Tim and I went to sleep. I woke a few hours later, and Maria changed my bedding and whispered, "Next time, He will have a happier ending for you." She then told me Isaiah's measurements, 9 ounces, 7.9 inches. She told me she'd taken the pictures, and we could get them developed when we were ready, and put a fabric keepsake box on my bedside table, telling me to open it later.
In the morning I opened the box and found cards from the whole nursing staff, the mold of his footprints, cards with his hand and footprints, a tiny blue teddy bear, a journal, a sachet and a few other trinkets.
A few hours later we were discharged.
I was dreading sharing my birthday with this event. But, as it unfolded, I found it to be so much more peaceful and healing than I expected. If you can only hold your baby one time, it should be on a momentous and memorable day...I love that I share my birthday with him. It can't be overlooked or forgotten, it's a part of my life.
He will be missed and longed for every day, but we know that the Lord is holding him close. Isaiah's name means "Yahweh is my salvation," and that is where our comfort lies. His accidental name is perfect.
Psalm 139:13-16
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.


  1. Erin, I am so thankful that you shared this moment with us. I have tears of sadness and of the joy that you have such beautiful memories of little Isaiah. God's grace and love is so amazing and I just love the verses that you cling to... Isaiah is with God and his grandma... such an incredibly beautiful image. I love you so much.

  2. Erin, I know that you said you wrote this as a way to capture all the memories made from this weekend, but thank you so much for sharing it. You've given a small glimpse into a very private, personal moment in your lives, and although I cannot even imagine how you and Tim are feeling throughout all of this, please know that both of you (and Charlie, of course!) are in my prayers.

  3. Oh sweet Erin--my heart aches for you and at the same time is thankful for a loving God who is holding your sweet babe at this moment. I am thankful that you found peace in the midst of it all, and healing. I must say also, that the tender actions of your sweet nurse Maria made the sobs I was holding back as I read, break through. Surely God put her in just the right spot that night--such a sweet spirit. You will remain in my prayers in the days to come. May you and Tim continue to find healing and joy, both in your delightful daughter and the memory of your wee son. May God be merciful...

  4. You are SO loved, Erin! Upon hearing about all this, I knew right away that I needed to knit you a prayer shawl to let you know that over the next few weeks, each and every time I pick up my knitting, I am praying for you and Tim. It made me smile to know the two of you picked Psalm 139 as your comfort through this ordeal. I often meditate on that passage when I knit baby booties for friends. I hope that when you get this shawl, you know that each time you wrap it around your shoulders you will be receiving hugs from me and God's grace will be surrounding you with His comfort. I look forward to meeting Isaiah in his new heavenly body one day and getting to know who he is!

  5. Wow...truely amazing and beautiful words. I am so sorry. God is amazing and will keep Isaiah in his arms! God Bless! Jamie Blanchet

  6. As I have finally been able to read this through, I am amazed at the peace and comfort you and Tim have shown to others even as you go through this unbelievably tough time. You are your mothers daughter and give praise to God in all things.I love you and miss knowing my new grandson more than you can know. As time goes on you will miss your son dearly and tears will flow. I have only my Love and support to offer you but you have it all. I have to go now and change my shirt cause this one is soaked through. Love you both with all my heart. Dad

  7. I read your comment on Amy's post on Spearmint Baby. I'm so sorry that you are going through this. I lost a baby girl at 13 weeks, 5 days in February. I also posted about my story over on my blog. I hope are at peace. Again, I'm so very sorry. Sending love your way.