Friday, September 17, 2010

Mother of Ethan James Mishler
Born and died on June 11th, 2010
Modesto, CA

Ethan’s Story
By his loving, heart broken Mommy
Written in his memory to honor the short but wonderful life he had with us.

The First Trimester

The story of Ethan James begins long before the day of his birth. From the day, no the minute we knew he was conceived Ethan was loved dearly by both his Mommy, Daddy, Grandparents and many other family and dear friends. We found out about Ethan’s existence in our lives on September 29th 2009 only two days before his Daddy’s 34th birthday. We considered it to be a wonderful early birthday surprise! We spent countless hours talking about him even before we knew he would be a boy, we both suspected that he was. We excitedly and nervously counted down the days and weeks to our first ultrasound appointment at 9 weeks 2 days on Nov. 5th 2009.

We were so hopeful and yet nervous, this was our 2nd pregnancy. We had been through this before only 4 months previously and were devastated to find we had lost our first baby at only 6 weeks into our pregnancy. So as you can imagine how elated we were at our appointment to hear that we had a beautiful, healthy baby growing inside of Mommy. This is a picture from that first Ultrasound.

At ten weeks we decided we couldn’t stand the suspense and we bought an at home gender prediction kit which told us that we were having a boy! Of course everyone teased us about it and said “don’t go painting the nursery just yet”. Well the joke was on them down the road.

Each stage of Ethan’s pregnancy was truly amazing. I remember thinking in our first trimester that I had never been so tired in all my life. Growing a human life inside you sure does zap up all your energy! I slept easily 12 hours a night and usually napped in the afternoon. But I wouldn’t trade that time for anything, I was never so happy and anxious at the same time before.

At around 14 weeks we had another ultrasound which was part of the prenatal testing and it was truly amazing. We could see his little hands and feet and beautiful face, even though it looked more like an x-ray picture then an ultrasound picture to me! We were so thrilled to get the results back within the hour that he was not at risk for down syndrome or any other congenital birth defects! Also the ultra sound technician confirmed our suspicions unofficially that she believed we were having a boy! This was on Dec 4th 2009.

What a wonderful Christmas we had that year so full of anticipation and excitement. Just doing little things around the house was different because we knew that this time next year our lives would be so different. We excitedly put up the Christmas tree and bought a new picture frame ornament to put Ethan’s ultrasound picture in.  This is the photo we used in our ornament.We imagined next year when we would have a new picture to put in its place and could barely contain our ourselves at the thought. We were also counting down the days to our 18 week ultrasound appointment when we would officially know what gender our baby would be, even though we were already convinced we were having a boy! Christmas with all its excitement and joy came and went along with the New Year which was another first for us, the last New Year’s without children!

The Second Trimester

Finally January 8th arrived and we went to our appointment. We were at 18 weeks 4 days. I will admit I had some misgivings about going to this particular appointment because it was not in the ob department but in the imaging/radiology dept which in my previous experience was simply awful! However as it turned out I had worried for no reason, the ultrasound tech I had this time was absolutely wonderful! So kind and enthusiastic, she was so excited to be able to tell us that our firstborn child would be a boy!

With elation we hugged each other, ecstatic about our news we could hardly wait once the appointment was finished to begin calling people. Of course we made sure to take home plenty of pictures for the baby book as well. This was a turning point for us, we could begin to worry a little less we were coming up to the 20 week midpoint and from every test and apt we had we knew that we had a healthy, growing baby boy who should arrive somewhere around June 7th.

The weeks continued on, I was well into my 2nd trimester and feeling great! I had definitely entered the energetic, glowing stage of pregnancy. I was no longer tired and fortunately I had never gotten morning sickness , I was truly blessed! It was right around this same time that I began to feel little Ethan kicking and by the 22nd week it became regular movement. What an amazing feeling it was, to have my son kicking me, “telling me” to turn back over, he never did like it when I lay on my right side, he always liked the left. I began to walk around with my hand on my belly constantly, so I could feel him whenever he moved or kicked. He began to develop a pattern with his movements and I could tell that he was going to be a night owl, just like his Mommy used to be when she was young! Here is a picture of me at around 24 weeks.

Pretty soon his movements became stronger and even Daddy could feel him kicking at night when we lay in bed or early in the morning. I treasured that time together, before starting our morning and rushing around we would lay in bed. Daddy and I would both put our hands on my tummy and he would respond, moving and kicking back at us, especially if he heard us talking. What an amazing and special time for us and our soon to be family of three.

The weeks continued to go by and pretty soon it was March and time for our first of many baby showers! We are so blessed to have so many people who love and care about us. The first was thrown by Ethan’s paternal grandma at her house. They live out of the country much of the year so this was truly a blessing. We went together and my hubby was the only guy there, he was such a good sport! What fun we had!
Later on that month we treated ourselves to another wonderful event the 3d/4d ultrasound! It was on March 24th in our 29th week of pregnancy! What an amazing thing it was to see his little face on a 36inch TV screen! We got to see him moving and tumbling around inside of my tummy like the little soccer player he had been for most of my pregnancy. However he was being shy about showing us his face, his hands and feet covered up his face for most of the appointment. We were able to get some shots in but all of them had either his hands or feet in front of his face in some fashion! At one point he even put his toe in his mouth! He sure loved his toes.

I am so thankful that we decided to make this appointment. Being able to take home pictures of him and also a DVD video was simply priceless and something we will treasure forever. This was not something that was offered by our insurance we had to go and get it done privately but it was worth every penny!

The Third Trimester

Pretty soon it was April and the third trimester had arrived! We began our childbirth classes at Kaiser, we were so excited! I wanted to know as much as I could and be as informed as possible so we could make the best choices for our little one. We never missed a class, each week was another topic on the many philosophies and possibilities of childbirth. Neither of us had strong opinions on pain management during labor, I was open to whatever I might need and Dave (my amazing husband) was a wonderful support to me in this area.

May finally arrived and we had several more baby showers this month, WOW! The first one was given by Ethan’s maternal grandma or Noni as she likes to be called. We had this at a favorite restaurant in the town that I grew up in and it was wonderful! Both my sisters and many many dear friends, over 30 in all attended this shower and helped to celebrate our son’s coming arrival. We were so blessed with all the gifts we received for him. It was truly an unforgettable day, one I will always be thankful for.  This is a picture of Noni, my Auntie and Ethan's Great Great Aunties.

The following week my dearest girlfriends from Church threw us another shower at my good friend’s house. This was just us girls, we laughed and talked and giggled and teased! Oh the fun we had, I shall always remember. They all told me about their birth stories and made sure I knew that pain meds were a good thing! We went on late into the night sharing and laughing only as girlfriends can, we didn’t leave until 11 0’Clock that night! Here is a few shots from that very memorable night.

We were now only a month away from our due date and it was becoming so real, we were going to have a little baby to take care of in just a few short weeks! Both an exciting and scary adventure was upon us! Before embarking on this adventure though we also got to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary on May 16th. We went back to the restaurant where we had the wedding and had wonderfully romantic dinner, and then we took a drive around the city it was so beautiful, just before dusk.

The lights were coming on and everything had a beautiful glow to it. It was the perfect way to celebrate the amazing first year of our married life together, which included so many amazing events including a trip to Italy last summer for our honeymoon. We truly felt like the most blessed couple in all the world that weekend.

We were in the final stretch, I was really getting big, some would say enormous! I had worked hard throughout my pregnancy not to overdo it in the weight department and I think did pretty well. I only gained 35 pounds which was within the recommended range set out in all the pregnancy books I read. However as we continued to inch closer to the due date I felt less and less comfortable, my feet had begun to swell and I was tired a lot more than I thought I would be. It was OK though, we knew it would all be worth it in the end.

Finally we approached our due date, it was June 4th three days before the due date and I went in to see the doctor. This was not my regular doctor, I went in to get checked out because Ethan’s movements had slowed down and I wanted to make sure everything was OK. I knew this was common at this stage of pregnancy but you can never be too careful, so in I went. The doctor checked for the heart rate and sure enough there it was, whir whir whir, such a comforting sound. The doctor was concerned however with my edema and Ethan’s large size, he estimated over nine pounds.

Together we talked about possible options. I should mention here that I had a previous abdominal surgery two years past and other surgeries as a baby myself so the doctors had said all throughout my pregnancy that they would like to avoid a cesarean delivery if at all possible. So we decided to try a trial induction the next day. This meant that they would give me medication to ripen my cervix and then hope that would kick my labor into gear on its own. If not however the doctor was clear we would not continue with the induction, I would be sent home and continue to labor at home until my contractions were “adequate” for active labor.

Excitedly I left the doctor’s office, calling my husband to tell him the good news. He was at work but these days he always answered the phone for me! I told him what the doctor and I had discussed and that we had scheduled the “trial induction” for tomorrow morning at 10am. He was very happy about the idea that we might not have any more unknown waiting around but we could possibly be parents by this time tomorrow! I then of course called my Mom to tell her the exciting news. She is a school teacher and had been madly trying to clean up her room, this was her last day of school. She decided that she would come up tomorrow afternoon so she could be there in case it was a successful induction and things moved quickly.

I went home and of course immediately double checked all of our bags that we had packed once again to make sure we had everything we needed with us. I added two more outfits of Ethan’s because I couldn’t decide which one I wanted him to wear when we took him home. Then I checked the nursery to make sure it was all in order for when we arrived home.

Looking back I forgot one or two things, like setting up the diaper pail and plugging in the wipe warmer. In the big picture however, we were more than ready to bring our son home. When we left for the hospital the next morning we began our next part of this journey.

Labor and Delivery

We arrived at the hospital on time, which for us is a small miracle in itself! We got checked into a room and the staff had me undress right away and get into a gown and settled in bed. The Kaiser hospital that we were having Ethan at is very new, only a year old and everything was so nice! All the latest in technology and comfort were made available to us in our room. There was no more separate rooms for delivery everything was done all in our room they told us. There was a couch and chairs as well as a TV and DVD player for watching movies as we waited.

The room was enormous, probably at least the size of my living room at home I think and there were no restrictions on the number of visitors either which was very nice. This is a picture of Dave's parent's who were regular visitors throughout our labor and delivery.

So we arrived at 10 and at eleven I was set up in bed and getting fluids with an IV.

In the next 24 hours I was given 2 doses of medication for ripening which did help I was able to efface up to 80% however I had not dilated more than 1cm. They had also tried giving me pitocin to help my contractions become more adequate and move along my labor but it was not effective. So after 24 hours they decided to send me home, to let me labor at home until I began active labor then I should come back at that time. So a very tired Mommy, Daddy and Grandma to be returned home, still pregnant Sunday morning.

The contractions never really stopped after my stay in the hospital. They would come and go in frequently throughout the day and into the night. After 2 more days of coming and going and even a follow up ob appointment with my regular doctor on Tuesday morning to make sure everything was good, we still hadn’t seen any regular “adequate” contraction progress. Finally Tuesday evening they began to be more regular. My contractions continued throughout the evening. When I progressed to 5 minutes apart, 1 minute duration, for over an hour we went to the hospital. So excited finally thinking OK this has got to be it, we are going to have this baby!

We arrived and they assessed me, much to my great disappointment I was still only dilated 1 cm. They kept me under observation for about 5 hours until around 6:00 AM Wednesday, June 8, 2010 because my blood pressure was high. They said the contractions weren’t strong enough to start active labor. They gave me morphine for the pain so I could get some rest and sent me home once again. Well I truly was exhausted when we got back home again, so I collapsed into bed and thanks to the miracle of drugs I was able to sleep for 6 whole hours! When I woke it was around 11am Wednesday. All three of us (My mom, my hubby and me) were still groggy but glad for the sleep we were able to get.

I continued to have contractions off and on that day and into the evening, this time I didn’t even bother going to sleep, the contractions weren’t letting me rest. So we tried to play games while we continued our waiting game. Finally around 12:30am in the morning on Thursday June 10th my water broke! I was sitting on our black leather sofa at the time so fortunately it wasn’t too difficult to clean up. Bless her heart my mom sent me to the bathroom and did all the clean up herself. So we called Labor and Delivery, they asked how often the contractions were coming and when did my water break? We told them 3-7 minutes apart. They said to take our time, try to relax, take a shower and come in a couple of hours. Boy this waiting game was not for sissies!

Finally at around 2:30am we arrived back at labor and delivery very confident that this time we would be leaving the hospital with our precious little Ethan! Once again we were admitted and checked into a labor and delivery room. Little did we know what the next 48 hours would hold for us and our loved ones.  This is a picture of my Dad (wearing the black shirt) and my hubby's Dad. Of course my Mom had been with me the entire week and my Dad arrived late Thursday morning and began the long wait with us.

My labor was a very slow and prolonged process. Even though my water had broken my cervix did not dilate very much for a long time. At 3:00 AM, the nurse and the midwife noticed the presence of meconium in my discharge and they say it’s nothing to be concerned about. Both my Mom and husband, Dave, questioned the nurse and midwife to make sure that everything was okay regarding the green color of the discharge. They repeated that it was nothing to be concerned about, that it was very common.

My contractions continued with frequency between 3 and 10 minutes but I did not dilate past 5 cm. So, at 9:00 AM they suggested giving me the epidural which I gladly agreed to. They also decided to increase the amount of pitocin they were giving me to help strengthen my contractions. I was making very slow progress with my dilation. I am forever grateful to my mom for all she did for us and I love her so much!

During this long period I also was started on oxygen due to my low blood gas levels. The baby was given time to “labor down”. He finally got into the correct position and I was dilated enough to begin pushing after almost 30 hours of labor!
Ethan's Birth Day

Friday, June 11, 2010
At 6:30 AM I finally reached 10 cm dilation so I could begin to push. Of course after almost 30 hours of labor I was completely exhausted. However I was determined that this baby was going to arrive, tired or not! So I began the next part of the delivery. After pushing for an hour without "sufficient progress", the nurse said they wanted me to rest for half an hour. Shortly after that, the nurse returned saying the doctor wanted me to continue pushing, not resting. I was surprised by the lack of communication but tiredly agreed to begin pushing again.

However after just one or two more pushes, the midwife came in and said they felt we should do a cesarean at this time because the baby was getting tired and it was showing on his heart rate after the contractions. The doctor came in discussed it with me and my Mom also and we agreed to schedule the cesarean for 8:30 this morning. That was around 7:30am. They came in and prepped me and Dave for surgery.

Because I already had an epidural they didn’t have to do as much. Suddenly around 8:00 there was fluttering in Ethan’s heart monitor and a sudden drop in heart rate so they whisked us away for an emergency cesarean.

Though things are a little hazy for me about the details of the surgery I remember the doctors telling me that Ethan probably wouldn’t cry when he came out because he most likely would have breathing difficulties from the meconium exposure but it happened all the time and they would make sure to have the neonatal team in place to take care of him when he arrived. Dave arrived in the surgery room and took his place by my head, holding my hand, nervous but excited.

Finally the surgery started and it didn’t seem like it was long before they said “Ethan is out”. He was born at 8:24am.  I didn’t hear any cry but I was expecting that so I didn’t worry too much at first. However there was no encouragement or updates from any doctors about Ethan after a few minutes I began to worry, not just worry, I was filled with dread something was wrong, terribly wrong I could feel it in my being. Dave said he could see them and they were working on Ethan to try and get his heart rate and breathing going, but he didn’t know any more than me. I sat there shaking uncontrollably, one of the side effects from the medication they had given me, desperately wondering about our baby and if he was going to be okay. What seemed like eons later they were able to get a heartbeat on Ethan and whisked him away to the NICU.

In the meantime the doctors continued to sew me back up and about 30 minutes later they took us to the recovery room to wait for news of our baby boy. I think it was probably another 30 minutes or so when our cousin who is also a pediatrician for Kaiser came into the room. That’s when I knew I was right, something was terribly wrong, I could tell from the look on her face when she walked up to us. She told us that they were having a very hard time getting Ethan to breathe, they had put in a tube and were working very hard but they might need to transfer him to another hospital with more specialist to help him. I will never forget her face, she said it was very serious, that she couldn’t tell me what his chances were. I asked at that point if my Mom could come back to see us so Dave went with her to tell the rest of our anxious family members what was going on. It wasn’t too long after that my Mom and Dave returned. Mom tried to reassure me that it would be okay, they would take good care of Ethan at the other hospital in San Jose but I continued to be filled with dread.

Then the moment came that will be forever etched in my memory for as long as I live: the entire doctor and nursing team came into our room, lined up and I knew at that moment that Ethan was gone. I barely remember what the doctor said, just that they had tried so hard but Ethan just didn’t respond to the interventions that they tried and they were so sorry he died. Then as a groan erupted from me and I collapsed in my mother’s arms they brought me our son, our beautiful little boy Ethan. He was absolutely perfect! Everything about him was perfect, he looked just like he was asleep lying there in my arms.

Then I began to moan and scream in earnest as different thoughts came rushing in my head. "Why did this happen to our little boy, why us? How could this beautiful little boy be gone?" The sobs just wracked my body I couldn’t control them, sobbing and moaning louder and crying huge buckets of tears over our son, our beautiful perfect baby boy. My Mom had not left my side this entire time and I remember her saying, “Oh Ami, no one should have to go through this” and sobbing along with me. My husband who was right there with me, next to my mom was so devastated, just as much as me. I remember distinctly him saying. “My boy, my boy he was supposed to be my boy" and sobbing, shoulders shaking while sobs and tears erupted from him. There are hardly words for the awfulness that was this moment, the hour we found out our baby boy had died.

I don’t have much memory of what happened after that. I know I was moved to another room, in a separate part of the hospital, not with all the new mothers and their babies which I was so grateful for. Once I was moved into the new room they brought Ethan back to me. They had taken him to get his pictures and measurements done. He was a big boy, 9 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long!

They had put a shirt on him and wrapped him in a receiving blanket so we could snuggle and hold him as long as we wanted to. I just stared at him, amazed at his perfection, his beautiful reddish brown hair, his perfect little nose and the dimple on his top lip. He had enormous feet for a newborn, which is just what I had said all throughout my pregnancy.Ever since our 3D ultrasound I had been talking about how big his feet were going to be. The tears just would not stop running down my face. I didn’t know I could cry that much in one day. It was so horribly unfair, our first beloved child, he would have had everything and instead he was already gone.

We had visitors all day, mostly our family and a few close friends who wanted to come and support us and see little Ethan. I am so grateful that we were allowed that time with him. To show him to our family and friends just like we would have if he had lived, everyone remarked about how big he was and how perfect all his features were, especially his hands and feet. Both sets of grandparents as well as my sisters came and got to see him which I was so thankful for, as well as several of my close girlfriends. They all got to hold him and love on him. One of the memories that I will never forget that day, was seeing my dad pick up his beautiful grandson. He just fell apart, sobbing while holding him, aching for all that would never be. That image, it is forever scarred into my memory, this terrible, horrific day, when all our lives changed forever.

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Mommyto8 said...

I am so sorry, sending love and understanding...

MamaMishler said...

Thank you Kristin for taking the time to send me a note, it was so thoughtful of you! Blessings to you. Ami

Anonymous said...

You've got me in tears. So sorry for your terrible loss. :(

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