Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mom to Dash Alexander Grieger
April 22nd, 2010
Queen Creek, AZ

It's hard to know where to start this story, knowing how painfully it ends. I want to preface with the disclaimer that I have no filter on my heart. When I write of my son, I do not sensor details for the sake of others. He was and forever is my baby, his life was as important as any other and the story of his life and birth should be told in honor of him.  I dont want there to be any obligation on my part to shield others from awkwardness, talking about Dash is the best therapy I have and I tell his story freely and without guilt. I am not afraid that I will forget, I am afraid that others will forget. Therefor I speak of him often, openly and lovingly.

In January, about two days before my 25th birthday I was ecstatic when the pregnancy test I took was positive! What a wonderful birthday gift and a beautiful blessing. It was our first month of trying and I was so thankful that we had conceived so quickly. The first 8 weeks were very hard, I was extremely nauseous and unlike when I was pregnant with my daughter, I was physically ill. My husband Alex and I did not share the news with many people at first, just our parents and siblings, we wanted to wait until we were in the "safe zone." What a horrible thing it would be to tell people only to miscarry we thought; little did we know it would be so much worse than what we ever could have imagined.

My first appointment was successful and it was confirmed, we were expecting a little one with an estimated due date of September 29, 2010! The following week Alex and I went with our 18 month old (at the time) daughter Addison to see her little sibling for the first time! As soon as the tech put the probe on my stomach we saw our little bean with its heart beating away at 180 beats per minute! Our little family, all in that room together with such big smiles on our faces. That night I watched the ultrasound "video" over and over and over again. So amazed that we were lucky and blessed enough to have another child on the way. Nowadays, I cannot bring myself to watch that video that once brought me so much joy.

The next few months were relatively uneventful, I was nauseous and hormonal but it wasn't anything new. I was convinced that I would be more at ease with my second pregnancy since I "knew what to expect." By 10 weeks I was freaked out only seeing my doctor once a month, I needed to know every day that my little bean was ok so I ordered a fetal monitor. Listening to your babies heartbeat is such an amazing experience, that little life growing inside of you, their tiny heart at the center of it all. The day I received the monitor I couldn't wait to rip it open and use it. I found that galloping beat right away and just sat and listened in awe.

I started feeling movements early on, I swear I felt little kicks at 12 weeks but know he was definitely dancing up a storm in there by 14 weeks. Oh how I longed for those moments when he kicked me saying "Hi Mommy! I'm ok in here!" One of the most exciting parts of pregnancy, for me anyway, is finding out the sex. People take bets, the mother to be has inklings into what she my be carrying and grandmothers always tell you they know what your having and back it up with old wives tales. From the beginning I felt like I had a little boy inside my belly, a son for my husband, a brother for my daughter. The 3-D ultrasound I scheduled for 16 weeks couldn't come soon enough. It was so important for me to know the gender, which now seems silly and selfish. Next time, if there ever is a next time, I will just be thankful every day for the living baby I have growing inside of me.

Sunday April 11 we were able to see our son for the first time. Seconds after the tech put the probe on me, I saw the little turtle between babies legs, my husband was totally oblivious until the tech confirmed "It's A Boy!" Very few times have I seem my husband beam as much as he did. One was our wedding day and the other the day our daughter was born. He was going to have the son he dreamed of, our perfect family story was complete! We were given 30+ 3-D ultrasound pictures from that day, they now reside in Dash's memory box in our bedroom. The VHS tape of the ultrasound is still in the package, I never had a chance to watch it before we received the terrible news. I don't know if I will ever watch it for that was the last time I saw my son alive, knowing that breaks my heart all over again.

The Wednesday (4/14) following the 3-D ultrasound we were headed to Seattle to visit dear friends. Being the paranoid mama I am, I brought my fetal heart monitor along with us on the trip. The trip was fabulous, there were many laughs and good times. Friday of that week (4/16), I crawled into bed to listen to my little mans heartbeat and then fall into dreams of the beautiful life I had in store for him. That all changed when I couldn't find his heartbeat. The heartbeat I had always found right away. I tried multiple times the following days and with each silent probe my heart broke a tiny bit more. Mothers intuition I guess, I knew something was horribly wrong. I was tempted to visit a local OB but decided to wait to see my own doctor. I believe this was God truly looking out for me. I cant begin to imagine what we would have done if we had received the horrible news from an unfamiliar doctor in a place far away from home. We arrived back in Arizona Monday afternoon and if we had known what the following days would entail, I'm not sure we would have ever wanted to come back.

Tuesday morning Alex, Addison and I visited my OB's office.  We were led into an exam room, I was already crying and the tears came harder after the first nurse was unable to find the heartbeat. We sat there for 10 minutes with the only thing breaking the silence being the woosh of my own heart. Another nurse was brought in and she too tried without success to locate his heartbeat. We were taken into ultrasound and as soon as the ultrasound tech started I knew he was gone. There was no beautiful heart beating, he wasnt the active little dude we had seen a week before on the 3-D ultrasound, he was still. He was there and he was perfect but his heart had stopped beating. I was screaming and crying, I could barely breath, the room was spinning all around me. My husband was weeping silently at my side, holding onto our daughter with every fiber of his being. My Dr came in and she confirmed that our baby had died, that our son was gone from us. From there we talked about our "options" as if I had a choice in the matter. I was still experiencing all of my pregnancy symptoms and my body had shown no signs of the lifeless baby I held inside me. My mind was racing. How could I have been walking around for days not knowing that my own child was dead inside me? What horrible mother is that out of touch? I realize now that the body often doesnt recognize the death until weeks after but this did little to comfort me and the thought of carrying him around for days not knowing still makes me hurt so deeply.

Wednesday morning, 4/21, I was admitted into the labor and delivery unit. Talk about pouring salt into an open wound.  My room was prepared for a beautiful, healthy baby to arrive but unfortunately we knew we wouldn't have that. I was started on a cervix dilating medication to begin the process of labor and I think at that moment we finally realized we were in for quite a rollercoaster ride. I cried all day. We met with preachers and social workers and friends and family came to see us. I saw it as pity and wanted everyone to leave, I now know they came not knowing what to say or what to do but the important part was that they came at all. It wasn't about saying the right things, it was about showing that they care, they too hurt for us.

 After three rounds of the cervical gel, it was 9pm on Wednesday night and there was no progress. None. I hadn't slept in a few days so I was started on a different medication that was longer lasting and would allow me to sleep. By morning still nothing had changed, it was absolute torture. Again, I was started on a another cervical pill . Noticeable cramping, nausea and unease soon followed. I still hadn't progressed much by 1pm so I was given another round of pills. As the physical pain worsened, I was given heavy doses of pain medication and from there I  don't remember much of those last few hours. My water broke around 3, it horrified me. The time was near and I wasn't ready to let go of my baby, my dreams for him. As 6pm neared, the pressure was intensifying and the doctor was called in to deliver our baby.

 I had no idea what to expect but I think it was even worse than what I thought. It was a whirlwind of emotions, I just wanted to give up, die right along with my son but I couldn't, I had to be strong for him and for my family. Dash Alexander Grieger was born at 6:07pm on 4/22/10. I remember bleeding a lot and crying a lot more. I lost a lot of blood and was a horrible mess. When I was stabilized, Dash was given to me wrapped in the blanket I had slept with since arriving at the hospital 36 hours earlier. My husband and I spent 5 hours with him, praying, singing songs, crying, admiring how perfect he was. He was blessed by a friend of ours who is ordained and my dad who was present was able to hold him, his first grandson. Dash had long beautiful fingers and tiny fingernails, toes, eyebrows and a little button nose, it was absolutely amazing. He looked like a small sleeping baby. I took pictures of every part of him, I never wanted to forget what beauty we saw that day. I look at the pictures now but am resolved to tears, so I choose special times to admire the pictures, his perfection.

 My amazing labor and delivery nurse Judy treated Dash with dignity and love and I will be forever grateful to her for that. She took him to the nursery to be weighed and measured and was able to get little smudges of hand and footprints which I hold dear to my heart. Dash weighed 2.9oz and was 7" long. Nurse Judy brought him back from the nursery in a little outfit and warm blanket, something I didnt even have time to bring for him. We held him some more, I rocked him and snuggled him, told him everything that I wanted him to know. Finally around midnight we had the hospital call the funeral home we had chosen and he was taken from us just as quickly as he had come. That first night was just the first of many hard ones, the first of a long road to healing.

 We picked up Dash's cremains a week and a half later, a chapter closed and a whole new one, one of living without him was opened. I still think fondly of the beautiful times we had with him, his ultrasounds, listening to his heartbeat and feeling him move in my belly. The hard days are hard, the good days are hard but its all a journey and he has already made such a difference in this world, I am not scared anymore for what tomorrow might bring.

 We still don't have answers to the whys. We will never know why Dash was taken from us so soon, too soon. I wish that I could say I dont need answers, things happen for a reason and this was Gods plan but I can't. The doctors cannot tell me why and I don't have the answers either. Maybe someday I will know and it may lessen the pain or it may not. All that I know for sure is that Dash will be forever missed and forever loved.


Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. Our angels almost have the same birthday. Aurora was born sleeping at 11:59pm on 4/21/10, it was actually only seconds before 12:00am. I know that they are both smiling down on us. I hope that you can find the answers you need.

Becky said...

Welcome to Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. I'm so glad that you found us here.

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your beautiful son. I love his name! My husband and I lost two sons in 2006 at 17 and 16 weeks. Our first, Dylan in May and our second, Riley, in December. The pain seems so intense now, but over time it will change. It never gets easier, but it becomes different. Nearly 5 years later and not a day passes that I don't think of my boys, but it's with gratitude and a smile and not hurt and anger.

I pray that you will someday find the answers that you need. I've found that when I least expect them they pop up in strange places.

Anonymous said...

Dash left the world as my own little girl was just being conceived. Our stories are so similar. We saw her, and have her on a dvd that I can now never watch. That was her 18 week appointment. A week later, she was gone. I wish I could forget the sight of her on that screen that last day. I'd rather remember her twisting and sucking her thumb as she was doing the week before.

I wish I had been brave like you and had held her longer, rocked her, sang to her. I was so scared. Her face is just a blur, between the drugs and the fear I felt. My baby was gone.

Thank you for sharing. There are people out there who know your loss. I am one of them. I read this and cried for you and myself.

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