Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mom to Nathan Jeremy Potter
July 1st, 2010
Thetford Center, Vermont

My husband and I were high school sweethearts.  We started dating when I was 14 and he was 16 and have had an amazing 22 years together (16 years married).  I am currently 36 years old.  A couple of years ago I started to realize that I might like a family.  We talked about it A LOT!  Once we made our decision to start trying, it took us a little more than a year to conceive.  In March of 2009, my husbands mother passed away.  Our lives were consumed by grief and a nightmare of an estate, but the day after the 1 year anniversary of her death we conceived.  We looked at it as a gift from her, as if to say "You've had enough, it's time to focus on something happy".
The day I found out I was pregnant was amazing.  I was filled with so many emotions.  I called my husband and had him meet me at a house we were looking to purchase.  I told him I wanted him to meet me so we could have dinner on the deck and watch the sunset.  When I told him that I was pregnant I had my camera out to "take a picture of him with the sunset in the background"  I caught his exact reaction in a photo!  The look on his face was priceless.  He spent most of that night fairly quiet, but then the next day that went away.  I don't know why, but I expected him to be nervous now that the baby was actually on the way.  But it was exactly the opposite.  HE had the "pregnancy glow"  I've never seen a man so happy to be becoming a father.  We had so much fun telling our friends and family.  I think that after so many years together they had given up on us having a baby.  But we knew the time was right to settle down and start our family.
During my pregnancy, I didn't experience morning sickness at all, but I was exhausted all the time.  I had a few of episodes of bleeding (each one about 3 weeks apart)  My Midwives told me it was nothing to worry about.  So when I passed the magical 12 week mark I thought everything was going to be fine.  As the weeks crept up I was eager to start feeling the baby move.  My body had begun to change and I'd just realized I could no longer fit into my normal pants so I ordered a bunch of maternity clothing that was due to be delivered any day. 
Then June 30th came.   I was 15w 3d.  I felt like I had severe gas pressure all day, but I thought it was due to a new fiber cereal I'd eaten that morning.  I went home at about 3:30 to see if I could go to the bathroom.  While I was trying, my water broke.  Now each time I had a bleeding episode, I'd panic and my husband would tell me not to worry, everything was fine.  He though I was being over reactive about this too.  He said it probably wasn't your water, but if you're that nervous, call the Midwife.
At 3:45p I called them.  I explained what had just happened and was again reassured that it was nothing.  I should have known to listen to my body.  I knew that's what it was, but I allowed her to talk me into thinking it had something to do with the gas pressure and releasing urine too fast.  That evening I was not myself.  I didn't feel good and made my husband bring me home early from the friends house that he was working on.  I went to bed at 8pm thinking I was just tired.  The next morning I woke up at 4am which is 3 hours earlier than I normally get up but I had to get to work early for a special 4th of July event that I was hosting.  I went into the bathroom as I always do first thing in the morning.... and something felt wrong.  I stood up quickly and put my hand down and as I did...my baby fell out of me onto the floor.
I was in shock.  I ran into the bedroom 1/2 crying, but mostly in a daze telling my husband that I'd just had the baby.  He woke up from a sound sleep and ran into the bathroom.  There lifeless on the bathroom floor layed our baby.  I can't tell you what we did because I honestly don't remember much.  I know I called someone from my work to tell them I wouldn't be in.  And I called the Midwives answering service.  The same one from the day before called me back.  I was in too much shock to be mad at her....but I am now.  If she'd payed attention to what I was telling her the day before she could have saved us this horrible scene.  I don't think we could have saved our son, but he could have been brought into the world a little nicer than falling onto a bathroom floor.
I do remember looking at how perfect his little feet were.  At 15w 4d, I didn't expect to see such a well developed baby.  You know how when you see ultrasounds they still look like aliens at that age?  He looked like a perfect little baby who needed to grow longer and pudgier. He had a beautiful little face and had his hand rested under his head just as though he was sleeping.  After about 20 minutes of feelings I can't even describe, I finally mustered up the courage to pick him up. 
My husband drove me the 1/2 hour to the Emergency Room at our local hospital.  I had my baby in my lap in a plastic container!  I wish now that I'd had the presence of mind to wrap him in something special.  But I don't even remember what was in my head.  Once we got there they brought me right in.  The Midwife had at least notified them I was coming and what had happened.  They tried to get me to deliver the placenta, but I couldn't so they scheduled me to go in for a D&C.  A new Midwife was just coming on duty and spent the next couple of hours with me.  She was so amazing.  She let me hold him as much as I wanted in between all the necessary medical stuff happening.  She took him and wrapped him in a beautiful handmade quilt and another nurse got his footprints.  (those beautiful feet.  I just kept thinking how perfect they were) they sent a hospital therapist in to talk with us.
My husband was right there by my side, completely devastated, but right there all the way until they took me into surgery.  Now because our son was only 15w 4d, the state does not recognize him as a stillborn baby and therefore the hospital did not legally need call a funeral home.  They did give us some literature to read with some suggestions of where to bury him, but at that moment who can focus.  They said they could take him and dispose of his remains or we could take him.  I remembered hearing previously that hospitals that take your miscarried babies put them into medical waste.  My baby was NOT medical waste, so I said we'd take him and bury him at home.  But for now I needed to go into surgery.  I am surprised though that the hospital didn't offer to take him while I was in surgery.
During surgery, something went wrong and I lost a tremendous amount of blood.  They couldn't find the placenta so they sent a nurse to the waiting room where my poor husband (who couldn't even bring himself to look at the baby or hold him) was patiently waiting.  By his side, an LL Bean bag with our baby wrapped in his quilt inside.  The nurse took our baby from him to see if they could tell what had happened to the placenta.  She told my husband there were complications and that they would keep him updated as they knew more.  When all was said and done they realized that I had a softball sized fibroid tumor which had more than likely caused the miscarriage, and was the reason they couldn't find the placenta.  When I woke up in the recovery room.  My husband was the first face I saw, I think he was more pale than I was.  They moved me into a private overnight room.  I'd lost so much blood they were going to have to keep me.  This posed a problem for us.  It was July 1st, mid 90's and humid.  What were we going to do with the baby?  We couldn't figure out where to bury him and besides my husband was not going to do it without me.  I had to make my poor devastated husband go home and put our child in the freezer until we could figure things out.  That was the most horrible thing I'd ever had to ask him to do. 
My Doctor's told me they were unable to get the fibroid out during the D&C and we'd have to wait 6 weeks to see if it would shrink enough for the Doctors to take it out without an incision.  But more than likely I'd have to have a C-Section to remove it.  Well that didn't happen.  Exactly a week later my body actually went into labor with the tumor!  Once again we raced to the emergency room with me in excruciating pain.  After 13 hours of the Doctors doing Ultrasounds, abdominal Cat Scans and a multiple of other tests they were finally able to tell that the tumor was aborting itself and I was in fact in labor with this thing.  I was put back in surgery (after they made sure they had blood ready for a transfusion in case the same thing happened that did in surgery the week before)  They were able to remove the big one and a small one that was attached.
The next day I had the thought of having him cremated.  He was so tiny, I hadn't even thought of it before.  But now it was clear that's what I wanted to do.  My husband agreed.  Our local funeral home was so kind.  They cremated him at no charge and we were able to pick out a tiny little urn that now holds the remains of our baby boy.  We named him Nathan Jeremy.  "Jeremy" came from a dear friend we'd lost 14 years before.
Grieving the loss of Nathan is the hardest thing I've ever been through.  It's been just over 3 months and I can honestly say I haven't been able to recognize who I am for most of them.  We had a huge outpouring of love and support from both friends and family.  The first month I told everyone I was doing well, but I know now I was in shock.  I didn't start to feel anything at all until weeks later.  I'd cry, but it wasn't the deep sadness that I would have expected.  Well that sadness found me.  I even got to the point of wanting to die.  Not suicidal, but hoping an 18 wheeler would run me off the road or something very quick and painless would happen.  Thankfully that stage didn't last very long and I was able to get through it.  I wanted to be pregnant again right away, but found out that I still have several fibroids that need to be removed.  I am waiting until November 10th for my next surgery.
As a memorial we took our original wedding bands to a local jeweler who melted them into a beautiful pendant.  On the front; his initials are hand engraved with a beautiful design flowing around them.  There are 7 tiny diamonds to signify the month he was born.  And on the back?  Those beautiful footprints.  The jeweler was able to make an exact replica of his feet and carved them out so it actually looks like we pushed Nathans little feet into the gold. 
I've been on a journey I never wanted to be on.  But I think I'll come out of this stronger and someday be a better mother using the lessons that Nathan taught me.  He'll never be far from my mind, and I hope that when we get pregnant the next time he's the angel making sure everything is going to be perfect.
You can contact Heather at hpotter3497@gmail.com


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