Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mom to "Teddy" Theodore Joseph Luaders
June 20th, 2010
Quincy, IL

Teddy’s birthday and death day was on Father’s Day this year.  I was almost 35 weeks pregnant with Teddy.  I hadn’t felt Teddy move that morning, and I worried all morning, thinking he would start moving soon, but called the on-call doctor after lunch.

At the hospital I was hooked up to the machines and there was his heartbeat, and it looked good!  But he wasn’t moving.  The on-call doctor came in.  As soon as he came in and saw the tape with Teddy’s heart rate tracings, he said we need to have a C-section, an emergency c-section, right now.  What a shock!  But I was less scared then than I was when I was at home feeling no movement.  I knew he was alive, I knew he would be taken care of, and I knew he was old enough to survive even though he was early.  He would be ok now.  So I called my husband and told him and he was totally unprepared too, we weren’t expecting him for 5 more weeks!  Both of our other sons were late!  He went about making the phone calls, getting the babysitter, getting his mom and sister to come, throwing together things we might need – we didn’t even have a bag ready for the hospital yet.

In the next several minutes I was wheeled down to the C-section room, they called my doctor (Dr. K) to see if she wanted to come in, and she did!  She got there so quickly and I remember her saying, “I’m here,” and it was like my mom had said it, don’t worry honey, I’m here.  Nurses were rushing everywhere and getting everything ready and then they put me out.

I woke up and my husband was there.  I was really groggy and still trying to wake up.  Teddy wasn’t doing well.  Dr. K told me that he was having a little trouble breathing and he was kind of pale.  But he had cried.  He was like 5 lbs 5 oz, which is pretty good, not too small!  They said they were thinking of moving him to Springfield or St. Louis.  I knew they did this with babies who need help because our hospital doesn’t have a level 2 nursery.

The transfer team from St. Louis got there (they had flown the helicopter in) and the team leader came in to talk to me.  He had just talked to Scott, and he told me that our son was very sick.  OK, I thought.  His hemoglobin was very low.  He said they were having trouble getting him stable enough to fly, but as soon as they did, they would have to go quickly, so they would try to let me see him but it would be brief.  OK.  And he was so sick that there is the possibility that he could die.  I know my eyes widened, like, really??  They said the hardest part is when he was in the helicopter because they had limited resources up there.  But still, I thought this was just something they have to say.  Surely he would be OK.  We thought once he landed, we would be home free.

They had to wheel my bed out to the hall to let me see Teddy because he was in one of those big machines.  He was so beautiful, he was on a respirator and had lots of tubes, but I could see his beautiful face and little body and he had lots of hair, he was so beautiful.  He looked like my other boys did, he looked like he was mine.  They said I could touch him, but I had just had that C-section and couldn’t really sit up and the machine was really tall and I tried to reach him but he was just too far away and the doctor said, we have to go.  I saw a lot of nurses standing in the hall watching us and I’m sure they thought, oh how sad, the mom couldn’t even touch her baby, but I thought, they’re wrong, this isn’t sad, it’s fine, I’ll touch him when I get down to St. Louis later this week.  I’ll have his whole life to touch him.  I never thought he would die.

They called me to say Teddy had landed in St. Louis and was the same, not better, not worse.  I felt relieved because he had landed and now he would get whatever he needed, I felt like the worst was over.  I went to sleep knowing I’d talk to Scott in the morning and get an update.

When the nurse woke me up at 2 am to say that there was a call from the hospital in St. Louis, I said, oh no.  Why would they call me in the middle of the night to say he was getting better or was stable?  I saw the nurse pull up a chair by my bed.  I knew she was going to console me.  I answered the phone knowing what she was going to say, but this couldn’t be real, this couldn’t be happening, this was like a movie.  The doctor in St. Louis had to tell me, she said they were working on Teddy and they tried this and this and this, but I knew, I knew from her voice, she was telling me he was dead.  Then she said it, “I wish there was another way to tell you this, I wish I had another thing to tell you, but, he didn’t make it.”  I don’t know what I said.  I know I started to cry at some point, not wailing and screaming, but just tears were falling out of my eyes so quickly and I was struggling to speak, I was staring at the wall and the nurse was holding my hand, I was crying, and I think I asked her some things, how could this happen?  How could this happen?  He was just inside me moving around.  He was just here and I saw him.  I had been to every prenatal appointment and he was fine… they had detected an irregular heartbeat at 29 weeks and had referred me to St. Louis then, too, for a level 2 ultrasound and an ECHO, but both of those had said he was perfect.  All parts perfect, everything great, perfectly healthy. And now he was dead.

I don’t think I got much sleep that night.  Any?  I cried so much.  The nurse called my sister-in-law in the middle of the night and she came and was with me and we cried so much.  I had to call my parents in Seattle.  They weren’t answering, I called my sister.  She sounded so scared, “Rochelle??” She said my name, terrified, knowing the answer already like I had... I had to tell her, sobbing, “he didn’t make it..”

One thing I worried about the most that night was my 4 year old.  It broke my heart over and over to think of how excited he was to have another brother.  We had prepared him so well for a new baby.  We were not prepared for this.  This was going to be so confusing.  He said there was a spot on the tire swing for Teddy.  He knew that I would call him Theodore when he got in trouble.  He loves babies so much, he was so excited to have a baby at home.  He knew all about Teddy.  He knew he would cry, and sleep, and drink milk from mommy.  My little guy, almost 2 years old, wouldn’t be able to understand much..

My husband was asked by the chaplain in St. Louis if he could do anything for him, and Scott said, yes, I need to take our baby back to his mommy.  The chaplain said, “it’s been done before, it can be done.”  And he got the ball rolling (there was quite a bit of red tape to get through) so that Scott was able to carry our little Teddy back to me (2 hours away) while his brother-in-law drove.  If he hadn’t done that for me, I don’t know if I’d ever have been able to see Teddy, or hold him.

We talked with J (my son) several times over the next several days.  Small conversations, because how much could he handle at once?  I have, and Scott has, and my sister did, and my mom.  I was the first one to tell him Teddy was in heaven, and I was the first one to tell him he had died.  This was a couple days later, and when I said “he died,” J looked at me, shocked, what??  It was like he thought Jesus would fix him, and – you didn’t tell me he DIED!  I don’t know if he fully understands what died means.  But he looked like he did then.

What disbelief.  I understand what denial feels like.  You know, you KNOW he died, but it just… can’t… be true.  Wake me up, wake me up!!  I understand the anger.  Oh, the profanity in my head.  Oh, how I cursed out God.  On the day of the funeral I was telling my son, J, what to expect as we drove to the funeral home, and I wanted to vomit as I said the words.

We learned over the next several weeks that Teddy had suffered a fetal-maternal hemorrhage, which is when baby’s blood accidentally is given to the mom’s blood.  So most of his blood went into me, and he didn’t have enough left to survive.  That’s why his hemoglobin was so low and why he was so pale, and why his little heart eventually just failed.  I didn’t have any Rh incompatibility, I didn’t have any trauma, I didn’t have any risk factors for it.  It just happened.  Poor little guy.  His blood was draining into me and I didn’t even know it, I was just carrying on with my life like nothing was happening and everything was fine.  A specialist thinks we maybe had an abruption, they found a smallish clot on the placenta.  But we don’t know for sure.

Oh, there is so much more to say!  But I will stop the story, for now.  But if anyone has any questions, please email me.  Thanks for reading our Teddy’s story.  He was such a beautiful boy, our baby boy.  We are so heartbroken.  We miss him so much.

You can contact Rochelle at


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing the story of you and Scott's precious baby, Teddy, Rochelle. I pray that this helps you all to heal a little more from this big loss...and helps other Moms and Dads heal from their losses as well. It is wonderful that couples who have had the terrible loss of their beautiful babies pray for and support one another. I pray that it will help the doctors and nurses know how much they are appreciated for all they do to help families in similar situations. We are confident that Teddy is in heaven, forever in your hearts, forever smiling upon you and Scott and hour kids. Love and prayers--Uncle Vince

Anonymous said...

There are tears in my eyes and my heart is breaking for you. I am so sorry for such a terrible loss. I will say Teddy's name in my prayers tonight. He won't be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your story, I lost my daughter Evelyn to a massive fetomaternal hemorrhage. I too had no trauma, I did not feel any change in her movements. The doctors didn't find any placental problems.
I have been trying to read as much as I can about Fetomaternal hemorrhage... if your ever up to talk

Anonymous said...

To Rochelle and to the above poster, I too lost a baby to fetomaternal hemorrhage. I have read up extensively on it and have an article too that I could try and forward to you. My gmail is not working right at the moment but soon I will contact both of you. Together we can help each other understand this horrible situation.

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