Friday, November 5, 2010

Mom to
Baby Roth, June 2003
Aiden Robert, July 2, 2004
Centerville, Minnesota
Soon after our first wedding anniversary, we became pregnant. We were ecstatic! We were in the process of buying our first home and couldn’t wait to start a family.

The day after we moved into our home, we had our 10 week doctor appointment and we were thrilled at knowing that we would be able to hear our child’s heart beat for the first time. We entered the doctor’s office with great anticipation. We were devastated to learn that there was no heartbeat. We went home with broken hearts. I had had a missed miscarriage. Something I had never heard of before. The months that followed were a blur of tears and heartache. I felt as though all of my hopes and dreams had been ripped away from me.
After many months of trying for another child, we learned that we were again pregnant. This pregnancy was met with excitement and joy, but definitely was marked with some fear as well. The weeks passed and we heard your heartbeat. My belly (and our confidence) began to grow. When we began to feel your wiggle and squirm around in my belly, we relaxed and finally began to feel safe.
At 20 weeks, we went shopping and found the perfect crib and matching dressers- you had to have the best! I finally allowed myself to splurge on maternity clothes too! I absolutely loved the little belly that I was growing.
I have never felt more beautiful or powerful as when I was pregnant with you! I felt like I could do any and everything.
During our shopping excursion, I began to notice that I was leaking a little bit. I remembered hearing pregnant women talk about bladder weakness throughout their pregnancy so, I just chalked it up to my weak bladder. I remember joking with friends that with my luck, I was probably leaking amniotic fluid, but at the same time thinking, that doesn't really happen. Does it?
We had a doctor appointment and our 20 week ultrasound scheduled for the next day. I tried not to worry and decided that I would just mention it at our appointment. After shopping we set up the crib and I did a little fashion show of all of my new clothes for your daddy! We couldn't wait for our doctor appointment- we had decided to find out you were a little girl or boy! As we went to bed that night I thought that I felt a contraction. I didn't know what one felt like and it didn't hurt, but huh? What was that?
We woke up the next day and we were so excited! Little did we know that these were some of the last purely innocent moments that we would have. Our world would soon crumble.
Everything happened so fast that day... We had our ultrasound and found out that you were a little boy!! During the ultrasound, I mentioned my concern about feeling like I was leaking, but we breathed a sigh of relief when we were told that my amniotic fluid levels and our son looked great! Naively, I thought that I must not be leaking amniotic fluid if the levels aren’t low.
After the ultrasound we met with our regular doctor and I discussed my 'bladder' leaking. She suggested a quick exam to see if there was any pooling of liquid inside me. If there was liquid inside of me, then it obviously wouldn’t be coming from my bladder.
She did an exam and did find liquid inside of me. It's not my bladder?!
Our roller coaster ride of emotions had begun.
My doctor then did a test to determine if the fluid was indeed amniotic fluid. The first test came back negative for amniotic fluid. I was confused. She then performed a pelvic exam to see if I was dilated. I was. Oh no! We were in a small clinic and our doctor advised that I be brought to a larger hospital in the cities- just to be checked out further. I didn't fully realize the seriousness of all that was happening until I was put in an ambulance- with the sirens on!
I remember riding in the ambulance and wondering what was happening?! I was definitely having contractions at this point, but again, I naively thought that everything would still be okay. When we got to the hospital, they did another fluid test. This time the results came back positive for amniotic fluid. They put me on medicine to try to stop my contractions (which were becoming quite regular and undeniable) and they explained to us that if you are delivered now, there is nothing that can be done to save you. You are just too little and your lungs have not had a chance to fully develop, let alone mature. As scared as we were, we were still filled with hope that everything, somehow, would be okay.
The doctors tell us that my amniotic fluid is leaking and that I am at risk for a uterine infection. If my contractions can be stopped and I do not develop an infection, maybe, just maybe my body can hold on. The doctors told us that we needed to make it at least a couple more weeks in order for you to have any chance at survival. Even then, the outlook may not be good. I thought that I could will my body to keep you safe. I was wrong.
Throughout the night, my contractions were unable to be controlled and I began to bleed. My body was going into labor. I suddenly developed a high fever which meant I now had an infection. My worst fears were coming true! The doctors told me that I must deliver you now because of the infection that has developed. This can not be happening!
I had so many thoughts racing through my head. I slowly began to realize that we were going to lose you. My body was failing you. I thought about what you were going through. I didn’t want to hurt you. Please don’t let our little boy suffer! Your heart rate increased as you responded to my infection. I felt so helpless and so guilty. My body is supposed to protect and nurture you and instead it is failing and hurting you. I had no choice. There was nothing I could do to save you. I was failing you! I am so sorry. Oh baby, I am so sorry…
I remember the doctor telling me to push. I couldn't do it. I was so afraid to let you go. How could I let you go?!?! I had to be told several times to push. I think I even remember the doctor telling me that if I didn’t push, they would just take you out. Although I knew that there was nothing that could be done to change the outcome, I felt like I was betraying you by delivering you. I couldn't give up on you. On us. The thought of delivering you, before you were ready to be here, was the most horrible feeling. It went against every maternal instinct I had. I so badly wanted to protect you. Finally, I had to... One little push is all it took. You came out feet first. Your daddy saw you kick your little legs! You were put on my belly and I held you. You were so perfect and tiny!
You were born just after 8am weighing 13.2 ounces and you were 10 inches long. We named you, Aiden Robert. As soon as you were born, I felt a calm come over me. I was so afraid that I would become hysterical and I so badly wanted to be brave and strong for you. I didn't want you to feel the pain and devastation that we were feeling. These would be the only moments that we would spend together and I wanted them to be peaceful. I just wanted you to feel all of the love that your dad and I had for you.
When you were born, your little heart was beating, but you were never able to take a breath. You were born into a room, filled with family that loved you. We had you baptized right away. Too small to survive, I held you in my arms as your heart took its last beat.
I don't know exactly what happened next. We bathed you. We dressed you. All of your family held you. We took your hand and foot prints. We were able to spend a lot of time together. We took pictures and awed over every little part of you! You were perfect and we were so very proud that you were our son. We tried to take in every moment as we knew these would be the only moments that we would have with you. Your dad and I just held you. We loved you so much!
After everyone left and it was just the three of us, we all took a nap together. I laid you right upon my chest and held your cold, little body to my warm chest. Your daddy did the same. We knew that this would be the only nap that we would ever take together.
Leaving you at the hospital was the hardest thing that we have ever had to do. I literally had to have the nurse take you away because I just couldn't give you up. I could not walk away from you. We came home to your empty nursery and crib that we had just days before set up for you. I had a closet full of maternity clothes that I wouldn't be able to wear. We had finally let our guard down and believed that this time we would have a child to truly join our family. How could life be so cruel?
We again, went home, with broken hearts and shattered dreams. I was broken. Devastated and broken. Our world had been shattered. We had to plan your funeral. Again, how can this be happening?! We are planning the funeral for our son?!?! We picked out an outfit for you to be buried in and picked a tiny coffin for you. Never in my wildest dreams did I think something like this could happen. On the way to your funeral service I noticed that my breasts were leaking. On one hand, my body completely failed you, yet it was still preparing to nurture you. Cruel.
We had a beautiful funeral service for you and we were able to bury you with the remains of our first miscarriage (I had kept them not knowing what to do with them, but knowing that I couldn't just have them thrown away or have them disposed of). I am so glad that the two of you are together- in body and in spirit. We honored your brief life as best as we knew how. We shared you with everyone that we could.
It was determined that I have an incompetent cervix. As you grew bigger and more pressure was applied, my cervix was not strong enough to hold you. I dilated prematurely with no symptoms. For a long time, the guilt of failing you consumed me. I felt betrayed by my body. I thought that somehow I should have known or done something differently.
I can't say that I will ever feel whole again, but I do my best. My identity and my life has been forever changed. I am not the same person that I was before you. I look at the world through different eyes and with a different heart. Today, finally, I am at peace with this. Losing a child takes away the security, that many of us take for granted each and every day, that there will be a tomorrow. I know that life is not guaranteed. Life will never be the same as before, but somehow life does continue on.
I remember just being so afraid to eat, to breathe, to do every day normal things. How could I when my son will never have the chance? I was afraid to live. I was afraid that the tears would stop and that the pain would subside. I thought that this meant that I would forget you. After our son’s death, I struggled with the will and purpose of God. It seemed strange and cruel that God would grant the gift of life and then cause it to end before it could fully blossom. But, I refused to believe that your life was for nothing. Although Aiden spent only moments on this earth and in my arms, he has left a great impact on my life!

I vividly remember talking to God in the days after our son’s death, and I told Him how angry I was. I begged God to take care of you, but I turned my back on God and tried to blame Him for letting this happen. I didn’t know how to turn to God for support, so instead, I turned away from Him. I searched in vain to make sense of the loss of our son. What faith I had, was tested. I went to psychics. I read books. I went to a counselor. I talked to friends and strangers. I searched online. I went to support groups. Always searching for answers. Searching for some peace and understanding. Nothing I did seemed to fill the hole I had within me. It has been over 6 years since the loss of our son, Aiden.

 Although it took time, I can now say that Aiden’s life has been, although painful, a beautiful blessing. He led me to have a personal relationship with God. I’m afraid that I would have kept going through life, not knowing what it truly meant to be a Christ follower, not needing more understanding out of life. I would have continued going through the motions, but not really feeling it in my heart. Aiden’s life forced me to need more and I am so thankful for this. I once heard that when a shepherd seeks to lead his sheep to better grass up a winding, thorny mountain path, he often finds that the sheep will not follow him. They fear the unknown ridges and the sharp rocks. The shepherd will then reach into the flock and take a little lamb under his arm. He starts up the treacherous pathway. Soon, the mother sheep begins to follow, and afterward, the entire flock. Then, they climb the tortuous path to greener pastures.
So is it with our Good Shepherd, our God. Sometimes He reaches into the flock and takes a lamb to Himself. He uses the experience to lead His people, to lift them to new heights of commitment as they follow the little lamb all the way home. This, I believe is what God did for me and I continue to thank Him every day for bringing Aiden into our lives, if even for a moment. Aiden led me straight to God which is right where I am supposed to be. We began going to church regularly about 3 years after we had Aiden. I was still trying to make sense of our son’s death. As soon as the music started, I began to cry. I felt God wrap his arms around me and I felt my son’s presence with me. I realized in those moments that God was with me and He was with our son. My love for Aiden and my need for peace and understanding opened my eyes to the love and compassion that God has for me. I finally felt safe. And once again, peaceful. I think back to when we were in the hospital right after our son was born. I remember being afraid that I would become hysterical. But somehow, in the moments after Aiden’s birth, I wasn’t. I was calm. It was peaceful. All I wanted my son to know and feel during his brief life on earth was peace and love. Now, today, I know that it was God that gave me the strength to give that gift to my son. He was with me all along. God was patient with me. He waited with open arms for me to be ready to let Him fully into my heart and into my life. Today, I praise God and I thank Jesus every day for the gift that he has given me. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, I know that I will again see my son and I will hold him in my arms again. There is no greater gift than this and today, I am filled with hope. I also realize now, that the best way to show you, Aiden, how much we love you, is to live. I know that you know that I would have done anything to have you here with us. I hope that you are as proud of your daddy and me as we are of you. We love you, Aiden Robert. We will continue to honor, love and remember you for as long as we live. You will forever be our first-born son.
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angelrobbiesmom said...

My heart cries out to you and your husband.
I too had a few losses.2 miscarriages and a stillbirth at 38 weeks.
It was a very hard time for us as well. I think of him a lot. I'm completly changed.My views on life and how life is too short to waste it on petty things.I also found me back to church again too.I also started a walk with 4 other ladies and got October 15th approved in our Province.He has changed me. This walk and many other wonderful things I do,I do it for him.
Blessings to you,

Natashia Hope
Nova Scotia, Canada

Steph D said...

Very beautiful, thank you!!

deanna thomas said...

jolene... i read this and am still crying. i cant imagine going through what you and your husband went through. i do think you are a very strong and beautiful person though and you can see it just looking at you, your family, and the people that surround you. you are blessed to have such a relationship with God even though it took such a tragedy for it to happen. i feel blessed to have you touch my heart the way you just did...thank you for sharing! i believe through your sharing this,not only do you become stronger but you help others by helping them to heal and to see the real meaning of life and the love of the lord. thanks you! love, deanna thomas

Jennifer Tyson said...

oh Jolene. I certainly enjoyed reading this and can relate on SO many levels so many things that you wrote. Thank you for opening your heart. You are an AMAZING women and momma! Hugs to you!

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