Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mom to Gabriel Benjamin
Stillborn at 18 weeks on August 12th, 2010
Orem, Utah

My husband, Ben, and I have always wanted a lot of kids and have been so thankful for the chance to be parents, especially after struggling with infertility before we had any. We knew for sure that we always wanted to have at least four, but were always open to more. After being blessed with our first four, two boys and two girls, we really felt like we were meant to have another. We prayed about it and knew it was right and on May 3, 2010 when our pregnancy test was positive after trying to conceive for only a month, we were so excited. We felt so blessed for the chance to be parents again to another precious child.

We always wait until the first trimester is over to spread the news, just in case, although we’d never had any real problems with any of our pregnancies. Our baby was due on January 7, 2011 so we told our kids that we had an early Christmas present for them. They opened up a box wrapped in Christmas paper to show a balloon with an expecting mom on it. We then told them that their Christmas present may be late this year, but it was going to be the best one ever! Their reactions were just what we expected…pure excitement for our new little baby on the way. The day they heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time was so much fun. It was so wonderful to see the awe in their faces as they heard those swish swish sounds meaning there really was a baby in mom’s tummy!

My pregnancy went along as smoothly as any of my other pregnancies, filled with my usual major exhaustion and morning sickness. I had some high blood pressure but I did my best to take it easy and get it under control. I knew from the very beginning that I was having a baby boy. It just felt right and honestly, I was so excited to have another boy again since my boys were close in age and I never felt that I got to just cherish each of their babyness as long as I had with my girls. We felt like maybe this baby was our last one, so I really tried to love every minute of my pregnancy. I began feeling the baby move early, before 13 weeks, and loved every little nudge and kick. I think I bonded with the baby much earlier than any of my other ones just because of this. What a blessing that was to really know my baby boy as much as I did.

On August 9 I went in for my usual check up. I was 18 weeks, 3 days. The Dr. measured me and said I was measuring right on and everything looked great. Then he listened for the baby's heartbeat only to not find it. My placenta sounded really good and he seemed positive that the baby was just lying towards the back of my uterus. But just in case, and so I could sleep, he sent me to the hospital for an ultrasound. I called my husband and we dropped the kids off at our friends and headed to the hospital. Even though the Dr. had been reassuring, I just knew then that it wasn’t going to be okay.

The ultrasound technician was just so quiet. I knew that he couldn't find the heartbeat but he still did measurements for awhile and said nothing. My husband held my hand and watched the screen. I never even looked at it. The tech confirmed that the baby did not have a heartbeat and wasn't moving. He wasn’t
able to find any conclusive measurement to how far along the baby was when it had died. In that instant, my whole world shattered. It’s amazing how you can go from utter happiness to utter despair with the two simple words….no heartbeat.

The next few days were a blur. I’m not sure if I stopped crying during them. I didn’t sleep much. I didn’t eat much. I just somehow existed in a state of complete shock. The day after we found out we sat down to tell our kids. That was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do, to tell my kids that the baby that they were so excited for, had planned so much for was now dead. Unfortunately, my kids have already had experiences with death, so when we told them, they knew exactly what it meant. The disappointment in their sweet faces was so apparent that it broke my heart.

Since they couldn’t tell how big the baby was on the ultrasound, my doctor wanted me to wait for a few days to see if my uterus would shrink at all or if my body might start to miscarry on it’s own. It didn’t happen, so my doctor finally scheduled an induction for August 12, the day before my 19th week mark. It was the most awful feeling to have to go to the hospital where we’d had other babies born and felt so much joy to know that this time we’d be going home empty handed and heartbroken. The induction was long and so hard. My body just did not want to give up my baby. It was the most physically painful labor that I’ve ever had and my heart continued to break knowing that in the end, this precious life of my baby’s would be completely over.

At 11:20 pm that night my baby boy entered the world, silent and still. The Dr. knew the cause for his death immediately. It was a cord accident. His tiny little cord was completely twisted at the insertion into his belly. All of those little nudges and kicks I had felt from my active little boy had twisted his little cord until it couldn’t sustain his life any longer. He was teeny tiny, weighing only 2 oz. and measuring 5 ½ inches, just about the length of my open hand, but he was perfect. He had 10 little fingers and 10 little toes with little nail buds forming. He had high cheek bones just like my husband’s, the cutest little nose, and tiny mouth. He was perfectly formed but just so tiny and so very still.

The Dr. thought that based on his condition, that he had probably been dead for about a week. I can’t remember exactly the last time I felt him move since his tiny kicks were still so sporadic. I know for a fact that he was still alive when I was in my sixteenth week. I am so thankful for a day in that week that I have a very vivid memory of feeling my baby squirm away while I just relished in his little movements. I felt so incredibly blessed in that moment, loving this new little baby of my mine, and savoring the wonderful feeling of being a mother. I will always cherish that day.

We named our sweet baby Gabriel Benjamin. Gabriel means God is my Strength.  We felt his name fit just perfectly because we would have to spend our lives depending on God for the strength to live without him in this life. Benjamin is my husband’s name.

In the end, it was a blessing to have to actually deliver him. As Ben and I sat with our baby and said goodbye to him I really wasn't as devastated as I thought I would be. It was extremely difficult but I knew that his lifeless body was not our little Gabriel's spirit which was already gone, but only his body, and I was grateful to be entrusted to help provide that for him. I know that he is one of our Heavenly Father's children and he needed a body to complete his own little plan.  For whatever reason, he was just too perfect to need to stay on Earth, with all of the pains and sorrows we face, and I feel honored to be the mother of such a special spirit. I feel blessed to know that he is back in our Heavenly Father's arms and that through the power of the Atonement that my precious little Gabriel will return to my arms again when my life is through.

If you would like to read Cyndi's blog, or to contact Cyndi, you can email her at cyndibugj@gmail.com


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