Some of you know this story as a turning of a page, others know it in more detail, the whole chapter.

Today, October 12, 2017

* Please be warned there are personal and detailed photos at the end. Do not scroll to the end if you do not wish to see.

3 years ago yesterday I was induced into labour. I was 17 weeks and 5 days pregnant. 3 years ago tomorrow I gave birth to my first baby boy, 18 weeks gestation. Did I tell you I named him Baby Jack? Not at first I didn’t. In fact he was only known as Baby Bump #2 for a couple years. Then some time this past year I decided I needed to give him a name because being baby bump #2 was not significant enough. And Jack means something to me.

It was mid June 2014 when our baby was conceived. Randal and I watched over the little window as the 2nd pink line showed itself to us. We looked at one another and both kind of froze. The first words out of my mouth were “Oh Shit”! Randal’s were something along the same lines. In our living room sat his mum and Dad and youngest brother. They had no idea I had just peed on a little white stick and that we were pregnant.

Randal asked if I wanted to tell them. I felt foreboding life growing inside me. This pregnancy was already different for some reason. But we agreed and walked out holding our prized possession of a positive result – a new baby. We just didn’t know this baby had a bigger purpose for our lives.

We all hugged and congrats were said. Let the life begin. Grow baby bump #2, grow. And this baby did grow. Over the coming weeks the baby thrived but still something deep in my heart caused my happiness trepidation; I felt that perhaps this baby was not meant for me. Not all baby’s are meant for this world, but they all have a meaning was something I always believed, and was about to be given the chance to know.

I shared the news with 2 friends from Mother’s group in the early days of the pregnancy. I told them I wanted them to know in the event that I miscarried and needed support. How strange I felt that need. What I didn’t know I knew. Maybe you were speaking to me Baby Bump #2? Forewarning me of your early departure? Thank you to both those friends for sharing your losses with me and providing me a safe place to share my worries of loss as well! Thank you as well for being part of the party to help pick up the shattered pieces.

At 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant we had our first ultrasound. Oh how I love an ultrasound, but fear was hiding in the recesses of my uterus niggling so as not let me forget it was there. Randal watched with a careful eye, taking in all the measurements and quietly realizing the data being input was not in my favour. His brain was bringing him to the same place my body already was – there was something wrong.

The technician told us the NT (nuchal translucency) measurement was a little outside the norm. But “not to worry. Other measurements need to be consider as well” was what she said. When we left that appointment I recall saying to Randal, “I wished we just knew so we could make a decision and get on with life.” I wasn’t being blasse I was being realistic.

On a Thursday afternoon I received a call from the Dr’s office asking me to come in. Randal was traveling for work so a good friend of mine came rushing to my side. She held my hand and gave me support as I walked into the Dr’s office to receive the results which indicated there was a possibility of something amiss. Thank you friend for being there to give me strength.

Further testing was scheduled clearly indicating that I may not have been growing healthy baby. A first attempt at a CVS (Chorionic villus sampling, which is similar to amniocentesis where a long needle is inserted through the abdomen and into the baby’s private space – I bear this scar to this day. A constant reminder) was attempted at 12 weeks. The Dr felt he could not draw a proper sample so away we went only to return a week later to attempt again. Success! The Dr was able to perform the CVS and off went the biological material to the US to be analyzed.

The results were provided in 2 batches. The first set of results examined many chromosomal abnormalities which are more commonly found in unhealthy babies. That’s when we got the call Baby Bump #2. But the voice that streamed through our bluetooth system in Tiggy (our car. Yes, we named our car) told us the results from those test were all negative. We thanked her and said we looked forward to the next call a week or so later with the same happy result. We disconnected and I will forever remember where we were. In fact I recall all the moments where I received calls about you and test results that gave me permission to acknowledge my worry from the start.

Breathe … I took a breath and then I cried. I cried because I was so happy to hear those words, “the test results are negative for …” I think I grabbed Randal for dear life while I cried into his shoulder, “I didn’t realize how much I wanted everything to be okay and for this baby to be in our lives”. And Baby Bump #2 you were in our lives, just not the conventional way. I called my sister and her words were, “So we get to keep our baby?!” I never stopped think that this baby would be a loss for anyone other than myself and Randal. Thank you Chantal for caring so much from the moment you knew.

The final results took longer than usual due to holidays in the USA and a backlog of work somewhere. Who knew so many people had this test done like us? I was starting to understand. My nerves were frayed and I was starting to show that I was pregnant. Baby Bump #2 you wanted the world to know you were there, but I was too afraid to let them see you. Slowly I began to embrace the pregnancy and the bump that was making itself known to the world.

That 2nd call, I remember. I remember all of it. I was driving down West Esplanade in Manly, pulled over on the side of the road so I could speak with the geneticist. It wasn’t good news. “Chromosome 13 … long arm … material missing, a fair amount of it.”  I was told that more testing would be done on Randal and I to see if perhaps we had the same chromosomal material missing as this baby did. So I held on to hope in any way I could that maybe, just maybe, it would all turn out okay and Baby Bump #2 would continue to be part of me. What I know now Baby Bump #2 is you ARE always a part of me, you are a part of my life journey.

Back to the clinic we returned. Needles pricked our skin while our hearts were jabbed with fear mingled with sweet dreams of hope. Further instructions, be patient and wait. Wait some more and then when you are tired of waiting and feel you’re going to implode, sit down and well, continue waiting! So obligingly that’s what I did. I carried on doing all the motherly things with Chloe that I had been doing for over a year and a half already. We attended playgroups, music classes, played at the beach and on the Corso, met some new and (now) very dear friends. Thank you dear friend for giving me a 2nd chance when I stood you up on our playdate. Glad you were understanding about me being a little preoccupied with birthing a baby; and placenta, which actually ended up being a DNC, just in case I neglected to tell you that part. Thank you for listening to my rambling about the journey and letting me piece together my thoughts. Your accepting nature is very appreciated.

We  shopped at the same store for our groceries and visited the same coffee shops for decaf coffee and mixed berry smoothies. Meanwhile the winter sun kissed our cheeks and brightened our days just in the right ways. I thought you’d see and experience all this with us Baby Bump #2, and in your own way you did, from the comfort of my body right next to my beating heart.

This whole pregnancy was like a waiting game with negative test results being the winning trophy. So far our trophy count was a little low for the liking. Maybe the big trophy was waiting for us, YOU, and we could look at all the trophy’s we’d lost and say, “Well at least we have you Baby Bump #2, at least we have you.” We’d win your cheeks to kiss and your arms to feel around our necks when you squealed with delight at the feeling of our love. Sadly we didn’t win that chance the way we envisioned.

We went to NZ for a little holiday when I was 16 and a half weeks pregnant. I bought pregnancy jeans, 2 pairs, and gently talked about the baby with my in-laws. Randal’s parents knew what was happening but no one else in his family. In fact, they were the only people who knew other than my sister and a small handful of friends. Few friends actually knew we were even pregnant. It made for a small world who knew about you Baby Bump #2.

A few weeks after announcing our pregnancy to one particular friend, she shared her pregnancy news with me. I almost jumped across the table to congratulate her I was so excited. We had always said we’d have our 2nd baby’s together and here we were with due dates only 2 weeks apart. She was a great pillar of support for me and days after my expected due date, when she had her beautiful pink baby to match our blue baby, she was gentle and open.  She was all the things you want from a friend when your matching blue baby doesn’t get to meet his little pink friend. Thank you friend for simply being YOU.

We returned from New Zealand with a scheduled appointment with the Senior geneticist for the 9th October 2014. A couple weeks prior he said he would be researching and discussing with geneticist around the globe to get a better picture of what it meant to be missing material on the long arm of Chromosome 13. He hadn’t seen this situation as yet but what he did know was that chromosome 13 was responsible for much of our cognitive and developmental DNA. He didn’t sound overly hopeful. So this is what being deflated feels like. Hope, just grab the hope.

On the flight home from NZ Chloe sat on my lap and excitedly pointed to things she was seeing, the life outside our window that only a 22 month old child can see. The person seated next to me dared to ask me if I was pregnant. It was the first time a stranger had noticed that under my loose fitting t-shirt and uncharacteristic hunched shoulders was a little baby bump. I told her yes although I felt like lying. I am sorry Baby Bump #2 that I still wanted to shield you from the world. Or more likely that I wasn’t ready to share you with the world. I don’t know if it was fear of losing you or fear of being judged if I did lose you. It is a horrible feeling to have to reconcile.

One of the most important days as a parent was looming for me and Chloe. Two days after returning from NZ Chloe was to start her first 2 days of daycare. And as if that wasn’t enough for me to cope with, it was also the day of our big appointment with the geneticist. The test results were to be revealed in their entirety and your life as we knew it was to be decided.

Promptly at 9am we dropped Chloe at her home away from home for the day. Mixed emotions swelled in my heart. Longing to hold her just one more minute with the growing need to escape; if only I could be a fly on the wall and see her day unfold. I was proud of her and I was scared shitless for me, for you too Baby Bump #2.

Randal and I walked into the office hand in hand. Hoping the love we shared would be enough to ward off anything bad we may face that morning. We sat down on hard bottomed chairs, don’t get too comfy those chairs said, you won’t be here long enough. Opened on the computer screen was a different language, medical terms that I quickly scanned and realized I had no idea what it all meant. But my eyes grazed across the letters, “X,Y” and that’s when I broke and cried Baby Bump #2. “He’s a boy?” It was a barely audible question, almost more to myself than to the Dr. “Yes, it’s a boy. I didn’t realize you didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

At this moment the reality of who I had growing inside me was abundantly clear. A baby BOY. Quickly all those images of your baby boy and who he will become were shattered as the Dr. continued on. “Unfortunately the result of you and Randal did not show the same missing material as your baby … what is missing is on Chromosome 13, responsible for much of the mental and physical capabilities …. so much missing material … we have no idea what it will impact …multiple Dr’s have been consulted … we could not find 1 other case worldwide with the same situation … we know this baby will not have a good outcome … yes, it is your decision to continue with the pregnancy … induced miscarriage … hospital in the next couple days to begin the induction …” Those were the snip-its of what I heard escape the Dr’s lips and slowly seeped into my heart and brain.

I sat there stunned into silence letting Randal be my words and thoughts. I pictured a baby boy giggling as he looked up to us, learning to crawl, walk, running with arms stretched open to embrace us, throw a ball, play at the beach, go off to school, meet his first best friend, meet his first girl friend, graduate from school and go on to University, explore the world, find a life partner, create his own family, live life. All the possibilities that were lost, realized in one standstill moment while sitting on hard white chair reminding me not to get too comfy.

My only question to the Dr revolved around the “idea” that “this baby could be okay though, right?” His simplistic answer which made me both sad and angry was an easy and quick “NO. With the amount of material missing AND being on such an important chromosome I can say with certainty it would not be a good outcome for this baby. He may not even make it to term.” I pulled myself together just enough to walk out of that office with my head high, tears daring to break from the dam, and my heart silently breaking. Sorry Chantal that I had to call and tell you we don’t get to keep this baby. This was Thursday October 9th, 2014.

Early in our relationship we discussed having children and we had an understanding of each other’s beliefs and desires should we ever find ourselves faced with a pregnancy that was bearing an unhealthy baby. Who ever would have thought that conversation would play such an integral part of our later years? But thank goodness we did. There are so many feelings on this journey that I could not imagine having to cope with making a decision followed by accepting the decision; whether you choose to continue with a pregnancy or decide to end it. Time is not on your side for moving through this experience.

The following day we had appointments at the hospital. I was adamant that I wanted to “deal” with this situation as quick as possible. I went into survival mode, locking off as much of the emotion around this experience as I could. I didn’t want to feel the sadness and pain, I only wanted to move forward. Step, step, step, keep moving and survive.

Living away from all family was difficult, but I saw the difficulty more from the perspective of who would look after Chloe. Our special friends came and spent the day with Chloe and we are forever thankful to them. I felt peace knowing she was with people who love her. We had my mother-in-law fly in that weekend to help with Chloe as well and thankfully she stayed a few extra days to help me when I got home. Without her support and kindness that first week would have been much worse for me. An endless thank you!

Saturday morning I was admitted to Manly hospital, for the 2nd time, with a baby in my belly who was getting ready to enter this world. I was sequestered to a separate section of the maternity ward. All on my own, away from the cries of mothers in labour but my ears could still hear them and the wails of their new baby who had just entered the world. It was music to my ears, beautiful music. I was so happy for these new mothers because I knew how they were going to feel the first time their baby was placed in their arms. I knew their hearts would open wider than they ever believed and I knew how their worlds were going to change. Their world was going to explode in love. This brought me happiness.

The process: A drug was inserted vaginally on the uterus to help the uterus soften then dilate to bring on labour. How many doses does this usually take I ask? She tells me usually 3 or 4 before labour starts to happen, worse case they did have 1 person who had all 10 doses before labour began, 36 hours. Based on how far you are in the pregnancy, she said, it should be around 3 to 5 doses. Okay, I can deal with that. All I needed was to set my frame of mind and I could do this! I would do this and I would be okay.

Prepare yourself, I was told. The baby could be born alive, but it likely wouldn’t take many breaths and then it would slip to his next life. So this was it Baby Bump #2. This was our process. Soon you would be done in this world and off to the next place.

The first dose was administered at 10am. Next dose scheduled 6 hours later. The midwives entered the room with sensitivity, kindness and gentle affection. Some were more matter-of-fact in their approach, which I can appreciate, while others were softer. It was in this softness towards me I found my strength and courage to be who Baby Bump needed me to be, His Mommy who was going to bring him into this world. There were 2 midwives specifically who I felt a connection with, whom I felt were invested in our journey, Jennifer and Corinne, thank you to those 2 beautiful souls. You held my hands with your kindness and touched my heart with your dedication.

Unfortunately it seemed I was joining that 1 person in her elite group. My number of doses were quickly edging up and my uterus was proving to be stubborn. The 9th dose showed promise when I could feel the change. This is it I thought. This is the dose to bring us to the end. Labour was slowly starting, slowly. The midwife looked on with hopeful eyes as she handed over the clip board and introduced me to my nighttime midwife. I had a love-dislike memory of her for quite some time after. But through her I learned to find my voice when I needed it later in life. So thank you to her for being different but being true to herself. I respect that now even if it wasn’t what I wanted at the time.

The 10th and final dose of the drug was inserted on Sunday night. Most of this time I was on my own at the hospital. Randal was torn between 2 responsibilities, Chloe and his unborn baby boy. His strength and ability to cope with conflicting responsibilities amazed me. I watched tv, read my kindle, talked with the nurses and midwives, and walked the halls until walking was a potential hazard in making it to the toilet in time. I barely made it a few times. See, the drugs make your body get rid of everything! Anything that goes in must come out. Towards the end I was given a bedpan for the toilet, just “in case” the baby should happen to fall out while I was pooing. Much to my horror at the thought of finding my baby in a pile of shit, I was thankful it never happened that way!

Not long after that last dose was given I started to feel real discomfort of my uterus preparing to release its grips on this baby. Or maybe Baby Bump #2 you felt it was your time to depart. Either way this is how I experienced labour and giving birth. At this point Randal was with me full time. He was there to see as my eyes widened with each growing contraction and waited as I squeezed his hand for it to pass. He walked me to endless showers. He changed my hot and cold packs. He sat by my side with love and admiration in his eyes which radiated to my heart. Due to the situation internal exams were limited, so as to reduce likelihood of infection and complications to the process, I really didn’t know how much longer I needed to endure the pain. Wasn’t making the decision to end Baby Bump #2’s life pain enough?

The midwife offered morphine as a pain relief but said it could slow the labour. She also said it could make the contractions more powerful. I didn’t really understand it all at the time, and today is not much different, but I finally agreed to it. If you can’t tell me how much longer I need to be strong, then “Give me the drug!” I may have even shouted at the midwife? I had almost lost bowel control multiple times during the process, each contraction made my body feel like it was being ripped apart, slowly and deeply. My last morsel of dignity was gone when I lost control of my bowels, right there in front of Randal. I had no strength to get up and get to the toilet; I shit the bed and he had to watch.

For those who know us well, you know poo is a common conversational pull in our house. But to have your husband watch this happen to you in this way, it must be love. That was it, it was my moment of complete and utter vulnerability to him. I was at my weakest and I let him love me through it. I let him tell me it was okay and I let him say that he loved me more. I cried. And I loved him more. Thank you B, endlessly.

The morphine was given in the early hours on Monday the 13th of October, around 1:30am. Not long after I recall telling Randal that I felt I needed to push and he went and got the midwife. By the time they returned the sensation had passed. The contractions subsided not long after that moment, then I closed my eyes and drifted. I finally felt nothing. Just past 2:30am I slipped into a peaceful sleep, the first time since, well probably since the first scan at 11 weeks and 5 days.

Hours passed and Jennifer, the midwife from the day before, quietly came into the room. We joked about how I was still there and she explained how the labour had stopped and we needed to get it going again. She went to consult with the OB because they needed to devise a plan since I had used up my allotted 10 doses. Welcome to the elite group of stubborn uteruses. Population 2!

9:30am Monday October 13, 2014 the Dr. reached into my body and calmly explained, “well the baby is out”. What? Wait? Did I poo him out? Where is he and what happened?? I was incredulous. No, he is sitting just on the outside of your uterus, in your vaginal cavity, she told us. She instructed, take a deep breath and when I say breath you breath, and then I’ll delivery him to you. This is how I experienced giving vaginal birth, my only vaginal birth. This was his gift to me. One of many gifts. I am sorry I could not give you the gift of our world.

Breath now she instructed. And so I did and at that moment my body opened and released you Baby Bump #2. You were from that moment your own being, separate from me. You did not enter this world with a cry, you did not get placed on my chest to find my breast, nor were you held in warm arms to be cuddled. You entered this world asleep, peaceful and gone. Your birthday, October 13th 2014, at 9:40am, 18 weeks gestation.

In the end I did hold you, I kissed you endless times and I felt your skin next to mine. You were cold but still I could feel love and hope in life. We had your lifeless body blessed, twice in fact – just to make sure. And even though you were gone I knew that you weren’t really. This place in my heart that has your name on it Baby Jack, it is your place to rest in peace and where we share our lives with you.

Last night as I fell asleep I finally cried my tears for you. Writing our story of our brief journey together has allowed me to remember you, how it felt to hold your tiny precious body wrapped in a little blanket. How it felt to kiss your sweet head, how my heart broke when I handed you back to the midwife knowing I’d never get the chance to kiss you again or see you grow. I cried because I left you there alone at the hospital and I didn’t realize at the time how I would miss you and how empty and guilty I would feel. I cried because you gave yourself as a gift to me and I’ve never known anyone to be so selfless. Thank you from the bottom of my soul Baby Jack.

Love always and forever
Your mommy

Why haven’t I shared this chapter earlier? Judgement. I worried each and every one of you would judge me, and Randal, for the decision we made. What I have come to realize and accept is that it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks. This was our decision. And I love our little Baby Jack. Nothing will change that.

It wasn’t an easy road to travel. I am not sad for us to have gone through this. I hope that perhaps it happened to us so it didn’t have to happen to someone else. Someone who maybe didn’t have their own Randal to hold them and care for their heart and soul. Someone who would feel shattered and not try again for that baby to bless their lives. I doubt things work quite like that so bare minimum I hope our chapter helps someone. I hope that Baby Jack gives them hope that good things do come after. Beautiful things really do happen in so many different ways.

I was sad for YOU Baby Jack, I felt (Catholic) guilt and I was mad. Mostly I was angry. Thank you friend for giving me the words to define this anger; “it’s like wasted time”. And that was the truth to my anger. Her honest and raw words about how she felt on her own journey (albeit her journey was not by choice) was time had been wasted. But it wasn’t really wasted time was it Baby Jack? You had a bigger purpose for me than living your own life.

I must express a special thanks to Chantal for picking up the phone and calling our parents to share the heartbreaking news. For shedding tears on my behalf and facing their platitudes and expressions of condolences. And thank you to all 4 of my parents for not letting your religious beliefs judge me, but rather for sharing in our grief and continuing to love and support me. Randal’s family was as well a great source of support and comfort, both physically in your attendance and emotionally in your love, thank you.

And of course, I am forever grateful for you B. If I had to endure this experience I am fortunate I had you with me. Passionate in your love and enduring in your affection. Thank you!

Sensitive photos of Baby Jack

Baby Jack photo 2 Baby Jack photo 3

Baby Jack photo 4

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