I suggest you skip this entire thing if you don't want a broken heart...
I want to thank Faith for posting a message to all of you on my behalf - so that it would make it easier for me to cope. I knew I would eventually share the full story with you all, but couldn't bring myself to break the news alone.
I know that most of you here on Livejournal didn't know that I was even pregnant to begin with... I was nervous to tell anyone until I was further along... I had only just recently let the news out... only after we knew we were having a boy and his name... I'm sorry if you feel a little left out, it wasn't my intent.
As Faith mentioned, we lost our baby boy, Conrad Walter Och. He was born on Friday, February 2, 2007 (Groundhog's Day) and also died on Friday, February 2, 2007. He was born severely premature at 21.6 weeks and died because of this premature delivery... his little lungs had not even begun to fully develop. Had he been able to hold on for at least 3 more weeks he may have had some chance of survival, but no modern technology could have prevented his arrival. This is his tragic story.
On Thursday morning I woke up like any other day, headed for work... I got up and showered and felt some cramping in my belly. This was a feeling like maybe he was turning around inside of me. I figured it was normal, finished my routine and got in my vehicle at about 8:30 am, ready to go to work... as I drove the cramping got worse and was taking place every couple of minutes... I started to worry and thought this couldn't possibly be right. I managed to pull in to work, as I passed my assistant, Chris, I told her I needed to call my doctors and that I had cramps that didn't feel right. She waited for me to give her the news and hugged me goodbye as I was told to go to the hospital, she offered to give me a ride, but I had made it so far on my own - I drove myself there.
I had not yet become familiar with my hospital at this point and had no idea where to go, but I was about to get a crash course. I called to the main line and asked where I needed to be. They sent me to the emergency entrance and a concierge came directly to the door as I entered and placed me in a wheelchair and brought me to the maternity level and into a "testing room." I couldn't believe how fast I was brought in! It was overwhelming, I couldn't think... I was just scared to death that this was something pretty serious for them to make such a big fuss. I was in a robe and laying in bed being strapped to a baby heart-rate monitor and a contractions monitor by 9:30 am.
The nurses who came in to see me told me that I had tested positive for having some blood in my urine, that hopefully this was a side effect from a urinary tract infection (I had been prone to those in the past... so it seemed logical) but that it could mean other things as well and that the doctor would better be able to see what was going on. I was leaking a little fluid at this point, so they thought that could even be a yeast infection or something of the sort. (I don't know how that would explain the cramps, but I what do I know? I'm no doctor.) They wouldn't know until the fluid was tested under a microscope by the doctor.
Finally the doctor arrived and then there was the bad news... "It's tested positive for amniotic fluid. This means there is a leak or rupture in the amniotic sac." Not only was I going to have to stay to be tested furthur and observed, but I was on bed rest and NOT to leave the hospital until that leak had sealed. The amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby plays a crucial role in normal development. If the fluid were to run out the baby could die and if it were to run too scarce the baby could run out of room to grow and be born with clubbed feet or limp limbs and such... If I could hold out for 3 or more weeks on bed rest the baby could be born and may have a chance at survival... However, survival would probably come with its obstacles as well, most likely underdeveloped lungs. Obviously, this is why I would need to stay at the hospital on bed rest. Another fact which was playing against us was possibly the reason why this leak may have started... it could have been caused by an internal infection which was pre-existing and that could eventually cause me to go into labor... or worse even, to cause an infection in the womb and put my baby and myself at risk. If this was the cause there was absolutely nothing that could be done about it.
So now I was waiting for hours for a room of my own... apparently there were many births taking place and it was hard to get a room... finally at about 4:00 pm I was in a real bed in a real room that was to be mine for an undetermined amount of time at that point. I was horrified at the idea of staying in bed for weeks, but would do what I had to do. I had to use a bed pan... and eventually I was hooked up to a catheter. I was hooked up to a saline and antibiotic drip IV... I had a monitor to tell them when I was having contractions (even though they were harder to read at 21 weeks) and they gave me a button to push that would mark the charts every time I felt a pain. Of course I had called Ivey and he was there with me, His mother stopped by and had stayed until I was secure in my own room... and my mother had called to let me know she was on her way regardless of the call for snow.
It was near 11:00 pm by the time my mother had come and was settled in the room with me. She had decided to stay with me and sleep in the room while Ivey went home to (hopefully) get some much needed rest. That rest didn’t last very long.
The doctors gave me some pain medication so that I could get some sleep. It helped for a little while, I think I did sleep for about a half an hour or so… then the pain came back and this time it was worse than ever. I fought it off a while, hoping that it would just stop, but it continued. Suddenly I felt like I needed to use the bathroom every 10 minutes or so. It was about this time that the nurses decided to put a catheter in for me. Mom was able to sleep through some of this, but it wasn’t long before I was keeping her up with my moaning, as the pain was just unbearable! It all happened rather quickly; at about 2:30 am the resident doctor performed a quick check and determined that I was already 4 cm dilated… I was going in to labor.
My doctor from Womancare, Dr. Drolet, arrived and asked me if I would prefer to go through this process with an epidural… I agreed… I could not stand the pain any longer; it had been non stop for at least 18 hours by that point. Mom gave a call to Ivey to let him know what was happening so that he could rush back to the hospital. The epidural was put in around 3:00 am and it took quite a while to be put in. It felt like they were really routing through my spine! I know they say it’s a very small tube that they place in, but it’s extremely long and feels like it’s wrapping around your insides when they go to put it in. At least it wasn’t too much longer that the pain was subsiding and Ivey and his mother arrived. In fact, I was glad they came when they did so that they didn’t have to hear me moaning and groaning in agony or see all of the poking and prodding they had to do before they got there… of course it wasn’t necessarily getting any better.
After the epidural was in place, we had nothing else to do but “hurry up and wait.” It was to settle in to my system and once I began feeling comfortably numb they would come in and see how close I was to giving birth. Apparently, one of the side effects to having the epidural is that it slows down the process a little bit. I didn’t know what to do at that point. I would have liked to try to sleep since I felt that I could without all the pain, but that was near impossible… I didn’t want to miss anything.
The doctors told me that I should just call them when I started to feel uncomfortable. Then I did… and it was like a whirlwind. Ivey was holding my hand and his mother was holding his… my mother had gone out to the hallway to cry, it was just too much for all of us to handle. The last time I remember looking at the clock it was 6:45 am… as Dr. Drolet and the resident doctor with her placed their gloves on I told them I felt the baby slide down and that it was on its way. They uncovered my legs and asked me to push and just like that there was a gush of water and Conrad was born at 6:54 am, February 2, 2007. Then there was another problem… apparently the placenta only partly came with the birth. No amount of pushing I was doing was resolving this situation… next thing I know my doctor had to reach in and get it while I was still dilated. That was the most pain I had to go through yet! Even with the epidural there was nothing that could withstand the pain of someone reaching inside of you to pull things out. It was like being in a wicked horror movie sequence. I could see Ivey’s face and he was drowned in tears at this point, I knew what he was feeling… he couldn’t stand seeing that I had to go through this too after I had been through so much. After all of this they asked if I wanted to hold Conrad… I told them that I couldn’t right this second but maybe in a little while. They understood… I held Ivey’s head and we cried together for a little while.
Sure, Conrad had not been planned to begin with… but he was wanted.
All of us had welcomed the thought of having him in our lives. He was the first grandchild for my parents… and he was the first grandson in Ivey’s family… the next to carry on the family name. Conrad was conceived in September of 2006, only 2 weeks after the sudden death of Ivey’s father, Walter. We had his first sonogram taken on the 5th of December (at 13 weeks) and 2 weeks later Conrad’s grandfather (Ivey’s father’s father) Norman died. We had just finally told everyone in the family! I was worried to let anyone know at all until I was in my second trimester… It seemed like his birth was surrounded by loss and the family was so very excited that there was to be a new baby in the family at such a time… of course, there is the saying that “death always comes in threes,” It’s a horrible saying, yes, but I don’t make these things up… whoever did was a jerk.
My mother was the first to see Conrad… she came back and told me just how beautiful he was and that he looked just like Ivey... tall! The nurses had cleaned him up for me. He was a little bruised and his eyes were still completely shut… but he had Ivey’s chin and big ears… and he was LONG! I knew he would have been tall like Ivey (who is 6’7”)… but he did have my nose. I held him briefly, then said goodbye. It was too much to think that he wouldn’t survive. The nurse assured me that it was too early for him, that he wouldn’t be able to feel pain… I couldn’t see pain on his face so I do want to believe that much is true. It seemed like forever afterwards that we all sat in that room in silence… they mentioned to me that I would have a late breakfast because they didn’t want me to get sick as a side effect from the pain medication. My legs were completely numb… I could barely move… I think everything about me went numb. I may have slipped in and out of consciousness during that quiet.
The bereavement counselor was very nice, but I couldn’t really talk to her either. She came to see me shortly after Conrad’s little heart stopped… she had put together a small memory box with some of his things… it included a small angel bear with his name and the date on a heart… a tiny pair of booties… his gown… a bit of measuring tape that showed how long he was… among other things I may share with all of you in the future. March of Dimes also gave us a TY angel bear named “Herald” to go with those items we took home. She gave me a booklet with bereavement information leaflets and photographs of our little boy that they took shortly after he was born… It was just overwhelming to thing they would have done these things for us, I am grateful that we have such a good hospital.
So they gave me a meal and took me off the epidural… I was free to go home as soon as I could feel and walk again. Dr. Drolet let me know that she was befuddled… that this should not have happened like it did. She said that there are two layers to the amniotic sac and that I had only sprung a leak in the outside layer… that should not have been enough to bring on a full blown labor. I didn’t know what to say… When the numbness subsided enough that I could walk, I asked that they take the catheter out and that I could get a shower before I left. My nurse stayed in the shower room with me and helped me bathe… the whole process was a relief after everything I had been through… I felt somewhat human again. We finally left the hospital around 4:00 pm.
My mother had noticed they had placed an image on my door… it looked like a fallen leaf… we also saw this same image on the pamphlets that were given to us about grieving and assumed this was the meaning. She also noted that I was also placed in a room which was father away from the women who were there with their newborn babies. This was probably so that all of their staff knew what I was going through… but it was a hard feeling to accept, being the “token” room of despair.
The grief counselor had told me it was o.k. to feel angry with other mothers or upset, that these feelings were natural… but this isn’t something I can do. I told her I can’t be angry… I’m happy for anyone who is lucky enough to have their child! A lot of my coworkers are pregnant… a lot of friends of friends are having babies right now… actually, almost all of them are little boys. I’m happy for every single one of them and want them to be happy, I don’t wish for anyone to ever have to go through what I went through. I’ve actually decided that not only am I going to keep saving money in his name, but I am going to make diaper cakes and to auction off baby items to raise money for not only Conrad’s future brother or sister but also for a foundation such as the March of Dimes, Bereavement Groups, or one that does research studies to prevent this type of thing from happening in the future. It’s the least I could do in memory of Conrad.
I won’t know why this happened the way it did until all of my test results are back, Dr. Drolet and I will be meeting about it on February 19th. There may not be any specific findings. Why would I have gone into such an early labor? We just won’t know any definitive answers until then…
In the meantime I will be home for a while longer… I am not sure how long I will be taking off, it will be anywhere from next week to the 1st of March before I go back to work depending on what my doctor says. She had told me it could be 4 weeks… The physical pain is dull compared to the heaviness I have in my heart.
I would like to thank all of you for your kind thoughts…
February 12, 2007
A special bit of thanks goes to the following:
I received flowers from Ivey’s Coworkers & Faith & Sherree… you guys know I love flowers! Thank you!!!
Faith, again – Thank you for changing my myspace and my livejournal so that I wouldn’t have to do it alone. I always love it when you visit and was glad you shared the pictures of Conrad with me.
Sherree – you’ve been like a sister for so many years… Thanks for just being you and always being there.
Vicki – Thanks for your letter! It surprised me a little bit, but it’s sweet of you to let me know you’re thinking of me. It certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
P.s. I will add more information as it comes my way, and I will let all of you know when I get a website opened for Conrad. It may be a while before I’m able to complete that project… if you are interested in helping me, please don’t hesitate. I could use the help and support.
P.p.s. If you would like to donate in Conrad’s memory please click the link below.