Sunday, March 22, 2009

June 9, 2006

The day our lives changed forever. Labor started early that morning and Brian and I took off for the hospital so we could welcome our eagerly anticipated baby boy. We dropped Jayce off at grandma & grandpa's and told him the next time we saw him he would be a big brother. He would have been just 8 days shy of his due date of Jun 18 (Father's Day that year).

I admit, I was nervous on the way to the hospital. I hadn't felt our son move the day before, but had convinced myself nothing bad could possibly happen. I had a perfect pregnancy. I did all the right things, but I soon learned that does not matter. As soon as we arrived, I asked for an epidural - labor was moving fast and was getting pretty painful. I was nervous again as the nurse placed the monitor on my belly. I think I knew something was wrong; my heart sunk when they couldn't find the heart beat right away. The nurse said not to worry, she would find it, but I knew. She searched & searched, but nothing. She called in the doctor to do an ultrasound. The most horrific image remains ingrained in my mind. My son, lying there motionless on that screen. His spine so perfectly visible, but no flicker showing his heartbeat. Our son was gone. How is that even possible? I can't count he number of emotions and questions that must have run through my head in the next 10 seconds. Sadness, anger, guilt, fear. Why? What did I do wrong? Who can I blame? What now? Do I have to go through labor? Can they just knock me out? Moments earlier I was wincing in pain from the contractions, but in a twist of fate, they stopped. I no longer felt the physical pain - I was overwhelmed with the unbelievable truth that my baby would not be coming home with me. I had to wait an hour before I could get the epidural so they could run some "tests" to make sure my system could handle the medication. I assume drug tests - things of that nature. Things that would cause a woman to lose her child I suppose. It didn't matter, my labor virtually stopped, my body must have just shut down. The doctors had to give me something to get it going again. In the next few hours, Brian fielded phone calls letting friends and family know our sad news. I was asked difficult questions - do you want to hold your son - being the one that echoes in my mind. I just didn't know what to do. I wasn't that familiar with death and especially those I had a close bond with. I just didn't know what to expect. I seriously did not think this could possibly happen in this day and age. Finally at about 9:00 am that morning, it was time to push and time to meet my baby. Brian held on to hope the entire time that the doctors were wrong and what we had seen was our imagination. Bless his heart. The delivery was so hard. The hardest thing I have ever had to do up to that point in my life. (There would be a list of hard(er) things - things a parent should never have to do for their child - over the next week.) With every push came tears. At 9:28 that Friday morning our son was born sleeping. Not acknowledged legally, a perfect amazing child in human eyes. The nurse said he was absolutely perfect and beautiful and with my fear removed, I knew I had to see him. I loved him all along, but seeing him was like love at first sight. I never wanted to let go. We named him Caden Max. Brian chose his name; Caden because he liked it and Max for his great grandpa Max. He was nearly the same size as his big brother Jayce. Caden Max was 7 lbs 12.5 oz and 19.5 inches.

I am forever grateful to the nurse there that allowed us all the time we wanted with our baby. She encouraged us to take photographs, to hug and hold our son as much as possible. This would be our only chance. As I remember back to that day, he was bathed just like all the other babies. We dressed him in his special nightgown that we picked for him shortly after the gender ultrasound and the exciting news that we would be having another little boy. There was a matching receiving blanket that we wrapped him in to keep him warm. I know how silly that must sound to most people, but I felt like this was what he needed - to be cared for just as any other. We keep his blankie here in a special place. Soon family began to arrive. What a comfort to see Caden's Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles & Cousins holding him, loving him and supporting us. We had him baptized that day. I know it wasn't necessary, but I guess by that point I had realized I wanted to anything and everything I could to create memories of my baby and comfort for our family. We spent the rest of the day holding and sharing our beautiful son with our family. We were fortunate to have our camera with us and took many many pictures that I will treasure forever. That night I was allowed to sleep there in the hospital cuddling my baby boy. What an amazing thing. I am so thankful to have as much time with him as I did.

With the next day came the reality of loss. We had to leave the hospital without our baby, an empty backseat and empty hearts. Before we left, our amazing nurse noticed my locket I wore to the hospital. Brian had given it to me a month earlier for Mother's Day from my boys. She cut off a lock of Caden's hair to put in my locket so he would always be close to my heart. As the time ticked on, I knew it would soon be time to say our goodbyes. Again, the hardest thing I ever had to do. I don't know how many times we went back for one more kiss, one more hug and one more look at our baby. To have to part with something so beautiful was indescribable. I cannot put the pain into words. This is all we have now...