I Gave Birth To A Child I Never Brought Home: A Story Of Infant Loss And Redemption
How did you first find out that you were pregnant?
Laughs. I was in college. I was at IU Bloomington and I was with a friend of mine and she was like, 'Erin, I haven't gotten my period yet!' And I was like 'Ha ha! Let's go get a test.' Well then I realized, I hadn't had mine either. I called another friend and she took me to Kroger's and I got one of those 99 cent tests and sure enough, there it was plain as day. I took two of them and then I popped some pink Starbursts in my mouth, looked at my stomach and said 'Welcome.'
Did you feel any anxiety about telling your family?
Oh my goodness, yes. I literally could not sleep. I was so nervous about telling my mom and dad. I had told my cousin Christine, who was down there with me at the same time. I told her and of course, I told my, now-husband. But telling my mom and dad was terrifying.
I called and told another cousin of mine and then when I told my mom that I had told my cousin, she was like 'I got to hurry up and tell your dad, Erin because if he finds out from your uncle, you may not be able to come home.
How did your parents react?
My mom said they were in Barnes and Noble. And when she found out, she said that she walked away from my dad because of course when I called her, I was crying. The minute I told her I was pregnant, she said she had to stop in her tracks and the whole world started spinning because she felt like she was in the "Twilight Zone."
My mom told my dad and he called me a couple of days later and he was livid. He was like, 'How could you do this? What are you going to do about school?' 'Where are you going to live?' Like most dads, out of anger, he was like, 'You can't stay here. I don't know where you're going to go but you can't come back.' Then he said, 'I don't mean that. I'm just angry right now.' He said, 'Erin, this is a lot to take in. You had plans. We had plans for you.' So, he was upset.
At what point do you think they started coming around?
I think they started coming around once they saw my stomach starting to grow. I found out in April and then I came home in May for summer break. July is when I found out I was having a boy and that's when they really started coming around.
I was ecstatic. Most girls want a girl but I wanted a boy because I think I'm too rough and tough and I'm just...I don't think I could do a girl. Sometimes girls can be too dramatic. And I just be looking at them like, 'I need you to toughen up and grow some.' So when I found out I was having a boy, I was excited because I was like, 'I'm going to have the first boy in the family.'
After the summer, I stayed in Fort Wayne. I transferred from Bloomington to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) here in Fort Wayne and I took classes part-time. Because I knew that with the baby being born in December, I was going to either have to take the spring semester off or I would have to do all online classes. So what I opted to do was stay in school and do the online classes.
How was your pregnancy for you?
Healthwise, it was perfect. I didn't have any morning sickness, thank goodness. The only thing I did have was gestational diabetes. And when I found out about that, it was hard. Because I had been--I wouldn't say working out-- but I would say I was trying to be more healthy than I usually am. I was drinking water, I was drinking milk. My mom was in a workout class at our church, so I would go with her. And even though I couldn't do the workout, I would still kind of walk around the church. You know, just kind of keep my legs moving, trying to keep my heart rate up and burn some calories while I was pregnant.
It was a regular 28-week appointment where they do the sugar test. People say that the drink is disgusting, no it's not. It tastes like the little barrel juices from back in the day.
One thing that they didn't do at that appointment is when they checked my A1C after I had that drink, they didn't tell me what my A1C was. That's the testing where they gauge whether or not you're going to be a diabetic. For us, it's 5.7 to 6.1. With this pregnancy, the endocrinologist, who is a diabetes specialist, told me that my A1C was 7.6 but they didn't tell me that. What they did was prescribe me a little pill that I had to take twice a day and that was it.
When they told you had gestational diabetes, how did you feel?
I was angry and I was scared. I was angry because I was like, 'I did all this walking at this beginning of this pregnancy, only for me to still have gestational diabetes.'
And sad because I had done research on gestational diabetes and one of the things that it said is that for one out of a million women, a stillbirth can happen. So when I read that, that just automatically scared me.
Any other complications before your delivery?
Nope, none. I was on target. They said the baby was growing just fine. They told me that even though the baby was gaining weight, I myself was losing weight. So I started the pregnancy at 240 something pounds. And when I delivered him, I was 241. So I gained a pound but he was huge! He was 10 pounds, 2 ounces.
December 2 was my last doctor's appointment for him. It happened to be a Thursday. I went in to do a routine checkup and at that point, she was going to tell me that they were going to schedule me for a c-section or we're going to go ahead and induce you. But what ended up happening was I had to be hooked up to this heart rate monitor. And it was always hard finding his heart rate because he was always so hyper and everything. They ended up hooking me up to do an ultrasound that day. And the minute she put him on the screen, I already saw it. I was like, 'There's no heartbeat.' That's the first thing that came to my mind.
Before the ultrasound tech said anything, she just said, 'I'll be right back.' She went and she got a doctor. And I immediately called my dad. I was like, 'Dad, there's no heartbeat.' And my dad was like, 'What are you talking about?' I was like, 'There's no heartbeat on the monitor, I'm looking at it right now. There's no heartbeat.'
The ultrasound tech came back in and the doctor said, 'Ma'am there's no heartbeat. Somehow your baby lost his heartbeat and we don't know how right now. We won't know until we get an autopsy.'
At that point, my entire world kind of stopped and I felt like I couldn't talk. I felt like I couldn't make any sounds. I just sat there, looking at the screen, at my son, like 'I can't believe this is happening to me!'
Were you there by yourself?
Yeah. Normally, Sean he would have been there but since it was a later appointment, he wasn't able to come, he had to go to work. So I told him, 'It's fine. I'll call you after the doctor's appointment to let you know when they're going to induce me, what time and stuff.' So, he just said, 'Ok, let me know.'
Because I was still by myself when the doctor told me, I needed comfort somehow, so I just grabbed the doctor and pulled her into a hug. And I said, 'Why is this happening to me?' Then I said, 'I'm sorry I don't usually do this.I just need comforting.' She said, 'You're fine. You're absolutely fine,' She hugged me back.
Then once my mom and dad got there, my mom pulled me into her arms and my dad pulled me into his arms and they walked me to the bathroom because they said that they needed to get me out of earshot, away from everybody out there. Because I'm in an office full of pregnant women and if they hear about it, they're going to go into distress and everything. So they moved me into the bathroom and from there, I just dropped to my knees and just started praying.
I asked the Lord to help me understand why this was happening to me. I said, 'Lord, I know there's a lesson. I just don't know it right now but please reveal it to me eventually. And then I asked him to take away my pain and to take care of my family and to take care of Sean at this time and his family and just be with me during this process because, at this point, I was terrified. I was like, 'How are they going to get this baby out of me?' Then I was afraid that something was going to happen and then I was going to die. It was a billion things were going through me. Then, after I stopped worrying and being a hypochondriac, I said, 'You know what Lord, if it is your will, be done. Obviously, you needed my child for some reason. There was something that could have happened to him, something that could have happened to me, something that could have happened to Sean. So I know there's a reason you took my son. You know I'm not happy about it but there's nothing we can do about it. So I just ask you to please be with me and comfort me in my time of need. And I went down all my needs, in the bathroom. I put the toilet seat down and I just prayed.
They told me that I was to go directly to the hospital that I had chosen to do delivery at and that everything was ready for me and I was going to be induced that day and go from there.
So, you delivered him vaginally?
They wanted me to try and do it vaginally because they said that in the future I could have as many babies as I wanted to. But because he was not alive, I wasn't getting any help from him with trying to push him out. With him being so big, it was just impossible. First, we tried pushing. Then they tried the forceps, basically, it was like two big ole salad tongs. They tried the vacuum and that didn't work. And when that didn't work, the doctor said, 'Ok, that's it. We're not putting her through anything else. We are going to put her to sleep and we're going to do an emergency c-section.
They broke my water at about 6-6:30, the following day. Because what they found with the Pitocin, which is the drug that they give to induce labor, is that I wasn't dilating any. And usually by the end of your pregnancy, you will have dilated, I want to say at least 5 centimeters. I hadn't dilated any, like nothing. It was as if I wasn't toward the end of my pregnancy at all. So that's why the doctor said (at the appointment before December 2) at your next appointment we're going to decide if we were going to try to do natural, let the baby come on its own or induce.
I was having contractions but because the baby wasn't moving or anything, they kind of drugged me up so that I was asleep for most of my labor. And then once I woke up towards the end when they were getting ready to break my water, that's when I felt all of the contractions until they gave me the epidural.
Sean was there the entire time.
Then they did the forceps. I can't remember the amount of time they tried with the forceps. I felt like it was forever.
Was it painful?
Not really because I at that point, the epidural was in full effect so I couldn't feel anything down there but the contractions in my back. I was so drugged up, I just don't even know what was going on. One thing I do remember is that I pooted in the doctor's face. And when I did it, I kind of looked up at Sean and Sean just kind of looked down at me and I was like, 'I farted.' I was so high on those drugs, I didn't know what was going on. They had literally given me every kind of painkiller under the sun. In my mind, what they were thinking is, it can't harm the baby because the baby's not living anymore. So she doesn't have to deal with the pain of losing a child as well as the physical pain. Let's give her as many painkillers as we can that won't overdose her. I was high as a kite throughout that entire process.
Were you awake for the c-section?
I was completely under.
When I woke up, the first thing I said was, 'Where is he? Where is he? I want to see him.' Because that's the one thing I had been wondering about the entire time throughout my pregnancy. I was like 'What does he look like? Does he look like me? Does he look like Sean?'
They wouldn't give him to me right away. I said, 'Where is he?' They said, 'Erin, we need to explain something to you. We've kept him warm but just know that when you get him, he might be a little cold by the time we give him to you.' Because I asked them how long was I out and I was out for a good 2-3 hours after the c-section. I was like, 'I understand but I want to see him. Give him to me now. I want to see him.'
So, they finally bring him to you. How did that go?
It was love at first sight for me. Even though, he was dead, it was still love at first sight. I remember thinking, he's so beautiful but the thing that I noticed was that his nose was crooked. His lips were black and his skin looked like it had been peeling.
How did your husband react?
From what my parents told me, they said when he first saw the baby, he ran out of the room. Because he was in the room with me when they did the c-section. They said he ran out of the room and he collapsed on the ground and he was crying. And then they also told me that he was not only crying because of the fact that our baby had died but he told them that it looked like I was dead on the table. So he was afraid that he had lost both of us at the same time.
So did you think your baby looked like either one of you?
I think he looked just like me and my dad.
Did you have a name picked out for him?
We had had a name picked out for him. His name was going to be Jordan Michael. And then when they asked us the name for the death certificate, we changed the middle name to Quentin, after Sean. Because Sean's middle name is Quentin.
How long did you hold him?
When I first woke up, I held him for about 30-45 minutes. And then I went to sleep because I was tired and my arms couldn't hold him up anymore. At that point, it was probably about 10:30, going on 11.
So my mom said she let me sleep for a little bit. Then the nurses came in and said, 'We've got to take the baby to the morgue so we can get it ready for the cemetery to come get him tomorrow.'
So my mom woke me up and she said it was one of the hardest things she had to do is to tell me 'You got to wake up and get your last few moments with your baby.' So she woke me up, and I literally only got to hold him for like another 15-20 minutes and that's when they came and got him.