Monday, November 24, 2008

Memorial Monday

This e-mail broke my heart, for so many reasons. Here it is in it's entirety.

Dear Katie,

When I first saw that you were doing memorials for babies, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Thank you for doing this. I would like to write my story myself, if you don't mind, because I don't think I have ever written it down all at once and it might help. You can check it for spelling and grammar and change anything that you want.

My husband and I got married in December 2002. We started trying for a baby the following October. I was so naive and hoped to have a positive pregnancy test by Christmas so that we could surprise our families with the news that we were expecting.

Not only did we not have that positive test by Christmas, but we didn't have one by the next Christmas, which is when I went to my OB/GYN. She didn't seem that concerned, but wrote me a prescription for clomid and told me to just start taking it and that it couldn't hurt.

But by the two year mark, even she had to admit that something wasn't right. I just knew that it was me that was the problem. We went to our first RE appointment in January 2005.

I had the full work up and nothing really seemed wrong besides a slightly elevated FSH, and even that was still in the normal range, just high-normal. So, the next obvious thing was to test my husband. Imagine our complete suprise to find that he was making no sperm.

It took another six months of extensive testing and visiting specialists to discover that due to a genetic abnormality, we will never have our own biological child - well, at least my husband's biological child. After some soul-searching and time off, we decided to move forward with donor sperm.

We had our first donor sperm/iui cycle in February 2007. It failed. We did our second cycle in March 2007. We got a positive pregnancy test, but the betas were low and never doubled, a chemical pregnancy. We did a couple more IUIs and nothing happened. Because we were using donor sperm, our insurance wouldn't pay for a lot of the procedures, so we were going through our savings pretty quickly. Because of that, and because I was starting to suffer emotionally, our RE agreed to move us to IVF.

I started reading your blog last November when we were both starting our IVF cycles. I was searching for information on self-injections and that is how I found you. From the beginning, I almost felt a strange sisterhood towards you, even though we never met, I felt that we thought about things the same way and that if we did know each other in real life, I knew we would be friends.

It seemed more than coincidence that we ended up having our egg retrievals and embryo transfers done on the same day. I remember being drugged up with my valium and repeatedly refreshing your page for an update on your transfer. I thought how cool it would be if we were both pregnant and due on the same day!

My ultrasound was the week before yours and I remember being glad that I didn't have to wait so long. We had transferred three embryos and were so pleased to see two beautifully beating hearts. Finally, at long last, we were pregnant! With twins!

I remember completely understanding your sadness when you found out that you had just one baby and not twins. I felt sad that the third embryo had not made it, too, even though I was also a little relieved because triplets scared me to death. I have been haunted by that feeling of relief more than you can know.

It was nice to follow along with your blog. All of my friends and sisters had babies already, so I felt as if I was sharing my pregnancy with you. I loved comparing symptoms.

At seven weeks, we were released from our RE after another ultrasound showed all was well with the twins. I started spotting a day after that. It was a Saturday, so we went into the ER and an ultrasound showed that one of the twins had died. We were sad, but everything looked so great with the remaining baby that we decided to remain hopeful.

After that, everything seemed good. At thirteen weeks, we heard the heartbeat of our baby and that's when I started to really believe that we were finally having a baby. At 19 weeks, we had our high-level ultrasond and found out that we were having a little boy. The ultrasound tech laughed and told us that she had never seen such an active baby! He was flipping and turning during the whole exam. I had been feeling little "fish bubbles" for the past week, and now I knew that I was really feeling him kick.

We named our little boy Benjamin Tyler - Ben. We painted the nursery in red with a firetruck theme - my husband is a fire fighter. We ordered our crib and changing table. My sister-in-law asked to host a shower in my husband's hometown, my best friend offered to throw one where we live now.

Ben continued to be a really active baby, which was really comforting. I loved feeling him move so much, even though sometimes, I wished that he would sleep better at night - his kicks kept me awake!

I continued to read your journey, feeling so many of the same hopes, fears, and dreams for our futures as mothers. I felt as if fate had brought us to the same place at the same time. We were both finally pregnant with healthy baby boys after losing so much.

On August 19, two weeks before my due date, I woke up and felt strange. I couldn't figure out what was wrong until after I had breakfast and realized that I couldn't remember the last time Ben had moved. His movements had definitely been slowing down for the past couple of weeks, but my OB had told me that was due to his cramped quarters. I remember reading your blog entry where you had the same fears and then had a non-stress test and all was okay. I tried to calm myself down as I waited for 9 AM and my doctor's office to open so that I could call in.

The nurse that I talked to was very nice and said that I should come in right away. I went directly to the triage area of L&D. My husband was working a 48-hour shift, so I didn't want to call and worry him for nothing. I figured that I would soon see that everything was okay and be sent home.

At triage, they hooked me up to the monitors. The nurse kept adjusting and readjusting the second belt to get Ben's heartbeat. I was holding my breath, waiting to hear the familiar sound. Finally, she got out a doppler wand like they use at every appointment. She smiled as she ran the doppler over my belly as we both heard a racing heartbeat of 130 BPM. Tears of relief slid down my face as she put the doppler down and got the belts out again.

But again, she couldn't find a heartbeat with the belt. She assured me not to worry and told me that she would be right back with an ultrasound machine. A few minutes passed - it seemed like hours, but I was watching the clock and knew it wasn't more than five minutes - a doctor came in with the machine. He introduced himself and cheerfully said, "Let's take a peek at this baby."

He kept the screen turned away, so I could only watch his face. But that said everything. He kept moving the paddle over my stomach again and again, in slower and slower circles. He looked so sad and I knew what he was going to say before he even said it.

He told me that Ben had no heartbeat (the heartbeat we had heard on the doppler was my own racing pulse) and that my fluid was really low. He asked me if there was anyone that they could call for me and that is when the horror really sunk in. I had to tell my husband. Luckily, he was also not far from the hospital and was able to get there pretty quickly. We had a few choices to make. Since I wasn't in labor, we could go home for awhile and rest before coming back to be induced. Or, I could be admitted right then for an induction.

I did not want to go home to where we had a stroller in the front hall, a swing in the living room, and a nursery filled with firetrucks. We decided that I should be admitted right away and they started cervadil and then pitocin. Nothing happened. Even breaking my water didn't seem to help, my body would not dilate. Finally, my OB said that it was time to do a c-section. I honestly didn't care at that point and we signed the consent forms.

At 7:35 PM on Wednesday, August 20th, Benjamin Tyler was born still into this world. It was at once the most beautiful and horrible moment of my life.

Ben was perfect in every way. When they placed him in my arms, it was hard to believe that he wasn't just sleeping. My husband and I were able to spend several hours with him before we finally had to say goodbye. Two days later, we left the hospital. Without our baby.

It was a few weeks later when I finally had the strength to check your blog. It was early September and I was pretty sure that Little Man had been born. I gasped out loud when I saw that he had been born 1 minute after Will. It seemed fitting somehow and I was very happy for you and your husband.

People say horrible things after a baby dies. They tell you that you should move on and that you can have another baby. Well, it isn't that easy. Even if I could just snap my fingers and get pregnant again, that wouldn't replace what we lost when we lost Ben. And getting pregnant for us is no easy thing. We are not sure when, if ever, we will be ready to try again.

We have talked about adoption, about making the decision to live child-free. Nothing feels right yet. All I know is that I am a mother, but no one really recognizes that. Even my husband seems to have moved on and I feel stuck in place. I don't want to get back to real life, but everyone expects me to. No one asks me about Ben, no one wants to see the pictures or go through his memory box with me. They are afraid to say his name, afraid to make me cry, afraid to say the wrong thing, but they hurt me the most by not saying anything.

That's why this is such a good idea. It will mean the world to me to know my son is remembered by someone other than me.



To be featured in upcoming Memorial Mondays, please contact me by clicking on my profile link and then by clicking on my e-mail link. You can either write your story yourself or provide me with the details and I will do it for you. You may include pictures, poetry, whatever feels right. This is your memorial for your loss.


Stacey said...

What you are doing here is so important and will touch so many people.

I am so moved by your story. I won't forget it and I won't forget your precious son, Ben. Thank you for sharing this.

AllieQB said...

Thank you for posting Heather's story.


Please know that your story has touched me, that Ben mattered, had weight in this world, and has left an impression on me that I will never forget. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. I hope you find some peace today.

Jen said...

Heather, I will remember your Ben too. I'm so sorry. He'll never be forgotten or replaced.

Anonymous said...


I am so very sorry for your loss. I know there are no words that can be said to ease the pain you feel. Please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of those who read your story.

Anonymous said...

Heather, I am saying a prayer for you and Ben right now. He won't he forgotten.

Fertilized said...

Heather - I am sitting here saying a prayer for both you and your family. I will honor your memory of Ben when I see or hear a firetruck. May his memory live on.

Anonymous said...


Your story is amazing. Your strength is so admired. I cannot imagine how hard it is for you. I hope that you find peace knowing that we have all read your story and want to hear all Ben and will never forget him or your story. Thanks for sharing this amazing story w/us! Alli

Anonymous said...

please know that I am thinking of and praying for you & your husband as you trudge through this most unnatural territory of the death of your precious son, Ben. Thank you for being brave enough to put your story into writing. My heart aches for you...

When you're ready, maybe connecting with these women will help?


thank you for setting out to do this honorable work.

Ashley said...

Your strength is amazing. I will pray that you find the answers that you are looking for and the strength to move forward. Your precious baby will not be forgotten.
I'm sure there are people in your life that would be more than willing to talk about your baby with you, it's probably just hard for them to know what to say, or they don't want to say the wrong thing. Don't ever be afraid to talk about your feelings and tell people what YOU need. Take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing your story!

Samantha said...

Heather, I am so sorry for you. I hope that you can get the support you need. I just finished reading "A Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination," by Elizabeth McCracken, which is about a still birth. You might be interested in reading it as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Heather

My heart breaks. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know you are not alone and that there are others in this world that wish you the best.


your story touched me in ways that i can't put into words. my heart goes out to you and i know that i will never forget your story. i was fortunate to have 2 pregnancies that resulted in babies, but i was fearful the entire 9 months. i think too many people take the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth for granted and expect a happy outcome. there are far too many stories like yours and it just breaks my heart for you and what you must be going through! i will continue to pray for you and know that your son will never be forgotten!

Joy said...

Oh Heather, it is such a shame that you feel so alone right now and that no one wants to speak of Ben. It is an awful burden that mothers have to carry in their hearts and I'm sorry this has happened to you. I hope that people will stop being fearful and mention your sweet baby.

Anonymous said...

Heather, what you went through is so terrible. I started crying reading your story.
People who have not experienced pregnancy loss will never understand what you are going through.

Annalien said...

Heather, I am so sorry to read about the loss of your son. He will live on in your heart. May God bless you and ease your pain.

Ms. J said...

Heather, if you are reading these comments . . . there are tons of us sending you, your husband, and Baby Ben love and prayers right now.

Katie . . . you have the most incredible blog of all. Your ability to connect people, to give voice, to celebrate the victories of those who have suffered, and to comfort those still in so much pain, and all at the same time, is truly a gift.

Cassandra said...

What an incredible story. The coincidences and parallels make it more touching but so much more heartbreaking.

Heather, Thank you for sharing your story so eloquently. Like Fertilized, I will think of your Ben the next time I see a fire engine.

Sophie said...

Yes, you are a mother: you've loved your son as fiercely as any other; held him, talked to him, shed so many tears for him. I am so sorry he was here so briefly. I am thinking about you and about Ben, and tonight I shed tears for him as well. He will always be remembered.