(Revised 8-16-13 for Hope Mommies Blog)
When Chad was just one year old, we went to King's Daughter's Hospital (now McLane Children's Hospital Scott & White) early in the morning on July 12, 2007 to be induced into labor with our second child. That was the day that changed our lives forever. I don't think you can ever be prepared to lose a child, and it truly shook us to the core. It seems that no one really likes talking about the fact that babies sometimes die, but it happens more often than you'd like to think. Here's our story...
I still remember the taste of the red popsicle my nurse handed me that day. She said it would help with the bitter taste in my mouth from the antibiotics they gave me before inducing my labor. I remember it melting faster than I could swallow it down, leaving red stains on my hospital gown and forshadowing events that were soon to unfold, a foretelling omen of what was to come.
It all happened so fast from that point. I wish there were a way to rewind. To pause. To freeze-frame that moment in time and change the outcome. If I had only been more concerned and proactive when the doctor broke my water and it was mixed with blood. If only I had been more argumentative when she told me that was normal. If only I had been more adamant and insisted on an immediate c-section rather than allowing my doctor to go perform another surgery on some other patient in the emergency room, rendering her unavailable in my moment of crisis.
If only. If only. If only.
Soon after the doctor broke my water, Cohen's heart rate dropped dramatically, but my doctor had already left because, as I said before, she went to perform a surgery in the ER. After watching the nurses frantically trying to contact the doctor, they finally got in touch with her and I was rushed into the operating room for an emergency c-section. By the time they got Cohen out, he had already lost all of his blood and had passed away due to vasa previa. Vasa previa is a very rare condition affecting only 1 in 3000 pregnancies and has a 50-100% infant mortality rate when undiagnosed and when a c-section is not performed.
When I finally woke up from the general anesthesia, I remember asking my husband if we had lost the baby. He answered, "We lost the baby." Those were the loudest words I think I've ever heard. They still echo in my ears to this day.
In many ways, I feel like I failed my son. After all, he was absolutely perfect. There was no defect in him. No deformity. No disease. He was ready to be born. A day past his due date. It was my body that was at fault. The umbilical cord that connected us had split in two like a wishbone and had inserted itself into the side of the placenta instead of the middle. The fetal membranes were exposed and they ruptured when the doctor broke my water. The poor kid didn't have a fighting chance.
If that wasn't bad enough, I feel like I failed him even more by my decision to not hold him and say goodbye. I mean, what kind of mother does that? At the time, I thought it would be so much easier to let him go if I never held him at all, and perhaps it was. Most of the time, I'm glad about my decision, but sometimes, when I'm alone in a quiet room, it will hit me that my precious little boy was never held and adored by his mommy. That decision haunts me and left the bitter taste of regret in my mouth that no red popsicle would wash away. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.
It has been 6 years since we lost Cohen, and I'm so thankful to have found Hope Mommies (www.hopemommies.org). Hope Mommies exists to bring the hope of Christ to bereaved mothers and families experiencing infant loss and to change the way the world views infant loss by providing an ongoing Biblical community that serves the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of grieving families. If you know anyone who has lost a child, please send them in my direction. It would be my honor to walk alongside them in their journey toward hope and healing.