Isaiah's Photos & Story

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This is Isaiah, my beautiful baby boy who passed away at 13 weeks.

Isaiah was born looking awake and happy. One blue eye was open, and it was incredibly detailed. You could see all the little lines of the iris. We tried to capture this on photo as best as we could. We noticed that the details showed up most clearly when he was under water, so we took the above photo while he was under water.
We had a burial service for Isaiah. Before the service, we opened the casket for a short time and allowed attendees to see him if they wished.


It might seem that losing Isaiah would have been emotionally easier than losing Micah. We'd just been through this, and Isaiah was younger, so that makes it easier, right? But instead losing Isaiah was more traumatic. At 3 a.m. the morning of the burial I awoke with the sound of my own scream in my mind, a loud, piercing, constant scream that never stopped for months. I had to do something. If I worked hard enough, tried hard enough, screamed loud enough in my soul, maybe it could move the world and bring my baby back. What was I doing at home when my baby was at the church? I should have spent the night in the church. Within a day he would be in the ground. I needed to go be with him. I packed some things, left a note for Hubby, and drove to the church. Mick was there, reading the Psalms next to Isaiah. I sat in the back…I could hear my scream… I was trying, I really was…. I had to DO something… But it wasn’t going to make a difference. Nothing I could do would bring him back. All I could do was sit in the same room with him and listen to the Psalms that were read for him... and rest in that moment, that quiet, short window of time that remained before he would be physically separated from me for the rest of my life. 

Isaiah's Story (Delivery Date July 21, 2013)   

They sometimes say that women are most fertile immediate following a pregnancy. I don't know how true it is, but it certainly was true after our Micah; because before we knew it, we had another baby on the way. We were elated!!! But at 7 weeks our hearts dropped, because there was a tremendous loss of blood. I went in for an ultrasound and was told good news: The baby was fine.  The problem was a subchorionic hematoma located between the uterine wall and the chorionic membrane. They told me that the baby had about a 50% chance of survival with this hematoma. I was put on modified bedrest. 

As I neared the 2nd trimester, another ultrasound revealed great news: The hematoma was shrinking and "resolving," while Baby was showing all signs of doing great. Baby was big, and his heartbeat was healthy and fast. He kicked and rocked on the ultrasound screen! I was told that as soon as I reached the 2nd trimester, Baby's chances of survival were very high, and I could go off of modified bedrest. 

We relaxed, and I allowed myself to become attached to this baby. I was already attached, which I couldn't help of course, being a mom. But it was hard to feel that I was allowed to be attached to this Baby when we had just lost Micah, and with a hematoma threatening the baby. We rejoiced in the good news and named our baby: Isaiah John. 

I began having headaches. At 15 weeks, haunted by the memory of losing Micah at the same time, I became very concerned about my headaches. I went in for a heartbeat check. The nurse couldn't find the heartbeat, and Isaiah's death was confirmed by ultrasound. The following morning I awoke with the blaring thought: "My baby is dead." I wanted to punch something so badly! Maybe I could hang a punching bag from my ceiling! But I was in no physical condition to go around punching things.

Having gone through this before, I knew I needed absolute confirmation of the baby's death. It is hard to induce when you think there could be any chance that the baby is alive. I scheduled an additional ultrasound at the hospital. At that ultrasound, which did again confirm Isaiah's death, the doctor told me that the harsh change in hormones after a baby's death can cause headaches. 

With Micah's death, I accepted the response that this just happens sometimes and we don't know why. But this time I wanted answers. I wanted to have everything done that could possibly provide clues as to what went wrong. I learned that testing the amniotic fluid provides the very same information as testing on a baby's body. My OB said, "testing amniotic fluid will probably not give you the reason for the deaths. But I understand why you would want it done. Any data is better than no data. If you want it done today, we can do it. I have no life. This is my life. This is what I do." So I had the amniocentesis done. After that experience I can't imagine anyone getting an amnio done with a live baby unless there is really really good reason. I suspect that the amniocentesis broke my water, possibly causing further complications (although I'm not sure). That night, my water leaked all night long.

Everything Went Wrong

The next day we induced. I was 16 weeks. With Micah, the delivery was uncomplicated and everything went as well as something like that can go. But with Isaiah, everything went wrong. The first round of induction medication was ineffective. And small as he was, he became stuck in the birth canal. I will spare the reader the details of the long and difficult delivery that resulted. Thank goodness the midwife was able to assist in getting him successfully delivered. All in all, the delivery took over 16 hours. Just a couple hours later, I felt terrible and began losing consciousness. My hubby half-carried me out of the house and rushed me over to the hospital. I repeatedly told them the timeline of events, and that I suspected that the placenta had not come. Here I learned that even medical personnel sometimes lack understanding on this subject. When I told the PA that I had delivered the baby at home but had not seen any placenta, he said, "Well at this stage everything is all together and you wouldn't know the difference between any of the tissue." They basically tortured me for 7 hours, never had me see an OB, and sent me home. Five days later, I was back at the hospital with a placenta that was completely retained. I was yellow, severely infected, and my blood was so low that my organs were not far from shutting down. This required a D & C, a transfusion of several units of blood, mega antibiotics, and a five-day hospital stay.

If I could do it over, I still would have delivered Isaiah at home, or at least as naturally as possible. It was worth all that suffering to see and hold him!!! But, if only I'd had a D & C sooner after delivery, to remove the placenta before it became infected.

Our biggest mistake was to plan the memorial and burial services before the delivery had even happened. We had decided to induce on a Saturday, have the burial service on Tuesday, and the burial four hours away on Wednesday. Our many reasons for going ahead and scheduling the burial services are complicated and confusing, and it's best to just leave that out of the story. I wish I could say to anyone in a similar situation: Just don’t schedule anything until after the delivery. We did not plan on a 16-hour delivery plus a 7-hour hospital stay with no sleep. Therefore I had very little time to recover, sleep, spend time with the baby, or get a supposedly necessary follow-up ultrasound. The hospital had told me to get a follow-up ultrasound. (And I wonder: why? They had already given me an ultrasound... why didn't they either give me the D & C right away, or keep me at the hospital until it was clear that I needed the D & C?) I was faced with exhaustion, very limited time with the funeral so close, a 4-hour drive to the burial the following day, children to take care of, and no one to drive me anywhere. The midwife and the nurse seemed to think everything was going fine; so I chose not to get that ultrasound, but instead to spend the short time I had with my baby. If we had waited to make any arrangements, we would have taken much more time. I would have made time to spend with the baby AND to go get a follow-up ultrasound.

On the drive home from the burial, I couldn’t turn my neck. Once home, I was feverish. I also suspected a bladder infection. I gave it one day of fever reducer and prescribed antibiotics. But on Friday my symptoms were the same. My OB and family doctor both told me to go to the ER.

I remember being wheeled into the obstetrical surgery room, and all these people were wearing blue smocks and blue masks, hurriedly running around with their tasks. A young guy with a happy face and a Wake Forest ball cap smiled down at me and introduced himself as the anesthesiologist. He wanted to make sure that I was comfortable with the idea of going under and that I had no contraindications to anesthesia. I said, “If you’re pretty sure that I most likely won’t die under anesthesia, I’m great with that, because I don’t want to experience this.” Hubby gave me a little laminated icon of the Angel of the Resurrection, and I held it tightly in my right hand. 

The Shaking

When I awoke from the D & C, I was in a recovery area, alone with a nurse. My entire body was shaking profusely around the bed. It was involuntary and so annoying. I wanted to ask for Hubby, but I couldn’t speak. The nurse was very caring, and she held my right hand, which otherwise was now empty. Her kindness and humanity did comfort me while my body uncontrollably leapt all over the place. The shaking just continued on and on. Several nurses gathered a clear inflatable blanket thing and filled it with hot air. They placed it on me thinking that it would help my spasms or whatever they were. I heard them saying that the blanket was helping, but that I seemed to be responding better to some sort of pain medication. They gave me more of that, and then my shaking finally settled down and stopped. Finally…..relief. Now I could speak, so I asked for Hubby. They brought him in, and I think Father too. The doctor came to me and told me that the placenta had been severely infected, and that I was “very sick.”  

I stayed at the hospital for four more days. The sweet nurses have me a hospital babyloss memory box with a crying teddy bear of it. It was pitiful. I treasure the box--really I do--but it can't be denied that  a crying teddy bear is pitiful. It seemed to capture that time well: sadness and isolation. I will relate the things of that time for which I am thankful. I surrounded myself with the icons that Hubby had brought, plus a few cards. My parents took care of the children and came to visit with them. Father came to serve Holy Unction, one of the holy mysteries of the Orthodox Church in which the sick person is anointed with holy oil that is specifically blessed for that service. Once or twice he also came to administer Holy Communion. One day Hubby had something with work that he couldn’t get out of, and I was upset that he would have to leave my side. Our good friend Ana stepped in and sat with me for many hours while he was gone. That is a true friend. My friend Nora sent over her puppy-dog heating pad for my stiff neck, which had comforted her when her baby Jacob died. Hubby’s godparents came to visit with a delicious meal for all of us. I could sit in the quiet and people would come running to get me whatever I wanted at the push of a button. That was kind of nice. Can I take this button home with me? 

It's been almost two years. It has been helpful to accept everything--anything in the past, and anything that comes my way in the present. Bad memories and good memories too, sadness and thankfulness, my awkward responses to the question How many children do you have?, feeling happiness mixed with pain at pregnancy announcements and baby showers, missing Isaiah, enjoying my family, living a good full happy life, and grieving, all at the same time-- I embrace it all and accept that it's all a part of being Isaiah's mom.  

I'm sharing Isaiah's story and his photos for anyone who would like to see them. As with Micah, I would love for sweet little Isaiah to touch someone's life, even if it is in a small way.

[P.S. The amniotic fluid test revealed that Isaiah was a normal little boy. A blood test on me (a "recurring pregnancy loss panel") revealed that there may have been a problem with my ability to process folate. I'd also like to add that although my level of care at the first hospital visit was debatable, the level of care throughout the next visit was first-rate.]




Prayers upon re-entering the church after childbearing.

Isaiah's memorial service.

Isaiah's Memorial Service: Kneeling Prayers. 


Saying goodbye.

After the service, his body stayed in the church while people read psalms for as much as possible throughout the night.


Isaiah getting buried next to his brother Micah.


Attendees of the burial, minus the nuns and my mom (who was taking the picture). 
Once again Hubby's parents drove nine hours to be at the burial. That is love.


Burial.





5 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing about the headaches. I had a round of headaches, and hair loss that was not unlike postpartum hair shedding. I had attributed it to a hormone shift of weaning the youngest due to vasospasms that I was having in the wake of early pregnancy, and just general stress from other issues we have been dealing with. It now makes more sense this way.

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  2. I had no idea about the headaches, I remember waking up a few mornings before the spotting began with them. I want to say I'm sorry for your loss and admire your bravery sharing.

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    1. Thank you. I am sorry for your loss as well. ❤️

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  3. Sending large love vibes. It hurts to lose a child. I know the pain. Mine was very different, but pain is pain. To be able to talk about it means you are able to cope. It will never get easier, yet we as individuals, will always grow and concur. We live for the lost ones...

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  4. Thank you for your warm and thoughtful comment. I am sorry for the loss of your dear child. ❤️

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