Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sarah's Story: Heartbreaking death of micro-preemie son Conner

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your precious son Conner with us. We are remembering your son with you. <3


Thank you for your blog post on your miscarriage of Olivia. After we lost our baby, Conner, 8 years ago, I have heard so many other stories of loss. Although it breaks my heart that other people have had to deal with the horrendous pain of losing a child, it is comforting to know you're not alone. 

So with that, here is our story.

I remember the day I looked down at the positive pregnancy test so clearly. I think it was the 8,000th test I took. I peed on a new stick every time I went to the bathroom for weeks because I just couldn't wait to get pregnant! There it was, the double pink line I had been waiting for!! I was so thrilled! I called EVERYONE I knew and shared the great news. I made my first doctor appointment instantly because I just couldn't wait!

At the doctor's office, the pregnancy was confirmed. Everything looked perfect and a few weeks later we got to hear the heartbeat. It was the most amazing sound I had ever heard. I had terrible morning (ok...not just morning!!) sickness, but I thrived on it because I knew that meant the baby was doing well.

My husband and I breathed a huge sigh of relief after the first trimester was over because we thought, "that's it! We're in the safe zone now! Just ride the wave until we deliver our sweet baby!" I guess ignorance was bliss.

All of my appointments went beautifully. Everything looked wonderful. At 20 weeks we found out we were going to have a little boy! We picked a name right away. Conner David. We went and bought that adorable, tiny outfit we were going to bring him home in. Everything was just perfect.

About a week later, out of the blue, I started having some horrendous pain in my lower back. It came out of the blue and it was enough to knock me off my feet. I laid down on our couch and curled up. The pain was so bad that I was nauseous from it. I waited a minute and when it didn't pass, I called my OB.

The nurse told me to come in right away. By the time I had gotten there, the pain had gone and I felt fine again. The doctor felt my stomach and did an ultrasound. Everything looked fine. I moved on and didn't think much of it again.

Three weeks after that, on May 27, 2005, while at my mom and dad's cabin in northern Minnesota, I stood up and started bleeding. Heavily. Out of nowhere. I went into the bathroom to make sure that unmistakable warmth was actually blood. It was. 

It was almost pouring out of me. I was terrified. I came out of the bathroom bawling and told my family they needed to bring me to the hospital. We all piled into my parents' car and drove quickly to the local hospital. I remember feeling Conner kick on the way there and being comforted by the fact that he was still with me. Hanging on. It gave me hope that this was all just a fluke.

At the hospital the doctor did an ultrasound and it revealed my absolute worst imaginable nightmare. I was dilated 2 cm and Conner's leg was pushing down into my birth canal. The hospital we were at was not equipped to handle the birth of a micro-preemie. They doped me up on some magnesium sulfate in hopes of stopping, or slowing down what was going on, laid me down, and stuck my husband and me on a helicopter to a hospital in Minneapolis.

In Minneapolis, they kept me on the magnesium sulfate (which royally messed me up. I have very few, foggy memories from the couple of days I was on it), and they elevated my feet and lowered my head in the bed in hopes of prolonging the inevitable.

On May 30, 2005, they couldn't hold it off any longer. At 9:21 pm, at 23 weeks, 5 days of gestation, (the only reason I remember this time is because Conner's actual due date was 9/21...which always strikes me as such a strange coincidence) Conner was delivered via emergency c-section weighing 1 lb, 9 oz. He was tiny. So, so tiny...but a perfectly formed little baby. He had all of his perfect little fingers and toes, and adorable nose and a tiny bit of dark brown peach fuzz on his head. Adorable perfection.

I had no idea that the worse was yet to come. On June 1st, we got a call from Conner's NICU doctor. He had suffered a very serious brain bleed and wasn't expected to make it. My husband and I made our way down there to hold our precious baby as he passed. I can't begin to describe the pain and mourning we were experiencing at that point. It's purely indescribable. The hospital staff left us alone in a room with him. We just held him and cried. A nurse would come in every so often to listen to his see if his little heart was still beating. He was a fighter. He held in for so long. We lost Conner a couple hours after he was taken off of life support. It was the longest wait in my life. Holding your new baby, waiting for his heart to stop. We went home the next day completely broken.

The ride home from the hospital was dreadful. As I sat waiting for my husband to pick me up in the waiting area, there was a mother there. A new mother. With her beautiful, perfect baby boy whom she was bringing HOME. I was there, completely shattered after just losing ours the day prior. I sobbed uncontrollably there in the waiting room in front of the glowing new mom and her baby. I sobbed the entire way home from the hospital. The pain was so great, I couldn't contain it. It took everything in me to sit upright in that chair the whole way back. All I could think about was the big, black gaping hole in my heart and soul. It felt like someone reached inside of me and ripped a piece of me out. Essentially, that's exactly what had happened and that was exactly how I felt.

The next day, my milk came in. It was like the most heartbreaking joke a person could imagine. I got my milk. My aching, leaking breasts were a joke. I wanted to top them off of my body and scream at them. I wanted to burn them. The nurse told me to wrap them and ice them and the milk supply would eventually dwindle. As if I needed more of a constant reminder of my loss, now I had these pointless, painful, milk filled breasts. Meant to feed and nourish my baby. Who died 2 days prior.

It took us a long time to move past the grieving stage. I actively grieved for a few months. For that first year, I couldn't even be in the same room with a new mom and baby. I had to leave places on more than one occasion because of this. It was too much for me. I couldn't handle seeing new moms ooooing and ahhhhing at their new baby. Every time I saw it, I felt like that hole inside if me was ripped open again.

About 7 months after our loss, I got involved with the March of Dimes. I think this was the start of my healing process. There was a forum on there for grieving moms. There was a share network where I could read other people's stories of loss. My husband and I spoke at a couple of March of Dimes functions about our loss. Telling our story has been more therapeutic than anything I can think of. I felt like if I could help one grieving mother know she wasn't along in her grief, then Conner's short life wasn't lived without purpose.

He was put on this earth for a reason. However brief he was here, he changed us immensely for the better. I have a renewed appreciation for the absolute miracle of childbirth. A healthy child is nothing short of a miraculous gift from God. We are blessed to have 2 healthy daughters now. I try daily to not take their existence for granted. Not a day goes by when I don't think of Conner. I see boys who would be the same age as Conner and there's always that bit of longing that goes along with it...but we have learned to live with the loss. There will always be that little piece of my heart and soul that is missing, but I believe it all happened for a reason only God knows.

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