Pushing to end preventable stillbirth in memory of Owen Nathaniel Vick
Being pregnant & parenting after having a stillbirth can be complex full of anxiety, guilt, & worry. I’m sharing my experiences to help you feel less alone & offer you some hope knowing someone has made it to the other side to a life after loss which will still contain grief & fears, but joy & meaning too.
Feeling like this bump is bigger than my other pregnancies at this point. A lot fuller higher up and pretty round. I feel lots of kicks mostly in the morning, after lunch and when I lay down at night. Jax is an active little boy. I love feeling him and seeing how he reacts to our voices.
The 24th week started off great as I was excited to be at the first viability milestone. We went to our OB apt. and then had an excruciatingly long ultrasound during which my OB was quiet, as usual, so I was praying so hard for God to please make Jax be perfect still as I gripped Josh’s hand. All these scary thoughts circling in my head made me feel like I was going to have a panic attack! I could feel my heart beating outside my chest. Thankfully at the end we asked if everything was still fine and our OB said Jax was ok. There was an area he was measuring over and over in the brain but he said that space was still within normal limits. I started to cry after, mostly from relief but also worry.
I asked if we could start the NST’s early to begin monitoring our baby’s heart. He said that we could if it would make me feel better and suggested 30 weeks, but I asked for 28, since we lost our son, Owen, at 32 and I wanted to have a little more reassurance that everything was okay with Jax.
The rest of the week was nice, getting dropped off at Naomi’s school to watch her graduate and having a relaxing Father’s Day weekend at home. I gave daddy a shirt that said Big Man and a Little Man onesie. I pray Jax and Josh get to wear them together some day. It’s been a bumpy ride and though we are still worried we have faith Jax will make it.
Josh and I were both saying how we just didn’t picture Owen coming home (such a strange premonition), but we do see Jax here. So hopefully this is God’s plan for us now and we can experience the joy of having our second son home with us. He is not a replacement for Owen, but we have been dreaming of the day we could give Naomi a living sibling to grow up with and both of us have been so eager to raise a son, it would be wonderful for all of us if this wish comes true this time.
First thing about this week is that I finally left the house (for something other than a doctor apt.) to go see Naomi’s classwork at her kindergarten Open House. I knew it was as important to her as it was to me that I go too even though Josh thought I shouldn’t, or should ask the doctor. But I knew it would be quick, though when we got home I ate on the couch to rest and felt exhausted so I went to bed right after.
This week was also my birthday, which turned out to be a special one. I didn’t want Josh to invite guests over because I would have to lay there and it just seemed stressful to have him plan something for me. I’m going to see all my friends soon for Jax’s Sprinkle so I didn’t want anything crazy. But I still had several sweet friends pop by to visit who brought dinner, flowers, cakes and gifts. I asked the neighbors to come join us for cake last minute too since we had so much (plus the Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes Josh brought home the day before). He got me a pretty blue orchid, Owen’s color, and I asked my mom to take Naomi to the dollar store to let her pick out a gift for me (crossword puzzle books, good for bedrest, and a cute little blinged out hand mirror). She’s always so proud to give us gifts and I love everything she’s ever picked out for me. I wear the Your Are My Sunshine heart necklace she got me for Mother’s Day every day now. She is definitely my Sunshine through all we’ve been through lately.
I also left the house briefly (with OB’s approval) to help comfort her when she had to get a dermatology procedure done to her leg. We applied a numbing cream before but it was still painful so she held me tightly the whole time. I’m so glad I could be there for her and was so proud of her for letting the doctor do the dry ice therapy to all her molloscum spots this time. Now hopefully they’ll go away in a month so she can go swim with her friends next month (even though I’m sad I won’t get to go watch her)! She got a bouncy ball as a prize that she wanted and she’s been hopping around the house on it, which is good for using up her energy! She’s been better about playing on her own, with her grandma, the neighbor or daddy but I still wish I could do more with her. I know it’s going to be different when Jax is here too, but I will do whatever I can to still give her quality time and attention. She’s always going to be my first baby and I adore her as much as she tells us she loves us. “You know who I love most? You and daddy” she says sweetly all the time. To which I respond, “I love you and daddy more than anyone too baby”. So thankful for the bond we have with her and I hope that we’ll get a chance to experience that with her baby brother Jax too! Of course we love Owen just as much though we don’t get the joy of raising him.
This week was good other than the bit of a worry I had over the discharge I was still having post surgery (it was not thick like a yeast infection or a lot but yellowish and had a chemical type smell so I thought it was unusual). I finally decided to just go to my general practitioner mid-week because she was closer and my OB’s office said she can conduct the same tests and provide medicine if needed. Thankfully I went in because it turned out I did not have a UTI but there were white blood cells detected in my urine which meant that I had Group B Strep in my urine (I had already been tested and told I had it in my vaginal area which can be left untreated until delivery when I would get antibiotics to make sure it wasn’t passed on to Jax). They gave me antibiotics to get rid of it since it’s potentially dangerous if found in my urine (could trigger preterm labor). I’m very thankful that I followed my instincts and kept bringing up this issue so I would be tested. God is always looking out for us and I feel that this little baby is here to stay.
I’ve been reading about life in the womb and just marveling at the fact that there is life inside of me. It’s so hard to wrap my head around that and yet such a wonderful miracle, I just want to really let that sink in.
I got to take a short break from bedrest to watch Naomi perform twice at her recital (as well as with with Josh in the dad and daughter dance. It was so cute!). She made me so proud how well she remembered her steps especially being the youngest of her group. I’m so glad I got to go and support her.
My MIL is here now helping out since my mom had to leave to go to Mexico and she’s been taking Naomi to school and back and enjoying time with her granddaughter.
I caught a cold two days ago which has been making my sleep even worse lately. I’m anxious for our appointment tomorrow, I just pray for good news and that Jax continues to be growing healthy and perfectly.
Our sweet baby boy. We love your cute little face. Daddy was watching the ultrasound on FaceTime from work and the doctor kept pointing out your little winky, saying it’s a boy. Ha. I guess he thinks daddy wants you to be a boy and truthfully that makes daddy happy, but no matter your gender, daddy and I will be so thankful to have you! So glad you’re doing ok in there. Now we just need you to keep growing strong and healthy!
This week was a time of getting used to bedrest. The first week was a bit rough since I’m not used to laying around so much and having others do things for me. But now I get up a little more for a bite from the kitchen and have a bed in the office so I’m a bit more comfortable.
I stopped wearing the awfully hot and uncomfortable compression tights last week as the nurse said getting up to use the use the bathroom was enough circulation. We had dinner on Sunday for my dad and my bday and enjoyed my favorite meal, mom’s quiche.
Naomi has been struggling with me being unable to take her to and from school but I got her the Barbie with a bike she’s been wishing for because of her bravery while I was at the hospital and keep reminding her we’re doing this so baby brother can be healthy. I know it’s hard for her to have other people taking care of her and driving her to school as she’s used to me doing it, but we all are having to make sacrifices for this baby we all want so much.
Our cerclage surgery follow up apt went great! Daddy was unable to take me as he had to work later, so we had a scary ride with mom driving us. She’s not used to van or the LA traffic!
Thankfully though the check-up on me and baby Jax went well. We saw his face a little clearer and watched him move his arm around. With another appointment behind us, I feel more hopeful that our little boy is going to be ok.
I finished crocheting his rainbow trapper beanie and a few things for the sprinkle.
Also printed out the pics of the pregnancy so far to hang on an old vintage looking door we got on FB to display at the shower. Tami also offered to give us her baby carseat and Mamaroo to use, which will save us more money on big item purchases. I feel so thankful and blessed knowing everyone loves Jax as much as us. Another week closer! 🙏🏼
This week was all about bedrest. Figuring out how to do it and getting used to it. After the cerclage surgery I was told to be on bedrest with bathroom privileges. Thankfully my pregnancy body pillow arrived the day after I got home as it’s made laying around a little more comfortable. Also the nurse said I didn’t have to wear these uncomfortable and hot compression tights the hospital gave me because I was getting some circulation walking to and from the bathroom.
5/24/17 (21 weeks 1 day)
End of the 20th wk! Wow, this one was a hard one. Pretty much was smooth sailing but then we went in for our 20 wk anatomy scan (see previous post). We had the usual fears but it seemed to be going well. All of Jax’s measurements were normal, but then the doctor tried to measure my cervix. After switching to a transvaginal ultrasound I asked if my cervix was short (something I had heard about but didn’t necessarily think it would happen to us) and he said it was (2.2-2.4 cm). Scared out of my mind, he said to get dressed and he’d come discuss the options: Progesterone shots (didn’t think that’d work for us since mine was already getting short and that’s used more to prevent it when you have prior incidents of IC or catch it around 14 weeks), termination (not at all an option we would ever consider), and cerclage (75% effective, but in his opinion the best chance for saving the baby). So of course we went with the last option and booked my surgery for Saturday morning.
I spent the next two days on bed rest at home and had a friend take Naomi to and from school. Good thing we decided to do that despite the doctor not requiring it because my cervix shortened to 2 cm and was 1 cm dilated by the surgery time. We had a wonderful nurse Juliet who prepped me for surgery with a kind and reassuring anesthesiologist Dr. Hong. I prayed so much for my son’s life. During the 15 minute surgery I didn’t stop praying and asking God to work a miracle through Doctor Tabsh’s hands. That they were His hands, not the Doctors (because humans are imperfect but God could make sure the surgery was successful). Thankfully the Shridokar transvaginal cerclage surgery went well and the cervix length was lengthened to 3 cm.
Recovery was very painful, meds didn’t seem to work. But they said in 24 hours the pain would be a lot less, which was true. By day two I didn’t need the meds after the morning dosage. However that early morning I noticed some wetness and pointed out the discharge to the nurse. She said it had some blood and could be amniotic fluid. We tested positive but they said it could be a false positive. Again totally not what we were expecting and we were so afraid that after all that our baby was still going to come. As we waited for Doctor to come in to check on me (was supposed to be early morning but ended up being 5 pm), we prayed constantly and had many people praying for us. I was watching Hillsong United and the pastor said to write down your goals and prayers specifically. So I did – I declared Jax’s amniotic fluid did not break, he would come to full term and be born healthy, we would Baptize him, we would raise him with our daughter and so on. Then I refused to listen to anyone who said otherwise. By a miracle of God the doctor said it was not amniotic fluid and we asked for an ultrasound to confirm, which he did for us and everything was fine. Stitch looked good on my cervix and there was no fluid in the vaginal area leaking from the sack. I have never felt so happy and relieved in my life! Since that moment, the weight of all the fear of this pregnancy that I’ve been carrying around was lifted. I now knew God’s promise was to help our son live and was so grateful as I walked in the door from the car that I was home that Sunday night with our baby still with us. I cried so many tears of gratitude and held onto hope.
Also since this happened, my mom and dad came to take care of Naomi for us and my mom is staying for weeks. Many of my friends have come by for a visit bringing flowers and food. My Real Life church mom group coordinated a dinner train and have been blessing us with meals all week and next week. Before this I was feeling so alone and like I had no support but God showed me that I have a village ready to help if I am willing to accept it and that many people are so happy for us and eager to meet our son. I will never forget how wonderful they have all been and how God has restored my faith that He can do all things, even in moments when it seems impossible, because He does the impossible! He is a miracle worker and the birth of my son at full term will be a testimony to His greatness.
Woke up laying on my right side and panicked that I could be cutting off blood flow to Jax. Tried to move him around to feel his reassuring movements for a bit but I know he’s small and could be resting. Little panicked I decided to write back to my pen pal Kelly and then lay on my back again until Jax started to thump away! Oh those first few kicks were so beautiful to feel! Thankful my little boy is okay and reassuring mommy that he’s fine. I’m sure he wants me to turn to my left side and get some sleep, which I will as soon as I pee. 🙂
Note to pregnant mommas: Stillbirth prevention research suggests that side sleep is the best way to increase blood flow to your baby at night. It doesn’t have to be your left side, though that has usually been advised. If you accidentally wake up on your back, just readjust like I did! The way you fall asleep is normally how you likely slept the longest.
Today’s ultrasound went well up until the point the doctor asked me to go pee as my bladder wasn’t full enough so he wanted to do an internal ultrasound to measure my cervix. My OB is always so serious and quiet when he’s doing them, so I am shaking like a leaf the entire time worried I’m about to get more bad news. Unfortunately, there was an issue, though luckily it isn’t that Jax has a problem. My cervix was short (2.2-2.4) so we have to have a cerclage surgery Saturday morning to keep Jax in longer. He needs more time and we don’t know how quickly my cervix will keep shortening. A lot to process in a night, but tomorrow I’ll do more research on all this. Never thought this could happen with it not being something I have any prior risk factors for, but I did always have a fear of the baby just coming out for some reason. I’m thankful we found this early enough to do something to help him stay inside and praying it will all go well.
We are at the hospital now waiting to do the cerclage which we hope will help keep you inside my womb until full term. We love you so much Jax and hope to be your parents on earth. Please stay strong and stay with us.
I’m getting ready to rest a bit in my recovery room. Just been very sore and tired since the surgery, but thankful it went well. I prayed during the entire procedure which felt like it took an hour, but was really only 15 mins. I felt God’s presence and protection over us and Doctor Tabish, the nurses and anesthesiologist couldn’t have been better or kinder. Still feeling Jax kicking so he’s reminding me that he’s ok too. So relieved to be done with the cerclage surgery! God’s hands were at work on me and I am thankful Jackson is safe within my womb. Turns out my cervix was only 2 cm long today and I was dilated 1 cm, so I’m extremely grateful this was caught when it was. Thankful for another day with our baby boy and that we will hopefully get to full term and deliver our son in perfect health.
Josh and I have grown even closer together and all the support, love and prayers we received from our family and friends is so humbling and makes my heart overflow with gratitude. Naomi had a wonderful day too spent with my parents and her cousin, Hali, at her house, then dinner and ice-cream and a slumber party at our place with Hali. Thankful she was having so much fun and hopefully was not worried about her mommy. God has once again shown us his love and grace today. Thank you Jesus for all your blessings.
I wrote these declarations of life and hope to read to myself over and over until it either becomes true or I can at least be calmer. I’m determined to speak as though we are guaranteed all these things because I’m hoping that will make them come true! (Thanks to Oprah for sharing the idea of the law of attraction, which I have always tried to use.) Even if it just helps to lower my stress a bit, it’s what I’ll do and hopefully it will make Jackson feel all my positive vibes and keep him wanting to stay with us. Who knows how these things work right?
I am not leaking amniotic fluid
I do not have a puncture, rupture or leak of Jax’s sac
I have normal discharge from the surgery, the surgery has gone perfectly and I will recover well and keep Jackson safe within my womb
I will carry my baby to full term (37 weeks or more)
I will be strong and not let my faith be shaken
I will enjoy this pregnancy and be grateful for each day
I will be healthy and in the good hands of my medical team, who’s actions are guided by the Lord
I will not worry, doubt or let fear make me question the promise God has placed in my heart to have our son Jackson born healthy and full term.
I will baptize my son Jackson in front of family and the church when he’s born
I will raise my son and watch him grow to fulfill God’s will for his life
I will treasure every day of our lives
I will praise and worship God with all my soul
I will testify to all of His goodness
I will help comfort the broken hearted and afraid families struggling with loss or infertility
I will enjoy a healthy and full life along with all my children and my husband
Thank you Lord Jesus for all your blessings and for the peace you offer even in times of struggle.
End of the 19th week! Officially half way there. Minus a few panic attacks here and there worrying over movement (or lack of), I did pretty well this week. Remember, Owen was always an active baby until the day he stopped, so I have no choice but to obsess over every movement his brother makes and hope I don’t miss a change at some point. So this period before babies have a set pattern is so hard for me!
We celebrated our first Mother’s Day with Jax in my belly going to church, having lunch at Portos (bringing home lots of yummy pastries for later too) and visiting Owen’s graveside.
It was a very emotional day, obviously I was happy to be expecting Jax, but I was well aware that his big brother was missing. I’m just so heartbroken still and maybe even more so knowing that Jax will be growing up without his brother, as Naomi is. But knowing Jax is on the way is very exciting and I’m feeling hopeful even though I’m still worried not knowing what happened with Owen. I know God can do all things, so I can’t wait to see the miracle He has in store for us.
We took a trip up North to visit my side of the family in San Jose. This was good because the business of all the kids together is a distraction from my worries. Though, as anyone who’s been pregnant after loss can probably relate, it still was in the forefront of my mind no matter how hard I tried to be in the moment. Taking it one day at a time, is my best advice.
End of the 18th week! Felt like a long one, mainly because I’m having to wait an extra week to see Jax since my doctor is on vacation. I’ve had several waves of anxiety the last couple days that have been hard to shake and lots of tearful moments too, still coping with my grief. A high has been feeling Jax move more and more. I even have been counting some of his kicks, though I know it’s too early to note a consistent pattern. We are still listening to his song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” just about every day and though I haven’t had much time for naps this week I am trying to keep taking it easy.
Josh has been so sweet doing grocery shopping for me and doing more in general so I can get a little extra rest. He talks to Jax more often now too and kisses my belly. (This is a big deal for a dad after loss. His anxiety and worry over something happening again has made it harder for him to open up his heart and bond with our babies in pregnancy.) Naomi is getting excited as well, mentioning baby brother all the time.
Our dentist office ladies found out from Josh and they’re all so happy for us knowing what we’ve been through to have another baby. Will be an amazing day to finally see our baby, and fun to bring him by to meet everyone! (Fingers & toes crossed! I know there’s no guarantee, but trying to be positive.)
Little Jax finally decided to give me a few good kicks this morning! I felt the little thumps while laying in bed before getting up. Daddy gave me his extra egg and toast with strawberry jelly, maybe Jax likes daddy’s cooking? Makes me feel so much better to feel him move finally.
Our apt is today and I feel a little less anxious now, though I always worry on apt days. First day taking the new van, so I’m excited Naomi won’t be miserable on the long ride to Santa Monica anymore watching her movie in her big comfy van. We bought if for the kids but I’m loving all the convenient features too.
Can’t wait to see you Jax! Praying you’re growing perfectly in there. Been singing you your song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, every morning and during the day. Hope you hear it and love it, although I’m not the best singer but Judy Garland is singing along with me so I think it probably sounds good to you! Love you to the moon and back.
Dreamt I was feeling Jax move like crazy. Woke up happy but realized it was a dream. Felt like I had some movement the night before but I couldn’t tell if it was my food digesting or the baby. (Oh the joy of the traumatized loss mom brain! I was so anxious to start feeling movements so I could begin tracking them!)
It’s strange being pregnant after loss in your second trimester of pregnancy. You no longer have that feeling of relief you did before when you felt you were in the “safe zone” because you made it past the first trimester when everyone tells you there’s a risk of miscarriage. Your concerns over suddenly finding out your baby died are no longer at bay. You know, there is no safe zone. There are many second trimester losses, including those that find out there’s a life-threatening diagnosis at the 20 week anatomy scan so they have to make the heart wrenching decision of ending a wanted pregnancy. Not to mention other natural losses that may be explained or not. Including my own at 31 weeks, the final trimester. So needless to say at this point I was a ball of nerves. But as you can see, I still made myself document every moment and tried my best to make memories because no matter how long I would get to carry this baby I wanted him to know how loved he is.
If you’re pregnant after loss, know that I get your complicated experience of pregnancy and I’m sorry. I wish it could be easier. I wish I could tell you that the baby at the end of the rainbow is guaranteed, so just enjoy this time. It’s hard to say that when we know that it’s not true. But I hope and pray it will be. Take this pregnancy one day, or one hour at a time. You can borrow my mantra, “today my baby is safe and healthy”.
If you need any resources for support or medical research on complications, please feel free to visit our non-profit’s website: http://www.pushpregnancy.org
Feeling you move as I wait for our apt. Such a reassuring and miraculous feeling. I love you baby. I hope everything is okay. We’ll see you shortly. (Truly always trying to be positive and hopeful, though I was literally in tears by the time I got to hear his heartbeat every visit.)
I felt you move around tonight. Just a few slight rolls in the lower left side of my stomach as I watched a movie with your daddy before bedtime. It makes me so happy to feel your movements. I love you so much already baby boy!