I posted this last year, two weeks after Carter was born, six years to the day that Brandon and I had officially been together (that last part wasn't intentional). We wanted to share his story again, because it matters to us. He is our son. Today, on his first birthday, we are remembering the day we finally got to meet him, and the day we had to say goodbye.
There's a part of me that feels like I shouldn't be writing this yet. It has only been two weeks since we lost our sweet boy, so it feels like it's too soon. It all still feels like a dream. A nightmare, actually. But I'm writing it because I miss him, and I want people to know that it's okay to talk about him. And I'm writing it in hopes that it will make me feel better to get all my emotions out in words that I can't seem to say.
To tell the whole story I feel like we need to start a little earlier. About seven weeks ago, September 25th, I didn't really feel Carter move all day until really late that night. So the next morning, a Monday, I called my doctor and he told us to come in. They did a non-stress test to check his heart rate, which was stellar, then did an ultrasound to check the fluid around him, which was also stellar. The office called me the following Wednesday (the 28th) and said it looked like there were some enlarged areas of his heart, and asked us to schedule a fetal echo-cardiogram. I cried my eyes out at work that day because I had been just waiting for something bad to happen, and I thought it was finally happening. A week later (October 12th), we did the fetal echo, and the three doctors in the room said his heart looked great, and that we had nothing to worry about. Friday of the same week (October 14th) we had our 37 week appointment. The following Wednesday, (October 19th) we had our 38 week appointment, where my stomach measured smaller than it had that Friday before. So the next morning we went in for another ultrasound to check the blood flow in the placenta and through the umbilical cord. They said everything looked fine, and we saw his little heart fluttering, and got to watch him move a little bit. Over the course of the next six days, I noticed how little I felt him move, but I kind of just assumed he was running out of room in there, since I wasn't that big.
When we went to the doctor for our 39 week appointment (October 26th), the doctor asked if I had felt him move, and I just told him no. Brandon kept trying to say "but you thought you felt him this day, right?" and even though he was right, and I had thought I felt him move, I still just told the doctor no. And I think in that moment the three of us knew what was about to happen. He tried to find Carter's heartbeat for a few minutes, and there was nothing. It was the worst sound I've ever heard. Just the dead silence. I already was crying before he was halfway done listening. He helped me sit up and told me he was going to prep the ultrasound room. After what seemed like a million years, he came back to get us. The walk to the ultrasound room was awful, because you could tell he had told the nurses and other doctors what was going on. We could see the sadness in their eyes.
During the ultrasound, the doctor was blocking my view of the tv on the wall behind him. He wasn't doing it on purpose, but I could only watch his and Brandon's faces. The doctor's face dropped and he told us he was sorry, and Brandon and I just clung to each other. I couldn't cry anymore, because I had already cried everything out. I just was in shock; I had to ask him if this was real life. And I kept apologizing to Brandon, because I felt like I had let him down. After a bit, we asked what the next step was. The doctor told us he would call labor and delivery to see if we could go that night, or we could wait and go the next day, but we said we wanted to go that night. So we went home, fed the cats, put away the bassinet and a few other things, grabbed our bags, and headed for the hospital.
The whole drive there and the whole walk in we just kept saying how wrong the whole situation was. We were supposed to be pulling into the hospital on two wheels, and I was supposed to be taking breaks to cope with contractions while walking in. But instead, we were just walking solemnly in. The labor and delivery wing was so quiet when we got there, and we were grateful. It was a peaceful start to an awful night.
Our nurse took us in and let us get comfortable, talking to us about the situation and trying to help us with our emotions. She got us some dinner, and walked me through what the night held for us. She checked me, and I wasn't dilated at all. Around 7:30 pm she gave me the first dose of Cytotech to get the process started, and said she would check me again in three hours. At eight, Adrian showed up to the hospital. At this point, Brandon and I had had enough of being sad, and were just kind of okay with what was going on, so it was nice to have another body in the room to talk to about other things. Around 8:30, Brandon's parents showed up, and again, it was just nice to have more people to talk to about other things. They stayed until just after ten, Brandon's dad gave me a blessing, and then we were by ourselves again. The nurse came in and checked me again, and I was already at a 1.5. The doctor wanted her to give me a double dose of the Cytotech then, but she decided to wait and check me again at 11:30 to see where we were. I honestly don't remember what time she came back to give me the second dose, but she didn't double it like the doctor asked. My parents showed up sometime (before or after the second dose, I don't remember, I think after) at 1:30 am. They stayed for about 45 minutes, then went to our house to sleep and try to let us sleep. Of course, at this point, the contractions started getting pretty strong. I kept trying to sleep, but they were coming every minute or so, and I legit thought I was dying haha. Brandon was sleeping so peacefully on his little couch, and I was just laying on the bed with my finger next to the nurse's button for probably a good hour. Finally around 3:30 am, I buzzed for the nurse. Our first nurse was supposed to leave at 3, but she was still there and came in with our second nurse. I asked for just a small dose of the pain meds, so they gave it to me, then left. And about thirty minutes later I buzzed them back in and asked for more meds. They checked me at this point, and I was at a 4. An hour (or less, probably) later, I buzzed the nurse back in and asked for the epidural. I had told myself that I was going to try and go without, only because I was afraid that when I asked for it they would just laugh and tell me I was only at a one, so I was just trying to be tough. But the nurse (first nurse still, and this was at 5 am, two hours after her shift ended) checked me and said I was at a five and that my water was ready to break. But the doctor told them not to break my water, so they just had to wait.
I got the epidural, which was surprisingly painless compared to the contractions I was having while he was trying to stick the needle in (being a woman is a joke). They gave me a faster acting dose, and then the regular stuff, so within minutes I was feeling pretty good. That was all around 5:30 am. The nurse came back in just after 7:00 am with our third and final nurse, who then checked me and told me my water had broke and that I was at a ten and ready to go. They went to call the doctor, and said he would be there in 30 minutes to an hour, so we sat back and prepped to meet our sweet boy. We were shocked at how quickly the whole process had gone. Our first nurse had told us that we wouldn't have a baby by seven am, but maybe early afternoon, yet here it was not even eight am and we were ready to go.
The doctor showed up around 8:15, and talked to us a little bit while they prepped the room. I have to put a plug in for him here: I love our doctor. I love him so much that I told Brandon that we are never leaving Utah because I want him to deliver all our children. And if you know me at all, you know that me saying I'll live here forever is a big deal! Anyway, they got me all situated, I couldn't feel my legs one bit and felt bad that I couldn't do much to help in that aspect. When the doctor finally sat down, the nurse would tell me when a contraction was coming, have me push for ten seconds, then take a deep breath and do it two more times in a row. I had to do three sets of three and then at 8:51 am he was there! Brandon got to hold one of my legs and watch, which sounds gross, but I'm so glad he did given the situation. They immediately laid Carter on my chest and gently cleaned him while Brandon cut the umbilical cord. I couldn't stop crying for so many reasons, but you guys he is beautiful! And he looked so peaceful.
After about ten minutes, they took him over to the little table to clean, weigh, and clothe him. He weighs 5 pounds, 15 ounces, and is 20 inches long. Once he was clothed, they gave him to Brandon to hold. It was one of the saddest, most touching things to see Brandon holding him, crying, and then to hear him say "he looks just like you." It broke my heart. We spent about an hour with Carter, talking to the doctor a bit and then having the nurse fawn over our cute boy. Our families had been waiting in the waiting room, so we had them come in and take turns holding him. I was so happy his grandparents were there to meet him and hold him for a little bit. We couldn't get over how big his feet are!! And his hair, oh my gosh his hair. He has a full head of dark brown hair that has a little bit of a curl to it. And he has Brandon's squishy lips and I love them.
We spent probably about two and a half hours with him, alternating between crying and just feeling complete joy at how perfect he is. And that is how we will always remember him: our perfect, squishy faced, skinny little babe. Sadly, his skin started to get really dry, so we called our parents back in to say goodbye, then had a few minutes with him on our own, and then said goodbye for the day.
The rest of the afternoon was spent watching Impractical Jokers and trying to rest, again alternating between crying and just feeling okay. We left the hospital that night around 5:00, because I didn't feel like staying anymore. That night, someone went to the hospital and took pictures, and also took molds of his hands and feet that we now have to hold. It's not just like a hand and footprint, they are his little feet and hands that we can pick up and hold individually, and I'm so grateful for them!
Physically, the recovery has been fine. Emotionally, it has been a little harder. The first few days I cried a lot, but we also laughed a lot and felt a lot of joy and blessings despite the situation. My parents stayed with us until Sunday, and Brandon's parents stayed with us the following Monday night, so we always had extra bodies to distract us and take care of us.
We had a little graveside service for Carter this past Saturday. Brandon and I got to go see him at the funeral home before hand, and he still just looks so perfect. We picked out an outfit for him that Brandon's mom altered to be a little smaller than his newborn onesie he had been put in at the hospital, and the clothes still were so big on him! He's just a skinny little thing. The service was so nice though. We had a ton of family show up, which was honestly so great. There was so much love there. My dad read a letter that I had written to Carter, and Brandon's dad said a closing prayer, and that was it. We left a little airplane for him, it has become our little symbol for Carter and all the adventures he'll be taking (airplanes were a prominent theme in his nursery). Then we had a luncheon with all the family, and again it was just so great to feel all the love and support.
I wanted to write this so people would know his story. We don't know yet what happened- we're still waiting on test results-but he made us a family, and he will always be our son. I also want everyone to know that Brandon and I are actually doing okay, despite everything. Some days are harder than others, some minutes are harder than others, and when we feel like we want to be sad or angry we let ourselves be those things. But it also takes a lot of work to be sad and angry all the time, and knowing Carter, he wouldn't want that for us. We have this beautiful memory of the nine months we got to spend with him, and a somehow kind of beautiful delivery (you know, for as beautiful as those things actually can be), and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I want to be able to talk about Carter! I want people to feel like it's okay to ask us questions, and for them to know that our future children will absolutely know about Carter, and that he will always be mentioned when we talk about family. The situation completely sucks, and I've said that so much that just saying "it sucks" no longer covers how I really feel about it. But Brandon and I keep telling ourselves that yes, it could be better, but it also could have been worse. We were lucky to know before we delivered him that he would be born still, it gave us a lot of time to prepare and fully understand what was happening. We also are lucky to not have had an infant loss due to SIDS or something else beyond our control. Our situation sucks, but it could have been worse. And honestly, we have so many friends right now that have just had babies or will be very soon, and we don't want to feel angry or resentful towards anyone. We don't want our sadness to take away from our happiness for anyone else. And like I said, Carter wouldn't want us to do that either.
I know we are receiving so much comfort from Carter, God, and from all our family and friends. Thank you all so much for the kind messages, gifts, and thoughts and prayers. I want you to know that we really can feel them. And I want everyone to know that we're okay. I wouldn't say we're great, but we still are able to get out of bed every day, appreciate the sunshine, and find reasons to laugh and be happy. If anything, the blue sky that has greeted us every day for the past two weeks makes me feel like Carter is surrounding us with his spirit.
I didn't want to post any pictures on here, because I don't want to force anyone to look at them, but if anyone is interested in seeing a picture, I really would love to share. He really is so cute. One of the other first things Brandon said when he saw him was "We make cute kids! We can keep having kids and they won't be ugly!" haha. I know we're biased, but still. So really, don't be afraid to talk to us about him. He's our son and we love him so much, and we want him to be a part of other people's lives as much as he is a part of ours.