This week’s bump day blog is a guest post from Kasey’s husband, Eric Saindon.
I am a positive and energetic person. I’m the teacher that swings a toy light saber in the hallways or sings out of tune as students are walking into my class just to be silly. In moments when I act less energetic, others will ask me if something is wrong just because I’m not being so outgoing. I was under no illusion that things will always go perfectly or that nothing bad ever happens, but I have always had a trust in science, logic, and reason, especially when in comes to matters of medical needs. For example, in 2013 when my dad had an angiogram, I wasn’t the least bit worried. I knew everything was going to be ok, and I was right. After a quick out-patient procedure, my dad was fine. Perhaps I was naïve. It seemed like in most of my own experiences, nothing came completely out of the blue.
I felt like the medical field could get an inkling that storms were coming and that we could prepare. Even when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, I was very scared, especially in the first few months, but I saw her and my dad persevere. My brave parents eased my young 20-something mind, and I was fairly convinced my mom would be fine. My rational, loving, protective-in-all-the-right-ways parents were right, and my mom is a cancer survivor.
My experience taught me that many times a person can see things coming, prepare for the struggle, and things will most likely be ok. That is how I lived my life until November 2016.
If you have been reading this blog you know that November 2016 is when Kasey and I lost our first baby at 20 weeks. Then we lost our second baby in October 2017. I didn’t see these losses coming. Both blind-sided me. Losing our babies has changed me and my world view. I have learned that you can’t always see what is coming, not even a little. Before getting married, we talked about “ups and downs, good times and tough times” that we expected in our future. I knew there would be tough times, but I remember thinking that one of us would get fired from a job or we would lose a house.
I assumed something unexpected would happen because no one gets through life unscathed, but if someone would have told me that pregnancy loss would be a struggle, I wouldn’t have believed them. I never saw this coming. I figured lots of hard stuff could/would come our way, but losing babies never crossed my mind.
One of the most frustrating parts of what we have been through is the ways I have felt like a bystander. When we were in the hospital after our first loss, Kasey’s blood stopped clotting after the procedure. I had to stand by as the doctor pressed on her abdomen, blood gushed out of her body, and three doctors talked quickly in hushed tones, making the decision to give her a blood transfusion. Her recovery room stay lasted 5 hours instead of 2, and Kasey’s parents and I waited endlessly as they moved her from one area of the hospital to the other. I’ll never forget seeing Kasey in the hospital bed in the ICU while I drifted in and out of sleep in the uncomfortable chair next to her.
I’ll never forget the sterile cleanliness of that hospital unit, the beeps of the machines, and the nurse checking on Kasey every few hours during the endless night.
All I could do was watch and hold my breath until we were finally released late the next day.
A year later, after the wounds began to heal, we were back in the pregnancy saddle. We had been told there was no known cause for our loss, and that some losses just happen. It is hard to describe reliving the worst experience of your life for a second time. Once again, the helplessness returned. From the time we found out we lost Danny to the time Kasey delivered him a couple days later I did not relax. My chest and back hurt because I was so tense. Once again, we had to pick up the pieces. We had to call and text to inform our friends and family. There was a strange, sad, and overwhelming familiarity of it all.
I remember holding our baby and feeling like we had done something good together.
Most of all I remember feeling for Kasey, watching her be shattered again, wishing I could wave a wand to make her pain go away and thinking to myself, “Where the hell do we go from here?”.
A Holding Pattern
We are so lucky in so many ways. We have an amazing medical community that has worked tirelessly to provide answers and options we didn’t know would be possible. They identified a genetic cause, set us up with IVF, and have given us hope. Still, the holding pattern remains.
It’s like we are in an airplane, circling as we wait for the runway to clear and our turn to land.
While we are waiting and hoping we can land soon, we watch many of our friends and family landing their planes, deplaning, and starting new flights. It is so hard to just wait, when you see others moving forward, making pregnancy announcements, sharing about births, celebrating birthdays, and hitting milestones. And then, while we are still waiting for our first to come home, others go through these milestones again for their second or third babies.
It’s so hard as a man to be playing with a baby or toddler only to have them swept away when they cry because people don’t want me to be inconvenienced, all the while being reminded that I don’t get to do that part because I’m not a “real parent” yet.
What others don’t realize is how badly I want to be inconvenienced by the stress of a fussy baby.
Trusting the Facts
As I mentioned earlier, I used to be very trusting of facts and statistics, but we have been in the 1% twice. With our current baby, we are past the big milestone of the anatomy scan. While I feel a weight has been taken off my shoulders, I am not as trusting as I once was. I wish I felt like this baby was a guarantee, but I’m still scared. I feel like that little life inside Kasey is so fragile. I constantly bug her about what movements she’s feeling because I am so scared that we will be caught off guard like we were with our first two babies, getting blindsided out of the blue.
At first, I worked to keep a distance between me and this baby, but no longer. I love that little baby with all my being, and I am so excited for the little one to arrive in the correct time period.
However, I cannot help but be cautious. I wish that other people would be more understanding of why I am so cautious. I am tired of being told to think positive. I am tired of being told the new odds. I am scared every day, and it’s hard to do anything concrete about it.
I am so excited, but I am conscious of where Kasey and I came from and the real, terrible pain we have experienced. It doesn’t all evaporate because of this new experience. Losing our babies left a mark on me. Being with Kasey in the hospital twice, left a mark on me. I know that we have so much more information than before, but it still doesn’t change how those experiences showed me how fragile my world really is.
This process is long, hard, and unpredictable. If there is a message I want others to take away from my writing this week, I think it would be the following:
Check in on us loss dads. Feel the pain with us. Don’t just tell us to be positive. Ask us about it.
We lost babies, and we watched as our partners went through hell in the hospital. We not only lost our babies, we saw our partners in physical pain that we could not ease. We saw our worlds crash around us. We didn’t share that with many people, because as men we are supposed to remain “strong” and forward-looking rather than share our struggles. Each person needs to do what is right for them in terms of opening up, but I would like it to be more acceptable in our society for people to ask men about their pain.
Dear Kasey and Eric, we too lost our firstborn baby Linna in 2016. I always feel connected to people who lost their child the same year we did. Linna died of a CHD 12 hours after birth at 40 weeks gestation. It is such a tough road. I can’t even imagine how heartbreaking it must be reliving that nightmare a second time – not that one of them ever ends. I agree, we are a generation where everything seems possible and aren’t used to much major disappointment or catastrophes. It hits you all the more if it happens. I also understand the feeling of everyone having their healthy first, second, third babies while you’re still waiting for the first living child. I still feel behind in that sense sometimes, eventhough we now have a healthy rainbow boy who was born in June 2017.
Wishing you guys all the best for this pregnancy! For me the rainbow pregnancy was very, very emotional and sad as I was reliving everything we experienced with our daughter. But the relief I felt when I held my son alive for the first time was beyond description. So overwhelming and beautiful, the most intense happy experience of my life. I wish that for you as well. Stay save!