I read a story the other day about a baby that was stillborn. This baby was 35 weeks gestation. His mom had cholestasis, just like me.
This woman had relatively low bile acid levels. Nothing was indicating that they should induce any sooner than the standard for cholestasis (at 37 weeks).
But this baby died. Quite suddenly. He’d passed every biophysical profile test. The doctors weren’t concerned.
That’s the scary thing about having cholestasis. You just never know when disaster is going to strike, but it can happen any time.
So these doctors, they know to get babies out early.
35 weeks, this otherwise healthy baby just couldn’t survive in his mom’s belly any longer. 35 weeks and he was gone.
I cried when I read that story. My heart ached at the thought of it.
William, you were born at 34 weeks 2 days. But you weren’t scheduled to be induced until 36 weeks. My bile acid levels were off the charts high.
I was terrified.
And then I woke up one morning with a weird feeling.
Luckily, my doctor got me in that day and we checked on you. We, too, ran a biophysical profile on you. You passed with flying colors as you always did.
But the doctor saw in my eyes that it wasn’t good enough.
He trusted in me. I remember him telling me, “There comes a point when we trust how you are feeling more than the tests.”
And so this doctor called the hospital and told them that, if I were to come in, they were to induce me- no questions asked.
And with that, he sent me home to figure out what I felt was the right decision.
I knew something was different. I knew you needed to come out. It was such a hard decision, however… inducing SO early.
Because that also meant that you’d most likely have a NICU stay. It was early, but I knew I’d rather take the chance of a NICU stay, over losing you forever.
And so you entered this world at 34 weeks and 2 days. Funny thing is, you were already going to make your appearance that weekend. I was naturally dilating, contracting, and becoming effaced already.
The induction helped make it happen faster, but you had plans to arrive on your own.
That sign from you gave me the confidence to move forward. The confidence that this was the right decision.
I just can’t help but think that we could have lost you had we not listened to my “weird feeling”.
Just a few more days, and it could have been you not surviving in my belly. It could have been you. And that terrifies me to even think about.
I can’t imagine our lives without you.
And I also know that, had she been healthy, you would not be with us.
We only wanted two children. We would have stopped having kids after April, had she survived.
Which means you wouldn’t be here.
It’s a weird feeling to know that. Because I am so grateful you are here.
Yet, at the same time, I wish longingly for April to be here. It’s an indescribable feeling, really.
It’s crazy to me to think about how we could have lost you, or the possibility that you wouldn’t have even been conceived, because you make our family whole.
You’ve brought such love to my heart.
I worried that I’d look at you and feel sadness for April. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to separate my love for you and my sadness and grief for her.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, however.
I look at you and I feel such joy. I’m still sad about April, and I always will be, but you don’t bring sadness to me in any way. You are truly that rainbow after a storm. You bring such joy and such love.
With every child born, I think our hearts as parents grow. And we are capable of feeling more love than we ever imagined.
You’ve shown me how true that is.
I think April was watching over us on the day you were born. I think she took care of you and made sure you arrived before anything could happen to you.
You have two pretty amazing big sisters.
You love Caroline more than I ever imagined you could. You search for her when you hear her voice, and have from day one.
You watch her, you listen to her, and you are so focused and engaged when you are with her.
She’s been a big sister for a while now, but she never got to give April her love and attention. She’s just loving being able to show you her love.
Every morning, she scootches over and I put you in her bed for snuggles. She holds you and talks with you. She kisses you and hugs you. You are wide-eyed and enjoy it so much. You both do.
Your presence in our family has shown us so much love. And you’ve shown me that we all have amazing strength.
It’s so much fun watching you with Caroline and Daddy.
One of my favorite things in life will always be watching Daddy fall in love with you, April, and Caroline.
This is the last time I’ll get to witness him falling in love with a baby of ours. I see the love just grow instantly and you’ve made him so happy.
When I look at you, I feel so strong. I think deep down I needed that, I needed to feel strong again.
I went into your birth toying with the idea of doing it naturally. I’d never even considered it with Caroline and April. But with you, I felt the need to try. I didn’t know why.
Now I know.
I did it. I gave birth to you with no epidural, no drugs to control the pain. I did it. I was incredibly strong on that day.
And every time I look at you, I feel that strength. I feel strong.
Maybe subconsciously I knew that I needed that feeling back. Maybe I needed to channel my anger and sadness somewhere- and pain was my outlet to release it a bit. Maybe I just needed to know that I was strong and feel it in a raw, physical way so I’d never forget.
I feel like we can conquer the world together. You gave that to me and continue to give that feeling to me every day.
Today you talked to me. I told you I loved you. I gave you kisses. You made the sweetest noises back like you were trying to mimic my words. You gave me sweet kisses back–those wonderful, open mouth baby kisses on my cheek.
Thank you so much, William. Thank you for giving me strength. Thank you for loving me and making our family what it is.
I love you so much.
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Has your family experienced termination for medical reasons (TFMR)? Katrina has an incredible resource for you–a set of children’s books that help to explain the death of a baby to an older or younger sibling.