So, I have to reflect first on yesterday before I start to tell about the day we found out about Michael. February 5, 2015 was a peaceful day. The sun was actually out in the infamous overcast city where we live. So that helped. When that time approached when I was told Emily did not have a heartbeat, I hugged my Ryan a little more and just told him I loved him. My older son, Matthew, was in school. The boys and I baked our heart-shaped cookies and iced them in pink and blue. Their choice in colors. And had fun decorating them with sprinkles. We played some board games, and read some bedtime stories. As I remember that evening two years ago, I was filled with such heart ache and sadness. Confusion. Two years later, my heart still aches and I am sad that we lost. I miss Emily and Michael incredibly, but am thankful for all of my blessings here.
So, a year ago today… February 6, 2014. I was feeling good. I actually came across my journal I started while we were pregnant with Michael, last night. I am glad I started that for the memories I have of Michael are few and far between. I have almost four months recorded of my time with him. My cravings were very similar with all four of my pregnancies – orange juice and cereal. I smile when I read that because it makes all of my babies seem more valid and real. I had morning sickness with all four of my pregnancies. It wasn’t just morning sickness though. I had it off and on throughout the day with all of them. By the time we got pregnant with Michael, I embraced the morning sickness more so than I even had in the past. It was a “good sign” that all was going well.
With Michael’s pregnancy too, we started praying before every doctor appointment. We prayed in the car and asked that our baby be okay and healthy. That God gave us the strength and guidance to get through whatever news was given to us that day. We had others praying all of the time for us – Christmas Novenas being said, candles at the Notre Dame Cathedral being lit, Padre Pio’s actual hanker-chief being laid on top of Michael as we prayed. I was more aware of my body, and if I was growing or gaining enough. I always seemed to put on some weight in the first trimester even though I had morning sickness which was fine with me. We had already seen Michael at 8 weeks. They bring you in earlier if you have had a loss to just help with easing your mind and worries. It helped. He was doing great – growing and great heartbeat. Our due date was set for August 5, 2014. I remember going into that appointment nervous – what if we don’t get a heartbeat? What if our baby died again? But, he was okay. I even got a video of his heartbeat which I hold dearly. The boys were even able to see their sibling on the screen. We got our first ultrasound pictures of him that day. Then two weeks later at our first official appointment with our OB-GYN. She again, could not pick up his heartbeat so we were sent downstairs. I got nervous, again. “Oh, please God. Don’t do this again,” I said in my head. We got in there, and I could barely look at the screen. We were in the same room I found out that Emily had died. I was not alone this time; my husband was with me. Just having him there eased my worries. I had my eyes shut at first. Finally I looked up at the screen. Our baby was still. “Oh no, here we go again.” I looked away. My husband squeezed my hand a couple of times, like as in, “It’s okay.” And I looked over at him. He said, “It’s okay. There’s a heartbeat.” Thank God, I can breathe. Just then he started to move around. I wish again, I would have watched him more. Gotten more pictures. The doctor came in and said that our baby was doing great. Strong heartbeat at 170-174 bpm. That was music to my ears. Yes, we are going to be okay I thought.
We went home, and I was just so relieved. And I was allowing myself to get a little excited. Like I could embrace this pregnancy fully. That our baby was not going to be taken from us again. We had already scheduled our next appointment – February 6th. Oh dear, I thought. That is one day after the day we found out that Emily did not have a heartbeat. Don’t be superstitious Anne. We would be 14 1/2 weeks pregnant then. Everything will be okay. This can’t happen twice. That is what they told me in the offices. That it was rare. I had a lot of blood work done the summer prior; all looked good the doctors said. I felt like I turned over every stone to be guaranteed a baby here. So, we go into that appointment. I was feeling good. We had a family Super Bowl Party the weekend before. We had fun. I was trying to put a new feeling to that weekend from the year before. I was even buying some new maternity items to get ready. So we go into that appointment, my husband and myself. We get taken back to that same room that my OB-GYN could not get a heartbeat with her Doppler with Emily. “Oh, don’t be superstitious Anne.” We had to sit and wait a while. “It’s ok Anne. Remember last time. Be patient. Not a big deal.” My husband and I talked and joked a little bit. I was a little nervous. I asked if he was. He said no. Our doctor came in. She small talked a little with us, then got out her Doppler. Kept getting my heartbeat. Come on baby, make this easy. You could tell she was concerned, and was really trying to get our baby’s heartbeat. She was pushing on me a little hard, and I said it was totally fine. “Just get the heartbeat please,” I said in my head. She had to send us downstairs. Oh no… I was not oblivious that this could happen again. I even mentioned that to her before we left. She tried to reassure me by saying, “I hope not,” as my husband and I started our walk downstairs. I remember saying to him as we were headed down there, “I am so glad that you are here with me.” Last year was just overwhelming being alone.
So, we got there. And had a to wait a little while to be called back. I asked my husband again, “Are you worried?” He said no. I shouldn’t have been surprised. He does not worry at all, really. I said, “Let’s pray again.” We prayed that all was okay with our baby. “But if our baby was already in Heaven with you God, please give us the strength and guidance in the days ahead.” We held hands and waited for my name to be called back. “Anne Morrison.”
We head to the ultrasound room. Room 5. The same one that we were in the last time that Michael had a heartbeat. But also the same one I was told that Emily had died. “Oh God. Please not again.” We get back there. I get up on the exam chair. Lift up the shirt for the gel on my tummy. We look at the screen. The air is still again. I just looked and knew. I looked over at my husband and he had a very still and sad face. And we just knew. I said, “Our baby died, huh?” He said, “Yeah.” Our baby wasn’t moving and there was no heartbeat. I was so sad all over again. I said to my husband, “I am just glad that you are here with me. This time.” And then ultrasound technician did not say much. She continued with her measurements, and I asked for some pictures. I said, “I know our baby died, but I still would like some pictures.” She printed some pictures, but did not confirm the devastating news. I kept saying, “I cannot believe that this is happening again.” And I kept saying to the technician, “I know what happened. There isn’t a heartbeat line. This has happened before. I know.” Still she said nothing except, “We have to wait for the doctor.” “I get it,” I said. “You have to wait for the doctor.” Having gone down this road before, I knew what to expect. It made it more bearable, but it was still incredibly sad all over again. Our “hope” had died. This baby was our hope. Our rainbow baby as they call the baby after a loss.
The doctor said to go home and wait for a call from our OB-GYN to go over our “options” and what is next. Okay, and that is it. We were sent home (again) with no brochures on helping you through a loss. You get this beautiful binder filled with all kinds of information when you are “confirmed” to be pregnant. But you find out that your baby had died, and you get nothing. A year later, nothing has changed I thought. “When are the ultrasound offices going to get a little more compassion and have something to take home,” I think.
We stopped at the cemetery on the way home, to reserve another plot. This is not how I envisioned this day going. I just cannot believe that this is happening again. We get a spot right next to Emily which helps me feel a little bit better. I go over to Emily’s grave, and say, “Well, you already knew what had happened. Your baby sibling is with you and has been.” We were told that our baby measured around 12-13 weeks old. I made the same calls – our dear priest, the funeral home. Here we go again. We had to break the news again to our boys. That their baby sibling has died. It has been quite a roller coaster ride for all of us. It has been a lot.
We did take some pictures before our appointment that day, and took some more in the days leading up to Michael’s delivery on February 12th. We celebrated Emily’s birthday on February 8th, and did a balloon release for her at the cemetery and even had cupcakes. I thought, “Gosh, I am celebrating little you in Heaven, but now we have lost another.” Michael was still in my belly. And I thought, “Soon he is going to be out right there, buried next to Emily.”
Those days were hard leading up to Michael’s delivery. I had learned some things from the previous year that had helped. But we were all still very sad. We had wonderful meals brought to us. Cards of condolences. Flowers delivered. Prayers being said. I cannot say enough, how much all of that makes a difference at times like this. As hard as these weeks are, I feel such peace and love from all that others did to help our days be more bearable and less painful. I read recently that that is God’s way of showing that He loves us, and is walking with us.