On March 25, 2009 I took a home pregnancy test and it was positive.
Aaron and I were both so excited to know that we would welcome a new member into our family in early December.
We decided that this baby would be born in the comfort of our own home and we began having prenatal appointments with two of the best midwives we could have asked for (a husband and wife team of midwives). Everything was going perfectly and we were able to hear baby's heartbeat for the first time when I was 11.5 weeks along.
On July 7, 2009 we went to have ultrasound to find out the baby's gender. My mom and dad were able to come with us. It took a little poking and prodding and 2 ultrasound techs to get a good look but we were able to find out that our baby was a little boy.
Aaron and I were beyond excited to learn that we were having a son. We started dreaming and planning for a little boy. I was so excited that I had to go and buy some little boy clothes right away. I started painting the nursery on August 20th and finished painting on August 22nd. But, the entire nursery wasn't put together until about a week after Eli was born (when we got the final things in the mail).
After much discussion, we decided that our baby boy would be named Eli which means "ascension", "offering", or "my God".
We were still trying to decide on a middle name. We thought we would probably either go with Aaron or Michael as his middle name to carry on his daddy's name but we just couldn't make a final decision and we figured we still had 3 months to decide.
Eva, who was 20 months old at that point, kept me pretty preoccupied during the day so I didn't really have time to focus on Eli or notice if I felt him moving but every night when I laid down in bed I would make sure to spend at least a few minutes focusing on Eli and feel him move and kick. I started to feel him move at about 18 weeks (I had an anterior placenta which blocked a lot of his movements) and by 20 weeks, Aaron was able to feel him move. Every night I would enjoy a few minutes of Eli's movement before going to sleep for the night.
On the evening of Tuesday, August 26th, 2009 as I was laying in bed, I did not feel Eli move. I was worried but I didn't want to over-react so I went to sleep that night and then the next day I tried to pay attention and see if I could feel him moving at all. When I didn't feel him all morning I started getting more worried and started trying all the tricks I could think of to see I could make him move. I poked and prodded my stomach, drank a coke, I even shone a flashlight directly on my tummy. Nothing. I tried not to panic but when I went to bed that night and once again felt no movement, I freaked out a bit. Aaron tried to comfort me and I told him that when a baby doesn't move, it means they could be dead, and I cried. Aaron told me later that he thought about calling the midwives that night to go see them but he didn't want to freak me out. So, he told me to call the midwives in the morning.
The next morning, Thursday, August 28, I call my midwife Rose and told her I hadn't felt the baby move in 2 days. She told me to come in right away to see if we could find a heart beat. She sounded worried. So, I got Eva ready and we headed out to see Rose. When we got there, Rose listened for the heart beat and when she couldn't find it after trying for several minutes, she asked me if it was ok if she asked her mother-in-law to come try to find it (her mother-in-law was visiting from out of town and has been a midwife for 30 years). I agreed to let her come listen and she was also unable to find a heart beat. At that point, my fears had been confirmed. Rose and her mother-in-law prayed with me and gave me some time to try to gather myself.
After leaving Rose's house, I called Aaron. He had just arrived in Donnelly (about 2 hours away) to work for the day. I was bawling and I told him that we had lost our baby. I'm sure it was a huge shock to receive that phone call from me. He asked me what happened and I told him I didn't know, but that our baby was gone. Since Aaron was 2 hours away and didn't know if he could leave, he told me to call my mom.
I called my mom at work and she told me she was in the middle of something and asked if she could call me back. I said, "um, ok" and she must have heard something in my voice because she quickly said, "You're more important than anything else, what's going on?" I began bawling again and just blurted out, "We lost our baby." My mom left work right away and headed to our house. She later told me that she was praying on her way over and she clearly heard Jesus tell her, "It's ok, he's safe in my arms." My mom arrived at our house and convinced me to go to the emergency room. We headed over to St. Al's and they sent us to the labor and delivery floor for an ultrasound. The Ob-Gyn that was on call was a doctor by the name of Dr. Madland and he came to do the ultrasound. He was very sweet and compassionate. He sent in a specialist with a more advanced ultrasound machine to do another ultrasound. Neither of them found a heart beat. Dr. Bobrowski (a specialist) came and talked to me after reviewing the ultrasound to tell me what she saw. She said that Eli had something called hydrops which can be caused by numerous things including genetic defects, viruses, etc. She also said she wanted to get some blood from me to make sure that I was healthy and didn't have any blood clotting issues (a small concern with still born babies but it gets a bit more concerning when the baby has hydrops).
They drew some blood and then we waited and waited and waited for the results. If my blood work came back showing any problems, it would mean that we would need to induce right away but if it came back normal, we would have more time to decide what to do. We could wait and see if I would go into labor spontaneously on my own or we could induce. I called Aaron to let him know what I knew so far and he was able to leave Donnelly at about 2:30pm and was at the hospital by about 4:30pm. Aaron spoke with Dr. Madland so he could all of his questions answered because I couldn't remember some of the things that Dr. Madland had told me earlier in the day. All of my blood work came back normal and we decided to go home that night and then come back in the morning and start an induction.
We arrived at the hospital at 8am the next morning (Friday, August 28th). They did an amniocentesis and took 9 vials of my blood for testing. Then, just before 10am, they gave me my first dose of Cytotec to start the induction. I had to have a dose every 4 hours until my contractions were regular. So, I got another dose at about 2pm and then another at about 6pm and finally my last dose at about 10pm. During the day, both my parents and Aaron's parents and Eva stayed in the room with us off and on which was helpful in keeping us somewhat distracted. We also watched The Terminator to pass some time.
After they gave my my last dose of Cytotec at a little after 10pm, Aaron and I decided to try to get some sleep/rest. But, the contractions were starting to get too painful for me to be able to rest and after of short time of trying all I could to cope with them, I tapped Aaron's foot and told him I didn't know if I could do this much longer. After a short discussion with Aaron, he went and got the nurse. She checked me and said I was about 4cm and when I heard that, I felt somewhat defeated. I just couldn't imagine being able to deal with the contractions too much longer and I had no idea ho much longer I had (I knew I didn't need to get to 10cm but I didn't know if I needed to be at 5,6,7 cm or what). I hated the idea of getting any drugs but after talking with the nurse and then taking a few minutes to think about it, I decided to get some Stadol in my IV. The Stadol did nothing to take the pain away but it did help me to relax. In fact, I was so relaxed I could hardly keep my eyes open. But the pain of the contractions was still more than I could bear so I told the nurse that I needed an epidural. They started prepping me for an epidural by starting to run some fluids in my IV. All of the sudden, I felt immense pressure and told the nurse. She immediately called for the doctor who was in a sleeping room near by. I was trying my hardest not to push but the need was overbearing. The doctor finally said (as she was putting on her gloves), "If you need to bear down, go ahead." I pushed with the next contraction and Eli was born. No one was ready for it because it happened so quickly. I just remember saying, "he's here." From the time I felt pressure to the time Eli was born was probably about 3 minutes. Then, in the next 2 pushes, the placenta was born. There had been some concern about the placenta not separating correctly because I was only 26 weeks but it wasn't a concern after all.
They handed Eli to me and I whispered "hi" to him.
I couldn't cradle him with my left arm because the IV hindered my movement and I was really annoyed by that. I was also still pretty out of it from the Stadol in my system and I regret not being alert when he was born because of the drug in my system. Aaron then held Eli and then they took him away to try to clean him up some more and dress him.
They brought him back to our room and he stayed with us all night. He was so tiny and yet so perfect. He weighed 1 lb, 10 oz and was 11 3/4 inches long. Although I didn't notice until looking at pictures later, Aaron noticed right away that he had six toes on one foot.
And he definitely looked like a Hutchings. He was the spitting image of Aaron's grandpa and dad.
We tried to rest for a while and then a photographer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came at about 3:30am to do a photo shoot with Eli and Aaron and me.
We then got a few hours of sleep.
We were able to spend the next day just holding Eli and saying our goodbyes.
Aaron's parents brought Eva by in the morning and they were all able to hold Eli and get pictures taken with him.
Eva met Eli and gave him kisses and we were able to get some family pictures of all four of us.
My parents also came by and held Eli and we got some pictures of them with him.
My sister's also came by to hold him. That afternoon, when we were ready to leave, the nurses said that we could either leave Eli in our room when we left or one of the nurses could come take him away before we left. I told them that I needed one of them to come take him away. I couldn't leave him by himself in the room. So, one of the nurses (the same wonderful nurse that I had when I gave birth to Eva) came and took him away. I felt good that he was in good hands.
We decided to have Eli cremated (The Cremation Society of Idaho is kind enough to do this for free for babies) and on Sept. 10th we got the call that his ashes were ready. Earlier this same day, Dr. Bobrowski called me with the results of the amniocentesis and my blood work. Apparently I contracted a common virus called Cytomegalovirus (CMV) while I was pregnant with Eli. This virus is usually only harmful to fetuses and to people who have low immune systems like people with Aids or Cancer. CMV is almost only a problem for fetuses if you get it for the first time while pregnant, which apparently I did. If I had ever had it before, it wouldn't have been a problem. Eli also had Trisomy 13 which is a chromosomal defect that is said to be "incompatible with life". If a baby is born alive with Trisomy 13, they only have a 5-10% chance of living for the first year of life. And they usually have many deformities such as cleft lip and palate, closely spaced eyes, low set ears along with mental retardation, heart defects, limb defects, etc. Luckily, Eli was born without any of the normal physical defects. He did have low set ears and six toes on one foot but other than that, he was perfect. So, that evening we went to pick up Eli's ashes. It was difficult. It really made things final. Instead of bringing home a baby, we brought home a little urn filled with his ashes. Although it made me really sad, I also thought "at least we're all under 1 roof now like we should be."
We will miss Eli always but we know that he is safe and happy in the arms of Jesus and take some comfort in knowing that we will get to meet him someday.