I’ve told Aiden’s story hundreds of times over the past 10 years, usually on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group hosted by Woman’s Hospital. However, aside from writing a letter to him in his journal apologizing for the misfortunate events, I have never actually written his story down until now.
Shortly after our loss, while driving past the hospital where he died, the song “Broken” by Lifehouse came on and the lyrics really stood out to me:
I'm falling apart
I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart
That's still beating...
I'm hangin' on another day
Just to see what you will throw my way
And I'm hanging on to the words you say
You said that I will, will be OK
My heart was broken but the world expected me to carry on as usual, and I was so desperate to get to the part in my life where I would be okay again.
When I was 13 weeks into my first pregnancy, my husband, Adam, and I went in for a routine ultrasound. Afterwards, I got a call from my doctor saying, “Don’t worry, the baby is fine. You have a dermoid cyst on your ovary.” She told me these cysts were very common, but because mine was about the size of a baby’s head, we needed to decide whether to remove it right away or wait until after the baby was born. We were referred to Maternal Fetal Medicine for a second opinion, and it was decided that because of the size and location of the cyst, it could twist or rupture as the baby grew more active, creating an emergency situation before viability. Sixteen weeks was a safe time to have surgery when pregnant so that was when we scheduled the removal of the cyst.
The surgery was routine. My doctor had to remove my entire left ovary because there was no more viable ovarian tissue remaining. I went to recovery to wait for the epidural to wear off, but I started to feel nauseous. I was given medication, and the nausea went away, but then it came back again. After several hours, it was discovered that I was bleeding internally. I was rushed back into surgery to stop the bleeding and was given a blood transfusion. Eventually, I made it to my hospital room. The portable ultrasound showed that the baby was doing fine, and everyone had a big sigh of relief.
The next morning, I asked the doctor making rounds if I could hear the baby’s heartbeat. He tried a couple of Dopplers but was having problems so they brought out the portable ultrasound. I could see right away that the baby was not moving. The doctor said, “I don’t see a heartbeat.” --That is when our entire world fell apart.
I was given Cytotec to induce labor but developed a side effect of a 104°F fever. At some point in the middle of the night, my fever broke and my water broke so they contacted the doctor on call. The doctor delivered a tiny 3.8 oz. baby who fit in the palm of her hand. A nurse asked me if I would like to hold the baby. I was taken by surprise because it never occurred to me that I could hold such a tiny baby. The first thing I did when holding my baby was to look and find out that it was a little boy. We had not discussed names yet, but I liked the name Aiden so that was what we named him.
We left the hospital with eight pictures taken by the nurses, a set of tiny footprints, a little gown from Threads of Love, and a little teddy bear from Angels Among Us, donated in memory of another baby who had passed. It was lonely and quiet at home, and I had a hard time adjusting to our new normal. Adam and I started attending the support group because I needed to connect with others who could sympathize with what I was going through. Over the years, I have met some amazingly brave people in the group and have gotten very involved with Angels Among Us and the loss community. Listening and connecting with others have helped me heal.
We eventually had two more boys, Mason and Rhys, and incorporated Aiden’s memory into our lives. We
have our little traditions, and his brothers are excited to pick out a cake and sing him happy birthday every year. We have awkward (for me) conversations about death, and they talk about how they wish they could have known him and played with him. While it’s certainly not how I expected our journey to go, and while it’s taken a painfully long time to get here, I think I finally reached the part in the song where I so desperately wanted to be.
About Anna’s Grace Foundation Anna’s Grace Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting families in the Greater Baton Rouge Area who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. Each and every day one of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, or family members will experience the devastating loss of a baby, and Anna’s Grace is there to provide emotional and financial support so that families can focus on healing. The Anna’s Grace Quarter Marathon is on March 24, 2019. For more information or to register, visit http://www.annasgrace.org/registration.