Thursday, February 25, 2016

Losing Oliver: Part 2 - Birth Story & Meeting My Son

Every birth story is beautiful.  Oliver's story is precious to me.  He has blessed me so much in his short life & I'll forever be grateful God has gifted me this treasure in heaven.  His story - even from conception - is so amazing & I grieve that it was so short.

I've been so sick I hadn't been taking many baby bump pictures so we snapped this last one in the hospital at 17 weeks 4 days (the day before he was actually born).

As much as I was in a hurry to meet my baby boy (as my pregnancy had not been easy & was wrought with anxiety) I was NOT prepared to meet him so soon.  We left the clinic Friday afternoon (where we found there was no longer a heartbeat) and were scheduled to return to the Mother Baby Center at the hospital at 6 that evening.

My mother & sister were waiting for us when we got there - they stayed the entire time, well past when Oliver was born.  I can say that having them there, that support, was an extreme comfort to me.  In fact, my support system in general right now is tremendous. My cup truly runneth over.

**Trigger Warning** 

Before I share the beautiful (detail-filled) story of Baby Oliver's birth I want to warn you of the graphic nature of the content.  I am including photos of his precious life at the end & if this is difficult for you to look at please be warned not to continue scrolling.

Dan requested another ultrasound be performed before we went any further.  I write this several days later and I think he STILL doesn't quite believe Oliver is dead.  Especially in those first moments though - absolute disbelief that God has us here again. We needed that additional confirmation that there was no cardiac activity before inducing.

The induction process involved a med called Citotec that is used to dilate the cervix.  4 doses of this were given (every 2 hours) as it took a bit of work for my body to get the message it was time to deliver.  I was given Fentanyl (and, when that was ineffective, Morphine) but it still hurt.  It's much the same as regular labor contractions except that they were induced & there is no happy ending to mask the pain.

Since there is very little pressure to push with a baby this small the nurse sat by my side waiting with me.  In fact, all the nurses were amazing. They made all the difference for me - they grieved with me, cried with me, prayed with me, held my precious son and told me he was beautiful. They made it work that I stayed in the same delivery room all weekend (not needing to move to the recovery floor where other mothers held their living babies). They even sent me a card afterward - beautiful & heartfelt.

At 4:25 am on Saturday, February 20th, we welcomed Oliver Joseph Krube into this world.  Nurse T caught the baby and held him there while we waited for the doctor to come in.  She could not set him down as the cord was wrapped so tightly around his neck he was barely outside of my body. The doctor slowly unwrapped the umbilical cord from his neck - 4 times it was wrapped around. 

Oliver healthily danced and moved in my belly until he was entangled in the cord.  The doctor called it a "fluke thing."  It can happen to any person.  It has no bearing on my future and no correlation to my past.  Despite the hurtful things that have been said about me entering pregnancy knowing it could end in loss, that is UNTRUE.  Remember when the doctor said I had less than a 1% chance of loss?! This was simply the worst kind of luck.  It is not my fault.  It could not have been predicted nor could it have been prevented.  Despite finding out right away, he could not have been saved. This is devastating enough without accusations that this was my fault or that I knew this was a possibility.

Dan cut the cord as he has done for the 5 children before this and Oliver was handed to me to hold.  I met my son and sat in awe of God's amazing work.  His fingers and toes had these perfect little nails. There was this pristine little penis proudly on display, assuring us that the ultrasound from 2 weeks ago was accurate. He was absolute perfection.

In this moment I hurt like never before.  The only pain that has ever rivaled this would be losing his sister Bentlee over 5 years prior.  I am now entering this with experience so there are some things I'm doing differently/better.  I now know that the ONLY way past this grief is to go right THROUGH it.  To feel all the feels. To allow the hurt and the waves of grief and moments of anger.  So in this moment I embraced the hurt and just sobbed.

I held my precious, perfect son and cried. I inhaled his baby smell, committing this moment to memory.  I held his little hand.  I pulled him close and told him how very deeply he is loved.  My husband, mother, and sister all held me & took turns holding Oliver. 

After a very short period of functioning off of sheer adrenaline the fatigue caught up with me.  I had hardly slept since the panic set in Wednesday night & not at all through the laboring process.  I was so full of drugs & my body was so worn I felt the crash coming.  I begged the nurse to not take him away.  I remember saying "I love him so much.  I want to hold him still, I just can't function.  I just need one hour. I'm not a bad mom.  I want to be with him.  I'll need him back. I just can't..."

I'm not sure I really slept but I do know almost an hour passed while I closed my eyes.  Dan stood with Nurse T while they measured Olli (7 1/2 inches long), obtained footprints (thank you, Nurse T - I know this was a challenging task but oh so precious to me) and took photos.  The white around the neck where the cord was wrapped was captured clearly in some pictures Dan took and it haunts me.

The next 5 hours were brutal.  Dan, my mom, my sister, and I prayed that God would protect me from surgery and that the entire placenta would deliver intact very soon. I've had many surgeries and each time I do not metabolize the anesthesia well.  I am so drugged and tired that I have no control over my body's need to sleep.  To crash for a day or two.  In this scenario that meant I would NEVER EVER have time to hold my son.  To kiss him and be with him for this small amount of time on earth.  I let go of Bentlee so quickly after she was born and regret that I cannot hold her again until Heaven. 

I lost 2 liters of blood (the nurses kept track) and the clots were so large we actually thought the prayer was answered and the placenta delivered whole (just a huge clot).  My blood pressure, which was flirting with the higher end of the spectrum during pregnancy, had now crashed low.  I was so lightheaded the poor nurse had to have another nurse grab a wheelchair to help me move from the bathroom to the bedroom.
During this process of waiting for the placenta to deliver we did all we could to encourage it along.  It was hard to put pressure on the uterus because it was still so small and low.  I had several additional doses of citotec suppositories and IM Pitocin shots.  We left the scissors clamped to the cord hanging out of my body during this whole process.  It was uncomfortable & somewhat humiliating.  The doctor used a long rod tool to try to latch the cord and pull out the placenta but the cord wasn't strong enough yet.

I remember being SO upset when my food order arrived at the room (I hadn't eaten in so long and was so very much looking forward to that tray of hospital food) and the doctor told me I could not eat because I was going to be headed in for surgery. Insert angry emoticon here. It seems so silly now how big it was to me at the time.

In that moment I'm not sure I was angry at God per se, but certainly questioning.  "Lord, I not only came to you every single day asking for protection over this precious life inside me - which is now gone - but I pleaded with you NOT to need surgery.  Lord, you had the power to stop all this and yet here I am, experiencing it all." 

I know better. Of course.  But I feel like it's important to admit that in a grief this substantial we DO have questions for God and we CAN come to Him.  While I may not ever have an answer why God allowed my son to die & why the delivery had to be so brutal, I CAN trust that He will use ALL things for our good and His glory in the end.  That He will carry me.

In an instant it was decided I must be rushed into surgery to perform a procedure similar to a D&C (remove the retained placenta and scrape out the uterus - same concept).  My existing IV was bad and a new one was needed.  One gal from the IV team was using an ultrasound machine to find a better vein.  Another nurse was stabbing me with lidocaine and digging for a vein in the other arm.  The anesthesiologist grew impatient and put an IV in my hand.  Nurses on either side of me were giving me shots (there was Methergyn or something like that for the bleeding, Pitocin, and morphine).  The whole thing was surreal - and a blur.  There were so many staff surrounding me I felt like a celebrity with paparazzi all around.

So here's the great news: I did not go under general anesthesia! It had been well over 24 hours since my last shot of blood thinner and they were able to use a spinal.  I was numb from the waist down for the procedure - and drugged with relaxant - but I was awake.  See, God was there with me.

I was wheeled into PACU - the post op recovery room.  This tiny little room with 3 curtained sections. The woman next to me had her baby.  She said "Look at these little fingers! It's a baby!" Then her living child cried. So I did too.  I tried to hide under my blanket so as not to steal her joy but my sweet nurse saw and rushed to my side. She called for help wheeling me immediately back to my delivery room, where my husband & baby were waiting for me.  She probably broke the rules for me but was only concerned with what was most comforting to me.  Seriously, nurses are amazing.

That surgery & the blood loss and clotting history required me to be monitored for 24 hours. I was just gifted with an entire day with my son.  Those "complications" enabled me to hold Oliver until Sunday.  For another day sleep alluded me but I didn't notice much.  I was too busy soaking in every precious moment with my son. 

For a long while it was just Dan and me.  This man is my rock.  I can't even find the words to describe how much I love him.  Every part of me is better because of him & because he is in my life.  Holding my dead child while Dan held me is another one of the many moments that make up our beautiful life together.  We sat in awe, "We made this. Look who we've created."  (With God's help of course.)

I am exceptionally grateful for the support I have had in this whirlwind weekend.  My mom, dad, baby brother, little sister, and dear friend all came to the hospital at various points.  To keep me company, to weep with me, to hold me and to hold Baby Oliver, to entertain me, and just to be sure I knew I am loved.  My friend dropped everything to care for the kids all weekend and my aunt rushed over Friday to sleep over while we were in the hospital for a couple days.  Cards and calls have poured in.  I even received flowers.  I love flowers. I came home to big hugs from my 4 kids.   I am very, very blessed.

Sunday in the late morning we said a final goodbye to Oliver Joseph Krube.  Nurse J gave me this little stuffed bunny that I spent the night cuddling.  I wrapped it up in a blanket with Oliver and clung tight.  That tangible, take-home memorial is priceless.  Although I left Oliver behind (the funeral home would get him on Monday), I did take his bunny, his blanket and his memory with me. 

"I grieve for all the tomorrows that will never be. I grieve because God now holds you instead of me."  -

Soaking up my very last moments with Oliver.