After the loss of a pregnancy, a woman’s arms feel empty, her heart is broken, faith has been shaken, and all hope torn away. Longing for a baby in my arms after the death of my daughter, Viviana (you can read her story HERE), I wasn’t sure we should try again. I just knew I wanted Viviana in my arms.
My husband and I went back to our doctors to seek advice on future pregnancies. All of the testing on Viviana came back normal. They could not find a reason for her illness. We had nothing to base future pregnancies on – besides the fact that we did have one living, healthy son who was now two years old.
Our doctors advised us that Viviana’s condition was so rare and uncommon that the likelihood of Hydrops happening again was about the same chance of being struck by lightning. In fact, the doctors told us they had never seen this condition happen to a family twice. We were told to “go ahead and start trying for another baby!”
For the first time, we were actually trying to have a baby! By trying, I mean I was researching and learning how to understand when I was ovulating and when the best chances were for us to get pregnant. 3 months later, we were expecting again! It was a bitter sweet moment for me. I was so excited to be pregnant again, but so frightened that this pregnancy would end like the last one. I was no longer naive to pregnancy loss.
Pregnancy brings a woman excitement and joy, but also something to look forward to – a set date that will change her life forever. My date was set… on June 4th I would have this baby in my arms. I still, however, had a very heavy heart and was still mourning the loss of our daughter.
My pregnancy was going really well. We were expecting a little boy. As I approached 27 weeks gestation (when Viviana passed) I demanded a sonogram to ease my worries. I thought if I made it past 27 weeks that everything would be ok with our son. He looked healthy and active – just like a normal baby! I finally felt good about the pregnancy and started planning to have a baby.
We named him Benjamin “Kaleb” – B.K. initials after my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father.
At 34 weeks gestation, I suddenly started feeling contractions every 15 minutes. I knew I had a check-up appointment coming up in a few days so I held off calling the doctor.
Hydrops Fetalis (read Viviana’s story) can also cause the mother’s body to mirror symptoms. So as the baby retains fluids, so can the mother, causing major swelling in feet, hands, and also Polyhydramnios (extra fluid in the uterus).
The first thing you do at a maternal checkup is weigh in. When I stood on the scales and saw that I had gained 10 pounds in one week, I began to cry. The poor nurse had no idea why I was crying. I told her about my contractions and concern with the weight gain. She brought the doctor in, and the doctor began to calm me down telling me she was sure everything was fine. That was until she measured my stomach. I was 34 weeks measuring 42 weeks pregnant. I was huge! She looked at me with shock and suggested we do a “non-stress test” to make sure the baby’s movements and my contractions were normal. Let’s just say, I failed the test miserably! So they decided to do a sonogram. At this point, I have had so many sonograms, that I could tell the tech what she was looking at. So as soon as Kaleb’s image appeared on the screen I knew… I saw the fluid. No words were expressed; the sonographer turned off the machine and cried with us. Kaleb had the same diagnoses as Viviana – Hydrops Fetalis. He had fluid in his lungs, and under his skin.
My husband and I sat in the room for a while, holding each other and crying. Knowing what our future was, our son had the same chances of survival that Viviana did… 1 – 5%.
I was sent to the hospital where they put me on bed rest for the weekend. When Monday morning came, the doctors decided to do an emergency C-section to try and help increase Kaleb’s chance of surviving. At 11:30 a.m. Kaleb was born via C-section. He was not breathing. He was purple. The NICU team rushed to get him on a ventilator. I didn’t get that joyful moment of hearing my son’s cry, of them laying him on my chest, or even seeing what he looked like.
Later, they wheeled my bed into the NICU so I could see where Kaleb was. He was connected to so many machines, but all I saw was my handsome little baby boy… Praising God my baby was alive!!
On Kaleb’s second day of life, I was finally well enough to go visit him. I stood over him, and sang praises to him… “Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do!” When we talked to him, his vitals would go up. His oxygen levels went up, he looked great – just very swollen. I was so happy! Then, one of Kaleb’s doctors came in. My husband and I were smiling and talking to each other about who Kaleb looked like. The doctor looked at us and said, “I don’t know why you are so happy. He is very, very sick and will not survive this. Do you understand?” My heart sank. What? I knew he was sick, but no one told me he was going to die. As you can image, I was upset…. very upset.
So much happened after that, but I am going to fast forward to Kaleb’s 4th day of life. This time we were holding Kaleb. My husband wouldn’t put him down. He held him for hours at a time. A different doctor came in this time. He was older, and he looked emotional as he grabbed my hands and held them tight. After going over every medicine he has tried, he looked me in the eyes and he began to cry. He said “I am so sorry, I don’t know what else to do.” He sat with me and cried. This meant the world to me!
That night Kaleb was fading fast. His heartbeat was getting slower and slower. He was now considered brain dead and we were advised to turn off his ventilator. This was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. By me signing a paper, I was authorizing the doctor to end my son’s life. As I picked up the pen, I was shaking, and started to pray. “Lord, take my son. Let him go in peace.” Just as I signed, Kaleb’s heart stopped beating. I rushed over to him and held his little fingers. He was gone.
My husband and I were taken to a room where they were going to bring Kaleb’s body for us to hold. A nurse walked in and handed me a “Viviana’s Memory Box”. She had no idea I was the creator of this box. I went from crying to smiling; the nurse looked so confused. I was now on the receiving end of my own ministry. I saw a whole new side to this box. This time around I had items of Kaleb’s to place in the box. We sat and placed his footprints and handprints in the box. An hour later, the nurse came into the room to take Kaleb’s body. I found myself once again watching my child be strolled down the hallway as I felt my heart being ripped from my chest.
I walked out of the hospital – with two empty arms.
Thank you for reading Kaleb’s Story! Come celebrate his birthday with us at our “Surviving Brokenness Banquet” and I will give you a special gift HERE