I am starting this blog because one of the things that got me through the most difficult time of my life was reading other people’s stories. If my story can help just one person dealing with infant loss, then that would be more than enough for me. My future posts will be nowhere as long as this, I promise!
Me in a nutshell: My name is Lindsey. I am a twenty-six year old married mother of two beautiful boys (2.5 and 1 years old). I am married to my high school sweetheart (though we dated around in college because we went to schools far away from each other– another story for another day). He is finishing up medical school, and we are currently in the midst of interviews for different residency programs, so we have no idea where we will be moving to if we have to move next summer. Needless to say, the past few years have been a bit stressful for us as we began to grow our family, moved all around the state, and adjusted to married life, medical school life, and parent life.
Things finally settled down for us when we got to move back to our hometown for 3rd and 4th year rotations. Our families are here, which everyone knows is invaluable when you have children. With things going so well, we came to the conclusion we wanted to have a third baby sooner rather than later. We got pregnant easily– which is such a blessing– and learned that we were going to be having another baby boy. I feel so guilty now that I was ever disappointed that this baby was a boy. Having two boys already, I was thought I was due to get my little girl.
This third pregnancy was normal for the most part– minus some bleeding early on and morning sickness that I had never experienced with my first two, but that all tapered off around 12 weeks, and everything seemed to be going great. We made it to the 20 week mark, and Matt and I were so excited for the anatomy scan (the super long ultrasound where they measure everything about the baby and confirm the gender). That morning, something just didn’t feel right. I had a couple of contractions that felt like actual labor contractions (totally different than Braxton-Hicks, if you know you know), so I started freaking out. We got the boys squared away with the in-laws, and hurried to our scheduled 2:00 appointment; meanwhile, I thought I felt something coming out of me, but I honestly thought I had to go to the bathroom. When I did, I knew something was terribly wrong. The doctor checked me and told me what a parent never wants to hear: “We’re going to do everything we can, but it doesn’t look good.”
I went from being ecstatic about getting my super detailed ultrasound to learning that I had begun dilating, and my membranes were bulging due to an incompetent cervix. At only 19 weeks and 5 days, the baby was not viable. My baby boy, with his heart beating strong on the monitor in front of me, was more than likely going to die. My body was failing him. I was rushed to the high-risk ward, where our only hope of saving the baby was to put me in the bed with my pelvis/legs in the air– the hope was that the sac would fall back into place, then they would place an emergency cerclage (stitch) to keep the cervix closed until I had reached 24 weeks (viability– when the baby could potentially survive outside the womb) or more. I would have to be on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy, and there was already a risk of infection, since the membranes had been exposed.
These things would only be able to happen if the contractions I had been feeling were to have stopped. They didn’t. The nurse gave placed a catheter (first and last time I will ever get one while I am conscious and alert– not fun at all; lots of F bombs). By about 7:00, I was having awful contractions about a minute apart and lasting for a minute or more. The doctor was going to get me an epidural because at that point, the only thing that could really be done was to make me comfortable, but I felt like I had to get up. I get up on all fours and feel like I need to push, and I could not stop it. Nurses and my husband trying to get me to lay down on the bed, someone giving me a shot of some kind of pain killer, doctor yelling for someone to get the anesthesiologist, and me on all fours trying not to push… that’s what I remember. And then I remember laying down on my side, and he just came right out in a half of a push. 9:55pm. I started sobbing because I knew he wasn’t alive, but I also felt such a feeling of relief– all the pain was gone. The doctor cut the cord and the nurses wrapped him up and handed him to me.
He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. At 19 weeks and 5 days, he looked just like his older brothers. Ten fingers and ten toes, eyebrows, the Mazzola ears, and perfect angel face. James Daly Mazzola was born sleeping at 9:55pm on 10/17/2016 weighing 11oz. He must have passed away shortly before delivery because the heart monitor had been recording his beautiful heartbeat only hours earlier. My hope is that he didn’t suffer. I am so grateful to have been able to hold him and spend those precious hours with my sweet boy during that 24hour period. His brothers came to the hospital to meet him along with my mom and dad and Matt’s step-dad.
I am so thankful for the nurses and doctors– they were incredible, and I felt like I was in the most capable hands. The rest of the hospital stay was a blur; I had a D&C the next morning to make sure my uterus was completely emptied out, and we took pictures with James (in hindsight this was the best decision I could’ve made because I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have these photos to look back on and remember him by– these are some of my most treasured possessions). Eventually it was time to leave, and we gathered all of our things, and they wheeled me out to the car. That was the hardest ride of my life because my arms were sickeningly empty. That is something you can never be prepared for.
The next few days were very dark for me. Thankfully my mother came and stayed with us for a couple of days and took care of the boys while Matt tried to get back to his rotations (and was thankfully sent home). I slept for at least two days– only waking to have a bite of a peanut butter sandwich force fed to me so I could take my handful of medicine (2 anti-depressants, prenatal, iron pill, antibiotics, ibuprofen).
Then the day came where we needed to go to the funeral home to sign papers for the cremation. This is when I fell apart all over again. Reading all of the terms and conditions and all that goes into a cremation is absolute HELL on parents who’ve lost a child. Seeing his name next to words like “deceased” and “remains” is almost enough to kill me. Thank God for Matt because I could not have gotten through that without him.
Finally, about a week and a half later, I have gotten to a place where I can think about these events without breaking down into a hot mess of tears. Every day gets a little better, and I hope it continues this way. A week ago, I had no idea if I would ever be able to even get out of bed or even function at all. I have found that keeping busy and being around friends and family is the most comforting thing for me. The kind messages we’ve received from everyone have helped build us back up, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without the friends and family we have. Taking care of the two boys I have also keeps me busy, and I am so much more grateful for them than I ever have been. I will never take them for granted again, I can tell you that for sure.
Yesterday, we had a good follow-up appointment, and we were told that we could start trying for another baby after a couple of months. For me, getting pregnant again is going to be a big part of the healing process. Doctor said that future pregnancies for me would be labeled “high risk,” but that just means I will get seen more often, and I will have to get a cerclage put in at about 12-13 weeks, and I won’t be able to do any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise (totally not a problem for me since I am extremely unenthusiastic about working out). I am very excited to begin trying again, and I will document my journey here. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, and though I don’t wish it on anyone, I hope if someone has experienced or is experiencing infant loss/ miscarriage, they will find comfort in knowing they’re not alone.