We were so full of joy when we found out we were expecting.
From the start my pregnancy was complicated. I was sick all the time. I was exhausted and just felt like something was wrong. My hormone levels were not rising so I was put on progesterone and had to have my blood drawn every few days to see if my levels were rising which with the progesterone they were!
At 12 weeks we had an ultrasound which showed thickening of the nuchal fold which could possibly be an indicator of downs syndrome so I was sent to a specialist. The specialist saw this as well. But nothing else she saw during this ultrasound showed any other signs of Downs. We were given our options and we chose to just have blood work to determine if our baby had any chromosomal defects. This blood work also would tell us if we were having a boy or a girl!
After about 5 days we got the call and the blood work came back and all was normal and negative for any defects. We also found out we were having a boy!!
I continued care with the specialist and with my normal OB and for several weeks everything looked great!! We couldn’t have been happier! We decided to name him Brody.
At 24 weeks I had noticed that I was not feeling him move as much as I had prior. In fact I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt him move. This was on a Sunday during the day. I did everything I knew to do to try to get him to kick and still nothing. But I didn’t panic. He was still so small and I knew sometimes movement could be hard to detect that early on still. I also had a doctor’s appointment the next morning with my OB.
When I got to the OB she weighed me and did all the things that are normal for a prenatal checkup. I laid down on the table and she found his heart beat right away. This is when I mentioned to her that I had not felt him move. She did seem concerned at all but hooked me up to the NST just for peace of mind. I was hooked up to this for around 20 mins when my doctor came back in and stated that she’s not picking up any variables in his heart rate and it’s just flat and steady. So she wanted to give me some orange juice and a snack to see if we can wake him up and then get a closer look with an ultrasound. They still could not get him to move during this ultrasound so they admitted me to the hospital for closer monitoring. During my overnight stay Brody became very distressed several times throughout the night. So they thought that maybe he had a heart condition.
The next morning I had a neonatal cardiologist come in and do a very detailed ultrasound of his heart and everything looked great! But they still couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t moving and why he was having some distress. So my doctor made the choice to put me in an ambulance to take me to a bigger Childrens hospital in Milwaukee Wisconsin about 2 hours away. I got to the children’s hospital around 7pm and was put on monitors and watched over night. Everything looked fine throughout the night.
In the morning I had several specialists come and chat with me about how small he was and my high chance of needing to deliver him at 24 weeks. And how at 24 weeks his survival rate would be very small. It was a lot of information to take in.
I was scheduled for another ultrasound a little later which determined he had an Encephalocele. They had stated that it looked to be small and it looked to be closed. They had talked about my chances of not making it to 40 weeks or even full term and his likelihood of being premature and how he could have developmental delays throughout his life.
I went in after this to have a amniocentesis done to see if he had any other genetic or chromosome defects. The first try the needle got clogged with either tissue or a blood clot so they had to go into another area and do it again. It was awful! But I was sent home.
My fiance and I read up on his condition and mentally prepared ourselves. A week after going home I had an ultrasound with my specialist. The ultrasound tech studied Brody for a while then excused herself from the room to go get the doctor. Which most expecting moms know that’s not a good sign. Or which I had thought at that moment. My doctor came in and studied the ultrasound screen for a while as well and then all of a sudden said “you are right I don’t see it”
She then turned to my fiance and I and said she does not see what the doctors saw in Milwaukee and from what she is seeing he looks perfect and fine – just a little on the small side. From this point he was diagnosed with IUGR but they couldn’t determine why.
I was scheduled to have a MRI and another detailed ultrasound in Milwaukee this took place on march 10th. From this point they too said they did not see anything and he looked perfect and healthy and he was small but unsure why.
But my care in Milwaukee was no longer needed and I could continue care with my OB and my specialist from here on out.
On Friday march 13 my fiance and I went in for another ultrasound. At this ultrasound they had trouble getting him to do the things they needed for him to do. He wasn’t taking practice breaths or moving as much as they would like to see so they sent me downstairs to grab a bite to eat and come back up after. When we went back up he did all of these things right away for the ultrasound tech.
My next appointment was on Tuesday march 17th. Through out the weekend I had felt great. The best I had felt my whole pregnancy. I finally felt like maybe this was a turning point. After 24 weeks I was told not to expect much movement from Brody enough though I would feel him it wasn’t the movement typical of a 30 week old baby. It was more flutters than actual kicks and I was told that with having IUGR that he may not be as strong so I may not be able to feel those kicks as well. I had gone all day Monday and didn’t feel anything but this wasn’t unusual. Tuesday morning my fiance and I stopped off at the gas station to grab a snack and get some orange juice before our ultrasound appointment in hopes that will wake Brody up and he will do what the doctor needed him to do so we didn’t have to spend all day in the office.
This morning was so different. It was the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Chairs were moved, masks were worn. Everything felt off and just odd. We were called back on a different side of the room than we normally were called back on and we went into a different ultrasound room than I have ever been in and I had a lot of ultrasounds at the point and never seen this ultrasound tech before either. She start the ultrasound and went straight for his legs and feet which I thought was odd because we were just there to check on his heart rate and to watch his movement and check for practice breaths. He wasn’t moving at all. My fiance then asked “where is his heart… I don’t see it” She said ” oh that is because I’m not there yet” Then she scans over his heart and its still… nothing. She then says to us ” I am so sorry but I’m not seeing any fetal cardiac activity” then leaves the room to go get my doctor. She comes back and asks us to come into another room which we did and we waited for what seemed like forever.
My doctor finally came and confirmed Brody had passed away. I had a csection later that day and our perfect angel was brought into this world. Weighing 2lbs and 5oz. I spent 3 days with him. Holding him and talking to him.
Never wanting to give him up. I was lucky enough to have a cuddle cot and lucky enough to keep him at my side the whole time. I remember not liking that he was cold and having this huge motherly instinct to keep him warm.
After the placental pathology came back it had shown many blood clots throughout the placenta and umbilical cord. After several tests done on me I was diagnosed with Antiphospholipid syndrome which had caused the blood clots and IUGR.
We just celebrated Brody’s first heavenly birthday. We had a party for him with family and food and cake. We released sky lanterns.
This past year has been an emotional rollercoaster. For the past year I have learned so much about stillbirth. Things that you do not learn until after its happened to you. Things that are not talked about. For the past year we have learned how to parent differently and parent a baby who is not here with us physically.
Brody is very much a part of our family. I love talking about Brody. Sharing his story and how strong he is will be something I do until I am no longer able to. We will love Brody for as long as we live and we are devoted to make sure he is never forgotten. This little guy has changed my life forever!
WE LOVE YOU BRODY THOMAS!!!