Married in 2002, we had our first son, Joey in October of 2005. I was 29 years old. When Joey turned about 3 years old I started dreaming of giving him a sibling. After years of trying and many fertility treatments my 40th birthday approached. I remember telling my husband that I was so tired of being sad about having an only child. It was time for us to live our lives, reconnect and have some fun. We booked a long weekend in Vegas and felt like we were newlyweds again.
After we returned I started noticing some changes, I never thought in a million years that I would be pregnant, but at the urging of my best friend I took a test. I remember reading the digital results and my hands started shaking. I was laughing, crying and everything in between. From the second I learned I was pregnant I was pretty scared that this was too good to be true. But as time went on, I felt great and it started sinking in that we were starting over and my prayer for another baby was answered.
We hit the 20 week mark right after Christmas were we went for the ultrasound to find out if it was a boy or a girl. My husband, son and I literally skipped into the clinic that morning so excited to see our baby and start planning a nursery. I remember laying on the table and seeing the image of the baby on the screen and to me everything looked fine. As they were looking at the baby the gestational age was popping up according to the measurements they were taking. At this point, I was 21 weeks, but all the measurements were showing 17 weeks. The tech didn’t say a whole lot and left the room, when she returned she had the doctor come in. I will never forget the look on his face when he said he didn’t have a lot of answers as to why the baby was so small, but he repeated that things didn’t “look good.” My son burst out into tears and I excused myself to the restroom. I lost it in there but tried to compose myself before going back in. The doctor ushered us into a room where he started going over chromosomes and all kinds of abnormalities that can occur. We agreed to genetic testing and coming back weekly for ultrasounds to track the baby’s progress. That was it, no answers, no excitement, no nothing – it was just time to leave. We drove separate cars to the clinic so I drove myself home. All I could do was scream. I screamed at the top of my lungs about how unfair this was.
I was assigned a pre-natal hospice nurse that would call me and want to talk about how I was feeling. The truth was I felt like I was dying. This was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Every second of every day I wondered if he was alive, if he was in pain and I begged God to let me keep him. I went back for ultrasounds weekly during this time. The baby grew a little more, but not a lot. By the third week the heartbeat was still strong and genetic tests came back and there was nothing wrong. Hope started to creep in and I started to feel like maybe all of my prayers were working, that my baby would make it. The 4th ultrasound I went in pretty confident that I would see what I had seen all those weeks before. Except this time, there was no heartbeat…we were ushered in to see my doctor where we began discussing when the baby would be born. It was February 13th, 2017. I was induced the next day.
When we got to the hospital that morning we met our nurse. I started to cry and I remember she told me that everything I was feeling was normal, that this was going to be hard, but she’d be with me. I couldn’t fathom how I’d be able to get through this. I became obsessed with the idea that I was strong enough to get this over with and I’d get right back to my normal life like I’d just had a little bump in the road. Labor was long and painful, just like I’d remembered from 11 years ago. Our beautiful little boy was born still at 25 weeks on my husband’s 50th birthday- February 15, 2017.
I remember the moment I delivered him, I smiled. I felt so proud and happy for a split second. I think I even said out loud “why on earth am I smiling?” I also remember that I was afraid to look at him. My doctor warned me that his skin was darker than normal and that he wouldn’t look like a full term baby. I watched my husband, my mom and my best friend hold him before I mustered up the courage to hold him myself. I held him and cried more than I have ever cried in my life. This was in fact not a bump in the road- he was my baby, my hopes and my dreams shattered. His name was Christian John Keane.
I blamed myself. Everyone was so excited for me and I let everyone down. I watched my husband, my son, my parents and everyone in my life hurt and grieve the loss of Christian. We planned a graveside service and I only asked our parents to attend. I couldn’t stand to see the hurt and disappointment in anyone else’s face. I wanted to hide and be alone, I felt ashamed of myself and I didn’t want people to see me cry.
Fast forward four months, and we were getting ready to go on a trip and again I was feeling “off.” Again reading the words “pregnant” on the test stick were shocking. After what I had been through, I approached this pregnancy so differently. This baby was blessing whether we made is 5 weeks, 25 weeks or all the way. I was happy but cautious. I was very afraid of getting too attached or planning too much until I was sure it was ok. I was trying to limit the amount of pain all of this excitement and planning would cause me later if I’d lost this baby too.
Anna Marie Keane was born 13 months after we lost Christian. I love her deeply and feel certain that Christian sent her to me as a gift. Not a single day goes by when I don’t wish he were here. Thoughts of him still take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes. We have his footprints framed and kept his baby blanket. It makes me happy to see little reminders of him in our house. I hold my palm open when I think of him and I pray that he is holding my hand and guiding me to be the best mom I can be to Joey and Anna.