I am the cactus
I'm still here, standing off the side of the Merry-Go-Round of life.
Watching as the world continues to spin, people go about their lives as normal.
And I'm still here...Watching...Waiting...for it all to stop.
As I do every year, I'm reposting the Whole Story for those of you who may not have read it yet. I wrote it 10 days after Jack passed away, so I wouldn't forget a moment of the Best and Worst day of my life.
September 11, 2006
I'm still in shock and don't know if I'm ready to write this yet but I'm going to try because I don't know what else to do right now. Here's our story, sorry if it's long but it's all still so fresh.
I have severe PCOS with severe insulin resistance and hypothyroidism. We've been TTC for 5 years with medical assistance. We moved from UT to AZ in March 2005. I found my new (amazing) doctor in Jan. 2006. In March '06 I had a large tumor removed from my uterus, it came back clear. He also scraped my uterus and drained all of my cysts and found that they will one day become cancerous. After consulting with 6 Oncologists, they agreed we had time to try for a baby.
Our first try after surgery with Clomid, we got pregnant! We were in shock. After 8 years trying, this was unbelievable! I had no morning sickness, but had to get daily Progesterone shots to keep my level up to normal. I had ultrasounds every 2 weeks because this pregnancy was high risk. We heard the heartbeat a couple times at different appointments and had my 20 week BIG U/S set for Friday Sept. 1st.
Tue. Aug. 29th we went to bed and I had a hard time getting comfortable. After a few hours of tossing and turning I got up and went to the couch and thought I was having really bad gas pains. I was burping and passing gas quite a bit so I wasn't worried too much. I ended up feeling much better and fell asleep the next morning.
(Warming TMI) I woke up Wednesday afternoon and when I went to the bathroom there was really weird discharge, it looked like baby or child's snot with a bit of brown in it. I called my doctor and they made me an appointment for the next morning saying it wasn't abnormal and I possibly had an infection of some sort. I felt completely normal all day and was happy that those gas pains had gone away because that coupled with the weird discharge would have worried me more.
We went to bed around 11:30 PM Wed. night and I immediately felt like I was having a repeat of the night before. I couldn't get comfortable and after a short time I moved to the couch. The pains were a little different from the night before, this time they were more crampy, but I knew I had a doctors appt in the morning and figured I would wait it out, since they didn't seem worried. The more painful the cramps came, the more I got worried and jumped online to try and find out what could be happening. I knew at 19 weeks 3 days it was way too early for labor and this being my first pregnancy I had no idea what contractions were going to feel like and from what every pregnant woman has ever told me...nothing is as painful as being in labor. These felt only a little more painful than regular cramps. And they never seemed to go away, they got worse every 5 minutes or so but the pain never ceased.By the time I found something about preterm labor it was 4:30 AM. Just as I was making a decision to call my doctor, my husband woke up and insisted I call him. I don't know why I was so worried about waking the doctor, but I didn't want to bother him if it was nothing. I will never wait again!
I called the doctor, his on-call operator was going to page him so I jumped in the shower assuming I might be going to the hospital to be checked.
My doctor called back and told me to go to the hospital triage and tell them I was 20 weeks along (otherwise they won't monitor you, I was 19w3d). I immediately knew something was wrong and my husband and I jumped in the car and I cried all the way to the hospital. The pains continued to get worse and more constant. It was then that I started to wonder if these were indeed contractions.
6:00 AM: The Triage doctor examined me and told me that I was fully dilated and the water bag was covering the cervix. She told us that there was no question that I would be delivering and no chance that our baby would survive. She apologized and left to get the sonogram tech to verify. I completely lost it. I cried like I had never cried before. I knew I needed to be strong but I felt this was my fault. I had waited too long to call my doctor and I had wasted time worrying about whether to wake him or not. How could I ever forgive myself?
The tech came in and was quiet the entire time. We saw our baby, the heartbeat was strong he was moving his arms and legs as if everything was normal. She was measuring his organs and showed us my cervix dilated and the water bag making it's way down. The baby's head was also down ready to follow. The tech left, the doctor came back and again said she was really sorry but they can't risk infection and that I would be moved to labor and delivery as soon as a room became available. She also said they would be giving me as many pain killers as needed to make me as comfortable as possible giving the circumstances.
I was in absolute shock, this was not supposed to be happening to us. Our hearts had broken. Jory and I looked at each other in complete disbelief and cried together. This was our miracle baby, why couldn't I be able to carry him to term? Why are we having all these problems? We are the perfect couple, we will be the perfect parents. Why Why Why?
My doctor (the god that he is) showed up a short time later and came in with a little hope. He said the previous doctor was wrong, I was only 3 cm dilated and there was a chance that with medication they can stop my contractions and with a cerclage we might be able to stop the delivery. He said the chance was small but at least there was a chance. I would be in the hospital until I deliver, whether that be today, next week, or months from now. I didn't let myself believe in the hope because I knew I couldn't handle it if I let myself believe then be disappointed again. He put me in the Trendelenburg position (feet above your head). He gave me some more pain killers and we held tight until a room in L&D opened.
Jory called our parents to let them know what was going on and I told him to have my parents come immediately. I knew we would need family with life experience to handle the plans afterward if this didn't all work out. Within 30 minutes my mom and step-dad were packed and on their way from Logan, UT down here to Phoenix.
11:30 AM: Once they moved me up to L&D my doctor gave me an epidural with much disapproval from the nurses and other doctors because they had me on medication to stop my contractions, an epidural in their minds was unnecessary. But he knew, even with the pain killers I was in so much pain and discomfort as well as an emotional hell that an Epidural would lift some of that pain away especially if they weren't going to be able to stop the contractions. He was right and I could never thank him enough for that decision.
By 9 PM the medication was not stopping my contractions and the ultrasound was now showing the baby's head coming down, it was only time before my water broke. I already knew their attempts weren't going to work so I was prepared (as well as I could be) for the next step. They stopped that medication and gave me another to induce labor and told me I would probably deliver in a few hours. I had now been in labor for almost 22 hours. My doctor left the hospital to go home and shower and then he'd come right back.
9:24 PM I felt pressure and called the nurse.
9:25 PM My water broke. The Nurse came in, verified it had broke and said she'd call the doctor and be right back.
9:28 PM I called the nurse again, I felt really strong pressure I knew the baby was coming. I tried to stay as still as possible because I knew if I moved a muscle he would come out. In those split seconds Jory and I wondered "Why in the hell the nurse would not stay in the room?" Did she not believe us?
9:29 PM I had Jory call the nurse again, we told her the baby was seriously on his way, like NOW!
9:30 PM With only Jory and I in the room, our baby was born. I felt the baby kicking my leg.
The nurse came back in the room and was shocked to see the baby was out, she ran out and grabbed another nurse who came in and took charge.
(In a later conversation Jory told me the nurse who never stayed in the room acted like she was new and totally freaked out because when she went and got another nurse who came in and took charge, she pulled off her badge and put in on the desk next to me and stood by the door for most of the time, then left.)
Jory cut the cord and watched as they examined the baby and asked if we knew the sex, we didn't. She announced we'd had a baby boy. She wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to me. I immediately fell into tears and didn't stop bawling for at least an hour. I held him and cried. Every time I touched his skin he would make a fist. His eyes were still fused shut but he opened his mouth and smiled (even though we know babies don't smile that early). Jory said he looked just like my older brother Shane, I thought he had Jory's lips. He was perfect in every way. Perfect fingers and perfect toes.
We named him Jack Kendrick Johnson. Jack from Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean” and my maiden name is Kendrick. He was 9.5 inches long and weighed 9.5 ounces.
My parents arrived about 10:30 PM. After about an hour, I sort of kicked them out so Jory and I could spend some private time with our son. We continued to hold Jack and talk to him. We tried to stop crying and enjoy this time we had with him, knowing it wasn't going to be much longer. The nurses continued to come in and check for a pulse, each time surprising us how strong our little boy was. Some time between 12:30 and 1:00 AM on September 1, 2006 Jack passed away in our arms.
The awesome nurses at the hospital let us bathe Jack and brought in some outfits to choose from to dress him in and the most perfect tiny crocheted blanket to wrap him in. She took his foot prints and hand prints for us and later made a plaster cast of both his foot and hand prints. Later she would also take him to get some pictures done that we'll receive 3 weeks after we leave the hospital. We had taken a few pictures of Jack before we bathed him. Although I have yet to look at them, I already wish I had taken more!
We continued to hold Jack until around 2:30 AM, I was so exhausted and couldn't keep my eyes open another second. The nurse came and took Jack to take some photos and create the plaster cast for us. She would bring him back later to sleep in our room with us. I passed out and slept until 6:00 AM when the nurse came in to say she was going off shift. We could never thank her enough for all the mementos she created for us and the memories she helped us create!
The entire next afternoon we took turns holding Jack, I even napped with him next to me on my bed. The nurses continued to tell me that Jack would stay with us until we were ready, but Every time a nurse came in I was scared they were going to say it was time. I couldn't get enough time with Jack, I wasn't ever going to be ready to say goodbye. I expected to be released from the hospital that night so I was on pins and needles knowing I would have to say goodbye soon.
My parents came by and both took time holding Jack. This was the first grandchild in both our families so I know this was hard on them too.
Another nurse came in later and told us that I would be staying another night to make sure there was no infection and because my right thigh was still fully numb from the epidural. They would be moving me up to the maternity ward, but would put me in the area with the neonatal mothers so I wouldn't have to hear all the babies cry. She told us to let her know when we were ready for them to take Jack with the understanding that we can request to seem him once we are in our new room. Or if either of us did not want to say goodbye twice, the other could go into another room and spend as much time with him as needed. We both held him one more time, hugged him, kissed him and said our goodbyes, not really knowing if that would be our last time. But once the nurse came in and took him, we both lost it and bawled together. It made it so real for me, it was as if he had died again. I knew there was no way I could go through that again so I told Jory that was my goodbye, he agreed.
They moved me up to the Maternity ward and put me in my own room in the corner. I was so thankful to not have to hear or see any babies, but felt so empty knowing mine was gone. This was not supposed to happen to us. We had already been through so much for so long just to get pregnant. This was our miracle baby, what happened? I felt like the life had been ripped out of me. I was only a shell, trying to keep it together for Jory. I felt so close to really losing it, but promised Jory I would hold on for his sake.
Later that night my doctor came by and asked if I wanted to go home. He said the results came back, there was no infection, it was definitely incompetent cervix which can be helped next time we get pregnant with a cerclage at 14 to 16 weeks and extra monitoring. Unfortunately there is no way to know you have an incompetent cervix until you go into preterm labor the first time. He said there was nothing I could have done to prevent this or to stop the contractions from coming. There is absolutely no way I could have known until it was too late. I tried to believe him.
The feeling in my thigh had returned so we agreed to go home. As they wheeled me out of the hospital, what feeling I had left in my heart ached for Jack. We should be taking him with us, instead my arms are empty and we both cried the entire way home.
I don’t think either of us have cried so much in our lives. It was so hard to be home, especially with my parents staying with us. I could never thank them enough for coming because of everything they did for us, but I just wanted to be alone with Jory. Thankfully they were here to help keep us on track of those things we needed to handle like calling the different funeral homes and my work. They left Monday, Labor day to go home.
One thing I expected to be an issue was that fact that we have different beliefs from my parents and Jory’s dad. They are all Mormon, not necessarily practicing but have the belief that we should all be buried in a cemetery to later one day reclaim our body. Jory and I are not Mormon and do not wish to be buried. We want to be cremated and have set plans for our ashes. So why would we want to do something different with our child?
Our parents both took their turns letting us know they had family plots we could have in either Logan or Provo, UT. We appreciated their offers, however politely declined. I really appreciate them all for not pushing us or questioning our choices. This was definitely not the time or place to have that conversation. In fact I was extremely surprised and happy with the fact that my parents took an active role in trying to helps us pick out an urn. The funeral home also had remembrance pendants and I fell in love with a silver pewter covered glass vile with screw-on top that could hang on a necklace or in a display case and hold some of Jack’s ashes. Because of the price I knew I couldn’t get it with all the other costs we were incurring. My mother offered to buy it for me, I knew I would later regret saying no even though I would never normally agree to let her buy me something that expensive, so I agreed. And I look forward to having that piece of Jack with me always.
The days following my parents exit have been mashed together into one large blur. I wasn’t lucky enough to skip my breast milk from coming in though. I was actually surprised when it first happened, in total disbelief actually. I thought I would be spared this additional reminder of losing Jack, but no.
Jory had mentioned that my brother Shane offered us an escape at his house in Wyoming if we were interested. This was exactly what we needed and were looking forward to getting the hell out of dodge. We wanted to wait for Jack’s ashes and for our apartment complex to fix our A/C, it started leaking the night we got home from the hospital. We’ve also been waiting to be cleared by my doctor for travel which happened today.
I knew going back to the doctor’s office was going to be really hard. I had bonded with all the ladies there during my daily visit for my progesterone shots. They had become like family to me. Let alone the possibility of sitting in the waiting area with pregnant women or children. My doctor had told us how upset all the ladies were when they heard the news of our loss. They had all shed tears and were heartbroken for us.
When we arrived, I was surprised to see an empty waiting room. I have no idea if this was luck or if they had scheduled it this way. Either way I was very thankful. The nurse took my vitals and I was a shocked to see I had lost 14 pounds. I knew I had lost weight, I could tell by the way my pants fit. My doctor examined me and found my uterus was still at 8 weeks, but he was not worried.
After my exam, the doctor told us all the test results were back and that I definitely, with no question had an incompetent cervix. He said that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent this. He said that you don’t start contracting until well after the cervix starts to dilate so even if I had called the night before or right when the contractions started, it wouldn’t have made a difference. I know this was technically the second time he had told me this, but this time it finally freed my guilt I had been holding since losing Jack. Even though everyone was telling me it wasn’t my fault and that I couldn’t have prevented it, there was always still that question in me. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel guilt free, but this was definitely a freeing feeling and I will try to hold on to that.
My doctor said there was no doubt in his mind when we are ready that a cerclage with extra monitoring will work for us. He also thanked us for allowing him to be a part of "the beautiful experience" it was for him. He said he had never experienced the kind of love Jory and I showed, as well as the love we have for each other. He continued to tell us that he’s never met a couple as close and loving as we are and was honored to share in that with us. He said he’s never seen anyone with the glow I had every time I came into his office, even the nurses had mentioned it. He also shared with us that he’s still having a really hard time accepting that there was nothing he could have done to prevent this. He was just so sorry but wanted us to know there is promise for another miracle.
We told him of our travel plans and he agreed that it was a great idea to get away. We scheduled my next appointment in 8 weeks, I should be mid cycle by then. As we started to walk out into the waiting room, I realized it was full of pregnant women and children and started to tear up, by the time we got out to the parking lot, I fully lost it and collapsed against my car. Jory grabbed me and held me tight while I cried. I then realized everyone in the waiting room could see me through the glass front door and windows. I told Jory I wanted to leave so he helped me in the car and we left.
I’ve been approved for 6 weeks short term disability which thankfully I have that, but it is no where near enough time and I don’t know how I’ll ever feel able to go back. I pray that Jory gets the job with the video game company and they offer him loads of money and excellent heath coverage so I might be able to quit my job and never go back.
I haven’t even been able to talk to my friends on the phone yet. I’ve barely managed to talk to my mother, two of my brothers and my father. Talking business or bills to strangers is easier than someone I know. From reading the book the hospital gave us on losing a child, I know it will help to talk to others, but I can’t manage a 5 minute simple conversation with family without crying. How am I supposed to talk with anyone other than Jory about Jack without bawling?
The only thing going for us here in Arizona is that we don’t know many people and don’t see anyone except at my work. I have no idea how it will be to see our family in person on our way to our escape. I can’t manage to ride in the car and see a group of little scouts outside the local market without crying. Or watch TV without constantly flipping the channel every time I see a pregnant woman, baby or a character named Jack. Even a simple episode of Friends comes across cruel when it’s the one where Chandler and Monica get their twins and name the boy Jack. This is exactly why our trip to the secluded woods of Wyoming sound so enticing.
How will I ever not resent my two cousins whose babies will be born shortly after Jack was supposed to be born in January? How will I keep from punching the next person who tells me Jack wasn’t meant to live a full life here on Earth or that it just wasn’t meant to be? Or how about those that keeping telling me we will be with him again one day? How about today? Why not now?
I don’t know how I’ll ever wake up in the morning and not want to cry. I can’t imagine a night where I’ll go to bed and not replay the entire event over and over in my head until I finally decide to take another sleeping pill just to get some sleep. How will I ever feel strong enough to be away from Jory for more than 15 minutes at a time? How will my heart ever recover from losing my perfect precious boy? How will I ever move on?
I’m scared to face the upcoming holidays, Thanksgiving, my 30th birthday, Christmas, his edd of January 22nd. Not to mention what would have been his first holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, his birthday and the anniversary of his death. I can’t even think about it right now.
The only reasons I get out of bed every day are Jory and my desperate wish to bring home a baby and give them the world. I miss being pregnant and can only wish we have time for another miracle.
I miss you Jack, I miss you every minute of every day and always will!
I love you forever, Mommy