My Personal Fundraising Page
February 18, 2015. That was the date. The date where everything was going to change. We would no longer be "just us". We were going to become a family.
My pregnancy was picture perfect. My appointments consisted of taking my weight, blood pressure and a quick Doppler listen of the baby's heartbeat lasting all of 15 minutes. That was it. Picture perfect.
Like any first time to be parents we wondered what's he going to look like? Are we ever going to sleep again? Is he going to be a wild toddler? Can you believe we're going to have a baby?!
I was just shy of 34 weeks, only 6 more weeks till we got to meet our baby boy. I would say to my husband Joe, "that's like only a little over a month!" Because 6 weeks sounded so much longer than a little over a month. Needless to say we were excited.
I woke up that Sunday morning, had my usual breakfast of orange juice and waffles. It was a craving, Graham loved his OJ and waffles. He would usually do somersaults after breakfast but that morning he didn't. I thought it was odd but thought he just must be sleeping. I mentioned it to my husband who figured the same. So I went up and went to take a nap before going into work (night shift at the hospital). When I woke up, still no movement. I started to really worry at this point and mentioned it again to my husband. We once again figured maybe he was just sleeping or having a "lazy day". So off to work I went.
All through my shift I just kept feeling for movement. I would do all the things that would usually get some good kicks out of our little guy. He was very very active my entire pregnancy, never afraid to put on a show. I drank cold water and still no movement. I kept feeling and searching and finally mentioned it to one of the nurse practitioners on my floor. She said I should walk over to labor and delivery just in case. On my way I was worried but my worst thought was "well if something is wrong we will have to do an emergency c section and he'll be here early.."
I got to the labor and delivery unit and was placed in a room. A nurse came in to place the Doppler on my swollen belly. She searched but still nothing. She said she would be right back and walked out. A doctor then came in with an ultrasound machine and put some gel and the wand on my belly. There on the screen I saw him and felt relief. "Oh there he is, everything is okay". She searched for a heartbeat, silence. She then said she would be right back and walked out. My heart started beating quickly, my breath getting shallow. I knew. I knew at this point but didn't believe. Another doctor came in and used the Doppler once again then looked at me and said "I'm sorry there's no heartbeat". Wait, what do you mean?
I work in the medical field. I know no heartbeat means no life. But wait, babies don't just die and definitely not this far along, not when we're so close. Not when his nursery is all set and ready. All reason and logic went out the door. I cried. I was in shock. I knew what was happening but didn't understand it.
January 6, 2016. This is the date. The date everything changed. It was no longer "just us". We became a family. We did become parents, parents to the most perfect little boy who we named Graham Joseph Van Den Berg. He was a long fella at 19 inches and weighed 5lbs 1oz. He had a full head of hair. The perfect little hands and feet. We just weren't able to take our perfect son home with us. We only had hours to spend with him in the hospital versus the lifetime we had planned for. All the testing came back negative. There was no reason for him not to be coming home with us.
Stillbirth happens 1 in 160 pregnancies. It occurs 10 times more than SIDS. 10 times more! After losing Graham, many people came forward and shared their stories of loss. These were people I worked with, went to school with, people I saw every day. It seemed many people knew someone personally who had experienced a stillbirth and the extreme grief and sadness that follows it.
We are so excited to be participating in the 2nd annual Lydie's Loop in Graham's memory. Money raised from this event will be used to increase awareness, support research, promote education, and encourage advocacy and family support regarding stillbirth. We would love it if you would join our team and walk with us or make a donation in Graham's name to support such an important cause.
Joe, Christine, Graham and Nathaniel