On July 12th, I wrote a post entitled, The Potential of No Children, where I described how my wife and I were starting to give up hope that we would ever have children. She had been taking medication to increase our odds, and it wasn’t looking great. The next steps would cost us a not-so-insignificant amount of money, and I was trying to mentally prepare myself for the potential outcome of never having a child.
In the summer, Annie and I took a trip out to British Columbia to visit her sister, and on our trip, we found out that the latest round of fertility treatments had worked. We were pregnant. I can’t explain how nervous and excited I was. I should note that in a previous relationship, I had lost a child at 14 weeks, and have never really recovered from the trauma of that situation. It made me a little gun-shy to start spreading the news in the early days, but Annie couldn’t hold in her excitement, and we knew that we would need support and guidance no matter how things turned out.
After letting everyone know of our little Widget, a nickname we gave the baby as a placeholder until we knew the gender, we breathed a sigh of relief. We started making plans for Widget’s future, considering how he or she might look. Annie and I were certain Widget was a boy. We had names picked out before we were pregnant, and were trying to figure out where we were going to live, how we were going to raise our child, and if we were going to make any changes to our careers.
The fertility doctors continued to check in on us and seemed very happy about the progress of our baby. Widget was growing well and had a strong heart beat. Annie felt a little ripped off at having an anterior placenta because she couldn’t feel Widget’s movements well, we continued to be very excited about our little baby.
At twelve weeks, we took another sigh of relief as we felt as though we had passed through the scary barrier. We were entering into the second trimester, and the odds of a miscarriage would become so much lower as the weeks progressed. Then at fourteen weeks, something horrible happened: Annie was bleeding badly.
We went to the Guelph Hospital, and they took good care of us. They checked Widget quickly, and there were no signs of distress. Annie was then referred to a specialist, and they found nothing wrong with her either, saying that she could continue the pregnancy with her mid-wife team.
I don’t think that I can explain how I felt through this. I tried to hold myself together, but I broke down more than once at the eerie repeating of my earlier experiences. I tried to think positively. I tried to focus on the future, a positive future where I was a father with a healthy baby. I tried to support Annie as she struggled with many of the same thoughts that I was going through.
Four weeks passed and nothing out of the ordinary happened. Then things shifted again, and Annie had to come home from work. Making an appointment with the midwife, everyone seemed fairly positive that there was nothing to be seriously concerned about. I couldn’t shake the feeling that things were going to go poorly. I don’t know if it was because I had already started dealing with the potential loss of Widget four weeks earlier, or if some part of my depression was rearing its ugly head.
At the mid-wife clinic, Karen checked Annie out and there was a moment when Karen’s expression changed. I’ll likely forever have that burned into my memory. It was a concerned look, one of sadness and worry. Karen let us know that we needed to go get checked out in more detail at the hospital, and that she would call ahead to let them know. My brain instantly went on auto-pilot, and all of my emotions shut down. I took my wife to the Guelph Hospital again, and told the triage nurse that my wife might be having a miscarriage.
The medical staff rushed around and checked on Widget. With a strong heart beat, we thought maybe that this was going to be another short stay leading us to determine that Annie just needed to be on bed rest, but as the contractions started, we both knew that things were heading in the wrong direction, and at only 18 weeks and a few days, there was no way Widget was going to survive.
After spending a day at home hoping the contractions would stop, we came back and they put Annie in a private room in the Family Birthing Unit where she stayed for four days as we watched the odds of Widget surviving dwindle away to nothing, all the while hearing the cries of newborn babies in the other rooms nearby.
Annie’s family and I kept a continual vigil over Annie making sure she was never left alone to deal with what was going on. I slept around eight hours over the three nights we were in the hospital.
Karen, our midwife, was amazing as she helped us making impossible decisions presented to us by the medical staff at the hospital. I like to say that we had every kind of nurse except a bad one, and they all came with their opinions and ideas. With such a small amount of sleep, and the stress of the situation, it was hard to feel like we were making wise or informed decisions, so the consultations we received from Karen kept us able to move forward.
On Saturday, November 7th, at 6:50 AM our perfect daughter, Lily, was born and passed away.
Annie’s eldest sister and myself were there to witness Lily being born. It was quite the experience. I had to look away as I knew that it was likely she wouldn’t be alive. To watch my wife struggle for days, to see the hope slowly vanish, and to still have to be strong and push a baby out into the world, it was the most horrible experience of my life.
Lily Peralty was baptized in the hospital by a family friend, and they took hand and foot prints from her. She weighed only 6.9 ounces, and was 8 inches long.
I had decided early on that I wasn’t going to hold our baby. I knew that I couldn’t, and so I watched as others held her. Annie cuddled with Lily for nearly six hours, often crying while looking down at her wrapped in a small blanket.
At one point, Annie had to use the washroom, and we were alone, so I had to take Lily. While I’m glad I did, holding her was like holding the weight of the world. The emotional wave crushed me. I sobbed uncontrollably while my wife tried to console me from the washroom, attempting to quickly get back to me and relieve me of the lifeless tiny body of our daughter. I felt so bad for Annie as she rushed back to me. I couldn’t breath, my eyes burned from the constant stream of tears. My mind exploded with the loss of potential, and quick slips of fantasy poured in expecting that she would just wake up.
Then, when the sorrow of hearing others celebrate their crying babies was more than we could handle, we left our daughter at the hospital. It took us a long time to leave, with each unsteady step and the constant distortion from the tears slowing us down. I tried to keep telling myself that there was nothing to go back for, but the draw of being with Lily was very strong.
I am not good at dealing with my emotions. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and have learned techniques and tricks to keep myself moving forward. I have a horrible memory when it comes to past events in my life, and I’m impatient about what my future will hold.
I don’t yet know how to move past this tragedy. I feel like nothing will ever be as it was. I wish that no one had to suffer this kind of grief. Lily was a source of joy in my life. The excitement she brought into my family was energizing. I can’t believe that it ended this way.
I’ll never forget her.
I can’t thank everyone enough for their help through this whole thing. My boss and co-workers that took charge so that I could be present through it all, my family and friends with their show of support, our midwife and the staff at the Guelph Hospital. Thank you so much!