‘Am I really going to be a dad?’ He smiled. ‘You aren’t mad?’ We were too young to have kids.’: Mom suffers PTSD after son is stillborn, ‘they couldn’t find anything wrong’

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“On December 1st, 2014, my life changed forever. Ian and I had just moved across town to a different apartment two weeks prior. I was unpacking the last boxes we had and Ian was working the PM shift. I was talking to my best friend Hollie on the phone, she went to college in a town two hours away but we still talk 24-7. I was complaining about my period symptoms, they seemed strange. I was on the pill so I usually didn’t have sore boobs and bad acne. The last two periods I had were both almost a week off and I associated that with stress from school. The last two months I had taken a pregnancy test for both weeks I was late from the previous two periods, even though I was on birth control. ‘Not pregnant.’ Well obviously. I had a leftover pack of tests and Hollie thought I should just take one so I would stop freaking out. I was totally convinced it was just like before and they would show I wasn’t pregnant. I took the test set it on the counter and literally as I stood up I glanced and my reaction was:

‘No f*cking way.’

I almost sent myself into full panic attack mode. I was terrified. I called Hollie back bawling and she was in disbelief. I cried to Hollie for about an hour. I decided I definitely couldn’t wait long to tell Ian…I was scared he would be so angry and not accepting. We were too young to have kids and it definitely wasn’t planned. That’s usually how life works, right?

Courtesy of Taylor Bjorgum

At 10:30 p.m. I took the second test and tried to get myself together. I tried not to look panicked and as if I’d been crying for four hours straight. Ian came home I had the tests up my sweatshirt sleeve. He sat on the couch next to me and asked how my night went, he could tell something was up. Well, I absolutely lost it, I couldn’t form any words. I set the tests down on the coffee table and waited for the worst reaction. HE STARTED CRYING! I was more of a mess after seeing him cry thinking he FOR SURE wasn’t happy about it. Then he smiled at me and asked, ‘Am I really going to be a dad? Right away I said, ‘You aren’t mad?’ Ian looked at me smiling and said, ‘Why would I be mad?’

So, like a normal girl, I freaked out and quit thinking about the worst possible outcome. Deep down I guess I knew he wouldn’t be mad. At this point we were together for four years and had been engaged for a year.

During our 8-week scan, they said our due date was August 5th, 2015. The months passed. I felt sick only until around week 12. My acne was atrocious, and at 30 weeks I started to retain water (not pre-eclampsia type of retention) It was awful. The summer heat and my hormones didn’t mix at all!

Courtesy of Taylor Bjorgum

Fast forward to 34 weeks pregnant. It was the week before 4th of July weekend. We had to have another ultrasound for a second anatomy scan. One of baby’s kidneys wasn’t dilated correctly at twenty weeks and they needed to make sure it corrected itself. I was supposed to have it at 32 weeks, but Ian was gone for the month of June for his Annual Training for the Army. We had the scan the day after he got back. The ultrasound took about 45 mins total. They checked over everything, kidneys were fine, and found nothing wrong. Remember that…they found NOTHING wrong!

Moving ahead to 4th of July weekend. We were at the lake. I was a frickin’ balloon! It was so hot and I was so swollen. We sat on the most uncomfortable chairs all weekend. Although I guess they were only uncomfortable for the pregnant whale. We came home Sunday night and everything seemed good. I was having minor back pain all afternoon and evening, but at 35 weeks that’s expected. Ian had to go to work that night and work overnights. Baby was shifted up into my ribs in a weird position and it was really hard to breathe. I had a rough night of sleep, he liked that stupid, weird position and wouldn’t budge.

The next morning it was Monday the 6th, and Ian got home about 7:30 a.m. He basically went straight to bed. I took my sweet time getting ready that morning as I was sore all over from the weekend. Thankfully I was in air conditioning as I was trying to reduce the damn swelling that consumed my body.

I took a shower which didn’t relieve any pain, and decided to go to a town 30 miles away that afternoon. It was about 10:45 a.m. and I was about to blow dry my hair and get ready to leave. I walked over to my bathroom and as soon as I stepped on the linoleum I felt a HUGE gush! As I glanced down I noticed a huge puddle of bright, red blood…and the gushing didn’t stop. It felt like my period on steroids. I quickly sat on the toilet and screamed for Ian. He rushed in, his face turned white and his eyes were huge. I don’t remember what was said besides me telling him to ‘call the Sanford nurse line!’ It felt like an eternity talking to them. The nurse sounded a little panicked and told us to rush to the hospital. I got a few towels, shoved them between my legs, put sweats on and we were gone. I left my phone, wallet, everything at home.

By the time the adrenaline was wearing off in the car I was starting to feel worse and worse. I was still gushing blood and my back was killing me! Ian called our parents on our way. It was the world’s longest drive. I doctored with Sanford, an hour away. I didn’t talk much but we were both in pure panic mode, obviously this wasn’t a normal thing. We were almost there when Ian asked me one question.

‘Has he moved at all today, could you feel him?’ I felt my heart shatter. I had one job. All I had to do was keep my baby safe, I thought to myself after Ian asked me. ‘No, I haven’t felt him kick in a day.’

I knew right after he said that, something was terribly wrong. I hadn’t felt him since the day before. He didn’t kick my bladder like normal at all today. I was having back pain and was so preoccupied (like any other uncomfortable pregnant woman would) I didn’t think about it. I didn’t do kick counts. He was shoved up into my ribs and it felt different than normal. I kept telling Ian we forgot his car seat, and that’s all I could focus on ironically. As we got closer to the hospital I started to cry, and tried control the pain. This part was a blur. Ian and I ran inside with no wheelchair in sight. We didn’t know where to go and no one offered to help us. I was out of breath, crying and in lots of pain. It was hard to walk with a towel between my legs.

We were close to the elevator when an older middle-aged woman (she was a volunteer) stopped me and said, ‘You look like you need help, here sit in the wheelchair.’ She asked where I needed to go. I told her, ‘I’ve been gushing blood!’ and her face turned sympathetic and very concerned. She told me, ‘You are a very strong woman and I will keep you in my thoughts.’ She warmly congratulated me on Kane and by then I was sent to the OB triage.

The CNA (certified nursing assistant) had wide eyes leading me to the room. She told me to undress and put a gown on. I sat on the bed and my heart was racing. I felt like a truck hit me. By the time the nurses came I was in serious pain. It felt like someone threw an axe into my back. My blood pressure was obviously extremely high (from being in pain) and then came the dreaded fetal monitor.

That damn fetal monitor.

She tried for what felt like an hour, but actually only took about 10 minutes to place it. It caught a heartbeat. Phew. But she wasn’t convinced. She wanted to call up a more experienced ultrasound tech. Right then I knew something was off. It took about 25 mins to bring in a bigger ultrasound machine. I didn’t care WHAT they did I just wanted to get some pain meds and to see if he was all right. Then two ultrasound techs, the CNA, three nurses, and the doctor all flooded into this extremely small triage room. I will never forget this moment, the worst moment of my life. They all studied the ultrasound quietly. By then Ian and I already knew something was wrong. It was something you don’t think they could ever say, but then they say it. You don’t believe it’s real. This can’t be real, it’s a f*cking nightmare. They all had a certain look, and then everyone was looking at the doctor, waiting for her to speak. The doctor was at the foot of my bed, grabbed my foot, and in the nicest, most sympathetic way said:

‘Taylor…I’m so sorry, there is no heartbeat.’

Ian immediately started to sob and yell. He was pacing, crying, and in distress. I couldn’t feel a thing. I know I was crying uncontrollably. I kept telling Ian, ‘I am so sorry.’ Honestly, I was in more pain than anything, like physical pain. It took over my thoughts and body. I just wanted to cry and let out my emotions. But I couldn’t, all I could think about was getting drugs in my body.

You never forget the faces of the people in the room when they tell you someone has died. I was so angry. The doctor became ‘the truth’ and I didn’t want to face it or her. It was scary and obviously not the outcome I wanted. She told us, ‘You can have him ASAP, or you can go home and think about it and come back a few days later.’ I was shocked. I am gushing a sh*t load of blood, which isn’t normal. I’m in serious physical pain. I don’t know why she would even ask me about that? After that moment I was simply angry. Angry I was there and how this was now my life. This isn’t how it’s supposed to go, ya know? I didn’t want to see that doctor ever again. And she sure as hell wouldn’t be delivering Kane. I’m sure she’s a good doctor or whatever, but I associated his death with her. I didn’t want her near me, Ian, or any of my future kids. I made that very clear. That was the last and only time I ever saw her. I plan on keeping it that way.

They all left the room at once and we were alone. Ian was still in distress. I’ve never seen him like this before, I didn’t know what to say or how to comfort him. I was trying to process everything, while my back was throbbing. I asked Ian to help me stand up. I started to bleed more, I felt faint, and immediately sat back down. I remember I couldn’t open my eyes and felt super light headed. I told him to press the nurse button across the room. Now all of his emotions subsided and he was worried. I couldn’t see him because I couldn’t open my eyes. It was like I passed out, but still conscious? I could definitely hear the fear in his voice.

A flood of nurses entered and Ian was shoved into a corner. They were all talking and asking why I didn’t have an IV yet, the nurse tried what felt like forever on my left arm, and couldn’t find a vein. Finally, the other one got my IV started and gave me some drug that would help my pain.

I was having contractions about every two minutes, but it was all back labor. I wasn’t dilated or dilating at all. I was barely one cm…the drug literally did nothing. I was super sweaty, I couldn’t open my eyes at all by that point and I couldn’t even cry. Every time I tried to cry I was out of breath. I could hear everything even with my eyes closed. I tried asking for Ian, and kept telling him, ‘I’m sorry.’

A nurse tried putting a cool wash cloth on my head and I got so pissed off. I was sweaty but I didn’t want anything touching me. No blankets, no wash cloths, nothing! I chucked it across the room. I couldn’t open my eyes, but I’m sure she left terrified. I remember saying, ‘I don’t want anything touching me, I don’t care if someone sees me because I won’t see them again.’ She tried to cover me up from the other moms in the waiting area. I’m sure I wasn’t a good sight to see. The bed was covered in blood, it was everywhere.

The fentanyl, or whatever it was, did nothing. If anything I felt worse. They couldn’t get my epidural until the first drug wore off which took 45 mins. I thought I was going to die. They were getting me all set up and by that time I’d been there for over 2 hours.

I remember the anesthesiologist arrived and he set me up. As soon as I sat up for the epidural, I felt so, so sick. I needed to throw up, I didn’t know why as I hadn’t eaten all day. Ian grabbed a bag and the lady had the needle almost in my back, and of course I had to throw up as soon as she was doing her thing.

It took about 45 seconds for me to feel relief from the epidural. The pain went from a 25 to a 6 in 20 seconds. It was liquid gold. Not even a few minutes later I told the nurse I couldn’t open my eyes at all and that I felt funny. Again it was physically impossible to open them. Immediately my blood pressure went from 153/102 to 64/33. This is obviously not good. Apparently sometimes this happens with epidurals. The nurse stayed calm, even when she sounded nervous she was pretty good at hiding it. She lowered my head and 3 minutes later the anesthesiologist came with the drug to boost my BP up. Everyone finally let out sighs of relief. After a half hour I could finally open my eyes and I felt more normal. My blood pressure normalized. My mom left around supper to give us some alone time.

I was numb from the epidural and was in minor discomfort. They were going to start pitocin because I wasn’t dilating. It was about 7ish at night. My mom brought Ian food earlier and he ended up sleeping in the chair/sleeper next to me. He had only 3 hours of sleep after working a 12 hour shift. Ian was exhausted physically and mentally. I was told to sleep because I would need my energy. I didn’t sleep at all, how could I sleep? This sounds morbid but how could I sleep knowing my child isn’t alive and is still in my uterus? My heart was broken and shattered.

This entire time I was assigned to one nurse. She took the time to hold my hand and get me anything I needed. I didn’t get to grieve or process anything until about a half hour into my epidural. That’s about four hours after we were told he was stillborn. All of my adrenaline wore off and I finally crashed, and hard. I was a mess. And all I could do was lay there, immobile, and think. Ian was sleeping and I wanted him to get sleep. The nurse sat next to me and talked to me her whole shift. She actually sat on the bed, held my hand, and hugged me continuously. It wasn’t because it was her ‘job,’ she truly felt everything and meant every word she said. I never got to truly thank her, I wished I did. I owe her so much more than I could ever give her.

Her shift only lasted until 11 p.m., she left around midnight and told me she would see me the next day. The next nurse that came on shift was just as good. She sat with me the whole night, got me whatever I needed. My doctor came in and he would be my delivery doctor. He was awesome, explained everything to me, came by a few times. They said I would most likely deliver no later than 6 a.m. on July 7th.

During the whole labor process I was still bleeding. Not as bad throughout the night, but enough. My delivery doctor told me he couldn’t say for sure what happened until after delivery. He said with all of the blood loss he assumed it was an abruption (separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus). They went over my symptoms before, asking if I fell prior to bleeding or felt any intense pain. The only thing I felt was back pain, but I had back pain my whole pregnancy and it didn’t feel different until the first gush of blood.

About 4:45 a.m. I felt intense pressure, and suddenly my epidural felt like it wasn’t working. The nurse checked me and said I was at 10 c.m. She got everything ready and called in a few nurses. They warned me, ‘This will be different than a normal delivery because baby can’t help you by moving his body.’ Basically my body is doing all of the work.

Only about a half hour into pushing (which felt like an eternity) and he was crowning! They quickly called the doctor and told me not to push. How can a woman NOT PUSH when you’re literally about one push away! That was the longest five minutes of my life. All I remember is begging to push because it was burning so bad it felt like everything was on fire! The doctor rushed in and barely got his gloves on. I think a nurse put his gown on as he was getting ready to catch the baby. About 2 pushes later Kane was here! He was perfect. I usually think all babies look like ugly worms until they’re two months old, but he was perfect. It actually surprised me! (I’m not sure if all new moms have this fear, but I was scared I would have ugly babies.)

Courtesy of NILMDTS
Courtesy of NILMDTS

Kane Joseph
7/7/15
Born 5:33 a.m.
5 pounds 13 ounces
19 3/4 inches

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. One nurse apologized for crying, and even the doctor was showing emotion.

Kane literally looked like my husband. We call him Ian Jr. sometimes as he has the same textured hair, it was red like Ian’s beard color! He has the same ears, feet, and facial features including his nose. I have pictures to prove it. He was a pretty good size for being born at 35 weeks and 5 days. He didn’t look super tiny, he looked bigger than almost 6 lbs. His head was HUGE (thanks Ian).

Ian and the nurse went to give him his bath. Everything here on out was a blur. Once my placenta was delivered, my doctor brought it to the head of he bed and showed me. He basically said this placenta was about 75% gone and it’s not supposed to look like a flimsy, wet rag. He recommended I send it in for an autopsy. He also said it didn’t appear Kane had anything wrong with him, and he thought it was my placenta that caused the problem. He said he didn’t think Kane needed an autopsy. Which was a relief.

NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) is an organization that sends a photographer in your area to the hospital and takes pictures for you. Its free, and was the best thing I could’ve ever done. She came about 5 hours after he was born to take pictures. I was hesitant at first, but now I’m so thankful the nurses told me I should. We also had a memory box made for us filled with items you only get if you’re in this situation. We have molds of his hands, feet and his face. We also have some of his hair, wrist bands, blankets, and other items.

Courtesy of NILMDTS

Once our families left we finally got some much needed alone time. We spent about 12 hours with him, and the last two were the hardest. It was the worst two hours of my entire life. Imagine holding your baby knowing it is the only time you will ever see him. My heart was broken into a million pieces. Letting them finally take him was something I can’t describe. We tried to remember what it was like to hold him. We studied him so we wouldn’t forget anything. Since it was about 12 hours after delivery, he was turning purple and looked bruised. About 7 p.m. we said our final goodbyes.

Courtesy of NILMDTS

They said since I lost most of my placenta in my uterus, all of the blood irritated it and sent me into labor. They estimated he could’ve passed about 12-24 hours before my water broke which explained him sitting weird near my ribs the night before. They checked back at my ultrasound from 34 weeks and said nothing looked unusual about the placenta. They can’t say for sure what cause my placenta to detach and rupture, but they think it had a clot which stopped Kane’s heart and then it started deteriorating which is why it abrupted. My delivery doctor told me he’s never seen a placenta look as bad as mine.

Mayo Clinic couldn’t find anything wrong. I had no clotting issues, etc. Kane was healthy and so was I. It was worse knowing that nothing was wrong. If something was wrong and they could fix it, it would be nice for the next time but it wasn’t the case. So we will never truly know why this happened.

Two years later I finally can write it down. I still have PTSD. The whole experience ruined pregnancy for me. It took all of the joy and happiness. If I appeared ‘happy’ when I was pregnant with my second child, Macy, it was a cover. I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or treat me like I was fragile. I wanted to be excited for her arrival. Truth was, I was so damn scared. Every week was a milestone. Every single week. Even when I’m not pregnant I still have episodes of the PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and PPD (postpartum depression). It’s been a difficult two years to say the least. If I didn’t have Ian I wouldn’t be where I am today. He definitely never gets enough credit. I didn’t tell his side of the story, I will leave that to him. I will not put words in his mouth and speak for him about Kane. No one sees what he does behind our closed door. He is an amazing man, and father.

Courtesy of Taylor Bjorgum

Kane, ‘If our love could’ve saved you, you would’ve lived forever.'”

Courtesy of Taylor Bjorgum

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taylor Bjorgum of Georgia. You can follow her on Instagram and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more inspiring stories of life after stillbirth here:

‘Is she your only one?’ Awkward silence. ‘Nope. She has an older brother. He died.’: Mother of stillborn son’s candid response to strangers’ prying questions, ‘He should be here’

‘Can I see my boy for one more goodbye?’ A nurse gave him his first and only haircut. He was truly perfect.’: Couple loses son to stillbirth, anxious about new pregnancy, ‘My first is in heaven, I’ll meet him there someday’

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