My husband and I have a long and ugly story of fertility issues. Three years in fact. It’s hard to not blame yourself for your lack of children, considering I have the issue, but it happens. It’s all tied in with self-pity, empty medication pills we got weekly to help me ovulate, the band aids from the blood draws and old mascara stains from ugly tears laying on the pillowcase.
After three years of heartache, the story of two peoples incredible love finally resulted in a sweet baby boy. I completed just one IUI procedure and it had finally worked! I was finally pregnant! As the weeks went on, check ups were normal, minus a run with high blood pressure. That landed me another doctor to oversee my care.
On a bright and beautiful Sunday morning in April 2020, I was awakened with a panic attack (not abnormal for me though). I wasn’t feeling him move this morning, and if I could recall- last night either. My friend came over to use a doppler to try to find the heartbeat, but it wasn’t picking it up. So, we went to our hospital in the middle of the COVID pandemic.
I had an ache in my belly I hadn’t felt before, cold sweats were taking over my body and I couldn’t stop shaking. My husband was holding my hand and telling me everything was just fine and I “would be back in bed in no time”. There was something else happening, I could feel it. Emptiness. Silence.
Joseph died from what is known as a Fetal Maternal hemorrhage. In FMH the fetal blood cells mix with the mothers blood through a rupture in the sac. Not always fatal if caught early enough I have read. We were too late though and Joseph had already lost too much blood. His heart had stopped and he went to sleep peacefully in my belly being cradled by his mom. As the nurses cried along with me, my doctor would say, “You are only the second case I have ever seen. It’s very rare. I am so sorry, Ashley. You are going to have to deliver your baby.”
So, at 23 weeks at 4 days around 12:06pm, our son Joseph Gunner was born still into a dark, quiet and cold delivery room. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to hold him; I was scared. Would I look at him? Would it hurt worse? Should I just let them take him away? But what mother would I be if I didn’t hold my baby and tell him how sorry I was and that everything was going to be ok now. So, against every fiber in my body, we cradled our sweet boy.
“Daddy and I are so sorry,” I kept telling him. “I’m so sorry I let you down, I wish we could trade places. We love you.” Our love created a baby boy, his name is Joseph, and he is forever our shining star now.
Ashley Reilly is mother to Joseph, born still April 2020.