I never thought I would be writing a blog post like this one. I never thought I would belong to the "heart mamas" club, and I NEVER thought I would belong to the "baby loss mamas" club. But here I am. Dealing with my worst nightmare. I need to tell Owen's story for my own sake, but also in hopes that it will help another mom who may be out there in my same situation. Heart broken, baby-less, angry, confused, but yet still full of hope. There are happy parts to Owen's story but also sad parts. It's his life, and I need to share his story.
I had a healthy and relatively easy pregnancy. Other than being uncomfortable and exhausted most of the time, I can't complain. Every time I went to the doctor, they listened to the baby's heartbeat and told me "you have a very healthy baby." I wasn't overly stressed during my pregnancy at all, just the normal stress you have when you are going to become a mom for the first time. I would just sit in his room and hold his little outfits close, imagining what it would be like to have my baby boy in my arms.
My due date was February 15. That day came and went. Still no baby. I was scheduled to be induced on Sunday February 23, but I really wanted to go into labor on my own. I did everything to try to induce labor. I drank pineapple smoothies, ate eggplant like it was my job, walked for 3-4 miles everyday after work, and even went jogging. No signs of labor. I got a prenatal massage by a Ukrainian woman named Alinna on Friday, February 21. She was known to put women into labor. The next morning, I started having contractions! We called our parents so they could start their drives up from Florida to be here when he was born. I was advised to labor at home as long as possible if I wanted to have a natural delivery. At 3:00 am the following morning (Sunday 2/23) my contractions became a lot more intense, so we headed to the hospital. Fifteen hours later, we welcomed Owen Thomas Parker to the world. He was the most beautiful baby we had ever seen. And I'm not one who thinks all babies are cute. Everyone told me you always think your own baby is cute, but I wasn't convinced. It's so true though. I fell in love with him immediately and thought he was the most beautiful baby in the world. He was perfect with his eyes wide open, taking it all in.
Owen weighed 8 lbs, 7 oz, and was 21 inches long. He had a really big poop though and lost a whole ounce. I noticed after he was born that he had a weak cry. It took him a few seconds to cry immediately after being born, but they said that was normal for some babies. They also detected a heart murmur upon his initial exam in the delivery room, but told us that was also very common. He was pink, alert, and gorgeous.
I had no worries. Brian and I were on cloud nine. I was so happy to NOT be pregnant anymore and have my beautiful baby boy in my arms!
Later that night, our nurse, Laurel, taught Brian how to change Owen's diaper. It was hysterical to watch. I was so proud of Brian being such a good daddy!
Over night, his glucose level was low, so they gave him two formula bottles, and it went back up again. No big deal. The next morning, we were woken up by the pediatrician who told us that Owen's heart murmur was pretty significant, and he was referring him to be seen by the pediatric cardiologist. Okay...? What does that mean? A nurse came in moments later with Owen and told us not to worry- this happens to lots of babies. So we didn't. We spent the next hour just the three of us in our hospital room, looking at Owen and enjoying our time together before visitors.
Dr. Raviele looked at his echo and listened to his heart.
One of the NICU nurses was such an angel. She came up to me, hugged me, and told me that her daughter had heart issues too. She said it was a difficult road, but she's just fine now. She told me the best advice someone told her was to take it four hours at a time. That's all you can do. Four hours at a time. I can't tell you how thankful I am for that sweet woman and her advice. I had to remind myself of it over and over again...
Waiting for Owen to be prepped and ready for transport was excruciating. So many things were happening all at once. I had just delivered this baby less than 24 hours ago, and I was getting phone calls from Egleston about my insurance and Owen's insurance. I couldn't think clearly. I was also getting discharge instructions from the nurse. I am so glad I didn't have a c-section. If I had, I would not have been able to be discharged early. The fact that Brian and I couldn't ride in the helicopter with him already too much for me to handle. He had to go all by himself without his parents. He wasn't even a day old! Our little perfect innocent baby was sick and had to go to a new hospital. A strange place I didn't even know existed. Was this really happening? I couldn't stop crying.
Thank goodness both of our parents were there to help us with logistics. Owen was wheeled down by the transport team so we could say goodbye to him before leaving. I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about this moment. Owen's flight team members were the nicest people ever. He was in good hands.
Brian ran down to pay our hospital fees before we could leave, and the next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out of the hospital in a wheel chair, empty handed. I had no baby. Nothing can prepare you for this. I remember coming out of the elevator with tears streaming down my face, feeling sorry for the people who had to witness all of this in passing. This wasn't at all what I had pictured. I was supposed to be happy, holding my BABY. One of the happiest moments I had dreamed of having had now turned into a nightmare.
Continued in Part Two...