• Danielle Delomas

Blog Takeover: Dani + Jason, Part One

{ It’s October, which brings us Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. As a mama to two rainbow babies and as a bereavement doula, this month holds a special place in my heart and in my work. All month I will be sharing pregnancy loss and infant loss information, stories, and resources. }

Earlier this month I asked my dear friend, Dani, and her husband, Jason, if they would be comfortable sharing their loss stories here. They graciously agreed, despite how busy they are, and I am honored to share their words below. Dani and Jason have two beautiful boys, Everet Michael (5) and Griffin Elliot (2), and two babes in Heaven, Aaron Andrew (born 2/7/17) and Baby Cline (born June 2017). You can find and support their newly planted church, The House, at @thehouseohio on Facebook and Instagram.

From Dani:

"I never really know where to start off our story. I guess you could say we weren’t so pleasantly surprised in fall of 2014 when we unexpectedly found out we were expecting our second baby. We SO were not ready to have another child with Everet only being about 14 months old and we hadn’t had plans on even thinking about another kiddo for another year or two. But after all the shock wore off, we chose to fully embrace having another so soon. I made the most of creative ways to surprise our mothers over Thanksgiving so we could all celebrate together. We had Everet wear his new big brother shirt and have him show it off to the grandmas. It was amazing and hilarious how long it took for it to sink in that his shirt actually meant what it said.

Everything was going fine. Super tired all the time. Heartburn. Carboholic. Couldn’t get enough tacos. All the things were great. Prenatals were all normal. Baby looked great on the dating scan and all bloodwork was normal. We had our 12-week appointment. The heartbeat was found right away and was so strong and loud! We left scheduling our next visit 4 weeks out for 16 weeks.

At 15+2 weeks, it seemed like I had caught the horrible stomach bug that had plagued our family for a couple weeks. It hit me like a brick wall in the evening and spent all night struggling with chills, sweating, nausea, vomiting, all the good stuff that goes with a GI bug. The next morning, I felt beyond horrible and kept getting a horrible pain in my lower back and deep into my hip joints. I know that dehydration and pregnancy isn’t a great combo, so we went to the ER to get some fluids, in case that’s what was going on with the weird pain I was feeling.

We talked about symptoms and what’s been passed around our household. But couldn’t really identify the back and hip pain. They chalked it up to possible kidney stones (although there was no other indications) and gave me anti-nausea meds and iv fluids. They checked for baby’s heart tones. But couldn’t find it. Tried a different doppler, couldn’t find it. Changed the batteries, couldn’t find it. Finally brought in an ultrasound. As I looked at the screen, it didn’t seem right to me. There was no fetal movement, I didn’t see a heartbeat, but I was assured there was a super tiny flicker. What I was seeing didn’t feel right to me, but I didn’t want to over think anything, and I needed to relax so I could rest. I was scheduled for an appointment in a few days, so we would be better assured all was ok then. But it was still in the back of my mind….

The next day I was feeling tons better and even attended a Super Bowl party with our youth group. Ya’ll, Lady Gaga killed that halftime show! I took our son home for bedtime. Shortly after, I had some light cramps and some spotting. I thought I had just over done it, so I knocked back a Gatorade and laid down. I let Jason know what was going on, but I thought things were fine. About an hour later, the cramping was still around, coming and going. We thought it would be best to go get checked out, better to be safe than end up with a possible emergency being 20 minutes away from the hospital. I was trying to stay calm and positive, but on the drive there the cramping became more frequent and I started to get scared. We got to the Er and by then they had started to wrap around my back. It was a busy night (about 12am) so we had to wait in the lobby for an available room. As we sat, the cramps became stronger and closer together. Jason notified the staff at the desk, still nothing available. I gave up on denial and began to time what I admitted were contractions. 2-3 minutes apart, having to breathe through each one. I was losing our baby. I was losing our baby in a lobby full of random people. I remember looking at Jason as tears filled my eyes and said, “these are definitely contractions.” Again, notified staff at the desk, still nothing available. So, I prayed as we waited. A few minutes later we were finally called back. As the nurse handed me my gown to change, I felt the worst possible thing and lost any control I had over myself. A gush, my water had broken. She rushed out of the room to grab a doctor. I didn’t want to change out of my clothes. Maybe if I didn’t see it, it wasn’t actually happening. But it was, it really was. God bless my husband. He was able to keep it together enough to help me and be my support in that moment.

As the doctor finished up the exam, I heard the words I knew were coming but was hoping that maybe it was all a mistake. I’m so sorry, here’s your baby. At about 1am I delivered our second son. As I was handed a tiny baby so carefully wrapped in a washcloth, it all felt so surreal. He was so small and fragile, hadn’t developed any facial features to look like either one of us, but we loved that baby with every part of our being. All we could do is hold on and cry. If there were any silver lining in this moment it was the words “it does look like your baby passed away some time ago.” Somewhere between the perfect 12-week appointment and that moment something went horribly wrong. I was mildly relieved to know that I wasn’t in preterm labor and there was nothing that I could have done differently for this not to have happened.

We were taken up to L&D for recovery. Being a Mount Carmel doula, I was familiar with the floor and the wonderful people that would be taking care of us. I huge relief came over me when I saw Beth standing in the doorway of the triage room. I’m not sure if I just thought it or said it out loud “I’m so happy it’s you!” I had only worked with her once or twice by then, but I knew how amazingly kind and compassionate she is and how she fiercely cares for her patients. She helped me to get cleaned up and brought us a box of “the good tissues” and took us into our room where we would be for many hours because of a retained placenta.

I felt like that was adding insult to injury. I was taking misoprostol and then all we could do was wait. The waiting had turned out to be something that was beneficial. We were able to get some much-needed rest. Beth brought me a bear, a heart from the box his little body was placed in and a small blanket I could tell was lovingly crocheted. It was crazy to think that I had to go home with these little things instead of our son.

While we waited and recovered, room 214 became our safe zone. It was no one else but us. We had our nurses and friend who stopped by for a bit, but it almost seemed like it was our little sacred place. We didn’t have to face anything else other than what was in that moment, in that room with us. We all grieved together. Shared a regular conversation here and there. We were asked if we had named him and it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Since we were hoping for a girl, that’s all that we had picked out thinking it would be good luck or something. So named him Aaron Andrew.

The L&D staff that took care of us were amazing. Not only were we treated with great respect, so was my baby. We were treated as a family. It was the worst day of our lives, but they were able to make it just a little less painful.

I think it was about 5pm when we were discharged to go home. I never would have imagined that I wouldn’t want to be leaving a hospital room. I remember Jason looking out of the window and saying, “I don’t really want to go out there.” It felt heavy to be walking out of those doors knowing that the world was still running like nothing ever happened. Our world had fallen apart, but the rest of it was still moving right along. I’m not sure if things would have been different if our baby’s death would have been caught the day before or even earlier, but I do know it still would have been just as life altering. It’s been 2 years and were finally in a place where we can really start to pick ourselves up and really process through that day. We did find out we were expecting again the day before Mother’s Day that same year, but also lost that baby 8 weeks later. It’s been a very long journey navigating through our grief. Neither one of us expected to not feel “back to normal” by now. But I guess that’s what deep loss does to a heart. You never really get over it, you just learn how to live with it.

We are very happy though to have 2 amazing little boys at home with us. We brought our rainbow baby, Griffin, into the world July 18, 2018. He’s definitely been our challenging little guy (ornery would be a bit of an understatement) but there’s been a lot of healing through his existence."

What was it like to go through your unexpected losses?

"It’s something that isn’t easily described. It’s painful (physically, emotionally, mentally), surreal, unbelievable, lonely, empty. I remember the constant thought of “I can’t believe this is happening….” Even in the moment, it’s so hard to wrap your mind around the fact that your baby is just gone and a lot of thinking about how and where I went wrong to cause this."

What brought you comfort?

"Our faith was something that we both really leaned on. I remember Jason saying to me, very clearly, that God did not do this. That he didn’t take our son from us. Yeah, there were times we were mad at God and we went through times of feeling like we were alone, but we knew and know, that through it all, we can use our struggles and our story to reach out to other families going through pregnancy loss. We believe and have faith that God can take the bad and use it all for good.

The most comforting thing for me was our friends that checked up on us. It was only a few, but it meant the world to me that they were thinking of us. A friend made up a meal train, which was super helpful. I still had to heal physically and take care of an 18-month-old, so to not have to worry about a meal was a big relief. I had asked a friend to get lunch and pedis a few days later and she cleared her schedule to make that happen. That was so huge! I needed something that drew me out of my mind, even for just couple of hours. It hurt to get in my car and leave my house, but it was incredibly vital to my soul. We also have a friend that, even now, will listen if I need to talk if I’m having a bad day. She gets that it was very traumatic and always listens with compassion. She helps me feel normal in my grief. Having someone that helps me feel validated, was comforting then and now."

What do you wish your friends and family had done to support you?

"Most everyone was great at respecting what we were going through. I asked for space and we got space. I felt better being able to control who I was letting into our circle, at the time.

I wish more people had treated our losses like a “real” death. Our family and close friends were very understanding, but we unfortunately ran into issues with others not seeing our babies as real people, our children, who had passed away.

I wish some friends of mine (that I felt comfortable enough to talk about my experience and feelings) could have set aside their own discomfort to meet me where I was. I was literally cut off mid-sentence, as I was sharing my heart, with “you don’t have to talk about that!” and that floored me. "

How do you celebrate your babies who passed?

"We try to talk about them when they come to our minds. It’s been 3 years and it still stings, but we’ve been healing over time. We’ve discovered that avoiding talking about losing our babies, caused more harm than good. It’s good to know that neither of us will ever forget our children. We participate in a few remembrance activities through a couple of organizations. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep holds a remembrance walk and ceremony in a few states throughout the year. It’s a really nice way to honor our babies and hundreds of other families and their babies together. It’s also helped us to open up to our children about their siblings. We also make sure to participate in the Wave of Light on the National Day of Pregnancy and Infant loss. Not only do we honor our babies, but it also helps to bring awareness and hopefully normalize being open about miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.

We used an organization called Back in His Arms Again. They helped us make sure that Aaron was treated with respect and dignity. They buried him for us in Resurrection Cemetery in an area called The Garden of Holy Innocence. It’s an area specially for babies and children. We were able to purchase a brick for the sitting area with his name on it."

Special thank you again to Dani for being so open and vulnerable in sharing her experience. Next week I will share some of her husband Jason's thoughts on infant loss for partners and dads.

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