On the morning of my ultrasound I had a fleeting thought. How would I come home and tell my family that I lost the baby? Like I said, the thought was fleeting. I had absolutely no indication that anything was wrong.
My husband and I sat in the waiting room for quite some time. Big bellies waddled in and out and all I could think of was what my baby would look like on that screen.
A lady peered through the door, “Misty”, she said. It was our turn!
I put one foot into the dimly lit ultrasound room and thought, something seems different. Not even a second long, that thought passed and I sat down on the bed. The warm jelly covered my 19-week pregnant belly and memories of our first-born, Dawson’s ultrasound filled my mind. I watched the screen as the tech pressed the doppler to my belly. Another thought hit me, this isn’t exciting.
It wasn’t my thoughts that eventually slowed my excitement. It was the silence of the ultrasound tech. She gracefully scanned my belly with little words or expression. Just a quick description of what she was measuring. No small talk. No questions. “He must be nice and content just sleeping in there,” I said. A mother’s hope would muster those words as she stares at her lifeless baby on the screen. It all seemed so different than my ultrasound with Dawson, I thought. She came around to the left side of my belly pushing hard on his legs. He won’t move for us, stubborn baby. My thoughts were still hopeful and clueless. “Let me go get the doctor,” she said as she left the room and I looked at Brady sitting next to me. “That’s not good,” I told him. Every possibility crossed my mind other than death.
After a few moments my doctor came in, “Hey, guys.”
I replied with, “It isn’t good, is it?”
With such sensitivity she said, “No, there is no easy way to say this, but your baby doesn’t have a heartbeat.” I stared off in a blurry trance. She began to speak but I couldn’t hear her words. My face met my hands and tears streamed between my fingers as she told us what the ultrasound tech had found. My doctor explained what we needed to know for the moment. She would call us later with more details.
The call came as I sat with my parents around my dining room table. I was feeding Dawson and talking with them about what has to happen next. My inexperience with anything like this left me wondering how they would get the baby out of me.
After I spoke with the doctor and asked several questions, I hung up. I was numb and began rehearsing to my parents what she said: “I have to be induced; I’m too far along for a D&C. They encourage us to hold him and take pictures. We can have him cremated or choose to have him buried.” That was when my numbness wore off. With horror I exclaimed, “I have to bury my baby!”
Shock filled that day. It was little reminders like this, ambushes of reality, that would momentarily strip the shock away and cripple me.
After a poor attempt to research names and make a plan for the next day we went to bed around midnight. Brady and I woke up simultaneously at 5:00 a.m. We rolled over to face each other and instantly began sobbing. I couldn’t think of anything other than the morning I went into labor with Dawson. Going to the hospital that morning was thrilling and exciting. My heart ached horribly to feel that. For several minutes we lay there engulfed in the reality of what was about to happen. The pain was so fresh, so real and new. I made my mind up that I would never sleep again if this is what waking up feels like.
Just a couple of hours later we headed for the hospital. Dazed and worn-out, we found our way to the Birthing Center, cringing as we walked through the double doors. My feet quit moving. I ran into a brick wall of memories and desperation to wake up from this nightmare. I stood in the middle of the hall as Brady hugged me tight. Again, not knowing what else to do we sobbed together. “I don’t want to do this,” was all he or I could say.
“I’m Misty,” I told the nurse at the desk. I’m not really Misty, I thought. Misty wouldn’t be doing something like this. My head still couldn’t fathom how this could be me.
It took all day for labor to actually set in. By late evening I was having very strong, consistent contractions. We had a room full of family around us and countless others praying. At 1:38 a.m. on September 12, 2012, Hudson was born. To make everything as “normal” as possible Brady cut Hudson’s cord and my doctor checked him over then handed his tiny 6 ounce body to us. We looked at him, then at each other and smiled. For the first time we felt a moment of peace and joy, the kind that can’t be explained or created by humans.
Leaving the hospital empty-handed to go home and make plans for a burial service is not what any mother has in mind. Fortunately, life was filled with support, help and love from others, as well as service plans. After Hudson’s funeral, though, we returned home to quiet, grief-stricken emptiness, while everyone else seemingly went on with life.
Visiting Hudson’s grave became as necessary as eating or more, so it felt. I found myself there crying to God, talking to Hudson, and singing to him the same lullaby I always sang to Dawson. Just because my baby was not in my arms did not mean it took away my innate desire to mother him. As I sat in the grass I often struggled not to throw myself onto the mound of dirt in a desperate attempt to keep him warm. I needed him to know that I was there and I would take care of him. I walked backwards to my car. I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving and turning my back on him.
Naiveté had me believing that the worst was behind me, but the following week when Brady went to work and I was at home to make sense of life proved me wrong. Daily chores of a mother and wife were straining. I felt as though I was drowning deeper rather than coming up for air. Life became dark as I struggled with all the emotions. My every day was consumed with thoughts of Hudson and what happened. Brady was very busy with work and had no option except to try and resume a normal routine. Our grieving became very different and inadvertently separate.
The calendar moved forward and seasons changed. Days became easier to handle and my bouts of deep grief became somewhat less frequent.
Our usual child-like excitement for Christmas was missing, but we were determined to have a merry Christmas for Dawson… and for Hudson. Instead of three stockings hanging, it turned to four. One now marked with an “H”. We stuffed Hudson’s stocking with letters and took them to his graveside to read. My motherly instinct rarely felt satisfied after burying Hudson, but it was times like this that made a difference.
With my due date being February 1st, I fiercely dreaded January. My mood plummeted as I daily remembered what should be but wasn’t. As that day approached I became more discontent with life’s circumstances. I knew I needed to do something for Hudson, for me, and for other moms.
On February 1st I took the very first “Hudson’s Band of Hope” to the Birthing Center where I delivered my baby just months prior. With God’s leading, I created a ministry to extend hope to other moms who lose babies — personalized bracelets and prayer cards to give to moms who also have to leave the hospital empty-handed.
Since Hudson’s Bands of Hope has taken off and I’ve seen what it looks like to really reach someone at their worst point of grief, I feel a bit more complete. With every bracelet that is given out comes not only a portion of healing for that mother, but for me too.
Although it looks the same, my life after losing Hudson is entirely different. Every part of who I am has changed. Moments of sorrow continue to plague me, and I suspect they always will, but I know that Hudson’s short life was not lived in vain. If anyone will shout from the roof-tops how important a child is, it will be his mother. Just as if he were in my arms now, I couldn’t be more proud of my little Hudson.