There are two dates or memories from this year that have totally changed my life. The first was the day I found out I was pregnant, February 24, 2013. Although for a few days prior I had a feeling that I was, but it wasn’t until the five pregnancy tests that my husband got me that I truly believed it. As we let it sink in, we started to become more and more joyful of our expecting bundle. I began to imagine my wonderful husband being a father for the first time. I imagined our baby to have his beautiful, blue eyes, his contagious smile and his caring heart. I didn’t care if we had a boy or girl because all I could think about was how this little one was going to be all mine.
As time went on our excitement only grew. We told our family and we told our friends of our blessed news. I was so excited to tell everyone about our expected arrival in November. I kept thinking, ‘For the holidays, we are going to have a newborn!’ I couldn’t think of a greater gift than a happy, healthy newborn for the holidays.
As the weeks traveled on, I felt some symptoms of pregnancy. I was tired all the time and going to bed at 8:00pm every night. We also were going to our monthly doctor appointments. I always made a huge deal out of every appointment and we always celebrated with lunch or ice cream afterwards. Our big 20 week appointment came where we were going to find out the gender of our baby. My husband guessed it was a boy and I thought I knew it was a girl. Turns out, it’s a boy! That night we had a gender reveal party with all our friends and family. Everyone bit into cupcakes that revealed blue icing inside. Everyone was so excited, and so were we.
While we were at our 20 week appointment, the ultrasound technician commented that our little boy measured in at about a week small. She said that it was normal and not to worry. Later that night, my doctor called me a suggested that I go to Iowa City to have it further checked and to ease my nerves. She didn’t think it was a huge concern either. I just figured I had miscalculated my period. I was just excited we were having a boy.
There was about a three week period between our 20 week appointment and our next appointment in Iowa City. These three weeks were the happiest of my pregnancy. My husband and I bought a house for our growing family, we celebrated my husband’s birthday at our cabin with all our family and friends and we had a great 4th of July. We were just living in the moment.
The day my husband and I drove to Iowa City for our appointment I had some nerves about it, but I thought everything would be ok. I remember being in the bathroom, getting ready that morning and saying to my husband, ‘I’m kind of scared.’ But we both reassured each other that there was nothing to be worried about. Everything was going to be fine. Our appointment was scheduled for the late morning and we were planning on doing some big baby shopping afterwards. I had it all planned out.
We got to the Iowa City Hospital and checked in. We sat in the waiting room and talked about the places we were going to go afterwards. When we were called, a nurse took us into a room to get all my information. From here, the ultrasound technician came to get us and we went through the normal ultra sound process. The ultra sounds in Iowa City are extremely high tech and so Drew and I were amazed at the different things we could see. We asked her a lot of questions like, ‘Is that his fingers? Are those the hearts two ventricles?’ The way she was going about things made it seem like nothing was wrong. Honestly, we didn’t even expect anything to be wrong. The ultra sound technician left the room to go and get the doctors. We just sat there and waited for a considerable amount of time. Drew and I again talked about the kind of crib we were looking for and how much we wanted to spend on it. Oblivious to what was about to happen.
From there, multiple doctors came into the room and had the ultra sound technician show them some things. All while, I am lying on a table with my pants unbuttoned, jelly goop on my stomach, and my sweet husband sitting next to me holding my hand. They asked if I had been sick at all and asked if anything had happened during the pregnancy. I quickly responded, ‘No! I’m perfectly healthy.’ They conversed for a while longer as my husband and I just stared at each other when one of the doctors told me I could clean the goop off and button up my pants. I went to the bathroom and came back out to see everyone staring at me. There were all waiting to talk until I sat down. That was the moment that I became instantaneously afraid for my baby boy. I sat back down and the doctor rolled a chair over to my husband and myself. Just to set the scene here, there were about six other doctors and nurses in this tiny room. All of them staring at me. The doctor looked at me and started talking.
The next few hours were a blur and I hardly remember what happened. I’ve even tried to recover some things from my husband and he feels the same way. We have often described it as being hit by a truck. But I’ll do my best to describe what happened.
I remember the doctor saying that my placenta did not form correctly. Instead of being spread out, it was in a concentrated spot. She said that the baby was not getting enough nutrients and cord blood. They described the blood flow as having an absence. There should be a constant flow of blood, but when my heart was at rest (between pumps) the baby wasn’t getting any blood flow. Which was not supposed to be happening. The doctor also said that because he wasn’t getting all of his nutrients and blood flow, he was very small. After that, I just broke down. I felt as though I was dreaming and I was just waiting to wake up. The doctors were handing me boxes of tissues and I remember asking, “Is my baby going to be ok?” They were all quiet and said they didn’t know for sure. They said they wanted to do some further testing on the baby and myself. They said we were going to stay the night.
After this, they took my husband and I to a small room where we were left alone for a period of time. I suppose for us to take it all in. I remember being so scared and asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” We both just cried and prayed for our sweet boy to be ok.
After 15 minutes, I called my mom. Told her what I knew and the next thing I knew, both of my parents were on their way down to be with us. I am so thankful I have such great family. Their love and support certainly did not stop here. Over the next 36 hours, my husband and I spent our time in about 3 different hospital rooms, with about 12 different doctors, countless nurses, millions of tests, and very little answers. By the time we left, we were so drained and broken hearted. We just wanted to go home.
The doctors did not put me on bed rest. They told me to go home and live my life normally since I was only 23 weeks. The next few weeks we went in and out of the hospital a lot. We had ultra sounds once and twice a week to check on his blood flow and see his growth. At the beginning he stayed consistent, which was almost a small victory for us. We thought, ‘If he could just stay where he is at – we’ll make it all the way.’
Then during my 27th week of pregnancy, my family was over for supper and helping us unpack some of our things into our new house. After supper, my mom gave me the most beautiful baby blanket with Jonah Melvin embroidered on. She told me she got it for Jonah when we found out we were having a boy and before we knew about any complications. She told me how she had been waiting to give it to me because she didn’t want to make me sad or upset, but felt as though she should finally give it to me. We all wept for Jonah and prayed for him.
That weekend I remember being exhausted. I remember feeling so tired and worn out, but I assumed it was being we were in the midst of moving. My mom had even mentioned to me that I seemed swollen and puffy. By Monday, my 28th week, I just wasn’t feeling right and my mom urged me to go to the hospital. Thankfully, Drew was with me and we went right away. An hour later, the doctors had confirmed that Jonah did not have a heartbeat.
I was induced in the late afternoon of August 12, 2013. My husband and my mom were by my side the entire time. I remember my mom telling me how to breathe and different positions to be in to help with the contractions. I never got to take a baby class with my husband and never got to learn what to do during labor. I am so thankful my mom was there. I don’t think people realize that I had to actually go through labor and deliver my baby like any other person would. Throughout the whole time, I kept thinking that I was going to have a healthy baby in the end. It was as if my mind was playing tricks on me. I was praying and hoping for a miracle.
The second date that changed my life was August 13, 2013 at 2:10am, my sweet boy, Jonah Melvin Johnson, was born into this world.
The story from here is left untold and kept in a special place in my heart. He will always be my angel and I will always be his mommy. I am so lucky to have so many memories with my Jonah, but so sad I couldn’t have more.