I begin this blog six weeks after the birth and death of our son, Natan. After learning this summer that we were expecting, my husband and I felt cautious exaltation. I’d had a first-trimester miscarriage so we were already aware of pregnancy’s precariousness. But when the threat of miscarriage passed with October’s arrival, we began to feel comfortable planning for and discussing our first child. Every doctor’s appointment, when we’d either see the baby’s heartbeat via ultrasound or hear it using the Doppler, our excitement and happiness increased.
I’d had a rough first trimester, with much nausea and exhaustion, but the second trimester was going well. At 19 weeks, I began to suffer from Braxton Hicks contractions. One ultrasound showed a “borderline” cervical length, but a follow-up exam showed the length was normal. Perhaps I had a dynamic cervix. My doctor told me not to exercise anymore, and to make sure to rest regularly during the day. We were somewhat reassured, but in any case I dramatically reduced my activity. 5 weeks passed. The Braxton Hicks (or so we think) continued, but stopped if I rested or changed position. They were not regular and a subsequent doctor’s appointment still showed no change.
Evening of December 26th, I didn’t feel well and my back begins to ache.
Morning, December 27th. I see blood. We rush to Labor and Delivery, and an exam shows I have completely effaced and I am 1cm dilated. Thus begins a week of hospital bed rest, and medication stops labor. All goes relatively well until contractions begin on the evening of January 2nd around 8pm. My blood pressure unexpectedly crashes and they can no longer safely administer medications. My water breaks at 6am, January 3rd, and they have to deliver immediately. In incredible pain, I begin to hallucinate and go in and out of consciousness. I babble in Hebrew and very broken Spanish. I have gone into shock. The baby has turned to breech position. In his 25th week, he is viable but so small, he moves too quickly through my body while my blood pressure and heart rate fluctuate dangerously. Things are happening too fast, and within minutes it is too late for a C-section. He becomes caught in the cord as he passes through the birth canal. 7 minutes after birth, our son is gone.
We hold him and name him, Natan. He is small, but perfectly formed. He has my nose and his father’s chin. His hair is dark. He is beautiful. I cover his eyes, and say a Hebrew prayer, the Shema. For now, I am not angry, but instead sad and completely unprepared.
Within just a few days time we had birthed and buried our firstborn son. In the first weeks following Natan’s birth and death, I struggled with a postpartum body. Achy breasts, exhaustion, residual contractions, but instead of struggling to balance that with the demands of a newborn, I had all the time in the world to sleep and recover.
6 weeks later, those symptoms have passed. I’m left with a non-pregnant self, but no baby to hold. The anger has arrived, and I wonder, “Where do we go from there? How do I forgive my body for betraying us?” I begin this blog to remember our son, and as a record of his yahrzeit year, our yr. of consolation.