(Note: #OurBorrowedAngels is a series I will continue on my blog. If you have experienced the loss of a child, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, infancy, or an older child, I would love to share your story. Contact me if you are interested and be sure to check out out this giveaway honoring October 15th’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. )
OUR STORY OF STILLBIRTH
by Susan Anderson
We were thrilled to learn we were going to become Grandparents in February, 2014. Our daughter Lindsay, and her husband Tim had been married for two years and lived in Lacy, Washington, as Tim is in the Air Force. The baby’s due date was September 13, 2014.
We began making plans for the baby shower, and Lindsay came down to Arizona in April, as that was her spring break (she was a special education teacher at that time). It was early, but we had a great time, and she received many gifts. At the time of her shower, we did not know whether or not she was having a boy or a girl, and she was calling the baby her little minion. Therefore, there were many minion gifts given.
In early May, we got the news that she was having a baby boy. They decided on Trevor James.
We spent a week in Washington in late June, and I helped paint Trevor’s room a beautiful blue. We bought the crib, mattress, etc, and so by the time we left, it was a beautiful boy’s room. We only had 3 1/2 months left, and we would be back to hold our grandson.
Lindsay really had the perfect pregnancy. She didn’t have much morning sickness, worked out continuously, ate well and slept well. There were no problems that the doctor’s noticed during her pregnancy, and her last Dr.’s visit was Friday, September 5, 2014. Trevor’s heartbeat was good, and everyone was anticipating him being born the following week.
On Tuesday, September 9 (Tim’s Birthday), Lindsay was not feeling well, so they decided to go to the hospital. That is when they found out that Trevor had no heartbeat. I will never forget that phone call – I was so excited and said, “tell me you’re in labor,” and she said, “No Mom, Trevor died!” I don’t really remember much after that until my husband came home. I know we were all in a state of shock, asking, “how could this possibly happen?” They sent Lindsay home and told her to come back the next day and they were going to induce her. To not be there with her was unbearable. Tim’s parents, who were already on their way from Maryland, were going to be there in the morning, so at least they had some parents to console them. By the time we made our arrangements, Lindsay was already being induced, and it would be another 24 hours before Trevor was born on September 11, 2014. We rushed to the hospital as soon as our plane landed and only had 20 minutes to kiss, hold and count his little fingers and toes.
Tim and Lindsay decided to have an autopsy done to see what had happened, and then they had to plan for his funeral. As a parent, you are supposed to take away your child’s pain, and that was just something we couldn’t do. Still, it was an absolutely beautiful ceremony, a beautiful Washington day. They had Trevor cremated, as with being a military family – wherever they would go, so would Trevor. He has a beautiful memorial cabinet in their home. Both sets of parents stayed a week, and leaving was one of the hardest things we did.
Lindsay and Tim were strong throughout this. I was, in particular, having a very difficult time, knowing that we all had to get on with our lives, but it was so empty. All the plans we all had were gone. After some time, I decided to start doing research on stillbirths and their causes. I was floored to say the least, that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in stillbirth or miscarriages. We, unfortunately, were the one in four. I was also angry with the fact that Dr.’s don’t want to say anything to pregnant women about this, and not much money is spent on research as to why these babies die, unless it is a cord accident. There was never any reason found as to why Trevor’s heart stopped beating. No kink in the cord, no knot, Lindsay was not sick. Nothing. Also, when a stillbirth occurs, the parents do not get a birth certificate – only a death certificate. Some states are now correcting this injustice.
Through my research, I came across Flexmort’s Cuddlecot. This is a cooling system, widely used in Europe, that when a baby dies, they can be kept with the parents/families for as long as 48 hours, where the parents can bathe, dress, and spend time cuddling their child. This was something we would have given anything to have. I talked with Lindsay, and through family and friends, we raised enough funds to donate a cuddlecot to Madigan Hospital, at Lewis McCord Air Force Base where Trevor was born. We call the cuddlecot, “Trevor’s Gift.” We are giving other families the time with their child. Unfortunately, the cot has been used a few times, and they always let Lindsay know. Lindsay is now taking classes to be a grief counselor for families going through what she did. Both her and Tim amaze us, and there marriage has become so much stronger.
Lindsay and Tim became pregnant again-with our little rainbow baby, Elizabeth, who was born January 13, 2016. She is a beautiful baby girl-such a happy baby, and Trevor made sure that everything went well with this pregnancy. Lindsay didn’t even announce to anyone she was pregnant until she decided she wanted to share the news, no matter what happened. She is my hero.
Tim has missed 4 months of Elizabeth’s growing up (even though they Skype everyday), as he is deployed again and will return in October. At that time, we also have raised enough funds for a cuddlecot here in Arizona at the same hospital where Lindsay was born. They were overwhelmed with the generosity. Trevor’s gift continues.
Trevor is an important part of our family. A candle is always lit in his memory at family gatherings. He made our family stronger, to not take things for granted, and most importantly to love one another. We have become very involved with Molly Bears (they make bears for parents who have lost their child, the same weight as their babies were, and personalize them – needless to say, Trevor’s has a minion on it), and Count the Kicks – where moms, in their third trimester count the number of kicks each day to make sure the baby’s movements stay the same. This has saved many babies lives.
(Lindsay’s mother and Trevor’s grandma)
*Note from Erica Kiefer: I remember the day Susan reached out to me on my Facebook page two years ago. Her words were short and full of sorrow. Her daughter had just lost her baby and she sought words of comfort. I sent an email to Lindsay, and Susan and I kept in touch now and then via Facebook. I remember the happiness I felt when she shared the birth of their little Rainbow Baby, Elizabeth.
Thank you, Susan, for sharing your experience of loss, touching on Lindsay’s feelings as the mother and you as the grandmother. Truly, the loss of a family member affects each of us and the journey through grief and healing becomes one of a personal nature.
I am truly in awe of your family’s endeavors to bring comfort to those who also experience the devastation of child loss. Trevor is watching you with proud eyes, I am sure of it.
Happy 2nd Birthday, sweet boy.
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