Picking Up the Pieces One Heart at a Time
Helping families overcome the sorrow of infant and pregnancy loss
while embracing the gift of a new life.
My husband and I had decided it was time to welcome a second child into our family in June of 2006. We had been married for nearly 3 years and already had a beautiful son named Dylan James Douglas (we have a two middle name tradition in my family). We became pregnant in July of 2006, only 1 month after we began trying to conceive. We had a pretty typicalpregnancy experience, overall everything went as planned. We found out we were expecting another baby boy and after much contemplation (and my impatience to name him) my husband chose, Taylor Jeffrey Gerald. I was so excited because I could finally paint his nursery letters to match the safari themed bedding we had chosen. Everything was perfect. On February 29th, 2007, I checked my weekly pregnancy update that I receive via e-mail and when I clicked on the available
link I was redirected to a story of a stillbirth. I read the woman’s heart wrenching experience and couldn’t help but feel for her. I shed a tear and even shared the story with my Mother in Law, telling her I couldn’t imagine going through that. The next few days are kind of a blur, I remember feeling anxious and scared, and that story kept playing in my mind. Thursday evening, we had our
checkup, I was looking forward to it because I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was the matter, however it was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions (we had a severe snowstorm). On Saturday March 3rd, 2007, the perfect pregnancy went severely wrong.I was 35.5 weeks along, and after monitoring this usually quite active baby only to find no movements, I called the hospital and was told to come in. Dereck, Dylan and I rushed to United Hospital. My mind kept telling me that everything was okay, and that I was just being paranoid. My heart told me otherwise. The story I had come across on Wednesday kept playing through my mind. I was shaking and trying to remain positive, trying to push away the feelings of knowing something was the matter. As I lay on the bed staring at the ceiling, listening to the nurse struggle to find Taylor’s heartbeat, I realized I was living the story that I had read three days earlier. After a few minutes I was asked to roll on my side, perhaps she’d find it there… nothing. We thought we heard something for a brief moment, but we couldn’t be certain. Another nurse was called in and an ultrasound was requested. It was then and there that I knew Taylor had passed away. I recalled how the woman wrote in the story what the ultrasound had revealed. The tears I had been fighting flowed freely and uncontrollably. I looked at my husband who had not a clue, I wanted to tell him what I thought knew, but I couldn’t find the words. He just smiled reassuringly, trying to get me to see that everything would be fine. The ultrasound tech came in. She never said a word to me, just went straight to work, applying the conductor jelly that was about to display my son’s heartbeat and either ease or confirm my worst fear, and placed the Doppler in the correct position. As soon as the screen was turned on, I saw Taylor’s sweet little silhouette, no movements and my worst fear was confirmed. No heartbeat. I can’t even remember if the tech said anything to me, I knew instantly and began to bawl. A nurse asked if she could take our son, Dylan, out of the room, and I turned to my husband. He looked so confused; he did not really understand what was going on. I couldn’t tell him that Taylor was no longer with us; all I could say was that I knew I was right. We cried for a long period of time. I did not want this to be true, my heart knew but my mind wanted to deny this horrible finding. Will it away somehow. I tried to think of what to do next, I called my Mom and got my stepdad instead, she was at work. I burst into tears on the phone and told him the words that I had dreaded to say, because I knew it would make it all the more real. “Taylor has died.” After that, most of it was a blur. Dereck phoned his parents, my Mom and pretty soon everyone had heard the horrible news. Our family Doctor arrived and told us our options; induction, continuing to carry the baby until we were ready, letting my body go into labor on its own. Too manychoices, and we were not ready to decide. How could this, now be the decision we were required to make regarding our child? We should have been deciding on hospital portraits, which car seat would ensure the safest ride home, and where to place the bassinet. Instead of finalizing the plans for his upcoming Dedication that was to take place in April, we were given information to plan his funeral. The Doctor recommended applying a cervix softening gel just to be sure my body would be ready if and when we chose to be induced. We went home, most of my family had showed up by then. I tried to keep my mind off everything that had happened. I was not prepared for this. Later that evening I began to experience contractions and hemorrhaging. I had severe contractions the entire ride to the hospital and was changed into a robe and prepared for delivery immediately upon arrival. I was told that I was already dilated to a 10 and then told it was because I had experienced contractions that did not stop and followed one another so rapidly they seemed to be continuous. Being that I was dilated I was not able to receive an epidural. I was given a medication to help ease the pain and anxiety that I was experiencing. I did not want to deliver my son because I knew the outcome. I kept hoping and praying that when he was born, they would be wrong, that he would come out kicking and screaming. My mom, husband and older sister were present. I recall looking for the solace of my sister’s hand and my husband’s face. My son Taylor was born silently at 8:29 pm weighing 4 lbs 11.5 oz. He was 16 inches long and was nothing short of perfect and beautiful in every way. He had the most perfect face,10 tiny and wonderful toes and fingers, there was nothing wrong with him. Of course, the Doctor’s couldn’t tell me what had happened until they examined everything. Much of the time after Taylor’s birth is hard to remember, but what I do recall I wouldn’t change for the world. The time after Taylor’s birth is all that my family and I had with our son. A wonderful photographer representing Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS.org) provided our family with portraits of the time spent with our beloved son. We had a funeral and memorial service for our son on March 9, 2007. We learned a short time after Taylor’s birth and funeral that we had lost him due to a pregnancy complication called a Concealed Placental Abruption. This is when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterine lining cutting off nutrients and oxygen that the baby needs to survive. It had gone undetected because of the location of my Placenta and due to the fact that I had not bled out as many abruptions tend to do (the placenta held it in and it was not present until I went into labor). If we had not experienced this complication our son would have been perfectly fine, he had no
abnormalities and would have been a healthy and active infant and child. After that we were left to pick up the broken pieces of our hearts and try to learn to live with the intense pain that the absence of our child had brought. We learned a few months later that we were expecting again. We were immediately placed on 'high risk’, and seen and tested frequently to ensure a healthy pregnancy with a happy ending. It was a very frightening experience to be expecting after a loss. We purchased a medical grade Doppler for home use and monitored the baby’s heart rate throughout our entire expectancy. We learned we were having a girl. Such conflicting emotions, happy and elated to be expecting another baby, but still grieving for the loss of our son. During the pregnancy, a mere seven months after Taylor's death, my sister who had been present for his birth passed away. It was very difficult for me as we are a close knitted family and her presence during Taylor’s birth meant so much to me. My entire family was experiencing heartache. I knew I needed to be strong and take care of myself and this baby. Toward the end of her pregnancy we met with a specialist regarding induction to ensure a safe delivery. A week prior to the date of scheduled induction we noted heart decelerations during a weekly visit, and while home monitoring as well, and went in immediately. At first things seemed to be fine, however after a few hours of monitoring the baby’s heart rate dropped significantly and then bounced back. We experienced one more significant drop in her heart rate, and were kept overnight for observations. I couldn’t sleep; I laid there watching the strip as it printed out my daughter’s heartbeats. Finally, morning came we had a pretty uneventful night, so we were about to be released when suddenly her heart rate dropped even more than it had the previous times and we struggled to get it back up. The Doctor made the choice to induce that morning and our daughter JennaLee Taylor May (named after my sister Jennifer Lee who was born in May, and her brother Taylor) arrived safely on her brother’s funeral date of March 9, 2008. We figured God was planting a rose on what will always be a hard day for our family, because she is definitely our rose.
After experiencing a loss of this magnitude our lives have changed on so many levels. I already appreciated the blessing of being a parent, but losing my son Taylor makes me appreciate that blessing all the more. I have found small ways to bring peace and joy to myself and my family by remembering Taylor in different ways. We have had the pleasure of staying at Faith’s Lodge (FaithsLodge.org), we have planted a tree and have done other small but meaningful things as a family to continue to help us heal. We founded Taylored To You on March 3, 2009. The first official TTY Rainbow Belly Maternity Portrait Session was nothing short of amazing. We had similar, yet different, experiences and I could see both pain and joy in her eyes as she struggled to overcome the sorrow of losing her daughter, while trying to embrace the gift of the new life growing inside of her. So full of fear and love at the same time. It was like taking pictures of myself the year prior. Taylor’s and JennaLee’s pregnancies were on my mind while I worked on her images. I felt so grateful that this woman had been willing to accept my offer, because each time I work on a portrait I feel a small part of me healing as I give a piece of the broken heart Taylor ‘s death has left behind to another grief stricken Mommy and Daddy.