Theodore Rutherford Williams – a blessed birth
You never know how long 22 minutes can feel like until it is all you have. . . .
This birth is very different than my past two births and it yet carries many similarities. The ending is an obvious difference, but as I reflect on the day I can see how much was the same. We had healthcare providers that had attended our births in the past. We had love flowing between everyone involved. My births are never quick, which gives everyone time to get comfortable with each other, to share stories, jokes, listen to music, even take a nap together and to be present in what we are all working towards -the birth of a big beautiful boy. This birth was no different. It is hard to accurately articulate how much love we felt on this day, everyone was fully aware we would say hello and goodbye within the same day; and we all felt profound sadness yet we all at times were feeling joy. Theodore’s life was short but full of purpose and has been one of the greatest teachers for a few of us but especially for me. We were excited to meet our teacher of love.
I had been closely watched by my healthcare providers for a medical condition called Mirrors Syndrome. It is just what it sounds like, I had the potential to start mirroring the symptoms my baby was experiencing. Carrying a baby who is in heart failure makes it that much more crucial that a close eye is kept.
Monday night, many symptoms I have been experiencing yet ignoring became much more noticeable. At one point I had a bleeding nose, which is common for many pregnant woman but not for me. I can’t recall having one in my life yet I am sure I have. To me this was Teddy’s way of trying to get me to realize our journey was ending. It was a sign I could not ignore as it was very much out of the realm of normal for me. In the morning, I sent texts my midwife and my OB with a list of all my symptoms. Both of which told me to get to the hospital and have some blood work and a few other tests done.
My doula met me at the hospital, Ryan my husband took our two boys to work with him and waits until he hears results of the tests and then transfers care to the Grandparents. From the findings of the tests and our OB consulting with another high risk OB, it was presented to us that the time for me to safely birth Theodore was now. It wasn’t an easy decision for my husband or I as Theodore still had a heartbeat and we knew he wouldn’t survive the birth since he was so sick. At the time we didn’t realize the gift Teddy was giving us , was time, time with him. Something we so desperately wanted.
The three of us, our doula Michelle, Ryan and I went home for a couple hours to get ready to come back and start the induction. My father is called and started his journey from Ottawa to be in town for support in whichever way we needed. He stopped by the hospital that evening when he arrived and it was so nice to see him.
Driving to the hospital was not as hard as I envisioned in the weeks and days leading up to it. We had many emotions but we felt relatively calm and a sense of peace.
The induction started around 6pm. It was slow to get going and by 3:30ish in the morning I was wanting an epidural. The contractions didn’t feel natural and emotionally it was taking a toll on me as this whole process wasn’t natural. After receiving the epidural I was able to sleep for a couple hours. Michelle and Ryan both took their positions along the window bench together to catch some sleep just as they have in the two previous births.
I am not sure about the timing but around 10:30-11 ish on Tuesday morning I started to feel like I needed to push. It was a much harder birth than Patrick who was born at 10lbs 8oz! Theodore was born at 11:22am weighing 5lbs 11oz and had a heartbeat!
Theodore was not monitored during labour and the assumption was that his heart would stop during the process at some point. He was born, he made a few sounds, his mouth moved, and once we checked it was confirmed he did in fact have a heartbeat. Ryan held him, was able to say his hellos, goodbyes, expressed his love and felt peace. Theodore then spent the rest of his minutes with me, skin to skin, heart to heart, until his heart beat its last beat. I have never felt love like this. To birth your baby and that love you feel explodes when you lay your eyes onto them, then to find a way to say goodbye. I feared this moment as I didn’t know how it would be possible to do, but when that moment arrived it was peaceful, it was loving, it was beautiful and it was hard but felt natural. I had time to thank him for his lessons, for the time we spent together, for choosing us as parents and for giving us the 22 minutes we had together.
Our photographer captured some of the most beautiful fleeting moments of our life.
Ryan and the midwife weighed him, took prints of his feet and hands, dressed him in the same sleeper Jack and Patrick wore at the hospital and helped Jenn our photographer with the final pictures.
Michelle our doula gave Teddy reiki for his journey home, held him, loved him and thanked him for his lessons.
Ryan’s Mom came to meet our precious boy, just like she had with the other two. She loved him the second she saw him. It was so nice to see the love in her eyes as she held him and gave him her love as a Grandma would do.
Finally the time came where Ryan and I had alone time with him. I took a nap holding him. Ryan had his time with him and then the time came when we had to give him back. I held him and told him everything I think I would have ever wanted to tell him for about a half hour. Ryan then walked him down the hall, kissed him and told him he loved him while he placed him in a box the funeral home had brought with them. I have no idea how Ryan had the strength to do it but I am very grateful he was able to.
The next few days we spent in the hospital having to recover from the birth. It was time Ryan and I needed to be alone together, to soak in all that just happened and hold each other in our time of profound grief.
Leaving the hospital empty handed was by far the hardest moment other than our final goodbye. It was a feeling that no parent should ever have to feel.
We arrived home to our two boys oblivious to what happened; to the fact our world has been forever changed. It was nice to come home to everything the same yet felt so painful knowing nothing will ever be the same. The next phase and the hardest leg of our journey has only just started.