Born an Angel
Aug 06, 2010
I ran across your blog and website today. What is weird is that I had seen the segment with your story on Studio 5 when I was still pregnant with my little boy. I cried. Now, I am unfortunately sharing in the loss of a child. Although a different story, I think we feel similar pain. I am grateful for your words and for this website. Being able to grieve openly gives us so much more support.
There are days when I do want to grieve privately but then there are other days that I really need the support of others. Especially from those that know what I am experiencing. So thank you. Here is my story:
Wow. So this is something I never thought I would have to write about... but for me writing and sharing the story and life of our sweet little Bridger is something I need and want to do. Our little Bridger was stillborn on Monday May 17, 2010. I had just barely been to an appointment on Friday May, 14th. Everything looked great. The non-stress test looked perfect, and everything on the ultrasound looked perfect - heartbeat, size of the baby, and no cord around the neck. I also found out at that appointment that I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced. So I went home pretty excited that our little guy could come sooner vs later - and still be healthy of course. Over the weekend I noticed a few things... On Saturday night I was at a girls night. We were all sitting on the couch and the girls were looking at my belly. I told them I wished that he would move so that they could see it. He usually did move at night. He had been a very active baby all during the pregnancy. So I assumed that he was just sleeping. The next day, Sunday, we busily went to church and came home. It was such a beautiful day that we decided to go to the park. My sister in law and her kids came too. I remember telling her at the park that I was a little bit worried because I hadn't felt the baby move, but I also hadn't really been paying attention because I was so busy. I also figured that the baby was just getting bigger and didn't have as much room to move around and that I was probably overreacting.
We finished the night by visiting family and then went home. The next day (Monday) was a beautiful day. Carter and I went outside and played with our neighbors and then came inside for lunch. The thought again crossed my mind that I hadn't felt the baby move last night or this morning. So I got on the computer to research fetal movement at 36 weeks. Every comment said something to the point of, "Go straight to your doctor. Call your doctor." There was also a comment that said try drinking some cold juice and lay down for 45 minutes. So I drank some apple juice and layed down for 45 minutes. No movement. I switched from side to side and on my back. No movement. I then called my doctor and they said to come in for a non-stress test as soon as I could get there. I made arrangements for Carter and got there about a half hour later. I was pretty sure that I was overreacting and that everything would be fine. That started to change when 3 different nurses couldn't find the baby's heartbeat on the non-stress test monitor. Then Dr. Healy came in, looked at the test, took my pulse and calmly said, "Well, let's just go do an ultrasound." So I figured that baby was just in a bad position to find the heartbeat on the monitor. Dr. Healy started the ultrasound. After looking for a little bit he said the words, "I'm not finding a heartbeat." Immediately I started crying. He looked a little bit longer and I kept hoping for a mistake and that he would find the heartbeat. But that didn't happen. He then checked me and I was 3.5 cm dilated and 85% effaced. He told me that we would need to deliver the baby that night, gave me a hug, and left to call the hospital.
I then called Mark. Nobody had any idea I was even going in to the appointment because I didn't want to worry anyone. So Mark was completely blindsided when I told him the news. He and I cried on the phone together for several minutes while I told him what happened. He then rushed over to the Dr.'s office were he hugged and cried, and hugged and cried. We then left together to go home and pack for the hospital. Before leaving for the hospital we each received a blessing. This day had quickly become the worst day of my life.
The flood of emotions were so overwhelming. I was obviously sad, but also angry. We got stopped by the slowest moving train ever on our way home. Figures. On our way to the hospital the traffic was so congested. Figures. We drove by the dog food factory and it smelled of dog food and dead fish. Seriously?!! All on the way to deliver our dead baby.... Worst day ever. Getting to the hospital was horrible too. Walking into the hospital Mark was carrying my bag and I was obviously very pregnant. A lady was walking to her car and gave us the biggest smile. If only she knew. The receptionist was on the phone and we waited what seemed like forever to get checked in. Once checked in they had me give a urine sample. They then walked us over to another part of the labor and delivery floor that is more secluded. I got changed, and sat there waiting to get started. We had an incredible view of the city from our room, but it was starting to get cloudy and grey outside. It was like the weather was getting ready for the event about to take place. Cloudy and grey.
The nurses came in and introduced themselves and got me suckers and ice chips. No thanks. I just wanted to deliver my baby. It felt so awful to know that I had a baby inside me but that he wasn't alive. They soon got me started on pitocin around 6:00 pm and my water was broke shortly after that. I started having contractions really quickly. So I got my epidural really quickly too. Getting the epidural was hard because I had to go through the pain knowing I wouldn't get the reward at the end. My nurses made the experience more bearable and were so awesome. They were crying along with us, and answering any question that we had. We couldn't have asked for better help to get us through.
A little after 9:00 I was completely dilated. My doctor showed up and the baby was crowning on his own. He was born at 9:24 pm. They immediately saw a kink in the umbilical cord that taken our baby's life away from him. I wanted to see the kink but couldn't handle seeing my baby not breathing. Between giant sobs I had to ask them to take him away. I sat there crying SO hard! Saying, "I just want my baby." Mark was comforting me and crying right along with me. My parents were also in the room, crying. Meanwhile, they cleaned my baby off and wrapped him up. I could then handle seeing him a little bit better. My first thought at seeing him is that he looked JUST like Carter as a baby. Same profile, same lips, same nose, same amount of hair and color of hair. He was just smaller, but he looked healthy and fully developed. He weighed 5 lbs, 5 oz and was 18.5 in long. We were able to spend almost 6 hours with him. He was perfect. The doctor and nurses said he looked like one of the best stillborns they had seen as far as his coloring, which indicates that he probably hadn't been gone that long. We held him and cuddled him, took as many pictures as possible. There are a couple of organizations that come and volunteer their time for stillborn babies. They made casts of his hands and feet. A professional photographer also came in and took pictures - all for free. The nurse dressed him in what would have been his "going home outfit," and we picked a homemade blanket out for him. The spirit was so strong in our room that night. It was so hard, but seeing him gave us a sense of peace and we could feel Heavenly Father's love. Of course we had a million things and unanswerable questions running through our minds. I tried not to focus on them and just focus on the little bit of time we had with our little baby. At this point we still didn't have a name for him. His middle name was always going to be Gary after my dad. We ended up deciding on the name Bridger. We liked the name all along and it seemed to fit. My friend later commented that she thought of a Bridge to Heaven. Which is so true. I loved those sweet hours that I got to spend with my little Bridger. We held him and cuddled him as much as possible. Most of the time it looked like was sleeping and even smiling. We knew he was there with us in spirit.
As a mom I still wanted the best for him and to protect him. His little feet were cold and it was hard to know that I couldn't warm him up. His skin was very fragile from being in the amniotic fluid so it looked like he had little sores on him. That was hard to see too. At least we know that it is just his physical body and that his spirit lives on. I just wish I didn't have to wait so long to see him again. I love him too much. Mark and my dad gave Bridger a name and blessing. Mark gave the most beautiful and special blessing to Bridger. I will always remember that moment. After my parents left Mark and I each took our turn telling Bridger how much we loved him and how much we were going to miss him. We had to make a decision when to call the mortuary. How do you make that kind of decision? As time went on it seemed like it was going to get harder and harder to let him go. We knew that once the mortuary was called we would have about an hour. We savored that last hour. When the person from the mortuary showed up we didn't want to hand our baby over to someone we didn't know. So, Mark took Bridger to the nurses - whom we now love. They undressed him so that we could keep his outfit and brought it back into us. We had said our last goodbyes to his physical body. I missed him already.
These past couple of days have been pretty horrible as anybody can imagine. The memories of him and the constant reminders are so hard. The HUGE outpouring of love we have received from family, friends, and ward members has been overwhelming. At times Mark and I feel undeserving, but I would do the same thing for them in a heartbeat. Everyone's love has made it easier to get through this and having our sweet little Carter has made it more bearable too. We cherish him even more than we did before - if that was possible. Bridger's death has put a new perspective on life for me. He has blessed me. We will love him forever and he will always be a part of our family. I loved this saying... Some people only dream of angels. We held one in our arms. Bridger Gary Jenkins was born a REAL angel.
We love you little guy! Love, Mommy, Daddy, & big brother Carter
*Photos courtesy of NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep) Pat Wimpee of Portrait Creation Photography