Saturday, April 2, 2016

Our Final Days Together (Kevin's Story, Part 12)

36 weeks to the day with baby Kevin

My very last doctors appointment was scheduled for March 21, 2016.  On that day I was exactly 36 weeks along.  I had been counting down the days for a month now, knowing that this appointment would bring about both our meeting and the end of baby Kevin's life.

The days leading up to my final appointment were a mixture of excitement and of fear.  I was excited to finally meet my baby as any mother would be.  I was also fearful of what was to follow.  At this point I was completely miserable.  Due to the excess amniotic fluid I could barely eat and sleeping seemed just as impossible.  The moment I would lie down the acid reflux was out of control. I spent many nights propped on pillows hoping to get a few ours of sleep.  Most of these sleepless hours were spent enjoying every little movement Kevin made.  As exhausted as I was I hated to go to sleep and miss even a moment with him.

I tried to prepare myself mentally for what was about to happen.  I didn't know the exact day I was to be induced but I did know the week.  I remember looking at the calendar and thinking, "By this time next week Kevin will have come and gone."  Many days leading up to Kevin's birth were peaceful as I soaked up every moment I could.    On others I felt close to having a mental break.  How does one anticipate and prepare for both the birth and death of their child to take place in the same day?  It was nearly too much for my mind to handle.

A couple nights before the appointment Scott and I brought out Kevin's hospital bag.  We had different outfits for him to be photographed in that had special meaning to us.  First was his super hero sleeper.  It was the first outfit we picked out together for Kevin.  We had found it after his initial diagnosis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia.  He had been given a 50 percent chance of survival.  When we came across the super hero sleeper with a cape we knew Kevin had to have it.  In our minds he would fight this and one day we would bring him home.  We couldn't imagine a better coming home outfit for our little fighter.  Although things had changed he was still our little fighter.  He had defied all odds to allow me to carry him for 36 weeks.

The first toy we bought for Kevin was a stuffed elephant.  From then on everything with elephants was associated with him.  When we found out about his fatal diagnosis I began to look for an elephant outfit for him to be buried in.  To others it may seem morbid that I was arranging all of this before his death.  In my mind I knew that in his short life there would only be a handful of things that I could choose for him.  I wanted these things to be perfect.  I finally found an elephant sleeper with matching hat.  I ordered it in 3 different sizes since we had no idea when Kevin may make his arrival.  My mom made Kevin a burial gown from the same fabric as her wedding dress so in the end the sleeper would not be used for that purpose.  Instead it was the outfit he would wear in the hospital after his birth.

Next up were two blue blankets knitted by Scott's mom.  One we would be wrapped around him after his birth and would be ours to keep in his memory.  The other identical blanket would be draped over his tiny casket.

Last but not least were a tiny little cloth diaper with elephants on it and a pair of blue angel wings.  All of these things were sadly and lovingly packed into his hospital bag to await his arrival.  We were as ready as we were ever going to be.

The day of the appointment finally arrived and I remember walking through the hospital that day feeling a sense of despair that this was actually happening and there was nothing we could do to stop it.  I was also hopeful that my doctor would get me scheduled for induction as quickly as possible.  Now that the inevitable was here part of me just wanted it over with.  I was ready to meet my baby.  It felt like the right time.

We met with the doctor and went over our birth plan one last time.  My main goal was to be able to have a VBAC so that I could be alert and able to hold and be with Kevin in the final moments of his life.  We wanted no medical intervention that would prolong his life or his suffering.  We would do what we could to keep him as comfortable as possible in his final moments but wanted him to pass peacefully in his own time.  In this aspect our plans never changed.

I remember discussing all of this with the doctor with tears streaming from my eyes.  Life was so unfair.  I couldn't believe Scott and I were having this conversation about our child.  The world seemed like such a cruel place.

We walked out of the doctors office that day with an induction scheduled for the following day.  My parents were arriving that evening and would be present for his birth.  I was thankful that everything had fallen into place.  We had made it to 36 weeks which no one had ever expected.  Kevin was looking strong and the odds seemed to be in our favor for a live birth.  We had been able to time it for my parents to be here.  We wouldn't have to go through these moments alone.  We were ready.  As ready as parents can ever be.

The night before induction was oddly peaceful.  We talked with my parents a bit and Scott and I lay in bed afterward feeling Kevin move and thinking about what it would be like to finally hold him.  In that moment I didn't feel fear.  I fell asleep dreaming of what it would feel like to finally hold my baby in my arms and full of hope that soon I would get to look into his eyes.

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