In the days after Gina gave birth to her stillborn son, James, she wrote a record of the event on her blog. It was a beginning of her mourning and rebuilding process and captures both the grief she was feeling at the time and the hope that she had that her life would be made better by James and her relationship with him—as brief as it was.
A Beautiful Heart by Gina Prescott
When we had our 20 week ultrasound, the technician was amazed at our baby’s heart. She expressed multiple times, “This heart is perfect, it is the most beautiful heart I have seen.” I remember thinking that her words were prophetic, that our precious baby really did have a beautiful heart physically and in every sense that you can’t measure.
I waited and prepared for months and I was so close to the end when we received the worst news you can imagine when pregnant, let alone two days away from 39 weeks. I realized at the end of Thursday evening I couldn’t remember the last time the baby kicked. I scoured my mind and started pushing and prodding the body within me, nothing. I expressed concern to Kyle and when he suggested we call the hospital I started crying. I knew this couldn’t be good and I certainly didn’t want it to be real. We were told to come and after trying to call friends to watch Max, decided to just bring him with us. The ride down felt oddly peaceful and I thought maybe that was a good sign.
It was a sign of what was to come. Overwhelming peace and calm a midst a worst possible scenario.
There was no heartbeat and no sign as to why our baby’s heart stopped. Kyle and I locked eyes before the words were spoken and we knew, we knew that this precious beautiful heart we waited to meet was gone. Our eyes welled with tears and we hugged each other and we hugged Max. It was late at night and Max had every right to be wiggly and misbehave, but he was perfect. We needed him there with us, to hug us and to comfort us and to remind us why we became parents in the first place.
You don’t become a parent for the end prize of a beautiful child in your arms, you become a parent because that child that enters your life forever changes you. That child fills your life with joy, whether you have the opportunity to hug them everyday or think of them watching over you from heaven. You become a parent because family is foundation for happiness in this life and you take the good with the hard. You accept that sorrow will be a part of the journey, though certainly you hope it will be few and far between.
We had the choice to get started with labor right away or to wait and try to process everything a little bit. Since it was late at night and I felt like I needed a good night’s sleep we decided to wait. Our induction was scheduled for 8am on Saturday and so we had all of Friday to wait for my mom to come and to go down to the river and stick our feet in the water and skip rocks and talk about how much this sucked. Because it really, really sucked.
Saturday was a special day, a sacred day that will be imprinted in my mind forever. It was a day where Kyle and I took care of each other, I rubbed his back and he massaged mine. We listened to beautiful, peaceful music as they started me on misoprostol to start contractions. Besides the misoprostol, I was able to labor completely naturally which proved to me my strength. I knew I could do it and I did it. I had every reason to receive pain medication, to not feel what was happening to my body but through a priesthood blessing offered by a loving bishop I felt inspired to continue with my plan and all the preparation my husband and I had put forth for a natural childbirth. We labored together and when I pushed out our beautiful baby boy James, I screamed. Not a sad scream, but a power scream. I was able to channel all the anger and hurt that I was feeling and I was able to accept it and really and truly feel it. I was able to feel it and let it out and when James was placed on my chest I cried and felt that rush of hormones and that rush of love and I held and clung to the beautiful child who was perfect in every way. I cried, I cried a lot. I kissed and hugged his precious body and felt the weight of him. He was real, this was real. I had just delivered a stillborn child.
I held him for a long time and eventually I stopped crying and was just in awe with how perfect he was. Why did his heart stop beating? We are not positive and are waiting autopsy result to rule anything else out but there was a pretty large blood clot in his umbilical cord, a complete abnormality, a total fluke accident. Nothing to prevent it, nothing to say it will ever happen again. I wished it hadn’t happened though. I wished I was antsy and demanded an induction a few days earlier, if I had he would be alive in my arms. But that is not what happened, and that isn’t what was supposed to happen.
A memory that will forever stand in my mind was when I handed James to Kyle. Kyle’s tears will be imprinted in my mind for all eternity. He is such a wonderful father and he is so full of love for his children. He is so good and he felt the pain of this labor just as much as I did. His touch during it all was my constant. His voice whispering how strong and how amazing I was got me through it all. I love him so much and I appreciate having him in my life now more than ever. He is my rock, my love. His is everything to me.
The hospital was so wonderful, my midwife and my nurse were perfect and gave us full reign over the situation to make it as perfect and special an experience as possible. They laughed with us, cried with us, and shared so much love.
James was 8lbs 2oz and 21 1/2 inches. He had golden brown hair (not much, but more than Max had). I held his body and felt so much peace and love for him, it was his body that I held but his spirit was in the room with us. He was there and I felt it so strongly. I wasn’t sad for long, because I still had this child. This child who some day I will get to hug and embrace again. I will get to hear his voice and see his smile. I will get to see a glimmer in his eyes as we reunite.
His beautiful heart has impacted this world already. I have felt the power of his life in this world as my family has come together, as my friends from church have joined in solidarity to support us, as I turn to my husband and to my beautiful child and embrace them in sheer love and appreciation for all that I have. His beautiful heart is teaching me already to be a better mother, to be a better daughter, a better wife, a better friend, a better person. He is making me better already and I love him so dearly for that.
The grief comes in waves and at times the sadness and shock of our situation feels overwhelming. It has caused me to turn to my Heavenly Father in prayer and to rely upon the arm of my Savior and his atoning sacrifice for relief. I turn to the words of prophets and the scriptures for understanding and messages of peace. I read the words of friends and family and am overwhelmed by how many people are thinking of us and praying for us. We feel your prayers and your good thoughts and they have helped immensely.
For now we are taking it moment by moment and hugging Max a lot. He is our joy during all of this and we are so grateful for him.
We don’t understand this experience fully but the gospel has brought so much peace and clarity already. I know that Heavenly Father loves me and my family and that this is part of his plan for us. I expect that I will be writing a lot on this blog for therapeutic reasons and to just have my voice be heard. To know that my child did exist, I really did carry him and I felt his kicks and rolls. I love him immensely and think joyfully of the day where I will get to see him again for I know that day will come.