December 5, 2015

Graham: His birth story and passing

Graham: he is 7 earth months old, what that means in heaven, I have no clue...probably nothing.  I want to write about his birth online.  I want to write it so everyone who traveled this journey with us, who may be reading after hearing their own terrible news, can learn from his short life with us.  I want to write this because his story wants/needs to get out of me.  I couldn't tell his birth without his passing as well.  So if you'd prefer not to read it, I've written a warning at that part.

I burst a tiny leak May 3rd...I knew the moment I woke up after 1 night in our rental.  Graham was getting ready to come.  Cuss.  I wasn't.  I wasn't.  I wasn't mentally ready at all.  We check into the hospital to a skeptical, but kind hospitalist who wasn't sure if I actually had popped.  I did.  We told her about his condition.  We did another ultrasound to check if you were still Anencephalic...yes.  Head down?  Yes.  Our doctor was on vacation that week.  Of course.  But another doc from the clinic was assigned to us, and she was everything I could have asked for and more.  Strong, confident, kind, caring, knowledgeable, experienced - Dr. Sorenson you are amazing!  So were the nurses; Polly, Amber, Saisha; I am so thankful for the staff.  So we waited for labor to start,  knowing that it may not because a missing brain often means missing chemicals to tell the womb to start contracting.  Called Brad's parents who were headed for vacation in Yosemite to head back to meet Graham.  Called family across the states to let them know what was happening.

24 hrs later, after 10 hrs of a small pitocin drip, nothing was happening, but Graham wasn't showing signs of stress either.  We stayed a restless, but pitocin free, night in the hospital.  The next morning we started the drip again.  I checked every so often for a heartbeat to see how you were doing...honestly I was terrified each time.  Did I really want to know the answer?  But you were still fighting.  Everyone guessed you would be pretty we had some of James' premie stuff, and some premie outfits of your own, as well as one long shot newborn size.  I wanted to be as natural as possible out of sheer fear of side-effects, and because I had done it before.  But day two of pitocin, with a strong drip, ridiculous contractions, the tub no longer helping, mental/emotion pain merging with physical pain.  I couldn't focus through both kinds of breaking.  At Brad's gentle prodding that it would be okay, I got an epidural.  It was around 9:30 pm May 4th.  I think my sweet nurse was relieved as well, as I saw her visibly relax.  OH MY LANTA!  It was the best choice I could have ever made.  It was amazing!  I was so broken at that point I couldn't even sit on the bed or hold still for the gal to stab me with the needle (hello active labor) that they gave me a little numbing through the IV just to sit and get what needed to be done.  After all the epidural shakes faded, we checked Graham again to see how he was coping, and since he was fine, I took a nap, and let me body do its thing.

2 hrs later, I was awake, a movie-worthy gush happened and it was time to meet our son.  We check with our Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer, and she was almost at the hospital.  So we waited about 30 minutes letting my contractions get him lower and ready.  She arrived.  Dr. Sorenson showed up, I pushed twice and he arrived.  Breathing but deep purple.  12:06am May 5th.  They immediately gave him to me.  I had to push for the nurse to do more suctioning of his mouth to allow him to breathe better.  Fairly annoyed there.  I could tell she wanted to just let Graham fade then.  His heartbeat was slow, lack of oxygen wasn't helping.  So Dr. Sorenson seeing I wanted to try and give him a better chance, suctioned and O2 bagged him.  He revived, and even cracked one eye for a few seconds.  His skin was so soft, and his body so perfect and pudgy.  The hugest hands and feet you ever did see.  Severely anencephalic, with a quarter size opening at the top with two little kidney beans of neural tissue sticking out.  But the rest of his head was covered in skin, with some soft hair at the nape...I didn't take a really good look because I wanted to focus on what was whole.  He was born on a Tuesday!  My favorite day!

His was greeted by family from both sides, even a surprise flight in from Texas!  (since things were taking so long)  Everyone got to hold him, except for James...which I didn't realize at the time, but he did get to snuggle up next to him.  Unsure of his timeline, we had a full room for over an hour.  The photographer quietly did her thing, and left after 30 mins or so.  So thankful for the pics she got of everyone.  We were totally exhausted at this point.  It was pretty late since he was born just after midnight.  We all marvled over his perfect little self, and soft soft skin.  He was so big 5lbs 5ozs compared to his brother James.  Dad got to listen to his heart beat.  We let everybody go home, and we spent time holding him.

----- Graham's passing: Read at your own risk -----
His passing was hard.  Very hard.  He started to cry and then have a seizure and would stop breathing for a few minutes...that went on for 2 hours.  We took turns holding him and once I fell asleep for a bit.  When I awoke, Brad went to lay down for a minute, and Graham passed away in my arms...For a while, at my stroking of his chest, he would revive...but I wondered was it good to keep him going?  So I lay my hand on his chest, memorizing his soft skin, and tiny features.  He slowly just stopped breathing.  Brad came back to my bed, we buzzed the nursed, she confirmed, and the pediatrician had to be called.  She double confirmed, and called the time of passing.  5:13am May 5th.
----- Passing Over -----

Any regrets?
I do have a few things that I wish I had done differently, but I did my best in the moment, so I rest well with that.  Here are my four wishes:  I wish James had held him.  I wish I had taken a better photograph of him without being wrapped up in a big blanket.  I wish I had bathed him after he passed.  I wish we had asked family to stay until the end.  But time for those things have passed, and I hope those wishes never have to be put to use again.

Any silver linings?
John took a video of him (I didn't think of that), and you can hear his little murmurs.  Jake flew in from Texas to be at his birth.  Sue turned Graham to face the camera (one of the photographer's only pics of his face in detail).  Lastly, and I guess obviously, Graham was born alive (hoped but not necessarily expected).


  1. Oh Susan...thank you for sharing. I wish I had something encouraging or wise to say, but absolutely nothing seems appropriate. I will just say I am praying for you at this very moment.

    1. Hi Carrisa, Thank you for your prayer and kind thoughts. It felt good to write and post his story.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Susan. Praying for you too.

  3. Susan, Thank you for sharing your very personal story about Graham's precious life and about his passing into the throne room of heaven. I continue to pray for you and your family. ~Jaime

    1. Thank you for your prayers Jaime. We look forward to meeting him again one day.