Here is my submission, and you can read others here.
Amanda, Mom to Rowan McCleskey (miscarried at 13 weeks, 2 days on August 17th, 2009); and Levi Matthew McCleskey (June 28th, 2010-June 29th, 2010, 19 weeks)
How did we end up here?
I most likely cannot do my children any justice with mere words, but I can try to keep their little spirits alive in me by telling and re-telling these stories. I'm a mother, but probably not in the way that you would expect. Our children do not live among us, for they were too precious for this place. The hurried on to Heaven and I can hardly wait to meet them there.
Matt and I had been married for a little over 2 years, and had been trying to conceive for much of that time. See, we were nearly 30 and ready to begin our family building. After a few rounds of Clomid, and a much needed get-away I found out I was pregnant on June 24, 2009. To express my jubilation at the news would take far too much space...and Matt...oh if I was excited then I don't even think there is a word to adequately describe his elation. We could not wait to be parents. We began telling everyone at once. I was about 6 weeks along, and we didn't think 34 weeks was enough time to tell all of our friends/family. We started buying baby goods, and had the nursery ready for our little peanut at 12 weeks. Everything was perfect, all my appointments were great and the baby was growing big and steady. We had seen Peanut at 9 weeks, and had listened to the super-fast, strong, heart beat then as well.
On August 17, 2009, our lives were forever altered. I woke up at 6:45, as usual, to get ready for work. I used the bathroom, and felt something like a 'slipping'. There really isn't any way to describe it. I reached down to see if it was blood, and I caught Rowan in my hands. He was perfect. Ten fingers, toes, all with nails, a face identical to his daddy....just far too small to ever stay here. We called my doctor and went to the ER. I had a D&C and developed an infection (as I had to wait nearly 18 hours w/o food or water for the surgery). It was a nightmare. The hospital had let Matt take the baby home, since we wanted a funeral and he was to be issued no birth certificate because it was a miscarriage, a 'spontaneous abortion' - ugh! that phrase makes me furious still to this day. I was in the hospital for 3 days and finally was able to go home. I held Rowan for hours. I memorized every inch of him, our friend Donna came and took pictures, I didn't want to ever forget a moment with Rowan, or any special feature of what he looked like. He was perfect. My angel love.
We had a funeral for Rowan, and many people came. It was amazing how many people loved our little angel. He would have been so adored here!!
It has been a long road. We thought we might be ready to try again after the beginning of 2010. I prayed and cried out to God to let us have a baby before I turned 30. My 30th birthday is this November 27th. So, on March 21, 2010, when I found out I was pregnant again....I was thrilled....scared to death..but thrilled.
I was much more anxious during this pregnancy, and I didn't want to tell anyone until I was 20 weeks along. Matt, however, couldn't contain it for even one day! He carried the 'pee stick' to work and showed it off. He works at our church, so it was kind of funny. He began telling everyone he knew, and everyone he saw. Once again, his excitement was incredible to watch. I love him so much. He has been such a hero to me. I held off on telling my friends until about 6-8 weeks, and didn't tell any of my family until 12 weeks. Mother's day. Again, all my appointments were perfect. My cervix was holding tightly, and things were looking like they might work out. But still, I held back my excitement. I had read so many books after Rowan left us, and discovered that I probably had an incompetent cervix, so I insisted on more testing and more exams, and my doctor was gracious and gave me what I wanted. I was seen every two weeks for measurements, etc. Thank God.
At week 17, June 14th, we went in to find out the sex of this baby. It was a boy. Hallelujah. We were ecstatic. I cried and held Matt's hand. Then, it was time for the cervical exam. No big deal, hadn't it been perfect just a few weeks ago, yes...more than enough length. Yet the u/s tech's face dropped and she rushed me into my doctor's office. I was told the length was at 2.5cm, and anything under 3cm is bad news bears. No worries I thought 2.5cm is not to far from 3cm. We were rushed to a MFM specialist only 3-4 minutes away, and by the time they examined me (less than 20 min. later), baby's head was down and my cervix was measuring at 0cm, and they could see the water sac. What?!?!!? How?!?!
I was admitted to the hospital for an emergency cerclage...the next day at noon. So, for 18 hours I was put in bed, at a 45 degree angle (feet above head) in hopes that the membranes and baby would slip back inside where they belonged and the surgery could be performed. I have never been so scared. My little one, in whom I'd been so hopeful...and now I was failing him too....failing my husband again. But, Matt was so incredible. My sweet love. He talked to me about baby names, and about what we would tell the baby. About how strong I was, and what a great momma I'd be. We hadn't discussed this baby before, a name for him, what he would do when he grew up. I think it was our way of not counting the chickens before they hatched....without ever saying anything to each other. We decided on the name Levi, which I have always loved, and Matthew after my husband. So, this baby, still alive in me would be called Levi Matthew. In the bible Levi's name was changed to Matthew after he met Jesus, so it was a sweet name, and an honor for my husband.
Well, noon came and I was put under for surgery. I am told that I was asleep for 5-10 minutes, because as soon as I went under my water broke. 17 weeks and my water broke. I learned later (on my own) it's called PPROM. Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes. We were told there is no hope, and no baby can survive PPROM at this early in a pregnancy. They were wrong. Many babies have and do, once again information I discovered on my own. However, with spontaneous rupture there is no 'cure' because the rupture is too all encompassing, it is too big of a wound. So, I put myself on bed rest and a strict diet of prayer. For 2 weeks I laid in bed and prayed and spent time with my Levi. My husband laid around with me, and my friend Donna as well. It was awful, but kind of a sweet time to have with Levi, a time that I did not have with Rowan. Donna even took us out one day shortly before Levi was born and did some maternity shots....I'm so so glad to have them.
On the morning of June 28th I woke up feeling 'not quite right.' My appointment that day was at one, so I waited for Matt to get in from work to take me to the doctor. Around noon I started having mild contractions, and I went to the bathroom. I felt around and could feel something solid at the opening of my cervix. At the doctor's office I was told it was Levi's bottom. Again I cried. There would be no stopping his arrival. He would come, and it would be soon. I was told to go home and wait, but I begged to be admitted to labor & delivery, I wouldn't be able to do this at home. The doctor agreed, and by 2 p.m. I was in my bed in L&D. I had contractions off and on all day and by 7 or 8 that night they were massive, and bad and about every 5 minutes. Matt had fallen asleep and I rose to use the bathroom, it was 11:45-ish. Levi was coming and I couldn't stop him. I began to yell for Matt and he ran to get a nurse. I delivered Levi at 11:46, once again, over a toilet I brought a child into this world....only this time...he reached out and grabbed my hand. I watched with love as a tiny heart beat out a rhythm against the flesh of his tiny chest, and I saw him greedily gulp down 5-6 small breaths of hospital air. Then I just held him. There was, sadly, no saving my boy. My strong, lion-hearted Levi. He fought so hard, and was super-strong. A little hero, like his daddy. An identical, albeit, tiny exact replica of his daddy.
We buried Levi on July 2, 2010, next to his big brother Rowan. They are forever together running the streets of gold, and loving Jesus.
You can read more about our family on my blog, and you can see pictures of my beautiful ones there too. My heart is forever broken, and I am forever changed. I do not yet know how to walk with this limp...