written by Monica Clark
What has your baby brought to your life? My baby boy, Connor Nathaniel has brought awareness into mine. You see, my son, Connor was stillborn on May 24, 2019. He was 39 weeks. What is a stillbirth? If you don’t know, I’m so happy that you have not had to experience this, but those of us that are acutely aware of it, we know that a stillbirth is a baby whose heart stopped beating between 20-40 weeks. We know the gut-wrenching sound of silence when a doppler is on your swollen belly and a doctor says, “Sorry, but we can’t find your baby’s heartbeat. We are not sure why this has happened, but we need you to go home get your bags ready and come back to deliver your child”. In the time it took my husband and I to drive home and back to the hospital, we learned that 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirths in the United States. The most common cases that lead to stillbirths are umbilical cord related (meaning the cord has somehow wrapped around the baby’s neck, or there is a knot in the cord). For uncommon cases which are approximately 50% there is no explanation, we learned that there are 24 countries with lower stillbirth rates, and that 154 countries are reducing their stillbirth rates more rapidly than the United States. I can continue my article with more statistics, but I will leave you to your Googling powers; Surprisingly you will find that stillbirths are more common than our “society” cares to acknowledge (more common than SIDS and congenital anomalies combined). AWARENESSS.
Let’s get back to Connor and what he has taught me aside from the devastating way in which he left this world to become an angel. Connor has also brought awareness to Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC), which is abnormal clumps of thickened blood (clots) from inside blood vessels; these abnormal clots use up the blood’s clotting factors, which can lead to massive bleeding in other places. Because Connor had potentially been deceased in my body for two to three days, I had developed DIC which caused me to lose 65% of my blood due to a tear in the posterior part of my cervix that lead to four blood transfusions. There are fewer than 20,000 cases per year in the U.S. AWARENESS.
The team of doctors and nurses that were there for Connor’s birth have also given me hope. Through extremely difficult conditions pre, during, and post-birth, my uterus is healthy, with no scar tissue or abnormal side effects. My uterus carries the possibility of a new pregnancy. Which is amazing as I have found that I thoroughly enjoy and love being pregnant. Our dream of growing our family is still intact. AWARENESS.
Connor also brought to light that I had picked the right doctor for me. A doctor that would know how to deal with all my rare prognosis, a special human being that has shown me the power of empathy, who has answered every text, call, has attended my son’s vigil, and has gone the extra miles to show the upmost respect for her profession and patient care. AWARENESS.
Connor brought to my attention that there are tests that could have been performed such as MTHFR and a complete blood analysis panel that would have shown that I have MTHFR mutation (A1298C) and protein S deficiencies (which could have led to my underdeveloped placenta). There are doctors for women like me, who are categorized as “high risk”, called maternal fetal specialists. If you have had women in your family with abnormal or life-threatening pregnancies, ask for additional help and tests. It exists. AWARENESS.
Connor has also brought awareness to the love between my husband and me. For how my husband has moved heaven and earth, put aside his own grieving process to ensure my physical, emotional and mental well-being. To know that through adversity, I have a once-in-a-lifetime type of love. AWARENESS.
Connor has also awakened my desire to grow in my spirituality. I have begun a more intimate journey with God. To understand that God is not part of my unfair circumstances, that His plan is perfect when I surrender and trust in Him – He has been preparing me for this heartbreak by placing me in the right family, introducing the right people and establishing relationships strong enough to help me by giving them the right words and counsel. I cannot heal alone. AWARENESS.
I am thankful and aware of how lucky I am to have been pregnant in this era. In an era that doesn’t ask you to tuck away your baby’s story just because he didn’t live. That we have found power in numbers through support groups, the church, and companies with employee assistance programs. Thankful that I am a woman in a generation with improved communication methods like social media to enact and at times demand change and tolerance. To give a voice to the less than 1% of women who have walked in my shoes. AWARENESS.
We often shy or hide away from unpleasant topics. Voices are silenced or not heard loud enough when it comes to infertility, pregnancy, birth, and infant death. We are in a society that looks at pregnancy through rose colored glasses. I am asking you to take them off. Bring AWARENESS to topics that are unpleasant so that we can be better prepared and take more realistic precautions. Do kick-counts, take your prenatal vitamins, know your family’s history when it comes to potential issues that may arise during and after pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia, placental abruptions, post-partum, etc. Be an advocate with me so that this doesn’t happen to you, your sister, sister-in-law, daughter, granddaughter, friend, colleague, neighbor, or any woman that reads this article. Bring Connor’s story to your AWARENESS. Break the silence and bring to light these issues by becoming a voice for AWARENESS.
I am thankful to be here to tell my story and so very, very proud to be Connor’s mother. AWARENESS.