Caleb was our first child. My husband and I had been trying to conceive for about a year when we got the positive pregnancy test. We were overjoyed and even more so when the doctor confirmed that we were indeed pregnant and the due date would be Easter. The year of trying to conceive while watching a lot of my friends have babies was so hard and I thought that our struggles were coming to a close. An Easter due date was so providential for me because it was a sign of the resurrection and new life. What a blessing!
We had an uneventful pregnancy with no complications. April had finally come and everything was ready. The nursey was finished and the car seat installed, all we needed now was the baby. We knew we were having a boy so lots of blue things were all around the house. Our hospital bag was backed and my sub plans for school all written out.
On April 13th I had a routine appointment ( I was 38 weeks and 3 days). We heard the heartbeat and everything looked great. My doctor talked with me about what to expect if I did not go into labor that weekend. Then I would come to the office twice the following week to be checked. I left the office, went home and had a nice evening with my husband. We couldn't believe that Caleb was almost here! We had waited for so long for him.
That night I noticed that Caleb had hiccups. This was not unusual, but these kind this night seemed to go on forever! I even commented to my husband that it felt as if he couldn't breathe, like if you were gasping for air. I knew that sounded silly though since they don't breathe in air in the womb. After about 45 minutes of hiccups they stopped and I remember feeling one very strong kick. It was about 9 pm, so I decided to just go to bed and rest and see what the morning brought.
I got up at 5 AM and laid in bed until around 6. I felt no movement which started to worry me. I then got ready for work, ate breakfast and still nothing. Once at school I was in an all out panic. I called the doctor around 10 AM and they said for me to come in at 12 for a Non-stress test. At the office it took 3 nurses trying to find a heartbeat with no success. Then they sent me to the sono room. The sono lady took one look at the screen and said " I'm sorry he didn't make it."
I remember feeling like I was watching a movie, not living the scene before me. I had no reference point for the words "he didn't make it." I kept thinking "didn't make it where?" I started crying and called my husband and sobbed that our son was dead. Still inside of me, but dead. My husband came right away. They left me in a little room by myself while I waited and I prayed the rosary and looked at the crucifix (gotta love a Catholic office). I told God that if he wanted his son Caleb back then he could have him. I remember feeling calm while I prayed and telling God , "I cannot believe you are asking me to carry this cross." He has asked me to do some crazy things in the past, but this was by far the craziest.
Nathan came and we cried and then pulled it together to talk to the midwife. She said that I could not have a c-section like I wanted because they only did that if they could not get the baby out. I just wanted one because I wanted this nightmare to be over as soon as possible. She sent us home for a grueling 11 hours to wait until a room at the hospital came open. Those are what my husband and I refer to as our "agony in the garden." It was the worst 11 hours of my life, sitting in my safe home, knowing no one was safe and everything was wrong. Having to make phone calls to tell people that no you aren't in labor, but actually the baby is already dead. I truly hope those hours of suffering were used by our Lord to help others.
Once we got to the hospital there was a lot of peace. People all over the U.S. were praying for us. We even had a bishop in Vermont saying mass for us. The power of prayer and the Church was amazing. I was induced Thursday night, had a smooth labor and Caleb was born Saturday at 6:24 AM. He was 7 lbs. 6.3 oz and 20.5 inches long. He was beautiful and so cute. He had my nose with two little freckles on it. The nurses let us hold him and dress him. We had our family come along with our priest and the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep photographer. I cannot describe the peace that morning, but it was real and I had such hope knowing that Caleb was in Heaven. He would never experience anything like this or other heartache and for that I was overjoyed.
3 days after delivering Caleb we buried him. It was a beautiful funeral mass with lots of friends and family. Again, there was peace. I never felt abandoned by God, more like held tightly during those hard days. I think the shock of it all wore off around 7 weeks later when it really hit me that he was never coming home. All the plans and dreams we had for him were gone. It has been 7 months since Caleb was born and we are learning so much about grief. It comes in waves and the things you expect to upset you usually don't. The ones you think won't, usually do. Loosing our first child has made our marriage stronger. We have had to trust and lean on God in a way we never could have imagined. I used to need God for the "big" things in life like what major to choose or what house to buy. Now I need him to get out of bed and make breakfast.
There were never any medical reasons found for Caleb's death. No cord accident, no blood clots, nothing. Typically 50 % of stillbirths have no reason for them. At first I had peace with this because I truly believed this was God's will. 7 months later I still believe it was God's will, but struggle with no concrete answers. We are currently pregnant with Caleb's little sister who is due in March. Please pray that Abigail Therese would be born alive and well.
I am thankful for the 38 weeks and 4 days I got to spend with my first born. He has changed our lives so much in a short amount of time. Caleb Benedict, pray for us!