Shared by Naomi Osborn
I had always wanted children. I remember in school, when we would have those assignments about where we saw ourselves in ten or twenty years, I would always say that I saw myself being either a pediatrician or an obstetrician—as well as being a wife and mother.
When I was about fifteen or sixteen, I was diagnosed with ovarian cysts, some the size of softballs. My doctor tried different types of birth control to help the cysts, and when I was about seventeen I was put on Depo Provera. I was not told that the maximum time for being on Depo was two years, and instead I was on it from about seventeen to twenty-one years old. This was around the time that I started thinking about my future. What did I want? I wanted the family I always saw myself having.
I went into psychology, and started trying for that little family. I tried for years to conceive, and never did. In 2010, I found a doctor in my area. I spoke with her for a few minutes about how long I was on Depo for the ovarian cysts, the trouble I was having with irregular cycles, and not being able to conceive. Right away, the doctor thought she knew what the issue was, and ordered a pelvic ultrasound. A few days later she called me to schedule an appointment to go over the results. I had such a large amount of built-up tissue, most likely due to the effects of being on Depo for so long, that I had developed endometriosis.
Life After Diagnosis
I was scheduled for a D&C about a week later, after which my menstrual cycles started to regulate, and there were no noticeable reasons as to why I could not start trying to conceive when I was ready. I had also been told that I had my cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus and everything looked really good for being able to have children. As soon as I was able, I started trying again. I was already in my thirties, and knew that the older I became the harder it would be to conceive and not have complications. I tried all the suggestions, like laying on your back with your pelvis and legs up, the foods, vitamins, and anything else that I came across that was supposed to help with conception, and I still did not become pregnant.
As time passed, I started to accept that having children may not happen, and about two and a half years ago I finally accepted the fact that I could not have children of my own, and I gave up trying and even thinking about it. I told myself that it was not a big deal, that I could adopt, and until I was ready to so I could do what I wanted, go where I wanted, stay out or up as late as I wanted, because I did not have children. I was trying to convince myself that I no longer wanted children. I gave up.
In the middle of January 2017, I started to feel tired, and with increasing regularity I felt like I had food poisoning or was coming down with the flu. I remember sitting with my friend in her living room when this flu bug really started to get bad. I went home and became sick, but I had no other symptoms other than tiredness and vomiting. After a few days of not being able to hold anything down, and with my sickness not getting better, I went to the emergency room. I was told that a bad case of the flu was going around and to go home, try to drink plenty of liquids, rest and follow up with my primary doctor. I could not get an appointment with my doctor for about a week. My symptoms increased, and it was becoming harder to keep anything down, so back to the emergency room I went. I asked the doctor if it was possible that I did not have the flu, but something else. Again, I was told it was just a severe case of the flu.
I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and saying, “Maybe this is not the flu, maybe I am pregnant. But we know that cannot happen.” I went to my appointment with my primary doctor, who agreed I had the flu.
Sicker and Sicker
My symptoms increased, and I could not get one wave of sickness out of the way before another came, and I started choking on it, so back to the emergency room I went. This time, I insisted that they do something more than palpate my stomach, and instead really try to find out why I was so sick. The ER doctor ordered the usual tests, and about an hour later came to tell me that I was positive for pregnancy. I didn't believe her, and told her the test was wrong, that I could not have children because of endometriosis. An ultrasound was ordered, and there was my little peanut, a little tiny black and white semi-ball-shaped form on the screen. I could not believe it, and told them the machine was broken. I was assured that it was not, and I was at about eight weeks’ gestation. I started crying, because the one thing I have always wanted had finally come to me. I was thirty-seven when my miracle baby finally came.
The next day, I scheduled another appointment with my primary doctor to start my prenatal care with vitamins and anti-nausea medications, while I looked for an obstetrician. It did not take me long to find one, and I had my first appointment. I had the ultrasound, and my little peanut now looked like a little puppy. I had the genetic testing done to make sure that all was going well, because I knew my age put me in the high-risk category, and I wanted to make sure I had everything in place just in case my baby needed extra care when I brought him home. A few days later, I received a call from the OB that the genetic testing came back with everything looking good, and that I was having a little boy, Carlisle Jasper Abagulum. At my second OB appointment, after the ultrasound, I was told I had complete placenta previa, and I had a uniquely short cervix. And while my OB would still be involved with my care, I would be transferred to a maternal fetal medicine physician, and the appointment was scheduled right away with my new doctor.
Dealing with Complications
I began seeing the maternal fetal medicine physician, and was told that hopefully the placenta would reposition itself soon, and that I would have to be monitored closely by this new physician with appointments every week. My next appointment showed that my placenta had not repositioned itself, and would most likely not do so at this point, and with the short cervix my high-risk pregnancy (due to age) had now become a very high-risk pregnancy. There was discussion about a cervical cerclage, but because of how the placenta was positioned there was concern about puncturing it during the procedure, and that the goal now was to get my son to at least twenty-four weeks’ gestation. If I had any spotting, I was to go immediately to the nearest hospital as well as be put on restrictions. I couldn't lift anything that was even slightly heavy, go an anything longer than a short walk, or travel. I also had to limit pressure on my abdomen as much possible, and I absolutely could not allow anything in the vagina. I had to continue my care every week, which I did. I even looked forward to my appointments and seeing how my son had grown from week to week, and I could not wait to hear that beautiful tiny heartbeat.
I do not remember the exact date I started spotting, but I do remember that I started crying and telling myself I had to stay calm for my son and get to the nearest hospital. Once I arrived, I was made to wait in the waiting room for almost an hour. Furthermore, they refused to transport me to the medical facility where my current doctor was. Even after finding out that the hospital was not equipped to handle maternity, they refused to transfer me. The ER doctor ordered an ultrasound and everything looked fine—the spotting had stopped, and my son was just kicking away and even started sucking his thumb. I was sent home, and called my OBs for a follow-up. Everything seemed to be okay, considering the complications, and I continued my weekly appointments with my doctor. On Easter, I started bleeding again, but this time it was more than just spotting, it was like a menstrual cycle. I immediately went to the hospital, where the ER doctor consulted with my OBs, and since the bleeding had subsided I was released.
At my follow-up appointment with after Easter, I spoke with my doctor about having to see my general physician (who was about an hour away) regarding my back injury, and we decided that it would be okay, as long as I came back right away without putting too much stress on myself and the baby. So I went. I spent the night at my mom’s house so that the trip would not be too stressful on my son, but on the day I planned to come home, I was extremely tired and did not want to drive without resting. My rest became an all-night sleep.
On the morning of April 24th, I woke up from my little rest the previous evening at about 5:30, because I was not feeling well, and thought that I needed to eat something because my baby was hungry. Then went to the bathroom, and thought I should not be having to urinate this much. When I checked the tissue, it was saturated with blood. I immediately called an ambulance and was transported to the emergency room. Even though I was in hysterics, I was trying to stay calm. I had lost a little over a liter of blood while waiting for the ambulance and being transported, and had to receive two units of plasma while waiting for the air transport to arrive to transport me to a hospital in a nearby major city. From what I understand, the hospital where I had previously been treated could not take me, nor could the local university hospital, and I was going to be transferred to a different hospital in a major city but my concern was for my son and making sure he would be okay.
I was admitted to the new hospital at about 8:00 a.m. My hemorrhaging had decreased by this time, although I still required several more blood-product transfusions. I met with the labor and delivery doctors who consulted with my original OBs, and we decided that my care should be transferred. The new medical team decided it was time to attempt the cervical cerclage, which was done the next day. Everything seemed to have gone well. I had to stay in the hospital for a week with no bleeding before I could go home. On May 8, as my discharge was being enacted, I started bleeding again, and my discharge was cancelled.
I became very upset, because I knew deep down what the outcome of this would be, but I was trying to stay positive for my son. Mind over matter, positive vibes for positive results. It did not work.
On May 9, I was not feeling well, I had little appetite, but I knew I had to eat something for my son. Little things began to annoy and irritate me, but I thought it was just the anxiety of all that happened and having to stay in the hospital. On May 10, the lower outer part of both my hips started hurting. This is not something new, and has been a problem for me since I sustained my back injury in 2010. I was given something to help with the pain, and I went to sleep for the night.
The morning of May 11, at about 6:45 a.m. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Just as I got to the bathroom, I felt a small amount of fluid run down my legs, and thought, “Wonderful, I just peed myself.” I cleaned myself up and went to get a clean set of clothes, when I felt a little more fluid run down my leg, and I thought that I had not emptied my bladder. I cleaned myself up again and had just laid back down when my nurse came in at about 7:00 a.m. to check my vitals, give me my medications, and check Carlisle's heartbeat. I was very much on edge, and my annoyance with little things had turned into severe irritation, although I tried to stay calm for my son so he would not feel the increasing stress.
For some reason, and I am not sure why, my nurse asked if I had changed my pad. I told her yes, that it was in the bathroom. The nurse checked it, made some notes, and said she would be back in a minute. The next thing I knew, the doctors came in, wanting to do an ultrasound right away. It was not long after the ultrasound the doctors came back in, and I knew things were bad. They had told me that my water had ruptured, and that is what the fluid was that had run down my legs. I was told that there was chance that my body could produce more amniotic fluid, but if it did not, I would have to either have a D&E or try to deliver naturally, but Carlisle would not survive the birth. I knew my body would not produce more amniotic fluid, and I was not going to allow a D&E because I could not live with myself after.
That night at about 9:00 p.m. I started shivering. The hospital had been having some trouble with their cooling and heating system, and I asked my nurse and mom if they thought it was cold. Both said no. My nurse checked my temperature, which had spiked within about an hour, I had now developed chorioamnionitis, an infection in my uterus. I had to make a choice, deliver Carlisle naturally or have a D&E, both of which I said no to. I begged for them to let me go home and let nature take its course. The doctors said they couldn't do that, it was hospital policy. I told them I would not consent to the D&E or the natural delivery. The doctors left, and some time later they came and told me I could have a cesarean section, and if Carlisle was big enough he might have a chance at surviving. I wanted to save my sweet beautiful boy so much that I agreed to the cesarean. I wanted to give him a chance.
On May 12, 2017, my sweet beautiful Carlisle Jasper Abagulum was born at 22 weeks plus 2 days’ gestation. He weighed 12.3oz and was 11in. long. Carlisle was examined to see if he could be intubated, but he was too little, just like I knew he would be. The nurse brought him to me, I told him he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and that I loved him more than anything. I swear I saw him open and close his mouth like he was telling me he loved me, too.
We were taken to recovery at about 6:00 p.m. where I held the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I counted all ten of his fingers and his ten toes. He was long and tall, and his little nose looked just like his father’s. He had my chin, and his mouth was the perfect combination of his father’s and mine. He was perfect.
Not too long after being in recovery, the nurse came to check on me. She had me give Carlisle to my mom. When she pushed on my abdomen, it hurt so much. The next thing I know, the doctors are there, they tell my mom she has to leave the room. This is where things start getting a little fuzzy, I remember watching the lights on the ceiling while I was trying to make out what the doctors were saying, but I couldn't. Then someone put their hand over my face and everything went black. I do remember hearing someone at some point telling me not to rub my eye, but I don't know who or why.
On May 13, I woke up in ICU, alone. No one told me what had happened, nor would they tell me anything about Carlisle until I was stabilized. I had to have an emergency hysterectomy due to severe hemorrhaging, I had lost about four litters of blood (maybe a little more, I am not really clear on this). My records state that I was critically ill and "required multiple blood products for resuscitation." After I was stable enough, they brought Carlisle to me, but it was too late. My miracle baby, my sweet beautiful Carlisle Jasper, passed away at 7:25 p.m. the night before, while I was being saved. Carlisle held on for two hours and thirteen minutes, with strangers caring for him and loving on him. The last time I saw my son alive was when the doctor sent my mom out of the recovery room.
A psychiatrist had been brought in for an assessment when my water ruptured. Immediately, I did not like her and did not want her involved in my care, as I felt she was cold and had no empathy or sympathy for what I was going through. Unknown to me or my mother who was with me at the time, she had placed me on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, which I found out about when I woke up in the ICU. On May 16, having hardly spoken with me, she placed me on another 72-hour hold.
On the morning of May 19, the psychiatrist walked into my room and handed me a piece of paper and said she was getting ready to transfer me to a psychiatric ward. She turned around and walked out, with no explanation and without speaking with me again. I had to insist on a second opinion from someone not affiliated with the hospital. I spoke with the person that was brought in for the second opinion, and it seemed that she agreed that what I was experiencing was a normal reaction to the trauma and grief. After all the doctors consulted with the second psychiatrist, the first one came back and said they all agreed that I needed to be placed in a psychiatric ward.
I asked to speak with the others personally to about this, and the psychiatrist refused. I asked to review the notes or report, and the psychiatrist again refused, saying there were none in regards to the second opinion. After telling the staff that I felt my rights were being violated, and that I would take legal action against the psychiatrist, I was allowed to leave the hospital to go home—as long as I had an appointment with a therapist.
Full Heart, Empty Arms
I stayed in the hospital for a week. The nurse that sat with me on Mother’s Day was amazing, she came back with a blue elephant for Carlisle, and she took me outside so that I would have a memory of my son outside of a hospital room. She took so many wonderful pictures of Carlisle, pictures that I would not have if it was not for her.
On May 19, I was finally allowed to leave the hospital. Handing Carlisle over to the funeral home and leaving without him, coming home to all the things I had prepared for him, and only having his lamb to hold was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Living without him is even harder.
I just cried. I couldn't talk, or eat, or drink anything. I went straight to my room and laid down and cried until I fell asleep. The next day, I had to go the funeral home. I could not allow anyone else to do this for me—Carlisle was my son, and I had to take care of him and look after him. I took him his blanket, one of his lambs, a teddy bear, his Disney Thumper and Friends book, pictures of mommy and daddy, news articles about his daddy, and a letter that I wrote to him.
I had very little support or help when I came home, and even less as time has gone by. I could not find my ultrasound pictures from all my appointments with my obstetrician, and I called her office to see if I could get copies of them. Thankfully, I could, and when they were ready I went to pick them up so they wouldn't get lost in the mail. When I went to pick the pictures up, the secretary said that the doctor was hoping to see me, but was out of the office and would be back soon. She said that I could wait if I wanted. I waited.
Meeting with the Doctor
My doctor talked with me for a while, and asked me to come to see her again in about a week, which I did. I had told her how I was having a hard time finding a support group, and she helped me find one and even contacted the group facilitator for me. She asked me to come back and see her again in few weeks, which I did. She even helped me when none of my doctors would see me, when I had some concerns about how I was feeling physically, and wanting to make sure that everything was still healing properly. I am so grateful to have had such a kind doctor looking after Carlisle and me during my pregnancy and after—even if it was just a few visits.
Now, here it is almost five months later, and I am still healing physically and emotionally. My due date was September 20th. I attended the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep remembrance walk on September 23rd. I have an amazing support group. I am attending an eight-week lecture course at University of Colorado Anschutz, and am trying to think of ways to volunteer to help other loss moms. The shock is wearing off, the fog is starting to lift, and my memory is getting better. The doctors that treated me have agreed to speak with me and answer some questions to help with what I do not remember.
Hope for the Future
I want to finish my degree so I can help other women who are going through what I and so many others have gone through with this kind of loss. I want to start a foundation in my son’s name to help other loss moms, and moms on hospital bed rest, even if it is to sit with them and hold their hand and tell them that I can honestly say that I know what they are feeling, because I went through it also. I had the same thoughts, the same feelings. I want to tell them that crying, trying to fight for their baby's life, even screaming if they have to is okay, and a normal healthy reaction. There is no shame in it, and they should not let anyone try to tell them differently. Our babies matter, they were a part of us, we cried when we saw that pink line on the test, we loved seeing them kick and turn and hearing their heartbeat on the ultrasounds. We prepared for them, we wanted them, we loved them, and we cried when we had to say goodbye—and we cry every day, and we may never stop crying for them.
My sweet beautiful Carlisle Jasper, I miss you so much and wish I could hold you again. Mommy loves you past the moon, I love you past the stars and all the way back. You are "Unforgettable in every way, and forever more, that is how you'll stay" - Nat King Cole.