We had given so much thought to our birth plan. We knew exactly what we wanted to do and who we wanted to be with us when the babies were born. It was gonna be a circus, but we were looking forward to this joyous experience, and excited to share it with Sissy, Grandma, Abuelita and all the Aunties.
After we found out we lost Maximus, the birth plan took a very dark turn. Our due date was August 13, 2015. Thinking back, I have no idea how I managed knowing I had to carry his tiny little body until Grace was ready to be born. It could be months. I worried about her every day. I was paranoid about her well being. As much as I longed to hold her - touch her - smell her, I was dreading delivery day. We had no idea when this would happen. There was so much to consider and to be prepared for. Instead of rejoicing in anticipation of our babies, we were having to make decisions about whether we wanted to see him or not see him, hold him or not hold him, cremate him or bury him. These were not the types of decision we were planning on writing into our birth plan. In addition to that, we had to mentally prepare ourselves for welcoming our baby girl as we grieved for our baby boy. How does one do that?
There were so many people who reached out to us to provide comfort and support. One person in particular, Kristyn Von Rotz, was instrumental in helping us to connect with the appropriate high-risk doctors and facilities to see us through the remainder of our pregnancy, and help us to begin to navigate through all of the difficult decisions we were going to have to make. Kristyn experienced the death of her own baby boy and co-founded an organization called Forever Footprints. Their mission is to ensure that families who have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss receive the best support, comfort and resources possible. They provide direct services, educate the medical community to improve quality of care and response, and offer opportunities for remembrance to aid families on their path to healing. http://www.foreverfootprints.org/. We were also introduced to the Paloma Comfort Care program offered through UC Irvine Health for families who are given the devastating news that their unborn baby has a life-limiting condition or will be stillborn. The progam's purpose is to promote a nurturing environment for families by providing emotional, physical and spiritual support. Both of these programs were invaluable to us as we set out to re-create and execute our birth plan.
The one decision that was easy to make was that we wanted to turn all our energy and focus on welcoming Gracie into our world. She was going to need all our attention and we knew Max was already in God's loving hands.
We wanted all arrangements to be made prior to delivery, so we arranged to have him cremated and to honor him with a special service at some point down the road. We picked out a lovely, simple, tiny urn. My cousin made him a special burial blanket with his name engraved. G-ma crocheted a very special purse for his belongings. The hospital staff advised us they would do everything they could to obtain his footprints and handprints for us. They would save his arm band and beanie and everything surrounding his birth for us to keep if we wanted them.
The decision that was not easy to make was whether we wanted to see him and hold him. Due to the circumstances his little body would be extremely small and the doctors advised that he may not look like a baby due to the length of time he remained in utero after his demise. Did we want to see that? Would it make it worse for us to heal having that be our memory of him? What if we didn't see him, would we regret it. Would we always wonder? It was so hard to even comprehend, so we decided to just wait and see. Who knew what we would actually feel like on that day - we would just have to play it by ear. Hubby wanted to see him no matter what the case. I was unsure. We both knew that we wanted to hold him. We decided to have the nursing staff take him promptly after delivery. We would focus on Gracie and when things were settled and calm they would bring him back to us, fully wrapped, to spend as much time as we needed. We wanted our parents and family there as well in case they wanted to say their own special goodbye.
We were planning for a natural birth - and by "natural" I mean not surgical. I was planing on getting any and all drugs they would allow me to have!! Our bags were packed and we were ready to go.
Now all we had left to do was wait and wonder.