Derrik & Bryan
My husband Dennis and I have been married for 10 years. For the last four years, we have been dealing with infertility. I sure wish I had the years back that we put off starting a family for financial reasons. Four years ago I became pregnant right away, only to find out it was an ectopic pregnancy. That loss was devastating, but no comparison to what was to come. In January, 1991, we went through IVF (in-vitro fertilization) for the first time, but it failed. In September, 1991, we tried again (we waited awhile because insurance does not cover the cost). This attempt I consider successful because although the end result is so very sad, I am grateful for having our sons for even the short time we did. We feel that our babies were such a beautiful gift.
I found out I was pregnant on October 21. The phone call came from the nurse at the hospital and I must have been on the phone the next four hours with friends and relatives. We were ecstatic! On November 11 I went for an ultrasound (vaginal) to determine if I was carrying multiples. A part of me wanted to hear yes and another part did not. I was told that I was carrying one baby, and that was all I saw when I looked on the monitor. At that point I was released from their care and able to go to my OB/Gyn.
My OB/Gyn Dr. G., along with his partner Dr. S., are such caring individuals. I felt the extra concern and care they gave to me because they knew how much we wanted this pregnancy. Dr. G. would beam when we would listen to the heartbeat and of course so would I. I had severe morning sickness from week 6 through 16, but rarely complained, after all this was what I wanted for so long so I welcomed it. Everything went along so smoothly. I was getting a belly and loving it! I remember after the AFP results came back fine, saying to my husband, Well, we’re over the hurdle, everything is fine from this point on.
In my 22nd week, we went for a sonogram. I walked into the office telling the nurse that this is an extremely active baby! I said the same thing to Dr. S. as he was ready to start. He said, “This is not one active baby, this is two active babies!” My husband and I went from shock to laughter to so many emotions. I felt so lucky and had fun making a lot of phone calls again. The sonogram is on videotape and we watched it so much. Derrik was already acting like his father, camera-shy and only giving us his profile, and Bryan was a ham like me, he waved to us over and over again.
All was great!! On March 3 I started to spot very lightly and was advised to stay home that week. I was going to stop working altogether in April. I did not spot again at all until Monday, March 9. I had gone back to work that day and I have a desk job. I did not spot all day and felt great. As I was driving home, I felt like it might be starting again; I got home to find I had started again for the first time in a week, again very slightly. I called Dr. G. and was advised that since I was not experiencing any contractions or pain to come to his office in the morning just to take a look and do another sonogram.
This is when the nightmare began. I woke up feeling fine, and went to the office to find out that I was already 2 cm. dilated and that one baby (Derrik) was already in the birth canal. I had no idea I was in labor…I was rushed to the hospital, thank God my husband was with me, and within one hour was experiencing very painful contractions. Everything happened so fast, suddenly we were in delivery, no medication, no Lamaze.
My beautiful boys were born at 2:38 p.m.– Derrik, 1 lb., 11 oz.; and 2:46 p.m. – Bryan, 1 lb. 10 oz. I could hear my husband’s voice yell, “They’re so cute!!!” I could see his smile under the surgical mask. Even though we were scared to death, we were still so very proud of our boys. While they were stitching me, I tried to lift my head up to see my babies, and my husband and the doctors were assuring me that they were doing fine so far. Throughout our ordeal, the doctors and nurses were always very honest with us and kept us posted every step of the way. I remember because Bryan was closest to the door they took him to NICU first, and as the nurse brought Derrik past me, she asked if I wanted to give him a kiss. I am so grateful for that, little did I know that it would be the only kiss I would give him while he was alive.
In Recovery the doctor came in to say that Bryan had taken a turn for the worse. He died at 4:00 p.m. They brought him to us to hold and he was so very beautiful. At this point they knew I needed to see Derrik; we spent the next 32 hours by his side. At one point I stayed for 7 hours straight, I held his hand, sang to him, talked a lot, I knew he knew we were his Mommy and Daddy. Derrik was progressing wonderfully until about the 27th hour. The next five hours or so were such an emotional rollercoaster, then suddenly our Derrik was gone. Once again we were holding one of our babies and saying goodbye. I’ll always be grateful for the support of our doctors, as well as the babies’ doctors and nurses – words can never express how helpful they were to us.
The cause of the premature labor remains unexplained. There is a possibility of an incompetent cervix (I hate that term) but a test showed that the cervix is slightly short. To play it safe, they would do a cerclage if I become pregnant again.
It is now almost five months since our sons’ birth and death. We have been through so much, but with the help of caring family and friends, we are somehow able to make it through each day. My husband and I speak about our sons so much, sometimes only with sadness, and other times telling stories of how we picture them and what would have been. We can smile when we think of them now. We visit the cemetery every Sunday at least and just this past weekend the marker was set. We bought pinwheels and when they spin, we feel like they’re “talking” to us. I know it sounds crazy but it’s a comfort to us. I am attending a support group at the hospital which I have since started to help run. I find that helping others is a great way to make a positive out of such a horrible loss. It helps to keep the memory of our sons alive. I have finally learned to take one moment at a time, I pray a lot for patience and strength.
Getting through Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Easter, and my due date was difficult. Even the 4th of July was bad – I had pictured that I would have our boys dressed in little sailor suits. At this point we are considering another IVF attempt. I go from thinking this is crazy, to knowing it is absolutely the right thing. We will always love Derrik and Bryan and keep them in our thoughts, our hearts and our souls. We treasure their pictures, hats, footprints, and everything from them. I know we’ll see them again someday.
My body is gone, but I’m always near
I’m everything you feel, see or hear
My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart
As long as you keep me alive in your heart.
I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
And the beautiful dreams that come when
I’m the smile you see on a baby’s face
Just look for me, Mom, I’m every place.
…Jill-who has now had two subsequent children, each born near full term-also wrote, “My BEST thing that was said to me was from a 4-year-old, my good friend Sue’s son Tommy. I was having lunch at her house and I was having sandwiches on poppy seed rolls. He asked why they were called poppy seeds and kiddingly I said because they are not Mommy seeds. He said, ‘Well, you’re eating the roll and you’re a Mommy, you’re a Mommy of those little Angels in Heaven, you’re their Mommy.’
“The WORST thing that was said was so bad that it is almost impossible to put into words. This was said by a friend of my sister who is really a nice person, but this was off the wall. About a month after the loss of Bryan and Derrik, we were talking on the phone and I was extremely down. He said, ‘Well, Jill, it’s kind of like when a toilet bowl is broken and you’re trying to fix it. You sweat and put in a lot of effort and labor, and when it’s finally fixed, you forget it was ever broken.’ At this point I said, ‘You’re comparing the death of my children with fixing a broken toilet bowl,’ and he said he didn’t mean it. Well, however he meant it, it was a crazy thing to say. Another worst thing that was said to me over and over again came from a lady I work with – she’d say to me, ‘You can always have another one.’ Finally I said to her, ‘When your mother died a year ago, did I say to you that you could always have another mother? So please, stop saying this to me.’ She finally got the message, although she doesn’t say much to me anymore, which is fine with me.”
In An Instant
How could I have known
That I would fall so rapidly in love.
Two bundles of innocence,
Stealing my heart and my love.
I look at you, and see me.
I see a future and I dream.
How could I have known,
Leaving that day, with only a broken heart.
The precious gift of life,
Snuffed out in the minutes and hours of that day.
What do you do to deserve this?
We shared a few moments and it seemed like forever.
But in the end,
You were gone in an instant.
Dennis, Jill’s husband