Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sweet Baby Ray's Birth Story Part 3

This is the final chapter in the story of the birth of my third (and last) child, Stewart Raymond Kirkpatrick "Ray."

Sweet Baby Ray's Birth Story, Part 1

Sweet Baby Ray's Birth Story, Part 2

After several days in the hospital (only one night in ICU, the rest were on the regular postpartum floor), I was released to go home. One thing I have not mentioned up to this point was that Ray was born on January 12, and we were scheduled to move out of our home in Aurora, CO on January 30. The plan was that the movers would load up the van on the 30th and Jared would drive our minivan with our pets to Connecticut and wait for our furniture, while my mother-in-law and I drove the kids to Billings, MT in a rental car where we would stay with Jared's parents until Jared flew in a couple of weeks later to get us. Sound confusing and hectic? It was.

Thank goodness for my mom and Jared's mom. They were wonderful. I had worked hard in the weeks leading up to my due date to pack everything not being used on a daily basis and organize the remainder, but there was still so much to be done. Mom stayed an extra week to help with the kids and packing, then she left and Kelly came and picked up where she had left off. I was still pretty weak and couldn't do much besides hold the baby and direct traffic. It was an exhausting time, but they never complained and did everything they could to encourage and support us emotionally as well.

We also had the help of our friends who brought in meals and watched the kids so we could focus on packing. My heart is full when I think of all the wonderful people that helped us in that time, especially our moms. We would have been lost without them.

Finally we made it to Billings and were able to spend two weeks enjoying being with our families before we moved across the country. Again, we were blessed by the generosity of Jared's parents for hosting us and helping with the kids, and also his sister McKenna who was visiting and always willing to give me a hand with my kids even though she had her own sweet baby to care for as well.

About a week into our stay in Billings, I started to feel really ill. I went to a walk-in clinic in Billings where it was discovered that I had a staph infection in my incision, as well as mastitis. They put me on antibiotics but it would be several weeks and a couple of doctors visits in CT before my incision finally closed up.

Jared and the movers made it CT safely and were able to get our house set up. The house that we were supposed to rent in Hartford had fallen through just a few days before I had Ray, and Jared was not able to make another house-hunting trip due to everything that happened, so we signed the lease on this house based on only a few pictures. Fortunately, it is a beautiful home, in a lovely area of CT just ten minutes from awesome beaches. Once again, a huge blessing!

As we drove from the Hartford airport to our new home, I remember looking through the window at all the bare trees and feeling numb. The thought crossed my mind that Jared had no idea that he was bringing me out here broken. In the next couple of weeks, my emotions spiraled out of control to a dark place where they had never been before.

Jared was loving and attentive, but his new position required hours of extra work while he learned everything. He had to travel several days a week at first to meet all of his new reps, and when he was home he often had to go back to his home office after dinner and work until 9 PM, briefly emerging only to kiss Nathan and Hannah goodnight. In the meantime, Ray was very fussy. I don't know if it was colic or just him picking up on all of our stress, but he would often cry for no reason while I soothed and swaddled and shushed and rocked to no avail. The vacuum was the only thing that would consistently calm him, so for awhile the only thing clean in our house was the carpet.

One week at the end of February, Jared was gone for several days. I spent almost the entire time he was gone crying. I took care of all my kids needs and did my best to never let them see I was upset, but I could not stop the tears. I cried for the loss of my fertility, the memories of the physical pain, the misunderstandings with family members that had occurred (bound to happen after all the time we spent together I guess, but they had all been so kind and generous to me and I hated the thought that I had hurt them), the loss of my friends, and the isolation I felt on the other side of the country from my family.

I am sure hormones had a good deal to do with the emotional upheaval but I had never had even a hint of baby blues or postpartum depression with my first two children. In my mind a voice emerged, one of self doubt and defeat. It told me that the reason I had lost the ability to have children was that I was too impatient with the ones I already had, that I wasn't a good enough mother to have more children, that I shouldn't even have the ones I had already been given. There was a phrase I heard over and over in my head, that I was "fundamentally unlikeable" and that anyone who had ever gotten close enough to really know me, besides my husband, had realized this about me.

Even now, as I type these words, knowing that they are not true, I can not stop the tears from coming. It was tremendously painful and I will always have nothing but the deepest sympathy and love for anyone who has struggled with depression. If it is anything like what I experienced, it is crippling and consuming.

Thankfully, there was also a voice of reason and love, I believe the Holy Spirit, who comforted and reassured me. I knew that this was a bad time, but just a season; that I would come out the other side stronger and happier. I kept picturing my three children as teenagers and adults, I knew that as hard as life felt at that point, I had to persevere because I did not want to miss the wonderful opportunity to see them grow into the amazing people they will one day become.

Jared returned home from his trip one afternoon and I held it together until the kids were in bed. Then I told him, "While you were gone, I had a hard time," I think were my words. "I know," he said, then held me as I cried and told him everything.

That was a turning point for me. A couple of days later I started running for the first time, little by little, on the treadmill we had recently purchased. The endorphins from exercise, added to diffusing uplifting essential oils, eating right, and the loving support of my husband, gradually healed my heart and emotions. I still have sad moments, but the awful thoughts are gone, and I am able to enjoy all the wonderful things that life has to offer.

We believe that what happened after my birth was a combination of a large baby and possible placenta accreta, where the placenta penetrates into the muscle of the uterus instead of just attaching to the uterine wall. There was one indication for this possibility at my 20 week pregnancy ultrasound but because I had no risk factors for it, we declined follow-up testing. Kelly relayed what happened to me to a close friend of the family who is also a well-respected perinatologist and he told her that even if we would have known ahead of time, there is a good chance I still would have lost my uterus.

My family's story is still being written. Jared and I adore our three children and feel complete, at least for the time being. Although I do wish we were still able to have more kids, I know that there are many options and opportunities that have and will come along as a result of this experience. I am thankful for all that we have been given and that we are all still here to share this wonderful life together.

Thank you so much for reading, and for all the notes of love and support. I love all of you very much!


  1. Heather, I am soooooooooooo glad to know this part of your life. I admire you so much. I adore looking at the photo of your dear family and appreciate all of your blog posts about everything and the fact that you take the time to sit down and just do it.

    You are such a special woman. I've not met Jared but I can tell he is a wonderful man and husband.

    Love, Aunt Judy

    1. Thank you Aunt Judy. He is pretty wonderful. I hope now that we are on the east coast, you will have the chance to meet him at some point!

      Love to you and Uncle Ken.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too was in a dark place three years ago. I was diagnosed as bipolar and was so stressed that people would not be my friend and that people would look at me differently. I tried to overdose on my medication, because of the quick response from my husband he got me to the hospital in time. I spent three days in ICU and the next few month in counseling and trying to find my place in the world. I realized that my husband and friends needed me and they did not treat me any differently. My husband was so supportive and was there for me everyday. I knew that my kids needed a mom and mother to look after them. I don't want anyone to do that in my place. I have tried everything to loose the weight that the medicine has caused me to gain. I hope that like you I can find joy in exercising and working on my self esteem. Thanks again for telling your story.

    Your friend,

    Holly Griffin

    1. Oh Holly, thank you for sharing. What a difficult time for you and your family. You are such a caring and generous person, and have a wonderful group of friends and family. Not to mention three awesome kids! I am so glad you are still here to enjoy them every day. Much love to you!

  3. (This is Camile Parson by the way.) I LOVED reading this story Heather! You are such an amazing and strong woman. And I knew from the first time I met you at church that I would really like you! :) This makes me even more excited to get to know you and to become good friends.

    1. Hi Camile! You're so sweet, I'm excited to get to know you too!

  4. It's very brave of you to write about your struggles after the birth of Baby Ray. Your situation was different than most, but I'm sure you will help others through their pain. I love the picture of your family at the end; how beautiful and precious life is!

  5. Heather, I am so glad you wrote this miraculous story, although it did cause me a LOT of anxiety during my delivery a few weeks ago, I thought the same thing would happen to me for some reason. I am so sorry that things didn't happen the way you wanted them to, but I am so happy to see that you are making the best of what you've been given. And you're not alone in those feelings of self doubt as a mother. It helps me to know that I'm not the only one with those thoughts that seem to jump in to an otherwise happy life.

  6. I have been crying thru your story. You are incredibly strong.

  7. Oh my god. I don't even know what to say. I read all 3 posts and I am so sad for you. You and your family have been through so much, but especially you. I am so sorry you had to go through all of that and deal with it - it seems like you did the best you could under the circumstances. I went through the baby blues and slight depression after my daughter was born so I can kind of relate to that but not hing near what you went through. I hope you are doing better now and I will say the cliche' thing - You do have 3 beautiful kids and a fabulous husband, God has blessed you with that which has to make you happy every day of your life you have them! :) We are hoping for a 2nd child, but if its not in God's plan for us, then I have accepted the fact that I have the most beautiful daughter and husband a woman could ever ask for.