Written by Alicia Bey-Booz
While I know that I will never forget every detail of the longest 4 days of my life, I felt the need to write them down. I do not write them down for myself or for the family and friends, I write them for Vincent so he will always feel loved and will know how much he is missed.
Our journey to Vincent started on December 31, 2015. We had a solemn holiday as we were missing the baby we had lost the previous summer, whom was due to arrive the first week of January. Josh and I had prayed to be pregnant again by our due date as somehow I think we felt it would soften the blow. We had planned to wait to take a test, but something was telling me to take it. So I did. And it was instantly positive. My first call was to my sister Anna, asking her how we could surprise Josh will the news. My second move was to send a picture of the test to Jen, an amazing mama that too has felt heartache on the journey to parenthood. She had shared the previous week that she too was pregnant. We were elated for each other and promised to be each other’s support.
Well anyone that knows me, knows that patience is not one of my best virtues. I did not wait to plan the perfect moment to tell him because I knew whatever moment I told him would feel perfect. And it was. We cried, he kissed my forehead and told me he loved me. We then welcomed the new year with hope and promise that at this time next year, we would have a baby in our arms.
Josh and I decided to wait until we saw the doctor to tell anyone. I wanted a sonogram, a doctor to confirm, and I wanted to hear our baby’s heart. Well, it was about 6 weeks later that all was well, and mom was sick as a dog and as tired as could be…I had never been happier. Telling Gia and Noah was hard because they asked us if we were sure this baby was not sick. We took that plunge and said that this would be different, words that we would have to go against later down the road. Of course, my sister Anna wanted to use her creativity through photos to share with everyone that we were expecting. She took awesome pictures of Gia and Noah holding a picture of their soon to be sibling. This baby was our gender “tiebreaker,” so we decided that we would be surprised in the delivery room.
I remember telling my best friend, Jess. We both instantly started crying, realizing that our babies would be 5 months apart, and surely would be best friends like their mamas. We also laughed for the sake of our husband’s, whose confirmed nightmare would be us being pregnant together at the same time. I had never been happier. Jess welcomed a beautiful (and large) baby boy on March 1, 2016. Gia and Noah got their first taste of what was coming in a few months and they were very excited. At this point Josh and I had chosen names, Vincent Edward for a boy and Giulia Rose for a girl. It just so happens that Jess named her son Logan Vincent, after her late grandfather. The name Vincent will always keep them connected, as I know they would be best friends.
I was equally emotional telling my other friend Jenny (I call them friends, when in actuality, they are my sisters as well). Josh and I had decided to ask Jenny to be the baby’s godmother. I remember the look on her face, she was truly honored, and I knew we had made a great choice. Equally as happy to be asked was Uncle Ty, Josh’s third “brother” in every sense of the word. Everything was going exactly how we had hoped.
This pregnancy as a whole was so different than my others. I contributed it to the fact that Josh and I were at a different, more mature place, in our marriage. We truly knew the value of each other and took delight in taking care of each other during this exciting time. We had come full circle in our careers, our education and our commitment to always putting each other first. Physically, I felt great. I was eating well, sleeping well and getting exercise. The doctors were pleased, which made for a very happy and content mama. Each time we heard the baby’s (whom we nicknamed “Peanut”) heartbeat, it felt like Christmas morning.
Then came sonogram day. Gia and Noah begged and pled with us the whole time to find out if they were having a brother or sister. Instead, Josh and I encouraged them to come up with a way that they would announce it at the hospital. Peanut looked perfect and sounded perfect. Even at 20 weeks I was surprised to still be getting sick as much as I was but my doctors kept saying, “that’s a healthy baby in there.” My fatigue and vomiting continued to confirm. I was losing weight but Peanut was measuring perfectly. I also did not feel Peanut kick a lot. My doctor stated that the baby may be on a schedule opposite of mine, meaning they kick during my sleep.
So spring came and all was well. My school year was trucking along and summer was in sight. Anna, thinking she was clever (and she actually was because I had no idea), decided to plan a sprinkle for me. Now most moms would want all new stuff, Josh and I were about saving money. Josh and Anna went to consignment sales with lists, we scoured online sales and put a lot of thought into what we actually needed. Our priority at this point was doing what we could so that I could be at home with Peanut for as long as possible, which is something we had to compromise with for our other children. Well, thank goodness, Anna’s hobby is finding sales, I mean ridiculous sales. By summer break, there was only a short list of what we needed to welcome Peanut, to which Anna made me create a registry for. She also, through a large amount of guilt, convinced us to paint Peanut’s nursery. The baby was moving into Noah’s old room which was a neutral color. But that was not good enough, Aunt Anna insisted that Peanut have their own, personalized nursery. It was coming along as we went through the clothes, put the crib up and decided where the rocking chair (the same one our parents rocked us in) would go in the room.
School ended the first week of June. I left Bentworth with ease, knowing that I had set the sub up for success in my absence. She would be fine and more importantly, my students would have what they needed when the school year started. I have a great support system there, consisting of incredible colleagues, a supportive administration and a work “family.”
The next week and a half are kind of a blur. Dr. C was happy with how I was measuring and the baby sounded great. I wish that Josh had been with me to hear Vincent’s heart as it was the last time we would hear it. Josh was home Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. He was set to return to St. Clairsville, Ohio on Monday. I went to sleep on Friday night very tired. I remember waking up in the morning and laying almost completely on my stomach. It felt weird. Josh was scheduled to leave after the weekend so I decided that I wanted to get checked while he was still in town. I called the Birth Center at St. Clair and Dr. C told me that I could absolutely come in to be monitored. I was instantly nervous as I was putting my pants on. They felt extra loose. I called Anna and asked if I could come down and weigh myself. As I was standing in her kitchen, telling her I was 6 pounds lighter than I was at my last appointment. That was almost 25 pounds total for the pregnancy. She hugged me and told me not to worry until I had a reason to worry.
Josh and I drove to the hospital. I was holding Josh’s hand walking in and I asked him if he was nervous. He responded, while smiling, “uh huh.” I smiled back and said, “I am 29 weeks, it would be hard, but we may have a baby today. “We decided that the odds I was going into labor versus how far along I was, were very positive.
We went up to the Birth Center and there was a nurse waiting for us. She took us to an exam room. She placed the belts on my stomach and they were all tangled. She said sometimes the baby is moving too much to pick up the heartbeat. Looking back now, she knew something was wrong. At almost 30 weeks, it should have been immediate. She came back in with Dr. C and a sonogram machine. He immediately put gel on my stomach and went to work.
For some reason, I was not immediately alarmed. Then I realized how hard Dr. C was pushing on my stomach, it actually kind of hurt. Josh and I looked at each other briefly before Dr. C let out a sigh, placed his head down but then lifted it to look at me and say, “Alicia I am so sorry.” I did not immediately understand what that meant until I looked at Josh whom was completely white in the face. I remember screaming out, “No, No, No, “each time yelling it louder. Josh immediately pulled me close to him and I pushed away after a few seconds because I was not able to catch my breath. After a respectable amount of time, Dr. C said that he would leave us alone for a while, but to let him know if we needed anything.
I am not sure how much time went by, but in came our first angel (I call them this because in that moment, they truly were, even though we could not see it), named Gayle. She instantly took me in her arms as I sobbed and pushed away. She said nothing, but was there in the moment. Once we had somewhat gained composure, she started discussing some of the things that we would face over the next few days. At this point, Dr. C had come back in to discuss our next step…We had to have a delivery plan. He told us we had only 24 hours to decide on a plan to deliver the baby. Initially, I wanted to be put under and the baby removed so that I would not have to go through it. However, after hearing the options and aftermath, we decided on something else.
They had to tell me that if I would have a c-section, it would affect any future pregnancy we would have. I would be in the hospital days after the baby would leave. Also, my recovery time from a c-section would affect the amount of viable time with the baby after delivery. We also had the choice to move forward immediately or to take a day to decide. Dr, C was confident I could deliver the baby naturally. We had to wait for an additional ultrasound that would confirm a fetal death. That was about an hour. It was a higher scale machine that presented in color so that we could see blood versus oxygen. The technician took my hand and asked me to look at the screen. She was required for me to see that there was no blood going into the baby’s chest. That is when it was so definite. In the meantime we had discussed Gia and Noah. At that point, we did not know if they would come to the hospital but we wanted to be able to tell them boy or girl. Unfortunately, the baby had swelled too much and they could not tell us. We definitely wanted to talk to Gia and Noah in person before we had the baby. We called Anna first, to tell her that the news. She was speechless. Josh did not want to tell his mom over the phone, so we asked our moms to meet us at my parent’s house.
Gia and Noah immediately knew something was wrong. We brought them in teary eyed and Gia said, “the baby died, didn’t it?” “How could this happen again?” We sadly said yes and she proceeded to weep with us. She did not understand how God could take another baby from us. Noah was pretty calm, as I am not sure that he understood what was happening. Gia wanted to come with us the next day and we said no. The nurses had warned us that the baby may or may not look deteriorated and that we should be prepared. We decided to wait and see.
That Sunday morning, we said goodbye to Gia and Noah, thinking that we would have the baby today and we would be home by tomorrow. Noah, not understanding asked us where we were going. I told him we were going to have the baby. He said, “I thought the baby died?” I told him yes it was, but they had to take the baby out of my body. He seemed satisfied with that answer. In the meantime, we had decided that the baby would be buried with Josh’s dad and that we would have a mass for the baby. The mass seemed like a good compromise to having to face everyone at the funeral home. We also wanted only family to see the baby in a casket.
So we then left for St. Clair with such a heavy heart. I can add that my dad, whom would be a floor beneath me recovering from lung surgery, had heard of the death of his grandchild and was devastated. He had been inpatient while recovering from a partial lung removal. He had experienced complications, and was unable to be home for the delivery. Josh and I decided last-minute to visit him before we went to our floor. I cannot put into words what that visit included. All of us, feeling completely helpless for our baby.
We were met at the door by Sandy, whom would be our second angel. She was instantly inviting. She knew why we were there. She knew what we were going to face. But she still smiled and tried to keep us comfortable. The ins and outs of getting for something like this sucks. The poor nurse that I yelled at that couldn’t start the IV leading into Dr. C inserting the first treatment to induce labor. He told me, “don’t be discouraged if it takes more than one treatment” (I was given one every 6 hours). We then had to wait.
Fast forward to Monday morning when another doctor came in to check my progress and suggested that maybe we would have to consider a c-section (I was devastated). Sandy saw this, and replied on my behalf that it was not what I wanted and advocated that we continue to try. After several Fetanol treatments, a failed epidural attempt, but then a successful epidural, I started to be able to cope with the labor. While my progress was slow, Dr. C stayed with me the whole time. By Tuesday, I was showing a little bit of progress. He assured me that once I started to dilate, it would move extremely fast. I did not believe me until it happened. My mom, Jenny, Jess and Josh had taken turns visiting me. Looking back, how do you decide what you want in that moment? I know that several family members were hurt with our choices. The only thing I can do is ask you to put yourself in the situation and tell me what should be done. I did what I could with what I had at that moment.
I knew by Tuesday afternoon, we were getting close. My nurse encouraged me to be honest.. Send out people if I felt it, ask for help when I needed it, etc. It was all coming to an end and I was scared. Josh and I had been given time beforehand…time we did not anticipate. We had time to begin to process, to plan and to think.
The idea of not knowing whether it was a boy or girl had gotten me through my labor. Even though we knew the outcome would be sad, having a small sense of excitement helped. Josh and I decided that we would have the baby baptized and confirmed when it was born. We chose names for both. Vincent Edward Francis and Giulia Rose Irene. My mom and Anna had arrived and almost immediately I sent everyone out of the room.
I told Dr. C that I felt pressure and maybe it was time to push. I could tell he was not as sure. He said, “let me check you to see what’s going on.” He then lifted the sheet, felt and looked at me and said, “do not push.” Within minutes you were here. Josh at my head, Sandy holding a leg and Jen watching the monitors. Josh and I were crying as I took my second push, knowing the outcome of it. Sandy could see the pain in my face and said, “Atta girl.” Josh heard incorrectly and said, “I knew it was a girl.” Dr. C replied, “no, she said Atta Girl, but it is actually a boy.” Josh collapsed at my chest crying. It took what felt like a lifetime to have the baby on my chest. They asked his name and Josh said, “Vincent Edward.”
I was overwhelmed by these events. Physically, my body began to shake from the afterbirth. I sobbed as I held him and told him how much I loved him. I remember begging him to breathe or cry, proving it was just a dream. When the nurses noticed this, they asked if I wanted a break and I said yes. They laid you in your bassinet to settle. Once I calmed down, we realized how fragile you actually were. Your skin was like paper and the fluid started leaving your body. We held and kissed you and then placed you in your crib. We decided that our family shouldn’t hold you, as it made it worse to pass you around. You were perfect in your bassinet under your blankets in your cap. You looked so much like your brother and sister. The visits went very fast unfortunately.
Then we were faced with the next morning. You had changed so much I did not recognize you. We were able to have you baptized and confirmed. Then Deb came in and said that they had contacted the funeral home. Once we gave the word, it would only be about 45 minutes until they would be here. We knew it would be bad regardless, so we took what time we needed and then called them in. We took comfort in you going to Bernie and then to Pap. That ride to the car from our room was incredibly terrible. I went home with empty arms and an empty heart. A part of me died that day along with you.