WARNING: Photos in this post are graphic & contain images of a dying infant. Proceed with discretion.
No one likes talking about death. Especially when it involves a baby. No one thinks it will happen to them. It’s too unthinkable. “Only in the movies…” It happened to me.
My baby boy died in my arms on August 24, 2008
My ex-husband & I conceived Liam shortly after we were married. I was consumed with the desire to have a child once I met Greg. I wanted us to share our lives with a child. I couldn’t wait to pass on family traditions & take care of something that needed me. To nurture & love a baby. To raise a child.
Liam was to be the first grandchild in my family. My Mom had been not-so-quietly elbowing us to get a move on. She wanted a grandbaby…& now.
When we found out we were pregnant, we carefully wrapped a positive test (much to my sister’s horror, “You’re giving her pee?!?!!?”) in a gift bag & gave it to my Mom. I watched as she slowly opened the yellow, tissue paper filled bag. Her face darted up to look at me. She cried & jumped up & down, “No??? Really???!?!?! Woo hoo!!!” She then called everyone she could find in her phone contacts. She was going to be a Grandma!! And I was going to be a Mama!!
I went to my routine OB visits, emailed my employer my maternity plan, took my prenatal vitamins, ate a healthy diet (no pickles, but lots of ice cream) & continued through my pregnancy like any other normal Mama to be.
Until the afternoon of August 22nd, 2008.
I was 22 weeks pregnant.
I was working at my desk when I started experiencing a tight, crampy feeling in my abdomen. Worried, I started to time the cramps. Ten minutes apart; then eight. Then they were so painful I called my OB. The nurse told me to drink a gallon of water & lay flat; if they didn’t go away after that, to go to the hospital.
I called my husband to inform him I was leaving work & headed home. I was terrified. The cramps worsened as I drove home. When I arrived, I wanted to forget the water & just go to the hospital. My husband, always the voice of reason, told me to try what the nurse wanted me to first. We lasted 45 minutes before going to the hospital.
I was quickly admitted to the Labor & Delivery floor where a lone nurse met me, gave me a cup to pee in & one of those hospital gowns we are all so fond of. They hooked me up to those baby monitoring/contraction timing machines & saw I was, in fact, having contractions. I was given three shots of terbutaline (a nasty drug that helps stop contractions). Once the contractions subsided, I was give a prescription for a UTI & told I could go home.
No one gave me a vaginal swab to see if my water had broken.
I never saw a doctor.
A normally mandatory ultrasound was never conducted.
No one even gave me a routine cervical check.
I wasn’t completely convinced that everything was okay. My gut was screaming at me to argue, but medical professionals were telling me I was fine; that Liam was fine & to go home & relax.
Three hours later I regretted not putting up more of a fight.
I experienced more fluid leaks & what I knew, at this point, were contractions. They were so painful, I was moaning, breathing, counting & trying every other relaxation technique I could remember reading about in my stack of pregnancy books on my nightstand.
When we arrived at the hospital for the second time, I could barely walk. I was in labor. Honest to goodness, no turning back, labor.
This time, the nurse called for a doctor. I was quickly placed on a gurney, stripped of my clothes & shot up with some drug. I’m not sure all of what happened after that. It’s a haze. Partly from the drugs, partly because it all happened so fast. I remember hearing a doctor say something about, “incompetent cervix,” &, “her sac is bulging out,” after she pulled up an ultrasound machine to look at Liam. I remember her checking my cervix & announcing that I was seven centimeters dilated. “That’s not possible,” I thought, “I’m only 22 weeks along.”
For the next 24 hours, I was pumped with every labor prevention drug out there & placed at an incline on the bed. My family rushed to my side & thankfully, my mother documented everything that followed.
Everything was in such a haze. I remember a doctor coming in & telling my Mom that it was time for me to birth, “the fetus.” That this was a lost cause & my, “fetus,” was as good as dead. My Mom, who became a police officer after six years as a paramedic, demanded a NICU team to be on hand when I birthed Liam. The doctor told her that there was nothing they could do. That, “the fetus,” would have to be birthed & then left to die.
Did we know the chances of Liam living were slim? Absolutely. Did we know we were hoping for the impossible? Yes. Did Liam deserve at least a chance?
You’d better fucking believe it.
My Mom called one of her old co-workers & had an ambulance brought to the hospital. They transported me to a hospital with a NICU team on staff who was more than willing to give my son a fighting chance to live.
I wasn’t allowed any meds for pain because of all of the other drugs they had pumped me with, so I was warned that this would be extremely emotional & painful for me. That I would feel him come out & know it was unsafe, but that I still needed to do this if he had any chance at all.
They were right. The pain was excruciating. I even remember thinking I would die from all of the pain. Physical. Emotional. Mental. Agonizing.
Pain. It was everywhere. In every part of my mind, body & soul.
Liam Randall Torrico was born on August 24th, 2008 at 3:06AM.
After a glorious & nightmarish 16 minutes, Liam died in my arms.
They couldn’t get him intubated. He was too small & his throat was not developed enough.
…& so he took his last breaths in his Mama’s arms. Safe & warm.
He responded to our voices. Our touch. He gripped his Daddy’s hand as he slipped away. He fought to breathe. He responded to the warmth of being against his Mama’s body. He was just too small & came too soon. He was perfect in every single way.
Living with the grief of losing a baby never gets easier. It never goes away.
You have to choose to go on for your baby. Daily. I still choose this every single morning.
To make damned sure their memory carries on & stays alive.
So you can be one of the few people in this world who truly understand the reality of how each day is precious & should be treasured.
Each minute. Each second I had with Liam was a blessing. And I am not ashamed to talk about him; to celebrate him & to grieve him. None of us should be.
I have since been diagnosed with an incompetent cervix & a blood disorder called MTHFR. I also went on to birth second healthy baby boy, whom we named Collin, successfully after having a cerclage placed. You can read about my pregnancy with Collin here.
To donate to March of Dimes, to help ensure that another Mother never has to experience this, go here.
If you are a Mama who’s experienced a loss, I have complied a list of resources that helped me here.
Holly is a self-described SoCal Mama with a Michigan heart. The mother of a blended family, she is passionate about normalizing step-mother and step-children relationships and bringing awareness to the ever growing blended family lifestyle. Holly is the creator of popular lifestyle blog OurHollyDays.com and writes for her local and regional newspapers as a recipe columnist. She is a lover of holidays and a stationery addict who is never without her trusty planner.