So many have been wondering about my life as late. I know people were ecstatic when I announced that I was pregnant for the second time with a baby girl. I found out I was pregnant last November and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I held off telling my husband for almost 8 weeks because I wanted to surprise him, but he found out anyway lol. You can see all the details here.
So after posting that announcement, I learned that my father was extremely ill. I started going to my parent’s house 2-3 times a week, just to spend time with them. I was helping my parents with as much as I could in my condition. Around March I learned after my father was admitted to the hospital for pains. As it got closer and closer to the time he was supposed to be discharged, Drs kept coming in and out requesting more and more tests. I remember sitting at work at calling him at 11am on the dot because I knew that he should be going home by then. He picked up the phone and I asked him what were the next steps in his treatment. There was a long pause before he gave his answer, he said they told him there was nothing they could do and that he was going home. I started crying right in front of my co-workers, my bosses and whoever else was around. I didn’t understand what exactly had happened.
Learning that news shattered my spirit. My dad told me in December that he was excited that I was finally going to have his grandbaby. He made me a promise to stay around until the baby was born. My dad kept getting worse and worse as time passed on. He was battling terminal cancer and seeing him daily hurt me to the core. All of my siblings came down to spend a week with him. It was a sad but happy experience because we shared memories with each other. We learned so much more than we had ever known about my father. Eventually, it got to a point where he could no longer be cared for solely by my mother and he had to be moved to hospice care. After moving him to the hospice facility, I cried daily. I hated seeing him in pain.
After being placed in his room, his spirit was broken. In his heart, he knew that he would only leave this place after he passed away. He asked me one day after being in there to promise him that he wouldn’t die in there. I looked my father in the eyes and lied to him. I told him that he would be going home as soon as he got better. He would ask this question almost daily on my visits, Meko when am I going home?
My husband would come by the hospice center with his bagpipes and play for my dad. He loved the sound and all of the music we played. I remember the first time Jason played, patients families all down the row opened their outside doors. People started requesting songs, it was beautiful to share that moment with so many other families who were going through the same thing. The longer my dad was in hospice care, the more he started requested things that he once loved. First came the Reeses peanut butter cups, pizza, and his favorite Dairy Queen blizzard ice cream with all of the chocolate it could hold. Naively I thought that this meant he was getting better but I was wrong.
I spoke to his nurse one day during the last week of March asking how long she thought he had. She told me from her experience and the signs that he was presenting that he maybe had a week. After learning this I decided it was best to call all of my siblings and let them know. I didn’t want it to be a sudden thing if something happened I wanted them to be prepared. After that day, they started coming in to spend time with him.
During the time my father was diagnosed with his cancer, I found out that I was suffering from high blood pressure. My midwife at the time thought it was just due to the stress of learning that my father was terminally ill. They made me take my blood pressure at home, I didn’t really know what the numbers meant most of the time. I knew that I was stressed, pregnant, and an overall emotional mess. I remember seeing spots a couple of times, and not really thinking much of it. I just didn’t want to stress out my husband and other family members with my issues when my dad was dying.
On April 3 I went in for my scan at the Doctors office. I sat in the waiting room as I always did with snacks in hand because the wait was always ridiculously long. We finally were called back to get our scan. As soon as the screen came on I knew something was wrong. I looked over at the sonographer and she quickly started measuring and moving the wand around to avoid having the babies entire view on the screen. After about 2 minutes of this, I outright asked her was something wrong with the baby. I think my anger and bluntness got the best of her because she broke down and told me that the baby was dead.
At that moment I just kept saying to myself my dad is dying and now this. My poor husband just left out this wail. It was the saddest moment that I have ever experienced with him. He began to shout and cry as I sat there stone-faced telling him to calm down. I told him that we didn’t want to scare the other parents who were sitting in the waiting room. I don’t understand why I did that but I couldn’t deal with emotions at that moment. The Dr came in and confirmed what I already knew, that our baby Arya Winter Howell was gone. She told me that due to my blood pressure being deathly high at that point that I would immediately have to go to the hospital to give birth.
This is what caused me the most anxiety, the thought of having to give birth to a baby that would never move for me again. I drove to the hospital with my husband beside me. I refused to let him drive because he was a mess emotionally and I knew that he physically wouldn’t be able to do it. We get to the hospital and the receptionist had one other person at her desk. They are talking and laughing about internship opportunities at the hospital. I patiently wait and wait and wait. Finally, the receptionist ends her conversation. She asks me why I am here and I tell her that my baby died and my blood pressure was dangerously high. She scrambles to save face and quickly gets to moving. I finally get placed in a room.
They advised me that I will have to give birth that night and they can induce my labor by inserting cyrotex beside my cervix to start contractions. I put the insertion of the medicine off for hours because I was terrified. Finally, I told my husband that he would be ok to go take care of the dogs really quickly and come back. During that time I let them insert the medicine inside of me. It didn’t take long after that for the contractions to start. At first it was a mild pain but eventually, it became a throbbing pain that riddled throughout my body. I cried and cried from the pain of those contractions and from the thought that I was closer to fully being without Arya.
Around 7pm, I finally let them give me an epidural. That’s when things got quiet for me, once the medicine kicked in I just laid there in my thoughts in the darkness. Around 930pm, I noticed a weird sensation. It felt like something had slid out of me. I shrugged it off and went back to sleep. About an hour later the midwife came in to examine me. She rotated the huge surgical lights down on me and exclaimed that the baby was already here. I told her I had felt weird an hour ago but didn’t think anything of it. She picked her up gently and asked if we wanted to hold her. I couldn’t do it, she was so small and lifeless and I was afraid. I just turned over and looked at my husband as he looked at our sleeping baby. The midwife told us that we would have the opportunity to hold her in a special room if we changed our minds after this. We never changed our minds and I regret it to this day.
The next day I called my family members and let them know what happened. It was heartbreaking making those calls, especially when peoples first thoughts were you shouldn’t have done this, you shouldn’t have been around your father like this, you shouldn’t have marched with your band…It was as if they really thought that I had caused my babies death. I remember calling my mom and getting mad at her, my emotions were getting the best of me and I just remember telling her to not tell my dad that the baby was dead. I didn’t want to cause him any more stress since he was already at a stage where there was no coming back from.
The Drs assured me that there was nothing that I could have done to stop preeclampsia (toxemia) especially as early on as mine appeared. Friends and family members started coming by to visit. I pretended to sleep most of the time and left them to talk with my husband while I laid there in my grief. I honestly wanted to be left alone, but I knew that people wanted to check on us.
On April 5 I was still in the hospital, and two of my sorority sisters were visiting. We were smiling and laughing, and at that moment I felt like I could get through this pain. As we talked my husband walked into the room. He knelt down beside my hospital bed and looked me in my eyes. I knew something was wrong, but I had to hear him say the words. He said Kameko your dad passed away a little while ago. I fell apart. I cried so hard my nose started bleeding. I was an absolute mess, my sorors hugged me and attempted to comfort me as the reality swept over me. The nurse came in shortly and gave me drugs to calm me and put me to sleep. I stayed in the hospital until Saturday morning.
Going home was hard, looking inside the nursery that I had been working on for 5 years and knowing that my baby wouldn’t be going in it was heartbreaking. I just drank and drank to numb the pain of what was happening in my life. While looking at pictures of my dad, I decided to let them be buried together at his funeral. I hated going to the funeral home to pick out an urn for the baby. I thought I would be emotional but I was just numb. I picked out a beautiful heart shaped urn to place my babies ashes in. After she was cremated, my husband drove to pick her up. When he returned he asked if I wanted to hold her. I told him no, I couldn’t do it. I remember him going into the bathroom and I raced out of the room to hold onto my baby. I held her for a few minutes and put her back down. I felt like if I held her in front of Jason, he would see me break down and I didn’t want to stress him out anymore.
The day finally came when we had to give my baby to the funeral home so they could place her with my father. We drove to the funeral home in silence, no radio no nothing. When we made it to the home, I told my husband I would take her inside. As I handed over my baby to a complete stranger, I felt a wave of emotion run over me. I walked out of the door I broke down in a flood of tears.
It was time to say goodbye to my father and baby girl. All of my family members lined up outside of the church in a wave of royal blue. It was beautiful to see. As we walked into the church, the pipe and drum band played one of our funeral marches. I just remember telling myself to keep it together. I sat down in the church, mentally trying to prepare myself for the words that I had to give from the family. It was finally my time to get up and speak. I stepped to the podium and just looked out at the audience, and I glanced at my father’s casket. I quickly looked back down before my emotions got the best of me, but it was to late. I stood there for minutes trying to control myself before I could let out the first few words. I got through my memories of my father and finally made it to the poem I wrote about him and Arya.
I don’t know how I made it through my reading but afterward, people told me I did an amazing job. Even with that, I felt like I had failed both of them by not keeping my emotions in check. I sat back down in the pew, with my leg shaking uncontrollably. After the eulogy, the pipe band went into Amazing Grace. I knew it was coming but the moment my Lieutenant played the first verse, I broke down. I cried so hard, my husband just held me closer and tried to comfort me.
I sat at the house for almost 6 weeks grieving and recovering. During that time we started going to grief counseling. It was a good experience to be able to talk through the pain with someone outside of my family. We ended up going on a trip to Gatlinburg to help ease our stress. It felt great to get out of the house and not feel sad. Things started to feel almost normal again after the trip. I still had my bursts of sadness but it was mostly controlled. We decided to try for another baby as soon as we could.
The first month after all of this happened I held my breath hoping that I would see those two lines. The next month followed and I waited to see if anything would happen. After that I had a moment where I said, whatever happens, is going to happen. That same day I made my husband drive with me to this sunflower field on the side of the road and take pictures. It was such a beautiful day, and I felt genuine happiness as I walked along the sunflowers. After that experience, I decided that I would start wearing more yellow to keep me in a happy place.
A few days after that was my promotional ceremony. I felt so much pride and happiness because I had accomplished something that many fought to deny me. As my husband pinned me with my new stripes I felt so many emotions, but most of all I missed my dad being there to see.
After the celebration, we had a cookout at my house. Loads of family and friends came by to celebrate my promotion. Once everyone left, I started feeling weird. I kept hearing my consciousness say to buy a test. I remember my husband having a panic attack after everyone left and I knew that if what I felt was right it would make him feel better. I decided to listen to the feeling and went out to buy a pregnancy test at 11pm. In the back of my head, I already knew I was pregnant but I needed to see it in person. The test took no time at all to show those two little lines again. I ran like the flash up the stairs to show my husband the test. He was laying in the bed and I threw it at him. It hit him in the head and he mumbled what is this. I probably looked like the Cheshire cat smiling so hard. He finally realized what it meant. He was excited but it quickly turned back to anxiety. He was afraid that something may happen to this baby too.
My Dr saw me first thing the next day, I started back on all kinds of medication to control my blood pressure and to give my baby the best chance at survival. Appointment after appointment has shown nothing but progress and a healthy and happy baby. I’m now in my second trimester and my blood pressure has looked great, the babies genetic screening came back and everything looks good there too. So I’m happy to say that we will be getting our rainbow baby (a baby born after a miscarriage, stillborn or neonatal death) after all, come February 2019. We are happy and optimistic that everything will be perfect with our little one. Every day now I tell myself “what if everything goes right”, I don’t have time for negative thoughts. I’m focusing on having my baby be born into a positive environment full of love.
So that’s my life update, pregnancy, tragedy, and it ended with a rainbow!