Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Layla's Siblings

My name is Vanessa Pollard and my husband is Steven. We have 4 children: Adam, Cayla, Marley and Layla. Layla is our only child we get to raise today, but one day we will be united as a family.

We got married in 2002 and started trying to have a family a year later. We struggled for over a year to get pregnant and eventually did. I would miscarry that baby at 9 weeks. We switched doctors, made some better choices with my health and after just one round of injectable medications we found ourselves pregnant again. We went in at 6.5 weeks to find out once again I would miscarry. After almost 2 years of infertility treatments you just think that is the worst pain and the feelings of guilt, jealousy and loss grew and grew.

On our 2nd attempt at infertility treatments with injectable medications we found out that we were pregnant. Due to testing after the 2nd miscarriage we knew I had a few blood disorders and I began taking 4 shots a day to prevent my blood from clotting and to keep my progesterone levels up. My first ultrasound at 6 weeks was perfect. it was the first time we had ever seen one of our baby's heart beat. We began to see my OBGYN and everything was progressing nicely and from 6-18 weeks I really loved every minute.

On December 17th, 2007 my 18 week ultrasound was scheduled to check the health and sex of the baby later that afternoon. I woke up to some back pains, but knew that was totally something I would have to get used to. I went into work and within an hour of being there I knew something just didn't seem right. I went to the bathroom and discovered I was bleeding. I called the doctor and they told me to come in ASAP. After meeting up with my husband on the way to the doctor's office I became extremely worried. I had never heard of anything like this happening to anyone I knew. After being taken right back and undressing my doctor came in and examined me. She informed me of a condition called an incompetent cervix. She explained that our baby was protruding in its amniotic sac past my cervix. She speculated I was 3 cm dilated. We were numb. They sent me up to the local hospital to be admitted and see a specialist. After being registered, checked in and placed with my head down with some hope gravity would move the baby back into my uterus I went in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a happy, healthy 18 week 2 day old baby who just happened to be in the worst position possible. The prognosis was not good, but the doctor seemed as positive as he could be. They put me on medication to lower the level of amniotic fluid and hopefully make it so they could sew my cervix shut with a "cerclage". I was admitted to the hospital at 1:10 pm and at 12:10 am on December 18th, 2007 I rolled over in my sleep and my water broke. 5 short minutes later my world came crashing down with the birth of my baby boy, Adam Paul Pollard.

We were beyond devastated. We had no clue what to feel, what to think about, how to act with family and friends. The hospital was amazing and after talking to angel moms as much as I have, I learned that not everyone gets the attention and care that I did. My doctor encouraged me to hold him and love him and make what few memories I could in his short time on earth. I didn't want to at first, but I am so happy the nurse and doctor pushed me to do it. He was tiny and very fragile, but I loved him and kissed him and whispered what I wanted him to take with him in his ear. My husband's family lived within a 20 minute drive and they came and saw him and held him and began the grieving with us. My family lived almost an hour away and wouldn't be able to make it until morning. I wish they had made the drive. I wish they could have seen him when he was still warm, still pliable. They saw him after he had been in the morgue, he was ice cold and almost ashy colored. I think it freaked my dad out more than anything. After he was born and I got 30 minutes with him I had to have a D&C to clear the placenta out of my uterus. I don't remember anything. I sit here today and wondered how horrible that must have been for Steven. We had just gone through the ultimate horror of the birth and death of our son and he was left all alone in the room not knowing if I would even come back. The next 3 days after that were horrible. Horrible is actually putting it lightly. We made the decision to bury him and do a small grave side service for family and friends. I remember counting the very small number of people who saw him living, after he was dead and after he had been to the mortuary. There were only 8 people who actually saw him. I kept thinking no one is even going to believe he existed. No one is even going to believe he was here. I would cry myself to sleep, I would sit staring off into space for very long periods of time. The world kept going and my world had stopped. Christmas was a week later and that still stings a little. It is still hard to put those two holidays so closely together.
Over time it got easier to go to the grocery store, to do the everyday things again. I of course wanted to talk about it and Adam all the time. Steven didn't and everyone around me tried to understand my need to make him exist even though they never knew how much that was all I wanted. Four months later we were back at my infertility doctor's office getting a consult. He and my doctor fully supported the diagnosis of an incompetent cervix and wanted me to consult with a high risk doctor before conceiving. I saw a doctor for a consult and he gave me a little faith that everything would work out if I could just get pregnant with one baby and get a stitch (Cerlcage) placed early enough in pregnancy to give a baby a chance and to fully develop. We did one infertility treatment and were pregnant 3 weeks later.

6 weeks in we found out it was twins. My doctor was scared, but hopeful still. The one thing they didn't want is more than one baby in me and that is what they got. They were fraternal twins and we were lucky we didn't have to have even more issues with an identical twin pregnancy. 8 weeks in I was spotting and diagnosed with a placental previa on twin A and I was put on bed rest. 2 weeks after that I went into surgery to get the stitch placed and we were hopeful once again. A week later we saw that my cervix was starting to shorten and open. We watched it for the next 6 weeks get worse and worse. At exactly 18 weeks I had a doctor's appointment and I was excited to see what pregnancy was going to be like after that point since that was the farthest I had ever gone. I never got off the table. They transferred me to labor and delivery on a gurney for another stitch to be placed because the first one was not doing it's job. I would end up spending 4 weeks in the post partum part of the hospital on bed rest. Every day was a miracle I made it to the next. I feel fortunate that I had already had the experiences with my last pregnancy. I was a little bit more aware of the realities of premature births and babies. I was aware things didn't always work out the way we wanted them to. It tried my best to be positive, but things were always pointing to a very very long road for me and for the babies. I loved laying there and feeling them and getting to know their personalities. I loved calling them by name and singing them songs and telling them stories about us. I tried to stay positive. I tried.

On Sunday, September 20th, 2008 I had just had visitors leave when I got up to use the bathroom and my water broke. After, I was moved downstairs to labor and delivery and put on monitors as they prepared us for the worst. There were never any signs of labor at this point, but they started me on all types of drugs. The next 3 days were filled with neonatologists and "what-if" scenarios. They told me heroic stories about women whose water broke, but they managed to carry the baby another 3 months, etc. I tried to be hopeful, but I am a mom and I knew it was going to be a rough On Thursday, September 24th Cayla (baby A) couldn't handle staying in there any longer and delivered past the two stitches placed for her to stay in. Nine hours later and on Friday, September 25th Marley was born.

We knew quickly after seeing them that they would not have the opportunity to be helped by the medical staff and we decided we wanted our girls with us the entire time they were alive. From our experience with Adam we knew what to expect and how to handle everything. We invited all of our families in and even some friends. It was sacred. Humbling to feel the love that 2 small 14 and 15 oz babies could bring the heart to feel.

I continue to try to explain in words how sacred of an experience it was. I try to help people understand how much different losing the girls was. Adam was always a hero to me. He came so I could find out that my body was not strong enough. I always kept his "sacrifice" as a positive, not a negative. The girls were different. I knew them, their personalities, their spunk. I was broken. Shattered. I didn't want to wake up or eat or drink. I didn't want to talk to anyone like I did before. I just wanted my babies back. Sometimes I wonder if I am even healed now.

Two years later and a gorgeous baby girl with me everyday and I still don't think I am healed. I have tried to be an advocate for angel moms and I have tried to be there to answer all the questions they have when they are going through or are going through such unrelateable losses. Everyone loses a grand parent or older family member or friend. Some have the horrible experience of losing a child to a terminal illness or an accident. Somehow people can relate better to a person that made memories and lived a "full" life. Talking about the passing of a baby is never easy for anyone, but I always tell people that the only thing I ever wanted to do was talk about my kids because they existed and to not treat them like they didn't.

Layla came along December 4, 2010, just 14 months after her sisters. She was a month early and tiny as a button. They performed a procedure on me around 10 weeks where they did a c-section incision, pulled my uterus to the surface of my abdomen and placed a stitch in the bottom of my uterus. It is a radical procedure that only few doctors in the world do. My sweet Doctor is one of them. He and his partner took care of my every need. They saw me weekly and watched my cervix shorten, but never disappear thanks to the stitch. They were there the day the c-section was performed and a beautiful little blonde haired and blue eyed beauty snatched a hold of all our hearts and I can never repay them.

Some people think that you are healed when the joy of a living child comes into your life. I always say I am eternally empty for the loss of my child, but what hurts even more is the pain I feel for the loss of opportunity to raise them. We don't have the opportunity to pick out a prom dress, braid their golden locks, watch him play football with his dad or show them all the things your life has taught you. A loss of opportunity is the loss of a child.

Layla has my heart, but she doesn't fill the holes left in it. That is not her purpose.

To my sweet hero Adam, my girly girl Cayla and my spit-fire Marley I am eternally your momma.

Story provided by: Vanessa Pollard

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