On May 6th, 2012, we found out we were going to be parents. At 6dp5dt (IVF lingo for 11 days post ovulation), I saw the faintest line on the test. I bounded out of the bathroom and woke LB up to show him. He wasn’t sure he could see it, but we convinced ourselves something was there. I secretly texted my friend Aimee a picture to have someone else to ‘squeeeeee’ with. I had never seen two lines before, and although faint, I knew it was there.
We went to his soccer game as parents that morning. He carried my chair for me across the field and made sure I was comfortable before he took off to play. The sun felt brighter, the grass looked greener and we were parents.We confirmed with a blood test through our reproductive endocrinologists office a few days later– we were pregnant! I tested every.single.day to make sure it was happening. Two lines. Over and over and over. Two beautifully pink, clear as day, lines.
The day before our first ultrasound I began bleeding heavily. I knew it was too good to be true. I was beating myself up for allowing the hopefulness to be so pervasive. We found out the next morning that I was miscarrying– a twin. But one baby, in it’s tiny sac, was still ok. O.K. was good.
I still remember all the numbers. 131- first beta. 112 bpm- first heartbeat.
I listened to Aerosmith’s “Dream On” over and over and over. And once more for good measure. I never gave myself time to mourn our first baby– I was too busy hoping for this one. I lived every day with the terror that I was going to lose this pregnancy. That he would slip away from me somehow. And the sadness that came with that fear was paralyzing. How would I continue to live without him? How would I ever recover from losing this thing we wanted so badly? It was our only chance at our family. How do you keep living when your dream dies?
August 22nd was our anatomy scan. For most couples, it’s the day they find out if they’re Team Pink or Blue. I secretly hoped for a girl, but I wanted the cliche– a healthy baby. I just wanted a baby. We held hands as the technician started the ultrasound. LB whispered to me that the safari wallpaper in the room was exactly what he had in mind for the baby’s room. It was the first time he talked about tangible baby things. The wand pressed down on my belly and we both smiled. Healthy heart. Healthy kidneys. Healthy brain. He was perfect.
“Can you cough for me?”, the tech asked. “Ok, bear down for me like you’re pushing.”, she instructed. “I’m going to get out the transvaginal wand to get a closer look.” I froze. I squeezed my husband’s hand and I looked over at him and I said, “Something is wrong.”
I had only 5 mm of cervix left. I should have 3.5-4 cm of cervix left. Our office consulted with Maternal Fetal Medicine at several hospitals nearby. No one could fix this. The membranes were funneling and any procedure to save him would risk losing him. Immediate bedrest. Immense panic.
Three days later I went into labor. Two days after labor began my water broke on the way to an emergency surgery to save him.
On August 27th, Dziko George Banda was born and died at 8:30 p.m. I remember screaming, “IS THAT HIM?” and “NO! NO! NO! MY POOR BABY” over and over and over. I remember holding him and apologizing to him. I remember being struck by how much he looked like his daddy. I remember my husband crying. And I remember feeling like my entire world just fell apart. We held him for hours. We showed him to our family members that were at the hospital. I don’t know how, but we slept. We held him again. They kept him wrapped in warm blankets for us.
And I remember the distinct feeling of wishing I was dead when I left the hospital without my baby.
I do also remember how amazing my friends were (and still are) throughout this time. I remember my group of friends, lovingly referred to as The Bitters, sending me hilarious gifts, including a majestical 3 wolves shirt in order to watch over him and keep Dziko safe. I remember the chocolate covered oreos Aimee sent me that helped me feel Dziko move for the first time. I remember Sara asking the hospital to find a separate room for my family to grieve in, so that they didn’t have to watch happy families await the arrival of their newest family members. I remember Sara buying all the thing in Whole Foods so that I didn’t have to think about cooking or feeding myself. I remember Sara visiting me in the hospital and crying with me. I remember Sara and Noelle sitting with me to look through his pictures. I remember Kristi setting up a GiveItForward donation page for the medical costs and memorial. I remember all the people I had never met donating and thinking of us– and crying for us. I remember my mom getting on a plane hours after our anatomy scan and staying with me for a month and taking care of me while she grieved the loss of her first grandchild. I remember my sister keeping herself together while I, and her car, fell apart. I remember her coloring with me through my bedrest, keeping me company in the hospital when LB couldn’t be there….
And I remember you all crying for us. And I remember that you helped me realize I was not as alone as I had imagined I was. I am touched that I know so many great people. And I am touched that so many great people loved Dziko.
I wrote our story. I never thought I’d be able to do it, but I wrote our story. I love him and I miss him so much. He helped us see that “dziko lo kongola” (the world is beautiful- in Chichewa).
Our decision to move forward in our pursuit of parenthood is challenging. This process must honor him as our son. I believe very much that he will help us along the way– to navigate each turn, each obstacle, each roadblock. I hope he knows how much he means to me and how much I wish to parent him. Since we are unable to be his parents, I hope that he can be our guardian.